Why We Worship J. Dilla

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Stones Throw
J. Dilla
February might be the cruelest month for hip-hop fans. Despite being the shortest of the year, it reminds us in rapid succession of losing some of the most promising talents whose lives were cut just short of drastically impacting the rap world. Among those lost in this 28 day span are Big Pun (February 7, 2000), Big L (February 15, 1999) and producer J. Dilla. But while Pun had already tasted mainstream success with "Still Not a Player," and Big L had a well-received debut as well as a strong street single in "Ebonics" under his belt at the time of their deaths, the days surrounding Dilla's death and his career up to that point have been largely drowned out with the accepted statement that he was always one of the genre's best. Now, eight years after his death, his greatness is accepted as undisputed fact. While we're not denying that Dilla is great, it's important to actually analyze why that is, as well as how the life of his music following his death has come to define his legacy.

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Miguel Happoldt's Un-Twisted History of Skunk Records

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Courtesy Miguel Happoldt
Miguel Happoldt on stage with Perro Bravo
The name Mike "Miguel" Happoldt probably doesn't mean much to the average Sublime fan. Not even when you throw out a reference to Skunk Records, the label made famous by the band's iconic releases 40 oz to Freedom,Robbin' the Hood, and 1996's landmark self-titled album. The label itself is a bit of a mystery, one that's even further diluted by uncredited Internet lore and bands who have hi-jacked the label's logo over the years for their own purposes. It also probably doesn't help that Happoldt, founder of the label and longtime friend of Sublime's late frontman of Brad Nowell, is one of the most low key dudes on the planet.

After the death of Nowell in '96 and the dissolution of Sublime--the label's main bread winner--the band's label head and producer basically let go of the reigns until the mid 2000s when he began to fight to reclaim the revive Skunk and reclaim its legacy. After 25 years of creating a sound synonymous with his Long Beach stomping grounds, Happoldt is celebrating his persistence with an anniversary show at the Observatory, featuring artists and bands who've been an integral part in his life as LBC's most underrated musical mastermind. "This show isn't about people's perception of Skunk Records," he says. "It's about basically me trying to do music a certain way against the grain for 25 years. I realized that if they're confused, that's not my problem. I'm not confused. Far from it."
We recently caught up to Happolt-- who now fronts his own band, Perro Bravo--to retrace what he says is the the real, un-twisted history of Skunk Records.

See also: Brad Nowell's Son Just Turned 18. He Talks About Playing His Very First Gig


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Local Graffiti Artists' Exhibit is a Shrine to Hip-Hop's Real Heroes

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Courtesy Shucks One
A tribute to late great B-boy Frosty Freeze
It's tempting to look at the spray-painted handiwork of Kenos One and Shucks One and call the two "taggers." You might see their bold, 3-D lettering, deft line work and portraits blasted on walls, rest stops and bus benches as projects done solely for the glory of giving society the finger. But for these men and countless others like them, the art goes deeper than that, and their dedication to it is anything but transitory.

"I don't even like that term--'tagging,'" Kenos says, carving up a monstrous wet burrito while sitting next to Shucks on the patio of Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa. "It's more like an old media term. I call us 'writers.'"

As nighttime closes in, they're taking a brief break to enjoy a hot meal. Then it's back to work on some lingering masterpieces before their inspiration runs cold.


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Flowchart: Should I See This Old Band?

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Mike Brooks
Television and/or your local championship bingo team.
By: Kiernan Maletsky
Rock & roll is less than sixty years old, remember, so the idea of multiple generations of active bands is still a fairly new one. But as big-ticket concerts and festivals become prevalent, more and more people are going to get the ol' band back together for another shot. Still, it's a risky proposition, seeing a band you had in your cassette deck 25 years ago. We don't want anyone's precious memories tainted by a subpar relic, so we've made this handy guide to help you decide whether to go see that old band.

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The Music of "Animaniacs" Turns 20!

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Wikimedia Commons
The "Animany" and "Totally Insane-y" Animaniacs.
It's been a historic year for anniversaries, among them is Steven Spielberg's immortal "Animaniacs" cartoon recently turning 20. Yes, this year marks two decades since the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister) began escaping from the watertower to wreck havoc on the Warner movie lot. While the show's given countless memories of celebrity skewering, social irreverence and general absurdity the generations of children since, another important aspect of the show is its original music. Largely composed by Richard Stone, who took home four Emmy awards during the shows run and died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, the music of "Animaniacs" managed to transcend the realm of children's programming and wind up in classrooms, allowing kids to laugh and learn at the same time. It is with great anvils that we look back at our top five favorite songs from "Animaniacs."


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The Top Five Songs from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

If you were a child in the '90s, chances are good that the key to your happiness lied in three powerful words: "It's Morphin time!" Although it's been twenty years since Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first aired, there's a good chance that the phrase still conjures up fond memories of dinosaur robots, teenage melodrama and dubbed Japanese footage.

Despite the stream of imitators that followed in the show's wake, no other series was able to duplicate the energy and atmosphere of the beloved kids franchise. One of Power Rangers' most unique elements was series composer Ron Wasserman's all-rock score. Incredibly, each episode boasted original music. Here, we pay tribute to those six teenagers with attitude that kept Angel Grove safe for so many years with our five favorite songs from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

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Five Songs For September, Including "September Song"

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James Brown, Making September Cool
September is here. That's right, sometime last May you blinked and the whole summer happened. School bells are now ringing, leaves are falling off the trees and we're about three-and-a-half shopping months away from Christmas.  For whatever reason, September's inspired a number of great jams. From a standard to a classic funk groove, there's a lot of fun to be had, so we've assembled our five favorite September songs.

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Revisiting the February 23rd Club as The Roots Go Platinum

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?uestlove of The Roots in "The Next Movement" video.

This month came the somewhat surprising news that, 14 years after its release, The Roots' album Things Fall Apart has finally gone platinum. An album whose reputation as the group's most critically acclaimed has made it the go-to entry point for new fans as their popularity has grown, it's still kind of surprising that the album took this long to move a million units. It's also one of many memorable albums to be released on February 23rd, 1999, the magnitude of whom perhaps eclipsed The Roots' effort at the time. It is in celebration that we look back at the February 23rd club.

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Top Five Beavis and Butthead Special Appearances

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Beavis and Butthead in their early years.

This week, we at the Weekly have been celebrating 20 years of Beavis and Butthead, and we'd be remiss to not mention the many memorable moments the boys had outside their standard MTV timeslot. Yes, while the catchphrases and riffs are the memories we hold most dear, it's important to remember exactly how ubiquitous the two were in '90s pop culture. From award shows to talk shows to their own feature-length film, they've accomplished a lot for a couple of animated underachievers. Here are our picks for the Top Five Beavis and Butthead Special Appearances.

See Also:
*The Five Best Beavis and Butthead Music Video Riffings of All Time
*The Five Greatest Beavis and Butthead Episodes of All Time

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How Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf Gave England the Blues

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Wolf and Waters enjoy a refreshing beverage.

The American blues sound overtook England in the 1960s like no other. Limey guitar slingers like John Mayall, Peter Green and Jimmy Page worked up their tolerance to whiskey, mastered the blues scale and made more money than every American blues musician that came before them. In the early 1970s, two of those American bluesmen-- Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters--came to London separately to record a couple of albums with a studio full of high-profile British appreciators. The results were worth considerably less than their parts.

It's a story you're not likely to hear when it comes to the myths of both of these guitar gods, who are both being celebrated at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall tomorrow during Blues at the Crossroads 2. Anchored by Grammy-nominated blues band the Fabulous Thunderbirds--the backing band for the night--revered blues artists will take turns riffing on the best of Howling' Wolf and Muddy Waters. With every bent note and lighting fast riff, masters like James Cotton, Jody Williams, Bob Margolin and Tinsley Ellis will show their appreciation to these blues giants. Though there's no shortage of American players indebted to the sound these men left behind, they did have quite a hand in lighting a fire under the asses of some legendary UK musicians while they were alive.

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