Sunday, January 31, 2010

Social Responsibility


In the summer of 2006 I started a DJ program for "at risk" youth. For the first time in my entire career I became very mindful about the lyrics of different songs, not just the 'bad language', but the content as well. The truth is, I never thought much about content in the past, but over the years I hear things differently. Mainly I was concerned about songs that glorified violent behavior and how young teenaged girls are so 'sexualized' in pop music. I work with kids, who have already been exposed to so much that it doesn't 'help' when their icons are boasting about their gun collections, gang affiliations or how good they are at "giving head" (obviously referring to some female artists). I do however feel a bit conflicted as in some cases I feel that artistic expression of such experiences can be cathartic and almost therapeutic for some.

I am and have always been a free spirit, so the truth is I would never discourage a teenager or anyone from listening to the music they love, how could I? Just the thought of coming in between an individual and their love of music goes against everything I believe in. All I can do is discourage them from some of the behavior that is demonstrated in some of this music.

There are a lot more boys in the "the system" than girls. Girls are already a special breed and (though this is a subject up for debate) most girls in a therapeutic setting do not receive the care and treatment they need because the psychology of "man" was built and has evolved around the psyche of "man". (Before I go off an a tangin and perhaps a subject for another post). Between all of the above and being a minority in such turbulent classification "at risk" girls are faced with a greater challenge than most of us could ever imagine. Because I do work with this population, I find it to be quite refreshing when artists as influential as Beyonce, takes some social responsibility for the affect that she has over today's youth and releases a song like "If I were a Boy". Though the whole Alanis Morisette thing in her Grammy performance did throw me off a bit, but either way I am grateful for artists like Beyonce who can offer a strong, positive and empowering voice to the girls that need it the most.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lip Remedy



Last month I posted a story regarding my wonderful experience with Kiehl's hand lotion, as it has done wonders for my dry skin this time of year, and it is still keeping my hands nice and smooth even in midst of this bitter cold.

I also made another great discovery in lip balm. Chapped lips is also something I suffer from this time of year, and I have tried everything from the pricey sugar exfoliating balm that just rips my lips apart (which I know is the point, but it really doesn't work for me) to Vaseline and all types of blistex, aveeno etc and yet my lips would still get really chapped at least once every couple of days.

My latest and most successful attempt (thus far) to continuously having smooth lips would be a combination of Nivea lip balm and Stilla Lip Gloss.

I have read and have learned that quality lipstick or lipgloss helps with maintaining the texture of the skin on our lips. So, I continually apply Nivea A Kiss of Moisture lip care, and then over the lip balm I apply Stilla's banana lip glaze (about 3-6 Xs a day, and banana is just the shade). It has been well over a week and the weather has been as cold as ever, and my lips have been continuously smooth, shiny and scrumptious. Therefore, I highly recommend this little regime.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Sounds of February



Classic, exciting, painful, hopeful and sensual are just a few words to describe the sounds of February.

Notably:
Sade Solider of Love Feb. 9th
Fatboy Slim and David Byrne Here Lies Love Feb. 23rd



AGGDJ

Sonic Chocolate


The Second Stevie Wonder Edition:

Many believe that the world would be a much better place if everybody listened to Stevie Wonder.....regularly.


AGGDJ

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Head Phobia


I was riding the train the other day, and listening to my I-Pod. My I-pod headphones had broke so I was using my large and loud DJ headphones. I usually have my I-pod on shuffle and the song "I think we're alone now" by Tiffany came on. Yes, I will repeat that "I think we're alone now"the late 80s song/cover by the cheesy, red headed, pop princess Tiffany.

After the first hook, I noticed a couple in their mid to early 30s sitting next to me. They were giggling and snickering. I realized that they could hear what I was listening to and at first I was embarrassed and turned the volume down. The truth is, I should of just been cautious of the volume as it is rude to blast headphones on a subway, as the people sitting next to you get to hear an annoying 'trebled' version of whatever it is you are listening to.

In either case, after thinking of it I thought to myself, why should I be embarrassed? I could put up a cool and trendy image of myself and start playing some pretentious Buddha bar stuff, which I have in my I-pod. If I was sitting next to a bunch of teenagers I could rock some Panic at the Disco, Jay-Z or The Ting Tings, I could even rock some Old School Wu-Tang or Nas, and if I was sitting amongst a bunch of uppity adults I could rock some Miles Davis, Alison Krauss, Coltrane, Norah Jones and even Mozart.

But why? Who Cares? My love of music encompasses a massive range of styles. Yes, What? I have Tiffany on my I-Pod along with several other sugary pop artists like Terrence Trent D'arby, New Edition, and New Kids on The Block (oh yes I do).

So, when the Tiffany song reached the last verse, I decided to up the volume a few notches and smile. Why did I smile? because it is within these silly little moments that I'm just being myself and I really don't mind when strangers get the chance to see or hear a piece of who I am;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sade's Timeless Voice


When the Beastie Boys came out with their last album a couple of years ago, I recall reading a review in some music publication that asked or stated something along the lines of why can new artists make 'the old sound' so good, but old artists make 'the new sound' so bad.

I do agree, with that to some extent, several of today's artists have gone 'retro' and created some remarkable music and several old school artists just sound so wrong when they try to reflect the current trends in music. I think that that review was the writer's attempt to honor The Beastie's past but dismiss their recent attempts to put out 'cool' music. I do feel however that artists like U2, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Green Day and several more artists have still come out with great music over the years and still remain true to themselves and the current trends and styles of pop music.

Well, above all I have to say that Sade's latest release feels so consistent with who she is and has always been as an artist. Her mesmerizing and crystallized sound has aged with grace, her words are still so simple and so wise, her emotions just silently scream beneath the simmering and subtle passion sound of her voice. In one song, Sade proves the above statement about 'old artists' to be entirely wrong. This is the third time I have written about her latest single "Soldier of Love" which is a clear sign that I am very anxious for and simply cannot wait until the album "Soldier of Love" comes out on February 9th!

Monday, January 18, 2010


"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Fixing My 'Musical Karma'



I will never forget the day I first discovered how easy it was to download (free) music from the web. I was in awe of it all and I went through a series of emotions from bliss to content to fear and then to guilt. I felt like a petty thief and since I knew I could get away with it, why would I stop? I mean if there was a way for me to eat an unlimited amount of chocolate and peanut butter with out gaining an ounce, I would do it. But back to the topic, unlike most people, the music I collect is not just about a collection. These MP3s are the foundation of my trade. My music collection is the source of my income. 'Stealing' music was not a matter that could be taken lightly. Almost like an addict who needs to hit 'rock bottom' before changing, I needed a disaster or an intervention. In my own way I was hoping for some catastrophic occurrence that would prevent me from illegally downloading another song again.

Well, there was no need to be so dramatic. Fortunately I just came to my senses. I came across a series of small issues that started to progress over the years and eventually affected the quality of my work. For starters, some songs were completely distorted and sounded horrible on a massive sound system. In some cases the song would be custom edited and or would have some stupid DJ shouting himself out. It would be humiliating, I would be in midst of a good strong DJ set and working up a hot dancefloor, and all of a sudden in the middle of a hot new track you'd hear "Yo Yo, This is DJ Donut bringing it to you, going hard, ya heard? DJ DONUT!!!2009 Yo!" and everyone would just stop and look up at me. Hmmm

So finally I realized the only way to really insure the quality of the music I play and to provide an outstanding service as a DJ and music consultant, was to just buy my music. In addition to appreciating the quality which I clearly took for granted for several years, I am also bringing in good karma, and supporting the music and artists that I cherish and love. It's a Win, Win, Win:)

They Make Us Laugh, I Made Them Dance




I have always wanted to DJ for an SNL after party. These SNL after parties are quite legendary and a strong tradition within the world of NYC nightlife and entertainment. I do believe that when you ask the universe for something, the universe shall provide. This request may have been submitted several years ago and almost forgotten about, but low and behold a couple of days ago I got booked to DJ for the SNL after party Saturday January 16th starting at 3:30 am to 6:30 am!!!!

Now, there was an actor or two that I would of loved to meet, but the only actor that I really wanted to meet was a no show:/ (Andy Samberg)

In either case, the party was so much fun, and it was great to watch some of our beloved NYC comedians dancing their A***s off. There was no build up, as soon as everyone arrived, it was on AND I MEAN ON! The crowd was so vibrant, fun and uninhibited.

The bottom line is, I DJayed a party that I have always wanted to DJ for and I had a BLAST!!!!

Re-Claiming The Home of My Soul


When I was a teenager, I use to hang out at this spot called Augie's up on 105th street and Broadway. Augie's was a local dive bar where various jazz musicians would come out to jam and perform. Every night the place was packed and usually by 10pm there would be a crowd outside waiting to get in. Augie's was really small and really 'run down'. If it weren't for the live jazz, it would just be another 'hole in the wall' that served watered down drinks for cheap. Augie, himself use to sit at one of the tables and play chess with any of the patrons that challenged him. He had a warm soul and welcomed everyone that came through the door. Augie's was almost a New York City landmark when it was sold to another owner who renovated the space and changed the name to SMOKE. Though the new owners stayed true to the tradition of live jazz, the venue became a little more upscale and charged a pretty steep cover. This was about 10 years ago, and at the time I was devastated by the loss of my beloved Augie's, the playground for my teenaged soul and love of live music. I swore I would never be a patron of smoke. Over the years, whenever people asked me if I had ever been to smoke I would give them my whole rant about how smoke use to be a place called Augie's and it just wasn't the same... yada yada.

Well, a couple of days ago, a friend invited me out for drinks as he was entertaining guests from out of town. He explained that they had bought tickets to go check out a show at Smoke. Hmmm I thought. It had been over 10 years since Augie's had closed and Smoke was still standing strong. I loved Augie's because of the music, and if it was always about the music, than perhaps I owe it to myself to listen to some music at SMOKE. When I arrived, I realized that very little had changed, the venue was just a little bit cleaner, the drinks were a little bit stronger, and the stage was just a little bit higher. The energy, the vibe and over all feel of the place had pretty much stayed the same. As for the show, the older I get, the more I feel and the more I appreciate the integrity of true musicianship and the band that was booked for the night went above and beyond my highest expectations and standard for good music. I realized that one of the main issues I had with SMOKE over the past 10 years ago, was the $20-$40 cover charge. It almost makes me want to slap my own wrist! Supporting live music and real musicians is probably one of the few things that I should never mind spending my money on.

With that said, I am disappointed in myself for 'hating' on Smoke for all these years, but at the end of the day, it was really me who was missing out on some of the best stuff this city has to offer, some good, real, live music!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gig Update



This Saturday January 16th, 2010

I will be spinning a sweet and sexy mix of fresh tunes at Tillman's.

10pm till

165 W.26th street (off of 7th)
Kitchen open all night long
No Cover, just bring good energy:)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Up Side of the Bitter Cold Weather

The Following are a few of life's pleasures that taste, feel, sound or just seem better in the winter than any other time of the year:


-Chai tea lattes taste better in the cold.
-Take Out or Delivered Food tastes better when it's cold outside.
-A Hot bath only makes sense in the winter.
-Sitting by a fire place in the lodge while watching people ski and snowboard, can only happen in the winter.
-Massages feel better in the winter.
-Elbow length leather gloves just look stupid when it isn't cold outside.
-No one really notices a few extra pounds when you're covered up in winter clothes.
-And maybe it's just me, but in my opinion, Jazz music just sounds better, when it's cold outside.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Heart Uniqlo


So, of course I have been hearing a lot about Uniqlo ever since they opened a store in Soho. My mom has been going on and on about it and a lot of people have asked me about it assuming that I would 'just know' since I am half Japanese. Well, I didn't. I went to Uniqlo for the first time this past weekend. For starters, to my pleasant surprise their sizes run super big, which was my main concern since one time when I was in Japan I had to travel through 5 towns to find my size in just about anything. I fit into a size 2 Uniqlo (US) pants, so if anything their sizes run (extra) big. Another major plus about Uniqlo are their 'heat tech' shirts and pants that insulate the body and keeps it super warm in this awfully cold weather. The best part about Uniqlo are the prices (we're talking H&M and Old Navy prices). The overall style is really basic, and simple but incredibly functional, cute and chic which is perfect for a DJ'in chica like myself:)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When 'greatness' falls asleep or smokes too much.....


I will never forget where I was and what I was doing when I first heard D'angelo's 'brown sugar'. It would probably be best to keep the details of this occurrence to myself, but it was love at first sound.

D'angelo has been on my mind lately because I was recently re-organizing my vinyl collection and I came across the 'Untitled' 12" (mint condition btw). I also remember where I was and what I was doing when I first saw the video for 'untiled' and it was love at first sight and sound.

Now over decade later, I want to know where this beautiful and ingenious piece of GOD's work has been. I actually had the honor of seeing him perform for a small intimate audience back in 1998. It was an unforgettable experience.

Rumor has it that D'Angelo has been working on his third album 'James River' for quite some time and it's release date has yet to be determined. I can't help but think about how much has happened through out the world since his last album. Terrorists, War, the Collapse of the economy, the collapse of the music buisness, etc.

Well, new album or no new album, D'angelo is already a legend. Besides, I've always preffered quality over quantity. There is more artistic integrity and talent in D'Angelo's two albums than there will ever be in the entire career of most artists that are out now.


AGGDJ

Deadlines, Gigs and the Wrath of Mercury Retrograde

The up and coming week will be the busiest week of the year for me (so far). I have two consulting projects due next Friday, I will have to compile a total of 10hrs of music for one high profile client and also for a charity event I have committed to. I will also be spinning next Saturday at Tillman's (A one time thing), and that's on top of trying to save the world, one child at a time.

(For those who don't know what I was talking about in that last sentence, it's a long story and unfortunately I can't discuss it any further in this blog. I do work with "at risk" youth and the work I do is confidential. I recently had to sign a contract about it and all, and I know it must sound so deep and mysterious, but it really isn't, I just can't publicly discuss it in detail).

Mercury retrograde has already caused my computer to crash, my BB keeps freezing, and all day yesterday, I thought it was Saturday (when it was really Friday).

Sometimes I think these little snags happen all the time and Mercury Retrograde is really just a blessing and something to blame it on. Oh well, it works for me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chai Tea with Peter Oasis

Today was what I would usually describe as an 'Erika Day'. I only get one or two 'Erika' days a month, where I become completely selfish and only do exactly what I want to do. Today that was shopping. I went down to Soho and picked up a couple of very cute little outfits. Before I jumped onto the subway I stopped into to Starbucks on Spring street to get my ritualistic fix of chai tea. I put my bags down and sat down for a moment when I ran into an old friend, Peter Oasis.

When I first met Peter I was still in college enjoying one of my beloved summers in the city as a teen (or maybe in my early 20s). At that time, Peter who is around the same age as me, already had this city wrapped around his finger. He had produced numerous events and some of the most notable hip-hop shows in NYC history. These shows included A Tribe Called Quest's 'last show' at Tramps, and I could be wrong but do believe he also produced an Eminem show at Tramps before Eminem was really EMINEM.

It had been yeeeaaaars since I had seen Peter, who hadn't aged a day. We reminisced about the late 90s, yes it was a looong time ago, but considering the collasal shift in the economy it really seems like a lifetime ago. I was thrilled to know that Peter is still 'holding it down', and still producing big time shows. Running into him inspired me to write about him. Everyone already knows him, but after seeing him, I realized that he is a real pioneer and cornerstone of nyc night life and nyc hip-hop performance and it was nice having my Chai Tea, while talking to a legend.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sonic Chocolate


Sonic Chocolate: Just like the taste of chocolate, when listened to it gives you a tingly fuzzy feeling.

This song makes me think of hot chocolate, snowy trees, and being inside when it is painfully cold outside.


AGGDJ

Starbuck's Mini Donuts



I just had to share my latest sweet tooth obsession. Starbucks recently added mini donuts (about 2-3 bites worth) to their menu. They are delish, especially the vanilla sprinkle ones and for only 120 calories per donut they are worth it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Is Music Getting Better?

Tennessee Williams once claimed that his talent as a writer deteriorated after he was successful. He would not be the first distraught artist that needed the inspiration of their struggle and pain to produce 'good material'.

I can't help but notice that with all the financial set backs in the music business and across the world, music is just sounding better. Maybe it's just me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back at Tillman's Live!


Wednesday January 6th 2010
Come thru for another round of

TILLMAN's LIVE

DJ ERIKA HAMILTON
will be back on the TurnTables

mixing in sets of fresh funk, soul and hip-hop
in between delectable sets of live music

Hosted by Damion Williams and Justine Masters.

Expect nothing but cozy, sexy, cool, and seriously FRESH energy!
Beautiful people, delicious food and outstanding music.

No Cover just bring good energy.
Tillmans 165 W.26th (bet 6th and 7th ave)
8pm-till

Sunday, January 3, 2010

So Fresh



I have officially decided that Kid Cudi was the best thing that happened to my DJ playlist in 2009.

His beats are fresh and his hooks are infectious. Most of his stuff is not 'played out' YET, but even if they were, I would still rock them as much as I could.

There isn't one track on his debut album that I don't like. Each song has it's own groove. It's different yet quite familiar, it's refreshing, bold, risky, sexy and just flat out...Deeelishusss.

Here are some of my fave selections of his.


AGGDJ

The Sounds of January

Freezing Warm, Delicate, Sweet and Touching and once again Nostalgia looms over January 2010:

Kanye West StoryTellers DVD/LIVE VH1 (Jan. 5)

Vampire Weekend – Contra (Jan. 12)
Laura Veirs – July Flame (Jan. 12)


AGGDJ

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Playlist Needs a Face Lift Pt. 2

So I have asked a few people and have come across some more songs that need to be 'nipped and tucked' (away) from my playlist. Please note that 'Current' and 'Re-Current' songs cannot be eliminated, such songs are naturally eliminated through time. This elimination process pertains specifically to The Classics, the foundation of my DJ Sets. These songs are apart of my 'special formula', These songs are apart of the 'meat and potatoes' of my DJ sets, they are always totally unpredictable and the very selections that make people go 'oh sh--' I wasn't expecting that. The only problem is, when those people come back to hear me I can't 'hit them over the head' with it again, as it won't have the same unique affect.

NightShift by The Commodores
( I don't how this happened, a year ago I played it as an 'opener' it's a great song to warm up the room, but it's been in rotation too much lately)

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, (dropping this song after a song like 99 problems on to a hot and responsive dancefloor....wow they go crazy!!!)

It's Tricky RUN DMC, ever since pop went retro with 80s rap, a song like it's tricky mixes well with artists like Black Eye Peas, Gwen, Nelly etc. (though this one should not be as hard to replace)

Oh, a friend of mine suggested that I shouldn't play as much Stevie Wonder as I do, since I have always played a lot of Stevie and just like I explained to this particular friend (who I do love and adore btw).

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH STEVIE WONDER!!!!!!!!
:)

Besides, I always open and close my sets with Stevie, and if the crowd is cool enough, I might drop him during peak hours, but I will NEVER lay off of Stevie.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Playlist Needs a Face Lift

So, over the past decade, I have received some criticism/feed back that I tend to play some of the same songs in all of my sets. I don't play these songs in the same order, or during the same times of my set, but I have to agree that I do have a list of 'Go-To' songs, and I think any DJ can relate.

Well these are some of those songs:

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough MJ
Kiss Prince
Best of My love Emotions

Now I just need to replace them, or leave them home so I know I won't play them.

Besos


I love Hershey Kisses, I'm writing this because, I haven't always loved Hershey Kisses, but recently I have been buying about a bag a month. I put them in a wine glass on my kitchen table, and whenever I have a sweet tooth I have one. They are perfect in size and practically guilt free (unless you eat 15+ at once). In moderation, they are the perfect candy!

As the Ball Drops.......


(January 1st 2010, 12:15am, in the DJ booth at Marquee)

I usually try to determine (before my DJ set) what the first song of the year will be. I had decided a week or so ago that I was going to spin a nice lil MJ/Jackson 5 medley. A couple of days ago, I had a change of heart, but was not sure. It really wasn't until about 20minutes before the beginning of the decade that I new exactly what song I needed to rock. MJ was an incredible artist, and his music will grace 'the dancefloor' forever, but I didn't want to ring in the new year with a sonic symbol of someone we tragically lost, I wanted to bring it in with a symbol of unity, love, ambition, hope, grace and determination. I know the song (I chose) is so 'played', but oddly enough it wasn't until around 11:40ish that I realized, amongst all of the 'hits' that I had already played so far, I still hadn't played 'Empire State of Mind'. There was no doubt that, that was what the first song of the decade needed to be.

As soon as the countdown ended, I dropped the track and on came that thick and heavy kick, and instantly everyone knew exactly what it was and went absolutely crazy (and that just goes to show how played out the song really is, if a 'commercial' crowd can recognize the first few bars, but that really didn't matter to me). The song just has a way of making everyone inside a NYC club feel like they are all apart of something great. I realized, that though I had no one to kiss this year, (and I didn't invite anyone of my friends to Marquee, since I wasn't up to finagling any free tix), I was still spinning at the hottest club in New York City, a mecca of night life, on the biggest club night on the universe and I just made a massive group of complete strangers absolutely estatic. As far as I'm concern, at this point in my life, I don't thing I'd trade that in for the world. So, just like the song, I came into the decade surrounded in unity and full of love, ambition, hope, grace and determination. Happy New Year:)