12.15.2016

Was the title of the new 'Underworld: Blood Wars' film inspired by my fake Blade movie poster?!?


BLADE: BLOOD WAR I (Final Version) :: Click to enlarge

I'd found it somewhat curious back in October of this year when Kate Beckinsale of Underworld film franchise fame commented publicly that Marvel had another Blade film in the works. 

In the months since that statement was made, the story hasn't gained any measurable traction beyond the initial, tantalizing the sound bite. But the question that was very on heavy on my mind at the time was, how would Beckinsale even know?

The remark was made by the actor during a panel at the 2016 New York Comic-Con. An enthusiastic fan inquired about the eventual possibility of a crossover between Beckinsale's Selene character and Blade, Marvel's half-breed vampire slayer played by Wesley Snipes. Beckinsale replied in the negative, but revealed that a such a crossover had indeed been considered. It was shot down by Marvel:

"No. We had that idea. No. They're busy. They're doing something with Blade."  

Whether or not Beckinsale's comment is accurate with regard to Marvel's fanged famed Daywalker, I cannot say. And its veracity isn't even the point. The point here is that yours truly posted the semi-final version of his Blade: Blood War I fake movie poster on this very humble blog in April of this year and at this very moment, TV and print ads for Underworld: Blood Wars are making the rounds. 


It was while trying to catch up on a few more episodes of Atlanta on FX last night (super behind, I know), that I saw the commercial for the latest Underworld entry. Admittedly, I've only seen maybe two films from this long running franchise, but both watches were enjoyed. And so, it was with measured interest that I watched the TV promo for the new film. But when the TV spot ended and I noticed "Blood Wars" as part of the film's title, Beckinsale's Blade related comment rushed to mind and I shouted excitedly, "Those Underworld fuckers bit my shit!!" 

Okay, I think that I should prolly be sharing my (largely speculative) credit. A recent Google search reveals that a rough, fan made video montage of the Underworld and Blade film properties called, as fate would have it, "Blood Wars," has been posted to Youtube since 2007. My decision, however, to use that phrase for my fake Blade film poster had a wholly organic origin. 

In the beginning of the project, I was heavily leaning towards using "Winter Wars," a nod to the classic Ghostface Killah song "Winter Warz," found on the Wu-tang general's debut solo joint, Ironman. But, soon after placing all of the red blood splatters that appear over a section of the white, winter inspired background, the trajectory of the title changed to what appears in the final. 


Also a factor in my title choice were echoes of a phrase once used by the notorious graffiti writer Cap, a controversial figure profiled in the book Subway Art and in the cult classic documentary Style Wars. In the film, Cap describes his destructive motivation to write or "bomb" his tag all over the more developed art of his rivals. Menacingly, Cap describes the competition for street notoriety as a "blood war," and the layered subtext offered by this graffiti connection cemented my title choice. 

However it was that the Underworld: Blood Wars title actually and factually came about, I will gleefully continue to tell myself that both my fake Blade mini poster and the Underworld/Blade fan film on YouTube were contributing factors in the film's naming. Something done in the way of a wink and nod toward the geeky tradition of fan made pop culture. It all makes for a pretty cool story that way. 


10.24.2016

'Starring Pam Grier' – Selected film posters featuring the Queen of American cult cinema



It's been said that you can tell a lot about a person from what they hang on their walls. With this in mind, I will pretend for a moment that this blog post is a sprawling section of brown brick wall found within the confines of a warehouse district loft apartment that I often inhabit in my dreams. In a back corner of the expansive space, a large projection screen fills up a third of the wall. Lined up neatly in front of the screen are eight ridiculously comfy Lazy Boy chairs. And because you simply can't have a legit in-house movie theater without one, a red and gold sense-of-smell-igniting popcorn popper is stationed a few feet behind. 

Spread out along the wall that runs perpendicular to the wall upon which the projection screen hangs is an impressive collection of vintage film posters of flicks that the cult cinema goddess Pam Grier starred in. It's a collection that puts so-called Pam Grier fans–even Mr. Tarantino himself–to shame. Alright, well maybe not him since he did actually write a movie for the actress...and the poster for that film is hanging on the wall in the loft. But it puts all of the other so-called Pam Grier fans to shame, to absolute shame...to low-down and dirty shame.

(Posters 'hung' in alphabetical order)

Big Doll House (1971)
Black Mama White Mama (1973)
Bucktown (1975)
Coffy (1973)
Foxy Brown (1975)
 Friday Foster (1975)
  Jackie Brown (1997)
 Scream Blacula Scream (1973)
Sheba Baby (1975)
  The Arena (1974)
  The Big Bird Cage (1971)
 Women in Cages (1971)

8.31.2016

DJ Darrell D's 'stylish' Crotona Park Jams recaps

The legendary Ken Swift (Rock Steady Crew) and DJ Darrell D
 
The homie DJ Darrell D made his annual pilgrimage to the Crotona Park Jams in NY, and once again rubbed shoulders with many of the old school legends and luminaries of hip-hop. But he did it while also rocking a couple of t-shirts made by yours truly, including the "Brown" mash-up pictured above. While many of the fellas at the jam were silently 'checking his fresh', he reports that an unexpected number of compliments actually came from the ladies. And when the godfather of hip-hop Kool DJ Herc saw the JB tribute, he loudly shouted out, "That's my man (JB)!" four or five times. Pret-ty dope, right? 

Anyway, to see who else Darrell D (and the Brown shirt) rubbed shoulders with, check out his killer recap of the 2016 Crotona Jams by clicking here (for part 1) and here (for part 2).

7.23.2016

[Destroy All Headphones™] Pharoahe Monch & Professor XXL - Big G's Revenge

I wanted badly to have the instrumental track of Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Says" featured in a playlist that I've put together for an upcoming project. As monstrous as the vocal version of this rap track is, the instrumental–much to my surprise–was somewhat on the...repetitive side. If I was gonna use it, the track was gonna need some variations in its sound. So, I imported the track into Garage Band™, grabbed all of my Godzilla and related Toho film soundtracks, and worked a wee bit of magic; my first proper remix, made especially for hip-hop and kaiju film soundtrack lovers like me (and you).

5.24.2016

[Video On Demand™ Classic] Chaka Khan - I Feel For You [Official Video]



I'm certain that I'm not the only one who's still sad about the passing of Prince. I wanted to post one of his videos, but I elected to go another route: the very fitting and fantastic hit cover of "I Feel For You" by his dear friend Chaka Khan, posted here with Prince Rogers Nelson firmly mind. Still so hard to believe he's gone.

4.10.2016

Blade: Blood War I, starring Wesley Snipes, Rihanna and Nicholas Cage...coming soon?


Um, no. #LateAprilFool's #youvebeenpunked #sorry #hahaha

Despite being a big fan of Marvel's Blade films – the first two – (as mentioned here) I was never sure that I'd make an actual Blade piece for my Marvel Blaxploitation series. As inspiration would have it, though, a vague poster concept hit from out the blue yesterday afternoon, and this morning I have a finished piece that I like quite a bit.

Can't wait to see what it looks like on paper.

3.16.2016

Oh, My Godzilla... The cross-cultural fashion sense of Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers in 1984


Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers, one of the stars of the 1984 cult hit Breakin', has never received the recognition he deserves for a great number of things, among them being credit for actually being the man who taught Michael Jackson to moonwalk. In addition to that fairly seismic slight, Chambers also never really got the credit he deserved for being a major style icon for kids across the planet in the 1980s. But his pop art Godzilla muscle shirt, Banzai headband, camouflage khakis, and white Nike high-tops set a trailblazing fashion trend for many others to follow. In addition to his mind-blowing dance moves on screen in Breakin', it was his very unique sense of style, coupled with serious skinny kid swag, that left a deep impression whose echoes still reverberate in the present. And if there's any justice in the world, somebody (me) will attempt to right at least one of the great wrongs of pop culture history, and post to their blog a retrospective tribute to the cross-cultural fashion sense in 1984 of the legendary Boogaloo Shrimp. 



Did this post get you hyped up for more? Well, click here to learn how Boogaloo Shrimp met and mentored MJ, the reasons why he has a ton of fans in Asia, and much more in a very revealing 2008 interview. 

1.29.2016

YKFS ranks the top 10 freshest and flyest and dopest and illest graffiti art record covers

Remarkably, despite its assumed importance in hip-hop culture, not very many record covers from hip-hop's golden age featured graffiti art. Those that did, though, offered fans of this art form living beyond New York's five boroughs some jaw-dropping glimpses into the amazing aerosol and pen & ink art being committed to the pages of black books, and to the surfaces of trains and walls during the early days of hip-hop. Ranked here for your perusing pleasure are 10 of the freshest and flyest and dopest and illest examples of "graff" on record covers.  

10. Sleeping Bag Records' Greatest Mixers Collection (LP)
Cover art by Gnome & Gemini/Gem7, 1985

09. Rock Steady Crew - Uprock (12" Single)
Cover art by Doze, 1984

08. B-Girls Live And Kickin' (LP)
Cover art by Akiem Irish, 1987

07. Rap's New Generation (LP)
Cover art by David Sims (Dawud Anyabwile), 1988

06. Mantronix - Needle to the Groove (12" Single)
Cover art by Gnome & Gemini/Gem7, 1985


05. Just-Ice - Back to the Old School (LP)
Cover art by Gnome & Gemini/Gem7, 1986

04. Kickin' Live Productions - The Brothers (12" Single)
Cover art by Akiem Irish, 1987

03. Jellybean - Wotupski!?! (LP)
Cover art by Seen, 1984

02. Wild Style Original Soundtrack (LP)
Cover art by Zephyr, Revolt & Sharp, 1983

01. Rammellzee vs. K-Rob - Beat Bop (12" Single)
Cover art by Jean Michel Basquiat aka SAMO, 1983


Finding yourself disagreeing with the order of these rankings? Some classical-leaning graffiti heads will probably balk at my pick for the #1 spot. Puh-leeze do feel free, though, to post your thoughts in the comments box and let St. Paco know how you would have ranked these classics. Or feel free to drop a line simply stating that this is really just the illest list ever (because it really, really is). Haha.

1.17.2016

Is a then-16 year-old J-pop star the long lost answer to a 13 year-old anime soundtrack mystery?



Beats Me

By Paco D. Taylor

It's pretty astounding to think that the violent, sexy, and sexually violent Parasite Dolls OVA (original video anime) was released way back in 2003. What's astounding about it? Well, for 13 astounding years now, fans of Kazushi Miyakoda's electronica-powered soundtrack for this anime have been left pretty much in the dark regarding the identity of the vocalist whose  soulful, high-octane soprano is heard on "Get On the Beat," the anime's pulsating opening  theme, and "Off," its brooding closing song.

That's right, for 13 astounding years.

But then, we should factor in the big, fat, relevant fact that J-pop recording artist Crystal Kay (born 1986) was just a sweet, 16-year-old girl when the very mature-themed Parasite Dolls was released. Easy logic suggests that it was for a calculated reason – possibly a scandal  dodging one – that the then-high school student's name was withheld from the anime's closing  credits and substituted with a curiosity sparking question mark.

The same pseudo-pseudonym was also used in place of a vocalist credit on the liner notes and packaging for the Parasite Dolls soundtrack, as well as on the CD single release for "Get On  the Beat." And because of that, from the time of their release in 2003 up to the present, fans of  the two tracks that boast Kay's quite distinctive vocal talents have somehow remained pretty clueless.

Another factor in the confusion, though, is the name Michaelson that appears in the closing credits after the perplexing question mark. One of the main characters in the three-episode  anime is Sergeant Reiko Michaelson, a tough as nails detective on the A.D. Police force. But hers is not really the name of the singer featured on "Get On the Beat" and "Off." Nonetheless, on Last.FM, YouTube and other streaming media outposts, the two-dimensional cartoon character still gets credit for vocal performances by the living and breathing Crystal Kay.



When Parasite Dolls was released in 2003, the R&B and J-pop singer had two moderately  successful albums notched on her belt. Both were released by Kay’s longtime label Epic Records, the very label that licensed "Get On the Beat" and "Off" to the Parasite Dolls soundtrack. That same year in Japan, Kay charted her first hit album with Almost Seventeen, but it would still be a few more years before her chart topping reach extended to the eardrums of J-pop fans outside Japan. Perhaps another factor that contributed to the astounding lack of recognition of  her vocals on the Parasite Dolls soundtrack.

As was apparent at the time, the OVA that inspired Kazushi Miyakoda's compositions, including those with Kay, were not intended for the 'Fullmetal Alchemist' generation. But today, seeing as how this very mature J-pop star is now 'Almost Thirty', it's time to clue in the CK fans about these hidden gems in Crystal Kay's discography. J-pop music bloggers may also want to consider including the "Get On the Beat/Off" CD single as a soundtrack-related addendum to their CK music lists. But maybe after treating themselves to repeat listens first.


1.08.2016

'Godzilla vs. Pooter: A Tribute to American International Pictures' in G-Fan #110 (Nov 2015)


My Cooley High/blaxploitation-infused article "Godzilla vs. Pooter: A Tribute to American International Pictures" was featured in issue #110 of G-Fan magazine (which boasts a gorgeous cover painting by artist Bob Eggleton). If you're lucky, you may still be able to snag a minty fresh copy from your local comic book shop. If not, the ever reliable Oldies.com still has 'em in stock. Updated: You can also order your copy direct from the publisher who, amazingly, offers cheaper shipping rates than Oldies.com–even with it comin' from Canada.