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December 2006 Archives

December 1, 2006

Papoose "50 Shots"

Courtesy of nahright.com, Papoose comes with a swift response to the killing of Sean Bell by the NYPD, the night before his wedding day. A rip from local radio, supplemented by the hearfelt commentary of Kay Slay. I like the sentiment more than I like the execution, but good to see someone is stepping up to bat.

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December 4, 2006

The Jay-Z Doll

How come nobody told me Jay-Z was guest-starring on an episode of Davey and Goliath?

(via fresh. Doll made by this guy)

December 6, 2006

AUDIO: DJ Emskee, 60 Minutes from 11/26/06

Here we have Emskee's set from Thanksgiving weekend, which I'm hearing for the first time now since I was out of town. Wow this guy is good DJ, what show is this again?

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Damon Wayans, Jay-Z, Michael Eric Dyson on the "N Word"

Though I think it's a shame that the aftermath of Kramergate has been reduced from a discussion of racism to a discussion of the "n word," now that we've taken it there it's worth checking Michael Eric Dyson's take, which is more nuanced (no Kerry-o) than most:

from playahata.com:

I have decided to retire the use of the “N” word in public. Why? Not because I believe that it has lost its power as a term of endearment among black folk who use it with love and affection. Not because its meaning has become so bastardized that one may not recover its redemptive use by black folk who intend it to signify profound love and respect. I have decided to stop using it for two reasons: many black folk who otherwise supported my work and agreed with my perspectives were thrown off by my public identification with the downtrodden and the debased of our race through use of the term. Despite all the good they thought I did, they believed that the use of the word made it difficult for them to fully embrace me. [To paraphrase The Apostle Paul said in the Bible that “if meat offends my brother, I don’t eat meat."]

Finally, Rev. Jesse Jackson, after we both attended Johnnie Cochran’s funeral, and after we engaged in a healthy political discussion with Stevie Wonder, asked me to refrain from publicly using the “N” word because it obscured what he termed the effectiveness of my intellectual wittiness. [As some of you may know, I’ve also had friendly debates with Cornel West on the subject, and even though we have disagreed about the subject, I have enormous respect for him and all my elders, including Rev. Jackson, who have different views]. So, I have decided to refrain from public use of the “N” word where I cannot explain the context of the word and its association with traditions of racial response to degradation. When I can explain it, I will feel free to engage in its use, although I realize those opportunities may be rarer than I’d like. In the end, the folk who know how I feel about the black oppressed, and all those who suffer regardless of race, creed, class, color or nationality, understand that I’m still riding for those whose backs are against the wall. But if those who otherwise feel me are offended by my use of the term, it makes little sense to continue its use. I have no problem with its use by hip-hoppers who continue to use it with verve, color, imagination, love and affection."

Meanwhile EURweb reports Damon Wayans is the first victim of the Laugh Factory's banning of the word, also offering Jigga's stance on the banning movement:

"I'm against that, I'm all for freedom of speech." He added, "You have to fix the people that have hatred inside their soul."

And of course there's John Ridley's LA Times piece, for what it's worth.

December 8, 2006

MIA and Timbaland in the Studio

Nothing earth-shattering, but I'm a sucker for behind-the-scenes producer footage. Watching Timbo sit down to casually tinker with his drum sounds still gives me goosebumps.

MIA and TImbaland in the studio Part 1

Continue reading "MIA and Timbaland in the Studio" »

What Quebec Can Teach Us About the "N Word"

I've already said that our current fixation on the "N Word" is misguided, and only sidetracks us from the conversations we really need to have about race and racism. It's also based on a false premise: this idea that Michael Richards used the word because he felt Black people's usage of it gave him license? Totally off the mark, IMO.

There's no doubt that our constant "nigga" droppings, in and out of the media, sometimes induce a peculiar sense of jealousy in white people.. compelling them to demand their fair share of the N-Word pie, and insist they mustn't be denied a ghetto pass by what they see as a double standard of N-Word Affirmative Action.

But that night at the Laugh Factory wasn't one of those cases. Michael Richards used the word that way because he knew he'd never have a pass for it. His lack of standup skills left him panicked and powerless in the face of these hecklers, so in a final act of desperation he reached for the one surefire weapon he had left, to shock and outrage. He went there precisely because he knows he's never supposed to go there. And the more we try to repress the word, the more attractive it will be to racists like Michael Richards who need to mask their powerlessness by dropping a bomb in the room.

All of that is my long-winded intro to this Washington Post piece that shows how repression can empower profanity, and may help illustrate why these anti N-Word campaigns are doomed to fail:

In French-Speaking Canada, the Sacred Is Also Profane
Quebecers Turn to Church Terms, Rather Than the Sexual or Scatological, to Vent Their Anger

"Oh, tabernacle!" The man swore in French as a car splashed through a puddle, sending water onto his pants. He could never be quoted in the papers here. It is too profane.

Continue reading "What Quebec Can Teach Us About the "N Word"" »

Young Jeezy Simultaneously Argues For and Against Nas

As previously documented, I don't believe in drawing boundaries around "real hip-hop", much less declaring it dead.. and I like Jeezy's stuff more than most of the Southern artists who get scapegoated in these conversations. But I'll be damned if his reasoning here doesn't epitomize everything us old folks hate about today's mainstream.

I don't know what depresses me more: Jeezy's inability to imagine that Nas might not see hip-hop as just another hustle or means for a nigga to eat*, or his last-ditch retreat into questioning whether Nas "busts guns on the street" and has "homies in the feds."

Monie Love Asks Young Jeezy About Nas' Album Title

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*(c) Kimbo Slice

December 11, 2006

What Christopher Guest Can Teach Us About Emceeing

Last week Matos linked to this Slate piece that reads exactly like the rant I always rant, about misguided purists who devalue written rhymes while exalting off-the-top flows as the true measure of a "real emcee."

The Problem With Christopher Guest

...my biggest complaint goes to the very heart of Guest's method. To read his reviews, you would get the idea that improvisation is a funnier—and more authentic—form of comedy than conventional mirth-making. Anybody can deliver a line written by Mel Brooks, the thinking goes, but Guest's players are out there winging it, creating "high-wire" comedy on the fly. To hear a studious guy like Guest wax about his technique ("I take seriously this craft, and to break that down into an improvisational craft … ") is to be taken with him. As USA Today once put it in a glowing profile, "Real. A good word to describe Guest and his art."

This is nonsense.... what's most important about comedy is whether or not it's funny, and I would argue that Guest's method often begets a kind of dullness. He's content with his actors "jamming," when tireless preparation—the tedious writing and rewriting of scenes and gag lines—would have served him better...

Pick A Bigger Weapon | Give A Bigger Blessing

For those who haven't heard, The Coup and Mr. Lif had a terrible accident while on tour, and could use a helping hand right about now. More info here.

Hip-Hop in Georgia (The Other One)

Nice to read an international hip-hop piece without the standard spin, "unlike American hip-hop that's all bling-bling now, in this country it's the true and righteous voice of oppressed peoples" and so on.

Beating the Rap in Kutaisi and Tbilisi

Since its debut in the early 1990s as underground music, rap has become a leading mainstream genre for Georgia, a country better known for the intricate melodies of polyphonic choirs than the pulsating rhythms of the hip-hop beat...

December 13, 2006

On Hip-Hop's Bad Year at the Grammys

Everyone (meaning O-Dub, Eskay and the LA Times) is talking about how hip-hop is missing from the major Grammy categories for the first time in six years. But if you look at the psychology of the Grammy voter it's easy to understand how this happened.

The people at NARAS can't just elevate any old rapper. They're only comfortable with honoring hip-hop they can rationalize as being "special." Something with a twist that makes it more "artistic" and innovative, more substantial and respectable than all that other stuff.

Usually this means they sift through the bestselling rap albums, and find the one that had the most singing and the least rapping on it (see Lauryn, Andre 3000). If they have to grant "special" status to rappers who actually rapped, they need some other angle that makes the artist Uniquely Relevant, and then the rapping rappers usually get many nominations but few awards (see Kanye, Eminem).

But for whatever reason, 2006 was simply a slow year for "special" hip-hop. With Game, Jay, Nas and Snoop all dropping after the deadline, TI is the only rapper with enough sales to be in the running. And for the Grammy voter there is simply no way to rationalize TI as more than just some guy rapping over a beat. Does this mean it's time to panic about hip-hop losing its pop cred? Not hardly. It just means we didn't throw in enough guitar strumming this year, and forgot to tell interviewers how we've been listening to the Beatles.

(And just to prove my point, there were two hip-hoppers that played this role perfectly in 2006.. in fact they played it so well everybody must have forgotten they were hip-hoppers, since nobody has acknowledged that some cats named Ceelo and Dangermouse are up for Record and Album of the Year. This does puzzle me a bit, since I'm not sure what makes "Crazy" any less hip-hop than "Hey Ya." Maybe it goes to show that our perception of genre boundaries is as much about an artist's marketing and branding as it is the sound of their music?)

December 15, 2006

Why You Can't Post Comments Lately

The discussion you guys contribute is the main thing that keeps me blogging, so I gotta apologize if you've had any trouble commenting lately.. Our database server has been breaking down, which prevents me from updating the site, and stops you from having your say.. I've got good people working on it, and it should be fixed before too long. In the meantime if the site's not letting you post a comment please send it to me, and i'll either let you know when we're up again, or add the reply in for you if you want.

Shoutout to Janine, Belve, Trusouth, Joe Grossberg, JohnnyUnitus, Novaslim, Clyde, Hashim, the LJ fam, the chatroom crew, and of course the infamous BP... who am I forgetting?

December 18, 2006

How Hip-Hoppers Forget Their History

In yesterday's times, via nah right:

For Rap Pioneers, Paydays Are Measured in Pocket Change

...Sales of vintage rap discs are sluggish or nonexistent. For the week ending Nov. 12, according to Nielsen SoundScan, Public Enemy’s landmark 1988 album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” sold 400 copies. LL Cool J’s 1987 album “Bigger and Deffer” (home of one of his biggest hits, “I Need Love”) sold half that amount. Run-D.M.C.’s “Raising Hell,” which includes the group’s groundbreaking collaboration with Aerosmith on a remake of “Walk This Way,” moved only 100 units...

I can't tell you how depressing that is to read. Replace "Bigger and Deffer" with "Sign of the Times" and you've got the three most important albums of my life right there (and now I'm afraid to even ask how many people still know SOTT). How do we explain the abandonment of our musical history, while classic rock can still move units decades later? What is it about NWA and the Beastie Boys that makes them the exceptions?

I'm also wondering where is the dividing line, in a world where even backpack hero Lupe Fiasco says "I've never owned a Tribe album and I never will," how old is too old? How much does, say, Illmatic or Cuban Linx sell now?

December 20, 2006

AUDIO: DJ 3D On The Turntables

Here's another dose of the french toast from DJ 3D. Extra points if you can name the movie clip I threw in at the end.

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AUDIO: The Definitive Nostalgic Nas Interview

We're not exactly known for having nice things to say about Hot 97, but I've got to give credit where it's due. Last night's interview with Nas is classic listening, especially if you remember the Good Old Days that make Nasir reminisce. Here's what Miss Info had to say when she passed the link on:

"I was in heaven...as opposed to the hell that is the tell-all baby-mama exposes, and the HP commercials, and the rapper haircut press releases, and the mixtape crown princes of Flopville....sigh....anyways, yeah I was in total heaven because I remember those days Nas and Flex were talking about....staying up all night taping WKCR, paying my beeper bill in person, seeing Kurious Jorge and Lucien by Columbus projects, going to Peggy Sues and Home Base, being a lil' badass : ) ah well...better get back to "walking it out." sigh."
Nas reminisces with Flex, 12/19/06:
  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • December 21, 2006

    Race and the Knicks/Nuggets Fight

    Our friend Dave Zirin with different take on the big throwdown:

    Brawl in the Garden

    In hockey, brawling has become so essential to the sport that it spawned the joke of a thousand lounge acts: "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out." In football, Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth stomped his cleat on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode last October, and the condemnation in the court of public opinion fell solely on Haynesworth's sorry shoulders. In baseball, when Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punched A.J. Pierzynski in the mouth this summer, the benches cleared, but it merited barely a mention in the media, more punch line than punch-out.

    But in basketball, a fight gets decidedly different treatment. It's debated and discussed like the 1992 Los Angeles riots--with an overcaffeinated mix of condemnation and concern. The NBA has become the spittoon for every racial anxiety aslosh in Sportsworld...

    December 25, 2006

    Rest in peace, Godfather of

    Rest in peace, Godfather of Soul. . .

    About December 2006

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

    November 2006 is the previous archive.

    January 2007 is the next archive.

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

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