« January 2004 | Main | March 2004 »

February 2004 Archives

February 1, 2004

Janet Jackson at the Superbowl

Rumors were circulating all week of a surprise cameo appearance at the Superbowl halftime show, supposedly Janet Jackson was going to sneak Michael onstage, to the horror of NFL execs.

But evidently the cameo Janet was planning was for her right breast? It appears Justin Timberlake "accidentally" rendered Miss Jackson pseudo-topless while serenading her with "Rock Your Body" ("have you nekkid by the end of this song").

I'm listening to the game on the radio (no cable), so after reading all these frantic postings online I was a little disappointed to find an amount of nipple coverage that indicates this was staged. Still made a nice splash with it so far though, if they were trying to one-up Britney/Madonna/Christina they may have pulled it off.

EDIT: I'm going with the theory that this was Justin and Janet's protest against CBS' refusal to run the moveon.org ad.. "Oh we've got your controversial public policy issue... right HERE!"

ANOTHER EDIT: Upon closer inspection, I retract my assessment of the nipple coverage. It was still staged though.

February 2, 2004

We're Famous!

I was just grumbling to myself, "how come Gothamist gets to be in one of those free newspapers and we don't?" Then lo and behold, we turned up in this week's NY Press:

Music On the Web

...New York City, though, is not dead in the water just yet. Two shows on the listener-driven WBAI still provide an outlet for creative and more adventurous musicians’ records to be played. The first, Liquid Sound Lounge, hosted by Jeannie Hopper, explores dance music in all its forms (wbai.org or liquidsoundlounge.com). The second, The Underground Railroad, hosted by Jay Smooth, focuses on the underground hiphop ignored by Hot 97 and Power 105.1. Many notable DJs have gotten their start there, including, in my stupid opinion, one of the most talented: DJ Spinna...

Odd that in a piece entitled "music on the web" they didn't mention that we have a website. But hey, I'm not complaining! They even spelled my name the way I like to spell it.

The Nipplegate Crisis Escalates

The NFL and CBS have hurriedly posted apologies for the discovery of Janet Jackson's WMD (weapon of mammary distraction), which we are apparently supposed to believe was an accident??

MTV tells us:

"The tearing of Janet Jackson's costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance. MTV regrets this incident occurred and we apologize to anyone who was offended by it."

And Justin assures us:

"I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable."

Hooray for lying! Meanwhile, reactions at okayplayer were equally comical:

"FELLAS! This was our cue to objectify these chickens!!! how much you wanna bet we can make this a POPULAR TREND in the clubs with these chicks by this weekend? they're more impressionable than you thought! let's get on it!"

and from another OKP:

"Now the white man is pullin out our womens titties... *shaking head* There are millions of willing niggaz who would jump at that chance. Why couldnt Nelly or Puffy pull the titty out."

On a less absurd note, my homey Alicia had these thoughts:

i definitely found it bizarre and creepy.

Justin ripped that piece off the costume, and Janet kind of whipped her head around at the same time -- as if she were struggling/or like her head was snapping back from the force of the bodice rip. Then her boob flopped out...and Justin stood over her with her ripped shirt in his hand while she quickly grabbed her boob to cover it as if she didn't want it exposed like that. Janet's body language was ashamed. Justin's was aggressive. It was all a put-on, of course, but why would these two want to play-act sexuality to make borderline violent like that? The fact that CBS cut away with the camera almost *instantly* definitely added to the a-bad-thing-just-happened feeling. All those things together made the whole scene puzzling with an air of creepy.

...check out this pic from fox sports to see what I'm talking about with Janet's body language...bowed head, hunched shoulders, clutching boob and abdomen protectively... This is not the posture and stance of someone who's thrilled and turned on to have their boob hanging out.

Mingering Mike Finally Hits the Big Time

A few weeks ago we mentioned the saga of Mingering Mike, whose legend began with a post on soulstrut.com, and soon spread like wildfire thanks to links from metafilter (and o-dub).

Well the story has now been picked up by the NY Times in an excellent story by Neil Strauss, that recounts how these two beatdiggers discovered Mike's peculiar treasures, and set out to find the man behind them:

A Well-Imagined Star

The term diggers applies to those obsessed souls who dig through cardboard boxes and milk crates at flea markets and thrift stores in search of rare record albums. And according to the unwritten bylaws of diggers, the location at which any vinyl treasure is discovered is strictly confidential. This is a way of protecting one's turf, even if that turf is just a dust-covered wasteland of hand-me-downs.

So it shall be that the location of one of the greatest digger discoveries of our time must remain a secret.

The diggers were Dori Hadar, 29, and Frank Beylotte, 32, friends from Washington who met a year ago at a Salvation Army store while mining for funk and soul gold.

"I went to a flea market, and there was a huge record collection there, at least 20 boxes," Mr. Hadar said, recalling the morning of the discovery. "I was going through that very happily when I came across this box full of strange hand-painted album covers. I realized they were fake and was about to put them back, but then I looked at them more closely."

Pulling the records out of the sleeves, he was surprised to find that they were made not of vinyl but of cardboard. Each had been cut in the shape of a record, with grooves and a hand-lettered label painted on. Nearly all the albums were credited to an unknown black musician named Mingering Mike, and dated from 1968 to 1976.

The front covers were intricately painted to look like classic funk albums; on the spines were titles and fake catalog numbers; the backs had everything from liner notes to copyright information to original logos; the inner sleeve was often a shopping bag meticulously taped together to hold a record; and some actually opened to reveal beautiful gatefold sleeves. A few albums had even been covered in shrink-wrap and bore price stickers and labels with apocryphal promotional quotes.

What Mr. Hadar found was a cache of seemingly nonexistent music: soundtracks to imaginary films, instrumental albums, a benefit album for sickle cell anemia, a tribute to Bruce Lee, a triple-record work titled "Life in Paris," songs protesting the Vietnam War and promoting racial unity, and records of Christmas, Easter and American bicentennial music. He had discovered, perhaps, an outsider artist.

"There are quite a few folk art collectors that are salivating to get their hands on this collection," said Brian DiGenti, the editor of Wax Poetics, a leading journal for record collectors. "I think without a doubt that when all this settles down, this collection will be in a permanent gallery, and it will probably be one of the more important folk art collections there..."

50 Cent Wanted, or Not?

Good old NY Post. Yesterday they reported that 50 Cent was wanted for questioning, evidently for trying to start a game of Cowboys and Indians. According to the post, 50 mimicked a gun with his hand and made a shooting gesture at some local Queens rappers who were shooting a video. No word on whether he made the customary "powwww! powwww!" noise.

I abstained from posting this cuz it was just a little too nebulous for my tastes, especially coming from the Post. And now allhiphop says the story was bogus, as least as far as the arrest warrant goes:

Update: No Arrest Warrant Issued For 50 Cent

Police said they were not seeking multi-platinum rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, after an alleged incident in Queens, New York.

It was reported that 50 threatened gun play at a video shoot Saturday (January 31).

GF Records was shooting a video on Guy Brewer Boulevard in St. Albans, Queens, when Jackson allegedly drove up, got out of his vehicle and allegedly said "What up? You ready for this?"

Jackson then extended his arm as if he were firing a gun, before driving off. Representatives for Jackson were not unavailable as of press time.

Police said they were not even seeking the rapper for questioning.

I dunno about you, but I'll take allhiphop's word over the Post's anyday..

EDIT: MTV confirms MTV confirms that there was no arrest warrant:

Reports that 50 Cent had an arrest warrant issued for him on Saturday in New York are false, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department. 50 was involved in an incident in the St. Albans section of Queens in which the rapper drove up to the set of a local hip-hop video shoot, got out of his car and feigned the firing of a gun. Police say the matter was investigated but quickly closed.

February 3, 2004

Who Has the Trademark on "Craven Corporate Punk Move?"

A Different Light reports on Marvel and DC's efforts to bully the rest of world out of using the term "superhero", which they evidently trademarked decades ago. The thread provides a very informative discussion, including a post by comic book legend Neil Gaiman.

It also introduced me to this page, which lets you look up the trademark info for any word or phrase. Hours of fun for a geek like me. Searching for "hip-hop" brings up 65 results, including all sorts of oddities:

THE TEMPLE OF HIP-HOP (does not belong to KRS One)

Most of those are lapsed at the moment, so if you've been longing to start a hip-hop fast food chain, now's your chance!

February 4, 2004

Phoenix Ready to Rise

Our friend(ster) Jean Grae reacts to the feedback generated by her last allhiphop column:

Jean Grae: Responds & Freshens Up

I go through the feeling of being at the end of my rope with this career path much more than I would have publicly admitted before. My usual way out, being the music, just wasn’t cutting it that day. So I vented. Not for sympathy, not for the sake of bitching, just for me to get it out.

It was like suppressing a scream for years and finally allowing myself to be loud. A couple of times since it’s been up and reading responses, I started questioning whether or not this was a reeeeaaally bad choice. Really bad. I couldn’t go to bed tonight without it on my head, so I’m doing what I usually do, write about it. It still has two sides to it for me, but ultimately I’m glad I got it out. If it wasn’t in a column, it would have been in a song. So either way I would have made it a public vulnerability I couldn’t avoid.

Funny that, the responses were what made me realize how lucky I am to have this job. To have the luxury of being able to say what I’m feeling to a public audience and have it open for criticism is an incredible opportunity. Yeah, sometimes it’s crazy to just have an opinion of your day, or your experiences and have strangers either relate or be adverse to your words. In either case it is still an extremely powerful media that is unparallel in freedom.

The importance of language and technology being used as a means to spark thought is especially becoming more apparent to me with every day I spend pursuing this game. I was thinking no one was listening, or no one really cared to even try and step out of his or her train of thought to hear something else for a second. But y’all proved me wrong. There wasn’t music behind it, there was no packaging on it, but it made a little ripple. That really shook me. No, no, not “shook ones” shook me...”I will still stab your brain with your nose bone...” Naw, not that.

It made me snap out of the anger and keep sh*t moving. If words can have that kind of effect, then it’s worth talking. It’s worth fighting for, it’s worth getting bruised up and falling down and getting back on again...

My Fellow Prince Fans

In case you haven't heard, the Tiny Purple Genius will perform at the Grammys this weekend. Rumor has it he may appear in the "funk tribute" with P-Funk, Outkast and others, as well as opening the show.

Also notable: Pharrell helping pay tribute to the Beatles' Ed Sullivan appearance, and the unlikely pairing of Chick Corea and the Foo Fighters.

February 5, 2004

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today..

Well, this month anyway. While researching my grammy picks this year I came by the complete list of winners from 1984. I'm surprised by how well I remember and like almost all of them (excluding Stevie Wonder's worst song ever). Compare that list to the '85 awards, when levels of crappiness had skyrocketed.

Didn't Want to Post About This Again, But

How the hell is Janet booted from the grammies, but not Justin?

As first described here by Alicia, and then in DWD as pointed out by O-Dub, if anything ought to trouble folks it's not the exposure of the breast, but how we were expected to be titillated by what basically amounted to Justin portraying a sexual predator, with Janet as his victim. Given that context, it's especially disturbing that she is taking the brunt of the blame while he gets a free ride, so far.

As far as Justin goes (and for the record I have been championing him for years), if he is any type of man he will bow out of the grammies in solidarity. But so far he seems too wrapped up in his own victimhood, practically sounding like he thinks Janet victimized him. Not very smooth, homey.

Blogs Worth Reading

Sasha gets nice reviewing various hip-hop mediocrities.

Likewise for Julianne on "You Got Served".

The Abstract is just nice in general.

Chico nails the real atrocity of the Superbowl telecast.

I see via his link to us that Jonah Peretti, source of the legendary Nike emails and co-creator of BlackPeopleLoveUs.com, is now editing a new site dedicated to streamlining the very activity in which we are currently engaged.

And a link from these guys means I am officially in with the in crowd, right?

Other new blogs of note: here and here.

Instant NY Karma

To the lady who just asked me whether the 2 train goes to Atlantic Ave, then got back off the train totally ignoring my advice: I hope you never got home, dumbass!

February 6, 2004

Questions for Dizzee Rascal? (CANCELLED)

Suppose, theoretically, I was gonna talk to Dizzee Rascal. What would you guys want me to ask him? Theoretically.

EDIT: NEVERMIND! They cancelled on me (no reason given). This is why I kept saying "theoretically", cuz no matter how definite industry people say something is, it's always tentative. Harrumph.

Rescheduling in March was mentioned, we'll see.

DJ Monk One's UK Gigs

Even though the UK has now reneged on their half of the cultural exchange, our DJ Monk One (whose Pete Rock interview in the new Wax Poetics is already the stuff of legend) will still be spinning overseas this week, and sends along details:

here's the scoop:

friday 6 feb:
London at The Embassy on Essex Rd in Islington (Angel tube) from 8-1

saturday 7 feb
at The Roadhouse in Manchester with J-Rocc & Madlib!! from 9-3

sunday 8 feb
London at The Lock Tavern in Camden with Mark Rae and DJ Kestral Special
Afternoon Show from 3-10

i am greatly looking forward to spreading some hot buttery sounds of soul so
i hope your appetites are up!

a few of the fatter platters i'll scatter:
curls - mad villian, oglenon - lafayette afro rock band, do you like my
music - horace andy, into the jungle - cajmere, organ/swing - dj duke,
dancing on the floor - third world, small time hustler - the dismasters, the
all new ummph! - likwid biscuit, pet legs - inverse cinematics, cloud nine -
marvin gaye, the world is a ghetto - george shearing and amigos, new morning
- kitty winter, miss e loves jass - igloo, spanish grease - willie bobo,
ain't it time - queen yahna, bug in the bassbin - innerzone orchestra, in
the mood to party - grooove and the gang, genuine - sharon jones, sunny -
city people, vera cruz - a bossa electrica, black moses - asheru, ing -
brother culture, big blow - manu dibango, i was born this way - carl bean,
spread the word - capoeira twins, i gotta have it - ed o.g., lowdown popcorn
- the jb's, 100 pound of collie weed - carlton livingston, the girl is mine
- redfox & naturalee, slide - jeff thompson + jill scott, freedom - julius
brockington, mr. telephone man - new edition, tito's bossa - tito puente,
screaming target - big youth, what's up now muthaf**ka? - artifacts,
lambsbread - glen brown, dr. j dub - VU, groovy lady - meters, valentine's
day - outkast, having your fun - focus, mt. airy groove - pieces of a dream,
goggle - tanya stephens, mi ritmo te llama - ray baretto, levy jive - the
collectables, make way for the originals - IZIT, far out - crown heights
affair, percussion jam - konk, i know you got soul - bobby byrd, para buenos
bailarenas - walfredo reyes, sunday kind of love - bobby rodriguez y su
compaña, spread love - take 6, love will bring us back together - roy

Cold Mountain Controversy

The mighty Greg Tate weighs in on Cold Mountain. The biggest bombshell here may be Tate's admission that he "treasures" both The English Patient and Talented Mr. Ripley!

Blacked Out

Speaking of slavery, Cold Mountain doesn't. Its pale version of history is a whitewash.

We African Americans lead strange and conflicted lives at the movies. For this reason, the Internet was recently abuzz with calls by actor and self-described semiotician Erik Todd Dellums to boycott Cold Mountain, a Civil War film noticeably lacking in melanin content. Charles Frazier's novel hardly avoids African Americans as concertedly as the Anthony Minghella film starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. The versions share some key erasures, though—the opening scene, a re-creation of the legendary Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia, is perhaps the most egregious. On that July 1864 morning, Union soldiers exploded the ground underneath a drowsy Confederate regiment. Novel and film fail to mention how specially trained African American troops had been poised to attack the Crater (now a historical tour site) and the Southerners it swallowed. Historians claim that the African Americans were withdrawn due to fears of Northern political fallout if they were used as cannon fodder. Whatever, dude. Methinks the sight of armed African Americans freely picking off shocked and awed white Southern troops was too avant-garde for 1864. In any event, the upshot of the switch was that untrained white Unionists didn't flank the Crater as the brothers were trained to, but rushed in and got shot up like fish in a barrel. At which point all the bloods got thrown in as cannon fodder anyhow. The Confederates, already peeved at being sneak-attacked, lost it when they saw armed and uniformed men of African descent. One need only imagine the language they used. A military adviser on the film recalls Minghella shooting a scene in which a crazed Confederate soldier slaughters a wounded African American. The adviser believes the scene got cut because it was "too over-the-top" and "too painful." Minghella has similarly explained away the film's eschewing the immorality of slavery. Since that would entail having Nicole Kidman's snow-pure love object reflect on being a slave owner, one can see why. Once again liberal guilt goes belly-up in the guts sweepstakes...

Also of note: M. Matos on Kylie Minogue

February 7, 2004

And Put Matlock Back On! No-Good Kids!

Jeez, when did Dave Grohl turn into Grandpa Abe Simpson?

Foo Fighters Singer Not Fond Of Bare-Breast Incident

Janet Jackson's breast-baring stunt at the Super Bowl was nothing more than self-promotion and "blatant exhibitionism," Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl said.

Grohl, 35, a former drummer for Nirvana, believes the music industry has been harmed by the recent skin-revealing exploits of Jackson, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

"Get them on the Playboy Channel," Grohl said Thursday at a pre-Grammy rehearsal party. "Keep them out of my MTV. I want to see bands and music."

As opposed to when you dress up in drag for your videos, Dave? Get off your high horse, dawg.

Random Spasm of Voice Columnist Critique

Also appreciated in the Voice: Mr. Matos' reply to Richard Goldstein, whose writing I often have issues with. I'm always down with his efforts to shed light on America's prejudices, but I find his blows for the cause too often weakened by shaky reasoning and oversimplification.

For example, in this critique of Eminem, he starts out with a quite plausible premise:

"Richard Wagner was a great artist, but he was also an anti-Semite, and most assessments of his genius address this fact. The Birth of a Nation is a great film, but no appreciation can ignore its racism. No one dismisses such discussions as politically correct. But when it comes to art that is profoundly, even violently, sexist or homophobic, a different standard applies. Any attempt to confront the social meaning of such work is met with stiff—and I do mean stiff—resistance..."

Fair enough. But then he starts hitting us with some shaky and seemingly random assumptions. Like, where does he get the idea that Em was forced to curtail his gay-bashing as a side-effect of the "war on terror"?

And the more he writes, the more Goldstein sounds opposed to the very sort of nuanced discussion he called for above. The bulk of this piece takes offense at anyone who does acknowledge that Eminem is both a valuable artist and a bigot:

"The real dissenters are the activists who've been pummeled for failing to see the complexity and originality of this bleach-blond Baudelaire. As a former rock critic, I know how easy it is to throw the word genius around. In this case, however, it's not about a lack of standards. It's about using the imprimatur of art to avoid looking your pleasure in the eye..."

His stance seems to be that anyone who calls Eminem a valuable artist is simply in denial about Em's bigotry, and their unexamined enjoyment of his bigotry is the only reason they find value in him. This is a long way from where we started out, and he lost me about halfway through the trip.

All too often that's how his pieces read for me: a worthy premise backed up by a muddle of broad generalizations, each with some truth to them but overstated and under-supported, adding up to less than the sum of their parts rather than building a solid argument.

It's frustrating because I'm totally sympathetic with the principles he's trying to represent, and rooting for him to prove his case, but end up feeling he's overplayed his hand. And it's a delicate situation cuz I don't want to be like the guys who got so caught up in parsing the minutiae of the NY Times sex-slaves piece that they came across as callously dismissive of the undeniable fact that young women are being horrifically exploited just as the piece describes, somewhere at this very moment.

But getting too sloppy in search of the truth can render truth obscured. I usually think Goldstein's columns have an underlying message that needs to be heard, but he makes it too easy for readers who need that kernel of truth to use the flaws surrounding it as an excuse to toss out the whole package, and retreat back into the comfort of their prejudices.

Janet Fans: No Roger No Re-Run No Rent

The backlash to the backlash is in full effect. First Jermaine Dupri resigns from his NARAS post in solidarity (never thought I'd say Dupri was showing anyone how to be a man, but Justin, you should be taking notes), now fellow Janet Jackson supporters have started a website to mobilize the resistance. Here's the info from Donald at anzidesign:


In response to the widespread hypocrisy surrounding the Janet Jackson controversy, Darrell Diggins and I have set up boycottthegrammys.com. We have posted articles that support Janet and that challenge the hypocrisy of all the organizations involved. We have also posted contact information for each of these organizations and encourage visitors of the site to call, e-mail and write letters to voice their concerns and opinions.

There is No Klingon Word for How Bad This Casting is!!

Beyonce, who will indeed be joining Prince onstage at the grammys, also confirms that contrary to reports she was out of the running, she is still up for the Lois Lane role. Comic book geeks across the world are once again shuddering with dismay.

Beyoncé on Grammy and Movie Plans

..Beyoncé has some top-secret plans for Sunday night. She says, "I have a couple of surprises. I can’t wait to do the performance."

We did learn, however, that Prince will open Sunday night’s Grammy Awards with Beyoncé.

Beyoncé also announced that she is kicking off a tour with R & B sisters Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott. And she is also about to step up her movie career.

The superstar is up for a big role in a superhero franchise—Lois Lane in "Superman." Beyoncé says, "I hope so. Everyone pray that happens for me."

41 42 Grammy Predictions

This year's grammy picks are hard to call. Grammy folks used to be straight-up about voting like the aging baby-boomer cheeseballs that they are, but now (especially since the Steely Dan-over-Eminem debacle) they insist on pretending they're hip and happening and down with the flippity-flop, or whatever their grandkids are saying nowadays.

Outkast seems to be peaking at the right time, as Norah did last year, but I'm still less confident than usual. But whatever, even if I don't have the have the best list of picks, I'm making damn sure I have the longest! And that's what counts.

Jay Smooth's Grammy Predictions, 2004

Record Of The Year - Tough call! Em's record is too old, and I can only assume BEP is here due to a clerical error. I'm very hesitantly taking "Hey Ya" over Yonce, because Grammy voters love a record that is regarded as innovative but doesn't actually challenge them too much, and is easy on the ears. It lets them prove they're not "The Grannies" anymore without being nudged out of their comfort zone. They also love to reward hip-hop without having to hear a lot of rapping. Dark Horse: Coldplay has a shot since they will monopolize the "fear of a rap planet" vote.

Album Of The Year - Outkast against a weak field, should be a lock.

Song Of The Year - Em's nod in the songwriter's category is a landmark, but he's up against dead Zevon ailing Luther. Em's buzz has cooled enough to let one of the fogeys through, and unlike Warren, Luther is nominated for a song people have actually heard. Dark Horse: "Beautiful," and yes I do like that song. Hating on Christina is mad corny.

Best New Artist - 50 Cent wouldn't usually be favored 'round these parts (his rap music has too much rapping), but this field is weak and he just sold too damn much to be ignored. Dark Horse: Fountains Of Wayne.. I just can't see Evanescence getting this.

Best Female Rap Solo Performance Nice to see Lyte and Latifah on the list! But this one belongs to Missy.

Best Male Rap Solo Performance Wow, tough as hell to call between Em and 50. Normally the anthemic "Lose Yourself" would be a much stronger Grammy song than conventional club-banger "In Da Club", but 50 sold so much and 8 Mile was such a long time ago... I'm just gonna flip a canadian quarter. Okay, Queen Elizabeth says Eminem.

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group Hmm, no clear favorite here, but I think Missy will always be a grammy darling. and for the record, the omission of "Get Low" here is a gotdamn TRAVESTY!

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - Hov and Yonce, no-brainer. Anything that's nominated for the "big" awards will always win the "little" genre-specific awards.

Best Rap Song - Is this a new category?? I'm intrigued to see how voters will judge the "songwriter's award" for a rap record. What is their metric for this? Does the beat count as songwriting? Gotta figure Lose Yourself is the favorite, I guess?

Best Rap Album - Kast, no brainer...

Continue reading "41 42 Grammy Predictions" »

February 8, 2004

Join Us On the Radio Tonight

Once again we hit the airwaves tonight at Midnight EST, with our radio show The Underground Railroad. You can tune in here, or at WBAI 99.5 FM if you live in the tri-state area. And while you are checking out the sounds you also can talk to us live in the chat room.

How to Become a Grammy Voter

People tend to think of the voters for big awards shows as an elite society of industry bigwigs, but it's actually surprisingly easy to become a Grammy voter. There are probably quite a few people frequenting this site who would qualify. Here, as listed on their website, are the requirements to become a voting member of NARAS:

Voting Members are professionals with creative or technical credits on six commercially released tracks (or their equivalent). These may include vocalists, conductors, songwriters, composers, engineers, producers, instrumentalists, arrangers, art directors, album notes writers, narrators and music video artists and technicians.

Note it doesn't say anything about your releases being on any sort of major label. This means there are probably tons of independent artists and producers who could qualify in the hip-hop community alone, enough to possibly have an impact on some votes.

You can bet the major labels are fully aware of how easy it is to get a vote, and they make sure as many of their employees as possible are signed up so they can vote for that label's artists. We need to get on the ball and start using our power to provide a balance, we might be able to sneak some new voices past the gatekeepers.

Hate on the grammys all you want, but they can bring a major boost in exposure for independent or lesser-known artists who don't have the means for a big promotional push.

I believe there is a fee to join, but uhh, look at all the cool stuff you get! (scroll to the "Academy All Access" part)

NOTE: For those who decide not to boycott, I will be keeping an open post as I watch the Grammys tonight, and probably adding my snarky comments after each commercial break. Come back and join me if you're around.

Ongoing Grammy Post

I'm gonna keep this post open in my browser while I watch the Grammys tonight, and most likely add snarky remarks after each commercial break.

The delay they're supposedly putting on the telecast is a bit of a buzzkill, I must say. Half the excitement of these shows is hoping for another Soy-Bomb or ODB Moment, but if it happens this year we may not get to see it at all.

I'm thinking somebody will probably strike a blow for Miss Jackson by ripping off their top to reveal a bra that says "We Support Janet" or something along those lines. Of course if the protest is carried out by Aretha, the message will read "We, the undersigned, fully and wholeheartedly support Janet Jackson in her current troubles, for each of the following reasons..." (sorry, cheap joke).

Two things I'm praying WON'T happen tonight: Prince's instrumental record losing to a freaking Kenny G Christmas Album, and Rod Stewart winning for that abominable collection of "standards". Please, jebus.

7:15 PM - One comment on the pre-show so far: In all seriousness, Joan Rivers' face is horrifying. That our culture has come to find this path more attractive than a natural aging process scares me more than a thousand armored nipples. And with that image in mind I'm off to eat dinner, be back at 8.

7:45 PM More pre-show questions: Who was Bill Maher's date?? An older Black woman decked out all regal and what not, very impressive. And why is the light skinneded Black Eyed Pea dressed up like a Prince impersonator? Is he hoping Beyonce might talk to him by accident?

8:15 I'm such a hardcore lifelong Prince fan, it's hard for me to judge this objectively. Started off well, harmonizing with Yonce on Purple Rain was sweet (yeah i was crying at that point, though this song is usually the cue for bathroom break at concerts, for me and my prince fanatic friends).. baby i'm a star was a bit Vegas-y for my tastes. A little rushed overall? i'd rather they just did 2 songs and really got into the groove. guess it was cool tho.

Quentin is so goofy.

Whoa, Yonce almost forgot to mention God!

Holy Sh** Pharrell on drums instead of singing! master stroke. I'm watching with my mom and stepdad who is a top jazz drummer, and he gave it a thumbs up. Can't match the power of last year's "london calling" though.

8:35 - C. Aguilera always oversings, live. she really has a voice, would be so much more powerful if she stayed in the pocket.

Matthew Perry is crazy wack.

?uestlove is right, the Stripes should have a bassist when they do 7 Naton Army, it doesnt quite work without it. Also, Pharrell truns out to be a far better drummer than Meg White. But that's ok, like most emcees rhyming over a timbaland beat, her job is just don't distract us from the real talent, and she's pretty good at that. I can't front, they kidna ripped that second song, best performance so far.

Was Andre 3000 in the bathroom or what? note he kept his hand in his pocket while greeting aerosmith, but took it out to hug BB King. Shortest speech ever.. that's what's cooler than cool.

8:50 - Somebody tell MArg Helgenberger "uncomparable" is not a word.

Our household was bored by Martina McBride, sorry.. if we don't like it we don't like it that don't mean that we hatin. Mom said "uhh with blond hair this is pretty much faith hill huh?" Stepdad says "i would not advise her to go on amateur night at the apollo"

Carole King shoulda got a tribute.

Even though I'm mad at Justin for punking out and not saying anything for Janet, I was really happy to see him get this award.. for real I've been championing him to everybody i know for yeeears, since before the N'Sync Celebrity album, and i've gone receiving an endless barrage of incredulous laughs to gradually getting a "man you were right" from every single one. So in a weird way I was feeling like a proud papa, and almost getting choked up with him while he made his speech. i'm sorry man, i still can't hate him.

9:05 - whoo.. a tear drops my eye. like probably most anyone who grew up in a black family, and many who didn't i'm sure, luther's music was a big part of my life growing up, brings back alot of memories..i'm kinda verklempt right now, seeing him hit those few notes for us kinda put it over the edge. Alicia wasa little shaky in the lower register sometimes but solid, she should coach Chrisitna on that staying in the pocket stuff i was talking about. hate all you want but celine is a top notch vocalist and consummate professional (heads are gonna roll for that intro!). excellent performance.

9:15 - Never thought 15 years ago I'd be saying Madonna epitomizes poise, but there you have it. Serviceable rendition of Roxanne, I guess.. Sean Paul didn't add much. I'm happy for Christina, well deserved. My picks are pretty solid so far.

9:32 Don't front, Justin ripped it. DON'T FRONT! THe "i don't have to dance, i will sit behind the piano cuz im a serious musician" angle came off well. not sure the "it's your thing" part really meshed.

Damn Yoko made me get a little wet around the eye at the end, what is that 3 times I cried tonite? What can i say, i'm a sentimental guy. yoko's another one everybody hates but i think is mad cool. She was once our record librarian at the radio station.

9:46 - BEP, decent, I suppose. The female member is looking very Beyonce, guess she was hoping Prince would talk to her by accident? Methinks the ruse will not work, for she lacketh The Jelly. They got away with calling the CIA terrorists on the grammys, I guess that is laudable.

10:01 - Lifetime achievement for artie shaw.. my stepdad notes he did a lot to integrate the music, was one of the first big white bandleaders to hire billie holiday.

Evanescence for best new artist, first one i got wrong so far. Lame choice. I'm really not mad at them, minus the Durst-sounding dude, but still 50 was the clear choice here. His mini-ODB move was totally justified. Props to what's-her-name for handling it with aplomb. Is that how you spell that? I actually find her kinda appealing, considering she represents christian goth or whatever it is they do.

10:20 - I forgot to mention Beyonce, performance of the night so far, easily. She's gonna be on top for a looong time, kids. No falling off in her future.

Sam Jackson perfect choice for the funk segment.. EWF are legends, no doubt, but let's face it "Shining Star" is funk lite. Nice to see Maurice White up there with the rest of the gang though. Outkast was aiite. Robert Randolph was cool but far from matching Sly as was hyped to me (this was the first i'd seen of him).

Then George and his army came on with their P-Funk train wreck, sloppy as hell which I suppose is how it ought to be. They got me amped at first thinking they would really do "Alice In My Fantasies", but it was just a tease. If you've ever been to a p-funk concert you know they need a good hour before they really get into the groove. I guess George shares my dismay at the omission of "Get Low" from the nominees.

10:36 - Foo fighters and Chick Corea.. ehh. That's just a boring song to me. My stepdad said of Chick struggling to be heard over the guitars "Shit, Cecil Taylor couldn't come over all that shit!"

Coldplay for record of the year, boo. I was afraid of that. Fear of a Rap Planet strikes again, Hey Ya and Crazy In Love were obviously the records of 2003. But as one critic said, when there are 4 oranges in a category, bet on the apple, and they were the only non-hip-hop choice in the line-up. Still a corny choice NARAS letting their age and (pale) true colors show once again. Thanks for the Kerry plug though, Chris.

10:59 - Nice tribute to Zevon, glad he got one of the major awards. I was afraid he was too much of a "thinking man's artist", not enough of a po phenomenon for the voters to recognize.

This show has had some solid performances, and none that really stood out as duds, but it's been too stale and sterile, lacking personality without a host and nothing very interesting from the presenters. Most of the collaborations have added up to less than the sum of their parts. Only suspense left, does Outkast get jerked on album of the year? I will be FURIOUS.

11:15 Luther for Song of the Year, glad i got that one right, he really deserved it. Glad the GOAT Carole King was on hand to deliver it. (Yes, this made four times for me)

Time for the obligatory fund schools and don't download speech.. at least he used positive reinforcement instead of demonizing the consumers, they are starting to get a little more savvy. The PSA was lame of course. "Oh no, her i-mac just siphoned all the power from our early-90's Taylor Dayne video shoot!" or whatever that was supposed to be.

Ok, they ar edoing Hey-Ya right before the award is given out, good sign for them winning. I hope! I will raze the earth with my anger!!!!

11:31 Outkast album of the year, praise Jeebus. I guess I can put this molotov cocktail back in the fridge, I'll save it in case Return of the King doesn't get any oscars. Great show as always from Andre 3000, he's just one of those magnetic and magically freaky personalities, like uhh say Bjork or Michael Jackson, that will always captivate, and it almost doesn't matter what is going on with the music as long as they're in the spotlight.

Whew. Gotta say I enjoyed that show, tame though it may have been.

Stank you for reading, and you are very smellcome.

February 9, 2004

Nostradamus of this Grammy Sh**

EDIT: After sleeping on it, gotta say the silence from Justin and almost everybody else regarding Janet leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The NY Times review summed it up best:

..that widely shared docility was perhaps the only shocking thing in an evening of pop entertainment that ran the musical gamut from OutKast to Andy Williams. On a night that celebrated both the pioneer rebellion of the Beatles and the truculent defiance of hip-hop, it was strange that no one spoke out in solidarity with a shunned comrade. No one even dared make a joke.

Strange. And boring.


For real, the final tally on my predictions is pretty damn solid, IMHO. My secret is thinking of the voters as bunch of Rosie O'Donnells: They never stop trying to convince you they're hip and au courant, but you can always tell deep down they'd rather be listening to show tunes. Making your picks with this WWRD strategy should give you the right answer at least 75% of the time, as it did for me here. Most of the ones I missed (especially best new artist) were because I disregarded the WWRD principle in favor of my own biases.

I should have known 50 would get completely shut out, he epitomizes the "conventional" rap that voters will always shun. They only vote for hip-hop if it has some element that lets them say "oh this is nice, not like that regular rap."

EDIT: MTV echoes my feelings here".

anyway here go the stats:

The Big Four: 2 for 4 (3 for 4 if you count my dark horse picks) I saw the Coldplay thing coming, but slept on Evanescence riding the same conservative wave.

Rap/R&B: 12 for 14 (13 for 14) - The only one I completely missed was the baffling and appalling nod to "Shake Ya Tailfeather."

Rock/Pop/Etc: 13 for 18 (15 for 18) - Please note how I pegged Jimmy Sturr-Hova for the Polka grammy. I told y'all you don't want it with Hov, ask Walter Ostanek he don't want it with Hov! NOOO!

Country: 1 for 6 (4 for 6) - Ouch. I guess knowing about the music actually helps your picks, who woulda thunk it?

Oh one more thing, I'd be remiss without noting this:

a friend: what is this picture??????
jay smooth: r kelly was wearing a zorro mask throughout the nite
a friend: why
a friend: why
jay smooth: it's the r!
jay smooth: ours is not to question why

February 10, 2004

Step 1: Secure Rights to the "Hammerman" Cartoon

Chuck, who famously designated hip-hop as "the Black CNN", now backs a more literal interpretation of that metaphor, along with a CNN co-founder.

Chuck D Backs New Hip-Hop Network

A new cable channel devoted to hip-hop culture has secured sponsorship from rap legend Chuck D, as well as CNN co-founder Reese Schonfeld and former Viacom executive David Houle. Aimed at the 18-34 demographic that advertisers covet, the Real Hip-Hop Network is expected to launch this year with a major cable operator through a deal signed with OlympuSat, which packages independent networks for distribution.

RHN is the brainchild of hip-hop concert promoter Atonn Muhammad, president and CEO of SSM Media Group. He believes that MTV and BET are overlooking much of what constitutes the hip-hop world. "America only gets to see a fraction of what true hip-hop represents," he said. "We want to offer a grittier, more real representation..."

This could be good, and it could be really really bad.

February 11, 2004

New N.E.R.D. Song

What do we think about it?

This and That From Sneakers to Hats

A glaring omission from my Grammy play-by-play: Andre's dubious choice to rock a Native American theme for his performance, which is now coming under scrutiny.


Whoa, Suicide Girls added a pretty snazzy news section, and has our site atop their list of "news links" (lower right). I better get on the job around here.


The Village Voice's Annual Pazz and Jop poll hit the web tonite, but you can probably skip right to O-Dub's breakdown of it and get everything you need. The most painful quote he singled out:

The most interesting figures in hip-hop for me over the past two years have been the Streets, Northern State, Dizzee Rascal, Bubba Sparxxx, and Slug. Not an African-American among them. Can it be that each artist's otherness relative to hip-hop proper is bringing new styles, new impulses, and new concerns to a genre that's 25 years old?-CHRIS HERRINGTON

Um, actually that probably tells us a lot more about you than it does about hip-hop, Chris.. and I'll just leave it at that.


I hope I have time to finish S/FJ's magnum opus on the Neptunes and Timbaland before the NY Times makes it pay-only content.


They are making an Oceans Twelve?


Looks like his fellow Republicans are abandoning Bush in droves.. first National Review trashes his performance on "Meet the Press" (via Calpundit, also doing the best coverage anywhere on the Bush AWOL story), and now Bill O'Reilly apologizes for telling viewers to believe Bush's WMD stories (via americanblack). Seriously, people, we can beat this guy.


Why is the (deservedly) revered Crooked Timber blog ripping off posts that I made six weeks ago? Oh well, the more props Toussaint L'Ouverture gets, the better.


L.A. Reid takes over at Def Jam. Was Outkast's oath of fealty to him at the Grammys a hint that they may ultimately follow him there? More importantly, could this mean a comeback for the Highland Place Mobsters?


Bay Area Brethren: Prince is playing The Fillmore in San Francisco on
Saturday, February 14th, according to his website.


And finally, the mighty mighty Ego Trip Crew with the scoop on their upcoming VH1 show, TV Race Riot.

(My thoughts are with the people of Haiti)

Creepiest Site of the Day: MyJaysonWilliams.com

I can understand wanting to stand by your man, but this website was probably a bad idea.

Most unfortunate is this Let's Make A Deal! page, where she has the nerve to wonder why nobody else present at the shooting is being prosecuted:

Our unforseeable [sic], surprising and traumatic accident caused many to react in a panicked manner. Yet, for this lapse in judgment, to the Prosecutor, jail is not deemed the appropriate remedy for eight of Kent Culuko's guests. Why is it different for my husband?

Maybe it's because your husband is the one who shot somebody? Just a thought.

Hate to think of these kids being deprived of a father, but he did this to himself and needs to accept the consequences.. Hard for me to have much sympathy, especially if the dog murdering story is true.

February 12, 2004

Aaron Copland Says Bring The Noise

(this is a continuation of the discussion here)

A while ago I singled out the "noise" as a missing piece in Jack White's definition of music, as applied in his negative assessments of hip-hop. My assertion was that the visceral quality of the sounds, as distinct from melody/harmony/rhythm/lyrics, always helps to shape our musical experience, and is a crucial element of hip-hop's appeal in particular.

From Marley Marl's seminal screeches on "The Bridge", on to the Bomb Squad's "Bring the Noise" aural manifesto, on to El P's funcrushery, on to Dizzee Rascal's grime, hip-hop has focused on cultivating and exploring this element of the music, the quality of the noise, more than any western pop form I can think of.

I recently came across some corroborating testimony on the subject from Aaron Copland, who unlike me possessed the musical vocabulary to express the ideas properly. This comes from an essay named "The Sonorous Image" in his book Music and Imagination (published in 1952):

One of the prime concerns in the making of music, either as creator or as interpreter, is the question of how it will sound. On any level, whether the music is abstruse and absolute or whether it is intended for the merest diversion, it has got to "sound."

...Yes, the sonorous image is a preoccupying concern of all musicians. In that phrase we include beauty and roundness of tone; its warmth, its depth, its "edge," its balanced mixture with other tones, and its acoustical properties in any given environment. The creation of a satisfactory aural image is not merely a matter of musical talent or technical adroitness; imagination plays a large role here.

...Most people's aural memory is remarkably strong; heard sounds remain in the mind for long periods of time, and with a sharpness that is also remarkable. From the early twenties I still retain an impression of fantastic sonorities after a first contact with Schonberg's Pierrot Lunaire, or a little later, the astonishing percussive imaginings of Edgar Varese, especially in a piece called Arcanes, head once but not again. ...I can remember too the particular acid sound of a mexican small-town band playing in the public square on Sunday evenings in Tlaxcala. Were they playing out of tune, do you think? Perhaps, but nevertheless they were creating an aural image authentically their own. So was an English choir of boys' and men's voices that I heard in a London cathedral. They had a hollow, an almost cadaverous quality; not pretty, perhaps, but certainly memorable. Most unforgettable sound of all was that of a massed orchestra and band of some one thousand high school performers in an Atlantic City convention hall all simultaneously searching for the note A. It is hopeless to attempt to describe that sound. Jericho's walls must have heard some such unearthly musical noise.

I do not mean to suggest that sounds in themselves, taken out of context, are of any use to a composer. Interesting sonorities as such are scarcely more than icing on the musical cake. But a deliberately chosen sound image that pervades an entire piece becomes an integral part of the expressive meaning of that piece...

I'd like to see what Copland would say if he was around to apply his concepts to hip-hop..

Don't It Make you Sad About It

Trina's record label is feeling insecure about releasing her new single, dedicated to measuring the err "gifts" of various male rap stars. What are you afraid of guys? Huh?


Latifah is producing a remake of Truck Turner. Not sure how much I trust Latifah as a producer, but the original film might be my favorite of the blaxploitation era. Isaac Hayes in the only starring role of his career (I think?), alongside Yaphet Kotto and featuring Nichelle Nichols as the villain, AKA Lt. Uhura as you've never seen her before.


Legacymag.net displays a very uhh casual interviewing style in this talk with Eminem's former bodyguard Big Naz, author of "Shady Bizzness: Life as Marshall Mathers' Bodyguard In An Industry Of Paper Gangsters"


illegal-art.org reports on the silencing of Dangermouse's Grey Album, and is kind enough to offer the entire album for download. (via eyebeam)


Newsday notes Justin's troubles with his Black audience after hanging Janet out to dry. Our homey Miss Info is prominently quoted.


And the NY Times says Michael Jackson really is broke.


ALSO, congrats to two of our family members, DJ Spinna and Andre from Wax Poetics, who both became proud papas recently.

February 13, 2004

Prince Fans, Brace Yourselves

It's heart attack time. Wendy and Lisa's website reports that Prince finally made that phone call:

eye on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS, and you'll see Wendy and Prince playing guitars together and singing a song!! They taped it today... Feb. 12th so check it out!! what could be more amazing!?!?!?! .... wellllll... maybe if the Revolution.... oh nevermind! ;-)"

I'm told it is scheduled to air Feb. 19th. ?uestlove also has the inside scoop on it, from his sessions with my future wife (as soon as we her pesky husband out of the way) Nikka Costa:

cat is outta the bag? i really really wanted to dry snitch this.... but damn.... i got beat to it. p came by the nikka sessions. nikka revealed that wendy's studio was next door tommorow came and wendy called nikka all excited about who called her today--a person whom she hasn't spoken to in 9 years. and that he called her to do an acoustic set in LA that is that shit. i was told not to tell--but i guess y'all know now.

Fans have been hoping the recent reunion of the Revolution, sans Prince, at this benefit show would plant a seed in the little big man's mind.. could the unthinkable be happening? My sources also report that that Bobby Z, Wendy and her twin sister Susannah were present at Prince's House of Blues grammy afterparty.. And we know Prince is slated to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, not to mention rumors of an aftershow that night. COULD IT BE???

Either way, an acoustic performance from P and Wendy should be pretty damn amazing.

Sam!!! Frodo!!!

It might be time to nominate Nikka Costa for a nobel prize. Not only did she evidently play a role in reuniting Prince and Wendy (see previous post), but according to ?uestlove she helped to bring him back together with D'Angelo. Here is the scene ?uest reenacted on okayplayer, between himself, James Poyser, Nikka, Wendy, and D:

nikka: ahmir, come here one sec... (i leave drum booth)

nikka: ahmir....meet wendy...

?uesto: blahblahablalaahlablasblsdlahlhdl ,asdlaslalajdljald.....

wendy: (lols)---wow....it is such a pleasure!

?uesto: liar!

wendy: no for real....such a fan of yours

?uesto: huh?!?...i mean....

james: hahahahahaha

?uesto:i........i......i (think the retarded kid and bus driver in bernie mac's standup routine)....i.....i

james: breathe in....

?uesto:....i .......i...i mean....look---it gets on my nerves when a cat tries to go all over the top by singing the most obscure shit on my album. so i will spare you all the "erocia" talk and just say that i love you to death

nikka: dont feel bad ahmir.....i once sang the whole first side of "fruit at the bottom" to them when i first met them....

wendy: (lols)

?uesto: see....i'd get damn near stalkerish.....i got all the "Crossing Jordan" bootle---


?uesto: awww man i cannot believe this----i gotta cal

james: what?!!?!?!?!?

?uesto: nothing!

james: do it man!!!!

?uesto: no man!!!

nikka: do what?

james: call d'a--

?uesto: okay okay okay okay already! (dials phone---second it rings.....throws it to james)

james: yo d? you there?

d: (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

james: sup man!

d: (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

james: yeah man....hey i got somebody you should talk to....hang on

wendy: hello?


wendy: who's this?


wendy: oh....mike...(offphone to ?uesto: mike?)


wendy: this is wendy


wendy: yes wendy


wendy: yes....wendy "yes, lisa" wendy...

d:!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [exclamation points edited for space]

wendy: but who is this?


wendy: mike......

?uesto: man--tell that fool to tell you what his MIDDLE name is

wendy: okay michael....what is your middle name?

nikka (whispering to wendy)

wendy: gasp?!?!? oh my god! is this DANGELO?!?!?!?.......um...can i have your babies?

room: lol!!!!!!!!

wendy gushed (yes prince heads she is still fine)

...nikka took the phone next...and then

(cue dragnet horns)

we talked, bickered, cried, and most importantly...made plans to come back stronger than ever.

friends again.

So That's Why My Ears Were Buzzing

O-Dub points me to a post from Clyde at Hip-Hop Logic (who sends me a lot of hits from netweed, you will note in the referrer list below), wishing me and O had given more coverage to the Andre/Native American flap.. I'll reply here:

I was out of the room (finishing latest addition to the blog play-by-play) for the beginning of Dre's performance, which was evidently the most flagrant part.. once I got back to the tv I cringed at the indian outfits and tepee but forgot to include that in my notes on the performance, which is the nature of live blogging, some things will slip by when I'm running over to add my thoughts during the commercial break.

After a discussion on okayplayer reminded me, I linked to a story about it in a later post, calling it a "glaring omission" cuz I had meant to mention it that night.. I didn't offer a rant of my own cuz if the community in question has spoken on its own behalf I don't always feel it necessary to editorialize, and especially since I didn't see the performance in its entirety I thought it better to let the link speak for itself.

I certainly appreciate the high expectations. I wish I could be 100% comprehensive but I don't think it will ever be possible for one man with a blog. There are always a bunch of issues I want to touch on but don't get around to, like I still haven't acknowledged the rooftop shooting here in NY.. also neglected the anniversary of Big Pun's passing and Bob Marley's birthday.. the passing of jazz legend Malachi Favors..

Plus I'm unemployed right now.. for folks like O-Dub who actually have a life it must be really daunting.

And I think that's the beauty of our blog community, none of us individually will be able to cover everything, but collectively we cover an incredible amount of ground by each adding our two cents and building on each other's thoughts. So I'd say if you think a particular story is not getting the light it needs, that's your cue to jump on it!

February 14, 2004

The Lonely Road of the Taiwanese G

Damn, a gangsta rapper in Taiwan just can't get no respect:

Hanging tough?

Gangsta rap has come to Taiwan, but fear not-- they're firing blanks

We've been here before. Some shifty looking young males loitering on a street corner in East LA amid all the tried-and-true symbols of the ghetto -- the stray 50-gallon drum, the freeway overpasses, the graffiti, the cracked sidewalks and even a bucket of a ghetto ride that lurches to the curb with a boarded-up building in the background. It's a scene that's been played out a zillion times since N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton.

And that's the whole point. We're supposed to immediately recognize the symbolism in the opening shots of Iron Bamboo's (ÅK¦Ë°ó) video and draw the conclusion that this rap group is only one hair's width away from spraying the entire city. That's how gangsta these guys are. They're just like Tupac or 50 Cent.

But come on; Taiwanese gangsta rappers playing it tough on the mean streets of LA? The credibility meter registers in the negative zone on that one.

Intrigued though, I tracked the band down through their label Alfa Music to arrange an interview and like rock stars, they stalled and delayed several times before a meeting could finally be arranged. Some apprehension set in that the interview might take place in a sketchy crack den or gangster lair, until their manager called to inform me to meet them at a downtown Rose English Tea House -- the type with the frilly curtains and genteel clientele. That didn't sound very gangster at all...

Boo Da Doo Dweee, Da Doo Da, Doo Dwee.

Loon, who I had forgotten even existed, just got arrested for attempted murder. If anyone cares. David from the New Orleans Real World also got busted, for a far less serious but perhaps more embarrassing charge.


In case there was any doubt the Hip-Hop Summit is just one big catch-all photo op, this latest one will feature Michael and Janet Jackson, "a host of NBA, NFL and WWE athletes," and probably Bruce Vilanch.


Eminem may want to buy MJ's Neverland Ranch? There's a joke here somewhere but I don't have time to find it.


Bush's Press Secretary Scott McClellan once again showed he ain't half as smooth as Ari Fleischer, when got roasted at this press conference, by the great Helen Thomas and others.


Someone has done a satire of the Jayson Williams site I mentioned earlier.


Canada is mad at Conan, and they have a really good reason (for me to poop on). Actually I didn't see the show so I can't judge.

Join Us On The Radio Tonight

Once again we hit the airwaves tonight at Midnight EST, with our radio show The Underground Railroad. You can tune in here, or at WBAI 99.5 FM if you live in the tri-state area. And while you are checking out the sounds you also can talk to us live in the chat room.

February 16, 2004

Put It On

I don't really give a crap about these presidents, so I will set aside this day to remember Big L. New Yorkers will want to catch his DITC family at SOB's on thursday.


The Department of Homeland Security evidently enjoys shopping for anti-Bush t-shirts. (via counterspin)


I hadn't bothered cheking out that pro al-qaeda rapper, didn't think it would be worth the effort, but I gotta say if you put aside the content this record is actually kinda hot! Homeland Security agents, please note i said "if you put aside the content".


Quentin Tarantino will be jury president at this years Cannes film festival, I'm sure we can count on him for some interesting picks.


In Knick news, it now becomes clear that Isiah Thomas' formula for success can be summed up in one simple phrase: get rid of all the white guys.

February 17, 2004

Everything Was Cool, Til the Camera Jumped Into My Bed

Jef Lee at okayplayer pointed out some cool Prince pics on thecrusade.net, taken during pre-grammy festivities:

Prince and Nas - I'm dying to know what these two were talking about. The other guy is Prince's lawyer, who once sent this website a cease-and-desist order on Prince's behalf (proudest moment of my life).

Prince and Jill Scott.. Jill is so pretty. Hope she comes back strong with the next album.

Prince and Mary J, another convo I wish I heard.

Prince with Angie Stone.

prince and Danny Glover - note how different the body language is here, compared to the other Prince photos.. Prince really defers to his elders and gives them a different level of respect, especially if it's an elder Black male, I think.


And here's a few more:

Remember last week when I was asking who the heck that was with Bill Maher at the Grammys? I guess we have an answer.

I'm way past ready for this guy's 15 minutes to run out.

Marlon Wayans thought it would be funny to tell the photographer he was Flex.

The co-founders of the Jay-Z fan club

And while we're at it, here's an appearance on the same site by yours truly.

International Relations

The Guardian publishes reactions to the war in Iraq from 25 prominent authors, including John Le Carre, Sara Paretsky and Studs Terkel. Jim Crace's quote is tight:

It was never likely that the violent overthrow of a regime with base standards by a couple of govern ments with double standards would add much to the gaiety of nations.

While DM Thomas sets a new standard for naivete:

I felt too that Blair's conviction was - for once - convincing; that a man of sincere Christian faith would not make himself responsible for death and destruction without good reason.

(via Eric Alterman)

Desmond Tutu also has 2 cents to put in.


Meanwhile Capundit is setting fools straight on gay marriage. (no pun intended)


Also, thanks to Aaron I finally get to see Triumph's scandalous visit to Quebec. Now I just need someone to post Dave Chappelle's Rick James episode.

February 18, 2004

NEW AUDIO: DJ Monk One's Valentine's Day Mix

My stance on Valentine's Day is strictly bah humbug, but Monkone did get into the spirit with his set on Saturday's show, which you can check out right here. And don't forget there are always dozens of other mixes awaiting your perusal here.

Here's a partial playlist for the V-Day set:

fat boys - fallin in love
king sun - hey luv
akil - hey luv
gang starr - love sick
the delfonics - song title not disclosed (but this is an easy one)
betty davis - anti-love song
de la soul - betta listen
junior parker - song title not disclosed
precise - no bling (new UK stuff)
sadat x - you can't deny
KMD - plumskinzz
q-tip - uhh something from that unreleased joint
andre 3000 - happy valentine's day
hi tension - song title not disclosed
artist not disclosed - cover version of "jungle fever"
artist not disclosed - song title not disclosed
mad villain - all caps
mad villain - curls
mass hysteria - it aint safe
the pickpockets - green
e-dot - r u up to it
unsung heroes w/ siah and yeshua da poed - the norm
q-unique - the ugly place

I'm Choire Sicha, B***h!

John Lee, who founded the once-trendy industry gossip site urbanexpose.com, lobs charges of racism at the now-trendy industry gossip sites Gawker and Wonkette. John's site was the bomb back in its heyday, and as a general rule I endorse any chastisement of white folks, but this piece struck me as muddled and poorly reasoned. Frankly, it looks like Choire and Ana's humor simply went over John's head.

Buzzmachine seems to agree, as does All About George who sums it up perfectly: "Bulls**t, bulls**t and bulls**t. You're mistaking Lenny Bruce for Trent Lott."

(via Anil)


Meanwhile back at the ranch, Hua Hsu digs into Kanye West.


Allafrica.com offers a Rough Guide to African Rap


While the Shanghai Daily, which has some sort of aversion to <P> and <BR> tags, explores the Chinese Scene.


Fredro Starr and Kel Mitchell will co-host a talent competition on UPN that pretty much looks like "You Got Served: The Series".


The battle to save Angel has commenced. But if the forces of good do not prevail, Joss Whedon fans can still look forward to his new X-Men comic.


Speaking of comics, Neil Gaiman reports on the government's desire to stop deaf people from watching cartoons.


And George Steinbrenner continues to reenact that Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns loads up the Springfield Isotopes with a squad of all-star ringers. Seems like everybody is salty about it. Personally, I love it. Hate us now, America, HATE US NOW! And that goes double for anybody in Boston.

Don't Hate the Player, Hate The League

For the record, I didn't say I was rooting for the Yankees.. as I said in the infamous Red Sox post that would feel like rooting for Microsoft.. but I do love watching them make everyone freak out. I think it's great for the sport, adds much more drama.. all of America will be rooting for someone, anyone to take down this massive juggernaut from the town everybody loves to hate... what more compelling storyline could you ask for?

And on the real I don't even see how it makes sense to cast George and the Yanks as villains here.. it's not like they are cheating, every move they make is entirely within the rules. Are the rules severely screwy and unfair to most franchises? Sure, but that's the league's fault not George's.. recognizing how the system works and using it to your advantage doesn't make you a cheater, it just makes you a winner.

Michael Jordan was acutely aware of the unfair advantage he had with the refs, he knew he'd always get friendly calls nobody else got, but did he ever pass up on that advantage out of some high-minded sense of fairness?

Hell no, he milked it at every opportunity. He was constantly lobbying and buzzing in the refs' ears to make even more calls in his favor, and bent the rules all the time knowing they wouldn't usually call him on it.

That's what winners do. They do everything within their power, and within the rules, to help their team win. George Steinbrenner is not a cheater, he is simply a winner, just like Mike was. As much as we Knick fans may have hated Mike, we always had to respect him.. and Steinbrenner deserves that same respect.

Gawker, Wonkette, and What Makes a Joke Racist

Our friends at American Black agree with John Lee that Gawker and Wonkette are unfunny. We can agree to disagree on that, cuz obviously humor is totally subjective. But the thing is, John didn't just accuse them of being unfunny, he accused them of being racist, and the "proof" he offered did nothing whatsoever to support his charge.

Humor should never be judged only by which topic it addresses, but on how it approaches that topic. If someone makes a joke about race, or refers to a racism in a joke, the first question you need to ask is "from what does the humor derive here? Are they invoking this racism to endorse it or to ridicule it? Does the humor rely on an assumption that the racist attitude is valid, or an assumption that it is bankrupt?" In each of the jokes highlighted by John Lee in his africana.com essay, I'd argue that racism is being skewered, not supported. I'll go through them one by one:

First Lee offers a quote from this Gawker post, made on MLK day, right before the pivotal Iowa Caucus:

Evidently there's some sort of national holiday today? Also some election thing is going on in Nebraska or Iowa or some flat state. I didn't really catch it.

Lee takes this remark at face value, interprets it as belittling MLK day and "denying the holiday even exists." But is that really what the joke is about? Gawker (AKA Choire Sicha) refers to the Iowa caucus, by far the most prominent news event of the week, and feigns total ignorance of it. The premise of the joke is that Gawker makes himself sound like an ignoramus. And by placing MLK day alongside the Iowa Caucus and feigning similar ignorance, Gawker implies that only an ignoramus would be oblivious to MLK day. He's not belittling the holiday, he is belittling those who don't respect it. It's an anti-racist joke.

Next Lee offers this Wonkette post, about a "strategy session" for celebrity Democrats where Russell Simmons raised a stink:

Russell Simmons: Bothering the White Folks Again Lloyd Grove reports on Wednesday night's Victory Campaign 2004: A bunch of liberal celebrities got together to bash Bush and showed PowerPoint presentations. Is there anything more politically inspiring? Way to excite the base, guys. Then hip-hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons harshed everyone's mellow, saying "The shit y'all doing is corny!" and "We are not included!" That's no way to get invited to the after-party, Russell. Can someone give him some "bling-bling" or whatever those people call it and tell him to be quiet?

Lee takes this as making fun of Russell, but it seemed obvious to me she was not speaking in her own voice in that last part, but mockingly adopting the voice of clueless white Democrats who have no idea how to relate to Russell. And sure enough, in Wonkette's post she offered this explanation:

UPDATE: A few readers have written to object to our use of the phrase "those people" as a way of alluding to young African-Americans. We would like to clarify: We intended that line to reflect the dubious nature of white liberals' knowledge of black culture. (Some people call this kind of thing a "joke," or perhaps "satire.") Had we been representing our own view, we would have said "uppity negroes." Now we've got to run or we'll be late for the cross burning.

We're kidding again. (Really!) But we worry about appearing racist. Maybe we should get feedback from a black friend... Will you be the one?

Now first of all, if that addendum was already in the post when John Lee wrote about it, he was dishonest not to include it. But even if it wasn't, it goes to show that his whole case is based on misinterpreting the humor. Once again he's using anti-racist jokes as evidence of racism.

Lee's final example is from a Gawker post surveying media coverage of Blacks in the early days of Black History Month:

Hey! It's Black History Month! And it's leap year, too, so we get a special extra day of blackness in the media. Here's an in-depth report that I like to call "Black History Month: What's Up With Black People These Days?"

[he cites a NY Times piece on trends in hip-hop fashion, and an item on the Russell Simmons incident]

...Well, looks like those are all the black people in the news today -- one presentation of a marketing scheme in the paper of record and one gossip item painting an incredibly successful (if highly annoying) businessman as a buffoon. Okay, we'll look for more black people tomorrow! Maybe Nicole Richie will slice someone up at fashion week.

So what is it that Lee was offended by here? He doesn't bother to tell us, and I'll be damned if I can figure it out. Gawker's point here, clearly, is that even in the middle of Black history Month mainstream news outlets don't cover many stories that relate to Black people, and the ones they do cover serve to trivialize or belittle their Black subjects.

Seems to me this evidence is about as convincing as Colin Powell's proof of WMDs last year. But Lee not only uses it to accuse Gawker and Wonkette of "casual racism", he has the nerve to equate them with the white supremacist National Vanguard, whose racism is far from casual. This comparison is patently ridiculous, and it was irresponsible for Africana.com to even publish it. They both owe Choire Sicha and Ana Marie Cox an apology.

With his complaints that Gawker and Wonkette "continually joke about non-whites as marginalized second-class citizens," Lee is branding them as racist simply because they persistently acknowledge that racism exists. I guess he'd prefer to see white folks stick with the age-old "color-blind" approach, pretending the elephant is not in the room?

Personally I've seen more than enough of that color-blindness, and it always seemed like plain old blindness to me. Call me crazy, but I think it's a good thing when white folks are aware of racism, and aren't afraid to speak about it, frankly and frequently.

February 19, 2004

Civil Disobedience for the Grey Album

You say you want a revolution..

February 24th is Grey Tuesday

It's time for music fans to stand up and demand change from the music industry's copyright cartel.

Tuesday, February 24 will be a day of coordinated civil disobedience: websites will post Danger Mouse's Grey Album on their site for 24 hours in protest of EMI's attempts to censor this work.

DJ Danger Mouse created a remix of Jay-Z's the Black Album and the Beatles White Album, and called it the Grey Album. Despite praise from music fans and major media outlets like Rolling Stone ("an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly ahead of its time") and the Boston Globe (which called it the "most creatively captivating" album of the year), EMI has sent cease and desist letters demanding that stores destroy their copies of the album and websites remove them from their site.

This first-of-its-kind protest signals a refusal to let major label lawyers control what musicians can create and what the public can hear. The Grey Album is only one of the thousands of legitimate and valuable efforts that have been stifled by the record industry-- not to mention the ones that were never even attempted because of the current legal climate. We cannot allow these corporations to continue censoring art...

Oops, I Did It Again?

New Yorkers: The Ego Trip crew will be on Hot 97's morning show today, plugging their VH1 show, which airs this Sunday. Apparently VH1 punked out and made them scrap the original title, TV Race Riot.


The NY Times noticed that Dave Chappelle is the sh*t.

CNN noticed that Friends is not.

(via Gothamist and Fimoculous)


Fimoculous also hipped me to these posters of celebrities with books, but I have a question: why are Alec Baldwin and Britney Spears both placing the book strategically over their no-no spot? Did something go on at this photo shoot they don't want us to know about?


Here's yet another Dangermouse collectible, from his sessions with Prince Po.


And in the wishful thinking department: Somebody came to our site yesterday by searching for "Beyonce AND all-star game AND (breast OR boob)" Sorry dawg, lightning didn't strike twice this time.

Alicia and Outkast to Induct Prince

This should be interesting.. I saw Alicia with Prince once before, at the aftershow he did last year after the Lincoln Center concert, and came away with a whole new fondness for her. Not from how good her performance was, cuz it really wasn't very good at all.. she came out while the band was rocking "777-9311" and had apparently never heard of the song(!!!), so she clumsily freestyled a verse over the groove. Then Prince stepped to the keyboard and accompanied her on "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore", which was aiite but nothing to write home about.

But it was still such a strikingly unguarded moment, watching the hottest pop star in the world in this intimate setting, beaming like a little kid and singing to herself "ok, i need to calm down," leaning over and studying Prince's every move on the keyboard, hoping to pick up a few of his tricks while she sang along. I just found it so endearing how awestruck and humbled she was by the moment.. it made me feel like we had really shared something special with her. I say corny things sometimes. But hey I warned you before I was a sentimental guy.

But anyway like I was saying:

Stars Set To Induct Hall Of Famers

Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and Tom Petty are among the artists who will be on hand to induct the 2004 class into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A longtime supporter of the Hall and 1999 inductee into the elite group of honored musicians, Springsteen will introduce Jackson Browne at this year's event.

Dave Matthews will do the honors for Traffic, while Petty and Jeff Lynne will induct their Traveling Wilburys bandmate George Harrison. Keys will be joined by hip-hop duo OutKast to welcome Prince, while Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, himself a Hall of Famer since 1989, will be on hand to enshrine ZZ Top.

Also don't forget Prince's acoustic jam with Wendy airs tonite on the Tavis Smiley show, here in NY it's on channel 21 (WLIW) at midnight.

I Usually Eschew Such Memes

But this one's kinda fun:

Your instructions
Step 1: Open your MP3 [CD] player.
Step 2: Put all of your music on random.
Step 3: Write down the first 20 songs it plays, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 4: Profit!

Let's see what comes up..

1. A snippet of me singing "Devil's Pie", for some reason
2. PJ Harvey - "Oh My Lover"
3. Vince Guaraldi - "Linus and Lucy"
4. Prince - "Controversy" (Live in Japan, 9/9/86 - his last show ever with the Revolution)
5. Oscar Peterson - "Volare"
6. Rosa Passos - "Inutil Paisagem"
7. Memphis Bleek w/ Freeway and Just Blaze - "Just Blaze, Bleek & Free"
8. Prince - "Lady Cab Driver" (same concert as above)
9. Wilson Simonal - "Nem Vem Que Não Tem"
10. Gangstarr - "Mass Appeal (instrumental)"
11. Jackie Mittoo - "Black Organ"
12. Dynamic Corvettes - "Funky Music Pt. 1"
13. Biggie - freestyle over Casual's "I Didn't Mean To" (courtesy of DJ Mister Cee)
14. Lewis Taylor "Electric Ladyland"
15. Brian Auger and The Trinity - "Tiger"
16. Prince - "Sex" (b-side on the "Scandalous" 12-inch)
17. BDP - "We In There" (downloaded so I could take that sample for my "Unicorn" song)
18. Antônio Pinto & Ed Cortês - "Estória da Boca"
19. Gilberto Gil - "Queremos Guerra"
20. George_Harrison - "Here Comes the Sun" (Live at the Concert for Bangladesh)
21. Dr. Dre and Royce the 5'9 - "The Way I Be Pimpin" (reworked into "Xxxplosive" after Dre and Royce had their falling out)
22. Peter Tosh - "Here Comes the Sun" (I DL-ed about 15 versions of this when George died)
23. Dan the Automator - "My Guru" (from the "Bombay the Hard Way" album)
24. Slave feat. Steve Arrington "Nobody Can Be You" (BEST SONG EVER)
25. Pretty Purdie & The Playboys - "Funky Mozart"

No way I could stop at 20 with all these dope jams popping up.

What y'all got?

February 20, 2004

Sign Your Name Across My Van

Cool idea, but do we really need Chingy?

Members of the hip-hop community, get out your Sharpies.

Jam Master Jay's family is collecting autographs on a van they're calling the J-Whip to raise money for the recently launched Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth. Once the ride is covered in hip-hop artists' signatures, the J-Whip will be auctioned on eBay.

"We were buying the van, and I started thinking about what to do with the van," Jay's brother, Marvin Thompson, said Tuesday. "I'm like, 'Yo, why don't we get all the hip-hoppers from Afrika Bambaataa to Chingy to sign the van, wrap it with [pictures of] Jay, move it around the country for a little while, let it be seen, then put it on eBay and see what it's gonna do.' "

The Jam Master Jay Foundation for Youth wants to raise $2 million to be divided into scholarships for 1,000 high school students who aspire to attend college...

...Mos Def and KRS-One were the first two MCs to sign the van's interior, and since then Slick Rick, Dana Dane, Whodini, Chubb Rock, Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, Russell Simmons and Kurtis Blow have also lent their John Hancocks and heartfelt messages...

6 Hour "Rare Radio" Special Tomorrow

This Saturday night from midnight to 6 AM our squad of all-star DJs will be throwing down a marathon of dance classics, along with some very special guests. Here's the lineup:

DJ Emskee
DJ Monkone
DJ Spinna
DJ Tomkat AKA Tommy John the Bionic Arm
Randy the Bondy's Musicologist

and last but not least,
Kool DJ Red Alert!

This is one you don't want to miss, my friends. Also, the week after that on Feb. 28th, our guest DJ will be none other that the legendary Easy Moe Bee.

"Major Announcements" from Prince on Tuesday

Pardon the glut of Prince items, he's unusually active these days.. here is a newannouncement for members of his website:


Members are invited 2 attend a special Press Conference Prince
will be holding on Tuesday, February 24th at 10:30AM at the El
Ray club. As Prince makes some major announcements 2 the press,
he wanted 2 have some of his closest friends in the house with

If u will be in the LA Area on Tuesday and can DEFINITELY be at
this event at 10:30AM, please reserve ur spot in the BACKSTAGE
PASS room ticket window starting Friday at 5pm PT. There is no
charge, just a reservation. Once u secure ur spot, u will b put
on the guest list, please bring a photo ID. Reservation limit 2
per member.

Prince fans are also encouraged to join in on our gratuitous Doug E. Fresh bashing here.

February 21, 2004

Malcolm X, 5/9/25 - 2/21/65

Busy preparing for the 6 hour extravaganza tonight, but gotta take a second to acknowledge the 39th anniversary of Malcolm's passing.

A few Malcolm-related links:

Malcolm X's Eulogy as famously delivered by Ossie Davis, via the Official Malcolm X Website which offers a wealth of other resources as well.

Audio of Malcolm's speeches from 1959 to 1965, on brothermalcolm.net

My thoughts posted here last year

Join Us on the Radio Tonight: 6 Hour Rare Radio Special

Once again we hit the airwaves tonight at Midnight EST, with our radio show The Underground Railroad, and this week we are dropping another Rare Radio special, rare dance and house classics from midnight to 6 AM. In case you haven't heard, here's the DJ lineup:

Tomkat AKA Tommy John the Bionic Arm
Randy the Bondy's Musicologist
Kool DJ Red Alert

You can tune in here, or at WBAI 99.5 FM if you live in the tri-state area. And while you are checking out the sounds you also can talk to us live in the chat room.

February 22, 2004

Note to Mel Gibson: Comment-Spam is Not Christlike

A number of my friends in Livejournal have been bombarded with comment spam promoting Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" (which garnered rave reviews from Ebert and Roeper) Has anyone else seen this? Here's one of them, with the links removed:

hey [username inserted here]. what's up?

The Passion of The Christ is in theaters soon - this week on Wednesday.. what do you think about this movie? I'm going to see it for sure - the trailers were enough to convince me. I read somewhere that it's the widest opening ever for a subtitled movie; I have a feeling subtitles won't detract from the full effect of this movie though. After looking at the trailers which have no subtitles or english at all, it was reinforced for me that lack of spoken english in this film won't hurt one bit. To sum up my impression of The Passion: it's a work of art.

Good Website

Another fascinating aspect to this movie is all the controversy that has been generated about it. Some people, not really representative of Jewish people, but rather self appointed Jewish spokespeople, such as Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League, seem to have been attempting to denounce this film for months as being anti-Semitic. The news reported that they even stole the script last year! But here's what some Jews say (Jews who don't make it their job to tear apart other people): Protesting Gibson's Passion Lacks Moral Legitimacy by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Nice to see some people speaking rationally.

So what do you think of all this?

*** Kyle

I think you suck, Kyle! Thanks for asking!

It's pretty much identical everywhere I saw it, with minor variations on the intro. Is someone affiliated with the film paying people to go out astroturfing? I hope not, cuz that would be mad corny.

February 23, 2004

Ralph Nader: Unimportant At Any Speed

Howard Stern, who had been a staunch Bush supporter, seems to have switched teams. There are reportedly millions of people who actually respect his opinions, for some reason. So maybe this will be helpful.


Ras Kass talks to allhiphop.com from inside Corcoran State Prison

John Lee keeps on making no sense, this time in the Daily News. And that's a shame because the question he ostensibly raises, whether blogging is all too often a "white man's sport," is a question that needs to be asked. I ask it aloud almost everyday as I wander through blogville, and it deserves far more analysis and discussion than it gets. But Lee's sloppy sniping, IMO, just muddies the waters and makes such discussion harder to pursue.


And yes of course, Nader is back. But I'm not sure anyone needs to care. Seems doubtful he'll get anywhere near the support he got last time, and equally unlikely this vote will be so uncannily close as 2000. He should be able to have his fun without affecting the outcome.

What purpose he imagines this run will serve is beyond me.. my thoughts are summed up pretty well over here. He reminds me of John Lee actually: the issues he talks about trying to raise are worthy, but the clumsiness of his approach will drown out any message he hopes to send.

February 24, 2004

I'll Try to Carry Off a Little Darkness On My Back

In case you don't know, here's why we are showing a touch of grey today.

Dangermouse's label sent a press release tonight, with thoughts from the man himself:

"It’s flattering," says Danger Mouse. "I did this project because I love the Beatles and Jay-Z. I knew when I produced the Grey Album that there might be questions and issues that this project would bring up, but I really don't know the answers to many of them. It was not meant to be anything but an artistic expression, and I still hope that that is the way it's perceived".

According to Downhillbattle.org, the protest aims to draw attention to "how the major record labels stifle creativity and try to manipulate the public’s access to music, and it’s the perfect way to explain to non-experts why the copyright system needs to be reformed."

"For better or for worse, ‘Grey Tuesday’ is a watershed moment," says Waxploitation CEO Jeff Antebi, the manager for Danger Mouse. “We are seeing the rapid speed of peer-to-peer come head-to-head with a rabid, worldwide consumer demand for forbidden fruit. The internet makes it almost impossible to hold things back from the marketplace."

Also, check out the nifty cease-and-desist letter EMI has sent out to participating sites who are offering the album for download today. Here are some of the more humorous passages:

...We accordingly demand you:

1. cease and desist from the actual or intended distribution, reproduction, public performance or other exploitation of The Grey Album and any other unauthorized uses of the Capitol Recordings or any other sound recordings owned and/or controlled by Capitol;

2. identify the names and addresses of any third parties who have supplied you with physical or digital copies of The Grey Album or who are otherwise involved in The Grey Album's unauthorized distribution, reproduction, public performance, or other exploitation;

3. provide Capitol with an accounting of all units of The Grey Album that have been distributed via your website, either physically or digitally, and of all instances of public performance of The Grey Album rendered via your website; and

4. preserve any and all documents and records relating to this matter, including but not limited to electronic data and other information which may be relevant/discoverable in the event of litigation.

In addition, to the extent that you have already commenced distribution of The Grey Album, you must make payment to Capitol in an amount to be discussed. We demand that you contact us immediately...

Well if you really must know, I got my copy from John Ashcroft. Hurry, go kick down his door and throw the cuffs on him!

Downhillbattle.org empatically rebuts the letter here.

----------------------------------------------------- dj 3d spins on the rare radio special

Lost in Translation, Reconsidered

I think I liked Lost in Translation more than Sharon and O-Dub, but their critique of the film has a lot of meat on its bones, and helped me pin down what was bothering me as I watched the movie.

Although certainly overhyped, I found it a charming little film.. it is a movie where not much happens, but like Virgin Suicides it does a great job of setting a mood and gradually washing over you, keeping you engaged and striking an emotional chord without a lot of narrative pyrotechnics. Such a relatively uneventful film can look easy when you get it right but I'm sure it's much harder than it looks, and Sofia Coppola deserves mad props for pulling it off so well. And of course Bill Murray's performance was superb (the only part of this film that truly deserves an Oscar nod), and yeah I did come away with a little crush on Scarlett Johansson.

But I did have this nagging feeling that something was a little off, as I watched their interactions with the Japanese people around them and how they were affected by the environment, and this review helped me isolate the problem and figure out how to express it concretely.

Like Sharon and O, I think my problem with Coppola's characters is they were a bit too comfortable being continually bemused by the "otherness" of everything around them, rather than being compelled to look at themselves any differently. The movie is sold as portraying the experience of an outsider in a foreign land, but in truth the characters never come to terms with their outsider status. Stranded in a world where everyone else is different from them, they just keep on thinking "wow, I'm normal and everyone else here is so weird," and are never given reason to feel like they are the weird ones here. They are never forced to question the assumption that they are the center of the universe, that their American whiteness is normative.

I had forgotten this, but their review reminds me that I was especially struck by the hospital scene they cited, where Bill Murray tries in vain to communicate with two elderly women in the waiting room. I was on the edge of my seat throughout that scene, aching for him to redeem the film by finally making a human connection with someone, and laughing with them instead of at them. I tried to convince myself afterwards that this scene helped fill the void, but I wish they had used the alternate take Sharon and Oliver describe, I think it would have made the film much stronger.

Any thoughts on this from my ever erudite readership? For full disclosure I will note that I haven't seen it since it first hit theaters, and tried to rent it before I wrote this tonight, but it was all rented out.

February 25, 2004

Grey Tuesday, Reconsidered

Sippey.typepad.com offers a rather snide dismissal of Grey Tuesday.

Needless to say, his judgement is immediately called into question when he deems The Grey Album "unlistenable" (I do agree it is overrated. But then again so is Prince's Black Album.. overrated due to its backstory but far from wack). And he doesn't make it very clear, in the original post, what inspires his disdain for Grey Tuesday.. Does he believe that a protest's relevance is best gauged by the amount of effort it takes to join, and he considers this one too easy? I'm pretty sure I disagree with that.

But in the comments he does offer something more substantive:

The acts of protest being undertaken today speak more to the issue of *distribution* (making it easier to find these works) than it does to the issue of sampling and recombinatorial art. A more effective protest would be to encourage website owners to create their own remixes -- integrating and transforming artifacts from popular culture in order to make something new, on their own.

By turning the protest into an issue of distribution, Capitol/EMI gets to change the nature of the debate, and paint the civil disobedients with the broader "illegal downloading and distribution brush." The core message of the protest -- creating a change in the copyright law to allow for things like compulsory licensing -- will get lost in the noise.

His proposal would be far less inclusive, as most people don't have the means to make such a remix (or at least to make one that doesn't suck). But he makes a very good point, Grey Tuesday's protest did confuse two distinct and different issues: Dangermouse's right as an artist to reinterpret copyrighted material within his own work, and our right to distribute and download copyrighted material as consumers. They made it too easy for EMI to dodge discussion of the first issue by conflating it with the second.

I'd also agree that Grey Tuesday, by itself, doesn't amount to much. But to paraphrase what I was saying here, every journey is made up of small steps. Grey Tuesday (like the Grey Album) has been a highly successful publicity stunt, and brought lots of people to downhillbattle's website. The question now is what they will do with this newfound attention.. can they keep moving past that first step, or is this the extent of their vision? It may well turn out to be the latter, but I don't think it's fair to poo-poo their efforts just yet.

Ego Trip Raising a Ruckus

I haven't seen Ego Trip's VH1 show yet, but they must have done something right cuz they've got kids freaking out all over VH1's message boards. You'll notice their URL still features the show's original title "TV Race Riot," which VH1 was too wimpy to stick with. Here are a few of the complaints:

This show was reverse racism. VH1 should be ashamed of themselves for promoting all the "kill whitey" comments, it was appalling. Yes, go ahead and keep on promoting racism, keep spinning it to your advantage, shifting the blame to the other foot so whites can be the reason for all the racism in the world. Hope you're proud of yourselves you disgusting pack of dogs. - MisticRogue

...YES this show has now made me a racist, congratulations. But, my whole point is WHERE IS THE UNITY?! What happened to the "I am an American" commercials. I am an American and that's all there is to it. You are an American if you were born here, or if you obtain citizenship. Yes you should be proud of your ancestry but I'll be damned if I will ever call anyone an african/vietnamese american. Unless I ask for you ancestry I don't want to here it... - hobag100

minority's or whiners?
all this crap about equality doesn't mean anything does it? every one wants to be equal but then they all want to seperate themselves. the blacks have more rights than the whitesit seems like. the injustice that has been done to the blacks was terrible but now it's far past time to get over it. the slaves were freed over 130 yrs. ago and the black race has done nothing to help themselves,they just keep complaining about the past [...] blacks are not minority's they're all over the t.v., they took over sports and they're all in the music industry so quite your bitchin. mexicans are another thing. living in california i can tell you what's up. there are mexican -americans and then there are wetbacks. the u.s. doesn't owe wetbacks anything they're not even suppose to be here, they're taking our jobs, our bennifits, and then we the tax payers have to pay for it all. i''m not raceist but i'm real... Vanessa909

Here's when the show will be airing again this week:
02/25/04 07:00 PM Wednesday
02/26/04 04:00 PM Thursday
02/26/04 11:00 PM Thursday
02/27/04 12:00 AM Friday

February 26, 2004

Hong Kong Movie Roundup

I recently rekindled my love affair with Hong Kong cinema, which had been dormant for a few years. Just happened to pop in one of my old Stephen Chow dvds (Hail the Judge), and somehow it put the jones back in my bones.. so in case some of you are also into this stuff, here's the latest HK movie news I've come by as I renewed my vows:

The Guardian just did a pretty cool interview with Tony Leung (Chiu-Wai, not to be confused with Tony Leung Ka-Fai). He tells how Wong Kar-Wai "tricked" him into playing the gay lead role in Happy Together, and talks about their loooooooong-awaited latest project 2046, a sequel to their masterpiece In the Mood For Love. Tony also mentions his next film with Wong Kar-Wai will be "an action movie, with kung-fu, which will be very exhausting." Word.


2046 is set to debut at Cannes this year, and it may be joined by Zhang Yimou's follow-up to Hero, another martial arts/wuxia epic named Shi Mian Mai Fu (literal translation: "Ambush From Ten Directions"). If you haven't gotten to see the visual feast he offered in Hero, you better swing through Chinatown or look for an import online because stupid ass Miramax has the American rights and they've been sitting on it forever.


Kevin Smith is working on a movie version of "Green Hornet", and is hoping to bag the Blastmaster Yuen Woo-Ping for fight choreography. I'm not sure what to think about that. Hope (a healthy) Jason Mewes is in it though.


In the meantime Yuen Woo-Ping is finishing up Kung Fu Hustle with my favorite HK star, the master of "mo lei tau" comedy Stephen Chow. Chow's Shaolin Soccer is another gem now collecting dust in the closet of stupid ass Miramax.


Jackie Chan will make a "triumphant return to his Hong Kong roots" this summer in New Police Story, this could be promising. He's also got a Hollywood production of Around the World in 80 Days on tap, not sure how promising that is. The Governator is in it, hopefully Jackie will kick him in the face at some point.

Meanwhile Jackie's son will make his acting debut in Twins Effect 2, rumored to feature a climactic 15-minute fight scene between the proud papa Jackie and Donnie Yen. Which would rock.

Culture War

Funny, right after we mention that Howard Stern is now speaking out against President Bush, he gets banned by Clear Channel. On my radio show right after the Superbowl I said conservatives would use the aftermath of nipplegate to put a spotlight on their position as defenders of our good old christian values, and try to make that the defining issue of this election. I didn't think they'd build up this much momentum this quickly though.

Stern won't be affected too much, since he is on a non-Clear Channel station in most cities. But Daily Kos reports these comments from Stern yesterday:

Interestingly, this morning Stern predicted that he would get fired sometime this year. A Republican insider told him that the party received more mail about Bono using the F word on the grammys than any other subject.

In one of the best defense of the Democrats I've heard on radio, he also spoke out against this gay marriage distraction, called Kerry a hero for what he did during and after the war, and said that he will do everything he can to defeat Bush.

This is getting creepy. Gay marriage, churches denouncing jews, adult radio getting censored - we're in a full on culture war now. As Joe Klein said, "He said he was a war president, but apparently the war he wants to fight is a culture war"

Religious extremists are flexing their muscles.

Thankfully, according to Atrios there's at least one battle they lack the muscle to win, as it's now clear they lack the votes to get their hate amendment through.


Emmis Broadcasting is putting a decency policy in place much like Clear Channel's. They own Hot 97 here in NY, let's see if they are be affected..


I'm glad fark.com gives all these twisted minds something to keep themselves occupied, otherwise they might be out in the world doing even freakier things. Some of those are brilliant, actually.


Choice quote on Passions from the Globe and Mail:

"Mel Gibson has made a movie about the God of Love, and produced two hours of non-stop violence. We can only pray that next time, looking to Mars, he'll make a movie about the God of Violence, and produce two hours of non-stop love. That might be porn worth paying for."

I'm on my way to see to see it now at at the Magic Johnson theater on 125th, will report back afterwards. Hope nobody dies at this showing.


BTW O-Dub had been on a rampage lately.

February 27, 2004

Prince on Leno: One Obsessive Fan's Review

I'm hard to please when it comes to Prince appearances but tonight's Jay Leno performance wasn't half bad. Goes to show the man is much better when he can stretch out on one song instead of rushing through a medley. Rhonda was really working it on bass, and that "Do the Tighten-Up" coda was on point. The Jam Master Jay shoutout is appreciated, though it was arguably within the context of an anti-hiphop manifesto.

But I still wish Prince would deliver some real, nasty, gritty, Movie Star/Housequake/Rebirth of the Flesh caliber funk in his live performances, instead of this funk-lite he keeps kicking. One problem is his latest drummer John Blackwell.. who is a big step up from his predecessor Kirk Johnson but always softens up the groove with that soft-hitting, showy, overly intricate Tower of Power-style drumming. Al Jackson and Ziggy Modeliste could probably hit the hi-hat 64 times in one bar, or twirl the drumstick around and catch it in their teeth if they wanted to, but they never felt the need to prove it cuz they knew that a funky drummer's job is just to find the groove, hit it hard and stay in the pocket.

Another thing is, though I hate to admit this, Prince has really never known what to do with horns. If you look over his career, there's only been one stretch where he successfully integrated horns into his show, and that was when he had Eric Leeds around to hook it up for him. Nowadays Prince's horn deficiency always rears its ugly head in concert, where (despite the frequent presence of Maceo Parker) the brass makes most funk numbers sound all bland and vegas-y, like they did for "Baby I'm a Star" at the Grammys.

The horns were better than usual tonight though, now that I watch it again. Can't really complain about this one actually, except for one thing: The first line of his new song goes "Heard about the party, just east of Harlem?" Uhh dude, there's nothing east of Harlem except a river. Have you ever even been to Harlem?? Doug E. Fresh is cringing right now.

Detox: Deactivated

In case you didn't see, our man on in the inside JB just brought some bad news about Dr. Dre's long-awaited next album:

Detox album.... cancelled indefinitely =(


Debra Dickerson Puts the Blah in Blog

When I saw Debra Dickerson getting slammed left and right for her new book "The End of Blackness," I recognized her name from somewhere but couldn't place it. Then I remembered that she has a pair of blogs on her website, that someone showed me about a year ago.

If you're not aware of Debra's fondness for contradicting herself you might find it strange that this advocate of ending blackness has two blogs named "Black Cinderella" and "Black Catharsis", both featuring the dreadful tagline "we put the black in blog." (Note to Debra: when you use the "we put the _____ in ____" device, the first word is supposed to be contained in the second word.)

Sadly she has deleted most of her older entries, evidently so she can focus on spiking Amazon.com with fake reviews. Her instructions to fans are a blatant pitch for reviews from people who haven't read the books yet: "While you're there buying both books, post a positive review. Just follow the instructions on each page. Thanks." I know everybody plays this game nowadays but damn, can't we at least pretend to be honest, just a little?

Along with jabs at Halle Berry and Vivica Fox, the remaining posts also feature Dickerson's venomous tirade against a dwarf, who took her to task for using the word "midget" which many are not aware is considered a slur. The same woman who just called Vivica Fox a "silly 'itch" who "shoulda held out for a brain" lectures this guy for not being sufficiently polite in pointing out her own ignorance. Then she assures us she'd be willing to discuss the issue with a "reasonable Little Person" and proceeds to give the Little People a homework assignment: "Please include a discussion of these questions in your conversation: A) blah blah B) blah blah"

You can see a bunch of her older entries at archive.org, some of which are surprisingly cogent, I'll admit. It is puzzling, because she clearly sees the racism that remains in our society and doesn't hesitate to speak on it, but when others do the same she condemns them as "perpetuating their victimhood" and so on. I guess ideological consistency is too boring to land a book deal.

February 28, 2004

Join Us On The Radio Tonight, With Easy Mo Bee

Once again we hit the airwaves tonight at Midnight EST, with our radio show The Underground Railroad. You can tune in here, or at WBAI 99.5 FM if you live in the tri-state area. And while you are checking out the sounds you also can talk to us live in the chat room.

Tonight we are honored to have guest dj Easy Mo Bee manning the turntables, and of course we'll be talking to the man about his experiences working with Biggie, Miles Davis, etc. Let me know if you've got any questions for him..

February 29, 2004


Amy Goodman and Dennis Bernstein will be doing a special report on the crisis in Haiti, tonight at 7PM EST on WBAI and the other Pacifica stations.. you can tune in at wbai.org. Amy and the Democracy Now! crew have delivered the best coverage throughout this Haiti situation, and are sure to bring a much needed balance to mainstream media's slant tonight.

I can't help but notice that, as of this posting, so many of the big-name political bloggers have been silent on this story, which has been unfolding for weeks.. I see nothing on Talking Points Memo, nothing on Daily Kos, or Eric Alterman or Tbogg..

It's a complex situation and I can understand not wanting to pontificate without a comprehensive knowledge.. this is why I haven't gone beyond offering links here and there (atrios and Matthew Yglesiashave offered thoughts while being up-front about their limited knowledge). And as I've acknowledged before, no single blogger can ever come close to covering everything that deserves coverage. But out of all these guys I'd think somebody would be able to drop some kind of science.

It kinda seems to me like the story has been off their collective radar, which is the type of thing that makes me more acutely aware of how the elite political blogs are almost all done by white males. I dunno, I'm not drawing any conclusions from it, but it's something I notice.. any thoughts, or links to good Haiti posts that I missed?

EDIT: Here is one blog that digs deep into it. (via Matthew Yglesias)

Haiku-Blogging the Oscars

Hundreds of people
Will be blogging the Oscars
But none in haiku!

Joan Rivers causes
Unbearable nausea yet
I can't look away

8:10 PM
Here comes Billy Bush
Suddenly I'm longing for
Joan's incompetence

8:20 PM
"Hey Naomi Watts!
Watt's up??" Billy Bush just asked.
I'm buying a gun.

Mildly amusing
All I can ask from Crystal.
Next year, Dave Chappelle!

That big boat movie?
you mean there are people who
actually saw that?

I guess long ago
In a land far far away
Bob Hope was funny?

Damn you, Liv Tyler.
Your Lisa Loeb impression
has stolen my heart.

And winning New York's
Democratic Primary..
Return of the King!

I've been nodding off
Did Lord of the Rings lose yet?
oh, ok then... *zzzzzzzzz*

And in first place for
The Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee
Return of the King!

All hail Seabiscuit!
Greatest movie of the year
for me to poop on.

Film that mocks asians
ironically awarded
little yellow man.

Peter Jackson beams
"There is no word in elvish
for the joy i feel!"

"They stole my precious!"
Bill Murray growls with a sneer
"they are so tricksy!"

Now let's all just hope
Peter won't get the rights to
The Silmarillion.

About February 2004

This page contains all entries posted to hiphopmusic.com: in February 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2004 is the previous archive.

March 2004 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