3 Powerful Videos premiere on International Women’s Day: Ruby Ibarra, La Misa Negra, Nakury

by Tom Nguyen

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll watch these videos that premiered on International Women’s Day 2018 and smash the patriarchy!

“US” – Ruby Ibarra, featuring Rocky Rivera, Klassy, Faith Santilla

Rapper Ruby Ibarra is joined by fellow Bay Area MC Rocky Rivera, Klassy from Echo Park and Los Angeles spoken word artist Faith Santilla for an explosive anthem on Pinay pride. Rocky Rivera says of of the video, “So proud to add my perspective on what it means to be PINAY. We are many shades of militant and we are not your FETISH. I hope lil bby Pinays look at this video and feel proud.” Ruby Ibarra recently played an amazing show at the Bootleg Theater to celebrate her debut album Circa91, and Faith Santilla and Klassy performed last week at AF3IRM LA‘s annual International Women’s Day rally & march (peep my live video).

“Dueña de Mi” – La Misa Negra

Continue Reading →

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

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.

Tom Nguyen

Continue Reading →

March 21 is Music Madness! 3 Great Shows: Vega x Ana Tijoux x Mexican Dubwiser & More!

The bad news about SXSW? The LA music scene is pretty slow this week. The good news? After it’s over, everyone converges on LA and it can be too much of a good thing…like on Friday, March 21: 3 great shows featuring artists we all love…with new albums…all on the same night!!! The bright side for those of us facing difficult decisions is all 3 venues are within 4 miles of each other so you could hit all 3 if you plan very carefully….buena suerte!

Musica Roots presents: Vega with Gustavo Galindo and Karolys @ Los Globos
Nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2012, Vega will debut her new album Wolverines in LA after playing at SXSW. The latin alternative pop princess from Spain is joined by Gustavo Galindo and Karolys.

Continue Reading →

Cali Hustle: Come to One of LA’s Best Live Music Monthlies!

cali hustle
(UPDATE 11/16/13: The 1 Year Anniversary on 11/12 was a blast! Cali Hustle will be celebrating in December with a New Year’s Eve party at The Virgil!)
Cali Hustle is a monthly free live music night, every 2nd Tuesday at The Virgil in Silverlake, featuring Quetzal Guerrero and his band and DJ Miss Sunny Z spinning the decks. Each month, they invite other wonderful emerging, independent bands and DJs to join them. It’s an eclectic night of music and dancing that I think is one of the best undiscovered secrets in LA!

They call it Cali Hustle for the eclectic blend of music being played, “California Soul, Samba, Reggae, Rock & More”, but I think the night is aptly named for another reason: we’re lucky so many talented musicians come here from all over the country and the world for the Cali dream and they hustle and work tirelessly at their craft and passion to bring us great music. I can’t think of an artist as talented and hard-working, yet as undiscovered as Quetzal Guerrero. Originally from Arizona and of American, Mexican and Brazilian heritage, Quetzal is a violin virtuoso, having studied since age 4, and combining that with his singing, songwriting and mastery of guitar and percussion, his music is a rich, unique blend of soul, funk, bossa nova, reggae and rock.

Continue Reading →

13 Emerging Bands from SXSW: A Social Media Graph

How does an emerging artist rise above the crowd to get noticed these days? By using online social media. So many new artists have rocketed to success by simply posting their music on YouTube and engaging fans directly through Twitter and Facebook. The Internet is the world’s biggest grapevine and word can spread like fire. Sonicbids, which is an online matchmaker helping connect artists directly with gig promoters and used exclusively by such festivals as SXSW to book artists, put out this interesting infographic. It shows 13 emerging bands playing at SXSW, “Selected by Editors vetted by Social Media” and scored by the bands’ YouTube, Facebook and Twitter fan growth. The chart predicts the 3 breakout bands for 2013 from this group will be Clear Soul Forces, G-Eazy and San Cisco. What do you think of their band picks? Continue Reading →

Lucy Rose, UK Sensation, plays Hotel Cafe on March 11

Lucy Rose has come a long way, not just to play here in LA, but also from her years of playing every open mic she could find ever since she left her rural home for London at the age of 18. She’s worked with Bombay Bicycle Club, providing backing vocals and has steadily been building up her fan base through her Youtube videos. At early shows, with no CDs or merchandise to offer her fans, she started selling homemade tea, a tradition she continues, and through sheer grit and DIY determination, Rose recorded her debut album ‘Like I Used To‘ in her parents’ living room, which was released in late 2012.  Rose will be playing at Hotel Cafe on Monday, March 11, at 8pm, the perfect small, intimate venue for her deeply personal music. Starting the night will be LA native singer-songwriter Kita Klane whose song ‘The Enemy‘ has been on constant replay on my computer and ending the night will be Nylo, from Chi Town, who’s got an introspective electro-R&B sound. Tickets here. Continue Reading →

Las Cafeteras SXSW Tour Kick-Off Party @ Los Globos

sxswI don’t like to call myself a super-fan of any band, because there are just so many great talents of different genres that I enjoy here in LA. However, if you ask me which band I consistently see again and again without fail, it’s Las Cafeteras, and on Wednesday, February 27, they are having a kick-off party at Los Globos for their SXSW tour. Continue Reading →