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June 2006 Archives

June 5, 2006

Wendy Williams, "Drama Is Her Middle Name"

Can't wait to pick this one up (and then put it back after reading the first page and hope nobody saw me with it).

I actually like Wendy and enjoy her show, jokes aside. I don't like everything she's got going on, but when I listen to Wendy I know there's always a real person underneath the scandalosity, who means everything she says and is speaking sincerely on topics she really cares about. So for me Wendy is a refreshing change from the hollow fake persona/pressing-buttons-just-to-press-buttons types that populate blogville these days.

Drama Is Her Middle Name: The Ritz Harper Chronicles Vol. 1
by Williams, Wendy, Hunter, Karen
Format: Trade Paperback
Price: $10.95
Published: Harlem Moon, 2006
Inventory Status: Coming Soon -- Available for Pre-Order Now

Shock jock extraordinaire Wendy Williams lets loose with the first in a series of novels based on her alter ego, the divalicious radio DJ Ritz Harper. Ritz puts the "s" in shock and the "g" in gossip, and Drama is her middle name.

Ritz is a suburban girl on the outside, but inside she's a hustler's hustler who's masterfully maneuvered her way into the spotlight after ruining the career of a well-respected newswoman (and former college friend). Ritz's "exclusive" rockets her to the top of the ratings, and she's rewarded with her very own show. Like a talking Venus flytrap, she verbally seduces her on-air guests, only to have them for lunch as she spews gossip about their lives. Ritz becomes the darling of the station's afternoon slot. But what happens when Ritz goes from drive-time diva to drive-by victim? Has Ritz bad-mouthed the wrong person? Has her signature cat-and-mouse "bomb drop" been dropped on her instead?As Ritz lies crumpled on a city sidewalk, all she can think as she struggles to maintain consciousness is "Who did this to me? Who?

"Readers will salivate as they try to figure out where the fictional Ritz ends and the real-life Wendy begins. Wendy will involve her millions of listeners by asking them what should happen to Ritz, which will be revealed at the beginning of the next novel, scheduled to be published in fall of 2006 for Christmas.

There's No Such Thing as "Real Hip-Hop"

People, in general, tend to overestimate the relevance of their own personal taste. It's a common mistake both on and off the internet. But we hip-hoppers may be the worst offenders of all.

According to recent testing, 4 out of 5 hip-hoppers believe that "my personal taste in hip-hop should be used as a universal standard for what constitutes 'real hip-hop,' and that anyone who doesn't do (or like) the particular hip-hop I like should not be considered 'hip-hop' at all."

If the flows are too simple, if the flows are too complex, if the beat is too dance-friendly, if the beat is not dance-friendly enough. if the subject matter is too positive, if the subject matter is too negative... I've heard each one of these offered as proof that some record is not "real hip-hop, " and anyone who likes it must not be "real hip-hop heads." This is not sound reasoning. It makes us look stupid and elitist.

There's no such thing as "real hip-hop" or "fake hip-hop." There's only hip-hop you like, and hip-hop you don't like.*

That doesn't mean there's no place for blunt, honest critique of our artists/industry/culture. If Thug Life Clone #228 spends his whole album glorifying stupidity and self-destruction, he (and whoever's running the clone factory) needs to get called out for that. But framing our critique in the language of "fake" and "real" hip-hop will always be self-defeating. It does nothing but alienate and insult the intelligence of everyone we hope to reach.

If you have such little respect for your peers or your children that you believe millions of them buy a record due solely to media brainwashing, and there's no independent thought involved, your battle is already lost. We need to take a step back and recognize that if Thug Life Clone #228 has millions of people checking for his record, he must be doing something right.

We need to approach his music with an open mind, figure out how he is capturing people's imagination better than we are, and learn from that. Then we can engage that artist and his fans with respect, acknowledging and understanding what they find valuable in the music and framing our critiques within that context. Until we get smart enough to do that, we're always gonna be the self-righteous underground backpackers that nobody listens to.

*Unless you count the "Lazy Sunday" sort of Fake Rap, but I think you know what I'm saying here.

June 12, 2006

Why Does the Existence of Musical Analysis Anger People?

I've been watching music discussions online for ten years now (word to rec.music.hip-hop), and every discussion board always a few of them: those people who are offended that serious music discussion even exists at all. Whenever a nice debate gets rolling, they will jump in and accuse all debaters of disrespecting the music by taking it so seriously. Here's an example from okayplayer's Lesson Board this weekend:

"Can anyone on the lesson just like an artist without having to analyze and critique until they suck the enjoyment out of music? Who cares if it doesn't fit your subjective standards about what real funk is? Do you like it or not?"

I'm leaving out the poster's name cuz it's not my intention to pick a fight, but I've never understood where this kinda thing is coming from. I can understand somewhat if you take personal offense to critiques of your favorite artist, but sometimes (as in the quote above) those who take offense don't even have a horse in the race. Which means, I have to assume, they are offended by the very existence of such musical analysis, just on general principle. But if that's the case, what do they imagine is the purpose of the discussion boards they're on? As another OKP countered, "what are people supposed to do? just name an artist, throw confetti and clap?"

Are the terms of the debate (what constitutes "funk," etc) usually subjective? Of course they are, that's what makes the conversation worthwhile. If there was only one objectively correct way to properly interpret the art, that's when there would be nothing to talk about.

We each connect in our own way with music, on an intuitive level. By finding the language to compare our respective connections and how they work, some of us find we can get a deeper understanding of our own tastes, and a deeper understanding and enjoyment of the music itself. It's not about sucking the life out of music, it's finding the source of life in our music.

If relating to music that way isn't your thing, nobody's forcing you to join in. Why should it be it any skin off your nose when other people find value in it?

Okay I Was Wrong About "Real Hip-Hop"

There is one circumstance where it is totally awesome to pass judgement on what is "real hip-hop" that's true to the culture, and what is "fake hip-hop" that's all about corporate profiteering : When you're getting paid to offer your definition of real hip-hop during a Snickers commercial.

June 13, 2006

Man Shoots Friend with 40 Cal While Listening to "40 Cal" by 40 Cal

I don't want to read too much into this, cuz it's surely more about this one person's negligence and irresponsiblity, and the tragedy of his friend's death, than whatever meaning we might extrapolate from the music they had on. But for these guys to treat guns so casually while listening to somebody treat guns so casually sure is a cringe-inducing coincidence*

New Orleans Man Shot By .40 Cal While Listening To Song With Same Name

Longtime friends near New Orleans, Louisiana were spending their time like many do: listening to music. Unfortunately, a tragedy took place on Thursday, June 8th when Ronnie Webber, 27, and Jonathan Beasley, 23, were listening to the Diplomats song "40 Cal ". The two men were looking at each other's guns when Webber playfully aimed the .40 Caliber gun at Beasley and pulled the trigger.

Webber told authorities that he did not check to see if the semi-automatic gun, which was recently purchased by Beasley, was loaded with ammunition. Immediately following the shot that struck Beasley in the chest, Webber called the police and attempted to perform CPR on his friend.

Webber was arrested for negligent homicide and was jailed following the fatal accident. Gabriella Webber, the shooter's mother, told The Times-Picayune, "It was an accident, but he has to be responsible." She continued with heartfelt words, stating, "There's not enough words for me to apologize for the silly decisions they made." She finished by warning others, "They are not a toy. The music is all that it is. Do not live the music. Guns are not a toy."

*assuming that detail is accurate..

June 14, 2006

Bill Cosby Goes After Hip-Hop Blogger

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill of playahata.com has a heck of a story about his run-in with Bill Cosby, who went on Atlanta radio to name Hill and Michael Eric Dyson as "hip-hop hustlers" after Hill published this op-ed about Cosby. Somebody please find the audio for this:

Bill Cosby declares war on “Hip hop Hustlers”

...Over the next few days, I did a series of radio interviews where I discussed the op-ed. In each interview, I reiterated both my respect for Dr. Cosby and my critique of his “Call Out” tour. Last Tuesday, I did a show in Atlanta with a Black conservative who decided that “he would put me in my place...”

A few minutes after the interview ended, I received a call from a friend in Atlanta. He told me, “Go on the internet and tune into the station. Bill Cosby just got on the radio and he’s talking about you!” ... asked what he was saying about me. He replied, “He’s calling you a liar and a hustler. He’s saying that you have a ‘hip-hop website’ and that you can’t be trying to help Black people with a ‘hip-hop website’”

I tuned back into the station to hear the end of Cosby’s diatribe. By this point, he and the host (who cosigned everything that Cosby said) were criticizing “the hustlers” who write about hip-hop and critique him at the same time. He explicitly named Michael Eric Dyson and me as two of the hustlers... My friend, who was on hold with the station, called me back via three-way and offered to let me speak to Cosby when it was his turn to speak. After a few minutes, I was on the air:

Hill: Hello. Dr. Cosby this isn’t [my friend]. This is actually Marc Lamont Hill. You were talking about me so I figured I’d call back so that we could talk.

Cosby: [clearly shocked and uncomfortable]: Yes?

(via nah right)

June 19, 2006

Prince's 3 Hour Concert at Butter, 6/17/06

Prince's Guitar Pick

Yes. Yes, I was one of the 150 people who witnessed this. I was one of the 5 or 10 people right up front, at arms length from Prince and the band all night (there was no stage, they were right there with us on floor level). Give me a minute. I'm not ready to talk about it yet.

Chuck Klosterman on Gnarls Barkley in NY Times Magazine

There's a lot of weird stuff going on here. The minimization of Cee-Lo's role to further the myth of Dangermouse as visionary mastermind:

...in a larger sense, Gnarls Barkley is really just one person, and that person is Burton. Cee-Lo is essential, but he's essential in the same way Diane Keaton was essential to "Annie Hall": he is the voice that best incarnates Burton's vision, so he serves as the front man for this particular project. Burton will aggressively insist that Gnarls Barkley is a two-man game, but that seems more magnanimous than accurate...

The placement of Gnarls in a "rock & roll" context, as if rock is still the sun around which all pop revolves:

"St. Elsewhere," by Gnarls Barkley, is an unlikely fusion of alternative pop, psychedelic R&B and postmodern hip-hop, and it was constructed differently from the vast majority of mainstream rock 'n' roll albums. And if "St. Elsewhere" does well over the long haul, its success will be a direct result of the way it was made, a blueprint that contradicts the conventional way in which rock bands are supposed to create music...

But I think the main problem (and explanation for his portrayal of Ceelo as pawn in Danger's master plan) is that he seems to be wandering around with the Gnarls press packet as his only guide, so he never fully catches on that it's the mechanics of their hype, in itself, that's the key to the Gnarls Barkley story.

This really makes me appreciate how deftly Sasha and Kelefa Sanneh map out their terrain for the Times/New Yorker readership, and consistently get all the basics right. I wish one of them had written a primer for Klosterman before he wandered off into the woods and got lost.

EDIT: Looks like the peanut gallery is with me on this.

June 20, 2006

What I'm Reading Today

I'm not gonna spell out the subject matter for fear of the ensuing google traffic, but I've spent all day on the various threads of this debate, so I figure I should acknowledge that.

Okay possibly not the ideal choice for an intro to the feminist blogosphere since it's arguably more infighting than fighting the power, plus it's probably just corny on principle for me as a man to suddenly start linking them when they get on this topic? But there's a lot of good writing and thinking in there, and it involves a lot of major players from that scene including Piny from feministe who is possibly my favorite blogger around.

Nas "Where Y'all At"

As previously stated, I could care less who represents from where, I only care what the music sounds like. But if all the "Bring NY Back" exhortation means more people making more songs that sound like this, I'm all in favor of it. (via okp)

June 21, 2006

AUDIO: DJ Monk One Funk/Soul Mix

Mr. Monk One is on the edge of his seat, waiting to see how many of his records you can identify.. there are some easy ones, some hard ones, and some harrrrrd ones:

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June 26, 2006

AUDIO: DJ Oneman Digging for the Rare Stuff

Here's another set of grimy, dusty grooves from our extended family DJ Oneman. You know the drill, post a comment and show us what songs you know.

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You can hear more from Oneman, E's E and Monk One at NYCtrust.com

About June 2006

This page contains all entries posted to hiphopmusic.com: in June 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2006 is the previous archive.

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