Hieroglyph Thesaurus
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Hieroglyph Thesaurus

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF

Brooklyn, New York, United States | SELF
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"This Is Why Nine 11 Thesaurus Are Hot"

***Note this was written before the name change to Hieroglyph Thesaurus***

In summer 2009, a concise little EP with the unwieldy title Representing NYC Presents: Da' Brats From Da' Ville Featuring the Fly Girlz appeared. Five teenage girls from the Brownsville section of East New York posed on the cover with hands on hips or middle and index fingers up; the music harkened back to the boxy beats and group-shouted raps of Run-D.M.C. and Roxanne Shanté, a strain of hip-hop that mostly disappeared well before the girlz were born. Yet it also had an undertow of weirdness to it, the queasy synth drones and fractured beats behind the boasts courtesy of producer Nathan Corbin (better known for his work with inscrutable Brooklyn noisemakers Excepter). Under the hip-hop aliases of Lady Millz, Pinky, Sophie, Princess, and Angel, these five hip-hop initiates were full up with attitude but also awareness; in a Fader TV video, it's endearing to see these outspoken young teens turn shy as they peddle their wares to the clerks at Brooklyn's Academy Records Annex. Here were East New York teenagers ignoring the subjugating fantasies of mainstream rap and collaborating with outsider Brooklyn noisemakers to make something outside their comfort zones, suggesting a bigger force at work.

Representing NYC "pairs Brooklyn public-school students with Brooklyn-based independent musicians," as their MySpace puts it. Reaching out to program director Sam Hillmer about the Fly Girlz, I learn that one had moved south, and the group disbanded. But he quickly mentions that the next project is a Bushwick teen ensemble with the heavy moniker Nine 11 Thesaurus, and that "all eyes" are on them. Soon, I find myself parked in front of Roland Hayes I.S.291 in East Bushwick, a drab brown building with lime-green doors that houses the Representing NYC headquarters, so to speak. I empty my pockets for the metal detector.

His long, reddish-brown hair tucked into a top bun (complementing a thick beard, wooden prayer beads, and a Technicolor scarf), the 32-year-old Hillmer is known around here as Sam; he boisterously greets colleagues and kids alike with forearm bumps. He breaks down the program in his windowless office, his sentences peppered with "cats" and "vibes," a nod perhaps to his outré-jazz sideline (he performs with the noisy neoclassical Brooklyn outfit Zs). "I came to NYC in 1996 to the Manhattan School of Music," he recalls. "I got the opportunity to teach in Bushwick, and that's when I started doing hip-hop projects. It became more important for me to connect with my immediate circumstances in a more radical way. And I noticed the effect it had on people."

Coming up in Washington, D.C.'s politicized mid-'90s punk-rock scene, Hillmer abandoned hip-hop for the most part until he experienced what he describes as "a Wu-Tang moment." With that, he suddenly busts into Inspectah Deck's verse from Chef Raekwon's "Guillotine (Swordz)." "That was where I got the power of hip-hop, the vibe from the inner slums," he explains. "It's metaphorical, taking the violence from the situation and turning it into this thing, this message that's available. That moment for me was it."

Representing NYC collaborates with the Beacon Center for Arts and Leadership (an initiative started under Mayor David Dinkins in the late 1980s to house community centers in existing buildings) on large-scale youth projects that bring disadvantaged students into more professional, real-world situations. At the Roland Hayes building, there are rooms for football, martial arts, and fashion design; in the last year alone, Representing NYC has expanded to include a T-shirt line, a dance team, and an Internet-radio program. In one room, a volunteer teacher shows six distracted tweens how to count off the 4/4 beat, sussing the one on Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind." A skinny, introverted African-American girl wedges the headphones to her ear to beat-match the two twelves, but focus soon dissipates, with the whole class just singing along instead.

In the main auditorium, its walls plastered with hand-painted Obama portraits, the hip-hop cipher is particularly crowded. One girl gushes as Sam enters, busting out her latest rhyme for his approval. In another corner, two younger boys announce that they're changing their name from "BJ" to "B'n'J," much to their supervisors' relief. (So as not to be mistaken "for the corner deli," the kids explain.) Their style mirrors the current iteration of hip-hop and r&b—half-rapped, half-crooned—with hopes of soon performing live with Nine 11 Thesaurus, the six-strong crew of former students now scattered throughout the space, working with the kids as assistant teachers.

Today, Nine 11 members Shasty, P.Dot, God's Sun, RiDDic.C, and Hollywood (sixth member Tai' Chi was incarcerated at the time) are here. Ranging in age from 19 to 22, folks in this group exchange with Hillmer a more complicated handshake. Among themselves, the group hav - By Andy Beta www.villagevoice.com


"This Is Why Nine 11 Thesaurus Are Hot"

***Note this was written before the name change to Hieroglyph Thesaurus***

In summer 2009, a concise little EP with the unwieldy title Representing NYC Presents: Da' Brats From Da' Ville Featuring the Fly Girlz appeared. Five teenage girls from the Brownsville section of East New York posed on the cover with hands on hips or middle and index fingers up; the music harkened back to the boxy beats and group-shouted raps of Run-D.M.C. and Roxanne Shanté, a strain of hip-hop that mostly disappeared well before the girlz were born. Yet it also had an undertow of weirdness to it, the queasy synth drones and fractured beats behind the boasts courtesy of producer Nathan Corbin (better known for his work with inscrutable Brooklyn noisemakers Excepter). Under the hip-hop aliases of Lady Millz, Pinky, Sophie, Princess, and Angel, these five hip-hop initiates were full up with attitude but also awareness; in a Fader TV video, it's endearing to see these outspoken young teens turn shy as they peddle their wares to the clerks at Brooklyn's Academy Records Annex. Here were East New York teenagers ignoring the subjugating fantasies of mainstream rap and collaborating with outsider Brooklyn noisemakers to make something outside their comfort zones, suggesting a bigger force at work.

Representing NYC "pairs Brooklyn public-school students with Brooklyn-based independent musicians," as their MySpace puts it. Reaching out to program director Sam Hillmer about the Fly Girlz, I learn that one had moved south, and the group disbanded. But he quickly mentions that the next project is a Bushwick teen ensemble with the heavy moniker Nine 11 Thesaurus, and that "all eyes" are on them. Soon, I find myself parked in front of Roland Hayes I.S.291 in East Bushwick, a drab brown building with lime-green doors that houses the Representing NYC headquarters, so to speak. I empty my pockets for the metal detector.

His long, reddish-brown hair tucked into a top bun (complementing a thick beard, wooden prayer beads, and a Technicolor scarf), the 32-year-old Hillmer is known around here as Sam; he boisterously greets colleagues and kids alike with forearm bumps. He breaks down the program in his windowless office, his sentences peppered with "cats" and "vibes," a nod perhaps to his outré-jazz sideline (he performs with the noisy neoclassical Brooklyn outfit Zs). "I came to NYC in 1996 to the Manhattan School of Music," he recalls. "I got the opportunity to teach in Bushwick, and that's when I started doing hip-hop projects. It became more important for me to connect with my immediate circumstances in a more radical way. And I noticed the effect it had on people."

Coming up in Washington, D.C.'s politicized mid-'90s punk-rock scene, Hillmer abandoned hip-hop for the most part until he experienced what he describes as "a Wu-Tang moment." With that, he suddenly busts into Inspectah Deck's verse from Chef Raekwon's "Guillotine (Swordz)." "That was where I got the power of hip-hop, the vibe from the inner slums," he explains. "It's metaphorical, taking the violence from the situation and turning it into this thing, this message that's available. That moment for me was it."

Representing NYC collaborates with the Beacon Center for Arts and Leadership (an initiative started under Mayor David Dinkins in the late 1980s to house community centers in existing buildings) on large-scale youth projects that bring disadvantaged students into more professional, real-world situations. At the Roland Hayes building, there are rooms for football, martial arts, and fashion design; in the last year alone, Representing NYC has expanded to include a T-shirt line, a dance team, and an Internet-radio program. In one room, a volunteer teacher shows six distracted tweens how to count off the 4/4 beat, sussing the one on Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind." A skinny, introverted African-American girl wedges the headphones to her ear to beat-match the two twelves, but focus soon dissipates, with the whole class just singing along instead.

In the main auditorium, its walls plastered with hand-painted Obama portraits, the hip-hop cipher is particularly crowded. One girl gushes as Sam enters, busting out her latest rhyme for his approval. In another corner, two younger boys announce that they're changing their name from "BJ" to "B'n'J," much to their supervisors' relief. (So as not to be mistaken "for the corner deli," the kids explain.) Their style mirrors the current iteration of hip-hop and r&b—half-rapped, half-crooned—with hopes of soon performing live with Nine 11 Thesaurus, the six-strong crew of former students now scattered throughout the space, working with the kids as assistant teachers.

Today, Nine 11 members Shasty, P.Dot, God's Sun, RiDDic.C, and Hollywood (sixth member Tai' Chi was incarcerated at the time) are here. Ranging in age from 19 to 22, folks in this group exchange with Hillmer a more complicated handshake. Among themselves, the group hav - By Andy Beta www.villagevoice.com


"Hard Future"

***Note this was written before the name change to Hieroglyph Thesaurus***


In the post-World War II United States, the sensitive citizen can observe and feel particular cyclical waves of domestic horror and global anxiety. Again and again across the decades, the same pale riders rear their heads: violent and virulent racism, the ebb and flow of a brutal police state, abstract enmity with the demonized faces of communism, and the ever–ready threat of global nuclear war and destruction seem never more than half a generation away from fullblown resurgences. Given this uniquely American brand of dystopian eternal recurrence, it’s understandable that the youth would grow ever more and more apathetic, disenfranchised and weary of engaging with the world. Cite, then, as glowing and heroic mutations the young men of Nine 11 Thesaurus, teenagers from East Bushwick bound together in a hip-hop crusade of classical fervor and blazing sincerity.

The group (comprised of core members Shasty, God’sun, P-Dot, Riddic.C and Hollywood, along with a Shaolin-esque coterie of fringe members and guests) releases a debut album, Ground Zero Generals, this month on local experimental rock stalwart The Social Registry, an auspicious event for both artists and label. Shepherding this unusual pairing is Sam Hillmer, local saxophonist and composer of group Zs and the artistic director of Representing NYC, a community outreach group that Hillmer feels "has succeeded at interlacing some social-services programming with parts of New York’s underground music scene." That may seem like a refined and subtle social movement, but as a socially entrepreneurial feat, the work is actually quite deep—and hard to pull off at times.

In Nine 11's case, these parts of the underground music scene consist of producers Matt Mehlan (of Skeletons) and Tim Dewitt (of Gang Gang Dance) who, along with the band members and Hillmer, were involved in an immersive collaboration to create Ground Zero Generals’ vivid and aggressively politically charged content. Mehlan and Dewitt’s music provide fitting frames to the MCs’ polemics—Mehlan leaning more toward frantic and sometimes Congotronicsinfused beats while Dewitt tends towards more spacious synth heaviness.

Nine 11 delves thoroughly and relentlessly into the kind of hard-edged
sociopolitical lyricism extolled by Public Enemy, vintage Ice Cube and
Dead Prez.

Unlike the outlying, thematically fungal works of present youth brigade Odd Future or the meta-pap of yesterday’s teens The Pack, Nine 11 delves thoroughly and relentlessly into the kind of hardedged socio-political lyricism extolled by Public Enemy, vintage Ice Cube and Dead Prez. The first proper track, "End of the World," sets the themes in motion quite directly, as the round-toned Riddic.C both evokes the still-pertinent L.A. riots slogan "No justice, no peace" and laments, "The U.S. is ’bout to have another cold war with Russia." The vibe of eternal recurrence is echoed throughout, and underscored by the frequently appearing samples of speech from the Civil Rights era. "We define ourselves [by the idea that] the hiphop tree was supposed to sprout from its harvest without the suicide seeds," says group member Shasty, a telling statement of Nine 11's desire to rebuild and improve the group’s own hip-hop from the DNA upward. As above, so below, however, and the teenage MCs are wise enough for their years to understand utopia is built on a thorough engagement with the evils of the past. Closing track "Free" tethers the spirituals-old sentiment "set my people free" to everything from genetic modification of humans to prostitutes doggedly pursued by HIV infection, while on "Bondages" they deal with the physical accessories of American slavery as specifically and viscerally as anyone since Isaac Hayes. The latter song’s brief harried refrain of "I must stay focused!" feels like a rallying cry for Nine 11's personal discipline in the face of tidal waves of distraction and social dissolution.

Those working with them observe this focus. As Hillmer states, "Nine 11 are part of a small group of people their age who are willing to work on something for a long period of time that does not have immediate gratification." Adds Mehlan, "The coolest part of the whole thing has been to watch them take control and get ambitious on a sort of realistic DIY level. To see them now, doing shows at the Silent Barn, Death By Audio [and] Shea Stadium, and being open to all the different kinds of music going on in those scenes… I mean, they took the bus to Todd P’s Acoustic BBQ last summer and walked like a mile in the rain with plastic bags over their sneakers to do a 15-minute set for 20 soaking wet people—the music is important!" Perhaps the record’s most powerful and clearest mission statement comes on the musically dense "Nation to Nation," on which the chorus spits in the face of the ever-returning evil energies: "Nine 11 is the last final destination/ You - Written by Sam Mickens nypress.com


"Hard Future"

***Note this was written before the name change to Hieroglyph Thesaurus***


In the post-World War II United States, the sensitive citizen can observe and feel particular cyclical waves of domestic horror and global anxiety. Again and again across the decades, the same pale riders rear their heads: violent and virulent racism, the ebb and flow of a brutal police state, abstract enmity with the demonized faces of communism, and the ever–ready threat of global nuclear war and destruction seem never more than half a generation away from fullblown resurgences. Given this uniquely American brand of dystopian eternal recurrence, it’s understandable that the youth would grow ever more and more apathetic, disenfranchised and weary of engaging with the world. Cite, then, as glowing and heroic mutations the young men of Nine 11 Thesaurus, teenagers from East Bushwick bound together in a hip-hop crusade of classical fervor and blazing sincerity.

The group (comprised of core members Shasty, God’sun, P-Dot, Riddic.C and Hollywood, along with a Shaolin-esque coterie of fringe members and guests) releases a debut album, Ground Zero Generals, this month on local experimental rock stalwart The Social Registry, an auspicious event for both artists and label. Shepherding this unusual pairing is Sam Hillmer, local saxophonist and composer of group Zs and the artistic director of Representing NYC, a community outreach group that Hillmer feels "has succeeded at interlacing some social-services programming with parts of New York’s underground music scene." That may seem like a refined and subtle social movement, but as a socially entrepreneurial feat, the work is actually quite deep—and hard to pull off at times.

In Nine 11's case, these parts of the underground music scene consist of producers Matt Mehlan (of Skeletons) and Tim Dewitt (of Gang Gang Dance) who, along with the band members and Hillmer, were involved in an immersive collaboration to create Ground Zero Generals’ vivid and aggressively politically charged content. Mehlan and Dewitt’s music provide fitting frames to the MCs’ polemics—Mehlan leaning more toward frantic and sometimes Congotronicsinfused beats while Dewitt tends towards more spacious synth heaviness.

Nine 11 delves thoroughly and relentlessly into the kind of hard-edged
sociopolitical lyricism extolled by Public Enemy, vintage Ice Cube and
Dead Prez.

Unlike the outlying, thematically fungal works of present youth brigade Odd Future or the meta-pap of yesterday’s teens The Pack, Nine 11 delves thoroughly and relentlessly into the kind of hardedged socio-political lyricism extolled by Public Enemy, vintage Ice Cube and Dead Prez. The first proper track, "End of the World," sets the themes in motion quite directly, as the round-toned Riddic.C both evokes the still-pertinent L.A. riots slogan "No justice, no peace" and laments, "The U.S. is ’bout to have another cold war with Russia." The vibe of eternal recurrence is echoed throughout, and underscored by the frequently appearing samples of speech from the Civil Rights era. "We define ourselves [by the idea that] the hiphop tree was supposed to sprout from its harvest without the suicide seeds," says group member Shasty, a telling statement of Nine 11's desire to rebuild and improve the group’s own hip-hop from the DNA upward. As above, so below, however, and the teenage MCs are wise enough for their years to understand utopia is built on a thorough engagement with the evils of the past. Closing track "Free" tethers the spirituals-old sentiment "set my people free" to everything from genetic modification of humans to prostitutes doggedly pursued by HIV infection, while on "Bondages" they deal with the physical accessories of American slavery as specifically and viscerally as anyone since Isaac Hayes. The latter song’s brief harried refrain of "I must stay focused!" feels like a rallying cry for Nine 11's personal discipline in the face of tidal waves of distraction and social dissolution.

Those working with them observe this focus. As Hillmer states, "Nine 11 are part of a small group of people their age who are willing to work on something for a long period of time that does not have immediate gratification." Adds Mehlan, "The coolest part of the whole thing has been to watch them take control and get ambitious on a sort of realistic DIY level. To see them now, doing shows at the Silent Barn, Death By Audio [and] Shea Stadium, and being open to all the different kinds of music going on in those scenes… I mean, they took the bus to Todd P’s Acoustic BBQ last summer and walked like a mile in the rain with plastic bags over their sneakers to do a 15-minute set for 20 soaking wet people—the music is important!" Perhaps the record’s most powerful and clearest mission statement comes on the musically dense "Nation to Nation," on which the chorus spits in the face of the ever-returning evil energies: "Nine 11 is the last final destination/ You - Written by Sam Mickens nypress.com


Discography

Ground Zero Generals-LP, Radio
Road To The Hidden G.R.E.E.N Village-LP,Radio
The Vanguard Of Hip-Hop- Mix Tape
90's Baby Theory - EP, Radio, King Shas
biRDRib - EP, Radio, King Shas

Photos

Bio

Get Ready Evolution Evolve Naturally! is the acronym to GREEN in the tittle Road to the Hidden G.R.E.E.N Village.Which is The tittle of Hieroglyph Thesaurus's second with production from Dj Eddie Marsz .. Welcome to the phoenix of what time has created. Lets continue to rock this..

Hieroglyph Thesaurus's work has already lead to collaborations with Charlie Ahearn, director of Wild Style, Hieroglyph Thesaurus has already put out album early 2011 Ground Zero Generals with the help of record label Social Registry with production from Skeletons and Tim Dewitt (of Gang Gang Dance).

Hieroglyph Thesaurus has performed at many monumental places on the New York city scene I.e. venues like Don Hills / The Kitchen / Shea Stadium / Spin New York / Zebulon / Public Assembly / 3rdEye(sol)ation / The Knitting Factory / The Silent Barn / Free Candy/ The New Museum / The Freedom Garden and even opened up for Raekwon from the Wu Tang Clan at BBKings.

Hieroglyph Thesaurus haves already shared the stage with Mr. Lif / Kool Keith/ Prefuse 73/ Skeletons/ Friends and Mic Blaque

Hieroglyph Thesauruss work has already lead them to have appearances with old school legends such as Rahiem of Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, and Water Bed Kev of the Fantastic Five.

Hieroglyph Thesaurus shot there first short music film with the help of legendary director Charlie Ahearn. Whom directed the hip - hop classic movie Wild Style The film All City was shot on the Brooklyn bridge with brass band Luck Chops. The film was showed IFC rooftop film festival / BMW Guggenhiem Lab / and the B.A.M theater.

Hieroglyph Thesaurus won a slot in the Afro-Punk Battle of the Bands at Free Candy

Band Members