« August 2003 | Main | October 2003 »

September 2003 Archives

September 8, 2003

So, How's the Family?

Our friend Peter Scholtes at complicatedfun.com just published an excellent oral history of Minneapolis' legendary First Avenue club, with quotes from Jimmy Jam, ?uestlove, Slug, and many others. A must-read for all us Prince fans, and good reading for non-believers as well:

The legendary bands. The terrifying toilets.

An oral history that goes so far behind the music it will leave you at a gun range beneath the stage.

If there's a spiritual equivalent to lust--and Prince knows there must be--I've felt it for First Avenue ever since I first set foot there. That was 1990, so my feelings don't have much to do with Purple Rain, the Minneapolis nightclub's only real claim on the national imagination. But look at the crowd shots in that 1984 movie and you'll see a social mixture that really did exist at First Avenue. The movie mythologized something true about the Minneapolis that Prince helped create. But it didn't tell an even better story: how a bunch of ambitious black teenagers and crazed punk rockers saved live music here, and helped reinvent rock 'n' roll worldwide.

Prince and the new wave were no further from each other than First Avenue and its adjoining room, the 7th St. Entry. The dance nights and live music in both venues reflected the uniquely cosmopolitan vision of the club's longtime manager, Steve McClellan.

Now, as First Avenue struggles amid club competition and real estate development, it seems like a good time to tell this story again--and let those who were there put things in their own words. The history of First Avenue is the story of segregation in downtown Minneapolis, of sex, cocaine, mud wrestlers, businessmen, gangsters, and idealists. It's your story, too, if you are among the millions of people who have passed through the venue's doors since it opened in 1970 as a hippie rock and soul club called the Depot, in the old Greyhound bus station...

September 10, 2003

Freedom of Speech (Watch What You Say)

So basically the message is: our enemies hate us because of our freedom, our freedom is what makes us different from our enemies, but please try not to actually exercise that freedom cuz it only makes our enemies stronger?

Rumsfeld: Critics Give Terrorists Hope

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday that critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy are encouraging terrorists and complicating the ongoing U.S. war on terrorism.

"We know for a fact ... that terrorists studied Somalia and they studied instances where the United States was dealt a blow and tucked in and persuaded themselves they could, in fact, cause us to acquiesce in whatever it is they wanted us to do," he told reporters aboard his plane at the end of a four-day trip to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The United States is not going to ... [acquiesce]. President Bush is not going to do that. Now, to the extent terrorists are given reason to believe he might, or if he is not willing to, the opponents might prevail in some way ... and they take heart in that, and that leads to more recruiting ... that leads to more encouragement, or that leads to more staying power. Obviously that does make it more difficult."

Rumsfeld made clear that he was talking about both the international press, such as reports on the Arab al-Jazeera television network, and critics in the United States...

September 11, 2003

Surfing This Site Will Boost your Career

David Rees (creator of Get Your War On) has a new book coming out, and in this essay he explains how it was largely inspired by his fascination with Hip-hop:

Behind the Scenes of "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable."

...Temp jobs are the ideal creative environment for me: I usually have few serious responsibilities, but enough busy work so that any time spent making comics on the sly feels like a great feat of creative rebellion. All the means of artistic production -- computer, internet clip art, laser printer, photocopier -- are within reach. I have to work quickly, printing comics as soon as I make them, in case someone else has to use the laser printer. The more limited the tools and resources, the more I have to strain my imagination to create amusing situations, and usually, the funnier the final product is.

At the temp job where I made "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable," I spent a lot of time perusing rap music websites. The limitless amount of new singles by new rappers is exhilarating. One of my favorite things about rap music is that many performers take on new identities while they're on the mic. Rappers rarely perform under their given name. Seeing a long list of new songs by new rappers is like seeing a long cast of characters for an exciting new play, without actually having to sit through the play. I spent more time reading rap reviews than listening to the songs.

Kool Keith is a great rapper. He has released albums under many different personalities. In cataloging esoterica about his multiple personalities, Kool Keith reminds me of the days in elementary school when my friend and I would fill sheets of paper with data about scores of imaginary characters: names, pictures of their faces, and major characteristics. We never went beyond these massive lists of characters. We never made up stories about them.

This is the data for one of Kool Keith's personalities:

"Mr. Gerbick; Age: 208; Birthplace: Jupiter; Likes: fishing, swimming; Dislikes: wolfmen, flossing; Quote: 'Skin like an alligator, carrying a dead walrus.'"

Another element of rap music that comes across in my book is the obsession with fighting, and the importance of technique. Most freestyle battle rhymes are explicitly about language. Growing up I loved hearing so many people rapping about rapping -- making songs about, while exhibiting, cleverness with language. Why is this genre so fascinating to me? It's almost like I don't want language to get beyond itself and actually talk about anything in the world -- I like keeping it wrapped up in itself. I think this is why I studied philosophy in college and got really into Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Staten Island's Wu-Tang Clan is a musical collective that appropriates the language and sound effects of martial arts movies into their lyrics and their beats. They exploit the analogy between fighting technique and lyrical technique very effectively. Some astute readers have picked up the Wu-Tang's influence on my book.

The greatest single influence on "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable," however, is Davey D's 1998 "KRS-One Will End Your Career", an analysis of then up-and-coming rapper Canibus's chances against the fabled Chris Parker, aka KRS-One. Canibus had made a name for himself as an excellent battle rhymer, one who took on popular favorite LL Cool J in one of the truly high-profile MC feuds to play big on commercial radio. Davey D's essay is filled with words of caution for the upstart Canibus, and confirms KRS-One's reputation as one of the greatest battle rhymers of all time:

"(KRS-One) pointed out that he was like a martial arts master and that he is always prepared. He noted that when he released "The Return of the Boom Bap' album in '94 that he put all rappers on notice. He said that anyone who came out after '94 were subject to having their careers end at any given moment. KRS claimed that when he hears a new artist come on the scene that he immediately writes a rhyme that will totally dismantle him and his career. He keeps those rhymes in the back of his head just in case he has to take some kid out..."

I think the character of Karate Snoopy in "My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable" is based in part on KRS-One. Karate Snoopy seems capable of ending careers of other fighters "at any given moment." He seems very sure of himself, as do most good rappers.

Well it certainly bodes well for me if surfing hip-hop websites all day at your job is the path to stardom.

September 12, 2003

In Other News, 2+2 is Reported to Equal 4

I'm glad to see somebody has some sense around here:

Artists Blast Record Companies Over Lawsuits Against Downloaders

Recording artists across the board think the music industry should find a way to work with the Internet instead of suing people who have downloaded music.

"They're protecting an archaic industry," said the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir. "They should turn their attention to new models."

"This is not rocket science," said David Draiman of Disturbed, a hard-rock band with a platinum debut album on the charts. "Instead of spending all this money litigating against kids who are the people they're trying to sell things to in the first place, they have to learn how to effectively use the Internet."

After three consecutive years of double-digit sales losses, and having lost a court battle against file-sharing Web sites such as Kazaa and Morpheus, the Recording Industry Association of America -- the industry's lobbying arm -- trained its sights on ordinary fans who have downloaded music. On Monday, the RIAA filed suits against 261 civilians with more than 1,000 music files each on their computers, accusing them of copyright violations. The industry hopes the suits, which seek as much as $150,000 per violation, will deter computer users from engaging in what the record industry considers illegal file-swapping.

This unprecedented move brings home the industry's battle against Web downloads, which the record business blames for billion-dollar losses since the 1999 emergence of Napster, the South Bay startup the RIAA sued out of existence. The suits are expected to settle for as little as $3,000 each, but the news was greeted with derision by the very people the RIAA said they moved to protect, the musicians themselves.

"Lawsuits on 12-year-old kids for downloading music, duping a mother into paying a $2,000 settlement for her kid?" said rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy. "Those scare tactics are pure Gestapo."

"File sharing is a reality, and it would seem that the labels would do well to learn how to incorporate it into their business models somehow," said genre-busting DJ Moby in a post on his Web site . "Record companies suing 12-year-old girls for file sharing is kind of like horse-and-buggy operators suing Henry Ford..."

Umm, Okay..

What a splendid coincidence that this was published in USC's paper, the Daily Trojan:

Condom innovator incorporates hip-hop culture into designs

...Jimmie Hatz is the world's first line of condoms designed specifically to attract black and other minority youths by launching a product with a hip-hop theme.

The name Jimmie Hatz is a play on urban culture's slang for condoms. Rapper and hip-hop pioneer KRS-One popularized the term "jimmy hat," after releasing a song called "Jimmy" in 1988...

...Blacks accounted for 12 percent of the U.S. population in 2001 but represented more than half of all reported HIV cases that year, stated the 2001 national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report...

...By integrating hip-hop with safe sex, Common Ground USA said its mission is to mold condom use into part of urban culture and ultimately bring the statistics down.

Jimmie Hatz, the self-proclaimed "official condom of the hip-hop kulture," strives to make condom use cool again, Terrell said.

The condoms come in three basic styles: Rotweiller (the standard size), Mix Breed (with ridges and contours) and the Great Dane (an extra-large condom).

Wrappers are adorned with graffiti-style labeling and a fearless bulldog dressed in a beanie and hoop earring. His "ice" is a dangling gold condom...

You can check out this company's official website here, where we are informed that their flavored condoms are "tasty like a now and later."

Bad News for Tragedy

When I read about this case elsewhere it was reported that these arrests were for marijuana possession, that detail seems to have been omitted here. But I am posting this mainly to point out that these folks accompanied their article with a picture of Tragedy taken by yours truly, which they took from here on my site without permission and used without credit. It's not polite to bite, people!

(This not to make light of the incident described, which was indeed unjust if the story is accurate)

Tragedy Khadafi Detained Following Arrest With Noreaga

Throughout his career, and for his upcoming fourth solo album titled Still Reportin..to be released 10-21-03 on 25 to Life Records/Solid Records/Caroline, rapper Tragedy Khadafi's message has always been about the plight of the underclass and its struggle against indifference. From "Arrest the President" in 1990 to his discovery and development of Capone N Norega for their debut gold selling album, The War Report, Tragedy Khadafi's underlying theme of struggle informs his work. Yet, last Wednesday evening on September 3, in a horrific and terrifying display of police abuse, Tragedy Khadafi's public message of struggle has become, once again, very personal.

On September 3, Tragedy Khadafi, along with Noreaga,and several other persons, were forcibly stopped, searched, and arrested by approximately 30 to 35 New York City Police Officers at gunpoint in downtown New York City, for simply driving a vehicle lawfully.

Tragedy Khadafi, along with others, were forced to stop the vehicle, threatened at gunpoint by numerous officers while still in the vehicle, forced to exit and shoved to the ground while approximately 30 to 35 guns were pointed at their heads amidst a barrage of threats by the officers.

The "pretext" for this horrific display of police power, was their alleged belief that the vehicle, or one of its passengers, had a gun, which of course, was not true. According to his attorney, Renata Lowenbraun, Tragedy Khadafi is evaluating whether a civil rights action will be filed on his behalf.

September 16, 2003

Freedom of the Press (Watch What you Say)

Doesn't she know she's only helping the Enemy with comments like these??

Amanpour: CNN practiced self-censorship

the press muzzled itself during the Iraq war. And, she says CNN "was intimidated" by the Bush administration and Fox News, which "put a climate of fear and self-censorship."
As criticism of the war and its aftermath intensifies, Amanpour joins a chorus of journalists and pundits who charge that the media largely toed the Bush administrationline in covering the war and, by doing so, failed to aggressively question the motives behind the invasion.

On last week's Topic A With Tina Brown on CNBC, Brown, the former Talk magazine editor, asked comedian Al Franken, former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke and Amanpour if "we in the media, as much as in the administration, drank the Kool-Aid when it came to the war."

Said Amanpour: "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did."

Brown then asked Amanpour if there was any story during the war that she couldn't report.

"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," Amanpour said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels..."

Christine, there are people all around the world who hate us for our freedoms, and going around demanding a free press only makes them stronger!

Osama Warns U.S.: "We Shall Have You Singing Thoia Thoing"

I thought nothing could ever top the time OJ Simpson compared himself to Moses and Jesus, but R Kelly has blessed us with an even loopier quote:


...In a recent interview with a US magazine, Kelly took the opportunity to claim he's been the subject of the sort of vilification normally reserved for the Globe's most hated individual.

He told Blender magazine: "People can say whatever they want about you without knowing the facts. They can criticize you without even knowing you and hate you when they don't even know you.

"All of a sudden, you're like the bin Laden of America. Osama bin Laden is the only one who knows exactly what I'm going through..."

Yeah man, that poor Osama, why are people always judging him?

September 19, 2003

NEW AUDIO: 40 minute mix from DJ 3D

I just (finally) posted some new audio in the radio archive, 3D's latest set from last week's show. New music of the highest quality.

September 25, 2003

Fear of a Black Channel

Can any of you Brits out there in blogville shed light on this business here?

Too many blacks on TV, says Ludovic Kennedy

Former BBC presenter and champion of liberal causes Sir Ludovic Kennedy has denounced the increasing number of black faces appearing on television programmes as "political correctness [that] has got completely out of hand".

Sir Ludovic said he was "all in favour of black advancement", but claimed ethnic minorities were over-represented on TV and this was an "imbalance" that should be "readjusted".

The comments by the former presenter of Did You See?, which are bound to provoke controversy, were made in a review of former BBC executive Will Wyatt's autobiography, The Fun Factory: a Life in the BBC, for the latest edition of The Oldie magazine.

"I'd like to take issue with Will when he says it was his aim to bring more blacks to the screen, in which it seems he has more than succeeded. I am all in favour of black advancement, but there's now hardly a TV pub, police station, soap, vox pop or ad without rather more than its fair share of black participation," Sir Ludovic wrote.

"The Statistical Office tells me that the proportion of all ethnic groups (blacks, Indians, Pakistanis, Asians) to whites in this country is no more than 7.5%. Political correctness has got completely out of hand and now requires that the imbalance be readjusted," he added.

But Sir Ludovic's criticism was dismissed by a BBC spokesman, who said the corporation was not in the business of "playing 'politically correct' numbers games".

September 26, 2003

R.I.P. Matthew Hall, a.k.a. Optimus Rhyme

NY's hip-hop and youth activist communities are mourning today for the loss of Matthew Hall, shot in the back as he left a Zulu Nation meeting in Harlem. Though only 18 Matthew had already made a mark with his activism at Hunter College, and also emceeing under the name Optimus Rhyme, at local venues including End of the Weak. Here are further details from some who knew him:

For those who have not heard or seen today's Daily News, Matthew Hall, a student at Hunter College, brother, activist, member of the Universal Zulu Nation, was shot in the back Wednesday at 9pm, and passed away yesterday at 4:30pm at Harlem Hospital. Many may not know him by his legal name, but when you see the front cover of the daily news you will know that face, Matthew was involved in so many things, he was at every major rally, protest, always at meetings, and last year had put together an event at Hunter College, to expose students to the political nature of hip hop culture, Immortal Technique, the Welfare Poets and I were part of that event, it was such a success that he was going to continue to do more events at Hunter and was evolving into an amazing young revolutionary and activist. Matthew was also part of the Nu-Sense Collective a youth collective that has its roots at WBAI. I had the pleasure of seeing and chilling with Matthew last thursday night at Hunter College for one of the ACLU College Freedom tour stops. He was excited that we had chosen Hunter, and I said to him, it was his doing, in choosing colleges for the tour, Hunter was the natural choose as so many great activists come from their, and as usual he was there supporting, and seeing what more he could do.

In the last two years we have lost two great brothers in our generation, Rohan Wedderburn and now Matthew Hall, both shot violently. Let us not forget them or their contributions to our people.

***Hunter College Students are holding a vigil sometime next week.

-Rosa Clemente


yo... some sad shitty news...

word is that our homeboy Optimus Rhyme aka Matt was shot and has just passed away...

the man is our brother in struggle for justice and equality such as fighting against the war, right to palestnian state and against police brutality just to name a few...

Matt also kept it real for hiphop... hes down with the Guerrilla Words cause, EOW and Cajo.. Matt organized the Immortal Technique, Oktobre, LIFE Long and Welfare Poet show a couple of months ago in his school Hunter College..

i still can't believe homeboy is gone.. i was just asking him bout a j-live song yesterday and now word that hes gone... i was even bugging him to get a friendster account...

just shows us how we gotta cherish every moment..

we gotta continue the struggle for matt and all of our peoples that held the truth...

- Jose of Guerilla Words

And here is some press coverage of the tragedy, most of which thankfully avoids the typical "rap-related violence!" sensationalism:

NY Daily News

NY Times

New York Post - even the post is somewhat respectful, other than their vaguely paranoid assessment of the Zulu Nation.

We will pay tribute to Matthew tomorrow on our radio show, which will feature the EOW crew.

NEW AUDIO: Immortal Technique Live with EOW

This week we are once again welcoming the EOW crew to the Underground Railroad, with a radio version of their already legendary open mic night. I'm putting up this MP3 as a taste of what you can expect from EOW tomorrow night, it's an exceypt from their last appearance when they brought along one of this year's most talked-about emcees, Immortal Technique.
Immortal Technique on the Underground Railroad, August 2003

September 29, 2003

Dead Prez Arrested

According to an e-mail we received from activist and fellow WBAI producer Rosa Clemente, "Members of the hip hop group dead prez were assaulted and arrested by NYPD in Brooklyn today, Saturday September 27th, at approximately 3:30pm, while conducting a photo shoot in Crown heights." They were scheduled to be arraigned yesterday, we will post any further information we can find.

More on Matthew Hall

Here is a letter forwarded to us from a friend of Matthew Hall, the young emcee and activist who died tragically here in NY last week. The letter addresses the media's increasingly negative take on his ties with hip-hop and the Zulu Nation in particular.

The death of Matthew Hall has been widely publicized lately by the media circuits here in New York and there have been numerous despicable assertions, which are trying tarnish his legacy. He was a good friend to me so please read this first if you will write a news article about him. If you are not planning to write one, I encourage you to because the media has been portraying Hiphop, the followers of Hiphop, and progressive elements (particularly the Zulu Nation) as negative influences to society in this incident.

Matthew Hall is known as Optimus Rhyme in the underground Hiphop scene here in New York. As you may probably have heard, he was a member of the Zulu Nation founded by Afrika Bambaata. He was also a member of the amazing break dancing crew Motion Sickness. Although he performed poetry numerous times, he was more known in the New York open mic scene for his freestyles. As a matter of fact, he was 2nd runner-up on the freestyle competition at the first ever Hiphop Summit of Russell Simmons when it was held at Riverside Church, Manhattan.

Recently, the NYPD has been implicating his Zulu brethrens as his shooter. The Zulu Nation is a movement that promotes peace, equality, spirituality and justice and in no way did advocate violence or racism which the media has been implying. I have talked with his Zulu brothers and they have informed me about the disgusting strategies the NYPD has been imposing on them such as coercing them to give false testimonies. His Zulu brothers are greatly devastated and are mentally and emotionally tortured because aside from Matt’s departure, they have now become suspects (because they would not oblige to the demands of NYPD like lying). Although I am not a Zulu, I can personally attest that it was not a Zulu who was behind Matt’s death—Matt was even wearing an “I LOVE ZULU” shirt when he was shot. The NY Post particularly has been spreading atrocious lies suggesting that Matt provoked a physical altercation that led to the shooting. But anybody and I mean ANYBODY THAT KNEW MATT knows that he would not instigate such incident. In my years of knowing him, I have never even seen him close to getting mad even during the time when he was harassed by security personnel at Hunter College when he organized a free show.

Matt was also politically active. He was involved with the political organizations Refuse and Resist (www.refuseandresist.org) and Not in Our Name (www.notinourname.net). He was a strong advocate for the liberation of Palestine and the elimination of the oppressive social system. Matt played critical roles on the October 6, 2002 rally in Central Park (which was attended by 30,000 people), November 20, 2002 student walk out converging at Union Square and the February 15, 2003 rally in New York City where conservative estimates was at 500,000 but perhaps had 2 million people. He lived what he preached. In my recent visit to his building after he passed away, a worker in his building showed me a book by Gore Vidal Matt gave him to clarify the worker’s disillusioned thoughts on American politics.

Events have been organized to commemorate his legacy. On Tuesday, September 30, students of Hunter College are having a memorial (6pm @ Room 105 Thomas Hunter Bldg.). October 7, Guerilla Words (a monthly open mic which Optimus used to help promote, 213 2nd Ave corner 13th St.-8pm) will dedicate the October open mic to Optimus Rhyme. Cajo Communications is organizing a October 29th show with numerous artists (Immortal Technique, C-Rayz Walz, L.I.F.E. Long, Oktober and dead prez to name a few) at Lion’s Den (214 Sullivan St.) for him. Act Your Rage, a defunct monthly open mic Optimus hosted twice (he hosted the last one), will be revived to be held outdoors but specific information are not yet available. 99.5 Pacifica Radio and End of the Weak’s radio show gave tribute to Optimus.

Once again, the NYPD has shown incompetence and impatience to the point that they are ruining the lives of Matthew’s friends. Once again, corporate media’s thirst for profit (by writing burlesque articles to draw readers and viewers) is damaging an innocent man’s name.

To describe Matt is beyond adjectives so I guess when people ask me to describe him; I always have a hard time to. To name a few descriptions fitting to him, he was definitely smart (reflected by his GPA) he was definitely caring (proven by his works) and he was definitely responsible (balancing his studies and school activities, work, healthy social life and political involvement). I am not just saying this because he passed away; I am saying this because it is the truth.

On behalf of the mourners of Matt who wish the truth to be known, thank you for reading this letter.

- jose

About September 2003

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

August 2003 is the previous archive.

October 2003 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.34