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Posts Tagged ‘hip hop’

Delicious array of gourmet cheese on a platter

Photo: Foodandmore

Dear Readers, You know that you have been wondering why the taste of cheese changes depending on what music it was exposed to during the aging process. So much more agreeable than wondering who the next president will be or “why the sea is boiling hot,” to quote the prescient Lewis Carroll!

Well, wonder no more. Jason Daley at the Smithsonian has the musical cheese story covered.

The creation of good cheese involves a complex dance between milk and bacteria. In a quite literal sense, playing the right tune while this dance unfolds changes the final product’s taste, a new study shows.

“Denis Balibouse and Cecile Mantovani at Reuters report that hip-hop, for example, gave the cheese an especially funky flavor, while cheese that rocked out to Led Zeppelin or relaxed with Mozart had milder zests.

“Last September, Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler [whose day job is as a veterinarian] and a team of researchers from the Bern University of Arts placed nine 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese in individual wooden crates in Wampfler’s cheese cellar. Then, for the next six months each cheese was exposed to an endless, 24-hour loop of one song using a mini-transducer, which directed the sound waves directly into the cheese wheels.

“The ‘classical’ cheese mellowed to the sounds of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The ‘rock’ cheese listened to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ An ambient cheese listened to Yello’s ‘Monolith,’ the hip-hop cheese was exposed to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’ and the techno fromage raved to Vril’s ‘UV.’ A control cheese aged in silence, while three other wheels were exposed to simple high, medium and low frequency tones.

“According to a press release, the cheese was then examined by food technologists from the ZHAW Food Perception Research Group, which concluded that the cheese exposed to music had a milder flavor compared to the non-musical cheese. They also found that the hip-hop cheese had a stronger aroma and stronger flavor than other samples.

“The cheeses were then sampled by a jury of culinary experts during two rounds of a blind taste test. Their results were similar to the research group’s conclusions and the hip-hop cheese came out on top. …

“Michael Harenberg, director of the music program at Bern University of the Arts says he was skeptical of the whole project when Wampfler first approached him. ‘Then we discovered there is a field called sonochemistry that looks at the influences of sound waves, the effect of sound on solid bodies.’

“It turns out that Wampfler was rooting for the hip-hop cheese to win all along. Now, reports Reuters, he and his collaborators want to expose cheese to five to ten different types of hip-hop to see if it has similar effects.”

More here.

 

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Photo: Tim Clyne
Genesis Blu calls herself a “raptivist” — a mix of rapper and activist. She also works as a psychotherapist.

I heard Genesis Blu interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) one day when I was driving and thought you might be interested. She is a rapper, an activist, and a psycotherapist.

NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviewed her at SugarHill Recording Studios, where Genesis Blu recorded the tracks for her EP, “Bluming Season.”

“Genesis Blu calls herself a ‘raptivist,’ mixing hip-hop with advocacy. She says she dedicates time to ‘facilitating change in her community.’ The dual passions for politics and music started at a young age.

” ‘I would be like 12 years old, going to a nightclub, where people are smoking and drinking. I was always a different type of kid, so my songs would be about the struggle, the political climate — even that young. And they would be like, “Where is this little girl coming from with this stuff?” ‘

“But when she got older, she put the music career on hold and focused on school — a lot of school. She got a bachelor’s, a master’s and started her doctorate. Until she had an epiphany one day — she wanted to be back in the community, writing music. She was in the middle of her dissertation.

” ‘I literally stopped that day, put down that pen and picked up another pen and a notepad and began to write music,’ she says. ‘And I’ve been doing that since.’

“Well, it’s not quite all of what she’s been doing since. She’s also a full-time psychotherapist. Blu works with children and families and teens ‘who are removed from their home due to abuse of some sort or due to their emotional disturbances,’ she says.

” ‘People ask me to choose [between music and therapy] and I cannot, I love them equally,’ she says. ‘Because you’re able to change lives both ways.’ ”

Here are some highlights of the interview.

” ‘I don’t want my people left behind. So, what’s happening [in Houston] right now is gentrification, in the worst way. They are pushing these people out. And there’s not many other options [of places] to go, because we don’t have a great public transportation system …

” ‘It’s upsetting a lot of us who have been in this community and are working in this community. And so even though I’m very happy about the diversity, what it also is doing is allowing people to come in with a bunch of money, throw money at some things, tear some things down, buy it out — and then leave the people who have been here stranded.’ …

” ‘My history is that my grandmother grew up in another neighborhood in Houston as well called Acres Homes. So living between Greenspoint and Acres Homes, which were rivals at the time when I was a kid by the way. So I would have to go to my grandmother’s house after school if my mother couldn’t be home from work.

” ‘And that was interesting because I was bullied — a lot. Because I’m too proper for the black kids and I’m not white enough for the white children, so I’m in a very awkward place. But still loving the culture of where I come from.

” ‘But my grandmother was also an activist. She was very influential in the war on drugs here in Houston. So … she would have me marching with her. So I get that from her.’ ”

More at NPR, here.

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It’s not always easy for low-income people to get access to food that is healthful, and once children get accustomed to salty, fatty, sugary snacks, junk food becomes comfort food and stores see little demand for better items. But if children know what would taste good and be good for them, they are on the road to better nutrition.

That is why the folks fighting childhood obesity are enlisting the support of several hip-hop artists that young people admire.

Winnie Hu at the NY Times writes, “Adrian Harris, known as Easy A.D. to his fans, has rapped about street life in the South Bronx as a member of the Cold Crush Brothers, a group that is among the pioneers of hip-hop.

“Now Mr. Harris also raps about broccoli.

“ ‘If you think you eat healthy, say ‘”me,” ‘ Mr. Harris called out over a pounding bass that shook the gym at the Future Leaders Institute, a charter school in Harlem, on a recent morning. A photo of a cart laden with fruits and vegetables filled a screen behind him. ‘Boys and girls,’ he added, ‘there are no Doritos on that cart.’

“Mr. Harris, calling himself a ‘health M.C.,’ aims to reach children who might otherwise tune out nutrition lessons. His vegetable rap is part of a growing public health campaign that has enlisted hip-hop artists such as Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D and DMC of Run-DMC to work alongside doctors and nutritionists in fighting obesity and related illnesses in poor communities. The campaign is being rolled out this year in 18 cities.” More here.

Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Adrian Harris, also known as Easy A.D., made a pitch for healthy eating recently at the Future Leaders Institute in Harlem.
 

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I intended to go straight to YouTube after reading NY Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay’s enthusiastic review of jookin at a recent Memphis showcase. But then I couldn’t remember the name of the dancer or what the dance style was.

It’s jookin. And I can see why Macaulay — who can be utterly scathing about ballet dancers and choreographers who don’t meet his standard — is so ecstatic about jookin.

Macaulay writes about the rise of the form and a now-famous dancer called Lil Buck (born Charles Riley) at the NY Times: “In 2007 Katie Smythe, a  ballet teacher working out of her native Memphis, was driving her most remarkable student, Charles Riley, across the Mississippi to a lecture-demonstration in Arkansas. Mr. Riley, a young man specializing in the local form of virtuoso hip-hop footwork known as jookin, had started taking ballet lessons to gain strength and extend his range.

“Ms. Smythe had already persuaded some jookin dancers to improvise to Haydn and Mozart. Now she asked Mr. Riley to perform to the cello ‘Swan’ music from Saint-Saëns’s suite ‘The Carnival of the Animals.’ …

“In jookin, men wearing sneakers dance a version of pointwork too. They don’t wear tights, and in those shoes they can’t straighten their knees, but they go onto tiptoe and ripple their arms with the hip-hop currents … When Ms. Smythe and Mr. Riley reached their destination, she introduced him to the audience and put on the music. Her school’s archivist filmed the performance and posted it on YouTube.

“In 2010 this YouTube video (no longer online) was spotted by Heather Watts, a former principal of New York City Ballet who had danced for George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and many other choreographers. …

“Watching this video of Lil Buck on YouTube, Ms. Watts was immediately electrified.” Read here how she helped him get national attention.

Jit is another type of street dance, from Detroit. I believe that is what you see in the second video, but I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

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We caught a bit about this movie on Link TV yesterday. I zeroed in on the contrasts. The documentary Mongolian Bling is about both the traditional life and the hip-hop life in Mongolia.

The film’s website says, “Forget about nomads and monks! It’s hip hop that’s making Mongolia move in the 21st century. Mongolian Bling jumps into the thriving music scene in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and follows stars as they rap nationwide … But beyond this bling lies a failed democracy, and a dying ancient culture that the elders mourn the loss of. While many artists still aspire to the West, a handful are using hip hop to try and salvage their country’s flailing democracy, and bringing Mongolia’s rich musical history into their modern beats and rhymes.”

Poke around in the site, here, to learn more about the participants.

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A musician and his scholar wife have created an unusual show based on their visits to Israel and Palestine and on the music and sounds they absorbed there.

Joel Brown writes in the Boston Globe: “Performer Yuri Lane grew up the son of artists in San Francisco’s then-gritty Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, which he found to be good preparation for traveling the West Bank as a Jew.

“ ‘I learned a lot about tolerance, and seeing people for who they are, not judging them,’ he says. ‘Also, some street smarts.’

“Lane began visiting Israel and the West Bank in the late 1990s, following his girlfriend, now wife, Rachel Havrelock, a religion scholar who studied on both sides of the Green Line that marks Israel’s pre-1967 borders.”

Together they have created “From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A Beatbox Journey,” which they call a “hip-hop travelogue.”

Lane tells the Globe his travels “just kind of opened me up, just being Jewish in Israel . . . and also traveling across the Green Line and seeing a lot of similarities between Tel Aviv and Ramallah. … The night life and the jazz cafes and places where people can smoke water pipes and hang out, listening to the sounds of music, from sped-up Bedouin music to hip-hop. I really just tried to be a sponge.” More from the Globe.

By the way, you can hear Yuri’s harmonica beatboxing on YouTube. (Had to look up beatboxing: “a form of vocal percussion primarily involving the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue, and voice.”)

Photograph: The Boston Globe

 

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Summer Stages Dance, an unusual summer program at Concord Academy, had a fundraiser today, a Dance Feast. From noon to five, people of all ages and abilities could take classes with top choreographers and try ballet, modern dance, hip hop, Indian dance, Isadora Duncan dance, Irish dance, yoga, rope performance, Ghanaian dance, taiko drumming, and more.

At 5 p.m., the choreographers and their companies presented short performances in the gym. The program was characterized not only by inventive movement but by intellect, emotion, and humor.

I was particularly moved by Catherine Gallant’s second selection from the work of Isadora Duncan. The first selection was lovely and what you might expect of Isadora Duncan, sort of woodland nymphs. The second was fierce, angry, passionate. I was amazed.

Also powerful was David Dorfman‘s on-the-spot creation, a dance with words.

Amy Spencer and Richard Colton are the married dance team behind Summer Stages. They teach at Concord Academy. Their summer program gives professional choreographers a time to create while also teaching some classes and performing. It has been going 15 years and is considered quite unique in the country.

David Parker, son of the late mystery writer Robert B. Parker, is a regular participant. I’m including a sample of his work. He brings a lot of humor to his choreography. Today he did the Velcro dance, Slap-Stuck.  Search on YouTube for “Sisters and Misters” or “Nut-Cracked,” Parker’s version of the traditional Christmas favorite.

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