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March 2004 Archives

March 2, 2004

More on Haiti

You probably heard by now that my colleagues at Democracy Now got the big scoop this morning, word from Aristide that he was taken from Haiti against his will by armed US agents. Bush's people have offered their denials but this whole situation still smells funny, and most of the bloggers whose silence I wondered about yesterday are taking notice. More info here:

U.S. political maneuvering behind the ouster - A profile of the Bush advisor who led the push for Aristide's removal. (via Atrios who has a bunch of posts on the topic)

Counterpunch thinks the press here in America dropped the ball. (the Times reporter cited here happens to be a friend, so I'm staying neutral on this one.)

Billmon has more details, and Micah Holmquist also has a ton of links to more coverage. (via Jeff Chang)

My good friend Deepa Fernandes will be reporting live from Haiti this morning on the WBAI morning show, and BAI will have updates throughout the day, along with special coverage of "Super Tuesday" in the evening.

Also, there will be a protest today here in NY, at 4PM:


Tuesday, March 2nd, 4 p.m.
Assemble at 47th Street and Second Avenue.

>As this statement is written, reliable sources report that, contrary
to press accounts, the United States government arrested and kidnaped
President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti. Witnesses saw US Marines
taking him in handcuffs and at gunpoint out of the Presidential Palace
on Sunday morning. Despite the reality, the US persists in reporting
that President Aristide "resigned voluntarily" for "the good of the
country." At the same time, US mainstream news media have refused to
report that Secretary of State Colin Powell told former US Congressman
Ron Dellums to deliver the following message to President Aristide
earlier this weekend - that so-called "Rebel leader" Guy Phillipe was
entering Port au Prince to kill him and that the US government would
not lift a finger in President Aristide's behalf. With these acts of
imperial arrogance, the US has sunk to an unparalleled low in its
violation of and contempt for international law.

This overthrow of a democratically-elected head of state is only the
latest and most cynical of recent US acts in contravention of
international law and cooperation.These include, for example: the
invasion of Iraq and its continuing aftermath; the refusal to join the
International Criminal Court and the demand that the US be exempt from
its jurisdiction; the withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocols on global

Arthur Russell and Disco Segregation

S/FJ has infiltrated the hallowed halls of the New Yorker with a profile of Arthur Russell, cult hero of the NY dance music scene and mastermind of the best record with the worst vocals ever, "Is It All Over My Face" by Loose Joints (another of the classics from Mel Cheren's West End label that blessed us with Taana Gardner's "Heartbeat"). Russell is starting to be rediscovered kinda like Shuggie Otis was a while back, thanks to a recent compilation of his work "World of Arthur Russell", and another collection of unreleased material "Calling out of Context".

Russell was also the co-founder of Sleeping Bag Records which later became home to many hip-hoppers including Mantronix, Nice and Smooth, Just Ice, EPMD, and their dancer Stezo whose Sleeping Bag album is now among the era's most treasured rarities.

My DJs and I (I mostly stood back and listened) spent a long time hanging out with Easy Mo Bee after the show on Saturday, mostly talking about that NY dance scene, Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage and so on, and lamenting how hip-hop and disco/dance music have become so segregated now. So many younger heads wouldn't be caught dead listening to house, and would never credit disco with anything besides inspiring hip-hop as a backlash to its supposed lameness. But that wasn't always the way, and that dance music and the djs who pioneered it are an essential part of hip-hop's family tree. Almost all of hip-hop's great minds that I've known, from Red Alert to Easy Mo Bee to Spinna to Just Blaze, have been devoted students of the dance/disco/club/house tradition.


P.S. - Is it just me or did fellow dance legend David Mancuso look a lot like Eric from Stinkzone, back in the day?

P.P.S. I've gotten to meet Cheren, Nicky Siano, and many other legends of this scene by hanging out at Jeannie Hopper's show, the Liquid Sound Lounge. Anyone who digs this kinda stuff should dig into her show.

P.P.P.S. Thanks to Sasha for correction on my mix-up of Cheren and Mancuso.

March 3, 2004

Nelson Mandela and Charlize Theron

Was I the only one who found it a little jarring when Charlize Theron sent a big-up to her people in South Africa? I guess not, cuz this blog and that blog also commented on it.

My reaction wasn't as strong as theirs, and I don't think it's fair to make any snap judgements based on her Afrikaner heritage. Plus I've gained a lot of respect for her reading about the family drama she went through, so similar to what many of my kids had been scarred by when I worked at the group home. But it did remind me that I've can't recall ever seeing Charlize discuss her experiences growing up under Apartheid. So I did some googling, and found a few references to this 1996 People magazine interview:

..with the dismantling of apartheid and the creation of new affirmative action laws, she became convinced "there was no future for a white South African." One week after turning 16, she accepted an offer from an Italian model scout, and--with her mother's blessing--headed for Milan. Looking back, she says, "I just ran."

Uhh, yeah. That quote leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But it is from a long time ago [insert every defense of Eminem here], and I've done enough interviews to know that when you only see sentence fragments quoted, there's a pretty good chance the context is getting distorted.

This topic sparked some lively discussion recently in a couple of threads at IMDB, with a number of white South Africans joining in. In one of those posts I found a somewhat more palatable Theron quote from Interview Magazine:

IS: When you were growing up, was there something inside you that said, "Wait, I'm living in a situation that's all wrong?"

CT: Yes. It's hard to believe anyone growing up there then wouldn't have
had that reaction. But I'm sure a lot of that had to do with the awareness
in my family. We lived on a farm and we had every nationality living there
and working the land. All the workers' families lived there, so from the age
of three I grew up with their kids. I was always surrounded by Zulus and
South Sothos; apartheid was something that was always being discussed in my

As a kid I remember being extremely happy living in this little world on
our farm where nobody was being abused and human rights were respected. It
was only when I left, when I became a teenager and went to school in
Johannesburg that I went, "Oh wow, people really think it's weird that black
people live on our farm."

So, should that be enough to put our mind at ease? Looks like Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki think so:

SA celebrates with Charlize

South Africans yesterday sang the praises of home-grown Oscar winner Charlize Theron and the country will be rolling out the red carpet when she visits next week [...] Her achievement - she's the first South African to win the award - brought praise from many, including President Thabo Mbeki. "South Africa has done it again, the Nobel prize for peace, the Nobel (prize) for literature and now an Oscar for best actress," Mbeki said.

He added that Theron's personal history, her performance in Monster and her resulting award were a metaphor for SA's recent transformation. "Theron has proved that we as a nation can produce the best in the world. In this film we see her drawing on her innate tough-mindedness and emotional stamina in overcoming the tragic personal circumstances of her own early life, in order to shine."

When Theron was 15, her mother Gerda shot dead her alcoholic husband Charles in self-defence when he came home in a drunken rage threatening to shoot his wife and child. "Theron represents a grand metaphor of SA's move from agony to achievement. We rejoice in the recognition by the most critical minds in filming that Charlize Theron is pure gold."

Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, said: "It is becoming something of a tradition for the government to honour the great achievements of South Africans. The president will receive her at the Union Buildings." He added that Mbeki was particularly gratified that Theron's success was being applauded by all South Africans.

Nelson Mandela also wanted to personally congratulate the star. His spokeswoman Zelda la Grange said: "Mr Mandela was overjoyed - however not surprised - to learn that Charlize won the title." She said Mandela would like to meet Theron - if she could find the time during her visit.

The Times reports that she will indeed be having dinner with Mandela, and is currently picking out a dress for the occasion. If the big man deems her cool enough for a dinner date, who am I to hold a grudge? She should pick up the check though.

She also gets props for speaking out against the death penalty while promoting Monster.

Another Victim of Dietetical Correctness

Good god, McDonalds is phasing out the super-size?? Shame on you for caving in to all these left-wing "nutrition" thugs, who have no respect for this country's core values of gluttony and obesity. The Hamburglar weeps.


In other news, Puffy tells his Broadway show "Don't worry if I read scripts.."


The Village Voice weighs in on the dark alliance between the Source and the US Army.


The Blueprint links to Michael Jackson's snazzy new website, which is probably good for hours of fun but I'll never know because the flash intro gave me a seizure.


Oh yeah and my Haiku was linked to by none other than the mighty Gawker. I guess all that sucking up I did last month paid off! Have I mentioned that I think Slashdot and Fark.com are also totally not racist?? *hint hint*

NEW AUDIO: Easy Mo Bee on the Wheels


A week after welcoming Kool DJ Red Alert to our studios we were once again in the presence of a legend last Saturday, when Easy Mo Bee came through to grace the turntables. We did a nice little interview that I'll get up soon, but for now here are 50 minutes of Mo Bee's favorite breaks:

And don't forget there are dozens of other mixes on our Radio Show page. They are lonely and want your company.

March 4, 2004

You Can't Stop Nothing Over Here, Akk!

No time to post today cuz I'm doing some freelance work for my old job (how do regularly employed people blog??). So I will share with you my favorite mp3 out of the 2,794 on this PC. It's a tape of Beanie Sigel calling Power 99 in Philly a few years ago, for a demented shouting match with another local emcee named Gilly the Kid.

I have no idea what they're arguing about but I never get tired of hearing it. Does anybody know what this was all about?

March 5, 2004

A Conversation with Easy Mo Bee

As promised here is the interview we did with Easy Mo Bee, after he finished dropping a history lesson on the 1200s. I think he's more comfortable on the turntables than on the mic but he was kind enough to indulge us for a good 15 minutes, with quite a few choice tidbits dropped here and there. Joining in on the discussion were Emskee, Monkone, and our extended family Uncle Steve, noted collector and nephew of Jabo Starks.

March 6, 2004

Hold Your Head Up You Silly Girl/Look What You've Done

It seemed so outlandish when Jay-Z called himself "the Martha Stewart who's far from jewish," but pretty soon lots of rappers might illustrate their "realness" by comparing themselves with Martha, who is likely on her way upstate.

It's hard not to chuckle at the thought of jailtime for Martha, and it seems clear that ultimately this is nobody's fault but her own. But honestly my impression (as one who didn't follow this story very closely) is that on another level she's totally getting scapegoated by the government.

With all the corporate scandals in recent years, they need to look like they are going after these things, but of course they'd rather avoid taking down any of the corporate bigwigs with whom they share a bed. So what better solution than to make an example out of Martha Stewart, who is far from a major player in this game and whose crime involved a relatively small amount of money, but whose celebrity name will bring the government tons of publicity as champions of the fight against corporate corruption?

March 7, 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.

March 8, 2004

Your Blog is Featherweight, My Haiku'll Make You Levitate

Looks like I have some competition out there. Do I smell Haiku blog beef? Think twice before you test the skills, kid.


In case you missed it, here's a photo of Snoop mesmerizing the Olsen twins with his pimp cup.


Have you ever heard of face blindness? Fascinating. (via Anil)


New Yorkish reports on the new show from our friend Sarah Jones. We haven't this yet but we endorse it wholeheartedly.

EDIT: Why am I speaking in the royal "we" all of a sudden? Must be all this talk of multiple personalities.


Democracy Now bids farewell to one of the greats of the Nuyorican poetry scene, Pedro Pietri.


EDIT: I should mention that WBAI will be ruinning 24 hours of special programming today, for International Women's Day.

The REAL History of Hip-Hop and Porn

Man the NY Times really dropped the ball on this one. In their report on the blooming relationship between hip-hop and porn, the so-called paper of record erroneously reports that no rapper has yet "performed" as the star of an adult film. How dare you disrespect the true pioneers of hip-hop porn?

Admittedly Snoop's Doggystyle tape doesn't count since he adopts a Rod Serling role, introducing the escapades without joining in. But do you mean to tell me nobody at the Times ever saw Treach's Naturally Naughty Porno Movie?? Or the groundbreaking work of Cypress Hill affiliate Son Doobie in Son Doobie, Porn King way back in 1995, later cited by Eminem in "Guilty Conscience"? Talk about cultural illiteracy!

BET.com did a far better job reporting on this trend last year (you know you're slipping when you get out-reported by BET!), and they reminded me that the true godfather of hip-hop porn is NWA's DJ Yella, who has been working in the porn industry since 1994 as Tha Kidd. Interestingly their piece also quotes Shecky Green, the producer Game's Hip-Hop Honeys, without mentioning that "Shecky" is actually Source co-founder Jon Shecter.

(NYT link via coolfer)

Khia and Necro Banned in Australia

Quite an unlikely pairing, Khia and Necro (Warning: Necro's site is extremely NSFW).

From reading the headline I expected Em and 50, or perhaps Lil Jon, but I guess the Aussies are looking for a bit more indie cred with their censorship.

Explicit Rappers Banned

THE music of two American rappers has been banned from sale to Australian children under new censorship rules.
The Australian Record Industry Association has banned MC Khia's single My Neck, My Back and album Thug Misses and Necro's album Brutality Part One.

MC Khia's single explicitly describes oral sex, and the album includes the track F--- Dem Other Hoes.

Necro's album has lyrics describing how to get rid of a body.

The ARIA introduced three-level censorship guidelines in 2001.

The first two levels warn of explicit content.

This is the first time the "level three" warning - preventing sale to persons under 18 because of "gratuitous violence and sex" - has been enforced.

The "Exceeding Level Three" category - a total ban - is yet to be enforced in Australia.

March 9, 2004

Fear and Glowing at the Orkut Launch Party

Recently one of our elite operatives, Irina Slutsky, went undercover to infiltrate the launch party for Google's new friend-network thingy Orkut. Irina has now resurfaced with this report:


Accidentally on purpose, my friend Scott Hirsch and I ended up at the San Francisco launch party for Google's invite-only social networking service, Orkut.

Let me set the scene.....Tenderloin district, 8pm, sharp.....

A giant bouncer in requisite leather and shaved head is clutching a handful of printed Orkut profiles in his left fist, telling people trying to get into the club that they'll have to "get someone from inside to vouch that they are on Orkut" before they can go in.

Continue reading "Fear and Glowing at the Orkut Launch Party" »

Why I'm Up at 6:15

Big thanks to Mr. Matos, for the headache he gave me by linking to this torture chamber of hackneyed music writing at Slate.

"'Windowlicker' is a few years old, but it's still far more innovative than just about anything being produced today. Where most electronic music, hip-hop included, is comprised of thoughtlessly simple beat patterns and painfully formulaic song structure, Aphex Twin employs true, detailed, musical composition..."

"Latyrx is the definition of what hip-hop should be. There's no shtick, no braggadocio attitude, and none of the millionaire posturing that's so popular these days..."

Yes, cuz goodness knows braggadocio has never had a place in hip-hop.

I don't want to be too hard on this guy since according to the bottom of the page he's not even supposed to be writing: "Josh Payton is Slate's interactive designer." Well then for pete's sake, Slate, stop cutting corners and hire a writer for that column, so this poor guy can get back to photoshop where he belongs!

My Brush With Biggie Smalls

March 9th, as you all should know, is Biggie Smalls Memorial Day, this year marking the 7th anniversary of Christopher Wallace's passing. I will now commemorate the day with a somewhat random and namedroppy story.

In the mid-nineties I used to spend every Saturday night at WNWK 105.9 FM, which was home to hip-hop's very first radio shows in its earlier incarnation as WHBI, and housed classic rap shows on Saturday nights throughout the 90s including The Dirty Dozen, the infamous DNA/Hank love show, Red Bandit's Nighthawks show, and the legendary Awesome Two (who will be our guests this week on WBAI).

I would do my show earlier that night, then come down to WNWK's studio on Canal Street to hang with my radio brethren and play chess with Stan the engineer. After the Dirty Dozen finished their show we'd usually go out for a late-night meal, and whichever artist was in the house that week often came along.

One of the artists who came along regularly was Shinehead, who was well past his commercial prime at that point but still keeping himself in the game, and always big fun to be around, gregarious and full of jokes. That night while we walked up to Round the Clock on 8th street, Shinehead was in the middle of telling a story had everyone's rapt attention when a voice came booming from inside a car with tinted windows parked outside the restaurant: "YO! IS THAT SHINEHEAD!?? YO C'MERE MAN!!"

We all turned to around to see a big black hand beckoning us over to the car, and followed behind as Shinehead walked over to greet the fan, and as I stepped up for a closer look I thought "damn is that Biggie Smalls??" And that's just who it was, excitedly giving Shinehead a pound and going on about how he loved his record back in the day. That'll always be how I remember Biggie, as a fan who was totally geeked to be meeting Shinehead, and gave him utmost respect even though he himself was already a much bigger star by that time.

I told that story to Mister Cee soon afterwards, and he said that sounded just like Biggie, that he was always a devoted hip-hop fan and music lover at heart, and no matter how much he talked about being in the rap game for the money it was always his love for the music that really drove him.

March 10, 2004

NYPD: Teaching the World How to Spy on Rappers

The Crunkster helps MTV follow up on the Herald's breakdown of how Miami police are secretly spying on hip-hop artists. The Herald also confirms that New York's cops, who pioneered this field, are training other cities in this hip-hop spy game, and letting them study the NYPD's extensive hip-hop surveillance files.. you know, the ones they told us do not exist.

Newspaper: NYPD Training Other Cities How To Spy On Rappers

Despite denials from New York Police Department officials that a "hip-hop division" exists to maintain tabs on rap stars, a report in The Miami Herald on Tuesday suggests that the department does indeed run such an operation — and is sharing its data with other police departments around the country.

The Herald exposes the Miami Police Department's tactics of spying on hip-hop celebrities and their entourages when they descend onto South Beach to live, vacation or party. Officers admitted in the report that they regularly photograph rappers as they arrive at Miami International Airport, tap hotel and club workers for information on the celebs' comings and goings, and stake out hotspots and video shoots.

"A lot [of], if not most, rappers belong to some sort of gang. We keep track of their arrests and associates," Miami police Sergeant Rafael Tapanes is quoted as saying.

Information obtained on the rappers is apparently kept in a binder developed by the NYPD. It was shared at a specially arranged "hip-hop training session" last May that included officers from Los Angeles and Atlanta. The training session allegedly outlined the information kept in the binder and trained officers on what radio stations to monitor for information on new rivalries and what to look for in rap lyrics.

Artists profiled in the binder include 50 Cent, Eminem, P. Diddy, Jay-Z and Ja Rule. When called by MTV News, neither the NYPD nor the Miami Beach Police Department wanted to comment...

MTV's earlier report on the NYPD's "Hip-Hop division" is here.

Richard Pryor's Wife Has a Posse

A few months ago I posted some comments about "I Ain't Dead Yet," Comedy Central's tribute to Richard Pryor, produced by his wife Jennifer Lee Pryor. Although I enjoyed the show, I mentioned that Mrs. Pryor injected too much of herself into the program, for my tastes.

Well evidently Mrs. Pryor googled herself this weekend and was none too happy with what she found here, pounding out this reply:

Injecting far too much of myself? SInce I have known RIchard intimately since 1977 and have such wonderful stories-the obvious was to interview myself-and all the comments thus far were that people wanted more! I have no beef with Mooney except Comedy Central didn't want him because he is so common a talking head when it comes to RIchard. When I produce a longer doc, perhaps I will use him.Your comments smack of racism-and at the very least, lack of intelligence!

This was immediately followed by another post from Jennifer, and then one purporting to be from Richard himself, inviting me to check out his website. Soon after came two posts from what are obviously friends of Mrs. Pryor, whom she asked to come in and back her up.

The first of these two friends was a Veronica James, and I emailed the address posted to confirm that she actually existed, and ask how she was connected to Mrs. Pryor. We exchanged several e-mails in which she vehemently insisted she doesn't know Jennifer, and that it was only a coincidence she appeared so soon after Mrs. Pryor to sing her praises and add a charge of sexism to Jennifer's racism angle.

But what Veronica didn't know is that I had already checked my server's logs, and found that her post not only came minutes after the ones from Jennifer and (supposedly) Richard, it actually came from the exact same IP address, a Roadrunner account in Southern California. Veronica's first e-mail also came from the same place, presumably Jennifer's home or office, sent over Roadrunner via AOL's webmail service. Therefore I already knew what Veronica was doing, and I just wanted to see if she would be up front about it. She wasn't.


So to Jennifer: if you're reading this, I appreciate your explanation of Paul Mooney's unfortunate absence from the program. As a whole I thought your program was actually fairly good, and I missed the first 5 or 10 minutes, so perhaps seeing the show in its entirety would have put your segments in their proper context.

But based on what I did see, I thought it would have been better with a bit less of you in it, and I see no reason to apologize for expressing that opinion. Your suggestion that my comments were motivated by racism doesn't make much sense to me, since numerous whites other than yourself were prominently featured on the program, and I had no complaint about any of them (or the other females featured).

I have no beef with you, and I wish you nothing but the best. But if you're going to put yourself out there for public consumption you need to be ready for some negative feedback, that's the cost of doing business. Lashing out at anyone who criticizes you with groundless counter-accusations and insults only makes you look petty. Look at it this way: you're on TV getting paid, and I'm at home watching you! There's no reason to get this worked up over my opinion.

And to Jennifer's posse: Did you guys really think you were fooling anybody, popping up right after Jennifer in a page that had been silent for months, to shower her with adulation? I can totally understand wanting to stick up for your friend, but next time you should just be honest about it.

Talib Kweli vs. ImRickJamesB***h

Recently someone who goes by the name of "ImRickJamesBitch" posted links to a demo version of Talib Kweli's unfinished album. After a warning from ?uestlove that Kweli had heard about this and was fuming, Kweli himself appeared with a message for all those he immortalized on Kanye's album as "Okayplayer Haters":

You know what, I’m a fan of hip-hop too. If I had a chance to get a hold of one of my favorite artists CD’s early, I would jump at it. So if some asshole from a recording studio leaks my unfinished, unmixed and uneven album, consider it a personal triumph. Play it for your friends, and if you like it, buy the version I want you to have. If you are a fan of my music, allow me to live off it so I can continue to bring it to you. But once you put it on a website and encourage people to download it, you become the bigger asshole. You are not respecting my artistic process and worse, you are taking food out of my children’s mouth. The shit is depressing really because I work so hard and I deserve the right to determine how I want my music presented. If you are truly a fan of my music, please do not support people who do this, no matter what the temptation might be. This music is what I have to live on. You also disrespect the other artists by spreading rough vocals and rough mixes. You really don’t give a f**k about nobody but yourself. It’s sad.

ImRickJamesBitch, are you that much of a loser that you gotta live off another man’s work? Put your own f**kin’ album on your website. Get you some pro tools, pay producers and studio time, get guest artists to come be on your shit. Then maybe you won’t be tempted to just disrespect somebody’s craft. Kanye shipped 800,000 records. How many records do you think I will ship? But yet you couldn’t resist to expose MY album? That shit is not fly. I will find out who you are and you will be dealt with accordingly. This is no threat. To everyone else, I am blessed that there is so much anticipation for what I hope will be a great album. I have never gone gold or platinum. If you think I should be by now please don’t support or do shit like ImRickJamesBitch; that shit does not help. I have a mixtape coming next week. Download that. Please help my cause, don’t hurt it, and I will always be the best artist I can be.

Talib Kweli

ImRickJamesBitch quickly reappeared with this reply:

I appreciate your announcement and definitely see some of your points. But I think your anger should be directed toward the nigga who stole your shit out the studio.

And everything was cool up until the "I will find out who you are and you will be dealt with accordingly" shit. Be a man about yours and don't speak in ambiguous phrases. Will YOU deal with me accordingly? If that is the case, you don't have to find out who I am. I can send you my info and you can come see me "accordingly". I'm not trying to be a tough guy, but you don't really pose a physical threat to me. So you might just want to abandon that option.

I'll be staying tuned to okayplayer to catch the next chapter of this drama... Hopefully Charlie Murphy will be involved somehow. Kweli got into something similar a couple of years ago on the site, going ballistic on a kid named DJ 3rd Rail, for reasons that escape me now.

March 11, 2004

Shady Hip-Hop News Sites

Joseph Patel tells how one of his MTV.com stories got straight jacked by eurweb.com:

I did an exclusive interview with P. Diddy, where he revealed this point, among many (but clearly the one to peg the story on). Well, the clever blokes at EUR Web, the english-based celebrity gossip wire (more prolific than cam'ron at the powder factory), picked up my story, made it their own and then sent it out on their wire to a worldwide media syndicate.

Nevermind that they don't credit the source (the mothership), but they straight up invented their own quote: "Not that it will affect the rap community in the way that Jay-Z's retirement did. But I'll be shedding a tear the last time I walk off that stage."

the f**k?!

I went to eurweb hoping to find the article in question, but their obnoxious flash ads and spyware pop-ups crashed my browser.

March 12, 2004

50 Voices for Madrid

  1. Anil Dash: Our thoughts are with you today, as yours were with us two and a half years ago. I can't explain or understand what happened today, but I can vouch for the fact that it does get more bearable in time.
  2. El diario de Victor Flyte: Hay tanto dolor que no hay palabras. Sólo dolor.
  3. Likemolasses: i feel so selfish for feeling this strongly, for weeping over the images, for walking around stonefaced and numb all day, for sending stupid solidarity emails and planning a vigil, but i feel like someone's ripped apart my own house and left the residents for dead. worst part is, i can't even get back into it. madrid, ahora mas de que nunca, me echas de menos...

Continue reading "50 Voices for Madrid" »

Grab Bag

Our original guests for tomorrow's radio show (The Awesome Two) have gotten pushed back a week. But we have another friend in town who will be stopping by to do a set if he has time, namely the UK's finest, Will Quantic.. should be another classic if he makes it through. Yes, I know I use the word classic too much.


Charlize Theron finally got to meet Nelson Mandela, and was appropriately verklempt. (courtesy of Gwen)


Jin has a new collabo with Kanye West, which he is promoting on his Xanga homepage. Gotta love a rapper with a Xanga page! that's almost as cool as Anomolies emcee Pri the Honey Dark's Blackplanet page. (peace to Girlsareweird)


ha-HA! This time I will be first on the block to link up S/FJ's latest gem.

March 13, 2004

The "N Word" in Hong Kong Pop Music

Last night at one of my DVD shopping spots in Chinatown they were playing some surprisingly funky cantonese pop.. not really funky by American standards but you could tell they were trying their best to work it, and had landed in a mysterious realm halfway between Timbaland and Air Supply.

I appreciated the effort, and was nodding my head approvingly the singer started making a little speech in english.. I didn't catch everything he said, but I was damn sure bewildered when he ended his rap with a triumphant "..and you better recognize! Niggaaaaas!!"

Then they launched into the chorus: "This is the outroooo... For all you chickens and hoes..... This is the outroooo.. for all you chickens and hoooes.."

I inquired at the counter and found out this was a young man named Edison Chen, who I'm familiar with from two of Hong Kong's biggest recent movies, "The Twins Effect" and "Infernal Affairs." Like most HK stars he's famous both as an actor and a pop singer, and this track was from his latest release entitled "Please Steal This Album."

I hope his album title will be a lesson to all you American rappers: just because you're a bad boy and a rebel doesn't mean you have to be impolite about it!

EDIT: Further research seems to indicate the rap was not done by Edison himself, but by a guest rapper named MC Yan, from a now defunct HK rap group named LMF, short for Lazy Mothaf**kaz.

Do any of you know much about Edison Chen and LMF, or the general hip-hop scene in Hong Kong? Is it common for artists there to slang the "N" rock?

March 14, 2004

Prince All Over the News

Prince is getting a lot of love in today's newspapers, as he prepares to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow, with a new album and tour following close behind.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer serves a tasty entree with some cool anecdotes from Mavis Staples, Sheila E. and others.

Glenn Gamboa gives a solid overview of his career in Newsday.

But these pale in comparison to the special section (a 10-page spread in the print version) devoted to Mr. Nelson in his hometown Minneapolis Star: Prince: An Oral History. Registration required but well worth the effort.

And by the way, tickets are still on sale at ticketbastard for his concert here in NY tomorrow night, jumping off at a new club named Black on 56th street, after he finishes the Hall of Fame ceremony. Any time you can see the man in a nightclub setting like this that's an opportunity you don't want to squander.. and this one should be extra special, as he celebrates such a big day in his life, and has so many potential guest performers in town for the Hall of Fame thing..

Maybe this will be the night I've been waiting for, when Prince finally gets Sly Stone to rise again (a man can dream!)

March 15, 2004

Horror Abounds

Okay, somebody just came to this site by searching in Google for "Bobbito Porn." I'm not going to ask what they had in mind, and if you know, please don't tell me.

Other searches that brought people here tonight:

"pimp cup designers in CT"
"hip-hop postmodernity"
"piano negro hip hop"


In other news, Ms. Magazine has a blog now, and their latest entry looks deeper into an issue we wondered about earlier, the scapegoating of Martha Stewart.


I foresee horrific tragedy for the creatures of Middle Earth. Horrific indeed.


And speaking of horrific, somebody please tell me this clip of Rakim doing an promo for goldteethusa.com is some kind of hoax. Please? (via many places but I'll credit it to this blog)


EDIT: Continuing with the horror theme, looks like Donald Rumsfeld skipped class when they covered "How Not to Look Like a Soulless Demon on Television" in Public Relations 101":

Asked on CNN's "Late Edition" if the war was worth the lives of the 564 U.S. soldiers killed, Rumsfeld said, "Oh, my goodness, yes. There's just no question..."

I'd think when you're about to justify the deaths of 564 young americans, you might want to consider prefacing the justification with some expression of remorse, and delivering it in a tone that wouldn't be best described as "giddily enthusiastic." (via submeat)

March 17, 2004

James Lipton Presents: Inside the Blogger's Studio

Pardon the dead air around here, I'm still recovering from the Prince concert. I'll post a review shortly, but in the meantime here's the first half of an interview I did tonite for themediadrop.com. My first time doing an interview via IM, more challenging than I expected.

Also check out our friend's surprisingly controversial chat with Gothamist.

Insert Joke Containing "Gimme The Light" and "Menorah" Here

Here, unearthed by a top israeli blog, is a cool name for Adam Sandler to drop when he inevitably does yet another version of that Chanukah Song:

It's A Happy Chanukah for...

Sean Paul, 30, who just got two Grammy nominations — best new artist and best reggae album. Talk about an exotic background! His full name is Sean Paul Henriques. His father’s family is Sephardim of Portuguese origin who came to Jamaica in the mid-1600s. The Henriques have always been one of the most prominent Jewish families on the island.

Sean attended, among other schools, Jamaica’s Hillel Academy, a non-denominational school sponsored by the Jewish community. His mother is of Chinese Jamaican background. That’s about all that has come out about his Jewish background — except one of his big hits, ”Get Busy,” has been the subject of buzz on Jewish music sites because the rhythm of the tune (but not the words!) is very much like a Haftarah chant.

Sean rose to prominence as a dance-hall DJ in Jamaica. He broke huge this last year, when “Get Busy” rose to No. 1 on the U.S. charts and his CD “Dutty Rock” hit the Top 10. Jamaica’s Jews, by the way, have always been well integrated into the life of the island, and the community has produced many important business, cultural and government figures.

Hip-Hop Blogs: Blind to Gender Issues?

Lizelle of Paper Thin Philosophies writes:

"When all women and men engaged in feminist struggle understand the interlocking nature of systems of domination, of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, feminist movement will regain its revolutionary progressive momentum." - bell hooks

It's damn hard, so damn hard when men do not even take the initiative to engage in the dialog. For example, on all these hip hop blogs I go to and read, where is the discourse on gender, patriarchy, sexism, etc? Step up dammit!

So, what of it, people? Before I slant things by putting my two cents in I'd like to get your thoughts on this, since a lot of the best hip-hop bloggers come through here, and the most astute blog readers as well. Certainly these issues deserve more attention, and this is as good a place as any to start.

March 18, 2004

Gay Hip-Hop: Can the Subaltern Spit?

Terry Sawyer with a must-read on hip-hop and homosexuality:

Queering the Mic

"The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House"
– Audre Lorde

"My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge
That'll stab you in the head
Whether you're a fag or lez"
– Eminem

The Lorde quote has always haunted me for both the way it sears open an entire realm of truth to power and the ways in which it's clearly too pat; particularly when the master's tools are the only things lying around. In hip-hop, this quote seems to run on a loop in my head as I watch video after video of consumer gluttony gone bling with women just one more thing to accumulate.

Don't get me wrong, I love hip-hop. For someone enamored with language the way I am, there's nothing like the pleasure of listening to a genre where words are minted by the minute and meaning gets telegraphed to your booty through lexical stunts of brilliant rhythm. But I got issues. Even the margins of hip-hop are plagued with Promise Keeper views of women and tedious dependence on the crutch of homophobia. (e.g., Not two minutes into the latest MC Jean Grae, we're treated to diss all of the "faggots" who don't tremble in her path.) It's worse listening to the mangling explanations which come forth, that usually end by illuminating the fact that they're not just really calling someone a homosexual, but doing so with a back handed gesture of sexism. I guess this means that the categories of gay and lesbian has become a toxic waste dump for leftover bigotries that can no longer be expressed in polite company.

The energies of prejudice can be impacted into gays because there are still several socially acceptable rationalizations for the hatred. Still debating our existential validity, just recently given legal permission (at least partially) to be who we are, queer folk still operate as frighteners in public debates where religious psychotics still reign over a major political party and forge their selves and sense of mission from the number of freedom pyres under their belts.

Talking to gay artists about their sexuality and art can be a tricky task. Every time I do it, I'm confronted with the low-grade hostility that emanates from a human who feels caged and constrained by a label. Nobody wants to drag around such an oppression nametag as a point of entry for recognition. It's the same burden African-American artists struggled with and, in many cases, have largely overcome through ubiquity. Saying "gay" rapper, comes with an undercurrent of stooping as if to say "Oh, look dear" or "My, my, what a surprise."

Having wound my way through the house of a thousand caveats, I still set out to find out whether or not Lorde's axiom holds true for queers, and whether or not GLBT people could make countercurrent inroads in a genre deeply invested in keeping them as a place holder on the bottom of the totem – just below "yo mamma" slams...

Ozomatli Show Gets Maced

Strange happenings at SXSW. What the heck was this all about?


...For their final song, Ozomatli started a procession out of the doors and into the street, each member playing their instrument acoustically, playing drums and guitar and whatever and singing as they made their way through the crowd, which consisted primarily of happy, laughing, dancing people.

Which is when the cops started beating some guy up and (literally) randomly Macing the rest of us, for no apparent goddamn reason at all.

I don't know what happened. One minute I'm watching a really happy, positive musical vibe, the next minute I'm smelling Mace and people are stampeding away from me. Abe had his bike and almost got knocked over. One cop pointed his Mace at me and I screamed "What the f**k do you think you're gonna do with that? What the f**k is wrong with you?"

They ended up in a circle -- some of them with batons, beating up some hippie looking guy, the rest standing in a circle looking like they were ready to start shooting at the rest of us, who started to get outraged (especially the middle-aged yuppie types who were just there for the show).

So Abe and I whipped out our cell phone camera and started snapping shots -- or in my case, pretending to, since my battery was too low to take pictures. We started yelling at them. "Go ahead, motherf**ker, spray down the f**king tourists, motherf**ker. Let's go national with this s**t..."

(via the ab)

March 19, 2004

There's A Bat in the House!

Reuters with the lowdown on Method Man and Redman's sitcom, set to debut on Fox this summer:

"Method & Red" revolves around the fish-out-of-water antics that ensue when two highly successful rappers move into a predominantly white, affluent gated community in New Jersey. The two are all set to revel in the high life until Method Man's mother decides to move in with them and restore a little order to the house.

Fish-out-of-water antics! Sounds like this will be, like, super proactive and totally in-my-face! No word yet on when Poochie will make an appearance.


EDIT: Movable Type is giving me this error when I try to add a new entry: "Out of memory during "large" request for 33558528 bytes, total sbrk() is 42100736 bytes at extlib/HTTP/Message.pm line 206." Does anybody know how I can fix that? There are a few threads in the MT support forum but they have no answers.

Other Wacky Hijinks

Adbusters is making a list of Jews, for some reason?


Some Canadian folks did a more honest version of those anti piracy ads we see before every movie nowadays.


JD Lasica says we should pay close attention latest FCC Rulings.


Abstract Dynamics has more on the Ozomatli Incident.

(first two via volokh, boing boing)>


BTW, I figured out the MT error listed in my last post was caused by a link to Outkast's new video, as .mov file.. once I took that link out of this post everything returned to normal. Is there some reason why linking to a very large file would cause Movable Type to choke on a new post? Or is MT just sick of Outkast?

March 20, 2004

PHOTOS: Anti-War Protest, NYC 3/20/04

1zapatistas1.jpg 1zapatistas2.jpg age20.jpg
billionaires.jpg bodies2.jpg clarinet.jpg
gollum.jpg green.jpg guernicasmaller.jpg
kucinich2.jpg rwb.jpg standup.jpg
stopbush.jpg vietnam.jpg whowouldjesusbomb.jpg

click thumbnail for full-size photo

Also check out my photos from one year ago, over here.

March 21, 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.

More Google Fun

Google searches that brought people to this site yesterday:

"modern rock sucks"
"negro black porn"
"rare muslim kung fu styles" - well worth researching, now that I take a look.

and the most disquieting:

"hear Sasha kill the b*tch" (?!??)

After consulting with the most prominent Sasha available, I figured out they were just looking for an old dancehall record. Whew.

March 22, 2004

Is Hip-Hop Poetry? Am I Supposed to Care?

I wasn't going to post about this Salon thing on hip-hop and spoken word vs. traditional poetry, because it's the type of article that annoys me without seeming worth the energy to rebut (which makes it annoy me that much more). But since I got roped into discussing it briefly at a friend's journal I will paste what I wrote there.


I saw that article and thought it was very poor for various reasons.. I found Saul's emcee vs. spoken word take shaky also, cuz there is a great deal of introspective hip-hop, just check out DMX's records, for one example people might find unlikely.

Whether hip-hop is poetry has never struck me as a question worth asking. I see no value in seeking validation from that establishment.. Plus, hip-hop is music first and foremost, and too many people miss the point by focusing entirely on the lyrical content.. so many reviews of hip-hop albums give no indication that it is a work of music they are judging, as they only critique the topics discussed, ideas expressed etc., which are all secondary to the musicality, for the hip-hop ear. So attempting to judge hip-hop by the literary world's traditional poetic standards is not likely to bring anyone a better understanding of the form..

Pretzels for Peace

Other sightings at Saturday's protest:

Also, I saw what I could have sworn were some very coppy-looking undercover cops at the march, not only pretending to be protestors but actually wearing a bunch of anti-war buttons, including ones that said "I Was Arrested For Peace." Did anybody else see those guys? I should have asked them about it and taken their picture, but my aversion to interacting with macho-man police got the better of me.

(my other photos are here)

Complicated Fun posted outtakes from their interview with Al Green, discussing Gay Marriage and Prince (in two separate questions).

In this interview with Eric Alterman, Dennis Miller continues his quest to be crowned "Most Obnoxious Blowhard on the Planet". What the hell happened to this guy? His behavior here reminds me of Uncle Junior's bout with dementia on this week's Sopranos.

UPDATE: Alterman says Dennis just called him and apologized. Maybe he's getting Uncle Junior's medication?


Speaking of which, I won't discuss since you might be waiting to catch it later in the week, but how perfect was that last scene tonight? In its best moments The Sopranos still has the best writing and acting on TV.

FBI Picks Up 6-Year-Old Lead in Biggie Case

The LA Times Chuck Philips, who was highly respected before dropping his dubious theory that Biggie had Tupac killed (we'll be polite and pretend that never happened), reports the FBI is finally following up on the long-rumored involvement of the LAPD in Biggie's death:

Former officer investigated in rapper's death

FBI case probes claims he helped plan '97 ambush

Seven years after the killing of rap star Notorious B.I.G., the FBI is investigating allegations that a rogue Los Angeles police officer orchestrated the slaying with rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, according to court documents and law enforcement sources.

The FBI is pursuing a 6-year-old theory that then-officer David A. Mack, acting at Knight's request, arranged for Amir Muhammad, Mack's friend and college roommate, to ambush the rapper outside the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Over the years, the Los Angeles Police Department has offered conflicting assessments of the theory, which police at one point took seriously. Documents show that LAPD detectives are now focusing on an alternative theory that centers on a Houston rap entrepreneur.

Mack, Knight and Muhammad, a Southern California mortgage broker, have long denied any involvement in the 1997 killing. "I have stated from the outset that I have nothing whatsoever to do with any of this," Muhammad, who also uses the name Harry Billups, said Thursday from his attorney's office. "I've done nothing wrong. I don't have anything to hide."

Knight, founder of Death Row Records, also rejected the allegations. "I don't know David Mack or Amir Muhammad. I've never met them," he said from Mule Creek State Prison, where he is serving time for a probation violation...

First Anniversary of the NYC Smoking Ban

One year after NYC banned smoking from bars and almost everywhere else, Gothamist readers list pros and cons of the new world Bloomberg created. My verdict:

Pros: The spectacle of smokers huddled outside every bar, shivering in the winter wind for another fix, highlights just how pathetic their addiction truly is.

Cons: Having to hold my breath when I walk in or out of any restaurant in Manhattan.

Fran Leibowitz is right that anyone worried about clean air should just move out of NYC. But for me it's not so much a health issue as a not having to smell something that smells like ass and causes my clothes and hair to smell like ass issue.

March 23, 2004

Okay Party People, When I Say Product, You Say Placement!

Funny little story from SxSW, courtesy of the Creative Commons blog.

Call and Response

My most vivid memory from South by Southwest:

Thursday night in Austin, TX, USA, MSN threw a party across the street from the convention center. It was in a spare warehouse space, like a rave or fly-by-night underground party, but the fancy lighting, free drinks, and imported-looking crowd (L.A.) all said Big Bucks. The women checking the guest list looked as if they might moonlight on The Price is Right. The event was planned, from what I could gather, as a buzz-builder for MSN's big move into the iTunes-style content business.

When I came in, the crowd -- around two hundred, I'd guess -- had gathered around the stage where legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash was in the middle of a set...

...after a compelling tweak of the bassline in Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," Grandmaster Flash cut the music and prepared the crowd for some call-and-response. It was old-school audience participation time. He'd play a hook, then cut the music, and the crowd would shout an answer in time with the song.

The call?

The chorus of "Good Times," a 1979 disco classic whose bassline Grandmaster's labelmates, the Sugarhill Gang, lifted for their single "Rapper's Delight" -- probably one of the top few most famous hip-hop songs ever, and one of the very first.

The response?

When I do this, said Grandmaster Flash, playing the vocal "Good Times," then dropping the volume, everyone yell "MSN."

People in the audience looked at each other.

Got it? he said into the microphone, Good times -- MSN! Good times -- MSN! Got it? Here we go.

A few people booed. The DJ played a few rounds of the vocal, then cut the volume.

Grandmaster Flash, and about a dozen audience members, shouted "MSN!"

A few scattered boos followed. Flash tried to rally the crowd. He played the call again: Good Times . . . Good Times . . . And the music cut out again -- the audience's turn.

This time they responded. But they didn't say "MSN."

What did they say? I asked the couple in front of me.

They said, 'Bulls--t,' the couple said, laughing. I asked my friends. They heard the same thing.

After a couple more such calls and responses, Grandmaster Flash went back to the regular show, and right away the crowd threw its hands in the air and danced again as if none of it had ever happened.

I don't really blame Grandmaster Flash. Or MSN for that matter. It's all just business.

Whether it's smart business is another story. And whether the stunt's layer upon layer of irony was intended or accidental is simply a mystery.


Also notable while we're on their page, CC's new music sharing license.

Raqiyah Mays Fired from Power 105, for Discussing Interracial Relationships

For anyone wondering if the neo-puritan climate would affect political speech as well as the sexual, Clear Channel's hip-hop station in NY has removed all doubt. I may disagree with her take on the issue, but firing her for discussing it is crazy.

DJ Fired for Race Remark

Weekend jock Raqiyah Mays was fired yesterday by WWPR (105.1 FM) after criticizing interracial dating during her weekend show. Power-105 officials said in a statement that the station "decided to release her based upon inappropriate remarks she made to listeners during her broadcast on Saturday.

"The station received many E-mails, phone calls and messages from listeners who were displeased and felt alienated as a result of her actions."

Mays' comments on interracial dating came while she was running a station contest in which listeners could win tickets to an Usher concert by making a confession. "Confession" is the title of Usher's latest record, which has sparked heavy buzz in radio.

"I made a confession of my own," Mays said yesterday. "I said I was concerned about interracial relationships when the African-American community has our own inner work and healing to do. If I see a white woman dating an African-American man, I feel, as do many African-American women, that there is one less black man available to us."

The host of a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift on Saturdays, Mays said she was shocked by getting the boot from the Clear Channel station.

She claimed she was the victim of a "climate of pins and needles" stemming from the firestorm over indecency following the Janet Jackson and Howard Stern controversies.

"I wasn't speaking against anybody," Mays said. "I was just being honest. Unfortunately, the industry is under FCC scrutiny and the climate is ripe for reactionary measures."

EDIT, 3/26/04: Since I made this post, a transcript has come out of her original comments on the radio show, and they turn out to go much further than she would have us believe in her explanation I'd posted above:

"I'm a racist. I really am. I have a problem with white people. Not all white people, but a lot of white people. ... I can't tell if they are being real with me or not. And then I hate when the black guy is walking down the street with the white girl. I hate both of them. C'mon, there's a man shortage, why you got to go ... "

As I said in the replies below, seeing these actual quotes makes her explanation that she was merely "expressing concerns" about a need for "healing" seem a little disingenuous, and make it a tougher call whether she should have gotten fired. I'd want to hear the program in its entirety before I judged that, hear the tone of the overall conversation, what came before and after, whether it was part of a discussion where her views could be balanced out by others..

Going by this transcript, I'm still inclined to say firing her was excessive, but it's not as clear-cut as it originally appeared.. hard for me to say that some type of disciplinary action wasn't appropriate.

And for the record, personally I don't see how asking two people who are in love to reject that love because one of them is the wrong color will ever do any good for anybody, or bring about healing of any sort.

NY's Black Talk Radio Bumped for New "Liberal" Network

For radio people like me this is big news. WLIB 1190 AM has been Black radio icon since before I was born, one of the two biggest Black-owned stations in the city, along with their FM sister station WBLS (originally WLIB FM, I believe).

WLIB has been best known for its politically oriented talk shows, and their owners Inner City Broadcasting have always promoted the station as a voice for the local Black community, much like my station WBAI provides an outlet for those shut out of the mainstream media.

Their most famous host was Gary Byrd, who collaborated with Stevie Wonder on "Black Man" and "Village Ghetto Land", plus his own Wonder-produced mid-80s rap record "The Crown." Byrd was seen hosting his WLIB show in Spike Lee's Bamboozled (since then he has moved over to WBAI).

As you can see on their (cheesily Flash-heavy) website most of their airtime goes to Carribean music nowadays. But switching it to a mostly white talk network is still a major shake-up.

Also note: In the NY Times insanely long profile of Al Franken, who headlines the new network, they mentioned that Chuck D would be co-hosting one of their shows alongside Daily Show creator Lizz Winstead, but now it appears he is backing out.

Air America Will Displace Black Talk On WLIB

New York's radio station WLIB-1190 AM has been loyally "serving New York's Black community" - as its logo states - for decades now. In the early '90s WLIB was lauded as a resource for "Afrocentric" programming and became known for featuring Imhotep Gary Byrd's "Global Black Experience" show.

The station was in many ways a Black activist outlet.

But by the end of this month, WLIB will be taking on a different hue, as it joins the launch of Progress Media's "Air America Radio," the new, predominately White, liberal talk-radio network. Air America has reportedly partnered with Inner City Broadcasting Corporation (ICBC), which owns WLIB.

"We are excited about the diverse and important voices Air America Radio is bringing to the airwaves, both on our own WLIB signal and others," said ICBC Chairman Pierre Sutton. "This strategic partnership allows both companies to combine our resources and deliver relevant messages to a broad and diverse audience..."

..."I don't get it. I mean, I do not get it," local activist Elombe Brath said about Air America Radio's takeover at WLIB. Reports are that WLIB's 40th floor station has been remodeled for Air America, and that the 30th and 39th floors are also being re-built to suit the needs of the new network.

Brath, who hosts and produces the show "Afrikaleidoscope" on WBAI-FM, and who played a part in the Afrocentric reorganization of WLIB's programming back in the early 1980s, complained that if listenership was down at WLIB, the station should have restructured from within as it did in the 1980s.

"All of the talk should be organic, from within the Black community," Brath insisted. "How can they think about coming into New York with a package program like this? We have people here already who know radio, who can do shows. And they want to come in with a program from other people trying to talk to Black people in New York City? [WLIB] is just a station that has been stripped of what it's supposed to be!"

March 24, 2004

A Baadasssss Evening with Mario and Melvin Van Peebles

Melvin and Mario Van Peebles, Immortal Technique in background ------------------------

Warning: Excessive namedroppery ahead.

I went to a screening tonight for a new movie named "Baadaasssss," that tells the story of Melvin Van Peebles' adventures infiltrating Hollywood with his breakthrough film "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song," Melvin's son Mario directed the film, and stars as his father.

It was a much more high-brow affair than I expected.. instead of the usual frumpy press people and mid-level execs I found myself sharing a table at a cocktail party with Ken Burns and the junior Van Peebles, who discussed the Jayson Williams case with a Fox News host while waiters in black suits brought us trays of wine and sushi. On my other side were Ed Bradley, Gloria Reuben and Salman Rushdie, telling a gorgeous blonde that he hadn't seen Pirates of the Carribean yet but City of God was Amazing. I was feeling underdressed, and underfamous.

Padma Lakshmi, Ken Burns, Melvin Van Peebles and Salman Rushdie ------------------------

Thankfully I found Immortal Technique in the back with his usual t-shirt and camouflage cap, plus a few more hip-hoppers to balance out the celebs and bigwigs. Still a bugged-out scene though, with a squadron of photographers who broke into a frenzy every few minutes as the famous faces walked in.

After we finished our cocktails the Sony folks ushered us into the plush seats of the screening room, where Stanley Crouch and Ken Burns stepped up to introduce the movie. My expectations were not very high as the lights went down, but I must say "Baadasssss" really moved and impressed me. Easily Mario's best work, telling a story so close to his heart must have brought out the best in him.

After the film, Stanley Crouch and Ken Burns came back up for a Q&A with Mario and Melvin. This was the highlight of the evening, the mix of personalities (euphemism for egos?) was great fun to watch. Ken Burns kept cutting Stanley off to praise the film's portrayal of their father-son relationship, stressing how it "transcended all the racial and political themes." Then before Crouch finally got his turn Melvin cracked everyone up saying "wait before we go on, let's give Stanley a drumroll, since he has this big ass bombshell question he's been dying to lay on us."

Mario, Melvin, Stanley Crouch and Ken Burns ------------------------

After Mario provided the proper drumroll, Stanley predictably aimed his bombshell squarely at the hip-hop nation, starting out with "well, we are in an era now where Black people are being bombarded with dehumanizing images like never before.." and Melvin cut him off incredulously, asking "what does that mean? did something happen I don't know about??" apparently wondering how today's media climate could possibly be worse in Stanley's eyes than the one their generation grew up with, that made Sweetback so revolutionary and so necessary.

Mario told his dad to let Crouch finish, and Stanley went on "I'm talking about the bad extremes of rap, without dealing with the good extremes, which are far less visible, in the bad extremes we are seeing 50 Cent dying and going up to Pimp Heaven, and you can trace a direct path from Blaxploitation movies (which your work was not a part of) down to what we are seeing now.. so I want to ask, in this movie [the original Sweetback] you were portraying a character very diferent from yourself, what were trying to achieve with that character?"

Melvin talked about being involved in the spoken word scene that led up to hip-hop, which he sees as a broad and diverse form of expression that was severely narrowed as it got co-opted by he mainstream, and Mario agreed. Mario said when they screened this new film in Chicago he spoke with former Black Panther leader Bobby Rush, who said what he loved about Sweetback was how it portrayed a flawed character who learned and evolved, was transported from a "me mentality" to a "we mentality," and the movie's great contribution was making it seem hip to be a revolutionary, through Sweetback's evolution.

Then Mario pointed out that right after Sweetback's success Hollywood took a movie named Shaft, originally meant to star a white actor, and turned it into a Black film that aped all the coolness of Sweetback but none of the substance. Instead of making it look cool to be a revolutionary, Shaft made it look cool to work for The Man.. and right after that came the even more counter-revolutionary Superfly, making it look cool to be a drug dealer. Thus Hollywood co-opted Sweetback by reproducing the "icing on the cake" but abandoning the substance that was at its core. And this, Mario said, is exactly what has happened to hip-hop: as it is increasingly co-opted by the corporate mainstream, it is increasingly reduced to little more than chocolate frosting.

Mario and Melvin were having a great time joking around with each other, and Mario seemed excited to have his friends Ernest Dickerson and Warrington Hudlin in attendance, working them into a lot of his stories. I felt honored and humbled to share this time with two generations of Black cinema pioneers, and especially feeling the love everyone there had for Melvin.

After the Q&A wrapped up I went to shake Mario's hand, waiting behind Immortal Technique and Gene Shalit. Needless to say, Immortal Technique in a cypher with Mario Van Peebles and Gene Shalit is an image I will carry with me always.

A few more pics:
Padma Lakshmi
Stanley, Gloria, Padma and Mario
Tia Texada of "Third Watch" - extra points if you can spot Ed Bradley in the background.

March 25, 2004

Typepad Blogs Banned in China

Glutter reports that any blogs published on typepad.com or blogs.com are now apparently banned in China, the latest step in their government's crackdown on the free flow of information through the internet, and on Chinese people's freedom of speech in general.

Among the crapload of blogs that would be affected by this are The Blueprint, Diesel Nation and Beats and Rants, just to name a few that we visit regularly. I wonder if it affects sites that use typepad but not their domain, like VH1's Best Week Ever blog?

Not sure what can be done to effectively protest this, but if anyone has ideas let me know. The least we can do is spread the word. You can also stay tuned to Glutter for more news and resources. That is, unless you are in China, in which case you cannot see her site anymore.

Donald Goines Rediscovered

As one of his books is brought to the big screen by DMX and Juice director Ernest Dickerson, Lola Ogunnaike introduces Times readers to Donald Goines, the godfather of Black pulp fiction who should be familiar to any hip-hop listener. The best coverage of Goines I've seen was in FEDS magazine, where they scored interviews with a bunch of his family members, I wish that was online somewhere. This Times piece is cool although the headline annoys me for some reason:

Credentials for Pulp Fiction: Pimp and Drug Addict

His was undoubtedly the path least traveled toward literary
achievement: Pimp. Armed robber. Convict. Heroin addict. In
his abbreviated time on this earth, Donald Goines, murdered
in 1974 at 36, was all of the above. And yet he became one
of the most popular black pulp-fiction writers of the
1970's, producing 16 paperback novels in under five years.

Tomorrow the movie "Never Die Alone," adapted from
Goines's 1974 book of the same name, is to open across the
country. It is the first Goines work to become a major
motion picture. (In 2001 the movie version of his "Crime
Partners" went straight to DVD.) Starring the rapper and
actor DMX as King David, a ruthless drug dealer, and David
Arquette as Paul, a reporter whose fortunes are suddenly
changed by a chance encounter with King David, the film is
told in flashbacks and is a dark look at one man's
fruitless search for redemption.

"Never Die Alone" comes at a time when Goines's novels are
experiencing a resurgence in popularity, fueled by prison
literacy programs, hip-hop music and now academia. In Crime
and Punishment in American Literature, a course at Rutgers
University this spring, Goines's debut novel, "Dopefiend,"
will be taught alongside classics by Upton Sinclair, Herman
Melville and Frederick Douglass. His books, which
painstakingly explore society's sordid underbelly, are
must-reads for prison inmates across the country.

"Donald Goines is across the board our most requested
writer," said Mary Driscoll, an outreach librarian who
works with the Dane County Jail in Wisconsin. "Because he
lived the life, his books really speak to that population..."

The film, meanwhile, is getting trashed by AP and Hollywood Reporter, but Newsday and the Times' own Elvis Mitchell give a thumbs up. Mitchell's penchant for random pop-culture allusions has become a running joke, but he kept it to a minimum here unless you count the Big Daddy Kane reference.

"Slack Jawed" Republicans Ban Female Genital Piercings

The sad thing is they are actually trying to help women with this bill, but they're too clueless to get it right:

Georgia House Votes for Genital-Piercing Ban

Genital piercings for women were banned by the Georgia House Wednesday as lawmakers considered a bill outlining punishments for female genital mutilation.

The bill would make such mutilation punishable by two to 20 years in prison. It makes no exception for people who give consent to have the procedure performed on their daughters out of religious or cultural custom.

An amendment adopted without objection added "piercing" to the list of things that may not be done to female genitals. Even adult women would not be allowed to get the procedure. The bill eventually passed 160-0, with no debate.

Amendment sponsor Rep. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, was slack-jawed when told after the vote that some adults seek the piercings.

"What? I've never seen such a thing," Heath said. "I, uh, I wouldn't approve of anyone doing it. I don't think that's an appropriate thing to be doing."

The ban applies only to women, not men. The bill has already been approved by the Senate but now must return to that chamber because of the piercing amendment (search). Both chambers of the Legislature must agree on a single version of a bill before it can go to the governor for final approval.

As Pandagon said, "this is what happens when old men make laws affecting young women."

March 26, 2004

Google Advisory Label

Mr favorite Google referral tonight:

"asian gang the ghost shadows nigga"

Okay, they want info on the Ghost Shadows gang, I get that. But how does the "nigga" fit into it? My guess is they were addressing Google as if it were a person: "Ayo google, go get me the scoop on the ghost shadows, nigga!"

And speaking of thinking there are people inside Google, they really need to put this warning under the search button:

If you put a celebrity's name into our search engine, and go to the first web page that comes up, this generally does not mean you are talking directly to that celebrity. Posting your phone number so the celebrity can call you back is particularly not advisable.

EDIT: Numerous visitors also think they are talking to Russell Simmons here.

Oh My God, Andre 3000's Got a Gun!

This is, bar none, the single most outlandish attempt to make a rapper sound scandalous that I've ever seen. It is a work of genius:

Outkast member brandishing gunGun-toting Outkast rapper featured at Democrat event

Member of soul duo pictured brandishing firearm part of fund-raiser with ex-presidents, candidates

Though the Democratic Party is known for its aversion to weapons and has pushed legislation limiting firearm rights, ex-Presidents Carter and Clinton joined a star-studded fund-raiser last night featuring the rap duo Outkast, which promotes itself with an image of one member of the group brandishing a handgun...

...On Outkast's website, outkast.com, one member of the group, Dre (aka Andre Benjamin), is seen prominently brandishing a smoking gun in his right hand. (After going to site, click on the right-hand image labeled "The Love Below.")

I can't come up with a comment snide enough to do this justice. I tip my hat to you, gentlemen. You have bested me.

Tickets for Live Screening of Prince Concert, Monday in NYC

Prince is kicking off his tour this weekend in Los Angeles, and Monday night's concert will be simulcast live in movie theaters across the country.. also, copies of his new album "Musicology" will be given to everyone in attendance.

I have two extra tickets for the screening in NY, at the Union Square theater, if anyone is interested.. $16 each, the concert starts at 11PM EST, this Monday. email me.

Ghostface Killah vs. Random Spam Text

Have you ever noticed the random text that comes in spam nowadays looks just like the lyric sheet for a Ghostface Killah record? Seriously, look at these lines and try to guess which ones are Ghostface rhymes, and which are taken from spam I got tonite (with commas added):

A) "coconut civilian, 87 lexicon"

B) "alfalfa archer, intense caramel breadwinner"

C) "photographic magic, funeral love"

D) "tyco nightglow, velvet pose"

E) "nice DNA, scroll genetics"

F) "desert athletic, champagne distributor"

4-2-04 EDIT: This quiz has now become and actual contest, like with prizes and stuff. Go here for details.

March 27, 2004

Raqiyah Mays Gets Slot on Hot 97

Raqiyah Mays, who got fired from NY's Power 105 for proclaiming herself a "racist" on the air and detailing her distaste for interracial relationships, will be heard on Power's archrival Hot 97 this Sunday from 1 to 5 PM, according to the press release her people just sent me.

If nothing else, this sure is a clever ratings ploy by Hot 97's boss Tracy Cloherty. Raqiyah's comments have sparked lots of discussion here on our site and elsewhere, and I'm sure lots of people will be tuning in on Sunday to hear some sparks fly.

I'm curious to hear which Raqiyah Mays will show up.. will she be using that blunt "I'm a racist" language of her original remarks, or the diplomatic "I just have concerns about the community" tone she switched to after the fact.

3/28/04 EDIT: Listening now.. there's no discussion going on, and her on-air demeanor as she refers to the controversy is really irritating and self-congratulatory. I'm turning to Felix Hernandez Rhythm Revue on 98.7 KISS.

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 hear us online here, or on WBAI 99.5 FM if you live in the tri-state area. And while you check out the sounds you also can talk to us live in the chat room.

March 29, 2004

John McWhorter and the Hip-Hop/Gender Meme

It's been amazing to see how far the discussion has spread since I posted Lizelle's question about hip-hop and gender (I'll be posting my thoughts on the subject soon, since I haven't joined in the discussion since I threw it out there). One corner of blogville touched by the meme was this blog that deals with education and learning disabilities, topics close to my heart since I worked for 6 years as a teacher/counselor for "emotionally disturbed" teens.

Liz Ditz drew on a variety of web sources for perspectives on hip-hop, including John McWhorter's essay from last year that will bring a grimace to many faces around here. I got into a groove writing a reply there, so I will paste my ramble here as well:

I found some of McWhorter's analysis rather dubious, grounded in lots of shaky assumptions and broad generalizations.. that piece was amply dissected at the time it came out, wish I had saved some of those discussions now.

His assessment of Grandmaster Flash's "The Message," for example, is wildly off the mark. That song, with its refrain "don't push me cuz I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head" simply expresses frustration at the hard times we live in, and does so quite eloquently, much like Marvin Gaye "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)." McWhorter's attempt to paint it as some sinister threat of violence is downright bizarre.

Suggesting that Sean "Puffy/P-Diddy" Combs portrays himself as a "gangsta" is also laughable to anyone remotely familiar with the public image Combs has cultivated for himself.

McWhorter's notion that hip-hop encourages its listeners to be anti-social and reject authority strikes me as outdated, if anything I can only wish that were still the case. Far from encouraging rebellion, much of the most popular hip-hop nowadays (see P-Diddy) encourages its listeners to do little more than obediently assume their assigned role in this society as passive, uncritical and voracious brand-name consumers.

Also, it should go without saying that mainstream commercial hip-hop is far more diverse in its content than critics like McWhorter would have you believe, and of course the few artists allowed into the mainstream only represent one small corner of hip-hop's vast landscape.

Turning "gangsta tribalism to healthy ends" is in large part how hip-hop culture was born, as founding father Afrika Bambaataa used it to steer NY's gang members towards a peaceful and positive path, using hip-hop to bring them together and provide outlets for their creativity in his organization known as the Zulu Nation (he had been leader of the Black Spades gang).

The National Hip-Hop Political Convention

The Newark Star-Ledger previews this Summer's event out in Jersey:

At this hip-hop convention, politicians will get an earful

Leaning against a light pole on Broad Street in Newark, a few feet from piles of hip-hop mixtapes and speakers blasting the latest hit from his mobile sales cart, Fuquan Brown, 28, nodded his head to the music.

"They said hip-hop was just a fad, but it's not a fad. It's a culture and it's not going away," he said. When two Rutgers University students approached Brown about registering to vote and becoming part of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, he signed on the dotted line.

Music has power, he said.

Thousands of hip-hop music lovers from across the nation are expected to converge in Newark from June 16-19 to create a hip-hop political agenda that they want candidates to address.

Hip-hop music, which is used to sell everything from cell phones to couture, is a common bond for a multi-ethnic generation between the ages 18 and 35. Organizers are betting the hip-hop generation is ready to begin organizing, raising money and making candidates address their concerns.

"Rather than let someone else create what we should care about, let us decide what our priorities are and what's relevant," said Charles Hill, 29, the New Jersey coordinator for the convention, a project of the National Black United Fund...

Chuck D vs. Kanye, Satchmo vs. Dizzy

MTV says Chuck D took a few jabs at Kanye West recently, wondering why "somebody gets top-notch producer credits for speeding up old records" and assessing Kanye's mic skills thusly: "I think his lyrics are decent but 85 [percent] of cats rhymin' have the same voice with little difference in cadence. That's like the NBA having 200 six-foot point guards."

Whatevs and probably many others have taken delight in these remarks, and that's understandable.. Kanye's album has gotten so much hype his own mother must be sick of it, and his ego could certainly stand to get taken down a few notches. Plus, that whole sped-up vocal sample thing is due to jump the shark any day now (and I'd guess Kanye is well aware of that).

But for me, the first thing Chuck's comments brought to mind was Louis Armstrong's almost identical rant about the younger generation of be-bop pioneers like Bird and Dizzy. Louis wondered why they were getting so much acclaim for just taking a few of his old riffs, as he saw it, and throwing them together to make a bunch of "slop" with "no melody."

Obviously, although Armstrong's influence is all over Be-Bop, there was also much more to it than what Louis was letting himself hear. Likewise, there's more to Kanye's body of work than just "speeding up old records," even if you ignore his tracks like Dead Prez "(Bigger Than) Hip-Hop" that don't fit the stereotype at all.

Chuck of all people should know better than to make such snap judgements, since so many Public Enemy tracks could be just as easily dismissed as straight James Brown loops. Heck, they even had the nerve to loop the same JB record twice for two different singles, "Rebel Without a Pause" and "Night of the Living Baseheads," and then use it again on the same album, looped backwards for "Terminator X to the Edge of Panic." How is that any different from what Kanye's doing, except that Chuck's crew didn't even bother to speed anything up?

Does this mean those PE records were not creative, that they didn't bring anything new to the table? Of course not.. that (at least in part) is the genius of those Bomb Squad tracks, that they took these bits of sound without altering them very much at all, but by isolating them in a different context made you hear them in a totally different way, and created a sound that hit our ears as nothing less than revolutionary.

I'd never claim that Kanye's work is on that level, but what he does is not so different, taking these old soul samples and making them sound fresh in a new context. Doing this effectively is much harder than Chuck makes it sound, and the way Kanye makes it seem so easy is a testament to his skill on the boards.

Is this just a pattern we can never break, each generation turning a deaf ear to the next one's artistry, dismissing it offhand like a bunch of crotchety old Abe Simpsons? Dizzy Gillespie looked at Armstrong's attitude like this:

Entrenched artists, or the entrenched society, always attack anything that's new coming in, in religion, in social upheavals, in any field. It has something to do with living and dying and the fear among the old of being replaced by the new. Louis Armstrong never played our music, but that shouldn’t have kept him from feeling or understanding it. Pops thought that it was his duty to attack! The leader always attacks first: so as the leader of the old school, Pops felt that it was his duty to attack us. At least he could gain some publicity, even if he were overwhelmed musically.

I doubt that Chuck feels "overwhelmed musically" by Kanye, but I do wonder if it's just inevitable for each generation to get caught up in this cycle..


P.S. - needless to say, I'm not equating Kanye with Bird and Dizzy, or Chuck with Louis Armstrong for that matter

P.P.S. - All of this is assuming Chuck was not misquoted, always a very real possibility. MTV credits it to a post on his website, but I didn't see it around anywhere.

P.P.S. - latchkeykid showed me where Chuck's original quote was, at publicenemy.com, a brief passage in a long post where he seems to be thinking out loud on whatever comes to mind. Since then he put up an equally lengthy (but worth reading) response to MTV's coverage of the quote, here.

Chuck now says he considers Kanye a "superb lyricist," and says "the knock wasnt exactly on Kanye outside of the fact of the perceived slap at education."

Well I'm glad you cleared that up, Chuck, and I agree with most of what you're saying here. But you didn't say any of that in your original quote, so you can't be mad at MTV for quoting what you actually said instead of reading your mind. Your charge that "I bring up a point of critical analysis, and they cant even cover that sht right." is unfair, cuz you can't accuse someone of taking your words out of context if you never provided any context for them in the first place.

Why am I pretending to talk directly to Chuck? I need to get away from the computer for a while.

March 30, 2004

Prince Live in LA 3/29/04 - Union Square Simulcast

This is going to be very long and probably not well written or interesting to non-fanatics.

In a word, superb. All fun and sexiness, no more weird vibes or creepy religiosity. Gotta be the best show he's done in years, except maybe (maybe) his Paisley Park birthday celebrations.

Same band we've been seeing, minus Maceo. Set was fairly similar to his NY aftershow at Club Black on March 15th, and like that show it started off kinda slow, magnified by some spotty sound and lighting. At the aftershow he introduced the band with a bluesy rendition of Miles Davis/Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," but tonight they jumped right into "Musicology", which was aiite but seemed a lot funkier in person (where he stretched it out more and sang "I Like the Way You Move" over it).

Next (going from memory) came Let's Go Crazy and a weirdly disjointed When Doves Cry followed by I Would Die 4 U. Prince looking real happy and playful, doing lots of dancing. In general he seems to shine more on slow songs than uptempo joints these days, and the highlight of this early section was "Shhh." Voice and guitar in top form, as they were throughout the night, steady giving me chills. John Blackwell dropped a drumstick during his patented catch-the-sticks-in-my-teeth drum solo, that's what you get for being such a showoff all the time!

Somewhere in there was a so-so "I Feel For You", pretty funky "DMSR", even funkier "Controversy". He seems to shy away from doing the falsetto parts on these uptempo joints and stays in a lower register, which worked much better on "Controversy" than "I Feel 4 U". Then the band went into an instrumental version of "God," showcasing Renato Neto's keys and Candi Dulfer's sax while Prince went to change outfits. And just like at Club Black this was when things really heated up, as he returned to rip the shit out of the The Beautiful Ones. I guess he saves his falsetto for this part, cuz all of a sudden he's killing all the screams and high notes.

This kicks off a set of slow songs (all complete, no medley crap) that showcase Prince at his absolute best.. there is nobody, nobody who can come close to the charisma, the musicianship and showmanship, the total command of the stage that Prince displays when he's in the zone like this. Even after having seen him 10+ times, it is stunning. After "Nothing Compares to U" the band started another groove and jaws dropped thoughout the theater, just like they did at Club Black, as the crowd buzzed with murmurs of "I know he's not doing Insatiable???" Oh, but he was.

Then came a nicely funked-up new arrangement of Sign of The Times, then Question of U, worked seamlessly into a merciless asswhooping of "The One," with some Alicia Keys "Fallin" thrown in for good measure. Ridiculously intense vocals and guitar throughout.. at this point he'd done about 57 mind-blowing solos already, with another 58 yet to come (so I'll forgive him for not touching the bass all night).

Now without letting us catch a breath they start another uptempo set with Let's Work and U Got the Look, followed by an admirably funky cover of Hot Pants, with vocals from his new track "Life of the Party." This groove is the funkiest he's gotten onstage in years, finally not funk-lite but some actual fonk. Prince invited fans to come onstage and dance with him and pretty soon the stage was packed.

And not filled with a bunch of Plastic Beautiful People either, but just regular folks, which is what I love about Prince's shows. I've always hated how at MTV's award shows and most events of that ilk they pad the front of the crowd with models and such, to make sure everyone on camera is pretty. Prince has never been on that tip, his shows always bring such a diverse audience cuz he creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to everybody, just like his music has always provided a space where all us nerds and freaks can feel at home. Prince was having so much fun joking around and dancing with everybody.. His rep for being a jerky egomaniac is probably well-deserved but there's also a side to him that's so sweet and gracious, that comes out at times like this when he interacts with the fans.

After Take me With U and Kiss he said goodnight, but a message immediately flashed on the screen warning us "Don't go anywhere, Prince will be right back!" followed by 5 or 10 minutes of goofy messages like "Prince has had 19 pop hits in the last 20 years... Prince recently gave a Grammy performance that has never been equalled.." Uhh the grammy thing was cool but let's not get crazy.

Then he came out for the encore that was missing from NY's aftershow (dammit), which turned out to a spellbinding solo acoustic set, this time on acoustic guitar instead of the piano from past tours, with Mike Scott backing him up here and there. All complete songs this time, no bits and pieces like the old piano medleys. Forever in My Life, a little rap about "Real Playas," the hilarious blues number he did in NY about "something's funky baby, is that your breath or mine?" and a delicious blues version of his new track "On the Couch." Then Little Red Corvette (solo acoustic Little Red Corvette!) and Sometimes It Snows in April (!!!), which really got to me. Good thing the lights were down. The band came back in halfway through "Seven", then we came to the finale, which you can probably guess was Purple Rain. Normally me and my crew's cue for a bathroom break, but it hit the spot here, wrapped things up nicely.

Let me reiterate, this will be the best tour he's done in years. Don't miss it. Forty-eleven times better than that "Live at the Alladin" DVD, and utterly annihilates the New Years Eve pay-per-view a few years back, and whichever tour I saw at Jones beach (Hit and Run?), and so on. If you haven't seen Prince live yet, or know someone you want to turn into a believer, this tour is the one to catch.

March 31, 2004

Chuck D's UC Football Team Joke?(or Kobe Bryant Joke?)

I almost hate to even mention this, but Mosaic at okayplayer pointed out a line on Chuck D's website that concerns me a hell of a lot more than the Kanye thing. Check out this last line:

Ok , im getting ready to speak this night at UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER ,,..and im gonna avoid big blond chicks at all costs.

Is there some other way I should be interpreting that, besides as a tasteless Kobe Bryant joke? If so, please let me know. Please.

Without even speculating on whether Kobe is innocent or guilty, this case revolves around the possibility that a female human being may have been raped, and reducing that to "har de har har Kobe got in trouble for messing with those white women," as so many have done since the story broke, strikes me as all types of wack.

EDIT: Jeremy points out he could be talking about the rape cases involving University of Colorado's football team, rather than Kobe. Unfortunately I don't think that would make it any better.

John Kerry Hip-Hop Ho Hum

Blah blah, John Kerry says he is fascinated by hip-hop.. maybe I'm just too jaded and curmudgeonly, but why are these proclamations from candidates even considered newsworthy anymore? He's just saying what he's supposed to say, how else would you expect him to answer that?

I'm not saying that Kerry's words were insincere, necessarily.. but Kerry is like the average guy who's on a first date, and his date says she wants to show him some of her poetry. Of course he's gonna say yes, and tell her afterwards that he was "fascinated" by it, what else is he gonna do? Maybe he really did like it, maybe not, but either way his agenda at that point in the relationship is saying whatever he can to score points.. and that's just where Kerry is at in his relationship with us.

I guess it is noteworthy that the hip-hop generation, however that is defined, has come to be recognized as a constituency powerful enough to be worth scoring points with. We'll see if events like the upcoming Hip-Hop Political Convention can work towards capitalizing on that.

The real question is why do I let myself get caught up in pointless conversations like this one?

About March 2004

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

February 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2004 is the next archive.

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

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