- The Man Behind The Music
- A Different Kind of Bar In Jackson Heights
- Live Music Theatre @ 92Y Tribeca
- What's Next for Dirty Mac?
- Realizing a Dream
- A Staten Island Band Strives to Make a Career out of Their Passion
- The Cyrus Movement Prepares for Musical Warfare
- Winston Ford's Information Highway
- Vespertina's Opera Songbird
Author Archives: joseph.jackson
Posts: 14 (archived below)
“Good Producers spend a lot of time making music, great producers devote their time making hits,” said Jason Vasquez, also commonly known as Cyrus. Sitting in his black leather chair, multitasking, syncing his studio equipment with his software. He sat focused as he played sampled beats, created by his producers as well as himself, as his team practiced their verses before rapping in the booth.
The beats echoed loudly with their heavy bass, synthesized sounds, vocal samples and instrument layouts through Cyrus’ Dynaudio speakers or monitors. Though the two speakers are only about one foot and few inches high, standing in front of them can literally be compared to being at a concert.
“Music to many people is just music, but when you spend five to seven hours up to three or more times a week, music comes to life,” Cyrus said, “It’s up to the producers to give music shape, the rappers give it a voice, and the engineers fine tune that voice,” he continued.
Cyrus has worked seriously on music from rapping to learning and perfecting beat making for the last five years. However, he discovered his passion for music, beginning as a freestyle rapper when he seventeen years old. Cyrus would venture out into the streets battling for the rights to be recognized by fellow artists. “Cyrus was always in the streets crushing somebody,” said close friend and partner Slim Reaper, songwriter and performer. “He was battling guys at least two to three times a day, it didn’t matter where he was, at school, or the train” he continued.
“It had come to a point where rappers in my hood used to refer to me as Lil’ Nas,” said Cyrus. A proud man in his thirties today, Cyrus spoke of his experiences in the streets of the Bronx spanning from Southern Boulevard to Parkchester.
The name Cyrus derives from the King of Persia, meaning winner of verbal contest, according to the experienced artist. His current battle record is 98 wins 2 losses, a majority of his wins he received from participating in the Unsigned Hype mixtape tour freestyle competition in 2004.
Performing at many venues all over New York such as Club Rebel, Nuyorican’s Poet Café, Madison Square Garden, and the Bowery Poetry Club to name a few, only increased the fame behind his name, making him recognized among many artists.
However, what made the up and coming artist truly hungry for music success was when he lost his job. Unsure of how he would make ends meet, Cyrus thought to himself what could he do to make money? Realizing he was spending massive amounts of time at the studio, rapping and learning how to make beats, he thought why make money with his music.
After sacrificing many hours of sleep and free time, Cyrus put out his first mixtape in 2006 under newly developed label, Gutter Boy Productions. Using a Playstation 2 headset, his computer and free recording software called “Audacity,” Cyrus created his first fourteen-track album.
Using the little money he had left, he physically pressed up to 200 of his mixtapes and began selling them for $2 a CD. “The first week, I sold over 2,000 CD’s and by the end of the month, with the help of my original team, we managed to sell some 8,000 copies, that’s how it all started,” said Cyrus. Using what he earned from his sells, Cyrus began purchasing equipment to acquire his own studio.
The studio equipment reached a sum of about $12,000, some tools such as his silver polished Neumann u87 microphone priced at $3,500. Not to mention Cyrus upgraded from his rather limited free Audacity software for Pro-tools priced at a low price of $675. “My studio or lab may not be pretty yet, but it definitely didn’t come cheap,” said Cyrus.
Though the studio setup set the aspiring rapper/producer back, it took no time for him to get back to his feet. Because he is the founder and self made CEO of Cyrus Worldwide, whenever songs, beats or any other work is done in his studio, proper payments are made. “I usually don’t charge my people who come to do work, unless they intend to use my blank CD’s and labels, but if knew rappers and producers come, I charge anywhere from $100 to $150 per hour,” Cyrus proudly stated.
The Cyrus Worldwide coalition spans out across the city from Brooklyn and Manhattan to the Bronx, Yonkers and Staten Island, with well over 70 producers and rappers working 6-7 hours, three days a week on their music pursuits. Each member maintains over 8,000 fans on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and other social websites where they can promote their “Movement.”
“Not everyone can work 7 hours a night on five songs at a time, and then go straight to our regular jobs by 8am, that’s what makes us the Worldwide Coalition, no one is as hungry and devoted as we are,” said Cyrus before putting his head phones back on to mix down some tracks for the upcoming mixtape.
The streets were cluttered and the lights shined bright red, indicating to all that a huge event was underway. The loud sounds of bass could be heard from outside, reaching the ears of eager listeners, antsy to dance and party to the main event. As the doors opened and techno lovers began piling into the hall, it was obvious the main objective was to be captivated by the astonishing digital sounds of Boyz Noize.
The streets filled with comers and goers as people took pictures, passed out fliers, smoked cigarettes and attempted to hold their liquor down, as they waited to enter Webster Hall, located on 125 east 11th street. By the sight of the sidewalk being packed with people patiently waiting to hear the electronic sounds of the gifted DJ, it became no shock that this night in Webster would be one to remember.
When looking at Webster Hall, the small house like appearance can be deceiving, until you enter and find three floors, each with wide open dancing space, capable of holding large crowds. Certain areas of the floor were carpeted and black light shined in various places throughout the club, even the bathrooms in the lower levels.
The floors vibrated and the walls shook as the sounds penetrated each corner of the fog filled hall. Groups gathered around each of the three bars located on every floor with bartenders’ running back and forth making sure to get everyone’s order.
When the clock finally hit 1 am, fans charged upstairs to hear what they all paid for, Boyz Noize, and he didn’t disappoint. The German DJ took control of the masses with quick, pulsating synthesized beats that literally could be felt through the body like an additional pulse. Spectators jumped to the sounds that shot from the advanced computerized equipment as DJ Alexander Ridha mixed and scratched.
Beginning in 2004, Ridha or as known by his stage name, Boyz Noize has received a number of awards including the 2010 Independent Music Award as well as Best Electronic Artist on Beatport for three years straight. These achievements are among a few that have earned the title as one of the most valuable electronic artists.
Ridha has worked on multiple albums such as “Death Suite” and “Lemonade,” collaborating with a number of artists. He has also remixed and worked on various songs with such artists and music talents as The Chemical Brothers, N.E.R.D, Snoop Dogg and the Black Eyed Peas.
Without a doubt, Boyz Noize has a knack for stealing the show with his bright, multicolored strobe lights and multiple screened monitors flashing his name, as well as lights, further amazing the audience.
Though, he mysteriously appeared out of nowhere without being announced, once the beats exploded from his turntables and computers through the large speakers upstairs, crowds throughout the club, on each floor, rushed to the stage. The night was of epic proportion as people seemingly worshipped his feet as his synthesized music penetrated the ears and gave Webster Hall a unique heartbeat.
Genres, in today’s music world, there are over a hundred different ways to categorize music. How some music listeners may label one form of music, others would label those forms differently.
Why can’t there just be basic universal genres such as rock, alternative, metal, hip-hop, R&B and Jazz for some. But no, there’s death metal, hardcore, gothic, alternative metal and the list goes on.
Some may wonder, why waste the time to debate the music classifications when all that needs to be done is to change the genre to your liking on computer. However, this is a nuisance in itself. We find ourselves driven at times, compelled by unique and catchy sounds of beats and heart felt lyrics to purchase songs on the spot, such as in the itunes app.
But after the well deserved download, so that inspiring music can be replayed to its maximum enjoyment, often we discover the annoyance. If you’re not looking for the song in the purchase list, you’re attempting to run a vigorous and irritating search through you 30,000 song filled 120GB MP3 device.
When the song is finally discovered, it is realized the melody you had become love stricken with was well hidden somewhere in the punk genre that’s just been added to your device without you even knowing about it. What nerve to have your own personal MP3 device, that you have taken great pride and care to order, be modified just to correspond with the genre as labeled by someone else. I mean how rude.
What defines the certain music to be labeled with such complexity? Who gave those people the right to dictate how we perceive the intricate sounds and moving words in a given song. Personally felt, why can’t the decision of labels be left to the individuals. Many music artists throughout the years formulated their unique sounds and words with the intent to separate themselves from the society and the masses. Therefore, why put a label on yourself and your music, why can’t it be the individual listener’s brand just as it belongs to the artist.
Perhaps there a bunch of policies and rules to go along with some secret chamber of music listeners who sit around and justify how music is labeled and why. If there is such a chamber, I would question how this confusion is resolved? What is looked at in songs to determine whether a song is rock, metal, alternative, gothic, etc?
Whatever the case maybe, too many genres makes for a big headache and unnecessary time scanning for a song, when you could be reaching ecstasy with the uplifting ear orgasms of a fine song.
The song “Pearl” had an interesting and unique twist with its melodic beat and bass. The singer, Tamar-kali has a powerful voice that carries even higher then the bass in the background. Very catchy, to the point where feet may even tap on the floor in unison to the instrumental beat, bumping loudly.
The synthesized beats played in harmony of the high pitch sounds spewing from the Radio Heads lead singer, Thom Yorke. The weird movements added to the increasing high, that the audience seems to experience while being taken on journey of some confusion and playful illusions. While the background was very bland and empty, the quick jitters and fast movements of hands and arms, created color to the video.
At midday, an old, somewhat untamed looking man, with rough, long gray facial hair, wearing worn out dark blue slacks and a graying shirt, worked his way to the Eve Cidery Farm stand, to sample three different ciders being displayed. “I’ve been coming to these markets for 6 years, and every year it gets better and better,” said the man after he hurriedly swallowed all three samples, barely having any time to examine the variety in taste of dry and sweet flavors. As Ezra Sherman, part owner of the Cidery Farm gazed at the man in some disgust and humor; the old man finished, wiped his lips with his handkerchief, and walked off saying, “Thank you kindly,” from a distance.
The streets of Union Square were packed with shoppers, tourists, sellers and spectators of all sorts, despite the chilly weather conditions, curious about the green markets. Each owner or helper, managing a farmers stand, stood resilient against the cold winds, prepared with wool coats, thick sweaters and layers of clothes, as they sold goods, answered questions and engaged in friendly conversation. The managers of the Union Square Market were nowhere to be found, all of them preoccupied with the heavy activity taking place.
“I’m looking for a green market manager to interview,” said a Baruch High School student, working on a class project. “I couldn’t even begin to tell you guys where to start, just check for anyone wearing a staff hood,” the representative replied, walking back into the GrowNYC truck. The green market initiative has taken place since 1976, beginning with only 12 farmers on the parking lot of 59th street and 2nd avenue. Through numerous years, the primary initiative of the green markets has been to sell their large variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, breads and wines, to consumers, restaurants, and others interested in quality goods.
There are 54 markets in New York and over 230 participating farmers. The markets accept a variety of payments, EBT being one method, allowing not only those willing to pay high prices for fresh goods, but also to help those less fortunate also have the privilege of experiencing all that the markets have to offer.
“We have something for every one, at the green markets,” said Larion Bates, a helper at one of the meat stands. “Whether you’re vegetarian, or not we have some of the best stuff around, I mean no one takes the time to produce goods with the care we do,” he continued.
The many stands, each had an abundance of goods, but what was more interesting was the fact that nearly every stand sold something different from the next. “There isn’t much competition selling at the green markets, because the managers pay close attention to who’s selling pork, beef, vegetables, etc,” said Andrea Carvalho, part owner of Nature’s Healing Farm. “I participated in the markets with my husband for over 30 years,” she continued as she dashed to customers, greeting and answer questions on growing and maintaining certain plants to the differences between Perrennials and Tenders.
“I grow well over 10,000 kinds of plants, some have over 30 variations,” she said excited after selling some newly grown Tulips and herbs to an older customer.
The farmers’ faces lit with welcoming expressions, as customers frolicked to their stands, whether they were making purchases or simply asking questions or indulging a little conversation. It seemed almost as if the highlight of their days for curious customers to wander under their tents.
“It’s not a nuisance selling at the green market, it’s actually kind of interesting for us just as it is for customers,” said O’ Reilly, a worker at the Flying Pig Farm stand, where they sell high-end pork. Rare heritage breed of Large Blacks, Gloucestershire Old Spots, and Tamworths are grown under the Flying Pigs Farm, as their niche in the meat market. “The difference between our pigs and others you normally see in stores are basically, the texture and flavor of the pork meat being more moist under these special breeds.
Every beginning of the week in the night hours of about 6 to 7pm, O’Reilly and his partner pack there medium size truck with 2,000 to 4,000 lbs. of pork and begin their travel from the quiet, small town of Sushan in New York, making a five-hour long trip to the city. After a few hours of rest at one the cheap Manhattan hotels, they wake and head for Union Square to set up by 7am, when they begin selling the $12-$20 variety of meats.
“It may be grueling work for many of us to pack and ship our goods over long distance to the city every week, but often times when you finally get to the city, it’s like a sigh of relief, since often times you don’t have to worry about traveling back home until the end of the week to do it all over again,” O’ Reilly said with a sigh. “Hey, at least we get to go for drinks after the long days, that usually keeps us going,” he continued before finalizing a $20 sale for a pack of 12 pork sausages.
There’s nothing like a nice sunny day, where fellow patrons can dine out with friends and families, letting the inner pig take hold as finger tips and dessert plates are licked clean. The beautiful stench of barbecue based herbs; spices and various sauces fill the air, captivating the senses of the entering customers of the Blue Smoke Restaurant.
Located on 116 East 27th street between Park and Lexington Avenue, Blue Smoke is hard to miss, with its large sign that reads, “BARBECUE,” vertically. Opening in 2002, Executive Chef/Partner Kenny Callaghan and Managing/Partner Mark Maynard-Parisi made the establishment a major Barbecue scene in New York City.
Taking the first steps in, the mind is taken on a wild adventure of seduction as the BBQ aroma dances through the nostrils. Continue and those steps become long exuberant and slightly infantile while making way toward a table to be served.
Near the entrance is a very large bar that holds some 42 different kinds of bourbon as well as wine and other alcoholic beverages. Booths and group tables fill the restaurant, but not to the point where there is cluster. The big red cushions on every seat or chair may come off loud and somewhat tacky, but sitting comfortably, allows some forgiveness.
Throughout the restaurant there is a wide display of various artworks, from mosaic-based pieces and metal crafted structures, to various photos that further animate the restaurant. Sitting in the back of Blue Smoke is where the full experiences can be grasped. Film-covered windows allow for a subtle amount of natural light to shine onto the tables rather than using bright light bulbs.
There is a very welcoming feeling as the host greets and the wait staff serves guest with heavy optimism in their facial expressions and conversations. “The waitress is so cheerful, it’s gross,” said a nearby customer after being served by one. While waiting, customers are entertained and their glasses are kept full.
The prices are fair for the various selections on the menu, and while the main course section may be lacking in variety it makes up for in quality. The Pulled Pork Sandwich, on a homemade Brioche Bun with Pickles and Sesame Slaw ($11.50) is filled with a barbecue zest. Though greasy, warranting questions on hitting the gym after, just one-bite into the succulent and spicy sandwich allows one slacking day.
The Texas Salt & Pepper Beef Ribs half rack ($15.95), with a side of sweet potato wedges was an unfortunate disappointment. The ribs have a nicely seasoned essence; however it doesn’t improve that it’s rather dry, tough and gristly. Adding Chipotle BBQ sauce helped the texture, but the mostly bone and fatty dish nonetheless was far from impressive. The sweet wedges fared better, despite how tiring they can get after a while, maybe the sweet sugary taste.
The dessert however, is always a delight, from the first bite to the last. The apple crisp, which is a personal favorite, consists of glazed baked apples, crispy crust and topped with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. The first try immediately reminded me of one the many mouth watering cupcakes of the Crumbs franchise, but not as sweet. The delectable dessert is well worth the packed gut and paining moans after a good meal.
In the large conference room of Baruch, Novel Writer Adrianne LeBlanc engaged the large audience with her heart felt stories and a weird twist of humor. Slouched slightly against the podium, LeBlanc began reading excerpts from her novel, “Random Family.”
She spoke with a slight, delicate and nervous tone on her experiences and travels. “Take
yourself out of the way to let the world in,” she said about reporting and studying people for her book. Despite her interesting perspectives and beliefs, she seemed to have lost some as she began to answer questions digging more into her experiences. Her long responses and constant pauses left the Q&A session kind of “dry,” but nonetheless it didn’t take away from descriptive reading and down to earth personality.
“You know what really grinds my gears,” as Family Guy’s Peter Griffin would say, is all of these misleading ads about how tasteful their dishes are. Then when that $18.50 plate of steak medium well done with a side of vegetables and wild rice is sitting in front of you, you greatly disappointed.
“When you pay over $50 for their food, no one wants to pay for a an okay meal they want to pay for a great food,” says Lewis Dimaren, an advent diner of various restaurants. What is the point of putting up those pretty and illustrative pictures in the menu when it turns out to be an illusion with every unsavory bite.
One establishment I can think of that comes to mind oh so vividly is T.G.I.F. I mean there’s so much that can be said about many of the disappointing moments of taking a bite out of one of the burgers on their menu or their steak or even breaded shrimp. Their finely decorated menus with displays of false delights.
The ultimate tease of wanting a dish that’ll not only satisfy your appetite, but explode with the many herbs and spices the waiters and waitresses would tell you are in you curious food decisions. What an irritating feeling to finally get your order after 20-30 minutes of waiting just to have the feeling that your eating something that seems to have been heated in a microwave, I mean come on man where’s the care and love for the customer.
Misleading the eyes into believing the taste buds would be carried on wild journey of ecstasy should be a horrible sin, especially know the prices they charge. If the food is lacking in taste and is simply meant to ease the hunger pains of prolonged wait then it should be stated somewhere in the restaurant, but then again that isn’t living realistically. So I guess until then we’ll have to venture forth into these establishments blindly, hoping that we’ll find one place that can serve its patrons a little piece of tasteful heaven.
What to say about Sammy’s, the popular City Island Venue, then to brace yourself for a rough and possibly disappointing experience. While the atmosphere is somewhat welcoming, the environment can be somewhat displeasing via the employees.
Sitting at a long wooden table with its polished finished, myself along with a host of friends waited to be served. A male waiter then arrived with a sort of grimace look on his face. Possibly hating his job or having a negative outlook on serving large groups, he alerted us that he would be our waiter for the evening.
Starting off with drinks, we each spoke on what we preferred as he stood almost as if he was losing his patience. Taking only about 3 minutes to gather our drink orders he rushed off into the kitchen, only leaving us with 5 menus between the 12 of us. He came back with our drinks only to have made mistakes on 4 of them.
We could understand the large number may have been a bit jarring for him to keep up with, but he did seemingly take notes on our order prior. When we had all decided on various dishes, some of us had some questions we had thought he would be happy to answer, but oh how wrong we were.
His responses were very short and general, barely giving us any clue on our food based questions. It felt as if he were a customer from the street who had only been here enough times to tell us whether certain foods was good or bad. We finally made our decisions as he once again impatiently waited, he then rushed back into the kitchen.
When our food arrived and all seemed well since we no longer had to deal with the depressed and frustrated waiter, things continued to come spiraling down that steep slope. The food ordered had so many flaws in its “delicate” design. The pasta was tasteless, the lobster meat was dry and the chicken was hard and without any flare.
Even after ordering additional sauces of various flavors, nothing could satisfy our taste buds at that point. Not to mention when we received our bill to find it at almost $500, it was as if our world had shattered, most definitely our pockets. I was personally appalled at the evening. From the service to the food the whole ordeal was like being pricked with hundreds of little needles. The only time I’m going back to ‘ole Sammy’s is if I’m eating for free and I’m starving.