The Arcs, new project by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, plays first live show at Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights (Full video)

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by Tom Nguyen

I found out yesterday afternoon a new band The Arcs was going to have their first live performance at Espacio 1839 in Boyle Heights that very evening…and not just any new band…one formed by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Now disclaimer: I haven’t listened to The Black Keys since ohhh 2010 but hey I live a few blocks away from Espacio 1839, and I’m not above being a curiosity seeker, especially when a new hipster band decides to premiere at one of Boyle Heights’ bastions of anti-gentrification. How does that even happen? Well apparently El Oms, an artist and good friends with Espacio 1839, did the artwork for The Arcs’ upcoming music video for the song Put a Flower in Your Pocket. The night was a celebration of the completion of the video, which will be released next Friday August 14.

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14 Rappers, 14 Countries for UNICEF: Where are the Women MCs?

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by Tom Nguyen

Dear San E and UNICEF,

I was excited to discover your music video #HIPHOPISHIPHOP – Hip Hop for the World bringing together 14 rappers from 14 countries to express the unifying love of hip hop. I love that this video was made in the tradition of the iconic song We Are The World, to bring light on an important global issue: children’s access to education. Except for the venerable KRS-One, I love that I didn’t know any of the rappers. Thanks for giving talented rappers around the world a chance to shine!

Now, I ask…where are the women? I was quickly disappointed to see that out of 14 rappers, there was only one woman, YACKO from Indonesia. Why does this bother me? While every rapper in that video is talented and deserving and I applaud each of them, I have so many reasons for why this gender imbalance in your video upsets me.

Hip hop has historically been a very unfriendly and unfair place for women and it still remains so. Misogyny, homophobia and transphobia are big problems in hip hop songs, lyrics and culture. I’m afraid your video only reinforces the exclusion of women in hip hop. If We Are The World had better inclusion of women in 1985, I’m sure we can do better in 2015.

Since you are using hip hop as a platform for children’s education and your own statistics show that girls suffer greater disadvantage and exclusion from education in so many parts of the world, wouldn’t you have wanted to represent more women as role models? If you had included more women cyphers, I think your message would have been much more powerful and inspiring in your quest for gender equality in education.

After all, you released this video during Women’s History Month and right before International Women’s Day. I think you squandered a very good opportunity to not only address the inequality of access to education, but to also give strength to the message that the ones most affected by that inequality are girls around the world. You could have shown young girls everywhere that they have the same right and ability to succeed in any male-dominated space.

However, I have faith in an organization that is doing so much to achieve gender equality. We’re far from achieving equal human rights and opportunities for one half of the world’s population and it’s critical to keep empowering girls and women worldwide. There are no lack of girls and women on the front lines of society fighting for equality and freedom every day in every part of the world, and hip hop is no exception. In many countries, just being female, queer or trans in male-dominated hip hop is defiant and revolutionary. Below are just 14 of so many countless talented female, queer and trans rappers (in alphabetical order) who are not only rapping but doing so by challenging the status quo and giving voice to marginalized communities around the world. I hope you’ll consider them in a second hip hop video.

Respectfully,
Tom Nguyen

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Help Fund Jungle Fire’s Music Video by Sep. 27!

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One of our favorite LA bands, Jungle Fire, is having a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a short film inspired by their song Firewalker, by Saturday, September 27. The Afro Latin Funk band was touring UK, generating huge buzz and packing venues, when Alejo Restrepo and Roger Gonzalez, young filmmakers from Spain, caught them at a show in London. Inspired by the incredible music and energy of the band, they approached Jungle Fire about making a film that was both music video and short film, about how the band formed.

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New Music Video “La Ciudad” by Monsieur Periné


Here’s the latest music video from Monsieur Periné, a great Colombian neo-swing band I profiled recently. It’s a light-hearted video of a toy soldier making his way through “La Ciudad” to find his princess, the ever enthralling Catalina García, lead singer of the group. The video follows its characters through the gorgeous, historic parts of Mexico City while the band plays in bright, gaudy outfits, which Catalina designs for all their performances.

Las Cafeteras Teaser of Luna Lovers & Special World Premiere!


(Update 8/8/13: Here is the online premiere of the video on LA Weekly. You can catch them next at the Peace Over Violence graduation ceremony at CARECEN on Friday, 8/9.
7/31/13
: Here is the RSVP link for the special premiere event by Las Cafeteras and Mucho Music for Luna Lovers video on Tuesday, August 6, at the Vincent Price Art Museum in East LA! This is a can’t miss event!)
Looks like East LA artivists Las Cafeteras have a real treat in store with their next music video with elaborate costumes & storyline befitting their enchanting song Luna Lovers. At their live performances, while their rousing anthem, La Bamba Rebelde, gets audiences jumping on their feet, Luna Lovers is a sweet ballad that has crowds swooning and I can’t wait to see it. Enjoy the sneak preview and just announced on their Facebook page, if you sign up for their newsletter on their site tonight, you’ll be one of the first to receive a link in the morning to RSVP to a very special, intimate world premiere event! Space is limited so sign up quick!