People with Passion — hip-hop JOAT Alexander Fruchter


Interview August 10, 2007

Journalist, teacher, and DJ, all in the world of hip-hop. Fruchter is the founder of online hip-hop mag, and has written, developed, and taught a hip-hop based class for middle school-aged children called “You Can Quote Me On That.” Fruchter has also made time to continue one of his first loves, DJing, which he does under the name of Roosevelt Treasurechest.

In this interview from August 10, 2007, Fruchter discusses his passion for hip-hop, journalism, and teaching, and why he values all three.

The backbone of everything I do can be attributed to where I grew up. Hyde Park, on the south side of Chicago, known for its diversity and creativity and the people that live there… It’s really the only integrated neighborhood on the South Side and it’s surrounded by a lot of poverty on one hand or even going up to Bridgeport — that’s not really a racially or ethnically diverse area, and Hyde Park is kind of a Mecca for that. Read More

People with Passion — rapper E-TRAIN


Interview February 10, 2007

For the original edit of our interview, click here.

E-Train. (photo by Benjamin Schwartz)

Up-and-coming rapper/hip hop producer Erich Malo, known professionally as E-Train. Malo’s young career has featured four self-produced mixtapes (2006’s Dragon’s Breath and The Wrath of Roxane, 2007’s Rising of the Phoenix, and 2008’s White After Labor Day) along with an extended catalogue of unreleased mixtape tracks. The Wrath of Roxane LP due out September of 2008. Career highlights include opening for KRS-One at hip-hop shop The Bassment in Chicago and being featured on DJ G-Spot’s Midwest Invasion 4.

The first thing that I am drawn to whenever I watch you in here is the transition from sitting at your chair writing lyrics into a point at which you’re ready to record…when you’re ready to transfer that onto the mic. What is that transition for you, as far as how your mind is previously, and how your mind is as you set up?

To be honest, I just sit down and find a beat or think about something—anything…the beat can push me, or I’ve got something on my mind, some other reason to make a certain kind of song, and I’ll sit down and write the lyrics. When I get to a point where I fill a certain amount of space—a verse or a bar, whatever it is I want to record—I usually just grab a beat and run with it. There’s no real change there; I’m reading it while I’m writing it, then I’m just reading it when I’m rapping it…it’s just part of the process. Read More

Album review: “Next Time It’s Personal” by The Nocturnals

"Next Time It's Personal" by The Nocturnals

Artist: The Nocturnals

Album: Next Time It’s Personal

Reviewed: April 9, 2010, by Jack M Silverstein


“I need some cash/ My parents say I shouldn’t rap for it/ I feel like I have a natural knack for it.”

And so begins Next Time It’s Personal, the debut LP from The Nocturnals, a rapper-producer collab between newcomer MC Rota and nearly newcomer The Letter N. Read More

From, critic Eric Sirota breaks down ‘The Process of Addiction Has Its Costs’ by Phillip Morris

Phillip Morris :: The Process of Addiction Has Its Costs :: Second Hand Music
as reviewed by Eric Sirota


An aptly named album from a curiously named artist.

The corporate-bashing, ironically-named, nerdcore Chicago producer/MC, Phillip Morris, is not beyond comparison, but the comparisons will not be helpful to those lacking an unhealthy obsession with hip-hop. He’s a black Tim Fite, a good-natured Quasimoto, Vordul Mega with a sense of humor, Paul Barman with flow, etc., etc. These points of reference are not useful. They only became meaningful to me since I started prizing rap hipsterdom over social interaction, but, hey, if masturbating while listening to Digable Planets b-sides is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. Say what you will, it hasn’t been that long since I got laid. The point is, Phillip Morris’s latest release, “The Process of Addiction has Its Costs,” is fucking brilliant. Read More

From, critic Eric Sirota breaks down ‘Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives EP’–the 2005 release by Aesop Rock

Aesop Rock :: Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives EP :: Defnitive Jux Records 
** RapReviews “Back to the Lab” series **
reviewed by Eric Sirota


When it comes to hip-hop, Sirota digs the weird stuff.


It’s a funny thing. With a few notable exceptions, I pretty much listen to hip-hop/rap. Still, even though I love hip-hop, or at least its potential, I can’t really say that I “like” hip-hop music. I follow it extremely closely. I try to listen to the new releases as soon as they come out. I write for, for goodness sakes. But I’m really not sure I like hip-hop. If I liked hip-hop, why would so much of it piss me off? Read More

From, critic Eric Sirota breaks down ‘Jerusalaam Come’–the new album by Juice Aleem

Juice Aleem :: Jerusalaam Come :: Big Dada Recordings
reviewed by Eric Sirota

Juice Aleem spits mythic hot fire on "Jerusalaam Come"

Juice Aleem spits mythic hot fire on "Jerusalaam Come"


I took a lot of stupid classes in college. One of them was called “Red Flags/Black Flags: The History of Marxist and Anarchist Thought.” Why I felt the need to spend a whole semester reading about the rivalry between two modes of thought which both ultimately lost out, I’m not sure. But we did read this one really interesting book. I don’t remember the author’s name, but I think he was French. Sorel. Something like that. Anyway, Sorel wrote that, in order to bring about change, oppressed groups construct “social myths” that inspire revolutionary action. Jaque “Or-Whatever-His-Name-Actually-Was” Sorel was writing about 19th Century French labor unions, but if he was around today, I think he would write about hip-hop. Read More

Revenge of the Grown Ups: PART III

On the John presents…

Revenge of the Grown Ups: Zany Breaking and Entrances and Entertaining Chaos at the Bizarro Disneyland

Originally completed June 18, 2007

The lure of late night Mickey D's...made all the stronger by lights!

The lure of late night Mickey D's...made all the stronger by lights!

PART III (click here for PART II)

When I awoke, I checked my phone:



They were all from my brother. The first call was marked 3:51 AM, the last one 3:59. Curious. I looked to my left. There was Mike, passed out on top of the blanket in his clothes. I scratched my beard and listened to my messages. Message one, from 3:51 AM: Read More