Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Clef's insanely amazing custom Kemetic hoodie by Twin at Kings Kounty. Somewhere in the wild deserts of Manhattan, January 2007.

Details for the next show are emerging ahead of next week's rehearsals with Mos Def at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Opera House. First, holler at HYPNOTIC in an opera house. Second, a PSA: it's bubbling that this show is selling quicker than any BAM show ever has (or as Halima put it, "selling out faster than a Sufjan Stevens show in the LES" but what's an LES?) so you'd better buy tix NOW. Third, our crew El Michels Affair is opening up the Friday night show so it's gonna smokes and jokes all night long.

On our end it looks like we won't be reprising much (if any) of the "American Songbook" material from the Lincoln Center gig a week or so back. For HYPNOTIC that's neither here nor there...yall know we "do exactly what street brass bands are good at, making a powerful arrangement of whatever music is put in front of it" Ben Ratliff NY Times dude whyle out regardless. Still, even if the Lincoln Center thing was a bag of mixed nuts, we had fun running through the craziness of "The Grunt" by the JBs and opening up "I Put A Spell On You" by Screamin Jay Hawkins. It's weird, it probably happens all the time in art and in life but a lot of the wild energy from rehearsals didn't translate to the stage. Anyways today we got a misty-eyed and dug up some almost vintage footage of HYPNOTIC getting down the basics of the Screamin Jay joint.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Well yall it's finally getting cold in NYC. Plus, you probably got the message that yesterday was Blue Monday...and Fat Tuesday is a long ways off. Truth be told, after last week's rippingtons any week would be hard to get crackin.

So thanks to DirtyDope who threw up a short video on HYPNOTIC set to the classic "Randolph St Swing". It's all bright and sunny and seems like it was shot 70s NYC style on 8mm film, which makes it feel even warmer. Plus there's beautiful people in it, and money too, and those things make us feel warm as well.

Spend some time on DirtyDope and you might turn up a little extra footage of Baji doing a drop for the site...hope he's getting paid for that!

Friday, January 19, 2007


So then we went downtown. Knowing a lot of our HYPNOTIC peoples couldn't get into the Lincoln Center show uptown, we invited everyone to the afterparty at the dope-ass grimy punk club LiT. It'd been damn near a week since the band had been back together as HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE, so after a few passes by the open bar y'all know what happened: the horns came back out and Bros got on stage. 360 attacked the kit and the band went into "War", then "Gypsy", then...well...then Mos ran onstage and started in with that rhymestyling. I think dude was up there for a few HYPNOTIC songs and even a reprise of "The Grunt" from the Lincoln Center show but other than that i can't call it...along with Muhammad Ali it was Equinox's earthday as well so yours truly was laid up on the side of the club burning something kinda heavy. I vaguely remember shouting BALICKY BON BON, BALICKY BON BON, BALICKY BON BON, BON BON BON but then again, so was everyone in the place so what do I know?

Answer: not much except that someone else had my camera and this is what the camera saw.

Infinite shouts to The DJ KL, Taco, Twin, Tom Cruz, Lee Sanford, the Digiwaxx crew, Joey Garfield, Steve Blue Man, No Mas NYC, Young Easy, Bolaji and D for coming through.

UPDATE: YO someone from MTV2 was up in therre. Link here. Haha now watch that "War" video get nominated for some VMAs or something. Sike!

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Rehearsals were so crazy before the Wednesday Mos Def show that we weren't even in front of a computer long enough to fill you in on the madness of it all. Just to backtrack, all this was for the kickoff to Jazz At Lincoln Center's "American Songbook Series"—a good look for Mos at this point in his trajectory since he's given the finger to the industry (again) and still has a Midas touch with everything he does, the films and all that.

Case in point: You gotta think dude already had the Lincoln Center thing booked up by the time he saw HYPNOTIC doing its thing in the street last fall. So it was raw that he put the afroastro thuggery of our next movement sound together with some of the jazz guys he's played with in the past several years. It's not a forgone conclusion that the idea would even come together—for one thing, HYPNOTIC plays in modes and has wildly different reference points when it comes to music: the meeting of Asian and African tuning systems with a hip-hop sensibility or something like that we don't play anything else except HYPNOTIC music. We worked it out though, and it was a good learning experience to kick it with a clique of left-field experimental dudes that included the glassine pianist Robert Glasper, soulful bassist John Benitez John Benitez and drummer Chris Dave, whose My Space page says "psychedelic/progressive/experimental" and has a couple bikini breezies on it but is otherwise almost as terrible looking as our own MySpace page. Also Casey Benjamin came thru on sax and flute; his his MySpace is talkin bout a black and gold 1979 Pontiac Trans Am. Let's see it sir!

Anyways, can you say that—that you bodied Lincoln Center? At some moments it certainly felt like it. Mos flowed, singing and rhyming, over a wide range of "American songs" and Ben Ratliff of the NYTimes wrote that HYPNOTIC "did exactly what street brass bands are good at, making a powerful arrangement of whatever music is put in front of it." On Wednesday night that music went like this:

"I Put A Spell On You" Screamin Jay Hawkins
"Kick In The Door" Notorious BIG
"The Grunt" The JBs
"Dollar A Day For New Orleans" aka "Katrina Klap" Mos Def (over Juvenile's "Nolia Clap" beat)
"Like A Hurricane" Neil Young
"People Make The World Go Round" The Stylistics
"Star Spangled Banner" Mos Def arrangement
"Stakes Is High" De La Soul

and even the NYTimes guy got caught in the HYPNOTIC energy field: "the stage arrangement looked amazing, with the brass players arranged, four on a side, into opposing crescents facing each other, the night sky and blinking lights from traffic visible through the window behind them."

The night was dedicated to James Brown, Muhammad Ali's earthday and the memory of Sean Bell and it was one of those cosmically strange ones inasmuch as it felt less like an end point and more of a beginning. Let's see what happens next.

Above: custom RIP Sean Bell hoodies inspired by Jean Nelson and flipped by Twin. Below: Mos Def and Twin rep at Lincoln Center.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


...but more on that later, maybe next week. Right now we're getting ready for rehearsals with Mos. Rehearsals start Friday so you'll know we'll give some early scoop. On the other hand, we can neither confirm nor deny the wild afterparty rumours that have begun to circulate.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Uttama Tolora Hubert aka Rocco, with euphonium aka baritone, Evanston, IL January 2007

Aight so Rocco's coming to New York to rejoin HYPNOTIC. Chicago peoples might now Rocco as part of the Cohran order and from earlier avatars of the band—he was (inaccurately ) mentioned in passing as playing the baritone sax in the Chicago Reader article—and New York fans might recognize him from being in the mix over the summer...Anyways, with things taking off for HYPNOTIC in 2007 the brothers decided it was a good time bring Young Rocc off the bench.

Last week Rocco was in Chicago (Evanston, IL actually) with the band recording tracks for the upcoming LP from Chocolate Industries rapper Diverse—more on that later—and he was already chopping up HYPNOTIC style: no holds barred. We got him to drop a little science on his re-entry.

Ironically, the baritone's the last instrument I touched. It was over at Body's [brother Amal Baji's] house, and before that it was at the mansion. Anyways I saw it over Thanksgiving and pulled it out. It'd been damn near three years since i touched it, but it felt so good when i played it. I'd been practicing by myself since then, but I didn't know how good it sounded til last week when I had it the studio with Bros—the tone was right there with the other horns. See, the baritone is the combination between the bass and the treble; it's like having a trombone with all the tricks of the trumpet: you can trill and do damn near everything else except slide.

Man, coming back in the band I feel back home, man. On the real, every time the Bros leave Chicago that sh*t feels f*cked up. We're a unit, so any time we spilt it ain't right. Plus my father is really happy. He was disappointed that i left off my instrument; he don't really talk about stuff like that but it was known. Now he's glad I'm back doing what I should be doing.

For the flipside to all of this, here's a clip of trombonists El Cid and Clef "discussing" how Rocco's horn will figure in the lineup (That's Rocco on the couch next to Professor Clef). The bigger question is, will he be playing by next week?

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Mos Def kidnapped by bloodthirsty brass band, Passaic NJ October 2006.

Been offline, been in Chicago running through the Southside, celebrating Kwanzaa with the Bros at Ms Aquilla's house and with KPC at Malcolm X College, a day in the studio, eating deep dish pizza deep dish pizza etc, etc.

Lots to report from the shores of Lake Michigan—a new/old bandmember!—but you're gonna have to wait for that. For now we wanna announce our first two shows of 2007:

With MOS DEF at Lincoln Center as the kick off to the "American Songbook" series. Details to follow, but the early word is the music will be more Gil Scott than Gil Evans.

With MOS DEF at Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of the "Brooklyn Next" series. Tickets on sale!

Tickets will probably sell out quick if they're not gone already. Still, we're gonna try to work out a special look for our know we always check for our peoples!

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