Bust a move


Busted by heRobust //

Atlanta producer Hayden Kramer aka heRobust has been releasing a steady flow of blog-ready remixes as a part of his BUSTED line of remixes for the past few weeks the latest of which being Kanye's banger "Mercy" featuring Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz. 

Check out the rest of the line mixes 

Little Five Points Poet


The psychotherapist used to tell him that he could write down his feelings into poetry. After living in an abusive and neglectful household for 18 years, Craig Hickerson had enough emotional ammunition to write Leaves of Grass, but it wasn’t until he met Nikki Giovanni and the impression she made on his poesy that warranted his poetry as less emotional doting and more of a high art.

That day occurred in a special assembly taken place at Friendly High School in Fort Washington, Maryland. Craig was the only Junior in the all Senior auditorium. He had been held back, but the Art Director ushered him in with a certain agency that only an Art Director could for a special poetry reading such as this. Unfortunately, Craig’s former class, the class of 1996, didn’t have the slightest idea who Giovanni was.
Craig knew.

After several empty threats to hold back seniors another year had failed to hush the crowd, Craig volunteered to read his own poetry first; a sacrifice for the literary giant.
Expecting a barrage of heckles and cat calls, Craig crept toward the stage where Giovanni sat. To Craig’s surprise, shushes and elbow nudges infected the crowd as Craig stepped up to the microphone. He pulled out a folded up poem in his pocket he had written and delivered a performance that Giovanni would later rave about. His classmates were stunned and so was Giovanni. Craig wasn’t the martyr that evening, he was the maven.

It’s hard to believe that this part of Craig’s life didn’t influence who he is today, since he is still reciting poetry, but it isn’t necessarily for his peers or literary scholars like Giovanni. Today, Craig wakes up every morning underneath a bridge in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta, stands in front of the commercial shops and businesses and freestyles his poetry for tips.

Craig moved from Fort Washington, Maryland to Atlanta, Georgia and began printing and selling his poetry in 2002 for $3 in Woodruff Park until he was introduced to freestyle poetry. Business was slow one day, Craig said, when a woman approached Craig with a proposition. She was a fan of the movie, “Before Sunrise,” wherein a poet on the streets asks for a random word for which he develops a poem around, so she queried Craig whether he could do the same. She even stopped some passersby and introduced them to Craig. Craig took the challenge and excelled.

That day Craig said he made over $250 dollars - $200 of which came from the woman that asked Craig to freestyle his poetry. She inspired Craig to scrap his written verse for oral presentation.

“I do poetry hopefully to touch other people as well as to share a talent,” said Craig, “you never know whose going to jump from that bridge who needs that little bit of inspiration to find a reason to continue to live.”

And Craig is talented.

His poems slide off the tongue with a lyrical quality that carries the tone and melody of song, but close enough in meter to resemble written verse. Craig’s unique bardic style paces along with the canter of each stressed and unstressed foot as he walks his listeners through each extemporaneous line. The gait of his delivery is only matched by his wit for puns and his wry social commentary. His topics often cover spirituality, poverty, the struggle, flowers, sex, politics, religion, and he has a strong penchant to use the phrase, “the heartbeats render,” which persists in all of his poetry, sometimes appearing twice or three times in one stanza. It’s his trademarked go-to line.

A quick Youtube search of “little five points poet” or any such version would lead you to find dozens of impromptu freestyles of Craig’s, some of which the videographers explicitly admit to paying nothing and explain Craig’s methods as a hustle. Some videos are shot by companies such as Honest Tea producing shoe-string budget local web videos or some even shot as entries in contests for big websites like Vimeo. A little bit of investigative reporting, though, exposed some mixed emotions involving Craig’s efforts on the streets.

Two employees in Criminal Records, a well respected business and record store in the community, had harsh words and criticisms for Craig, citing his poetry as paltry solicitations and even accused Craig of verbal harassment. On the other hand, I witnessed first-hand the respect and friendship Craig has gained with other businesses in the area like Arden’s Garden, another well respected business and smoothie shop. Employees at Arden’s Garden knew Craig by name and happily offered him left over smoothies on the house.

One would have no doubt of the impact Craig has had on the community if shown the special mural painted in the likes of Craig’s portrait with the words, “Little Five Points Poet” surrounding the piece. The mural is infused with streaks of purple and pink, blue and green, highlighting the deep dark cracks and folds in his skin. Craig said the mural was done by a Chicago artist who was looking for inspiration and the artists found it in Craig’s poems.

“I’m doing this to help other people, not just myself even though I do get tips for it. It’s not like I’m trying to get rich. I’m just trying to get to a place where I’m comfortable, but hopefully I can help other people get comfortable,” said Craig.

Possibly the most fascinating part of Craig Hickerson, the Little Five Poetry Guy, is the altruistic nature of Craig’s efforts as a poet. Craig said that he likes to help people. But, what does a man pushing poems on the street have to give? Well, Craig believes that his words can be transformative and enlightening. Craig believes that his gift of poetry must be shared with as many people as he can and this experience has lead him to believe that he has a higher calling. He has expressed an interest in building a non-for-profit to “just help people.” He doesn’t necessarily know how or when that will be, but right now his words are his mortar and the building blocks that he needs to reach out to people are his poems. He is building the foundation that will one day bring him closer to those in need and satisfy his need to help those.

Craig believes so highly in the power of words and storytelling that even after I couldn’t pay for his lunch, he said that I didn’t owe him anything; my words were more valuable than anything else.

What is happening to the readership at KSU?


A few days ago, I took a serious look at one of the bins that carries my school’s free newspaper, ”The Sentinel” which sat right next to a stack of the New York Times. The American Democracy Project in partnership with the NYT provides 350 copies of these “free” copies of the Times to KSU students every day, 365 days a year. The Sentinel however is delivered once a week and doesn’t release any news during school breaks. This juxtaposition of the hyper-local Sentinel versus the salient and dominate NYT made me think about the effects that the New York Times had on college readers habits, how they got there in the first place, who reads them, and why do we need them?

The ADP is a nationwide program organized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The ADP sponsored NYT journalist and foreign editor Greg Winters on the KSU campus in February and cosponsored an event to bring Nicholas Kristof to campus for a lecture. This program has done a great deal in the way of civic engagement and political awareness for students and the idea that newspapers are critical for democracy is inherent in this program.

This summer, the ADP will pilot an online program that will give all-access to the NYT online content for students at Kennesaw State University (KSU) and other ADP involved universities around the country. This program will allow 350 “seats” for students to fill at any one time to read the NYT, the same amount of issues that students receive on campus each week.

Still uncertain that KSU students were even interested in a college readership program, I stood in front of the dining hall and surveyed my peers on their reading habits. What I found from the small 20 student sample was that 50% did not read the KSU Sentinel, which didn’t surprise me very much; college students aren’t known as big news consumers. Only 35% of students read the NYT, but what I found interesting was that almost all of the students that did not read the NYT weren’t even aware that there was a College Readership Program on campus. Therefore had students been aware of the Readership Program it might be more of an effective tool to get students to read the Times and other print media.

When I spoke to Dr. Rascati, Co-coordinator for the American Democracy Project, he said, “the number of copies [of the Times] that are left over are almost always zero,” which he later conceded that copies of the paper could be picked up by faculty and staff which is then hard to estimate the amount of copies that actually land in the hands of students. So, I can’t necessarily peg students as believers or non-believers in print media.

Ed Bonza, Media Advisor at Kennesaw State University said that the KSU Sentinel will never die if it produces quality news that Kennesaw students want to read. On the other hand, this has been a very real issue that has plagued the traditional print newspapers. In my survey I found that half would rather get their news from a real newspaper and the other half would rather get their news online. So, the print edition is still popular, but there is just as much interest in the online product, which may be why the Times and the ADP is moving toward an online based readership.

After everything is said and done, I came to a conclusion that college readers just aren’t that interested in newspapers which is why the ADP and the NYT have made it so readily available. And the ADP and the NYT have established what is ultimately - this might sound a little cynical - a business model for selling the Times. This business model sells newspapers on the idea that news is essential to democracy, but I do have some doubts about the program. Especially since it seems like they are free, but in actuality the University pays for the subscriptions through academic funds which takes money away from the student run Sentinel. I wouldn’t want to underplay the ADP’s role on campus, but it seems like the ADP and the NYT have created what will become a model for all news institutions to ensure that college readers read their paper.

Macklemore Review


Macklemore: a hip hop review?

Lifestyle Choices

On December 23, 2011, Nike released a limited amount of their newest Jordan series of sneakers and people went nuts. Reports of stabbings, gunfire and riots were heard around the country. A woman in Lithonia, GA was even arrested for locking her two toddlers in her SUV so she could be with those in line waiting for the mall to open. You might be asking yourself, why does this belong in a hip hop review? It is best explained in the words of the spoken-word-acapella-turned movie, Wings by Seattle based rapper, Macklemore,

“Look at me, look at me, I’m a cool kid
I’m an individual, yea, but I’m part of a movement
My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it
They told me to just do it, I listened to what that swoosh said” –
Macklemore, Wings

Macklemore is more than familiar with the pitfalls of the consumer lifestyle, because he experienced firsthand how an expensive pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers is not just a pair of shoes, but an unmistakable identity that can leave a mark on any unsuspecting youth. Macklemore, says, “we are what we wear” meaning there’s a struggle, as a consumer based society, between our identities and the commodities we consume. The dichotomy of lifestyle and our lifestyle choices is a lesson Macklemore has schooled me on.

Several weeks ago, I bought two tickets to go see Macklemore and his DJ/producer, Ryan Lewis, perform at the Drunken Unicorn, but sadly, I never got to see him play. The problem was I ordered the tickets too far in advance and I had the tickets mailed to my house not knowing the concert was going to take place the weekend before finals. I should have double checked, but I was just too excited - Macklemore was coming to Atlanta! After finals week, my hasty-impulse buy left me with nothing but some exam anxiety and two useless tickets to Macklemore. Instead of just being content as a fan, I rushed to purchase the tickets weeks in advance, to prove what a loyal fan I was. In actuality, I managed to prove that I can’t appreciate the music (the commodity) before I put myself first as a person. This is a lesson I learned through the creative words and images of Macklemore’s.

A Different Breed

Macklemore is a Seattle-based rapper, but he also has some of the best music videos I’ve seen. The first Macklemore video I saw was Wings, which, if you haven’t heard of him before this, I would recommend as a great place to start.

Before the music video was made for the song, though, the song wasn’t even a song, it was a Spoken Word piece. In 2008, Zia Mohajerjasbi, the director, caught Macklemore performing Wings and approached Macklemore with the idea that, if Wings were ever to become a song, he would want to direct the video. So, the song was a video before the song was an actual song! Well, unfortunately, they had a great artistic vision, but not enough money to make the video, (as is the case with most of the arts, but I digress) so they started a fundraising campaign using Kickstarter, a do-it-yourself fundraising platform, and got 423 backers and almost double what they needed to fund the project, $18,269. The memoir style reflections of his past as a sneaker-head came to life brilliantly in the end, with Ryan Lewis’ almost film score-esque production with the beats, the stunning cinematography by Zia and the sincere lyrical confessions of Macklemore. The music video was one of the best I saw last year, and there was some unique videos in 2011, like the video for Tyler the Creator’s, Yonkers.

To you, this may be another review of a “conscious rapper”, but to me this is way more than just rap – Macklemore is a different breed of rapper. Not like the Lil’ Wayne, “I’m an Alien” type of different. I mean, he is cut from a different cloth. He understands and acknowledges what most hip hop can’t; he knows that most rappers underestimate the influence that rap has on children and he knows that most consumers of hip-hop are young white males, so he tells stories about how his drug addiction left him “depressed and emotionally vacant”; he understands that he was a product of the hip hop culture, not the other way around; he owes his allegiance to hip hop and he knows what white privilege is; he can even make an Irish Celebration anthem from a hip-hop song, or a Dance anthem in the style of an 80’s David Bowie song. He is a sage and a bard in hip hop and if you are a hip hop fan, you have got to check him out. He may even appear on XXL Mag’s Freshman list for 2011, so keep an eye on Macklemore in 2012. (Josh Pate)

Releases some new


1.9.12. Rekchampa, Atlanta DJ/Producer, and Ethereal collaborate in the new track, Dream/Ecstasy. I love the Rek and Ether style shift that volleys back and forth at around 1:55 and 4:40 with a DnB breakdown and sample loop. Ether and Rek compose together what Ethereal describes as "a dream filled with ecstasy." Stream. Download for free. Or buy for a dollar on bandcamp (worth it).

1.7.12. heRobust and Awfully Creative bring you a look into the live performance of a local glitched out hero. Don't forget Awful Sessions // Rekchampa and Ethereal // Live @ the Apache. Also, it should be mentioned that heRobust and Ethereal were included in Creative Loafing's favorite things about music in 2011.

1.1.12. Released by Fool's Gold Records, Flosstradamus dropped Jubilation in late November and then continued to release a J U B I L A T I O N M I X T A P E for Mad Decent's podcast. Now they are working on a full length EP, "Total Recall." The single is up for grabs already, check it out (I'm looking forward to a Major Lazer // Original Don (Flosstradamus RMX) coming soon, too).

More Ethereal?... Abstractica.
More Rekchampa?... Pocket The Rest.
More heRobust?... Albumin.
More Flosstradamus?... Jubilation.

Some new releases


Supreme I.N.K., Lazymane and Kosherbeets, is one of the funkiest hip hop duos in the Atlanta scene right now and their newest mixtape, Sell it to Me Free, includes some original production by Lazy, but also Ethereal - the new signee to Slumerican, the same label with Rittz and Yelawolf - and also Introspective Minds, all really talented producers. Go and listen, support Supreme I.N.K., and enjoy.
Ethereal is another one of my favorite acts to come out of Atlanta and his latest 20 minute jam is a great example of how Ethereal is making his own lane, crafting a sound, and owning it.

I recently spent some time at the home of studio where Back Pack Music: Back to School Vol. 1, was created, in Snellville, GA. Jon Malmgrem, the Owner of Back Pack Music, made sure that the studio feels like a home away from home for everyone that comes through there, and is why he created this project, to unify all the artists that pass through the halls of BPM. I'm anxious to hear what else comes out of BPM, because I am a really big fan of Broken Wax Wings that has already been on this page before.