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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

7's Series: December

Although for the past few months he has been absent from Heavy In The Streets, my boy 7 has been doing his thing. I'd like to congratulate him on receiving his Masters while studying in Australia and having a major gallery exhibition. It's been a great experience watching him grow as a photographer and artist and I'm happy to say he's going to continue submitting work for HITS readers to enjoy. Here is his last submission of 2008.

Happy New Year to 7 and everyone who has shown love since I started this blog.

Click on images to enlarge.

Info provided below each picture.

The Gabba. Paint Shop. Wollongabba, Queensland, Australia.

Mural. Unknown Artist. Sectioned mural in public walkway. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Kasino 2. Artist: Kasino. Back alley in central city. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Hype. Artist: Exit. Quick piece inside Graffic Beat Studio. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Green Demon. Unknown Artist. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Exit and Seiz. Artist: Rapid Fire Breakers (Co-Founders of Hype Magazine). Inside Graffic Beat Studio. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

7 Hills. Artist: 7. "Edge of the World" piece done in the rock hop. Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Can You Dig It? Vol. 27: Skinny Friedman

Name: Skinny Friedman

Claim to Fame: I’m one half of the DJing crew called Philadelphyinz. Apt One is the other half. We’ve been doing parties in Philly for three years and parties in New York for a little bit less than that. We do a little bit of everything and play as many places as we can because we love DJing. We also produce, write a little bit; are jacks of all trades and generally wonderful human beings.

Photo Credit- Ian Meyer

Representing: It’s complicated. I grew up in North Carolina and moved to Pittsburgh for high school. That’s where I really laid down my roots and met most of my lasting friends. I went to St. Louis for college at Washington University and that’s where I really got into DJing. I moved to Brooklyn after that and I’ve lived in Brooklyn for three years now.

Every time I tell people my background they ask, “How come you’re in this crew called Philadelphyinz if you’re not from Philly?” The answer is that my whole family is from Philly and I’ve been visiting there regularly my whole life. My parents are from Philly, I’ve spent every thanksgiving ever in Philadelphia, and my brother went to college there. I’ve spent a lot of time in the city. More importantly, I didn’t pick the name (laughs). The name just kind of stuck. Me and Apt weren’t really out here trying to rep Philly aggressively; so much as it was just a name we had. I feel like I can claim Philly a little bit because I spent a lot of time there growing up and I’ve been DJing there a lot recently as well.

Pittsburg is where my heart and soul is. I got love for St. Louis and living there was really interesting. I learned a lot there and got into a lot of southern rap out there. It was a cool time to be a DJ while I was in St. Louis, but my heart is really in Pittsburgh and I live in Brooklyn. I represent Pittsburgh the hardest.

Years in the Game: When I was in high school I played drums. I was in something like a band, but to call it a band would be giving it too much credit. Me and my two best friends liked to get together and make music. We would just hang out and jam together. There were a lot of underground rappers in Pittsburgh and we knew a lot of them. We started doing beats for some of them and played live with a group called The Deadly Scribes. Eventually we started recording what we were doing live and started making beats people could rhyme over. That was sort of what was going on at the end of high school.

I went off to college and got my first turntables. I started DJing seriously and got involved with the radio station. I was in there everyday making tapes of every rap record I could find. 90.3 KWUR in St. Louis had beautiful, gigantic stacks of 1000’s of old rap records. I was just overwhelmed by it. I started getting into hip hop in a really serious way. I came back to Pittsburgh after that first year of college for the summer. I got back with my rappin’ ass friends and started sampling and buying more records. I eventually bought an MPC and started sampling instead of using live instruments. I was producing a lot and I was learning with a kid named Burnso who was in the band. We would go digging a lot. Every time I went back to Pittsburgh it was like a big record fest and I was DJing a lot of house parties.

At this point I was buying records all the time and it would carry over to whenever I went back to St. Louis. I started college in ’99 and left St. Louis in the summer of 2005. Those first couple years got me really into under ground rap. I was listening to Cannibal Ox and RJD2, but also learning about other groups like Boot Camp Click and DITC. It’s funny because there was a time that I would have been ashamed that I only got into rap and started DJing in 1999, but that’s damn near ten years ago so I don’t feel so bad about it. As time went on I got more into people like E-40 and UGK and just kept expanding my horizons. Now I like all kinds of rap. But being in St. Louis definitely helped me expand my horizons. I still ride for Nelly and the St. Lunatics.

Before we get off the topic, I got to give a shout out to my homie DJ Trackstar. When I got to college he was one of the first dudes I started hanging out with and talking about rap. He used to loan me like 25 CD’s at a time to burn. He’s still in St. Louis making pretty big moves.

I also have to shout out F5 Records, Rue, and DJ Crucial. He’s a great DJ, incredible producer, and one of the nicest dudes on earth.

Best Digging City or Town: For me, I always enjoyed digging in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has a really good record culture. There’s one place called Jerry’s that’s legendary. They have a huge store jam packed with records and it’s more than you can possibly deal with. Sometimes Jerry will sell random boxes of records for ten bucks. Having Jerry’s around has definitely helped the record culture of Pittsburgh. Anything you could want will probably show up there eventually, you just have to keep looking for it.

In St. Louis they had a record exchange which was an old library filled with records. A lot of singles were three dollars and when I first started buying disco and 80’s records I would head over there and just go to town. I’d spend five hours going through records and pull out 20 singles. The record exchange was great.

I also used to live across the street from a place called Vintage Vinyl. They always had pretty good records coming through. I’d sell all my promo records there and then go buy a $20 Fela Kuti record.

Photo Credit- Annie Zaleski/Riverfront Times

In Pittsburgh we also had several record exchanges that had pretty decent records. The thing about me and digging is that I don’t really get into finding particular records and spending tons of money on them. For me, digging is about the thrill of discovery. I would rather spend hours digging through three dollar records and find a bunch of records I’ve never seen before for cheap than go somewhere with a bunch of $50 records on the wall and buy the one record I’ve been looking for forever. I feel like I slack on researching the prices of records, but for me it’s about diving into a pile of records and taking home records that happened to come into my path and were in my price range. It’s never occurred to me to stop buying records. I buy records because I like to discover music. Discovering records on the internet is cool but it’s kind of designed for discovery. It’s hard to stumble upon something the same way you do when you go to a store and dig through a stack of random albums.

The roots of hip hop are making due with what you have on hand, not having unlimited resources, so I really like the limitations of vinyl. The limitations of vinyl are similar to the constraints that are built into using a sample. When you sample something, you don’t get to come up with a melody and play it. If you do, you have to find an isolated single sound and chop it up so you can make it into different notes. The art of making a mid-90’s rap beat is finding a loop. You have a set amount of records and it’s up to you to find the best part of the record. At the same time you have these constraints on you. If you put me in front of a keyboard, I don’t know what to do with all those options. It’s too much freedom for me. I like the constraints of samples. I don’t like having access to everything the way you do on the internet. Vinyl culture is all about doing what you can with what you have.

Most Prized Piece of Wax: The records I really prize are my secret weapons that I used when I was still using mostly vinyl. They’re mostly rap records that I have nostalgia about playing, like J-Kwon’s other single “Hood Hop”. That’s one of my favorite songs of all time and I have it on vinyl. That song is so well produced and constructed that people feel it even if they don’t know it. I went and saw Hollertronix in 2003 and I remember Diplo dropped “Hood Hop”. I was one of the only people that really knew it. That was still back when shit like that was a secret. You had to dig a little bit to find dope regional rap. Records like that are really near and dear to me.

I love my copy of Time Machine's "Block Troopin'" 12". It also has the songs "Rest Stop Sweetheart" and "A Million and One Things to Do" on it. Time Machine is really fucking good. They’re like Ugly Duckling except less friendly. They didn’t rap about anything particularly exciting, but their material was real cool and I felt it. They’re still around. They recently did a song with Maddie Horn and Dave Nada did a remix for them.

I also love "Rapper’s Ball" by E-40 featuring Too Short and K-Ci, which is the B-Side to "Things'll Never Change". That’s a record I played the shit out of for no apparent reason when I was in St. Louis. I’m not sure that anyone ever really appreciated it but me. I was five or six years late on it, but whatever man, I had to make up for lost time.

Favorite Album Cover/s: I always liked Trickbag by The Meters. It’s just a picture of someone’s ass in a pair of daisy dukes. The rumor in New Orleans was that it was a guy posing on the cover even though it looks like a girl’s ass.

Dollar Bin Miracle: Man, everything I own is a dollar bin miracle (laughs). I got the first Company Flow record for a dollar. It’s called Juvenile Technique. I think I found it in St. Louis. At some point it was a $100 record.

When I was in New Orleans I came up on some cool stuff for cheap. I found two copies of an Ernie K-Doe record for a dollar a piece. I found some really interesting stuff in New Orleans.

Total Records Owned: I’d say around 1,000. When I left St. Louis for New York, I rented a truck and threw as many records as I possibly could in there. Everything else I left behind. I had to decide what records I would still play a lot. I had to chop down on my stupid rap collection and a lot of records that made the cut are near and dear to me. I don’t buy as many as I used to and I don’t get as many promos as I used to.

Best Digging Story: I was digging at A-1 or somewhere like that and I found a copy of Bad for three bucks. After I bought it, I went home and started listening to my new records. When I went to pull out Bad, it wasn’t Bad…it was the Thriller picture disc instead. So now I have that, which is pretty awesome.

Another story happened while I went digging with Cut Chemist. Jurassic 5 was in town and I was going to interview him for something. The venue was down the street from my house which was really close to a good record store. He went over to the dollar bin and just started handing me record after records saying, “This has a break on it, that has a break on it, that one has a break on it.” I ended up with a stack of 30 records, all with breaks on them. Eventually I was like, “Aren’t you going to buy anything?” He said, “Nah, all I really buy now is indy rap from ’87.”

For more on Skinny Friedman, make sure to check out his MySpace as well as The Philadelphyinz MySpace.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

X-Mas Butters

Even though I only seem to write about records and horror movies, I'm actually a huge fan of Christmas. I'm also a huge fan of...dare I say it...Christmas music(gasp). Here are a few gems from the holiday season that I can't live without.

Baby It's Cold Outside- Ray Charles and Betty Carter

O Holy Night- The Supremes

Please Come Home For Christmas- Charles Brown

Enjoy...and remember to appreciate the important things on Christmas day.

Can You Dig It? Vol. 26: Memo

Name: Memo

Claim to Fame: I’m part of the production group The Molemen. We’ve produced for cats like Cali Agents, Rasco, Vakill, All Natural, Louis Logic, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Immortal Technique, and some local Chicago cats. We’ve also put out some of our own albums as well.

Representing: Chicago, born and raised.

Years in the Game: I’ve been digging and producing for over ten years, but I was also into rapping in the early 90’s. I was in a group with Rhymefest and we put out a tape when we were sophomores or juniors in high school. It’s crazy to listen to now because we were talking all this gangsta stuff. We didn’t go to the same school, but we grew up together.

I started getting serious about production around ’95. I messed around with beats in high school, but in the mid 90’s I started going hard with it. I bought lots of records before I got serious about production.

Best Digging City or Town: Chicago’s pretty good. I’m very happy with our soul selection here. The turnaround is amazing. I dig everything from international to soul. I’ve been digging in Missouri, the outskirts of Illinois, and Michigan. I haven’t dug much on the east or west coast, but from my experiences, Chicago is the best. You need to come down and check it out. You’d appreciate it. Trough all my years of digging, I’m always coming up.

There are a couple places in Grand Rapids, Michigan that are also good. You can find great records for very cheap.

When it comes to records, the Midwest got it going on. I’m a big international and easy listening head. When I started digging, I assumed all soul records had been sampled, so I stayed the hell away from them and went for other genres. It was strictly jazz, international, easy listening and rock when I started out in the early 90’s.

Most Prized Piece of Wax: It’s a Brazilian instrumental record called Mobile. I’ve been sampling the drums on that record for years and years. I can hardly even use them now because I’ve used them so many times. Some of my homies have told me, “Those drums are yours.” They’ve become a really intricate part of my beats.

Favorite Album Cover/s: There are a lot of hot album covers. The first one that comes to mind is the album Alchemist sampled for the intro to his 1st Infantry album. It has a great cover. It’s a religious record with a image of Jesus on the front.

I also like Caldera's Time and Change cover.

Dollar Bin Miracle: I’ve had a few at this place in Chicago called Jazz Record Mart. They sell mostly blues and jazz and they’re a little bit snobbish. They have CD’s, but their specialty is blues and jazz records. They don’t give a shit about other genres; they just put them in the 99 cents bin.

I found a Bettye Crutcher record there with some dope samples.

I also found an original copy of Spanky Wilson’s Doin’ It record that has recently been repressed. It has “Light My Fire” on it, and I sold it on Ebay a couple of years ago for something like 70 bucks.

Total Records Owned: At my peak, I had a wall full of records. I’ve moved so many times that I’ve gotten rid of them or sold a lot of ‘em. I used to have them for show and shit.

But once you start moving a lot, it’s kind of like fuck all that. My mom still has a bunch of my records at her place. She has some of the horrible jazz records and other shit that I was digging when I first started out.

Best Digging Story: I used to walk by this place on the north side of Chicago and I’d always see records in the window. I decided to stop in one day. It was mostly CD’s, but there was a corner of maybe ten crates of records on the floor. It was some sort of international store; I’m not quite sure what nationality. I think the owners might have been Greek. I was happy because I’m big on international records.

One of Memo's favorite international covers.

I found a couple of records and brought them up to the desk to find out how much they cost. The women at the register looked at them and said, “Oh, he’s the king” and helped the person behind me instead of telling me how much I owed her. I didn’t really know what to do, so when she was done ringing the person behind me up, I asked again, “How much are these records?” She said, “Ohhh, I don’t know, he’s the king.” So I put back the ones I had and got some other records. I brought them back up and she was like, “Ohh, I don’t know.” The bitch wouldn’t sell me no records! She kept saying “He’s the king”, and I had no idea what she was talking about because Elvis wasn’t on the cover. She also asked me what I wanted the records for. I forget what I told her, but she told me to come back later. I walked out of the place like, “What the fuck?! I got money.” Maybe the records were just for show, I don’t know man.

To find out more about Memo, check out his MySpace. To listen to some quality stuff from Memo and the rest of The Molemen, head over to their website.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Screenwriter/actor Trent Haaga recently did a killer interview with me for my Famous People Love Horror series. I'm a firm believer in showing gratitude to my interviewee's by helping give their projects as much shine as possible. That being said, here is a embedded teaser for 2008's Deadgirl, which Haaga penned the screenplay for.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Famous People Love Horror: Trent Haaga's Top Ten Underrated 80's Horror Flicks

Name: Trent Haaga

Occupation: Actor/Screenwriter

Horror Fan Credentials:

a) Is responsible for penning the recent horror hit Deadgirl.
b) Has acted in movies with titles like Splatter Disco and Creep Creepersin's Erection.
c) Made his acting debut in the infamous Troma studio's film Terror Firmer.

Ten Underrated 80's Horror Flicks (in no particular order) as chosen by Trent Haaga ....

1) Alone in the Dark (1982) - No, this is not the shitty Uwe Boll video game movie. This is an underrated classic that takes the standard slasher set-up and packs it with interesting characters and social commentary. Most people's exposure to this one came from the cruddy clip film Terror in the Aisles. Everybody remembers the running over the mailman for his hat scene. Martin Landau, Jack Palance, and Donald Pleasance were just three washed-up actors looking for work in 1982. Neither Landau nor Palance were Academy Award considerations way back then, but, shit, somebody find the casting agent on this movie and give em a big kiss on the lips for me.

This movie has a pretty simple premise. A handful of insane inmates escape during a blackout to kill their new doctor and his family, but there's so much more here. The crazies escape during a chaotic blackout and think that the real world is perfectly suited for them ... and may be even more insane than they are. This movie has it all, including Donald Pleasance as a dope-smoking doctor, a gigantic man-child pederast, a character called "The Bleeder" who wears a hockey mask before Jason did, a concert by real punk band The Sic Fucks, and one of my favorite final shots of any movie ever. It finally came out on DVD a year or so ago, so I got to get rid of my full-screen laser disc.

2) Slaughter High (1986) - One thing that I consider a hallmark of 80's horror is the what-the-fuck-is-going-on quadruple whammy ending. You know what I'm talking about. You think the movie's over but there's one more surprise, or maybe it's all been a dream…or a dream within a dream, but then you wake up one last time. Logic totally goes out the window, just so the filmmakers can do the whole, "You think it's over, but it's not!" thing. Even 80's "classics" like Nightmare on Elm Street did that shit, but none can hold a candle to Slaughter High.

My folks dropped me off at the theater to go Christmas shopping and I went to see this one all by myself. I walked out of the theater all discombobulated. I consider the experience to be my first acid trip. The killer is a picked-upon nerd in a jester outfit but by the end he's staring into the camera in a mental institution dressed like a nurse (obviously, The Dark Night ripped this off) and peeling his face off…WTF? Slaughter High also has the death by acid-beer shotgun, death by riding lawnmower, and death by trampoline scene that Eli Roth stole for his Thanksgiving trailer. Shit, I'm having flashbacks just writing this thing. Will someone please release this on DVD?

3) Killer Party (1986) - AKA The April Fool, this movie says, “Fuck you, ridiculous quadruple-ending. We're gonna do a quadruple beginning!" It takes the first ten minutes to be a film within a film within a music video by some ridiculous 80's hair metal band. After that it becomes a sorority prank film, turns onto a possession movie, and then still has the balls to have an ending that doesn't make any sense. And, like all horror movies in the 80's, it's got tits. Oh man, I want to put on a headband and some turquoise spandex and fucking Flashdance right now. Why is it that a bunch of movies that I consider classic aren't even out on DVD? Am I that out of touch? Somebody tell MGM to get off their asses and release a special three disc edition of this, stat!

4) Trick or Treat (1986) - Ah, heavy metal. Fuck that new-fangled anthology film Trick R’ Treat, this is the real deal. Metal god Sammi Curr gets resurrected when a nerd who is a big fan plays his records backwards. The nerd gets cool, but it costs him his goodness. This film is metal as hell and it includes cameos from Ozzy and Gene Simmons before they became reality TV stars.

You know, even when 80's horror movies were a bit "lighter" in tone than others, they still managed to get titty shots in there, much to my teenage pleasure. I was 15 years old in 1986. Maybe that's the magic year for me, since the last three movies on this list came out that year. At least this one is available on one of those cheap-jack DVDs that you see with old cartoons and 3 Stooges DVDs while you're in line at Rite Aid. The director went on to make the basketball playing dog movie Air Bud.

5) Psychos in Love (1987) - An early direct-to-video film, and one of the first outright gore comedies. Yeah, it's cheap as hell, but it actually prefigured a lot of that reflexive stuff that Craven did with Scream with a lot more nudity and blood. The title pretty much says it all. Two psychos meet, consider themselves as potential victims, find out they're both loco, and fall in love…until another psycho comes along and threatens their marital bliss. I still hum the Psychos in Love theme song in the shower and I can't look at a grape without saying the, "Grapes? I fucking HATE grapes! All kinds of grapes!" monologue that is a running gag in the film. Apparently some German DVD company released a special edition of this on DVD a few years back, but they only made 300 of them. Once again, somebody needs to rectify this situation.

6) Nekromantik (1987) - Jorg Buttgereit is a shining example of how you can make a movie for a couple of thousand dollars and not have it be a piece of shit. Pretty much all of his movies are brilliant. Sadly, he quit making films because it was too stressful and didn't make him any money. I mourn his departure form the world of film. I showed this movie to a chick that I met to see if she was cool or not. Now she's my wife. Nuff said.

7) Prince of Darkness (1987) - People dismiss this film as a John Carpenter failure. Screw them. The devil is a swirling green tank of protoplasm in a church basement in downtown Los Angeles and Alice Cooper melts into a pile of bugs. What more do you need? One of the Simon brothers from Simon & Simon? It's got it.

8) Bad Dreams (1988) - Dean Cameron from Ski School and Summer School slashes himself all up with a straight razor. They should have called it Bad Dreams School; then I could have a "Dean Cameron School” triple feature sometime. Richard Lynch, a real-life burn victim, plays a burn victim cult leader. An air-conditioning vent gets filled with blood and guts, which rain down on a bunch of cops. But is it real, or the imaginations of a bunch of mental patients? Whatever it is, it's bad-ass.

9) Don't Go In the House (1980) - As sleazy and disturbing as Maniac, but with twice the disco and ten times more flame-throwers. Serious Mama's boy and child-abuse victim hates women, kidnaps them, strips them, and flame-throwers (or is it flamethrows?) them to death in a special metal room in his house. Not an ounce of humor to be found in this one. It's pretty much flat-out creepy and disturbing. I had a chance to re-watch this one at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles a few months back and it's just as effective now as it was 28 years ago. They just don't make ‘em like this anymore. And, miracle of miracles, it's available on DVD!

10) The Blob (1988) - Remakes generally suck. This one doesn't. The Blob itself is super-fast and violent, and the script by Frank Darabont, among others, moves along at a great clip. The bad guy in Robocop who gets doused in toxic waste and exploded by a car is a good guy in this one, but he still gets a great snapped in half backwards death.

Man, I want that guy's career! And you want 80's? Check out the alpha male mullet on anti-hero Kevin Dillon. Look no further for proof that this one was shot in the wonderful decade of terrible haircuts.

To find out more about the unique mind of Trent Haaga, make sure to visit his blog. Also be sure to check out Deadgirl.