Search our listings:
 


BACKSTAGE WITH MARIAN
Blog Background
Story outtakes, celebrity confessions and the latest pop culture news in the Bay Area

About Me
I'm a pop music writer for the San Jose Mercury News. I cover pop, hip hop, punk, rock, dance, and ethnic - well, basically everything you can dance to.

My Articles

MY PICKS
CD: Common:"Be"
Music Video Eminem: featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Trailer: The Year of the Yao
TV: Harvey Birdman
Videogame: Fable

MERCURY REVIEWS
Art: The New Art of India
Bar: Boswell's
Book: Jill Scott
Club: Forum
DVD: Kinsey
Movie: Cinderella Man
Music: Sleater-Kinney
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Theater:The Mambo Kings

SICK SITE
Earth and Sun Kiss

MY PLAYLIST

1. R. Kelly: "Trapped In The Closet"

2. Weezer: "Hold Me"

3. Bright Eyes: "First Day Of My Life"

4. Ringside: "Miss You" and "Criminal"

ENTERTAINMENT RESOURCES
  • Billboard Charts
  • Encyclopedia
  • iticket.com
  • Moviefone
  • Music Dictionary
  • MTV
  • Pollstar
  • tickets.com
  • Urban Dictionary
  • ticketmaster.com
  • VH1

  • BLOGROLL
  • Adisa Banjoko : San Jose's Bishop of Hip hop
  • Angry Asian Man: Asian American media watchdog
  • Berkeley Blogs
  • Black Electorate : Inside Cultural, Economic and Political industries
  • BLT's Parry
  • Crayone: the trials and tribulations of a graffiti artist
  • Dan Gillmor : Grassroots Journalism
  • Dat Phan : Last Comic Standing season 1 winner
  • East Bay Livin' : Ellen Lee's EB hunt
  • Davey D: Hip Hop Daily News
  • Fortt: black american gen x journalist musician multicultural christian technophile
  • Jeff Chang: fellow Asian hip hop writer
  • Joe Grimm : Ask the Recruiter
  • In Passing : Random Street Conversations
  • Pacific Standard: Bay Area hip-hop
  • Pop And Politics
  • Pop Licks : O-Dub, a cultural critic
  • Scape: San Jose graffiti artist
  • SiliconBeat: News about tech money and innovation
  • Tuesday, November 30, 2004

    Jahi and the Life

    This weekend, I went backstage with Jahi and the Life at the Independent in San Francisco.

    And even though I was interviewing the band, it felt more like meeting old friends in their dorm room.

    Before they went on stage, they practiced their set verbally and their teamwork shows on stage. They pull off live rap better than most.

    After their show, they talked about getting future gigs. They're still indie, but at the point where they can turn down bad venues. One member joked about not wanting to eat ramen anymore.

    Drummer Maurice says they have their heads on straight and that nothing backstage would make their mothers embarrassed - just two couches, some chips with salsa, and a few beers.

    For more, look for Jahi and the Life in one of my future stories.
    Friday, November 26, 2004

    Thanksgiving lip-syncing

    Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.

    In the morning I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, where a lot of the artists looked like they were following Ashlee Simpson's lead, lip-syncing.

    Then for the meal, instead of turkey, my family eats Hot Pot which is basically a version of fondue, but instead of dipping food in cheese or chocolate, you cook the food in a steaming broth - then dip it in a sauce for flavor.

    In other words, it's just another sure-fire way of eating a lot without feeling it until later.

    And, this morning, I braved the shopping mall. It looked like predictions were right - that spending was going back to pre-9-11 rates. JCPenny, Target, Mervyn's, and even Sears had snaking lines. The parking lot in Fry's was so filled at 6 a.m. that my brother drove back home (less than a mile) then walked there, only to wait in line just to go into the store. He bought a $150 digital video camcorder. When he got home, he found that there was a tape with footage of Christmas two years ago from another Asian family. Weird.

    Tomorrow, ch-check out this story on the latest media search engine called GoFish, which finds digital music, audio books and ringtones. Quick-and-dirty summary on siliconbeat.com and story in the Mercury News tomorrow.

    Also, to work off the food, ch-check out this entertainment:

    WHAT: Lyrics Born, Jahi & the Life, Joyo Velarde Band
    WHERE: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco; (415) 771-1421
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 11/26
    TIX: $20; ticketweb.com
    WHY: wonderful indie hip-hop

    WHAT: Pete Escovedo & Family Thanksgiving
    WHERE: Pete Escovedo's Latin & Jazz Club,400 S. First Street, San Jose
    WHEN: Friday, 11/26 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11/27 at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    TIX: $25.00 (advance purchase); $30.00 (day of show); (408) 947-7500.
    WHY: A legend in Latin Jazz in their own beautiful club in downtown San Jose

    WHAT: Vicente Fernandez
    WHERE: HP Pavilion at San Jose, 525 W. Santa Clara St.
    WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight 11/26
    TIX: $40-$150; (408) 287-7070, Ticketmaster
    WHY: Mercury News writer Mark de la Vina writes: "He is a cultural icon in Mexico" and is known as the "King of the Rancheras."
    Wednesday, November 24, 2004

    Christmas with the Kranks

    Yesterday I checked out the movie "Christmas with the Kranks." With Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd, it has an A-list of stars, but I wish they saved on the star portion to work on the script.

    It's a charming enough premise - a couple which skips out on Christmas for a cruise because their only child decides to stay in Peru for the Peace Corps rather than come home. But with Tim Allen at the helm, the movie unravels like "Home Improvement," except instead of just "true meaning of Christmas." (link to trailer)

    This movie may be appropriate for parents to watch though, as a way to remind them not to skimp out on their kids this holiday season.

    Also, "Alexander" is out tonight - I haven't watched it yet, but the Merc's movie reviewer, Bruce Newman, gave it only one star. (link to trailer)

    So tonight, catch some live music instead, ch-check it out:

    WHAT: Seductive ... Pre-Thanksgiving Celebration
    WHERE: Back Bar, 418 S. Market Street, San Jose
    WHEN: 9 p.m. -2 a.m. tonight 11/24
    TIX: $10; basswayrecords@aol.com
    WHY: Hip-hop, R&B, reggae and old school Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, & Old School; before 11 p.m. drinks are 2 for 1 and ladies are free (check this link for a free pass)

    WHAT: Green Day, New Found Glory
    WHERE: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight, 11/24
    TIX: Sold out - but if you're really into them, check Craigslist (cover was originally $29.50 but they're going for around $50)
    WHY: Pop-punk at its finest

    WHAT: CALI COMM 2004 with DEL tha funkee homosapien, Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, Mikah 9
    WHERE: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight 11/24
    TIX: $22.50; (408) 998-8497, Ticketmaster
    WHY: Oakland native Del Tha Funky Homosapien (aka Teren Delvon Jones) is rapper Ice Cube's cousin, but his music has a more jazzy, funky and funny vibe.

    WHAT: DJ Mark Farina
    WHERE: Ruby Skye, 420 Mason Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m.- 4 a.m. tonight 11/24
    TIX: No cover but bring a non-perishable food or toy for Toys for Tots. They will also be giving out free samples from ESSN Sparkling Fruit Juices
    WHY: He helped build San Francisco's house music scene.
    Tuesday, November 23, 2004

    Violence in Entertainment: Vibe, Jay-Z & R. Kelly, Artest, and Clemson

    There's been a lot of violence in entertainment these days:

  • G-Unit's Young Buck turned himself in after allegedly stabbing Jimmy James Johnson. At the Vibe awards, Johnson came up to Dr. Dre, acting like he wanted to request an autograph, then punched the producer in the face, which led to his stabbing and an all-out brawl. (link to fight footage) YB's court date is Dec. 20th.


  • Also following the Jay-Z and R. Kelly disagreement (R. Kelly alleging he saw a gun in the audience, then being supposedly pepper-sprayed by a member of Jay-Z's entourage, leading to a break-up of the power duo's tour and subsequent suits.) - a number of " Jay-Z and friends" concerts have been canceled included Thanksgiving's concert at the Oakland Arena (along with Indianapolis, Sacramento, Las Vegas and Glendale). If you ordered through Rocafella.com the refund is automatically credited to your card, and if you ordered through Ticketmaster, refunds will also be granted.


  • Indiana Pacers' player Ron Artest is suspended for a NBA season for going into the stands and fighting with fans after he got hit in the face with a drink. (link to slideshow of brawl)


  • There was a HUGE football fight between Clemson and South Carolina that delayed the game for 10 minutes and needed coaches, police and security officers to keep the peace. Both teams have decided to decline bowl invitations as punishment for the brawl.


  • Then, on dirty plays:

  • At the Big Game (Berkeley vs. Stanford) this past weekend, Stanford decided to play dirty. Full disclosure: I'm a Cal grad.) Even though Cal receiver Geoff McArthur was already out of bounds, Stanford cornerback Leigh Torrence judo-threw him. On another instance before Cal cornerback Tim Mixon even caught the ball, Torrence clobbered him and was subsequently ejected.


  • Any thoughts on any of these incidents?


    For tonight, ch-check it out:


    WHAT: The Wiki-Wiki Duva-Duva DJ Battle presented by Distortion 2 Static
    WHERE: The Depot (inside the Cesar Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University)
    1600 Holloway Avenue
    San Francisco
    WHEN: 5 p.m.-8 p.m. tonight 11/20
    TIX: No cover; all ages
    WHY: Check out the Bay Area's up-and-coming DJ's


    Friday, November 19, 2004

    Jars of Clay in Hercules

    Last night I caught The Bridge's (100.7 FM) Jars of Clay concert in Hercules. I was glad to finally catch their hit "Flood" live.

    The Christian rockers are good and silly in concert.

    Also I never knew a church would be a good concert venue but Valley Bible Church was nicer and bigger than a lot of clubs I've been to. With the raised stage and flashing lights, it made you forget you were sitting in a pew.

    Amy Marsh, the program director from 100.7 The Bridge, was right -when a Christian band is as good as a mainstream one, it's something to be proud of. (Here's an in-depth story I wrote about that trend.)

    This weekend, ch-check it out:

  • Dean Takahashi's story on Electronic Art's workforce issues about non-compensating their employees for overtime. (Here's the anonymous blog that tipped the story off.)


  • Also this weekend...

    WHAT: Lumpia DVD Release Party
    WHERE: Tower Records Stonestown, 118 3205 20th Ave., 2nd Floor, San Francisco
    WHEN: 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday 11/20
    TIX: No cover
    WHY: Check out a cool Filipina DVD, get free food, plus hear performances by Asian American artists Natalise, Next Phaze and Janice Aranas

    WHAT: Bento
    WHERE: DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday 11/20
    TIX: $20
    WHY: Check out this Asian American alternative band on the come-up.

    WHAT: San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest
    WHERE: Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon Street at Bay Street
    WHEN: Nov. 18-21
    TIX: $25; sfhiphopdancefest.com
    WHY: Check out the best in the Bay's hip-hop dance scene.




    Thursday, November 18, 2004

    O.D.B.'s legacy

    Davey D points out that newspapers haven't done their job in covering the death of Ol' Dirty Bastard, co-founder of the Wu-Tang Clan. They write about his notoriety, but leave out his legacy.

    Davey D describes O.D.B. (or Russell Jones) as "a man in transition. A man who truly had to come to grips with the consequences of his life."

    He goes on to describe a man who was real to himself and real to his fans. ODB had a crazy sense of humor, sticking his welfare card on his album cover, pulling off Dracula gold fronts or revealing his naked self in drawers.

    "He was brutally honest when he said, 'I don't know how to deal with life without drugs,'" says Davey D.

    Some stories are reporting that O.D.B. allegedly indulged in a two-day cocaine binge before his death at the weekend." Whatever the reason, the man complained of chest pains, then collapsed, dying before paramedics arrived last Saturday.

    "I think ODB's legacy for us will be that he represented that time in hip hop when it was coming out of its adolescence and into adulthood and was looking for direction, and that direction led some of us down that dark path on the insatiable quest to keep it real," says Davey D.

    If you have further thoughts, please comment.
    Wednesday, November 17, 2004

    Ratchet & Clank plus Avril in San Jose

    I've been playing the latest Ratchet & Clank, and it's been surprisingly a LOT of fun.

    This third time around the name of the game is quite fitting (Up Your Arsenal) with the fox-like creature and robot duo fighting with 60-some weapons. My favorite is a ray that changes enemies into ducks (the last version changed them into chickens).

    Britney Spears also makes a robotic cameo in this game with a legion of dancers who try to take you down. Every time she hits you, she exclaims, "Oops I did it again."

    While I'm on videogames, the 2nd annual Spike TV's Video Game Awards just came out with the channel's categories and nominees. The awards will be broadcast Dec. 14th at 9 p.m., live from LA. Snoop Dogg, an avid gamer, will host and perform. Also be performing will be The Doors (with Snoop), Sum 41 and Ludacris.

    (Speaking of Sum 41, I interviewed frontman Deryck Whibley's supposed girlfriend for today's paper)

    You can log onto spiketv.com to vote on this year's nominees. I would personally support Katamari Damacy for most addictive game and best soundtrack.

    The games with the most nominations (5):

    "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas"
    game of the year
    best performance by a human male (Samuel L. Jackson)
    best action game
    best soundtrack
    designer of the year

    "Halo 2"
    game of the year
    best first person action
    best soundtrack
    designer of the year
    best graphics

    "Half-Life 2"
    game of the year
    best first person action
    best PC game
    best graphics
    best new technology

    For tonight, ch-check it out.

    WHAT: Simple Plan
    WHERE: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
    WHEN: 7 p.m. tonight, 11/17
    TIX: $17; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: They're wonderfully good at expressing teenage angst.
    Tuesday, November 16, 2004

    Vibe Awards show fight

    A melee broke out Monday at the Vibe awards show.

    There were flying chairs and punches. One man was taken to the hospital for a stabbing. Dre and his bodyguards were also reportedly involved.

    So this morning on the Steve Harvey Morning Show (heard in L.A. and Dallas), Master P and Alicia Keys talked about that incident, about playa-hating and how embarrassing stuff like that only happens in hip-hop/R&B.

    The Source Awards and Mixtape Awards have been marred by violence in the past as well.

    The Vibe awards show will be on UPN today at 8 p.m.

    In today's paper, I interviewed a man who sees a brighter future for hip-hop, Chuck D.

    He speaks in Santa Cruz this Thursday.

    WHAT: An Evening with Chuck D.
    WHERE: Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz
    WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday,
    TIX: $15-$35; tickets@ucsc.edu, (831) 459-2159.
    WHY: He's a pioneer in hip-hop





    Monday, November 15, 2004

    Bad Religion at the Warfield and the American Music Awards

    Last night I caught hardcore punk band Bad Religion at the Warfield. A friend of mine must be their biggest fan, so I went (knowing I would be dragged into the pit).

    The band sped through 28 songs, with the bulk of the list, around 70 percent, from their older albums, like "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Sorrow."

    The band, which has inspired so many punk and pop-punk bands, are in a fan's words "punk-lifers" even though they're around 40 now, and look a little more like dads than punk-heads.

    A welcome guest in their line-up: Fat Mike from Fat Wreck Chords came up to sing for a bit too.

    Many of the audience were younger than I expected: in their teens to thirties, and much of the pit was made up of teenagers. (Yes, I was in the pit. I'm sore and bruised from the elbows, but I was so close to the stage, I could catch the band's eye contact.)

    For those who didn't catch the American Music Awards, here are some highlights:

  • Usher came out on top, with four awards: favorite artist for soul/R&B and pop-rock, also best pop-rock album and best soul-R&B album

  • OutKast won three: favorite rap/hip hop album and favorite pop/rock group and favorite rap/hip-hop group

  • Toby Keith won two: favorite male country artist and favorite country album


  • For the females:

  • Sheryl Crow won two: favorite female rock artist and favorite adult contemporary artist

  • Alicia Keys won favorite female soul/R&B artist

    On other news, I've been busy writing lately.

    Here's some articles:
  • Ryan Cabrera, Ashlee Simpson's "ex," who describes himself a cross between John Mayer and Matchbox Twenty

  • Nas, New York emcee known for his lyrics

  • Christian radio station KSFB-FM (100.7) changes to Spanish.

  • Helen Zia mini bio

  • Friday, November 12, 2004

    Cameron Diaz and the paparazzi, plus this weekend's round-up

    Did you hear about the recent scuffle Cameron Diaz had with paparazzi, while she was exiting a hotel with her beau, Justin Timberlake?

    It reminded me of an interview I did with actor David Spade, who was asking for sympathy:

    "I talk about dating and what a loser I was growing up," said Spade, 40, about his comedic act. "Now I'm a loser and famous. It definitely adds to the mix ... People go, 'How do you feel if girls date you because they know you from TV?' I say, 'I hope that's why. Why else?' I say, 'I'll never know, so why worry about it?' Well, it's more like an ice-breaker. I'm not the guy they look across the bar at in, like, college and say, 'I'm taking that dude home.' "
    I didn't know if I should laugh or go on, because if I laughed I would be laughing at him, so I went on.

    Don't forget to check out the American Music Awards Sunday night on ABC.

    Also, there's a lot of good concerts this weekend, so ch-check it out:

    Friday

    WHAT: 2 Live Crew
    WHERE: Zoe Nightclub, 417 S. First St., San Jose
    WHEN: 10:30 p.m. tonight, Nov. 12th
    TIX: $10; ticketweb.com
    WHY: The founders of booty rap make their way to San Jose. Also free, if you check this link.

    WHAT: Gift of Gab, from Blackalicious, with a special appearance by Lateef the Truth Speaker performing new tracks for his Quannum Release
    WHERE: Bimbos, 1025 Columbus Avenue (at Chestnut Street)
    San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight, Nov. 12th
    TIX: $16; (415) 474-0365; ticketweb.com
    WHY: He isn't called Gift of Gab for nothing.

    WHAT: George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic
    WHERE: The Grand At the Regency Center, 1290 Sutter Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m. tonight, Nov. 12th
    TIX: $35; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: He's the king of funk.

    Saturday

    WHAT: Triple Threat DJs
    WHERE: Club Oasis, 135 12th St., Oakland
    WHEN: 9 p.m., Nov. 13th
    TIX: $10; info@808media.com, (510) 763-0404
    WHY: The hip-hop trio are world-renowned turntablists.

    WHAT: The Von Bondies
    WHERE: Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 9 p.m., Nov. 13th
    TIX: All ages; $10; tickets available at the door
    WHY: Emotional blues-punk

    Sunday

    WHAT: Ryan Cabrera, Skye Sweetnam
    WHERE: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m., Nov. 14th
    TIX: $25; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: Cabrera calls himself "a mix of John Mayer and Matchbox 20" while Sweetnam is like a younger version of Avril Lavigne.

    WHAT: Bad Religion
    WHERE: Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m., Nov. 14th
    TIX: $22.50; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: '80s hardcore punk

    WHAT: Guitar Fest with Bob Brozman
    WHERE: Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City
    WHEN: 7 p.m., Nov. 14th
    TIX: $18 advance/$20 door; foxdream.com; (650) 369-4119
    WHY: This world music artist is as well-rounded as they come and a delight to listen to.





    Thursday, November 11, 2004

    Iris Chang found in Los Gatos, dead

    Iris Chang -- journalist and author of "The Rape of Nanking" -- was found dead in her car in Los Gatos Tuesday, an apparent suicide. Chang was sort of a hero for me. I looked up to her for bringing new light to a piece of history that has largely been ignored.

    Chang was also the first big story I wrote as a journalist, front page centerpiece in The Daily Californian. (UC Berkeley)

    The subject of her famous book, the Japanese atrocities in China in WWII, has been called Asia's holocaust. The topic was a popular one in my home when I grew up with my grandparents, who are from China.

    A Los Gatos writer, Richard Oxman, wrote to me in an email: "I fear there was some deep sadness, unrevealed to others, that drove Iris...to want to leave us. It is something we should all ponder. What do we do to others? What do we not do with them? Where are we in all this?...Life is filled with mysterious omissions. Missed opportunities. Blessings in solidarity with Iris in mind."

    More on Iris Chang:


  • Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    Eminem is asking for an "Encore" plus it's a "White Christmas" in San Francisco

    Due to the leaks online, Eminem pushed his latest album release "Encore" from next Tuesday, Nov. 16th, to this Friday, the 12th.

    The whole album is available for download on quite a few sites, and you can get a listen here.

    The album is a must listen. Like his previous albums, it's catchy, and whether you like him or not, it'll have you bobbing your head and mouthing the words.

    "I may be a little fast paced and racy," he warns in "Never Enough."

    Besides literally making puking sounds, Eminem spills his guts on the album, admitting:

  • his disgust for Kim in "Puke" and his dependency for her "Crazy In Love
  • his exhaustion from the fight with Benzino and "The Source" in "Like Toy Soldiers" - "The same one that made me famous ...now has a grudge on me for nothing."

  • his insecurity of never being good enough in "Never Enough"
  • his remorse for a past mistake in speaking badly of Black women in "Yellow Brick Road," saying that he: singled out a whole race, and for that I apologize.

  • ----

    Last night, I had the chance to catch the opening of "White Christmas" at San Francisco's Curran Theater with Merc's theater critic Karen D'Souza. It was not as much of a remake as promised, but a tale reaching back to celebrating Christmas ten years after WWII.

    The sets and wardrobe are beautiful. Mufflers, tweed and cinched waist dresses - if they ever made a line inspired by this show, I would go get it. There was one main eye-sore however - in the last song the men were wearing Bridget Jones-like sweaters.

    Karen mentioned there were many times she felt the show was an unending commercial - first Gap with dancers in sherbet colored clothing, then Target with dancers in red.

    It would be a perfect show to take the parents or grandparents, but for teens and twenties, it needes to be updated. The WWII details could have been changed to the current war and the anti-German jokes were offensive.
    One bright note: the little girl who saved Ben Affleck's movie "Jersey Girl," Raquel Castro, is the single charmer in this show as well.


    Tuesday, November 09, 2004

    Halo 2, King of Fighters and Grand Theft Auto test-spins

    Although I'm not one for violence, it's a great stress reliever-- virtually.

    The other night, I tested out yet another "Street Fighter"-wannabe, the newest "King of Fighters." Now this game has been around for a decade, but I wasn't thrilled with the characters or story line. They weren't fighting for honor, family or face, but driven by a Joker-like boss in what seemed to be a fight for fun. Later after some research, I learned it was a turf war among gangs. (Here are some cheat codes and a free Street Fighter online game.)

    The characters, both male and female are barely dressed, and as virtually enhanced as they could be. After talking it over with Mike Antonucci, the Merc's video game reviewer, we decided that if we wanted a slut version of "Street Fighter," we might as well play "Soul Calibur" - at least there's a story line. (Coincidentally, talking about "Soul Calibur" was how I gained William Hung's trust for a more in-depth interview. We debated the worthiness of my favorite character Kilik, over his, Astaroth.)

    Mike's latest review is on "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." And here's a link to cheat codes from a reader.

    Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for "Halo 2." It's expected to sell $100 million the first day (today). Over the weekend, MTV aired a behind-the-scenes look - here's a link. Stay tuned for Dean Takahashi's review on Saturday.

    But if you're not fragging virtual enemies tonight, ch-check it out:

    WHAT: Stroke 9 record release event, acoustic performance and autograph session
    WHERE: Tower Records 121: Columbus & Bay, 2525 Jones St., San Francisco
    WHEN: 6:30 p.m. tonight, Nov. 9th
    TIX: All ages and free
    WHY: Support a local band: The Bay Area band sang the hit single "Little Black Backpack," "Rip It Off" for "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," and songs for "Scrubs."

    And...

    WHAT: The Faint, Beep Beep, TV on the Radio
    WHERE: The Grand At the Regency Center, 1290 Sutter Street, San Francisco
    WHEN: 8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 9th
    TIX: $18; (408) 998-8497, (415) 421-8497 or ticketmaster.com
    WHY: indie punk and indie rock

    Monday, November 08, 2004

    Nas in San Francisco soon and The Incredibles flying

    I recently interviewed Nas over the phone from New York in his "crib."

    Known as the "street prophet," the 31-year-old rapper was introspective, laid back and, as he says, "chillin' out.''

    He thought carefully first before answering, quite the opposite of Ryan Cabrera who outright said he ate cookies before concerts.

    In response to last week's Nas question:

    Q: How was it like working with your dad on the album?

    A: It was the best thing I've done yet, the best experience I've ever had, something with so much meaning. It was a good experience to also be able to look at your father and say "wow," look how he's influenced me.

    ----------------------------------------

    And, on Saturday, I saw "The Incredibles." The movie matched its title and its soundtrack is fun too. It's superhero music that you can imagine you can fly with.

    Here are links to "The Incredibles":

  • trailer
  • soundtrack
  • background on how Pixar made the characters come alive.
  • The superhero film topped the weekend box office ticket sales and beat out "Finding Nemo" by making $70.5 million in its first weekend.

    Unlike "Finding Nemo," there were no extras at the end (I stayed through all the credits, just in case), but there is a short called "Boundin'" in the beginning, which scales a lot younger than "The Incredibles" PG rating. It features dancing animals.

    There was also a tease to Pixar's next film, "Cars," a NASCAR-like flick with Chevron-like talking cars, which comes out next year. Here's a link to the trailer.

    Friday, November 05, 2004

    Mango Kingz in San Jose and Juvenile in San Francisco tonight

    It's been raining on and off outside, so if you're bored online, here's some wacky animation sites to ch-check out:

    JibJab - a political spoof that has animated everything from the founding fathers rapping to Cooking with Clinton.

    Breakdancing transformers - Transformers already are cool, but if they breakdance, imagine the possibilities!

    Dancing eggs - Eggs with personality

    Tonight, ch-check it out:

    WHAT: Juvenile w/ UTP
    WHERE: 550 Barneveld, San Francisco
    WHEN: 10 p.m. tonight, Nov. 5
    TIX: $20 advance; $30 at door; 21+; stylish attire; (510)338-5363; bayareaevents.com
    WHY: New Orleans gangsta rapper Juvenile is the one behind the "Slow Motion" song.

    WHAT: Mango Kingz
    WHERE: Hukilau, 230 Jackson St. (Japantown), San Jose
    WHEN: 8 to 11 p.m. tonight, Nov. 5
    TIX: No cover
    WHY: Hawaiian music + a cappella + doo-wop + R&B = aloha
    Thursday, November 04, 2004

    Nas and Avril questions anyone?

    So Nas rescheduled the interview, so if you have any other questions, please holla!

    Here's a Nas refresher - he's one of those emcees I recommend to people who are anti-hip-hop. I see him as a brooding, intelligent emcee. My favorite Nas songs are "One Mic" and "I Can."

    The lyrics behind "I Can" are encouraging: "I know I can, be what I wanna be if I work hard at it I'll be where I wanna be."

    Also, while, I'm at it, I'm interviewing Avril Lavigne next week, does anyone have questions for this pop-punk-princess?

    For all the skyrocketing prices of concerts these days, here's one that's free to keep in mind for next month.

    WHAT: Afrika Bambaataa
    WHERE: Zoe Nightclub, 417 S. First St., San Jose
    WHEN: 10 p.m. Thursday Dec. 9
    TIX: Free; to guarantee entry check this link.
    WHY: Hear how it all got started. Bambaataa is the godfather of hip-hop.
    Wednesday, November 03, 2004

    Did P. Diddy not inspire the youth vote?

    So P. Diddy said: Vote or Die.

    MTV said: Choose or Lose.

    The first-ever Hip Hop Political Convention called for change.

    PunkVoter wanted to "enrage" punks fans "into a political force to be reckoned with."

    WWE's Smackdown even had wrestlers out to grab the youth vote.

    Finally, in "Mosh," Eminem said: "I told you to fight."

    But, exit polls yesterday showed that less than one in ten of youth from 18 to 24 actually voted, about the same numbers in the 2000's election.

    What happened? Was P. Diddy not inspiring enough?

    Send me your thoughts...

    Also, I'm interviewing Nas tomorrow, does anybody have questions for him?
    Tuesday, November 02, 2004

    Election Day

    Don't forget to vote today!

    Here's some last minute background:

  • smartvoter.org


  • California Proposition Guide


  • Monday, November 01, 2004

    Eminem's "Mosh" spurring voters and Jay-Z and R. Kelly tour no more

    Eminem is no stranger to controversy.

    So when the Michael Jackson spoof "Just Lose It" dropped, fans were waiting, thinking that the song had to be too juvenile for even Eminem and something else must be boiling - either that or he had lost his touch.

    But, Eminem pulled his rabbit out, a single named "Mosh" that mainly criticizes President Bush and his policies. This emcee has already shown his ability to affect music and movie culture, now he's checking politics. (Here's a link to the singles' videos.)

    It has been called "Eminem's Fahrenheit 9/11" and many think it may spur young people to vote.

    I guess we'll find out on Election Day.

    On other news, this morning I caught a screening of Jay-Z's "Fade to Black."

    "This goodbye began like a long kiss," says Jay-Z in the beginning of the film.

    It was an interesting fan flick, focused on the rapper's performance at Madison Square Garden in November 2003. It comes out this Friday.

    Since I've been to a Jay-Z concert before, I wanted to see more of the behind-the-scenes action. Too much of the film focuses on the concert. Jay-Z's concert was similar to last year's Shoreline show with 50 Cent. It included an all-star line-up: Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Foxy Brown, Pharrell and ?uestlove.

    But I wanted to see more out-takes like Jay-Z and Beyonce canoodling or R. Kelly and Jay-Z interacting. (This weekend, R. Kelly was taken off the tour with Jay-Z. On Friday's show in New York, he said he saw people waving guns in the audience, left the stage, and then was pepper-sprayed by a member of Jay-Z's entourage. Now the whole tour is supposedly off.)

    In the movie, there were some scenes that lead up to Jay-Z's last album, like when Pharrell got so excited in explaining a beat to Jay-Z, but Jay-Z was like, that's your story?

    The documentary did lay out nicely the making of the single "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," starting from choosing the beats to Jay-Z making up the rhymes off the top of his head. He usually doesn't write lines down.

    Another interesting scene was when Jay-Z and his friends debated the value of rapping about violence and the effects it has. He says, "See what you [fans] did to rappers? They [rappers] scared to be themselves."

    This probably won't be a hit movie, because it's always more fun to see a concert live than in a theater, but it may make a fun DVD if they add more extras.

    Rumor also has it that this retired rapper is up for president of Island/Def Jam Records.

    Finally, I'm interviewing ex-Ashlee Simpson-flame Ryan Cabrera tomorrow. Does anybody have any questions for him?
     
    Photo of Marian Liu by Stephanie Grace Lim, Mercury News
    You can e-mail me at mliu@mercurynews.com.