The Magical World of Broadway Shows

Broadway shows are the best; they are one of the highlights of New York City. If you happen to visit NYC, you must not miss out on a Broadway show. This is one thing that is usually on people’s wish list and it is an experience that is unforgettable. Forget musicals and theaters, Broadway shows are in a whole different category. They are enchanting and magical. They make you feel as if the performers are talking to you. If you happen to get really good seats, you will be amazed with the facial expressions and the level of details that go into making a Broadway show.

A Broadway show has such power that it can change your perception, and just one show will put you in such a state of mind that you will start enjoying it (even if you can’t stay still in a seat for more than an hour). Movies have a captivating effect, and to give you a comparison if a movie captivates you and keeps you on the edge of your seat, while a Broadway show will do the same thing with the twice the intensity.

A very popular Broadway play is ‘Wicked’. Surveys suggest it is the most successful Broadway musical in the U.S. The play has also won Grammy and Tony Awards. The backgrounds and the stages are all lifelike and they keep on moving and changing as the show goes on. The lighting and sound are of such perfection that you will feel as if you are living the musical and have entered another world. Wicked is all about friendship, true love, and living your dreams. It teaches a number of lessons and some of them are quite deep. For example, true love being more than something that is skin deep. The inner beauty of love and that people should fall in love with the spirit rather than physical beauty. These are just some of the issues Wicked takes on.

Wicked New York Tickets should be bought well in advance to make sure you get some good seats if you plan on watching it. A seat closet to the stage will offer the best experience.

Reading about the characters of the Broadway is a smart thing to do as it helps you to follow the story easily. Broadway will always be one of the sources of entertainment in NYC.

Underground Rapper of the Week: K’naan

Underground Rapper of the Week is a new feature designed to raise awareness of rappers from all over the world who, if that world were a perfect place, would be more famous than they are. It will be updated every Tuesday before the sun goes down. Feel free to email suggestions of slept-on rappers from your city or wherever to: ezra.stead@gmail.com

K’naan is much more successful and well-known than most of the underground rappers profiled in this column, but still, in this writer’s opinion, not nearly successful and well-known enough. Based on the definition of “underground” stated above, therefore, K’naan definitely fits the bill. In a perfect world, this guy would be Top 40, while cats like Waka Flocka Flame would be completely unknown.

Born in Somalia, K’naan spent his pre-teen years surviving the Somali Civil War and other hardships in Mogadishu, one of the most dangerous and violent places on earth. When he was 13, his family fled the war-torn region and joined relatives in New York City, before moving to Canada, where K’naan learned English, partly by listening to Hip-Hop records. His birth name, Keinan, means “traveler” in the Somali language, and his life and music reflect that. His breakthrough album, 2005′s The Dusty Foot Philosopher, is a beautiful mix of varied influences, as well as K’naan’s own original style and voice. The album blends world music rhythms with hardcore, conscious Hip-Hop for a sound that works equally well in the dance club or in the headphones, whether you want to move your ass to it or carefully dissect its sharp, thoughtful lyricism.

Tracks like “Soobax” and “In the Beginning” showcase this versatility, with a rhythm that makes it almost impossible not to move coupled with lyrics that make you think, while other songs like “What’s Hardcore?” and the album’s title track bring that raw, conscious Hip-Hop lyricism right to your front door. On “What’s Hardcore?” he sums up his experience growing up in Mogadishu with lines like “Life is cheap here, but wisdom is free,” and “If I rhymed about home and got descriptive / I’d make 50 Cent look like Limp Bizkit.” Despite avoiding gangsta rap cliches in favor of empirical realism, K’naan is not above some good old-fashioned battle rhymes, as evidenced on “The Dusty Foot Philosopher,” where he spits lines like “My mind is like your life, straight up, ’cause it’s made up” and “I’m not gonna sit here and whine like crushed grapes / My mind leaves you speechless like duct tape.”

K’naan’s follow-up album, 2009′s Troubadour, helped to bring his music to a wider audience with guest spots from high-profile artists like Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Mos Def and Chali 2Na, as well as the legendary Chubb Rock on “ABCs,” one of the album’s best songs. This album has a more polished, mainstream-friendly sound without sacrificing the traditional rhythms and conscious, philosophical lyricism that made K’naan great on his earlier works. With his latest EP, More Beautiful Than Silence, featuring guest spots from Nas and Nelly Furtado, K’naan continues to blow up, and few rappers alive deserve it more than he does. If you’ve been sleeping on K’naan, take a minute to listen to this immensely talented and hard-working artist.

Underground Rapper of the Week: Rugged N Raw

Underground Rapper of the Week is a new feature designed to raise awareness of rappers from all over the world who, if that world were a perfect place, would be more famous than they are. It will be updated every Tuesday before the sun goes down. Feel free to email suggestions of slept-on rappers from your city or wherever to: ezra.stead@gmail.com

After writing this column for two months now, it’s about time I finally got around to profiling an artist from the city where I now live, the city where Hip-Hop originated, the city that never sleeps and should never be slept on: New York City. No underground NYC rapper is more deserving than Rugged N Raw, whose name says it all. RNR is an amazingly versatile and accessible emcee and producer whose music exemplifies the gritty edge of his native city, while also retaining a surprising wittiness and sense of humor. His sound punches you in the face, then cracks a joke or two and makes you feel welcome while you’re still reeling.

RNR’s first full-length album, Another Level, set the tone for the hard-hitting but simultaneously laid-back music he’s been making ever since. As he says on that album’s “Let the Ugly Out,” “[I'm] more chill than the average dude you know / But when my music’s dope, I get stupid, though.” He also gets crazy smart; witness the creativity of his “Advice Column,” in which he humorously breaks life down on an urban Dear Abby tip. Another Level also features “Kick You Down,” a banging track with frequent collaborator Hasan Salaam, a New Jersey emcee with whom RNR formed the wonderfully named group Mohammad Dangerfield (Mo Danger for short). Together, the duo released the free download EP $FREE.99 and subsequent self-titled full-length album, which features the excellent party jam “The BBQ Joint” alongside hard-hitting tracks like “Unredeemed” and the Immortal Technique collaboration “Break of a Star,” produced by the excellent New Hampshire producer Remot.

RNR’s second full-length, Truth Serum, continues to showcase his inimitable skill and relatability. Check out the recession rap anthem “Broke and Proud,” featuring Hasan Salaam, in which he outlines his cheap date and vacation plans: “There’s not a lot I can make possible / Only cheap ideas in the arsenal / I take a chick to the museum / Looks nice and admission fee’s optional / When stress starts to weigh down heavy / Vacation is necessary / What do I do? I pack my bags / Weekend cruise on the Staten Island Ferry.” For those of you who don’t live in New York – yes, the S.I. Ferry is free. Be on the lookout for Rugged N Raw’s new album, Anomaly Book 1, dropping September 4th. Homeboy is the ultimate.

Jamie Foxx is a “Winner”


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Here’s Justin Timberlake and Jamie Foxx attending the UJA Federation of New York’s 2009 Music Visionary Award at The Pierre Hotel last summer in New York City.

The two of them recently teamed up on Jamie Foxx’s new single – “Winner.”

Danny Ross: One Way


RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, Ben Folds

It’s one thing to say you sound different than everyone else. It’s another thing entirely to do it without trying. New York City-based singer/songwriter/pianist Danny Ross falls into the latter category, at least it seems that way on his latest, One Way. Sure, you can try to lump Ross in with the likes of Ben Folds or Sufjan Stevens, but he set out to add elements of the Who’s Tommy or Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, while also channeling his background studying jazz piano. The result is an exuberant batch of songs that may not grab you right away, but slowly do so after repeated listens, when you hear things you didn’t hear the first time around. Ross’ falsetto and unique melodies may also remind you of the late Jeff Buckley, but that’s just a point of reference because dude is clearly doing his own thing. If you like your music to have perfect structure and ear candy hooks, you won’t find much to like on here – but if you veer off the beaten path and like your music to do the same, you’re going to love Danny Ross’s music. The best tracks on this fine set are the literal opener, “Sleepy Dream;” “Stay Here with Me” and “And The Trumpets Sing” which both have melodic elements of ‘60s pop; and the driving, triumphant title track. Just do yourself a favor, and give this one a few spins with time to fully digest it. (Danny Ross 2009)

Danny Ross MySpace Page

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