Wu-Tang Clan Sues Brooklyn Dog Walkers, the Woof-Tang Clan

 

A Brooklyn business has found itself suddenly in the dog house. The Woof-Tang Clan dog-walking business might bring a smile to your face with their expert-level pun, but the real-life Wu-Tang Clan aren’t laughing. Actually one member, RZA, is suing the company for a breach of copyright.

Wu-oof!

Court papers allege that the Wu-Tang’s name and logo were “unmistakably associated” with the rap group since they began making music in 1993; which makes the Woof-Tang Clan’s attempt to copyright the name a clear violation of the music group’s trademarks.

The Woof-Tang Clan is clearly bad to the (dog) bone for attempting to trademark the name, but owner Marty Cuatchon is up for the challenge. The big fan of the Wu-Tang Clan told the New York Daily News that he thought the name was a good idea.

In addition to the hilarious moniker, Cuatchon also sold shirts with a dog named Bali on a blue-and-yellow identification card that read “Old Dirty Bali — Return to the 36 Chambers” – a direct riff on deceased Wu-Tang member Old Dirty Bastard’s 1995 debut album, Return to the 36 Chambers. That particular album featured his face on a yellow-and-blue ID card for food stamps issued by the City of Brooklyn Zoo.

No word yet on what will happen to the Woof-Tang Clan or “the illest group of dogs in New York City” the business claims to walk; but surely they’re hoping that RZA’s lawsuit ends up being more, um, bark than bite.

 

 

What DJ Lily Vanilli Is Doing This Thursday

I have the pleasure of working with DJ Lily Vanilli on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle. I spin for the dinner crowd on the enclosed roof before I go downstairs to rock the rockers. Lily spells me up there. I never know what she is going to spin but it always seems to be perfect. I spend a lot of time asking "why didn’t I think of that?" when she spins. I don’t worry too much because I learn as I go, and Lily Vanilli is the best kind of teacher. With CMJ looming, she is producing an event this Thursday that will shock and awe. I’m being bumped to 12:30pm to make way for Luc Carl who will surely wow them. I’ll oreo Sam Valentine, who’s going from 1:30am till 2:30am. You can keep up with all her events by following her on Twitter.

I asked Lily to tell me all about the event and her DJ philosophy.

Tell me about what’s happening this Thursday.
I’m turning Hotel Chantelle into a place of worship – our religion: live music. On two floors, all night long.  A total of 10 acts hailing from as close to home as Brooklyn, New York and as far away as Oslo, Norway will be performing, including rockin’ bands, soulful singers, beatmakers, hip hop emcees, and two very talented DJs: Mike Swing from Austin, Texas and Manuvers from Miami, Florida.  It’s going to be a glorious night for music. All the details are on the flyer, and here. Show starts at 7pm, and there is complimentary Balls Vodka from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, so get there early!

How did this come together?
It all came together in about four days. A band I love asked me if I knew of a place where they could play after they were finished with their official CMJ showcase, and Hotel Chantelle was my first thought.  My second thought:  why not more bands?

You’re one of the resident DJs at Hotel Chantelle. How did you become a DJ?
I have always had an ever-growing knowledge and curiosity of music, and I think that’s the foundation.  But honestly, I’ve always been a party girl in the most positive sense, and I think that’s how I really learned how to get a party poppin’. Before nightlife was my office, it was my playground, but I didn’t realize until later that it would also be my classroom, an education. Dancing all night with my girls, the adrenaline that pumps through you when you catch the first few bars of your favorite song on a sweaty, crowded, and lively dancefloor – that was where I learned about what makes an amazing night out. And the DJs were my professors. My closest friends were, and still are, some of the most talented DJs in the world.  

Several years ago, a friend invited me to a mixtape exchange event where DJs and producers swapped music and mixes, etc. I planned to go just to pass out my friend DJ Sober’s CDs.  Just for fun, I also put a mix together that morning and uploaded it to the Internet.The tracklist was a marriage of various tracks rotating on my iPod:  Eric B & Rakim, a Beatnick & K-Salaam remix, Mark Ronson, Fitz & The Tantrums, a David Rubato remix, The Private, MC Hammer and a nod to my Texas roots, Mista Madd, Big Moe, Slim Thug.  I went person-to-person at the event with my Blackberry emailing the link to everyone. The next day, my inbox was full of feedback, and the general consensus was “You should do this, you just need to learn how to spin.”  So, I learned. I was blessed because some of the most revered DJs in the game became my mentors. They taught me to respect the craft.  And never stop digging – in every sense of the word.

How did you get the name Lily Vanilli?
I started off going by Lilypad.  Just a childhood nickname, nothing special.  Lily Vanilli was born from a joke about those vinyl control records with the Louis Vuitton monograms imprinted on them (No, I’ve never owned them). The name stuck with me. People’s reactions when they ask me my DJ name is priceless.  It’s always a big smile.

As a female, do you think it’s harder to get gigs and respect?
Not if you don’t suck.

Where do you currently spin?
Thursday nights on the roof of Hotel Chantelle.  Best damn Thursday party in NYC; all three floors are alive. Every week since January, and still going strong. I’ve held residences all over the LES, including a stint last year at DJ Soul’s famed Big Fun party.  A new party is always in the works so stay tuned.  My events calendar on my website is helpful.

What is your game plan going into each gig?
The game plan: have fun. When you’re bored, so is everyone else. I make it a point to always try something new and grow my overall sound. Especially in the LES, people have discriminating taste. Cookie-cutter is not respected here.

Where do you see music played in clubs heading?
To all new astronomical heights, with intergalactic speed. There are kids producing hot tracks in basements all over the country; some of my favorites are right around the corner in Brooklyn. Their creative output is unparalleled, and pretty soon a lot of traditional producers are going to have a hard time keeping up. In my opinion, they are the future of music. The formats for DJing that we’re used to will soon be obsolete. I can introduce you to some of them on Thursdays.

Aside from your parties, what other projects are you working on that we can look forward to?
I recently became involved with Nine West, and we’re collaborating on a few projects together as the brand moves toward more entertainment and music-integrated content. My events calendar has been so full this past year, but now I’m finally working on a new mix that should be released by the end of the year. In a couple weeks, I’m spinning at Terry Urban’s renowned monthly, I Got 5 On It, in Cleveland. Also, my DJ collective Nana Chill is in the development stages of a big event for SXSW in March.

I read that you opened for Wu Tang Clan at SXSW.  What was that like?
Last year, I did a series of shows with Marz Lovejoy, a hip-hop artist from Los Angeles, in support of her debut EP. We made it onto the bill for the Village Voice/Frank 151 SXSW showcase at Austin Music Hall, which has a capacity close to 5,000 people. And it was packed. Others on the ticket were Erykah Badu, Yelawolf, Trae the Truth. It was really exciting to be a part of that event, but also surreal to be standing in front of thousands of people, not being able to see their faces, but knowing that they’re all staring right at you. Marz and I had practiced a fantastic call-and-response tribute to The Pharcyde for her closing. She had thousands of people singin’ “Passin’ Me By.” DJ JayCeeOh (who I think was touring with Wiz Khalifa at the time) and I took turns doing sets in between acts. I got to spin before Wu Tang took the stage. I think I played Outkast.

Sex and Swordfights: ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ Soundtrack is As Hot As the Trailer

As if you needed yet another reason to praise the coolness that is the RZA. The founding Wu-Tang member, sonic scientist, Grammy winner, cerebral über-producer, and author can now put writer-director-actor and purveyor of awesomeness on his already impressive resume with The Man With the Iron Fists–his feature film directorial debut.

For the pulp-ish martial arts flick (staring Russell Crow and Lucy Liu, and “presented” by the King of the B Movie, Quentin Tarantino) RZA enlisted Eli Roth to handle the co-writing duties and asked his oh-so-cool musically inclined pals to help with the epic soundtrack. Featuring a track list consisting of a new Yeezy song, a sick collaboration with the Black Keys and the RZA himself, and joints from Talib Kweli, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Corinne Bailey Rae, the aural accompaniment to the movie might be better than the flick itself, right? I guess you haven’t watched the kick-ass trailer that visually tantalizes with gravity-defying stunts, artful blood spilling, and enough s-e-x to break up the sometimes-gratuitous fighting. Thankfully, if sex and violence isn’t your thing, the soundtrack is available on October 23, a week before the movie’s release.

GZA, Neil DeGrasse Tyson Collaborating on Science-Focused Album

And no, this will not be a set of four chemistry-friendly LPs exploring the states of matter (Liquid Swords, Solid Swords, Gas Swords, Plasma Swords). The rapper and Wu-Tang Clan founding member they call "The Genius" will release an album this fall entitled Dark Matter, developed around his passion for science and with a little help from astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. GZA takes on life, the universe, everything and physics on the new album, for which he not only consulted with Tyson, but MIT environmental science professor Penny Chisholm and other science buffs at MIT and Cornell, as well as producer and violinist Marco Vitali, for what will truly be an intriguing meeting of mind, matter and music. 

"I don’t think people have ever really been in touch with science," GZA told Anna Louie Sussman of the Wall Street Journal. "They’re drawn to it, but they don’t know why they’re drawn to it. For example, you may be blown away by the structure of something, like a soccer ball or a geodesic dome, with its hexagonal shapes. Or how you can take a strand of hair and can get someone’s whole drug history."
 
GZA will also be releasing an upcoming album dedicated to the study of the oceans, and even met with Philippe Cousteau, son of marine biologist and perennial Wes Anderson inspiration Jacques, to consult on it. 

In the more immediate future, on July 24th, to be exact, GZA will also be rereleasing his landmark album, Liquid Swords, in a special "Chess Box" edition, featuring the first available incarnation of the album’s instrumentals, as well as releases on black and white vinyl and original artwork. The record will come in an actual chess box, complete with mini set.

In other Wu-Tang news, rumors of the band’s appearance as themselves in Dirty White Boy, the upcoming Ol’ Dirty Bastard biopic starring Michael K. Williams (who we last saw in The Wire! The Musical), have been circulating all over the Internet as Dirt McGirt himself. GZA has reportedly declined to appear in the film, along with Raekwon the Chef, although his fellow crew members RZA, Ghostface Killah and Method Man could all still make appearances. Maybe. We’ll see. 

A$AP Rocky, Missy Elliott, More to Headline Rock The Bells

Old and new will be battling it out for command of audiences at this year’s Rock The Bells Festival, which announced a formidable lineup for dates in San Bernadino, Calif. (Aug. 18th and 19th), Mountain View, Calif. (Aug. 25th and 26th) and Holmdel, New Jersey (Sept. 1st and 2nd). Tickets go on presale Friday and general sale Saturday, May 19th.

Composer and member of the Wu-Tang Clan RZA and festival regular Supernatural share hosting duties while the likes of fellow veterans Nas, Ice Cube, E-40, Too $hort, Naughty By Nature, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane and Prodigy will top the bill. Relative newcomers performing at the festival include Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller, 2 Chainz, Yelawolf and Tyga.

Among the most exciting acts are Missy Elliott, making her live-performance comeback following the release of her first album in seven years, Block Party, in June, along with her longtime musical sidekick Timbaland in a joint performance. Method Man and Redman will unite to perform Blackout in its entirety, not the first time the festival has seen well-established rappers perform their most iconic works (Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Nas’s Illmatic being among them).

All five original members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will perform together for the first time in nearly 20 years to perform their standout album, E. 1999 Eternal, as well as a tribute to the late Eazy-E. Well, the news of a Bone Thugs reunion is as good of a time as any to revisit Bone Pugz-N-Harmony’s classic rendition of "1st of Tha Month." Enjoy.

Got an Hour? Watch the Wu-Tang Clan Perform at Paid Dues Festival

Are you sitting at work with an hour to kill, or even better, sitting at home with nothing to do? To pass the time, you can watch the Wu-Tang Clan’s full peformance at last weekend’s Paid Dues Festival, filled with how-to guides on forming the Wu symbol — the same as making a bird, it must be noted — and the prerequisite reaction shots of the audience struggling to figure out when flashing it is appropriate (the answer: all of the time). After a slow start, the Clan begin with the classic "Bring Da Ruckus" and go from there. Watch the performance after the click, via Prefix.

I’ll let Rolling Stone’s Ian Cohen speak for the performance, which he specifically pointed out in his festival writeup:
It’s been a dire stretch for the Clan artistically and they managed to make a few headlines in recent weeks due to GZA’s defeated take on their inner relations and the altogether sad affair of the Ol’ Dirty Bastard movie. Plus they had a 4 p.m. set time – highly unusual for such a popular act, and perhaps an indication that they just wanted to get their check and bounce. But it was actually one of their best performances I’ve seen in years, very much aware of what the crowd wanted. Of course they didn’t play anything that came out after 2000 with the exception of ‘Gravel Pit,’ which continues to defy explanation.

That last part kills me. You’ll be able to skip that, maybe, after getting the "Ruckus"-"Shame on a N—-"-"Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin to F’ Wit" block right at the beginning. But there’s plenty of small reasons to stick around, like the joy of listening to Masta Killa yell "Smoking weed is legal!" at the 7 minute mark with the exuberance of a child using an iPad for the first time.

‘The Wire’’s Michael K. Williams Will Play Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Here’s a casting call destined to blow up the Internet: Michael K. Williams, best known as Omar from The Wire, has just signed on to play Ol’ Dirty Bastard in an upcoming movie called Dirty White Boy. Instead of being a strict biopic, it’ll center on Jarred Weisfeld, "a 22-year-old VH1-intern-turned-manager" who falls in with the rapper, and the fun they have leading up until ODB’s untimely death in 2004. "This felt like Risky Business and 8 Mile, with equal elements of darkness, humor, and humanity," producer Lars Knudsen said in a press release. Those movies make for strange bed fellows, but hey, we’re all eyes and ears.

ODB was a bit of a bulkier guy than Williams, but that’s why they invented Krispy Kreme. More importantly: The Wire and the Wu-Tang! To quote every one of my Facebook friends, "Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick." Dirty White Boy is by the team that brought us the Oscar-winning Beginners, which means you’ll probably end up crying at some point — maybe with laughter, when Dirt McGirt jumps on stage at the Grammys to talk about the children.

FBI’s Wu-Tang Files Reveal Drug Dealing & Murder

Wu-Tang didn’t just singing about the gang banging lifestyle, they lived it.  A newly unsealed 94-page FBI file on Russell Jones, better known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard, shows that the Clan was involved with gunrunning, drug dealing, gangs, money laundering and even murder. Yes, murder.

Posted by blogger Rich Jones the files show that the Feds believe one of the rappers was responsible for the shooting of Robert “Pooh” Johnson in 1997. They are also thought have been involved in activities with the Bloods.

There are also suspicions that they had others carry out their dirty work.  According to the file, “It is believed that [redacted] sometimes carry out enforcement actions for the WTC, which include beatings, shootings, and murder.”

But wait, there’s more.  There is also the allegation that they stole money from their record label.

There has been no response thus far from the Wu-Tang Clan, but they have a show in Vegas next week where listeners will be able to place a new level of seriousness on the song “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit.”

The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA Makes ‘The Black List,’ Lobbies for Better Hood Policy

When RZA’s alter-ego Bobby Digital emerged in the late nineties on his first solo album RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo, many thought the Wu-Tang zen master had gone slightly berserk. He went from being the evil genius behind one of the greatest hip-hop collectives of all time to a funky apocalyptic savant, with far-out experimentation his only mission. It’s true — the man born Robert Diggs has always been an outsider in an industry of insiders — but then again, the Greats always are. RZA’s place in the rap pantheon as both producer and MC was secure the day Wu-Tang’s instant classic Enter the 36 Chambers was released, and he’s since earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants. That includes three albums as Bobby Digital, scoring films — Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai — and acting in them, such as American Gangster, and the upcoming Judd Apatow comedy Funny People.

When I spoke to RZA last week, it was to promote his appearing in HBO’s The Black List Vol. 2, a documentary profiling prominent African-American figures and providing them a forum to share lessons learned as minorities in this country. One thing I noticed is that RZA’s answers were heavily influenced by Eastern philosophy — unsurprising for a man known for his Shaolin references and kung fu fixation. He talked candidly about life in the ghetto and spewed philosophies on how to escape it. I asked him to explain his famous proclamation, that Wu-Tang is forever. He talked about consciousness, space, and time. And then, to cap it all off, I asked him what it’s like working with Adam Sandler.

I just checked out the video for “’Drama,” and it starts off with a quote that reads, “We need to change hood policy….” What do you think hood policy is, and how can we change it? Well in the hood, we like to raise our children as gangsters and thugs, and you got to be the coolest kid, or the roughest kid. We have a lot of teen pregnancies and a lot of us become fathers before we become men, and then we find ourselves in situations where we can’t really support ourselves or our families. The women have multiple fathers for their babies. It’s not just economic poverty, it’s poverty of spirit and soul. To change the policy — instead of us thinking that I’ma go wild while I’m young, and it be crazy, and join this gang, drink this beer, smoke this weed — we need to develop ourselves into men before we make lifelong decisions.

I read that you used to get together with ODB and Method Man and try to find ways to get out of the ghetto and off the street. At that time, was hip hop your only option, or were there other things you could have done? At that time, I think I saw hip hop as a true way out because by that time I was deep into the art. But as far as myself, I thought of many things. I thought we could be scholars, scientists. We used to talk about the atom. Work was always what I was willing to do. And I’d say Dirty as well to a certain degree, until we got to be teenagers and started looking for short cuts. I did anything from sell newspapers to peaches and oranges in Downtown Brooklyn. I had a job of standing up all day putting screws in a box, that paid $150 a week, and I felt like a man to get that money and bring that home to my family.

And do you think getting out of the ghetto is something that every young black man should aspire to or do you think it is possible to live a fulfilling life within urban poverty, you know, whether it’s spiritually or if you have family and stuff? It’s a very slim possibility. But the generation before it was more possible because their violence level wasn’t as bad as our violence level.You’ll see your grandmother, and she can live in the projects and be cool with it. But for young people, the violence level has increased, so I don’t think in today’s society, and with the land mass and wealth of our nation, I don’t think that a man should be satisfied living in what they call the ghetto. Living in the urban community and living in the ghetto are two different things. It’s the quality of life that’s different, because the quality of people is different. You’ve got a rapist living on top of you, a drug dealer underneath you, a wino on the left side, and a good kid on the right trying to go to school. But when he’s going to school, he’s got to go through the elevator that somebody pissed in. He’s got to walk outside and worry about if somebody’s going to steal his jacket or steal his shoes. You got to get out of that.

Let’s talk about your involvement in The Black List. Aside from skin color, what do you think ties together all the subjects in the documentary? I think the common thread though is people looking for that glory, or their glory day that they know exists. Nobody is talking about condoning certain conditions in the black community. They’re talking about certain impressions of it and how sometimes it feels that some people are blacklisted. You’ll see some people talk about that. There’s some people talk about the coolness of being black. I just think it’s a real unique conversation, from what I saw. I saw it on Sunday morning, and I didn’t have to go to church because that program had enough insight that it gave me a spiritual day.

Has your consciousness as a black man had a slight tweak since Barack Obama was elected? Yeah, for me it’s definitely changing it. If anybody doesn’t smell the coffee now, they really are sick in the mind. Possibilities are something that every mind and body yearns towards. If you look at the evolution of the black man — from chains, to the man who’s controlling America — that puts a very powerful sense of impact on us as a people.

So your kids are going to grow up with a different mentality than you did when you were their age? He has reversed the polarity. I like to say, as far as evolution, when a man wanted to fly, man couldn’t fly. Then the Wright Brothers came with a little plane that went 100 feet. And now they got space shuttles. Once the mold is broken, the idea or the consciousness is raised up and I think every black man in America should take this as an example to stand up and walk that right path.

When you started Wu-Tang, you told the other group members to relinquish control to you, and that in five years, you would bring them to the top. Where did that confidence come from? It came from a knowledge of self and of my ability, as well as knowledge of who I had around me. Being slightly egotistical at the age as well, some people would even say conceited. I knew that when you put your mind to it, your mind is a master of all space, time, motion and matter. And if you put your mind to project the will, you can make whatever you want happen. In the mind time don’t exist. You can think about when you were two, three years old but that’s 30 years ago whenever that was. But in the mind time don’t exist. But time exists in three dimensions. It takes time for it to manifest itself. I already studied the Art of War, the art of peace, the books of the five rings. I came across the works of James Allen, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” I knew that if we came with that energy and we stuck together, in five years we’ll be number one. The only thing I asked for in return for my brothers was, Yo, let me drive this bus. I know we’re in a democratic society, but sometimes to move things forward it takes a dictatorship mentality.

You once said “How can hip-hop be dead, if Wu-Tang is forver?” How can Wu-Tang be forever? First of all, the work we put out will remain in the data books of history. If you go to the Encyclopedia Britannica and look up hip-hop, our name is mentioned. The spirit of Wu exists in our family, but it exists in our extended family as well, and in our fans, and in people who have been inspired by us. When you see somebody like Kanye West who’s one the biggest artists in the world and you read his interviews, you’re like, Yo, he’s been inspired by RZA, Ghostface. That means he’s been inspired by Wu-Tang. Even though Wu-Tang ain’t the one doing it, the Wu mind, the Wu vibe is still existing, is still bringing it to the next chamber

You’ve been acting a lot lately. Are you trying to express yourself through the art of acting, or are you appearing in movies for the fun of it, as a fan? No, I take it serious, super-serious. It’s like having a new girlfriend. You know when you first get your new girl, you want to make love to her every night? It’s very self-gratifying, not positive or negative, but it feels really good and I’m striving to be really good at it. I’m inspiring that it leads me to be a movie director so somehow I can bring the hip hop experience and the hip hop mentality of creativity to the silver screen.

What about Judd Apatow’s Funny People? How was the set? How was being on set for that working with Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler and all those cats? Them are some of the funniest guys in the world, the wittiest. If they were rappers, they’d be the top rappers because they’re very spontaneous with their jokes. It was a very cool set, a super-cool experience.