Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

QnA with hip-hop DJ (and MC) Derrick Mcelroy

Aside from being one of the best hip-hop performances you’ll see all year, tonight’s sold-out concert with legendary MC KRS-One also serves as a kick-off party for just-named Rewind 105.5 FM.

The station, part of the local conglomerate that also runs Jewel FM, 940 ESPN, KYNO, 95.7 The Fox and New Rock 104.1, recently switched formats to classic hip hop.

Think: Jay-Z and Tupac, Outkast, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and the like.

Already the station has gotten an amazing amount of buzz and general good feelings from fans, with much thanks to Derrick Mcelroy, a local DJ (and MC) who is currently the voice of the station. That’s him on all the commercials and promos. He also serves as consultant to the Music Director — a position he has no problem filling.

Some will know MCelroy as Aesop, the rapper/MC who was part of the Bay Area rap collective Living Legends.

Here, I ask Mcelroy about “classic” hip hop, and get his take on current state of the genre.

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Iggy Azalea’s “Great Escape Tour” rescheduled

If you were super excited that Iggy Azalea would be in town for her “Great Escape Tour” in a little more than a month — prepare for disappointment.

The tour has been postponed. It will now kick off Sept. 18 in San Diego before stopping at the Save Mart Center, Sept. 20. Tickets will honored for the rescheduled dates, though shows in Baltimore, Las Vegas and Sacramento will not be rescheduled.

Opening acts for the rescheduled dates have yet to be announced, either. Originally, Nick Jonas and Tinashé were scheduled to play.

According to a release from the Save Mart Center, the tour was rescheduled “to accommodate for creative team availability and tour production plans …”

“It is extremely important to Iggy that she delivers the show she envisaged to share with her fans and that requires more time in development.”

Or, according to Iggz HQ:

Azalea was easily one of the biggest pop stars of 2014. Her single “Fancy” broke all sorts of airplay records and was the longest-leading No. 1 by a female rapper. It was Billboard’s 2014 Song of the Summer, iTunes Best Song of 2014, the year’s most-streamed song on Spotify and the most-watched video on VEVO (and also a parody hit for Weird Al). Azalea was nominated for (but did not win) four Grammy Awards this year, including best new artist, best rap album, record of the year and best pop duo/group performance.

Rescheduling a tour like this seems like a major undertaking, though some news outlets saw it coming. And Azalea’s management seems to have taken over her Instagram account, which leaves one to wonder, “what’s up with Iggy?”

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Terrence Howard faces fears to do ‘Empire’

It’s a good thing Terrence Howard overcame his fears about being in the new FOX series “Empire.” Had he passed on the show, Howard would have missed out on being part of the biggest phenomenon of this TV season.

“Empire,” the story of a family involved in the music industry, has attracted more viewers each week since it launched in January.

What scared Howard was how his character treated people including a scene where he throws a child into a garbage can. That’s not the kind of action that will earn any points toward “Father of the Year” voting.

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TONIGHT: Fashawn in-store performance at Rasputin Music

I’ve written a lot about Fashawn in the last year, which makes sense, seeing as the Fresno rapper’s career has been on an upward trajectory since it was announced he would be signing with the legendary MC Nas to his “Boy Meets World” follow up on Mass Appeal Records (home to Nas, Run the Jewels and others).

That album, “The Ecology,” was released on iTunes last week and will be available in stores and the like tomorrow.

But Fresno fans will get the first crack, 6 p.m. tonight at Rasputin Music. Physical copies of the album will be for sale and Fashwan will be doing an in-store performance. This is your chance to see him in town before he leaves on tour.

There will also be food trucks, a skate demo and others suprise-y kind of stuff. Before you head out, read all about Fashawn in this piece, which ran in Sunday’s paper.

BANDGEEK: Comrades, Mad Caddies and the Ultimate Glow Experience

Right about now you may be looking to lock yourself up in full quarantine. Brave it out and get to one of these awesome concerts happening through the week. They are once again collected here in out weekly BANDGEEEEEK! roundup.


  • The Long Black Veils.
    W/Lezayr. At Fulton 55. 9 p.m. $6-$8.

  • Ozmosis Happy Hour.
    W/Johnathan Sterling. At Tioga Sequoia Beer Garden. 6 p.m. Free. (Flier link)

  • Brother Love And The Breakups.
    At Full Circle Brewing Co. 8 p.m. $6.

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    Local rap duo merge movies and music

    In my first column of the 2015, I predicted this would be a big year for hip-hop in Fresno.

    My analysis was based on the mainstreaming of hip-hop (both in pop culture and in the local scene) and the rise of standout local talent.

    I mentioned Fashawn and others in a short list that I prefaced with the fact that others were left out. For instance: Shake da Mayor and Diego Redd, two rappers have have been representing Fresno for a decade, at least.

    Shake was part of the well-known rap group Skhool Yard with Planet Asia and Kubiq. Some will remember his song “Stunna Shades.”

    Redd is know for hits like “In the ‘No.”

    The pair got some notice of their own in 2014 for their collaboration, 99 North, which was featured in a full-length hop-hop musical of the same name released in October.

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    For The Grouch, music is a collaborative effort


    Oakland rapper The Grouch made a career of collaboration, first with the underground hip-hop crew The Living Legends (which included Los Angeles rapper Murs and Fresno’s own Aesop) and later as a solo artist — he has released close to 20 collaborative project albums under the monikers The Grouch & Eligh, Zion I & The Grouch and The CMA.

    “It’s always a different dynamic when you’re dealing with different people,” says Grouch, who is currently in the midst of his “How the Grouch Stole Christmas” tour with The Grouch & Eligh, southern hop-hop trio CunninLynguists and producer/DJ Abilities. The tour stops Saturday night at Strummer’s.

    “Sometimes even when you’re in the same room, you just get in your own little zone.”

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    Amid a media blitz, T-Pain is just winging it


    T-Pain has given up trying to figure out how people’s minds work.

    Like, how anyone would need to be reminded he can actually sing. How, despite the fact that the Florida rapper/singer has been featured on more than 50 chart-topping tracks, to many listeners, he was just the “auto-tune” guy. Even though he didn’t invent the tech and wasn’t the first to use it (or over use it). Or that his biggest hit (Flo Rida’s “Get Low”) is auto-tune free.

    “People don’t look into things before they start talking,” says T-Pain, one of featured artists at tonight’s Fresno Holiday Jam at Selland Arena. “Preconception is the evil I deal with all the time.”

    He’s not arguing with the massive amounts of press that he’s received since a video of him singing sans auto-tune on NPR went viral. He does find it odd.

    “People are like,’I’m sorry. We didn’t know,’ ” he says.
    “Really y’all?”

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    LISTEN: “Dreams,” the first track from Fashawn’s new EP


    As if waiting for Fashawn‘s Beary Xmas show (happening Dec. 23 at Strummer’s) wasn’t exciting enough, the Fresno rap icon has upped the ante by announcing the release “FASH-ionably Late,” a seven-song EP that drops Dec. 18.

    The EP, is a collaboration with producer The Alchemist and comes in advance of the rapper’s highly-anticipated album “The Ecology,” the follow up (both chronologically and in terms of content) to 2009′s “Boy Meets World.”

    “The Ecology,” will be released by Mass Appeal in early 2015. You may remember Fashawn was signed to Nas’ record label in July.

    “I wanted to give my fans exactly what I wanted to put out, so if that meant waiting to push back the date to clear some records than so be it,” Fashawn says in a release. “Working with Alchemist, I get in another mode creatively that’s different than working with other producers. Just some real rap shit,” he says.

    You can stream the EP’s first single, “Dreams” ft. Evidence, now, or watch a video for the song (directed by Evidence) on the jump. Warning: NSFW.

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    Win tickets to: Ladies Night Out Vol. 3


    The third installment of the Ladies Night Out hip-hop and R&B concert stops at The Save Mart Center on Saturday Nov. 22 and we have tickets to give away.

    Ladies Night Out Vol. 2 came to the arena in 2011 and featured ’90s throw-back groups like Bell Biv DeVoe, Color Me Badd, Jagged Edge and H-Town.

    This time around the concert features Mexican singer Frankie J (of the Kumbia Kings); R&B icon Ginuwine; “Baby Got Back” rapper Sir-Mix-A-Lot; the R& B duo Next; Silk, the ’90s group discovered by Keith Sweat and local rapper Zee Will.

    To enter to win, just leave a comment on this post. Tell us what makes for the perfect “ladies night out.” You gents out there may have to use you imagination.You have until 5 p.m. Thursday to enter. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email. So check yours if you enter.

    See the complete contest rules on the jump.

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    Prepare for a musical pandemic with Sahab’s new single “Prom”


    Electronic indie hip-hop producer/singer/musician/artist/everything Sahab is creating a full-on musical pandemic with the release of his latest album “Kittysiclosis.” One assumes that’s some clever hyperbole and not another real disease we need to start worrying about.

    The album is slated for release Thursday in conjunction with a free, all-ages show at Peeve’s Public House. Sahab promises new music for the live show. Fans should be excited.

    Local hip-hop artist Zee Will opens the show (FYI: He’s also playing at Ladies Night Out Vol 3, later this month, which is awesome!).

    To get prepped, you can listen to the first single from the Sahab’s new album, “Prom,” over on Soundcloud, or just click through to the jump.

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    BANDGEEK!: Dustbowl Revival, Dead or Alive and Twista


    For many, the big decision this weekend will be between baseball and figuring out what’s up with Renée Zellweger’s face (hint, it’s nothing). Of course, there are dozen of musical happenings through next week, if you’d rather. I’ve collected them here in another weekly BANDEGEEEEK! roundup.


  • Dustbowl Revival.
    W/Doc’s Holiday. At Fulton 55. 9 p.m. $8-$10. (Flier link)

  • Bear Hands.
    W/Fences. At Strummer’s 7:30 p.m. $12. All ages.


  • Introvoys.
    W/Vicki HL, Tata and Paul and Butch from South Border. At Fulton 55. 9 p.m. $25-$30.

  • Twista.
    W/Gillie Da Kid and Halo the Human. At Strummer’s. 8 p.m. $22. 18 + (Flier link)

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    Bandgeek!: The Remones, Red Scare and the Tastmaker’s Festival


    With Halloween one weekend away (technically it’s two weeks and a day, but whatever) you’ll probably spend the weekend working on your costume (I hear Ebola’s trending this year).

    Be sure to take a break for a couple of hours and check out one of the live music performances happening through next week. It’s a long list, which I’ll leave here as your weekly BANDGEEK!


  • Fiji.
    W/Essel and ReLion. At Fulton 55. 9 p.m. $25-$35. (Flier link)

  • Roger Sellers.
    W/Tson. At Peeve’s Public House. 8 p.m. Free. All ages.

  • Curse.
    W/Midwest Moms and The Agonic Line. At C.A.F.E. Infoshop. 8 p.m. $5. All ages. (Flier link)

  • Ron Thompson and his Resistors.
    Central Valley’s Blues Society’s weekly dance party. At Pinot Wine Bar. 6 p.m. Free.

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    Concert Announcement: Ladies Night Out Vol. 3 with Frankie J, Ginuwine


    Get ready to live like its the 1990s … for a third time.

    The Save Mart Center announced the third installment of the Ladies Night hip-hop and R&B concert will be stopping at the arena Nov. 22.

    Ladies Night Out Vol. 2 came to the arena in 2011 and featured ’90s throw-back groups like Bell Biv DeVoe, Color Me Badd, Jagged Edge and H-Town.

    This time around the concert features Mexican singer Frankie J (of the Kumbia Kings), R&B icon Ginuwine, “Baby Got Back” rapper Sir-Mix-A-Lot, the R& B duo Next and Silk, the ’90s group discovered by Keith Sweat.

    Venue and radio presales for the concert begin 10 a.m. Sept. 8 according to Ticketmaster. They go on sale to the general public 10 a.m. Sept. 15.

    Tickets are $29-$69 and available at select Save Mart Supermarkets, the Save Mart Center box office, online at or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

    Catch a video of Frankie J on the jump.

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    Announcement: Mega Old School Party Jam 2


    The Rotary Amphitheater at Woodward Park is under appreciated (if not underused) as a concert venue.

    But it will be busy in September.

    I already told you about A Day to Remember, which brings its “Parks and Devastation” tour to the amphitheater Sept. 23.

    Before that is The Mega Old School Party Jam 2.

    The concert, scheduled for Sept. 5, is for fans of early hip-hop with performances from Treach and Kay Gee (of Naughty by Nature) Jalil & Ecstasy (of Whodini), plus Kurtis Blow, Shock G (of Digital Underground), Coolio and Young MC.

    Gates open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30 p.m.

    Tickets are $35-$40 and on sale now online at (thru Sept. 1), or at Rimco in Fresno (5375 N. Blackstone Ave.) or Visalia (1712 E. Main Street), at Ed Dena’s Auto Center, 1500 W. El Monte Way in Dinuba, or the Mega 97.9 studios located at Palm and Shaw in Fresno.

    Just for fun, click to jump to watch the video for “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

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    TONIGHT: Dizzy Wright

    dizzyIt’ll be awhile before we get an official full-album release from Dizzy Wright.

    But fans are still privy to new music from the Las Vegas rapper, who was named one of XXL Magazine’s freshman class last year (he was the people’s choice). “I’m always releasing stuff. I released a song today,” says Wright, who’s State of Mind Tour stops tonight at Fulton 55.

    That song is “Spark Up The Flame,” a summer-time party anthem that was written just for the season (as things start to heat up) and is available for free.

    Wright has been prolific since his full-length debut “SmokeOut Conversations” was released in 2012. He’s put out a half-dozen mix-tapes and the “State of Mind,” EP, which was released in March.

    He’s also been soaking up the experiences of being a touring musician, of getting out of Las Vegas (in a tour bus this time around) and seeing how other people live. “I get to travel, get to see other people’s environments,” he says. “It gave me a different outlook on how to put on a show.”

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    BANDGEEK: Fierce Creatures, Chapin Sisters and Paul Collins’ Beat

    6-6-14This weekend, it’s all about a horse race. Worry not, you’ll still have time to make it out to at least one of the dozens of these live music events, which we compile each week so you don’t have to. Here’s an all-new BANDGEEEK!


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    TONIGHT: Pollywog Crew

    pwc nomadThe Beastie Boys encapsulated a wide swath of pop culture in the 1990s — even though the New York band had blasted onto the scene with its brand of beer-swilling party-time hip-hop almost a decade earlier. There was the music, for sure, but the trio (Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock) were also deep into fashion, the skateboarding culture and sports.

    “They had their hands everywhere. They were the youth of America,” says Dino Carrillo, or D-Rock, as he is known in the Pollywog Crew, the Beastie Boys tribute band that formed in L.A. in 2012. They play tonight at Strummer’s.

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    TONIGHT: Mila J

    When Mila J dropped her mixtape in 2012, it quickly hit more than 600,000 downloads and incited a major-label bidding war. The Los Angeles based soul singer, the older sister of R&B crooner Jhené Aiko, ultimately signed with Motown and went to work on her debut album, the first single of which, “Smoke, Drink, Break-Up,” is steadily climbing the Urban Mainstream Chart and has already reached more than a half million YouTube/VEVO views in less than a month. It is also currently in rotation on MTV Jams, MTV HITS, MTV2 and VH1.
    Mila has just embarked on her first national tour, playing support for rapper Ty Dollar $ign on his “Beach Hour Tour.” That tour kicks off tonight at Strummer’s. Tickets are $17 and available online or at the venue.

    “Smoke, Drink, Break-Up,” on the jump.

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    Jazmin Sisters get giddy over new single

    jazminThe Jazmin Sisters — Nadia, Felicia, Celia and Daria — are buzzing and you can’t tell if it’s the venti servings of caffeine they’re drinking, or if this is the natural state of being for the Los Angeles pop/R&B group.

    Either way, the girls talk at rapid fire pace, starting and finishing each other sentences in a way only actual sisters (the kind who grew up in sharing a single bedroom and two bunk beds) do.

    You can’t fault the girls for being excited. They spent last week on a radio run, traveling the state to spread word on their EP — “90′ Baby,” which was released in November and produced by MIDI Mafia, the Grammy nominated team that has done songs for the likes of 50 Cent, JLo, Fantasia and Justin Bieber. The sisters were meeting with stations in Fresno on Friday, and played Saturday night at Cellar Door in Visalia.

    Last week also saw the release of a remix for the group’s single single “You,” which features Bay Area hip-hop artist Iamsu! The track got quick love. They just finished recording the song last Sunday. By Tuesday, it was on the radio station Power 106 in Los Angeles and getting love in national hip-hop publications.

    “We were in Fader, dude!” says Felicia.

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    Win tickets to Krush Groove

    krushgrooveThe Krush Groove hi-hip showcase rolls into town Friday. The fifth annual event, started by Los Angeles radio station 93.5 KDAY, is heaven for fans of the old-school, with some of heaviest hitters of the ’90s, including Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Redman AND Method Man, DJ Quik and Too $hort, plus Daz and WC, Tha Eastsidaz, Jayo Felony and 2 II None.

    Bone Thugs in particular, are no strangers to Fresno. The group was part of the similarly themed West Coast Fest last summer and lobbied to have that tour kick-off in Fresno. So, fans should be out in force.

    We have tickets for a lucky Beehiver.
    Enter to win by leaving a comment on this post. Tell us which Krush Groove artist ranks best, or tell us who should have been on the bill. Deadline to enter is 8 p.m. Thursday. Please enter only once. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email (so check yours Friday morning if you entered).

    Full contest rules on the jump.

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    TONIGHT: Fauxchella w/ ZZ Ward

    zzwardThere are moments when it’s hard for ZZ Ward to fathom her own success — like say, the three days this summer she’ll be opening for guitar god Eric Clapton, or playing Red Rocks Amphitheater with Amos Lee this August. Or, this weekend’s slot at the Coachella Festival.

    “There are days when everything feels like such a big deal,” says Ward, the 27-year old blues R&B hip-hop singer, who has worked with guys like Asher Roth, Kendrick Lamar and Pete Rock. Her debut “Til the Casket Drops,” was released in 2012 on Hollywood Records. Her free “Eleven Roses,” mix-tape feature interpretations tracks by Lamar along with Childish Gambino and Tyler, the Creator.

    Most days though, there’s just not time for that kind of thinking, Ward says.
    “I still feel like I’m trying to do it,” she says. “I’m always too busy trying to do a good job with things.”

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    Win tickets to Let’s Go Bowling/40 Watt Hype

    lgbThere are few local bands that have the enduring appeal of ska-rockers Let’s Go Bowling.

    The live hip-hop/jazz/soul group 40 Watt Hype would be one.

    Put the two bands on the same bill and you’re assured to get A.) a packed house B.) a great night of live, local music.

    The bands play back to back 9 p.m. Friday at Fulton 55 and we have tickets to give away to a few lucky Beehivers. To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Tell us which band (LGB or 40 Watt) you’re more excited to see and why. The contest will run until 5 p.m. Thursday. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email (so check yours if you enter).

    Rules and videos on the jump.

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    Fresno’s hip-hop hero Fashawn releases new track

    Ladies - Cover Art - LargeFor fans of Fresno rapper Fashawn: A Valentine’s gift; a new single to tide you over until the release of his sophomore album “The Ecology.”

    The Hecktik produced track was released today. It’s Fashawn’s ode to women.

    “Being raised without a father and experiencing the difficulties of poverty as a young man helped shape Fashawn into the father he is today and the respect he has for woman who sacrifice in order to keep families together.”

    On a cool little side note: The artwork for the single was created by Stromberg, an “abstract stencil expressionist” who recently made news for creating a fake Bansky.

    You can listen to “Ladies” on the jump. NSFW.

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