Not A Special Snowflake
If anyone is still kidding themselves about John McCain, time to get over it. He's no different than the rest of them.
That first Leela James album came nowhere near capturing her energy on stage.
If anyone is still kidding themselves about John McCain, time to get over it. He's no different than the rest of them.
That first Leela James album came nowhere near capturing her energy on stage.
As Clyde noted, it's hard to figure what Suge Knight i dthinking right now.. (What remains of) his empire is crumbling into dust and he's not lifting a finger to stop it. Is this a Sharpe James move, calling it quits because he knows he's whooped once and for all?
Suge Knight squanders last chance to save Death Row Records
Rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight failed to appear in court on the weekend, setting the stage for the court’s takeover of his assets, including his Death Row Records label.
A judge ordered the record company into receivership on March 24. But the takeover hinged on a hearing on Saturday, when Knight could have fought the order if he had showed up in court...
“...He’s had his last chance as far as we’re concerned,” said Steve Goldberg, lawyer for Michael Harris. Goldberg said he would petition the court to sell off the music library, amounting to a “death sentence for Death Row Records...”
Also first spotted by Clyde:
..blasts what he calls the destructive messages of many of the show's most popular music videos...
"...I couldn't watch my own show with my niece on my lap," Calloway said this past week at South Carolina State University as part of the "Black Student Today" panel... "Pick your five favorite songs," Calloway said. "Write down every word that's in your favorite songs. Read it back to yourself and think about what that has put into your head."
Calloway told the university audience he had vowed that after facing racism while growing up in New Jersey he would "never do anything against my race."
"I felt like I was hurting us by doing what I was doing," he said.
Finally I have a reason to root for the Mailman:
When former Utah Jazz all-star Karl Malone brought his logging company in Arkansas into Pascagoula, Miss. to clear out debris left behind by Hurricane Katrina, his team was met by a brick wall named Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and orange cones nicknamed the Army Corps of Engineers. Both said Malone wasn't authorized to bring his machinery into the area to clear private property.
The Mailman wasn't trying to hear it.
...''There was a lot of red tape, and I ain't got time for that,'' he told AP. ''I found out that if you're going to do something good, just go ahead and do it. Once I get in my machine, no one is going to get me out. We just said 'the hell with it.' FEMA didn't approve, but we did it for the people.''
...Malone, an experienced truck driver and logger born in Bernice, La., spent 12 hours a day behind the wheel of his heavy machinery clearing 114 lots via the 18 vehicles he brought into Pascagoula, including a backhoe, three bulldozers and several RVs for him and his crew.
...Malone said landowners were told that debris had to be moved out to the street before it could be hauled away. ''How is a landowner who just lost everything going to pay $15,000 or $20,000 to have a lot cleared?'' he asked. ''I mean, there were two or three houses on top of one another in some places.''
''My mom died two years ago, and in our last conversation, she told me that one day I would have to step up on a grand scale and help people. I knew this was it.''
Another must-read from Minneapolis' finest, Peter Scholtes, who used to reside in N.O.:
Juvenile's New Orleans, the ghost town America made
...This is what Barney Frank has called "a policy of ethnic cleansing by inaction," and the response from many liberals has been self-fulfilling pessimism—Tim Harford in Slate takes the failed tourist economy for granted, while Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker conflates geological inevitability with manmade folly in sinking Louisiana. Many conservatives, meanwhile, shirk federal responsibility for the floods. Either way, the reality of the New Orleans that I knew when I lived here—that the overwhelming majority of residents worked, and worked hard, in exactly the kinds of jobs most needed to rebuild—seems lost on most American leaders.
And what do New Orleans rappers have to say? Not much. Juvenile lost a house on Lake Pontchartrain, and astutely sets the video for "Get Ya Hustle On" in the home-owning, blue-collar Lower Ninth rather than his Magnolia projects stamping ground. Yet his lyrics bond with the only day laborers hip hop romanticizes. "To all my people on them corners I consider ya as dogs," Juve rasps, adding, "I wish I could break a package down and send it to y'all." In case you were wondering what kind of package he means, he adds: "Everybody need a check from FEMA/So he can go and score him some co-ca-ina."
Dealers have families, too, of course. But pre-Katrina life in the N.O. was more complex than Juvenile's largely pre-storm Reality Check (Atlantic) would suggest, at least to judge by Nik Cohn's 2005 memoir Triksta: Life & Death & New Orleans Rap (Knopf). Though the late Soulja Slim is held up by many as a thug's folk hero (Juvenile dedicates his album to him, as well as to "the victims of Hurricane Katrina"), gangster rappers overwhelmingly work long hours at square jobs—in construction, roofing, teaching. Where are the bounce anthems for bricklayers?
Pandagon on America's favorite card game:
I love the myth of the Race Card. According to racists, being non-white is a free pass that will get you any and everything your heart desires. By their reckoning, therefore, black people, who can have everything they could possibly want, live in poverty at higher rates, have less political power, and a shorter life span. But they get to make white people feel guilty, which white racists can only do by being horribly racist assholes and make the rest of us have guilt by association. And that’s the only power the racists apparently want.
If for some reason anyone still cares what these guys have to say, here's the audio of David Mays and Benzino on the Star and Bucwild show. Ever the philanthropist, at the end Star is kind enough to offer them temporary employment as replacement hosts when he is out of town.
I was coming in here to post about that new fugees track (which is just ok overall but features Lauryn s p i t t i n g, praise jebus) and make a joke about them being kind enough to put Pras' verse last so DJ's can cut right to the next record. But then I saw his name on this project, which might actually be kinda cool. It also sets him up for 8,000 more jokes, but that's all the more reason to give him a few props for taking it on:
Pras Michel of The Fugees Goes For Broke
Pras Michel of The Fugees is presently filming "First Night," a documentary in which he's living on a $1 per day budget in Los Angeles.
The film captures the Grammy Award winning rapper posing as a homeless man in Los Angeles. "The dollar a day didn't get me much at all," Pras told New York's Daily News. "You have to hustle, steal, shoplift or prostitute yourself. I chose panhandling. People gave me the worst looks. Like I was invisible and at the same time the worst person on Earth..."
"...I slept in the rain. My tent was stolen. I experienced how these people live," Pras offered.
"...People aren't going to understand what it was like until they see it," Pras stressed. "Human beings should not be sleeping among rats."
Well yes, we totally disagree. Mainly in that I don't separate the music in this either/or binary.. I think music can embody both east coast/NY traditions and southern sensibilities simultaneously, and the clipse is probably a good example of that. So labels like "east coast oriented" don't even really fit with my worldview, but for example, as far as the neptunes sound not fitting in with the sensibilities/tastes of someone who grew up on NY boom-bap? Hell yeah I disagree! I mean, what was Grindin if not Come Clean part 2!
...The Clipse and the neptunes give me hard beats that make my head nod and intricately structured, deftly delivered verses laid on top.. everything I would want from "ny hip-hop," and everything east coast purists would say is missing from crunk et al...
Ian placed the Clipse on the southern side of hip-hop's Mason Dixon, and I'm not disagreeing with that per se. I'm saying their music can fit in on both sides of that line, and I can't buy this idea that "southern hip-hop" and "NY hip-hop" are monolithic opposing camps with no common ground.. These terms remind me of "world music" in that they're so blindly reductive, giving short shrift to the many regional scenes and individual voices on both sides of that imaginary line.
As a born and bred NY hip-hopper, I damn sure have very particular tastes (not narrow, but particular). However there have always been lots of artists from outside NY's geographical boundaries that fit those tastes perfectly.. and that's no less true today. Is "NY hip-hop" about intricate, razor sharp flows? The Clipse have this on lock. Is "NY hip-hop" about sample-based loops? The most important album of 2005, that ran away with the grammys, was chock full of those.
Does it annoy me that lately NY's commercial radio is dominated by folks like D4L and DFB? Hell yes. But that's not a NY vs. The South issue. That's about these particular dudes having a particular sound that is wack to me. Hot 97 could easily make playlist that pleases my NY ears without adding a single artist that's actually from NY. Does anyone believe that if Hot had 10 Clipse-esque records in rotation, so many folks would be grumbling about "that corny southern rap" running things? Let me assure you, we wouldn't. This has nothing to do with NY vs. the South. This is about the eternal struggle of Hot Shit vs. Wack Shit. Just like it always was and always will be.
If you represent hot shit (in my totally subjective opinion), then you are on my team. I give not the slightest crap what state is on your driver's license, any more than I'd say Patrick Ewing wasn't a Knick cuz he was born in Jamaica. If you play for my team, you're on my team. Is it even necessary for me to add the Rakim quote here?
Another one from NYU's Jason King.. think I'm gonna be busy so someone please attend and report back:
SATURDAY APRIL 8 @ 7 PM
THE FUTURE OF HIP HOP
Music's sharpest minds get 5 minutes each to offer three wishes for the future of hip hop.
TA-NEHISI COATES (Village Voice, Time)
JALYLAH BURRELL (Pop Matters)
RICHARD GOLDSTEIN (Former Editor, Village Voice)
MARGO JEFFERSON (New York Times)
SACHA JENKINS (Ego Trip, Vibe)
BAKARI KITWANA (Why White Kids Love Hip Hop)
CRISTINA VERAN (Voice, One World)
"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make." -Truman Capote
This weekend we got back in touch with our old friend Ricky Powell, the Oscar Madison of Hip-Hop .. the Rickster was kind enough to explain the meaning of life, and break the news that he's having a doll made in his image, by the same folks who made the Ghostface joint.. also a Ricky Powell sneaker made out of hemp (by Converse).
Seems like yesterday I was reading Proof's thoughts on Dilla's passing ..can't imagine a more tragic season for Detroit hip-hop.
Though he may be eulogized in the media as "friend of Eminem," Proof was a major player in Detroit long before Mr. Mathers brought him pop visibility.. every local I've ever heard from credits him as one of the scene's biggest champions and ambassadors for the last 10+ years. Here's a track from early on in those years, when both he and Dilla were first working they way up in the game:
Condolences to his friends and fam, and all who were touched by him.
Yes, I know pointing out shoddy NY Post articles is like complaining that water is wet. But even by their umm, "standards," this Bill Hoffman piece is a remarkable blend of heartlessness and cluelessness:
EMINEM'S RAPPER PAL BLOWN AWAY
Red-hot rapper Proof - a close pal of Eminem - was executed in a Detroit nightclub early yesterday when a gunman blew his brains out during a heated argument...
...It was not immediately known what the argument was about or whether it was part of the ongoing East Coast-West Coast rap war that has claimed such hip-hop greats as the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur...
Okay I didn't go to journalism school.. perhaps there's a section I'm not aware of in the Columbia Style Guide, on the tasteful usage of "blew his brains out" in crime reportage? But I did graduate from 3rd grade, and one thing I learned there was how to find Detroit on a map. It wasn't on the East Coast. They also taught us what the word "ongoing" means, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean "ended about ten years ago."
From the UK, where Gnarls Barkley is already the biggest thing since uhh, whatever used to be big over there:
Could this album's buzz be any buzzier? I've listened to 7 or 8 tracks, and I'd say it's the best project Danger has done so far. I thought the Grey joint was nicely crafted but missing a certain oomph, and felt the same about Dangerdoom.. Doom is in my top 5 but he's far from the loudest or most energetic on the mic, so Madlib's filthy dirtyness was a better complement to that low-key flow.. Danger's beats didn't serve that role quite as well.
But that "cleaner" sound that falls a bit short under Doom is the perfect backdrop for Cee-Lo's monsteriffic vocal presence, leaving just enough space for his guttural gospel growl to add the grit and soul. I hope it does as well on this side of the proverbial pond..
Wow, the website for Vancouver's upcoming Winter Olympics is refreshingly honest:
...The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games emblem is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional totem pole. The distinctive wood columns are found across the country – from coastlines to mountaintops, from small towns to large cities – in a variety of styles.
The emblem is called "Kuhldaa," which is the Haida word for “to steal”.
Kuhldaa offers the welcome of a nation shaped by its rich, natural and cultural appropriation. Its colours reflect those of both Canada and the host region: the blue waters of our salmon farms, the green forests of our softwood lumber, the red maple leaf of our Canadian identity and the golden sunrises that paint the city skyline and the snow-capped peaks from Vancouver to Whistler. These bright, cheerful colours, along with the playful arrangement of the shapes that make up Kuhldaa, encourage us to overlook the deplorable living conditions, substance abuse issues and unemployment rates of many First Nations in beautiful British Columbia. This tendency to disregard issues occurring within our own country is something all Canadians look forward to sharing with our international visitors.
from Psychology Today:
Research has established that [when writing online] women are more likely than men to ask questions, make self-denigrating comments and reference emotions. In contrast, men issue more opinions, grammatical errors and insults.
A few weeks ago I picked up the NY Times on the subway, and it had this infomercial insert full of faux news articles about "Sudan: The New Happening Hotspot! Things Are Looking Up!" and so on. The sort of "doth protest too much" happy-face advertising that you know must have some evil creepiness behind it, even if you know nothing of the subject matter. In my pre-coffee haze at the time, I thought to myself "wait, doesn't the Sudan have a sort of, uhh, genocide thing going on?"
So for those who may be in a perpetual pre-coffee haze, such as our Chief Executive, here is a reminder: There is, indeed, a sort of genocide thing going on over there. And it's getting worse. And we are doing nothing.
President Bush and millions of Americans today will celebrate Easter and the end of Holy Week. But where is the piety in reading the Bible while averting one's eyes from genocide? Mr. Bush, how about showing your faith by doing something a bit more meaningful - like standing up to the butchers?
"Much of this [social science] literature not only conflates behavior with culture, but when social scientists explore 'expressive' cultural forms or what has been called 'popular culture' (such as language, music and style), most reduce it to expressions of pathology, compensatory behavior, or creative "coping mechanisms" to deal with racism and poverty. While some aspects of black expressive cultures certainly help inner city residents deal with and even resist ghetto conditions, most of the literature ignores what the cultural forms mean for the practitioners. Few scholars acknowledge that what might also be at stake here are aesthetics, style and pleasure."
Recently Kenny Drew Jr., son of the jazz piano legend and a noted player in his own right, published an anti hip-hop diatribe that sparked a monster thread in the allaboutjazz.com forums. Amid the avalanche of jazzbo fuddy-duddyism there's also been some great discussion, as more level-headed folks entered the fray.. I've learned a lot by reading through it.
I was reminded of that thread today, while reading this history of the Stradivarius violins.. it starts out describing violin's early days in the 1500s, when it turns out the instrument was getting dissed much like the turntable-as-instrument is dissed today:
"At the time the violin had a distinctly questionable reputation. The accepted view was that it might provide a good accompaniment for dancing, but it was not something in which true musicians should take an interest. In parts of Italy there were even church edicts directing the destruction of this licentious object..."
If you check some of the anti-turntable remarks in that thread, the resemblance is uncanny.
For those who only read this little hip-hop side project and not my main blog, Tuberaider, here are a few clips worth catching up on:
(Thanks to USA Today for the shoutout, btw)
Watch who you beef with, Luda. Didn't you read chappelletheory.com??
I've always felt a funny attitude coming from Oprah, towards hip-hop.. I remember a show 10 or 12 years ago where she spent the hour seething with disdain for Ice T, and that's usually the vibe I've gotten since. But I don't catch her show too often, if more regular viewers can offer evidence to the contrary please do.
Luda, Oprah.. Oprah, Luda
Ludacris has lashed out at Oprah Winfrey, after he was initially refused to appear on her prime time talk show, and then publicly lectured when he was finally allowed on the show...
“She edited out a lot of my comments while keeping her own in. Of course, it’s her show, but we were doing a show on racial discrimination and she gave me a hard time as a rapper when I came on there as an actor,” said Luda, real name Chris Bridges. “Initially, I wasn’t even invited on the show.”
“After the taping, she pulled me into a room and we had a five-minute conversation,” he continued. “What I got was that by having rappers on her show, she feels like she is empowering in them. It was like being at someone’s house who doesn’t really want you there.”
“I don’t see why [comedians] Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, who I am huge fans of, it’s OK for them to go on Oprah. They speak the same language as I do, but they do it through comedy, so I guess that’s acceptable to her [Oprah]....”
Heartfelt piece from Detroit writer and friend of Proof, Khary Kimani Turner:
What do we have to prove?
Trying to make sense of the tragedy
...No one should suffer these things. This isn't about typical rap shit. It's about stupidity. The shooting strikes at the heart of hip hop because those of us who knew and loved Proof knew him as a delightful personality prone to asinine, often self-created predicaments, the kind you hoped wouldn't one day cost him dearly.
But he did pay dearly.
This freak scene involved three intelligent individuals who've lived long enough to have perspective on their lives. The wrong choices were made. One started the spat, the other responded, and a third, Bender's cousin Mario Etheridge, ended it in a round of bullets.
It's all sickening, and it hurts like hell...
...As much as I love hip hop, I'd be a fool to deny that we smear shit on ourselves in our music, but call it cologne. And our children are left to grow up in the aftermath of the mental conditioning...
...We have a role as men in this society, but our actions suggest that we only accept a portion of that responsibility. Yes, I will remember Proof as the wonderful and conflicted person he was. But I will also ask why he couldn't exercise enough restraint to consider the moment. To consider tomorrow.
Someone just asked me who I would select if I was putting together a barbershop quartet composed entirely of rappers. I decided the answer, clearly, was this perfect mix of voices: Nate Dogg, Cee-Lo, Pharrell and Bizmarkie.
Can anyone recommend a better line-up? Let me know, because I am now making it my mission to bring this project into reality. Just Blaze, if you're reading this, please make some phone calls and get the ball rolling.
Snoop Dogg is writing a novel, and getting it published by Simon & Shuster, no less. Okay I know one of y'all blogger/freelancer people is ghostwriting this bad boy, so you might as well just fess up now. Anybody? Bueller?
Rapper Snoop Dogg writing his first novel
Los Angeles-based rap superstar Snoop Dogg is writing a novel for Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, it was reported Thursday.
'Love Don`t Live Here No More' is expected to hit U.S. store shelves in October, The Book Standard reported on its Web site. It is expected to be the first in a series of 'street lit' offerings from the rapper. The story follows a young Southern Californian`s struggle to make it out of the mean streets and into the world of hip-hop.
'Snoop, by nature of what he does, is a storyteller,' Atria`s Kathleen Schmidt told The Book Standard. Schmidt said the rapper should be able to broaden his audience by putting his words on paper.
'Books speak more to a female audience than does his music, so these novels give him an opportunity to show, particularly his female fans, another side,' she said.
Did we really need to hear from Mitch Albom on this one? Yeesh. This is one of those "not completely wrong, but just a little off" sort of pieces that I find the most annoying. The seed of a valid point is there, but by my reading it gets drowned in his lazy reasoning, condescending tone (note the scare quotes when referring to rap as "art"), and his general not-quite-getting-it.
One could argue this piece is not too different from Khary Kimani Turner's, but there's a world of difference in how they each resonate for me. Is it -to paraphrase Jalylah- a case of social location, relative to the subject, informing assumptions of intent? Or is this piece just kinda wack?
MITCH ALBOM: Lesson from Proof: Rappers heal thyself
They say the first stage of grief is denial. And at the funeral of the rapper Proof, some folks were apparently in severe denial -- about what he contributed, the world he celebrated or their own part in the culture of violence that killed him.
Let's begin with Proof himself (legal name Deshaun Holton), who died not serving his country or saving a child but after a Detroit bar fight at 4:30 in the morning. Although police say his last act on Earth was pistol-whipping then shooting another man -- before he himself was shot and killed -- Proof was nonetheless hailed at his funeral for his friendship, his aura and, ironically, his love of people.
And his music, which includes these lyrics:
You got a gun on your waist,
I got (one too)
We gon' ride till the wheels fall off
Or God wanna kill us off (gun sound)
I don't duck when you pop that gat.
Love of people?
One other note: Is it just me, or are those lyrics awfully mild, to prove what Mitch is trying to prove here?
To answer Sasha's second question about that highly suspect NY Times piece, there is one very good reason to look out a subway window: that moment when the 7 train rolls into Queens, and you get that amazing view of all the 5 Pointz graffiti.
Hopefully these officials will continue to sleep on the growing menace of crude scrawl adorning NY's delivery trucks:
Okay now I'm sorry I joked about this before.. guess you really do need to watch what music you talk about these days.
Joe Strummer, Terrorist?
It really did feel like "London Calling" when I opened my e-mail April 5 to find an inbox clogged with a score of messages titled: "Man Held as Terrorism Suspect Over Punk Song." This was not spam but a news item from Reuters reporting that Harraj Mann had been detained for questioning by British anti-terrorism detectives after they received a phone call from a taxi driver who had taken Mann to the Durham Tees Valley Airport. The driver became alarmed after hearing Mann, a mobile phone salesman of Indian descent, sing along to the Clash's "London Calling." The lyric that triggered the cabbie's concern: "Now war is declared--and battle come down...a meltdown expected."
Released after questioning by British authorities, Mann fumed, "There's caution and then there's taking it to the point where it's absurd and ludicrous." Ludicrous indeed, and a chilling reminder that once again fear combined with the perversion of law has trumped rationality (not to mention democracy or basic civil liberties).
"London Calling" is a song about terrorism, but not the kind we have become so familiar with after 9/11. Written in 1979 by the late Joe Strummer, it describes the looming threat of nuclear catastrophe, environmental disaster, starvation and war. The threat or terror of nuclear destruction was something that deeply concerned Strummer because it seemed to him that some world leaders treated it as nothing more than a game. "You had Ronald Reagan campaigning on building up nuclear arms.... He said the West is losing the arms race to Russia, the 'evil empire'.... It was like toys to them or a movie where nothing bad would really happen," Strummer told me when I interviewed him in 2002. Sound familiar?
I heard about this last night and thought the details must be exaggerated, but it looks like this guy Gravy really did go upstairs for his moment to shine after getting shot. He was on with Saigon and Wes Jackson's friend Joell Ortiz..
Glad nobody was seriously hurt, but sad to know that in today's hip-hop game this'll become Gravy's gravy train, and we can now expect a major label debut with the recurring theme of "hit the studio with the bullet still in me!"
BUTT SERIOUSLY . . . RAPPER SHOT AT HOT 97
the studios of Hot 97 last night, but was still able to sit for an interview at the station, police sources said.
Jamal Wollard, 28, who goes by the rap name Gravy, was hit by one bullet as he arrived at the notorious station at about 9:30 p.m. Wollard came with an entourage of about 30 cheering people wearing T-shirts with his name on it.
When the gunfire erupted, people began screaming and running for their lives. But Gravy calmly walked upstairs to do the interview despite his wound, the sources said.
After receiving dozens of 911 calls, cops sealed off the station, looking for any victims. When they found Wollard limping around inside, they asked him what happened, and he said he had fallen, the sources said. But officers noticed blood and he was taken to St. Vincents Hospital in stable condition...
Just Blaze passed along another example of how today's High Culture often began as yesterday's menace to society:
"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced at the English court on friday last. It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure of the bodies.. so long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice, but now that it is... we feel a duty to warn every parent against exposing their daughter to so fatal a contagion."
-The London Times, 1816
Right at this very moment, Gnarls Barkley should be approaching the stage for their "Myspace Secret Show" at the Roxy in Los Angeles (which wasn't much of a secret at all, but that's probably part of the plan.) Some okayplayers are already reporting back on the lay of the land:
I'm the only black guy in line for Gnarls Barkley
"This really has nothing to do with race, all of you race sensitive types, I was just trying to get your attention.
So I'm reporting to you live from The Roxy in L.A. On the sidekick, trying to pass the time in line for this free show, it's 4 hours before showtime..... I had a bad experience with a free Kanye show so I'm here extra early. It's my day of from work so I'm thinking I'mma get me some soul tonight......I haven't heard the whole album yet so I'm just going off of "Crazy" that this will be at least a little soulful.
I get here and......I smell reefer (c) Chappelle
There's like 10 people so far...and it's like standing in line with Fall Out Boy."