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December 2005 Archives

December 1, 2005

"Letters From Young Activists" Event Tonight

A bunch of good folks (and myself) will be reading exceprts from "Letters From Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out" tonight at the CUNY graduate Center on 34th & 5th Avenue, Room C198. Come through and say hi if you can.. if not be sure to check the book.

December 4, 2005

50 Cent Beef With Robbie Williams

50 Cent is now officially the Wilt Chamberlain of beef. How long until he reaches 20,000?

50 Cent: 'Robbie Williams Is A Sucker'

Hardman rapper 50 Cent has branded Robbie Williams a "sucker" after the British singer complained about his behaviour when they stayed at the same German hotel in October.

50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, and former boy band member Williams both checked into the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Berlin, but trouble reportedly brewed when Robbie Williams' fans mistook 50 Cent's car for the former Take That singers' and greeted the rapper chanting, "Robbie, Robbie."

The situation escalated when Williams later complained to hotel management, demanding they curb the hip-hop wildman's late night antics.

But 50 Cent has another explanation for their falling out - Williams felt humiliated because the hip-hop star refused to meet him. "He's a sucker. He said I was keeping him awake. "I know he wanted to meet me but I didn't have time. Maybe that's why he was upset."

December 7, 2005

DJ Tomkat's Party Starts Tonight

"Underground Railroad" listeners know that our DJ Tomkat is among the most erudite and deep-crated DJs in the world.. some may be aware he was DJ Spinna's mentor in the art of digging. But rarely has anyone been able to see him put those skills in action.. tonight that changes, as Tom starts a new weekly party called "Rarefied". Along with his partner DJ Steve-O (nephew of Jabo Starks!), Tomkat is backed up tonight by guest DJ Jeannie Hopper:

Rare Grooves Redefined
Sutra Lounge, 16 1st avenue (between 1st and 2nd streets.) in the East Village
Wednesday, December 7, 2005 and weekly thereafter
Time 8pm-1am

between this and the Skullsnaps show on Friday, it's gonna be a good week for the funk..

December 8, 2005

Korea + Brazil + Sierra Leone

On Tuesday I helped some good people put together a special on international hip-hop, that airs on WBAI tomorrow night at 11PM. They also made a podcast out of it, on the bottom left of their page:


Nomadic Sounds is a series of music specials bringing you the best of the world's undiscovered and underground sounds from around the Globe.

At Nomadic Sounds, we will be celebrating the latest in music of the 'Global Diaspora'- from African Hip-Hop to South Asian Bhangra and everything in between. Nomadic Sounds is dedicated to presenting you with talent from all over the world with both live performances and discussions with the artists.

For the first of this series we invited musician, hip-hop activist and US Hip-Hop Ambassador - Toni Blackman to co-host the show featuring MCs Chosan of Sierra Leone, LF & DJ Laylo from Brazil and Korean -American emcee El Gambina into the studio for some live performances and conversation.

December 9, 2005

De La Soul Are Up For Record of the Year at the Grammys

Just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that.

Also, out of the 5 records up for record of the year, 4 of them are produced by Jermaine Dupri, Danger Mouse, The Neptunes and Kanye West respectively.

Zach Rubio, HS Student Suspended for Speaking Spanish

WTF? Somebody get Superintendent Chalmers down here..

Youth suspended for speaking Spanish

Most of the time, 16-year-old Zach Rubio converses in clear, unaccented American teen-speak, a form of English in which the three most common words are "like," "whatever" and "totally." But Zach is also fluent in his dad's native language, Spanish -- and that's what got him suspended from school.

"It was, like, totally not in the classroom," the high school junior said, recalling the infraction. "We were in the, like, hall or whatever, on restroom break. This kid I know, he's like, 'Me prestas un dolar?' ['Will you lend me a dollar?'] Well, he asked in Spanish; it just seemed natural to answer that way. So I'm like, 'No problema.' "

But that conversation turned out to be a big problem for the staff at the Endeavor Alternative School, a small public high school in an ethnically mixed blue-collar neighborhood. A teacher who overheard the two boys sent Zach to the office, where Principal Jennifer Watts ordered him to call his father and leave the school.
Watts, whom students describe as a disciplinarian, said she can't discuss the case. But in a written "discipline referral" explaining her decision to suspend Zach for 1 1/2 days, she noted: "This is not the first time we have [asked] Zach and others to not speak Spanish at school."

Since then, the suspension of Zach Rubio has become the talk of the town in both English and Spanish newspapers and radio shows. The school district has officially rescinded his punishment and said that speaking a foreign language is not grounds for suspension. Meanwhile, the Rubio family has retained a lawyer, who says a civil rights lawsuit may be in the offing.

My Chat With Blackface Jesus

Recently Gawker has been posting about this kid who shows up at downtown parties wearing blackface and a Jesus costume. Some other bloggers have concluded that the kid is a preening jackass.

But I decided to get his side of the story before making any assumptions, and spoke to Blackface Jesus through his myspace page. Our dialogue is pasted below:

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Jay
Date: Dec 9, 2005 10:26 AM

I'd like to hear your side of the story before I jump to any conclusions.. can you explain the purpose of this blackface jesus thing?

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Black Face Jesus
Date: Dec 9, 2005 12:48 PM

im representing that jesus was a black man and that people should start to be more aware of the truths in the world..we need to wake up and start treating this life we have been given more preciously

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Jay
Date: Dec 9, 2005 1:49 PM

Forgive me, but this answer seems a little disingenuous.

I suspect a more honest answer might be: "I am an attention-starved coward who looks for easy ways to provoke people, but lacks the courage or integrity to take responsibility for what I provoke."

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Black Face Jesus
Date: Dec 9, 2005 1:55 PM

this is the anger im trying to find...hate and anger consume you...you cant stand the fact the i portray jesus as a man of dark skin..ive gone to harlem with this face paint on and spoken to people...find jesus and find peace..

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Jay
Date: Dec 9, 2005 2:08 PM

In other words, I had you pegged. Okay, thanks for clearing that up.

Enjoy the rest of your 15 minutes!

December 10, 2005


"Cuz we're all family.
That's it, jack.
And fuck all that other shit."

There's never been an artist I loved like Richard. So much of how I think, how I strive to represent myself to whatever extent I have a public voice... so much of who I am comes from Richard.

Richard's every word as a performer was informed by honesty and compassion. A commitment to the principle that every human being deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, and to calling you out if you did not live by this principle. And a commitment to telling the truth. A fearless honesty about the world that was surpassed only by his fearless honesty about himself.

Honesty and compassion. Maybe the two hardest things to maintain in life, but they are the ones that count the most.

That's what Richard taught us. That when we can look honestly at ourselves and at each other, and react with compassion to whatever we see, we can always laugh together. Even, or maybe especially, in the hardest of the hard times.

Peace be with you, Richard. You were my hero.

December 12, 2005

More on Richard

Tributes worth reading:

  • thewalkingman -
  • digby (via body and soul)
  • Greg Tate
  • Margaret Cho
  • and Leonard Pitts in the Miami Herald:

    That's the part younger comics always misunderstand when they try to ape Pryor. You see them saying outrageous things and then standing back waiting for the laugh and you realize they think it's about cursing... But it was never simply about the language, never about anything as cheap as shock value. It was about giving voice to those who'd never had voice before, about forcing the rest of us to recognize the humanity we shared with street hustlers, pool hall losers, winos, prostitutes, poor people, and a singular old man named Mudbone.

    ...Pryor's comedy was race and sex and politics and society and drugs and religion and life. His comedy was about what it meant to be human - flawed, screwed-up, imperfect, human. It was a revelation.

    ...It was, in the largest sense, a lesson in how to be. Honest enough to acknowledge how hard this life sometimes is. Brave enough to laugh anyway.

  • Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency for Tookie Williams

    This makes me feel ill.. that we as human beings ever presume we should have the power to do this, I'll never understand..

    Gov. Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency for Crips Co-Founder

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today that he would not grant clemency to Stanley Tookie Williams, whose bid to avoid being put to death shortly after midnight tonight has gained wide attention.

    Governor Schwarzenegger's decision not to halt Mr. Williams' execution by injection at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday is his third rejection of a petition for a stay of execution or clemency since he took office in 2003. Clemency has not been granted to a death row inmate in California since 1967...

    EDIT: Bomani Jones reminds us there are still many battles remaining to fight on this front.

    December 13, 2005

    WBAI Holiday Party

    Come chill with me and Deepa, Amy, Bernard and the rest of the gang.. ain't no party like a progressive journalist party! Why are you laughing, I'm serious.. no for real, you should come down if you can. The Daily News said so:

    WBAI Holiday Party, Wednesday Night at 7:30

    WBAI (99.5 FM) throws its "Theater Holiday Party" tomorrow night, 7:30-9:30, at 227 Fourth Ave. in Brooklyn.

    Island soul singer David Pilgrim will perform, and the duo Madame Funnypants will present "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Romantic Comedy."

    Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now" and program director Bernard White are hosts of the evening. Also in attendance will be Deepa Fernandes and the Wake-Up Call crew, Jeannie Hopper of "Liquid Sound Lounge," Jay Smooth of "Underground Railroad," among others. Admission is $20. Call (212) 400-7458.

    December 15, 2005

    AUDIO: Interview and Freestyle from Eternia

    Last Saturday Eternia came down to the Railroad and shared some war stories about representing hip-hop on the Warped tour, broke down Canada's tradition of government funding for local musicians. And of course she traded verses with Emskee, and some other guy recycling his old rhymes from 3 years ago.. I'll post the audio below, trying out my new account on Odeo.com:

  • Eternia Interview
  • Eternia Freestyle w/ Emskee and Jay Smooth

    And you can subscribe to my Odeo feed here. (Does this mean I am podcasting now?)

  • December 16, 2005

    What Are Your Favorite cover Songs?

    I have a little piece here in this week's Seattle Weekly talking about some of my favorite cover songs (peace to Supah Editor Matos). I'm kicking myself now for not thinking of Bizmark's "Benny and the Jets."

    What other tracks would you guys pick if you were putting a CD together? And your picks for worst cover?

    December 19, 2005

    Chronicles of Narnia Rap (Chronic of Narnia)

    Every blog in town will be linking this one up, so I might as well join in.. very well done, I can't front. The Aaron Burr line gets an A+.

  • SNL Chronicles of Narnia Rap (Chronic of Narnia)

  • AUDIO: A Conversation With Rob Swift

    Turntable deity Rob Swift stopped by the radio show this week on the way to a gig, and talked about his new album "Wargames", and his stance on the hotly contested Serato issue:

  • Rob Swift Interview, 12/17/05

    (Yes, by the way, we will be having him back soon to get on the wheels..)

  • Prince Paul on Chris Rock's Hip-Hop Pedigree

    Since some folks have read Chris Rock's Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums list in Rolling Stone and wondered if he really wrote it himself, here's a convo I had with Prince Paul last year about Chris' status as a "head":

    You've worked with both Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, which one would you say is a bigger hip-hop head out of the two?

    Prince Paul: Man, it's hard to say cuz both of them are crazy! But I think Chris is a fanatic. And Chris also DJ-ed, like, on the block when he was a kid. He has a little DJ set at his house, and he has pictures of him when he was DJ-ing, I guess he was like 15, 16.

    So he's definitely a head, and he'll call me up and hold conversations for like an hour and a half, on what's new: "Ehhh, such-and-such record is okay, but track number whatever he had whatever, and I talked to Rick Rubin last week and told him he should have Jay-Z do blah blah blah.." He'll call me up with an idea, like "Paul I've got an idea for you, you know what your next album cover should be?" So he's definitely into it.

    I don't have that type of relationship with Dave Chappelle. Like, I met him through Chris, but I haven't sat down with him and chit-chatted with him for any length of time, so it would be kinda unfair [to compare].

    The Chappelle Theory

    Damn you, Dark Crusaders!


    ...December 26, 2004: The day after Christmas, Chappelle and his family were home, trying to enjoy the holidays. Dave has taken to sleeping with a gun under his pillow and won't let his wife or children leave the house without him. Privately, his wife had consulted with her Doctor about institutionalizing Dave.

    On that day, Chappelle received a package that made him decide to halt the show's production for good.

    The package — which arrived via UPS — contained a picture of Chappelle's sleeping children, taken the night before in Chappelle's house. A person who appeared to be of Al Sharpton's build was standing next to their beds...

    Dave should buy the movie rights to this, and get Cosby, Farrakhan and Sharpton to portray themselves..

    December 20, 2005


    I didn't have a need to be out of the house today, and slept until noon (hate me now!). Any New Yorkers got strike stories to share?

    Some links:

  • WBAI Radio Special on the Strike (10mb MP3)
  • Nathan Newman's Labor Blog on the issues behind the strike.
  • The TWU's Blog
  • NY Times: Transit Workers Union Uniquely Aggrieved, and Empowered, with Little Dignity on the Job

  • AUDIO: Vintage Mix from DJ 3D

    My Odeo Channel

    I'm gonna try and post new MP3s everyday (until Odeo tells me to stop). Here's a set from early this year, with some of my interview with Jeff Chang mixed in at the end:

  • 30 Minutes from DJ 3D, 2/19/05

  • December 21, 2005

    Afrikaans Flow

    Rushay from Africasgateway.com sent along this clip from Bay FM radio in South Africa, an emcee named Dirkie De Vos rockng the mic in Afrikaans:

  • Dirkie De Vos freestyle

  • AUDIO: The Benzino Voicemail Tapes

    Gotta thank the illustrious Miss Info for passing this on. It's a couple of voicemail messages Benzino left at Ozone magazine for Julia Beverly. Benzino may not be much of a rapper, but when it comes to misogynistic voicemail hissy fits? He's got it down. Because I'm a nice guy I bleeped out his phone number, but the rest is uncut:

  • Benzino's Ozone Voicemails - (MP3, very very R rated)

    Um... wow. So uhh.. you mad, doggie?

    Sure is hard to imagine that guy harassing women in the workplace, huh? if you want to see the Ozone piece that wounded Benzino's heart so, here it goes right here. It's a good one. (and by the way this is almost exactly what Dave Mays sounded like when he called me back in the day, except he wasn't as versatile with the namecalling.)

    EDIT (via nah right): Ozone just put the tape up on their site, complete with phone number intact.. not that I endorse calling him, unless perhaps you are a licensed therapist.

    2nd EDIT: Meanwhile Allhiphop.com continues to play apologist for Benzino, with this "TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY! Zino just might have just reason to be mad.." nonsense. Allhiphop is one of the best hip-hop news sites but their coverage of Benzino is often light in the backbone area, and this is the worst example yet.

  • What Are the Good Black Gossip Blogs?

    I don't usually read gossip blogs (altho gofugyourself is pretty funny), but I know there are some newer ones helping to address that scene's melanin impairment, and I need to catch up.. I've seen crunk and disorderly and concreteloop, what are the other good ones?

    December 22, 2005

    Some Good Hip-Hop Reading

    When I see a writer on a site like Slate, covering a topic like "hip-hop and jazz," I usually brace myself for a painful ride. But this take from David Adler was a happy surprise, showing no signs of wackness whatsoever:

    Two Turntables and a Saxophone
    How jazz plays off hip-hop.

    When I e-mailed a knowledgeable friend that I'd be writing on jazz and hip-hop, she replied, "Man, can people stop talking about this already?" She's right, in a way. The jazz/hip-hop nexus is simply a cultural and genealogical fact. Turntablists, MCs, and jazz musicians are collaborating every day. And yet the impact of hip-hop on some of the best new acoustic jazz still isn't widely understood.

    To borrow a term from DJ Shadow, jazz and hip-hop are omni-genres, held together more by musical and cultural philosophies than by any limiting parameters of "style." While hip-hop has devolved time and again into disposable pop, it has never lost its vitality as an underground, alternative art form. This is the aspect of hip-hop that jazz musicians are responding to; they're encountering hip-hop on creative rather than commercial terms. And they're refuting the popular view that today's jazzers are stuck in the '50s and '60s.

    Also weirdly intriguing, if you missed it: Rappers' rivalries create totally weird social-network science

    Robot Demonstrates Self Awareness

    What the hell are you scientists thinking about? Don't you go to the movies? This does not end well. And the black guy dies first.

    December 23, 2005

    AUDIO: Benzino, Funkmaster Flex and Julia Beverly Conference Call

    On Wednesday Tony Neal of the Core DJs crew organized a conference call with Julia Beverly, Benzino, Funk Flex and a number of other DJs. Thanks to DJ Pete Butta I've got the entire call on MP3:

    Benzino, Julia Beverly, Funkmaster Flex - Core DJs Conference Call
  • Part 1 45 min.
  • Part 2 42 min.
  • Once again, wow. I gotta give utmost props to Julia Beverly for standing up to Benzino this week, and helping expose him once again for the bully that he is.

    EDIT: I probably should have warned you that most of the call is, as trent said, a chaotic mess, and some of it is difficult to hear since most conference call technology is not designed for thugged-out shrieking.

    Yankees Making Johnny Damon Cut His Hair

    The Yankee Make Jesus Shed His Mane like samson, but i go further the length

    Mark my words, the Yankees will live to regret this. They have tampered with forces they cannot possibly understand, making the Son of Man shed his righteous locks. 85 years from now it is this moment our great-grandchildren will remember with dread, as the day a new curse began.

    Foxy Brown Sticks Tongue Out at Judge, Gets Handcuffed in Court

    Hopefully the judge will give her side of the story on the next Street Skreet Dawg DVD:

    Foxy Brown Forced to Apologize in Court

    Rapper Foxy Brown was handcuffed, threatened with jail and made to apologize Friday after she opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue in the direction of a judge who had asked her to stop chewing gum...

    Continue reading "Foxy Brown Sticks Tongue Out at Judge, Gets Handcuffed in Court" »

    December 25, 2005

    AUDIO: Christmas Mixes from DJ 3D, Tomkat

    Last night we ushered in the holiday on the Undergound Railroad with DJ 3D spinning just about every soul/hip-hop xmas track there is, plus a 45 set from DJ Tomkat (and an interview with Step-Poppa Smooth). Check out the whole two hours right here:

  • The Underground Railroad Xmas Special

    Happy Happy! Joy Joy!

  • December 26, 2005

    Awesome Alan Leeds Interview

    This is the best WarOnChristmas present any Prince fan will ever get.. also some tidbits about James Brown, D'angelo and others.. most of all just a great read for anyone who studies the music business.

    Sadat X Arrested...?!??

    Huh? This just doesn't sound right, there has to be more (or less) to this story then the dumbass NY Post gave us:

    Sadat X Arrested on Gun Charges

    A rapper who describes himself as a "Wild Cowboy" allegedly acted like an Old West gunslinger this week when he waved a large pistol at three teens in Harlem, police said yesterday.

    Hip hop star Sadat X, of the group Brand Nubian, allegedly boasted "I'm going to kill everybody" as he flashed a loaded .40-caliber black Beretta at a group of 18-year-olds at West 158th Street and Broadway Thursday, according to cops.

    Police sources said X also told the youths, "I'm looking for a guy with braids." After cops from the 33rd Precinct were called to the scene, the victims pointed out X, who was still standing across the street with the pistol.

    When police attempted to arrest the 37-year-old, whose real name is Derek Murphy, he ran. He was tackled quickly. He was arraigned yesterday in Manhattan Supreme Court on charges of criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest.

    Sadat X and Brand Nubian are most famous for the 1993 song "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down."

    December 27, 2005

    Jay Smooth's Birthday Party, This Friday in Brooklyn

    We're celebrating my b-day this friday night at Black Betty, 366 Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg.. Emskee and Monkone on the wheels.. I hope everyone reading this will come down, to see me drink my co-host G Man under the table.

    December 28, 2005

    King Kong

    I liked the movie. A lot. But for real, for real, somebody needs to hook Peter Jackson up with some Black friends.

    I mean damn, Peter, I know this was as much as anything else a tribute to your own romance with cinema, that began with seeing the O.G. Kong. But couldn't we have done just a teeny tiny bit of critical thinking about the racial archetypes that film was built upon?

    Gregory Solman pretty much called it in the Village Voice: "King Kong's only novel contribution: a depiction of native tribal dancing in a Broadway musical that's actually less racist than the "true" scenes it's supposed to be based upon."

    But again, I still liked it a lot.

    Hot 97's Miss Jones Hasn't Learned A Thing

    My esteemed colleague at WBAI Playthell Benjamin caught Miss Jones up to her old racist, ignorant tricks on hot 97 recently, and struck back with a comprehensive skewering on our morning show..

    "After denouncing Transport workers as a bunch of uneducated and overpaid losers who made the wrong choices in high school that resulted in their driving a bus, instead of becoming a white collar professional like her, she viciously attacked Mr. Toussaint personally. Spewing a stream of invective she resorted to the most ignorant and debased view of West Indians that lurks in the darkest regions of the American mind.

    She called Mr. Toussaint “A dumb coconut who probably don’t even have a green card,” then she demanded that he be deported. Later on in the show – after making several announcements that he would appear – Miss Jones enacted a skit where Mr. Toussaint was supposedly being carted away by immigration officers who discovered that he is an illegal immigrant. And as they dragged him kicking and screaming to the boat to ship him back to Trinidad he could be heard trying to call off the strike! It was a performance worthy of the Ku Klux Klan or the neo-Nazi White Aryan resistance.

    Here's the audio of Playthell's commentary, and the complete text below the cut.. (an abridged version of this also appeared in the Daily News)

    Continue reading "Hot 97's Miss Jones Hasn't Learned A Thing" »

    December 29, 2005

    City Councilmember Yvette Clarke Slams Hot 97/Miss Jones

    Playthell's commentary on Miss Jones is making people stand up and take notice.

    Caribbean Community Is Owed An Apology By Hot 97 Radio

    Contact: Rance E. Huff
    Office: (718) 287-8762
    Cell (718) 207-1158

    NEW YORK, NY- Councilmember Yvette D. Clarke
    (D-Brooklyn) issued the following statement today
    regarding the report vicious and racist statements
    reportedly made by Hot 97 deejay Miss Jones regarding
    the transit workers strike and union leader Roger

    Continue reading "City Councilmember Yvette Clarke Slams Hot 97/Miss Jones" »

    AUDIO: New MC Lyte w/ DJ Premier

    A world, world.. premiere, premiere, premiere.. thanks to the Wonder Twinz for passing this along:

  • MC Lyte - "The Wonder Years"

    I know I'm supposed to be tired of the Premier formula. But I'm not. It's a good formula.

  • Ethan Brown - Queens Reigns Supreme Interview

    Nice one, up at Nah Right:

    Interview: Ethan Brown - Queens Reigns Supreme

    Eskay: Russell Simmons has made it very clear that he will not be supporting 'Preme when he goes to trial next year. Do you feel he’s being disloyal, or are people in the industry waking up to the fact that they need to distance themselves from these types of guys?

    EB: I don't know. But I don’t think Russell was distancing himself from Preme–he and Preme never really had a relationship that went
    much beyond those Supreme Team parties in the 1980s.

    I should make the point here that I don't think that anyone in the hip-hop business needs to "distance" themselves from people with criminal records. Hip-hop has been an incredible outlet for ex-street guys who want to be involved in something legitimate. That said, rappers and record label execs need to re-consider the strategy of using guys like Preme as props to express street cred. It’s a legally perilous way of doing business and I have big problems with it ethically. The drug business has put hundreds of thousands of African-Americans in prison; it's not something that should be used as a marketing strategy for middle class rappers...

    About December 2005

    This page contains all entries posted to hiphopmusic.com: in December 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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