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March 2003 Archives

March 7, 2003

Bamboozled, Korean Style

my friend in korea: this korean pop group made themselves up in black face for one of their videos...pretty shocking
jsmooth: wow
my friend in korea: their justification was something to the effect that they wanted to be recognized for their musical talent as opposed to being pretty the way alot of popstars in korea are....and they said something like "black people are musically talented and we wanted to be like them"
my friend in korea: their video still airs! i just saw it at the gym on korean mtv
jsmooth: oh my god

EDIT: Here goes an article about this, from the Korea Herald

March 12, 2003

The Federal Bureau of Wack Emcees

I just discovered that the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency, one of the creepiest branches of our government, has their own official rap song! I'm not kidding. Check out the audio here, and read along here. Our tax dollars paid for this.

This is part of their FEMA for kids website, teaching kids about FEMA's programs that help America deal with various types of "disaster". Here is one such plan they developed in the 80s:

On July 5, 1987, the Miami Herald published reports on FEMA's new goals...to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. Lt. Col. North was the architect. National Security Directive Number 52 issued in August 1982, pertains to the "Use of National Guard Troops to Quell Disturbances."

The crux of the problem is that FEMA has the power to turn the United States into a police state in time of a real crisis or a manufactured crisis. Lt. Col. North virtually established the apparatus for dictatorship. Only the criticism of the Attorney General prevented the plans from being adopted. But intelligence reports indicate that FEMA has a folder with 22 Executive Orders for the President to sign in case of an emergency. It is believed those Executive Orders contain the framework of North's concepts, delayed by criticism but never truly abandoned.

Someone needs to make a parody of this site where the little cartoon characters teach kids about martial law. "Hey boys and girls, have you ever heard mommy and daddy saying naughty things about the president? Call this number and let us know, so we can give them a free trip to our Happy Funtime Internment Camp!"

Important Announcement

In honor of our fearless leaders in Congress, this website shall henceforth refer to American Cheese as "Mindboggling Republican Stupidity Cheese"

March 14, 2003

Ain't No Justice in Ohio

The Cincinnati Post says racism and sexism that have left Ohio's juvenile justice system in "shambles".


Continue reading "Ain't No Justice in Ohio" »

Lynne Thigpen, 1948-2003

You probably know her best as the chief on Carmen Sandiego.. and yeah, ok, I also remember her from All My Children. But I bet you didn't know Lynne Thigpen also played one of the coolest movie roles ever: she was the DJ in "The Warriors"!

She was also a major figure as a theater actress, and when I was little I saw her in this very short-lived broadway musical named "But Never Jam Today".

By the way, her scenes in The Warriors were filmed at WHBI 105.9 FM, the NY station legendary for hosting the first Hip-Hop radio shows ever: Mr. Magic, Jerry Bloodrock, The World Famous Supreme Team, The Awesome Two, etc.

'You don't win people over by killing them.'

My good friend Irina has the big front page story in today's Bradenton Herald. It's a great interview with a decorated vietnam vet speaking out against the possible Gulf War II.

"We should have learned in Vietnam that you can't dictate to another country at the end of a gun," Schaefer said. "Attacking Iraq is not going to stop terrorism. It's going to make terrorism worse, create a reason for more martyrs who are willing to die to attack the United States..."

March 15, 2003

Join us on the radio tonight

You can tune in live to the webcast of our radio show, The Underground Railroad, and talk to us live on the message board while you check out the sounds. The Underground railroad airs every saturday night from midnight to 2 AM on WBAI 99.5 FM in NY.

March 16, 2003

Anti-War Protests around the world

Washington DC
San Francisco
Vermont - Vets for Peace
Mississippi (goddam!)

Egypt, Australia, Romania, Germany, Spain, Brazil...

The Junior Sniper's Reading List

The Washington Post has a lengthy piece analyzing the writings and drawings found in Lee Boyd Malvo's cell, listing all his references to books, music, etc.

The only newsworthy development here is that unless you count Ego Trip's Big Book of Racism, there is no reference to Hip-Hop whatsoever! Guess you can't blame this one on us, suckers!

March 17, 2003

Yes, and we are also quite fond of watermelon.

Al's Morning Meeting posted a freaky little site named You Are Where You Live. It's a database where advertisers and businesses can look up any zipcode in America to find out what kind of people live there and what they are likely to spend money on. Put in your zipcode and find out how corporate America judges you based on your neighborhood.

I grew up in 10032, and evidently we represent (among others) the demographic segment known as "difficult times". We are known for our tendency to "dine at fast food chicken restaurants" and "use non-prescription cough syrup".

March 18, 2003

Common, Kweli concert review

The San Francisco Chronicle has a pretty solid review of Common's concert over there, in which we are informed that "Common arrived onstage to an excerpt from Peggy Lee's 'Is That All There Is?'"

Walter Mosley addresses the War

New Book Examines African-American Attitude Towards War With Iraq

March 19, 2003

New Battle Scenes from 8 Mile DVD

The new 8 Mile DVD has a nice little segment where some of the extras got a chance to come on stage and get filmed battling Eminem.

Since Em was losing his voice, the director asked him not to rap out loud, so he was just silently miming his response after the other guy went, which was pretty funny looking. But once they got going I guess Em's pride wouldn't let him pretend like that, so he turned his mic on and started battling for real. A nice little bonus, getting a chance to see him really spit off the top agianst a couple of people.

here is an excerpt (this file will only be up temporarily)

Also entertaining is the chance to watch the movie with french or spanish dubbing, although sadly they didn't try to translate the battle scenes. That would have really been a treat.

British Press says the war is starting early

According to The Evening Standard, the war has already begun, many hours before the announced deadline.

Meanwhile the Drudge Report's headline announces that today is "Game Day". Dude, this is not a sporting event. People are going to die.

And David Manning pledges his full support

Here's the official list of countries that have joined our "coalition" in support of this war (courtesy of warblogging.com):

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan (post conflict), South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, Britain, Uzbekistan.

Seriously, I'd be more impressed to see "Brooklyn" on the list than half of these names. This is like when a movie trailer has to resort to quoting reviews from the East Podunk Gazette or Movieblab.com.. you know damn well you don't want to see that movie. Unfortunately we don't have much choice about watching this drama unfold.

March 20, 2003

Don't pull your thang out.. unless you plan to bang...

I feel ill.

Gave up on CNN, trying BBC now. Been tuning out most of what the talking heads are saying, since very little factual information comes out at times like this. But knowing this is underway is making me feel queasy.

I remember very well when the first gulf war started. I was 18 in 1991, and it started right around the time I was sending out my college applications. I remember that profound feeling of illness, as I watched the breaking news with my mother, and realized this was really happening, that my country was doing this. My mother often tells the story of how I turned to her and said "Mom... I don't have a country." So this feeling in my stomach is all too familiar.

You should be reading Dear Raed if you're not already.

A friend has confirmed the rumors that BBC ran raw satellite feed of Bush, getting his makeup done before his speech started:

"I was watching the BBC live raw satellite footage of Bush before his speech last night (at 3 am, I fell asleep on the couch later). They showed about 10-15 minutes of him getting ready. There was no sound, but he was practicing his "earnest and honest" face, the words to his speech, and then occasionally he would get that smirky grin and seemingly joke and laugh with people who were behind the camera. I had to wonder if he even knew the camera was turned on."

Student Protest, Union Square, 3-20-03

Very impressive, hundreds of people out in the rain on very short notice. Most of them students who had walked out of class, and reported that police had threatened them with arrest if they left school. Great to see so many young people come out, and show such enthusiasm. Also glad to see people of color make up at least half the crowd, which goes against the stereotypes of the peace movement.

The girl in this first photo was especially moving, heartbreaking. She broke down in tears as she pleaded with us: "I'm here because of my uncle. He joined the army because he couldn't fnd a job, and they told him he could join the army and be a hero, and now he's risking his life on the other side of the world, in a war that's happening for no reason. So I came here today to tell you all, we have to stand up."

click a thumbnail to see the full size image:

March 22, 2003

Blacks left out of peace rallies?

Just like I said in the last post, here is another new article suggesting anti-war protests fail to attract many Black people, even though polls indicate they are predominantly against the war.

March 23, 2003

United for Peace 3/22/03

Huge turnout in NY today..took many pictures:

Photo Gallery 1

Photo Gallery 2

And indymedia has a bunch of pics from around the world here.

March 25, 2003

Music in Response to the War

The Beastie Boys - In A World Gone Mad
I love the sentiment, although the actual song is sub-par.

Zach De La Rocha and DJ Shadow - March of Death
Now that's what I'm talking about. Zach is finally back, and he came back hard as hell.

Me'Shell Ndegeocello - Love & Forgiveness
This is nice as well, recorded right after 9/11 and released in the days before the war, as Me'shell explained here

Sarah Jones - Whose War? (Emergency Rough Cut)

And last but not least, a brand new song delivered to me personally by Sarah Jones, at Saturday's protest. Razor sharp lyrics, and nice work flipping the Nas chorus with the Bob Marley "I Need A Hammer" sample.

Calvin Klein's no friend of mine..

What the heck was this all about?

Calvin Klein accosts Sprewell during game

"...Sprewell wouldn't divulge what the designer said to him: "He was, uh, he ... I don't want to get into it, man," he said with a laugh. "I'm keeping it to myself."

What is the meaning of this? What dark secret is shared by Calvin and Latrell??


Fabolous arrested, on gun charge.

Before we jump into another rant about how ignorant all these dumbass gangsta rappers are, let's take a good look at what really happened here. Police found a gun in their car, the bodyguard explained it was his and showed a permit, but the permit was only good in another state, not NY. And for this they arrested not only the self-professed owner of the gun but everyone else in the car as well.

In other words, Fabolous didn't actually do anything. But spicy headlines about rap-related crime sell papers, so why let the something silly like the facts hold you back? Right?

New De La Soul Album on Indie Label

The Miami Herald dropped a nice interview with Maseo today. He discusses making Florida his new home, and De La's plans to release the "AOI 3" album on his own independent label, Bear Mountain Entertainment.

Originally the word was Prince Paul would rejoin and contribute to this third album in the AOI trilogy, but now it doesn't look like that is happening. Still, I'm looking forward to hearing what they do with their independence.

March 26, 2003

Michael Moore at the Oscars

I love that Michael Moore did what he did, and I damn sure don't think it was "bad taste" or "not the proper forum" or anything like that. But I think he could have gotten the message across much more effectively.

By throwing in all the stuff about the "fictitious election" and what not, his message came across more "I hate Bush" than "I am against this war". And his combative, smirkingly self-righteous tone just seemed out of place, and surely alienated anyone not firmly in his camp already.

I love Michael Moore but I've always thought he is clumsy at times, and too often revels in the easy joke or the cheap shot that doesn't really advance his argument. I think this is a case where he should have put more thought into exactly what message he wanted to send, and who he wanted to reach with it.

Jam Master Jay's Scratch Academy

"And in a few years, you will see
a Dr. Jekyll Mr Hyde University
With mixing as a minor and rapping as a major
be on your best behavior (owwww!)"
-Dr. Jekyll (aka Andre Harrell) and Mr Hyde, "AM/PM"

When that song came out in 1984, none of us would have imagined those lyrics could come true. But it has already become a reality, and Jam Master Jay was leading the way into this new frontier with his Scratch Academy, profiled on today's AP wire: DJ School Teaches the Art of Scratching. And I'd bet it won't be long before programs like this aren't even newsworthy, as it becomes commonplace for established schools to include hip-hop in their curriculum. We've come a long way.

"Stephen Webber, a professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, believes deejaying is moving toward widespread musical acceptance, much like jazz overcame its rejection as unstructured folk music, and rock its dismissal as amplified noise.

"We have crossed a threshold," Webber said. "It's just starting to make the transition, much like jazz once did, into a legitimate part of the conservatory curriculum."

March 27, 2003

Snoop Dogg Sued Over Voice Mail

If you heard the voice mail message at the end of Snoop's latest album, congratulating him for standing up to Suge Knight, you probably wondered like I did whether it was a real message or just a skit. It turns out that message was real, and now the guy who left it is real scared. Or at least he's claiming to be scared so he can get paid.

I've got to give utmost props to Snoop for openly standing up to Suge, and calling him the punk that he is. Suge Knight is a disgrace to the culture, and the Hip-Hop community should not let itself be scared into silence by his thug bulls***.

FCC: Federal Crackhead Commission?

Under the leadership of Michael Powell, Colin's kid, the FCC has grown increasingly loony in the last couple of years. First they declared Sarah Jones' political anthem Your Revolution to be "indecent" and "patently offensive", and fined a Portland radio station $7,000 for playing it. Then they fined another station for playing the clean version of Eminem's single, Without Me. Not promising developments for those who value freedom of expression.

Thankfully, the FCC ultimately took a loss on both of those cases, and had to rescind those fines after much public outcry and legal challenges. But the FCC's newest bout with lunacy would be far more damaging if it succeeds. Powell's FCC is now leading the charge to deregulate media ownership, and allow even more of what we see and hear to be controlled by the same few corporations, such as the infamous Clear Channel. As reported in The Nation:

"One of the most important votes of 2003 will be cast not in Congress or in voting booths across the country but at the Federal Communications Commission. At stake is how TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet will look in the next generation and beyond. At stake are core values of localism, competition, diversity and maintaining the vitality of America's marketplace of ideas. And at stake is the ability of consumers to enjoy creative, diverse and enriching entertainment. But most people and most journalists are ignoring this momentous vote."

Here are some links with more info:

The Future of the Media is at Risk
Why Ownership Rules Matter
Relaxing rules raises concerns about diverse media voices

And here is local coverage from North Carolina, where the FCC will hold its next public hearing on this issue, this coming Monday the 31st. If you live down there make sure to come out and represent. And if you can't make it to that, here is a sample letter you can send to the FCC here or here to make your voice heard. Cuz if you don't, it may soon get a lot harder for anyone to make their voices heard in this country.


Here's the info on Monday's meeting:

FCC Media Ownership Hearing
Monday, March 31, 2003
Duke University Law School, Durham, NC
Time: 12:30 PM – 5 PM
Location: Room 3043 of Law School (overflow room: 2036, Blue Lounge)

Separation of Congress and Sanity

House approves national day of prayer and fasting

"The resolution, passed 346-49, says Americans should use the day of prayer "to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings and to learn how we can do better in our everyday activities, and to gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our nation."

Under the resolution, President Bush would issue a proclamation designating a specific day as a day of "humility, prayer and fasting."

Are you kidding me? Seriously, this is a joke, right?

March 28, 2003

Iraq: Only the Opening Act?

As first linked by atrios, this piece in the Washington Monthly makes some very scary predictions about the Bush administration's real agenda in Iraq, and the amount of deception they are willing to use in service of that agenda.

Why Our Nightmare is Bush's Dream

"In short, the administration is trying to roll the table--to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism. So events that may seem negative--Hezbollah for the first time targeting American civilians; U.S. soldiers preparing for war with Syria--while unfortunate in themselves, are actually part of the hawks' broader agenda. Each crisis will draw U.S. forces further into the region and each countermove in turn will create problems that can only be fixed by still further American involvement, until democratic governments--or, failing that, U.S. troops--rule the entire Middle East.

There is a startling amount of deception in all this--of hawks deceiving the American people, and perhaps in some cases even themselves. While it's conceivable that bold American action could democratize the Middle East, so broad and radical an initiative could also bring chaos and bloodshed on a massive scale. That all too real possibility leads most establishment foreign policy hands, including many in the State Department, to view the Bush plan with alarm. Indeed, the hawks' record so far does not inspire confidence. Prior to the invasion, for instance, they predicted that if the United States simply announced its intention to act against Saddam regardless of how the United Nations voted, most of our allies, eager to be on our good side, would support us. Almost none did. Yet despite such grave miscalculations, the hawks push on with their sweeping new agenda.

...The brazenness of this approach would be hard to believe if it weren't entirely in line with how the administration has pursued so many of its other policy goals. Its preferred method has been to use deceit to create faits accomplis, facts on the ground that then make the administration's broader agenda almost impossible not to pursue. During and after the 2000 campaign, the president called for major education and prescription drug programs plus a huge tax cut, saying America could easily afford them all because of large budget surpluses. Critics said it wasn't true, and the growing budget deficits have proven them right. But the administration now uses the existence of big budget deficits as a way to put the squeeze on social programs--part of its plan all along. Strip away the presidential seal and the fancy titles, and it's just a straight-up con..."

Big Brother is Watching Your Mother

Our friend Amy Goodman talked to Michael Franti yesterday about the current climate of censorship and intimidation, as the government and media seek to suppress anti-war voices. He told a bizarre story of government agents visiting his bandmate's mother:

Well, what’s happened most recently is that we performed at a rally on March 15th in San Francisco and the next day on the 16th—that, that rally was out here—and on the 16th on the East Coast, a band member of mine who prefers to go unnamed, his mother received a visit from two plain clothes men from the military and this band member of mine has a sibling who is in the Gulf. And they came in and talked to her and said you have a child who’s in the gulf and you have a child who’s in this band Spearhead who’s part of the “resistance” in their words, and they had pictures of us performing the day before at the rally, they had pictures of us performing at some of our annual concerts that we put on that are in support of peace and human rights. They had his flight records for the past several months, they had the names of everybody who works in my office, our management office “Guerilla Management”. They had his checking account records. They asked his mother a lot of questions about where he was, what he was doing in this place, why he was going here. They confiscated his sibling’s CD collection that they had brought over to listen to while they were in the Gulf, and basically were intimidating—told her which members of the press she could talk to and which members of the press she should not speak to.

You can hear the interview in its entirety here

Movie Review: Raising Victor Vargas

Authentic. It's pretty much impossible to write about "Raising Victor Vargas", the feature film debut of director Peter Sollett, without using the word authentic. Charming will be hard to avoid too. I'm not even gonna try.

On Wednesday I went to a screening of "Vargas", which is based on his now legendary short film "5 Feet High and Rising". I was worried coming into it because I adored his original short, and wasn't sure he'd be able to reproduce that magic. But Sollett pulled it off, big time, and delivered the most, yes, charming movie you'll probably see all year.

For "5 Feet High and Rising" Sollett gathered a cast of kids from his Lower East Side neighborhood, and soon found the kids were much more interesting when the cameras were off and they put the script down. So he threw out the script and let them basically improv the whole film, and his understated presentation was the perfect vehicle to capture his young cast's tremendous charm. In the full-length "Vargas", Sollet has done a masterful job of fleshing out the original while retaining its beautiful simplicity, and produced an incredibly authentic and endearing slice of life in the L.E.S. barrio.

Most of the kids from 5 Feet High and Rising return for this one, including the leads Victor Rasuk and Judy Marte. They look a little older, but have lost none of their decidedly un-hollywood charisma. Again improvising most of the dialogue, they come across as so real, so genuinely innocent, you can't imagine them being any different offscreen. It was shocking when the kids came out for the Q&A, kicking Hollywood actor lingo and seeming so much more worldly and mature than the kids in the film. I kept thinking "oh my god, did little Victor just use the word 'aesthetic'??"

Movies with no script (at the Q&A Sollett said he wrote one but never showed it to the actors) can easily collapse into 90 minutes of aimless meandering, but Sollett's light touch keeps things moving forward throughout. He films with an elegantly simple style: no stylized trick shots, natural lighting, little if any background music. Almost like dogme 95, but instead of the drab visuals we get from those angsty European dudes, cinematographer Tim Orr (of George Washington) fills the screen with warm sunshine and vibrant colors, so that even the grungiest project apartments seem to glow.

The warmth of those visuals reminded me of "Do The Right Thing", and "Vargas" has a lot in common Spike Lee's masterpiece. Just as Spike's love for his people and his community seemed to shine from each frame, every scene and every shot of "Raising Victor Vargas" is unmistakably driven by Peter Sollett's deep love for these kids (and their grandma), and this neighborhood. And just as "Do The Right Thing" was a revelation for me because I saw my world portrayed on film for the first time, "Raising Victor Vargas" should bring that same thrill to a new generation of kids from the barrio, seeing themselves so lovingly and vividly rendered on the big screen.

Basically, yep, this is an irresistibly charming and authentic film. I highly, highly recommend it.

March 31, 2003

How about you both botched it?

Romenesko pointed out this Tribune piece on how the media and the government are blaming eachother for making us expect an "easy" war.

Invasion honeymoon is over; news media get contentious

On the question of a quick war, media critic Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, said, "The media did not make up the expectation that they expected this to be a brief, essentially bloodless war. They got that from officials, from the vice president and the Joint Chiefs chairman."

In other words: "We just did our job as journalists, which is to repeat whatever the government tells us. What? Why are you looking at me like that?"

British soldiers sent home after protesting civilian deaths


Three British soldiers in Iraq have been ordered home after objecting to the conduct of the war. It is understood they have been sent home for protesting that the war is killing innocent civilians...

About March 2003

This page contains all entries posted to hiphopmusic.com: in March 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

February 2003 is the previous archive.

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