Adios, Casey Kasem: Keep Reaching for the Stars

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"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

It's good advice that was delivered weekly for dozens of years by Casey Kasem. The radio personality, whose American Top 40 countdown was a pop-culture fixture for more than 40 years, passed away on Father's Day at the age of 82.

You may have seen the recent stories about his waning health or the unfortunate infighting occurring within his family. Since this is Rocks Off and not Inside Edition, we'll focus on what made Kasem important to music.


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Goooooooal!! A Mostly Musical Guide to Enjoying the World Cup

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Photo courtesy of nikeinc.com
U.S. Men's National Soccer fans, HAIM
When did World Cup soccer start mattering to U.S. fans? I know many of us have doled out orange slices and cursed at volunteer officials at youth league games, but interest in the pro soccer pitch is apparently now at fever pitch.

The global football tournament begins this afternoon and won't end until the finalists square off for a true world title in Rio de Janeiro on July 13. Whether you care about FIFA, spot kicks or wall passes (these are soccer terms, people), you have to admit there's nothing like a month-long party.

If you don't think World Cup soccer has anything to do with music, think again, mon frere. In celebration of the planet's largest single sport tournament, here's a music-oriented guide to the games.


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Feast Your Ears on BeatKing's Awesome Jay Z/Solange Freestyle

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The cover of BeatKing's Gangsta Stripper Music 2 mixtape, due next month
Monday, the Earth shook.

Well, not really, but if you deal with gossip the way journalists, social-media commentators and those who wield Photoshop for evil purposes, Solange fighting Jay Z in an elevator shook everything imaginable.

The days that have followed have been awkward. The facade of privacy that Beyoncé and Jay have put up for a solid decade (forever, in Bey's case) finally cracked a bit. Speculation about the couple's marriage flared up, their "IV" tattoos were either visible or completely gone in recent photos, and some questioned whether Jay really learned anything outside "block" in his Tae Bo classes. Did Tae Bo ever teach us anything that Hip Hop Abs didn't? All of this matters.


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Cynic's Big Admission Threatens Metal's Homophobia

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By now Cynic are legends in the metal scene. In 1993, they released their magnum opus Focus before quietly disbanding, but the album's impact was fully felt in the realms of technical and progressive metal, influencing younger bands for years to come.

They repeated the feat with 2008's reunion record Traced in Air, and have been chugging along ever since as one of the most celebrated and beloved prog-metal acts around. Oh, and principal members/songwriters Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert, without whom the band would not exist, are gay.

It's been an open secret for years, but the pair have come forward in their first major interview to discuss life as gay metal musicians, operating within a scene which has traditionally been less than open-minded or accepting of alternative lifestyles. This is a huge step for everyone in the metal community, and here's why.


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For Once Kanye's Anger Was Totally Justified

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Look into his eyes. That is not a man I would mess with.
I like that Kanye West fellow. He may be the most fatheaded, arrogant jerk of all time in most of his interviews, but every once in a while he puts out a great album and makes us forget all the stupid things he said to Jimmy Kimmel or Zane Lowe.

He also has a habit of getting into fights -- verbal or physical -- for any reason presented to him. You may recall he just got out of a court case late last year for an alleged assault on a paparazzo who was trying to photograph him. He's back in the news for another alleged assault that occurred Monday, but this time it comes with a twist: For perhaps the first time, I believe, Kanye West was completely justified in his actions.


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Just Who Is OutKast Again?

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Photos by Marco Torres
The sun sets over the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.
Two years ago at Coachella, Dr. Dre reunited with his The Chronic homie Snoop Dogg, a standout performance that also featured a special appearance by Hologram Tupac Shakur. Last year, it was '90s backpack-rap group Jurassic 5's turn to reunite in the desert. Last week another hip-hop reunion was announced, confirming the rumors that have been circulating on the interwebs for months now: after a ten-year hiatus, the pioneering Southern rap duo OutKast is set to headline this year's festival.

Almost immediately, ungrateful music fans hit their social media accounts to shout in disgust at the lineup, which has become something of a yearly ritual for Coachella lovers and former fans. One of the prevailing questions was simple: Who is OutKast?

Well, for everyone asking that question, we here at Rocks Off would like to enlighten you. And for everyone else, we hope this lesson serves as a southernplayalistic refresher.


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Punk Rock and Alleged Sexual Assault: A Timely Story

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Photo by Montecruz Foto/ Flickr Commons
The Casualties' Jorge Herrera
Last month, fledgling blog Put Your Damn Pants On ran a guest post entitled "I Won't Apologize for Being Assaulted."

The article's author, identified as "Beth," described herself as a "recovering scenester, 30-something stay at home wife and mom. I listen to the Descendants from the comfort of my suburban home while cooking barefoot and pregnant to Bikini Kill's 'Rebel Girl.'"

She told the story of her sexual assault, which she says occurred 16 years ago, with aplomb and searing bitterness. Her story has evoked visceral reactions from the punk-rock community.


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Macklemore Has Something He Wants to Say

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Last Sunday evening, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis accepted the award for Best Hip-Hop/Rap artist, one of six they were nominated for at the 2013 American Music Awards.

But instead of a traditional speech, Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) took the opportunity to speak up against racial profiling via video feed from their tour stop in Miami.

With what seemed like a mixture of nerves, excitement and gratitude, Macklemore said:


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Report: Suspect Charged In May Assault On La Mafia Singer

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photos by Marco Torres
(L-R) Armando Lichtenberger Jr. and Oscar De La Rosa of Tejano band La Mafia pose at the Houston Texans game on Sunday.
According to AbOUT Magazine, a suspect has been charged in the May assault on singer Oscar De La Rosa of legendary Tejano band La Mafia, who in July were part of the inaugural class of inductees into the Houston Music Hall of Fame.

The report says Jared David Avila of Rosenberg has been charged with Assault With Bodily Injury in Harris County Criminal Court No. 7, with bond set at $5,000. The incident happened outside of Montrose nightclub Blur the early-morning hours of May 13, and left De La Rosa unconscious and with eye damage requiring stitches and loss of teeth.


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Halftime Hero: Why Bruno Mars Is the Right Choice for Super Bowl XLVIII

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Photo by Brad Barket/Courtesy of Live Nation
Bruno Mars at Boston's TD Garden in June
Less than a month into the new NFL season, we already know who will be playing at the Super Bowl. We may not know which teams will line up for football's biggest game. As the sports cliché goes, there's a lot of football yet to be played; but, no prognostication is required when the subject is the entertainment booked for the halftime event. It'll be pop sensation Bruno Mars.

No one I've discussed this with has even the slightest problem with the NFL's and sponsoring Pepsi's choice. The grizzled geezers I watch games with would probably prefer some addled rockers out there at the half, bands like The Who, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or the Rolling Stones, who have all played this gig. But, they also have no objection to this diminutive, flashy wunderkind of pop music.


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