Strange Famous Records

Suicide Squeeze

I first heard hip hop music back in 1980, I figure. I remember seeing a story on a news show about it or something. At that point, music hadn’t become an obsession yet. I don’t remember what other songs I may have liked at that point. I remember being into Kiss when I was a little kid. My cousin was into Black Sabbath and he kinda got me into it too. I loved “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell. That came out in 1975. And I remember really liking a lot of truck driving songs, especially if they were talking blues style. I think that’s why I liked hip hop so much when I first heard it.

From 1980 to 1983 or so, I was into hip hop and bought whatever records I could find. But I was also into some other stuff. I took an interest in my cousin’s growing collection of metal records. I was also kinda secretly into Duran Duran and I think I bought “Business As Usual” by Men At Work when it came out.

But when I heard Run DMC it was all over. From that point on (after ’83) I was a hip hop totalitarian. I refused to listen to anything else. I think it’s safe to say that hip hop took over my life by the time I was 11 years old. It was an obsession.

I feel lucky that I was born when I was because my high school years (which is a crucial time for any music lover) coincided exactly with the golden era (1986 – 1989). Those days were glorious. It was an exciting time for hip hop. It was beginning to come into its own in many ways, but it was still an underground phenomenon. Almost all the records were on independent labels and the biggest stars in the game were really dope – Doug E. Fresh, UTFO, M.C. Shan, Just-Ice, Superlover Cee and Casanova Rud, J.V.C. FORCE, etc. I was a downright militant fascist hip hop junkie.

In 1989 I started volunteering at my local campus radio station and soon after I started hosting my own show, which eventually ran for eleven years. Looking back it seems pretty much inevitable that I would host a hip hop radio show. I HAD to!

Then… 1990. The wind changed. I felt a disturbance in the Force for the first time. Two records were released that year that changed hip hop forever – “To the Extreme” by Vanilla Ice and “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em” by M.C. Hammer. I honestly think that these two records were the first hip hop recordings I had ever heard that I hated. Before that, pretty much all hip hop was good! Not all of it great (although a crazy-high percentage was), but nothing ever terrible, really. But sweet jesus, these two records were not my cup of tea.

It angered and perplexed me that it was even possible for there to be any such thing as bad hip hop music. But what rubbed salt in my bleeding wounds was that both of these records were also hugely successful. In fact, I’m guessing that if they weren’t the two MOST successful hip hop records to that point, they must have been close – top 5, I’m sure.

I couldn’t stand it. I honestly couldn’t deal with it. My world was collapsing. Flood gates had been opened. All of a sudden there were all these corny people getting into “hip hop” (I refused to even recognize Hammer and Vanilla Ice as real hip hop). Parents liked these records! Hip hop was never music for parents! I took such huge offense to what was happening. I think I even took it personally in some perverse way! I felt that the world in which I lived was under threat of annihilation. I saw a no-good end coming and I felt strongly that I couldn’t just stand by as it happened.

In 1990, I went on a hunger strike. I was living on my own in my first crappy little apartment. I had no idea how to organize any sort of political demonstration. And of course, there was no internet yet, so I didn’t have a platform for a statement at my disposal. I just figured that word would get around, someone in the local media would catch wind and then it would get around from there. I vowed (to myself and a few stupid friends) that I would go without food until the mainstreaming and commercialization of hip hop music came to an end. I wanted Hammer to go back to the navy and Vanilla Ice to go back to riding motorbikes, or whatever.

I think I made it six days. Word might have gone around town a little bit, but the discussion was just about how much of a moron I was. The TV cameras never showed up. I just rolled around the filthy floor of my cat-piss apartment and moaned. I moaned all alone. Finally, my friend Rob (Sixtoo) kicked my door down and wrestled a granola bar into my mouth. He pleaded with me and bribed me with a few choice records from his collection. I had a good cry and finally relented. I was already skinny before I started, but still managed to lose a bunch of weight. I was very weak and wretched. Rob watched over me for a few days until I fully regained my strength. I was pretty much back to normal after three or four days, but it took months to get over the embarrassment.

Seven years later, Rob saw my mood darken again. But he was preemptive this time and talked me down in the heat of several horrible nights. If it wasn’t for Rob, who knows what sort of private rampage I may have enacted?

I was such an idiot. Sixtoo saved my life. Rob Van Winkle and Stanley Burrell come across as nice people on reality television. And as for hip hop music, well…


Mar 22

Sacrifice Fly


I know a guy named Derek. He’s a rapper. His very first show was playing with the Sebutones a long time ago. A few months back he went to work on an album and reached out to me to ask if I would do a verse on a song. I said I would because I’m a romantic. He asked “how much do you charge?” I told him, “nothing”. I’ve never charged anyone for a verse ever. I guess I got no game that way. I don’t know…

Derek’s rap name is D-Sisive. The song we ended up making together is called “The Superbowl Is Over”. I was happy with how it turned out. It’s on his album “Let The Children Die”. When I heard it I was kinda dumbfounded by how brutally honest a lot of the material is. He really lays it all on the line. I find a lot of rappers don’t have the guts.

Anyway, recently Derek wrote to me and said, “we should start a group!” I said yes to the idea right away even though it’s a little bit crazy because I need a god damn break! I just finished recording enough songs for two albums (you’ll be seeing that stuff soon), a DVD (also coming very soon), scored a film (coming soon), did remixes for a handful of people, a bunch of other collaborations, plus did some recording for a Haiti relief album (coming super-soon). It’s nuts. But I said, “yeah, let’s go to work”.

I had been sitting on an idea for a long time (I’m always sitting on a lot of ideas) and it occurred to me that Derek would be a perfect guy to work with for it…

See, I’ve pretty much made a career out of telling stories from my life and those of the people I’ve known along the way and putting them to weird, dark, unpopular music. Derek has kinda done the exact same thing. So my idea is to invite people from all over the world to send me their stories and I’ll turn them into songs.

So Derek and I have formed a group called The Ricardo Christoff Apparatus and we’re calling the project “100 Story Building”.

I’m asking people to send stories about people they know. I have a feeling that it might be better to tell someone else’s story than your own in this case because things like humility or pride are less likely to get in the way. And I’m looking for all kinds of stories: funny ones, tragic ones, inspiring ones, sexy ones… all kinds. My plan is for the song titles to be the name of the person the song is about. Simple.

This may sound super-corny, but I was partly inspired to try this by watching the Olympics on tv. They always do these profiles on athletes and their amazing stories and even though I never heard of these people in most cases, I always find it really compelling. Know what I mean? So I just want to tell people’s stories. I expect I’ll read lot of amazing stuff. And I just think this idea is nice. Don’t you think it’s a nice idea?

So, all the info is at (even though I just explained it all) and people can send their stories to

Derek and I will work hard to do justice to people’s stories and get them heard by the whole world (or at least a good handful of people around the world. Let’s be honest, I’m no Katy Perry or whatever the hell).

That’s all. If you think it’s a nice idea, spread the word. I’d appreciate it.

Oh – and by the way – if I get 1,000 stories, I won’t be making 1,000 songs, obviously. I’ll pick a bunch of the best ones, which I’m sure won’t be easy. But this very well may be a project that goes on for the rest of my life if all goes well.


Mar 11

LI(F)E album: artwork by the legendary Shepard Fairey

The new album Li(f)e by hip hop iconoclast Sage Francis is an impassioned and timely critique of cultural hypocrisy and organized religion. The record’s cover art has been created by renowned artist and illustrator Shepard Fairey who first gained notoriety with his “André the Giant” street art and later with his iconic Obama “Hope” poster. For the cover of Li(f)e Fairey has employed his distinctive agitprop style to create a suitably provocative image of an unwavering and winged Francis caught in the crosshairs as flames rise beneath him.


Musically Li(f)e is refreshingly unique. Francis’ biting and sardonic wordplay now further empowered by Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 03

B. Dolan’s record release show!


The “Fallen House, Sunken City” record release show on 2/27/10 at Jerky’s in Providence, RI was one of the best shows I’ve ever been a part of for a variety of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 28

B. Dolan “EARTHMOVERS” video and photos

B. Dolan and I flew out to Kansas City from February 19-22 to film the video for his “Earthmovers” song ( for more info on that album!)

I was prepared for high quality work from the director, Kyle Harbaugh, but the kind of things he worked out for “Earthmovers” is beyond anything we could have Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 24

“Fallen House, Sunken City” is going to slay you.

B. Dolan’s new album “Fallen House, Sunken City” is produced entirely by ALIAS. It features P.O.S., Cadence Weapon, Buddy Peace, “What Cheer?” Brigade and it drops on March 2, 2010. Check out the video and download the first single for free at

go to for all info

go to for all info

Two years of pain-staking labor…on March 2nd the child is born. There’s so much I’d like to say about this album but it’s probably best that we let the music speak for itself. If you’re half excited as we are about this project then it’s going to be a hell of a year for B. Dolan, Alias, myself and everyone else at Strange Famous Records. Please check out the details and updates as they funnel in at

If you are bored by linernotes then don’t read any further. If you love linernotes, here are mine for now: I’d like to thank Danny Brown for putting the FallenHouse webpage together in a matter of days. I’d like to thank Uncle Pete for the album artwork. I’d like to thank Irena Mihalinec for the web designs and all the meticulous work she does to make us look as pretty as we do. I’d like to thank Storm and Amanda for helping things run more smoothly in the SFR barracks. I’d like to thank Dan & Jacob at Pretty Picture Movement for their work on the video trailer. I’d like to thank Prolyphic and Kyle Harbaugh for the video work people haven’t seen yet. I’d like to thank P.O.S., Cadence Weapon, Buddy Peace, and “What Cheer?” Brigade for their contributions to the album.  I’d like to thank Buck 65, Graematter, Evil 9, and Reanimator for their help with the remixes (there’s no telling when these will be released.) And, most of all, I’d like to thank Dolan and Alias for seeing this project through even while tensions ran high and the world seemed to be crumbling around us.

I’m sure I’m missing someone but this list will do for now. I’m very fucking excited to have this album finally finished and released on SFR in 2010. Oh yeah…I’d like to thank the fans who are helping generate excitement and promotion for this album. There’s more to come as the release date approaches.


Jan 25

middle relief


Back on January 13, a website called Slate ran an article about Jay-Z and his interest in art ( I found this article and the response to it disturbing on many levels. Where to begin?

First of all, the basic thesis of the article seems to be, “isn’t it interesting that Jay-Z (of all people!) has taken an interest in Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst?!” What the hell is that supposed to mean? What’s being implied here? Lots of people are interested in modern art. Why is it particularly noteworthy if Jay-Z is interested? Considering the answer to that question gives me the creeps. Is it simply because he’s famous? I’m sure lots of famous people like art. Is it because he comes from the lowly world of hip hop where the expectation is that rappers are only supposed to be interested in… I don’t know… porn and guns? Or even more sinister, is it because he’s black?

Why Jay-Z? Would it be a story if it was George Clooney instead? “George Clooney likes art! Fascinating!” Would it be a story if it was a musician from another genre? “Surprise! Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips digs Jackson Pollock!” (I don’t know if that’s true. Just a made-up example). I’m a big fan of Manet. Is that a headline grabber?

Second… The article suggests that what motivates Jay-Z’s interest in art is simply the pursuit of another material status symbol. “I don’t really like art, but I pretend to because it makes me seem fancy…” (not a real quote either). I don’t know what’s worse – being accused of such a thing, or the thought of it actually being true!

I find the whole thing to be so condescending that it makes me want to barf. But it gets worse!

Many of us have our heads so far up our asses that our response is, “Oh, that Jay-Z is so pretentious!” There’s this tide of anti-intellectualism and low culture glorification that has brought us to the point where somehow it’s a bad thing to have sophisticated tastes!

So again I ask, “what’s worse? Making a big deal out of someone reading a book or dissing them for doing so?”

In the last few years I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a website or a magazine go out of its way to point it out when I rapper mentions he likes some indie band. I’m sure you’ve seen it too. “Kid Cudi likes Vampire Weekend!” Jesus! Who cares?! Remember how everyone freaked out when Jay-Z went to a Grizzly Bear show?

Sure Jay-Z’s fame plays into this kind of hype. But whenever I read/see/hear this kind of thing, it always has a whiff of condescension and subtle racism. And when people get up in arms about it because they think it’s a compromise to one’s authenticity, it runs a little deeper. To be super-blunt about it, white people have long fetishized black culture and so when a black person takes any interest in white culture, it upsets our expectations. So we either react positively with “pleasant surprise” or negatively because they’re not black enough for us anymore…

White people can be so retarded.

Just a thought,


ps – follow my ass on Twitter – @bucksixtyfive

Jan 24

Evel Knievel Defeats Nihilism in Seattle

Yes sir.  It’s heckler jumping time again.

And, oddly enough, we once again found ourselves in Seattle doing it.

This review comes to us courtesy of ‘Desert Penguin’ from the Strange Famous Forum.

Only 2 dates left on the ‘Orchestra of Strange Tour’!  Sleep, B.Dolan and Cecil Otter in Boise, ID tomorrow and Reno, NV on Sunday!


Nectar Lounge, Seattle, 1/06/10

It was your typical Seattle crowd. Laid-back if not standoffish, conceited if not narcissistic. But that did not matter. This was the northwest, after all, and here amongst all the trees grows an abundance of eccentrics. Potential game-changers. There’s one at every show and you just can’t predict how they will affect the experience. Ladies and gentlemen of the Strange Famous Forum, I present to you The Nihilist.

This little lightning rod of a man was our x-factor. Now, I’m not saying the show would have been lost without him, but he certainly changed the entire atmosphere of the club. The first three sets of the night were performed in front of a late-arriving, slightly disinterested crowd. This, however, was not a reflection on the performances of the artists. Dark Time Sunshine, Cecil Otter, and JFK were all equally impressive in their presentations of hip hop, yet ultimately unsuccessful in getting the crowd involved.

I knew there was the potential for this to change during B. Dolan’s set with his penchant for pageantry. However, even after opening his set with a self-described “mindfuck,” and proceeding to make it rain in receipts after a spot on Andrew Dice Clay impression, all while mowing through bangers new and old, the crowd was still just…well…Seattle. About halfway through his 50 minute set, Mr. Dolan commented on his perceived lack of crowd support which was quickly met with “It doesn’t matter,” from one of the more lively crowd members. B. followed with another comment that again was responded to with an “It doesn’t matter,” from the same guy. B. attempted to speak one more time and was cutoff before he could even finish with another “It doesn’t matter.” And thus, The Nihilist was born.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but the trajectory of the entire show was forever altered in that instant. What seemed like harmless banter between emcee and audience would lead into a much bigger, more monumental moment. B. went on to continue his set with his newfound perspective, angling through another song or two before breaking out a staggering spoken word rendition of “Still Electric” that was met with mostly too loud conversations about the latest episode of Jersey Shore and how Facebook still doesn’t have a “Don’t Like” button resonating from the bar. It was at this point that I officially became embarrassed to be a part of this crowd.

Sometimes you gotta get knocked down before you get back up. This is where a less savvy performer will usually give up and mail it in, but it’s also where a virtuoso can really make something happen. Here is when the years of watching a crowd control master work his magic pays off. Bernard decided to nix the next song and go directly into his Evel Knievel act. He ripped off his clothes in fury, revealing his stunningly patriotic jumpsuit, complete with a shimmering red cape. He gave a rousing speech, dedicating his stunt to the unfortunate crippled boy suffering from cancer of the AIDS he met at Seattle Children’s Hospital earlier that day.

As I understand it, this is typically where B. makes a death-defying leap over a monitor, but he knew this moment needed to be better than that. It was going to take something breathtaking to captivate this crowd, and B. knew just what he had to do. He had to jump The Nihilist. The crowd went crazy as the young nonconformist climbed on the stage to risk his life for the sake of entertainment. Surely, any slight miscalculation in Bernard’s approach could seriously injure the entertainer, and potentially kill our new favorite bearded freethinker. It was an amazing act of bravery by the slender skeptic, but after all, what did he have to live for? The tension built, the crowd chanted. There was no turning back now. You could see a slight bit of reluctance growing in Bernard’s eyes as a bead of sweat rolled down his temple. He knew what he had to do if Sleep was going to enjoy the raucous crowd he deserved. B. reared back, took three steps and lunged forward. And just like that the moment was over. The crowd was electrified. “The Final Countdown” blared through DJ Zone’s turntables, and everyone present knew that something great had just gone down. Something we would go home and tell our Moms about after the show. A story we will be telling our little sister’s friends for years to come. We were there when B. Dolan jumped The Nihilist.

After bringing the house down with his mind-blowing feat of acrobatics, B. proceeded to rip through two more songs before handing the well-prepped crowd over to Sleep. The audience would stay in tune for the entirety of Sleep’s set as he properly rocked their balls off, but I wonder just how it all would have went down if our scraggly-haired friend had never made his philosophical beliefs known in the middle of B.’s set. I guess we’ll never find out, but y’know what? It doesn’t matter.

The Nihilist praying to nothing before giving up his body to B.

B. informing The Nihilist that he can’t sue if something goes wrong.

Look at that fucking ghost orb/halo over B.’s head. That’s all you need to know about this moment.

Will he make it?

A newfound swagger.

Jan 08

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