Thursday, December 27, 2007

SNACK BOX IS FOUR FUCKING DOLLARS



This is truly a sad day in Harlem history. My longtime favorite eatery, New Caporal, has betrayed the people. The infamous "snack box" is now four dollars.

For those not in the know, a SNACK BOX is a meal consisting of a leg, thigh, wing, and a heaping mound of french fries (or as the natives say, "papa frita"). The snack box was, in effect, the poor man's feast. Caporal is open 24/7, 365. You can't help but do a Spike Lee-type drift toward the damn spot after you get off that 1 train on 157th. They have saved me from many a late-night hangover in my tenure, and I'm grateful. I think their secret is that they've probably never changed the oil in its near 30 years of existence that gives it that aroma, SABOR.

I remember being a broke third grader with a quarter to my name after school. I would gather five of my closest friends, combine those quarters, and purchase a steaming hot snack box for $1.50. ONE DOLLAR, FIFTY CENTS! I don't know if it was a West Indian vs. African American thing, but I always got some of that good thigh meat, whereas my yankee bredren would always opt for the wing. (Trust that now I understand the power of a fried chicken wing). For such prices, this tasty treat earned the pet name "Crack Box".

I sent my lil' cousin to Caporal's with $7 the other day, expecting us both to be sleep within fifteen minutes of devouring our snack box. Instead, she returned with only one box and a pocketful of shame. If I didn't burn so damned much, i might consider a protest.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Walk Hard, Carry a Big Stick (of Kush)



Walk Hard may become my new favorite movie. Once I go to the bootlegger to see it. This clip is hilarious right here.

How many different names can you come up with for the green? Leave your answers in the comments section, and I'll big you up in next week's holiday post.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Old School Video of the Week--"Check Yourself" by Ice Cube

BIG D's in your mouth are bad for your health...
Cube gets his props, but he still may be under rated in the game.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mayweather flattens Hatton

Big shouts to Money Mayweather on giving Ricky Hatton a sound ass whupping last night. As my homie Cavalier accurately put it, Floyd talks shit, but he doesn't shit talk.

Nuff respect to Hatton, who I thought gave a brilliant showing against Floyd. But even the Hitman had nothing for this fella.

It was somewhere around the 8th round that Money really started to show what time it really was. He put a real thrashing on that poor guy from that point on, I'll let you see the clip of the knockout below.

P.S. I love how Mayweather has an aka in his alias now. Who has two nicknames?

Monday, December 3, 2007

OLD SCHOOL VIDEO OF THE WEEK--SNOOP DOGG'S 'SENSUAL SEDUCTION'

Yeah I know this is a new video, but damn do I fuck with this shit right here. This shit is more old school than Lenny Williams, complete with the psychadelic silhouettes and all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

LET'S DANCE TO THE DRUMMER'S BEAT!



ALL CAPS FOR THIS ONE. IF YOU LOVE HIP HOP, THEN YOU SHOULD REALLY LOVE CLYDE STUBBLEFIELD, LEGENDARY DRUMMER FOR JAMES BROWN. THIS BROTHER'S FUNK KEPT YOUNG BROTHERS LIKE ME AWAY FROM THE HORRORS OF HEAVY METAL DURING THE 80's, SO GIVE IT UP.

DRUM BATTLE BETWEEN ELVIN JONES AND ART BLAKELY

THIS VIDEO RIGHT HERE IS JUST RIDICULOUS. REMEMBER, THE DRUM IS THE HEALING!

Should we bring back the Niagara Movement?




Just finished reading Juan Williams' new book, "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--And What We Can Do About It". For those not familiar, Williams is a journalist for Fox News.

After reading the book, I feel more and more compelled to bring back something like the Niagara Movement, the famous meeting called by W.E.B. DuBois to deal with matters pertaining to Black people. One of the major acheivements of this conference was the NAACP.

"Enough" was a fairly interesting read. Not sure what side I stand on, or I should even be on a side in this matter. I'm happy that Williams decided to step up and write something about the matter of black leadership--at least some new dialogue can begin. I also want to reiterate that there is a severe need for real black leadership on a national and global level. R.I.P. Fred Hampton, Malcolm, Martin, Khalid Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad, Nat Turner, DuBois, ...

William's uses Bill Cosby's now-infamous speech at Constitution Hall as the basis for the arguments presented in this book. Williams seems to feel that Cosby's comments were indeed justified, and he provides substance to prove the fact.

In a nutshell, Cosby expressed his anger at Black America for not taking advantage of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, as well as the overall struggles of our people during the Civil Rights movement. Cosby feels that we should no longer be blaming whites for our problems, we need to stand up as a people and work to improve our own lot without welfare, reparations, etc. He says that drug dealers and absentee fathers should be demonized in our communities, and he holds rappers in contempt for their use of derogatory lyrics.

Both Cosby and Williams are wealthy Black Conservatives. The Black Conservative viewpoint partially stands on the premise that since Blacks are capable of acheiving success on their own merit, they shouldn't have to depend on the government and social programs to survive. Many brothers and sisters hear the 'C' word and immediately shut down, but those opinions deserve a listen.

I am in agreement that programs like welfare can create a culture of dependency. I strongly believe in the ability of Black people to steer their own destiny without the help of white people. But I think that conservatives like Williams and Cosby are simply out of touch with today's black culture, and this is why their messages often fall on deaf ears.

Both these men are children of the Civil Rights Movement. They can remember the fire hoses and dogs and Jim Crow. So I can understand their dissappointment with much of today's black youth. They correctly blame parents for their lack of involvement in their children's lives. But the fact of the matter is that the Civil Rights Movement never saw its dreams fully realized. The true leaders of this movement were all killed before these changes took place. Sure we have the Little Rock Nine, but let's not forget that the damned Arkansas governor himself placed guards in front of the school to PREVENT the kids from entering. And the following year, most of the schools in Arkansas were closed for the entire year.

I hold those who put their lives on the line for freedom in the highest regard, but the truth is that their movement never acheived its goal. In fact, I feel that the motivations of the movement were skewed to begin with. I simply find it illogical for a Black person to think that they can gain freedom through marches and protests. Particularly when they protest in front of people who have been systematically trained to hate them, to dehumanize them. The best a black person can expect to gain from a protest is sympathy. Had we truly gained any real respect or rights from this movement, we wouldn't have the racial inequalities we still have today. People like Williams and Cosby have been able to slip through the cracks and gain acceptance from those whites who once denied them, so it's hard for them to believe that the movement failed our people as a whole. It's easy to throw stones from atop the hill--much harder to pitch from the valley.

These men also fail to recognize that while they were off paying their dues at NBC and FoxNews, the government continued its campaign against the black community. Let's not forget that most of our major leaders were assassinatined as part of larger government conspiracies, from MLK to Fred Hampton. Once the Panthers were 'neutralized', crack-cocaine was brought to the now-hopeless communities by none other than the CIA(check out Gary Cooper's investigation). The crack trade has perhaps been the most significant impediment to Black progress in the last twenty years, even Williams acknowledges this. While middle class neighborhoods like Watts were turned into ganglands, Cosby and Williams were off making their bread and connections. I don't blame them for doing what they did; rather I'm pointing out that their journeys to the top have taken them out of the fire. And now they're pointing fingers. Step back into the fire homies!

Their blanket condemnation of rap music and rappers is very disturbing to an artist like myself, who strives to uplift and inform the community. It makes me wonder if Cosby has ever spoken to any of these young men directly, or if they have ever tried to seek out any positive rappers before making these statements. Such condemnations are dangerous, because they make rappers defensive, rather than reflective. I cant think of a young person that wouldn't sit and listen to Bill Cosby if he approached them directly. Approach a brother like Snoop directly and speak to him, don't go on Oprah Winfrey and wag your fucking finger!

Williams also makes some very interesting comments about some of today's leaders, including AL "Snitching on the Panthers" Sharpton, and Jesse "MC" Jackson. There was talk of Sharpton being an FBI informant who helped to convict Black Panthers, and talk of both men staging fake protests for money. I always knew something was wrong with Sharpton, how can you still be conking in 2007? James Brown my ass...

More successful brothers and sisters need to follow the example of people like Jim Brown. Brown goes directly into the hood and uses his influence to work with gang members. He was instrumental in brokering the truce between Crips and Bloods in the early 90's. My homie from Cali also alerted me to the work of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who has provided jobs for thousands of blacks in California.

Let's talk people.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

BET--Black Elimination Television



BET stands for BLACK ELIMINATION TELEVISION.

A real Black Friday Event



This is going to be a dope show. They're dubbing it "Black Friday". Two very ill NY crews, The Dugout and Enemies of the State.

The Mean Fiddler (W. 47th St. bet. Broadway & 8th Ave.) on November, 23rd. They'll be rocking as part of the GNYC (Going New York City) series that they have over there. Admission is $10, and they go on at 11:45 p.m. (I know, that’s late; by the time we finish, it’ll be “Black Saturday,” lol).

Friday is already the best day of the week (ask Ice Cube and Johnny Kemp!), now that they’ve blackened it, I doubt it can get any better! Peace.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

OLD SCHOOL VIDEO OF THE WEEK--ROB BASE/DJ EASY ROCK "Joy and Pain"

ROB BASE AND DJ EASY ROCK--JOY AND PAIN
**If you don't know about this, you best to come on in! Classic right here...the first record I ever owned was Rob Base's "It Takes Two". My pops owned just about every suit Rob had on in this video, real talk right there. That's hip hop.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Every dog has its day



"And I'm not talking about those scum niggers without a soul..."

If you stupid enough to think that Dog the Bounty Hunter wasn't a racist bastard before, then you stupid enough to be surprised at his recent comments. I took one look at that fucker and thanked god I never had an outstanding warrant.

Folks need to stop acting so surprised at these recent overt displays of racism. The fact is, all these folks have BEEN racist, it's only now that they feel safe enough to open their mouths again.

I think it's good for some of these negroes to see this shit(Imus, Dog, nooses, etc), so that they can get their dumb asses up out the fancy restaurants, and into the struggle.

And if I gotta see Al Sharpton's snitching ass on TV condemning any more shit that don't matter(e.g. Dick Cheney attending a hunting lodge that hangs a Confederate flag), I'ma steal his activator spray.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OLD SCHOOL VIDEO OF THE WEEK--PORTISHEAD'S STRANGERS

If you don't know about Portishead yet, you best to come on in! This is one of my favorite groups period. Learned about them in college whilst burning heavily. Some of the best driving music you can have. This is a clip from one of their live performances.

There's a crew in NYC called The New Rap Order who remixed "Sour Times" into a track called "Son of A Bitch". One of the best rap songs I've ever ever heard. Do your homework shorties. And you old fucks try and keep up!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Black Boys Video banned--Why?



Grime artist Bashy recently released a powerful video titled "Black Boys" in celebration of Black History Month. It was BANNED by OFCOM, a media watchdog, for claims that the video is racist. You watch for yourself.

Hope you watched it already, because I'm about to speak on it. From my viewpoint, the video is what people need to be seeing. There are no racist undertones or overtones present in any of the lyrics or images in the video, so what is OFCOM talking about?

People watch out, the witch hunt for Black people is on and popping again. No, I'm not talking about a nigga getting caught with guns w/silencers(though if that shit don't reek of hip hop police, I don't know what does). I'm talking about hanging a noose on Tupac's statue. I'm talking about shooting an unarmed groom-to-be 50(FIFTY) fucking times. I'm talking about attacking the use of a word, and not the ignorance and poverty that nurtures the use of that word.

For those white folks that are tired of hearing about race and black people, FUCK YOU for FIVE HUNDRED YEARS. Had black people received reparations of any sort like the JEWS and JAPANESE, then I could understand not wanting to hear shit. But the simple fact of the matter is that folks in the hood are dying to obtain shit that is commonplace amongst many whites. Yeah, you may live in a trailer park, but at least you OWN that shit. A regular hood brother will dream of having his own apartment to rent, and if he gets a car, SHHIIIITTT, 'we movin' on up!'.

Should white people get up and give black people all the shit they could be owed? Hell no. Every man/woman gotta get theirs for themselves. But all I'm saying is don't stop a brother/sister from getting theirs on some hater shit. If the boy Bashy makes a positive song about Black boys to uplift his folk, what business do you have banning that shit? No business motherfucker! Not when you got Soldier Boy skeeting all over the fucking place.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Does the word N!gger lead to Global Warming?

Here's a clip from one of my favorite people, Bobby Hemmitt. A brother who pulls no punches whatsoever. His theories are quite extraordinary, and this hypothesis particularly strikes me.

For those who can't yet watch the clip, Hemmitt is surmising that the word N!gger is rooted in an ancient African term NGGR(nay-gar), which raises the Kundalini spirit. The Kundalini spirit is also known as the serpent power, and when risen, it can elevate one's spirit to be closer to God. It basically represents a spiritual maturation.

Hemmitt says that the rising of the Kundalini spirit is what prompts Global Warming, not noxious gases. Shit had me bugging for a minute. I'll let him tell the rest.


Monday, October 22, 2007

OLD SCHOOL VIDEO OF THE WEEK--SELF DESTRUCTION

Big up to the Blastmaster KRS-ONE for reinitiating the Stop the Violence Movement. The original Self Destruction video is one of my all-time favorites, so let's revisit it.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

My new favorite drink being advertised by one of my favorite emcees

The video will explain everything. I just love this guy StarPower. He really says whatever the hell he wants. He's got an album out called The Problem of the Day.

As for the Grandad's Nerve Tonic, shit had me buzzed real proper. Give it a taste if you're in Brooklyn. And then buy the Junk Science album.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

PIFF--Super Plant or Narcotic?




As I make my weekly journey up to Washington Heights to visit moms, I was again accosted by the local 'vendors'. Their product of choice? The ever popular PIFF, a seemingly new strain of marijuana that's taken over the hearts, minds, and lungs of our youth.

I admit that I've tried this PIFF, and though stoned out of my brain, I'm not impressed at all(A good Barber is knowledgeable of all things hood). The initial high was intense, yet managable. But then after a few more pulls, I began to get that "somebody's watching me dude!" kind of paranoia. Heart beating too fast, sweating, jumpy as shit-type high. It wore off after a half hour or so, but shit got me to thinking.

Is this PIFF shit just a stronger version of my old green faithful, or are the masses being doped up, for real? I never did hard drugs, never intend to. And that shit felt like hard drugs, b.

The Dominicans have never been known for their plant cultivation abilities, but they sure are known for that white stuff. I ain't trying to knock nobody's hustle, but sell what you say you're selling Papi. Don't tell me the extra crystals is just THC and shit.

Here are some things to look out for to avoid a bad trip:

1.) Stop buying weed outside. Anyone stupid enough to still have their biz in the streets with all these cameras has nothing to lose.

2.) Weed is not physically addictive. If you feel withdrawal symptoms after not burning for a couple, you may need to reexamine what it is you're inhaling. And remember, if you smoke those blunts, tobacco IS addictive.

3.) Beware of specialty names like PIFF, Diesel, GoldenEye. Just a sales pitch to make you think shit is special. Probably has roach spray or worse in it.

4.) Ask the vendor what he's smoking. If he/she's smoking the same shit they sell you, you may be okay. But even that's hard to tell.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

King Leopold's Ghost still haunts Africa

Check out this enthralling(you like that word fuckers) article on King Leopold, one of the main men responsible for destructing the cradle of Africa, The Congo.

You Be The Judge

Hate for Blacks is Old Noose!



I won't even harp on the details of the noose incident at Columbia University. People spend too much friggin time trying to find out exactly what happened.

There is an extremely dope emcee by the name of Mercury the Maroon who once spit:

"Black people goin back to Sambo and Mamie/I don't give a fuck about a god-damned Grammy"

You got black folk out here shucking and jiving and smiling for the cameras, who refuse to acknowledge that our situation has yet to change in this country. The black intellectuals have been silenced with 'good' jobs and phony compliments. I know, because I used to be one of those who was content with my Direct TV, PDA cell phone, and overpriced apartment to bang my bourgeois girlfriends.

These are the people who should have been fighting the academic wars in the classrooms and boardrooms for our integrity. The thugs on the street shooting and slanging each other to death should be the soldiers fighting the holiest of battles to free us from the invisible chains. But nah, give these niggas a chain and they shut the fuck up when the gentry moves in on their turf.

My point is, the noose incident at Columbia should not have come as a surprise to anyone. If we spent more time paying attention to the shitstorm around us, we wouldn't jump every time there's a fart in the wind. Sean Bell, Mychal Bell, Amadou, Rodney King, Scottsboro Boys, Draft Riots, shit, JESUS. And all we continue to do is fucking march. Fuck that shit. For real. Check some more lyrics from brother Mercury, a song called War and Peace:

"I ain't doin no more sit-ins to get shit on, it's corny/
And I know now I won't fit in/
I ain't commit the first sin, but I'ma cast the first stone at the dawn of the morning/
Form a militia built of the same niggas in Compton that were built to pick cotton in Virginia/
The epicenter of the NIGGER epidemic..."

The rest you'll have to hear on Higher Learning, a most important album.

OLD SCHOOL VIDEO OF THE WEEK--PUMP IT HOTTIE

Much love to Redhead Kingpin for keeping light-skinned brothers in vogue for at least three more months with this classic jam here:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lupe is a Fiasco




I want to thank Mr. Fiasco for his faux-pas at the 2007 Hip Hop Honors show. He has given me the necessary fodder to continue my crusade against his corny ass. I have always maintained that this dude makes NO SENSE WHATSOEVER in his rhymes. Lyric lovers, give me a minute to 'plain myself.

I'm sure somewhere deep down in his verses, Lupe is saying some real worthwhile shit. But metaphor works best within some sort of literal context. Thanks to TV and weed, I no longer have the patience to sit and listen to a mofo go on and on about some bullshit. I tolerated Kick, Push for the beat, but after a while, his lyrics simply bored me. To date, I have yet to listen all the way to the end of a Lupe track.

Now this verse he spit SOUNDED real dope, but I'll be damned if I could tell you what son talking about.




NOW ON TO THE HIP HOP DISHONOR...

What rapper in their right mind don't know fucking "Scenario"? I could give him the slightest pass for his fucked up rendition of "Electric Relaxation", but not fucking "Scenario". I don't care where the fuck you grew up, Spice 1 can NEVER compare to Tribe Called Quest, and will NOT be inducted into the Hip Hop Honors. That was a real lousy excuse.

I feel him on even forgetting some of his own lyrics on stage sometimes, but this was no ordinary show. His lil' overrated ass should have been jumping for joy to even be considered to honor one of the greatest groups of all time-any genre of music. He couldn't take an hour to memorize 8, I repeat EIGHT fucking bars? His performance was as bad as Phife looks now(fuck that, I keeps it real).

So in closing(for now), I say thank you, Lupe, for now I don't need to search for reasons to explain to people why you are a wack rapper.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Columbia University President gets no vote from me

I've since rescinded my grad school application to Columbia University after watching its President Bollinger make a mockery of academia. His introduction of President Ahmadinejad was not only distasteful, but it failed to truly bring any light to what Iran may actually be guilty of.

If the President was indeed lacking the intellect necessary to engage the Columbia students, he should have let it manifest on its own.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

If You Can Walk, You Can... Chry

I present to you CHRYBABY of the BREAKFAST CLUB. I peeped this cat doing his thizzle at a Brooklyn Block Party last Saturday, and I was blown away.



Word is, he's from Harlem, NY and his team BC is running the streets all over. Bust how I get home, turn on the TV, and I peep Chrybaby in a Chris Brown video!



The crew motto is "Everybody Eats". I'm feeling that, on some UJAMAA shit. Much love to Chrybaby and the Breakfast Club, hopefully we can get an interview soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

conVICKted before proven guilty



In the past I've found it hard to feel bad for someone who has earned over $100 million, but my heart truly goes out to Michael Vick at this time.

The latest news in this overhyped, made-for-TV drama is that the government is trying to slap two more charges on brother Vick. If he's convicted on each count of animal cruelty, he could spend up to FORTY years in prison(5 years for each of the 8 dogs killed).

The conVICKtion of this brother is a throwback to classic American racism. Sure the law states that dogfighting is illegal. And yes, maybe Vick should be punished if he took part in it. Maybe. But the media's all-out assault on this man's character has been a modern-day lynching.


Here are some examples of animal cruelty that not only didn't face prosecution, but are heralded in our distorted history:

1. Buffalo Bill popularized the slaughter of the buffalo during America's Westward Expansion period in the 1800's. Americans bought expensive rail tickets to travel to the midwest. Armed with their rifles, they would shoot and kill the buffalo from their train car windows. The millions and millions of buffalo slaughtered changed the entire ecology of the midwest from a grassy flatland to a dust bowl. Buffalo Bill went on to become of the most famous and wealthy entertainers of his time, recounting his 'adventures' in the Wild Wild West.


2. Our dairy and poultry farmers continue to pump artificial hormones into our meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. These animals are crowded into small sheds with no light, and often end up disfigured and/or diseased. And this shit ends up on our plates daily. Most of us don't bitch about because 1.) we don't even want to think about it, or 2.) as long as that bird is 50 cents cheaper in the store, let it be.




3. Hunting is legal throughout the country, yet dogfighting is outlawed. So basically, killing animals is cool as long as we humans do the killing. With a semi-automatic assault rifle.



Here are some reasons why I don't think Vick should not face any punishment:

1. He gained all of his notoriety by engaging in an ultra-violent sport, which millions of Americans watch every weekend to see him get his body crushed play after play. If Vick can get his ass tossed around on the field every Sunday, let a brother watch a couple pooches go at it.

2. Like ignorant-assed Clinton Portis said, dogfighting is everywhere. EVERYWHERE in the U.S. And it ain't just in the country, cuz I done seen it go down in Harlem before. Don't make a forty-year, hundred million dollar example out of Vick for doing something that much of our country already does.

3. Horse racing, one of the most attended spectator sports, is equally cruel to its participants. Aren't the Equus sent to the glue factory if they perform poorly? Never seen a case about that in the news. Some little rich girl might just love one of those 'not so thoroughbreds' as a pet.

4. Really and truly, who really thinks that Vick had a hands-on involvement in this dog business? Between football practice, endorsements, and other public appearances, when the fuck was Vick getting time to kill dogs.

Vick owned the property where the dogs were kept, true. But he didn't live there. Bought it for his ignorant ass cousin. If you were born in Newport News, or somplace like it, and then earned $100 million, chances are you might buy some shit for your family too. Ignorant or not, that's your family. If anything, his cousin is a bitch-made nigga for not taking the rap for Vick. They could've set up some kind of trust fund for him when he got out. Now the whole family gotta go back to being fucked up.

Now THIS is an appropriate moment for this statement here:





Snoop Doggy Dogg--Doggy Dogg World

Monday, September 24, 2007

On Demand, No Supply

I'd like to extend my middle finger upwards towards the Optimum Cable company for their shitty On-Demand amenities.


Time Warner is knocking them out the fucking box.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"And you won't pull that small time stuff over on ME!"

The honorable Khalid Muhammad(b.1948-d.2001) was formally condemned by the United States House of Representatives in 1995 for statements made during a lecture at Kean College.

Many people have a bias towards Muhammand one way or another, but he was very much loved in many black communities. In my opinion, he was the last true black leader--intelligent, fearless, and determined.

Here are a few clips for you to peruse...


KHALID MUHAMMAD ON PHIL DONAHUE



KHALID ON DONAHUE pt.2



KHALID ON DONAHUE pt.3



KHALID ON DONAHUE pt.4



KILL EM ALL SPEECH

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Praise of Assholes: Kanye vs. 50 by Greg Tate

September 11th, 2007 12:28 PM
Kanye WestGraduationRoc-A-Fella/Def Jam
50 CentCurtisShady/Aftermath/Interscope
be social




Kanye West and 50 Cent are the two biggest drama queens to hit pop music since Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, and that's not a bad thing. Hiphop, still the voice of Young Black America, is only going to get louder and prouder as it goes along, if only because that demographic's voice is so hushed elsewhere. Barack Obama's campaign manager claims his candidate's currently muted campaign voice is the product of his belief that America isn't ready for a fire-breathing Black man, and our nation's prisons and graveyards are full of the proof. But nature abhorring a vacuum, Kanye and 50 have rushed in to fill the void in that last safe space left for such characters. A sister I know once told me she had no respect for a Black man who wasn't arrogant. Maybe the advent of Mr. West and Mr. Cent warms her heart, maybe not. Regardless, there is, of course, that bothersome question: loud and proud and arrogant in the name of what? Wealth, fame, and gossip? Hmmm.
While traveling about the country speaking in the 19th century, Sojourner Truth, our beloved godmother of The Struggle, used to sell postcards of herself, rationalizing this enterprise thus: "I use the shadow to support the substance."
These are the days when we ask whether there's anything but shade being served up as Black Popular Culture. With respect to West's new Graduation and 50's new Curtis, one could easily come to feel that hype is being sold to support hype, so please don't believe the hype. But as Melville, another 19th-century godmother of truth, set forth in The Confidence Man, America is nothing if not a land where hustlers, grifters, con artists, and slicksters grease the wheel of populism, where the shadow often is the substance and where even those who've come to peddle the righteous Truth realize they need to get some hustle up in their game, too. On a recent PBS report about Europe's love-hate relationship with America, a bizarre sidebar hustled us into the studio apartment of two French rappers of Arabic descent. Dudes wore fat gold chains, shined diamond grills, and gushed repeatedly about how they viewed both American MCs and Herr Bush as idols because their "game was so tight," repeatedly and ferociously invoking that phrase. They believe the hype, conflating Bushology and bling-ology as the new-model American Dream. Mr. Cent has also spoken admiringly of Herr Bush's aggression. Real knows real.
Mr. West and Mr. Cent are both now as well-known for inciting beef as for recording and performing. You could think they both make records just to sell hype as opposed to the other way around, but they're also both formidable, state-of-the-art 21st-century pop tunesmiths who take the job of writing delectable hits as seriously as any Brill or Motown scrivener ever did. One old-school hiphop maven recently lamented how she can't believe she lives in a world where "Kanye is even a factor," largely because he can't really rap. (Mr. Cent she loves, reminding those of us less titillated that the man does have charms to stir the distaff breast.) But while it's true that Mr. West will probably never end up on anybody's list of even the 100 greatest MCs of all time, he's clearly got an exceptional ear for hooks, both musical and lyrical. Furthermore, he's got stuff to say that isn't the standard fare, stuff that still has undeniable mass-ass appeal. He also has a unique personality and a confidently outsized opinion of same—that combined with moxie will still get you somewhere in this country.
Mr. West and Mr. Cent share in being two of the most unrepentantly obnoxious figures to arrive in American pop culture since Cheney and Rumsfeld. The difference between them being, Mr. West is loud, bratty, obnoxious, but seemingly harmless, while Mr. Cent is laconic, bratty, obnoxious, but genuinely sinister. His now-legendary Hot 97 interview, calmly warning a histrionic, hyperventilating Cam'ron about the dangers of his mouth writing checks his ass couldn't cash, was as surgical, chilling, and devastating a threat as you've heard since Pacino played Corleone. But somewhere during 2005's The Massacre, Mr. Cent realized he didn't have to make records for gangsters, wanksters, or even guys anymore, that he could just be the lone NY kingpin who made records strictly for the ladies. Those with truly savage breasts and literal cojones would have to find their high-testosterone hiphop elsewhere—Mr. Cent could care less for your love anymore. Certainly not after cashing in those Glaceau stock options; if hiphop is now more defined by the corporate game than the street game, that lucrative little coup just might be the definitive hiphop act of 2007.
After all, brothers like Mr. West and Mr. Cent can sell hype to support hype and thus generate as much personal wealth as many African nations can with all the diamonds, gold, and titanium in their sovereign ground. African-American entertainment is our De Beers, our Nokia, our Lockheed—the only bloodsucking industry we (sorta) (symbolically, at least) got, and likely the only nation-state (figuratively, at least) we'll ever have as well. Meaning that in some perverse Black Nationalist way, you have to admire the loot Mr. Cent, Mr. Combs, Mr. Simmons, and Mr. Carter have hustled out of corporate America by wearing little more than their well-hyped shadows. Meanwhile, back in the real jungle, real Africans—Rwandans, no less—are slaughtering one another to corner the market on the colombite-tantalite-laced mud (known as coltan) that keeps your cell phone ringing. (For more on this, see Black Brit artist Steve McQueen's upcoming exhibition Gravesend.) Mr. West and Mr. Cent may indeed be assholes, but they're symbolic assholes who remind us that American Darwinism has produced a species of Negro Male who can now exploit his fetishized vernacular aura as profitably as multinational corporations can the minerals in your whole damn ancestral homeland. Mr. Cent will never win the NAACP Image Award he deserves for this achievement, mainly because that lot's more interested in "burying" the word nigga or "redeeming" Michael Vick's dog-mangling ass than applauding or even analyzing it.
Oh yes, BTW, FYI, Mr. Cent and Mr. West both have new albums out. Of course, Mr. West's previous effort, 2005's Late Registration, belongs in the pantheon of superlative hiphop albums, despite his being a mere step or three above Mr. Combs in the "least enchanting rhymers of all time" category. To his credit, though, he's far wittier than Diddy, with reams of jokes and edgy one-liners ("I'm like the Malcolm X of fly/Buy any jeans necessary"), and something like a social conscience, too—see his blood-diamond confessions on Registration's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone." What he lacks in ferocious flow, he makes up for in plaintive verbal harassment—he's kinda like the guy who will beg his way into your panties if he has to, the one who will simply not shut up or back off until your ears give him the equivalent of sympathy punnani. He's the Rodney Dangerfield of rap, in other words, and fortunately for us, what he lacks in MC finesse he makes up for in musical panache. Registration had a jillion snappy ideas about what a hiphop song could be—from show tunes to power ballads, from symphonic airs to Curtis Mayfield elegies—and mucho ear candy to burn. Mr. West proved he knew a ripe, juicy hook when he stole, borrowed, or chipmunked one, and he knew how to attach himself to it like a writhing, self-aggrandizing barnacle to boot. Graduation builds on this formula, even if this time around his lyric conceits prove less galvanizing than his purely musical snatches.
Let's take "Drunk and Hot Girls," for starters. Ostensibly Graduation's "Gold Digger," its similarly breezy girl-bashing never achieves the deadpan hilarity of that Registration highlight because, like too many other moments this time, Mr. West presumes our sympathy for his rock-star pain—here, specifically, the downside of being entangled with intoxicated hotties. (The track does, however, prove he can mire himself in lounge music as seedy as any Tom Waits has trawled in.) The folly of his pathos, though, reaches its nadir on "Big Brother," a song about how much he loves and owes his big bruh Jay-Z, and how little love and respect lil' bruh Kanye feels he gets in return. Not exactly Cain and Abel drama here.
Now, if there's anything Kanye and 50 both want and will never, ever have, it's the genuine Vito Corleone–Muhammad Ali love and respect Mr. Shawn Carter has out here on these streets, a love I never truly appreciated until around December 4 of last year, when I was on Harlem's 145th Street A-train platform and overheard a young sister, about 17 or so, tell her homegirl she was on her way home to bake a birthday cake, like she always did for her "big brother" Jayhova. Both these guys could give away every dime they make from now until perdition to homeless orphans and not get that kind of unabashed 'hood love in return. Of all the things Mr. Carter has that other high-rolling hiphop brothers might covet, the thing they covet the most can't be bought or sold: his "big man on campus" affability. In recognition of this lack, Mr. West and Mr. Cent take an opposite tack, seeing how far they can push straight-faced arrogance as an icebreaker, if not a virtue.
When Mr. West's braggadocio turns whiny, Graduation proves why he's so easy to loathe, but also why he's so easy to applaud as the most genuinely confessional MC in hiphop today. (Some would say "narcissistic," but c'mon, this is hiphop, not emo, yo.) On "The Glory," he congratulates himself for raising the thematic bar in hiphop, and also for buying clothes with haute logos. On "Everything I Am," he congratulates himself for not being more gangsta, notes the number of caskets in Chicago last year (600), and speaks up for the down-and-out brother in the 'hood who can't even get the church to give his depression the time of day. And grating bouts of narcissism aside, Graduation contains killer pieces of production: "Stronger" uses Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" to practically revive Eurodisco, while "Champion" snarkily snatches its hook from Steely Dan's "Kid Charlemagne" and allows Mr. West to declare how much he's an idol for the kids, if not the ages.
For Mr. Cent's part, he and his Curtis co-producers continue to perfect a style of lean, sleek, bubbly, robo-industrial hiphop that nearly qualifies as a modern form of visual design, each track the equivalent of watching a Maserati roll off the assembly line. We're talking a form as sleek, dark, and aerodynamic in form as a Mirage fighter—one that allows Mr. Cent to shadily blend and disappear into the music like a grinning, evil Cheshire cat and thus maintain his Zen profile as the anti-Kanye: the least excitable prime-time rapper this side of Snoop. An extremely limited thematic palette of sex, money, and dissing still wets his whistle, even if, on "Straight to the Bank," he reminds us that he's so rich he doesn't have to rap anymore. But even if you have no ears for his lyrical swagger (I don't have much), can't anybody say he makes indifferent, lazy albums. Curtis is stuffed with tightly wound 21st-century pop songwriting, full of that invisible craft and flow that renders a thing eminently listenable even if it's gratuitously raunchy, politically reprehensible, and sexually retrograde. America wouldn't be America if pro-capitalist assholes and con men couldn't run roughshod over the body politic, and the day there's no room for two full-time careerist drama queens like Mr. West and Mr. Cent will be the day the revolution comes, the day of al-Kebulan, the Taliban, the tsunami, the asteroid, the omega, man.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lemonade was a popular drink, and it still is...

As we wave goodbye to summer, I recall one of my absolute favorites, 1994. GangStarr blessed the streets and the backpackers with their classic, "Hard to Earn". I move on, but I remember. Take a sip ladies and gents, here's the live version of Dwyck:



Coca-Cola or Water--I'd take the latter. A must read!

A MUST READ!!



WATER






#1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.(Likely applies to half the world population.)




#2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weakthat it is mistaken for hunger.




#3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as 3%.




#4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangsfor almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University ofWashington study.




#5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.




#6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses ofwater a day could significantly ease back and joint painfor up to 80% of sufferers.




#7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-termmemory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing onthe computer screen or on a printed page.




#8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk ofcolon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breastcancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to developbladder cancer. Are you drinking the amount of wateryou should drink every day?




COKE




#1. In many states the highway patrol carriestwo gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood fromthe highway after a car accident.




#2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Cokeand it will be gone in two days.




#3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into thetoilet bowl and let the "real thing" sit for one hour,then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removesstains from vitreous china.




#4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers:Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of ReynoldsWrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.




#5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Poura can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubbleaway the corrosion.




#6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Colato the rusted bolt for several minutes.




#7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola intothe baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake.Thirty minutes before ham is finished, remove the foil, allowingthe drippings to mixwith the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.




#8... To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Cokeinto the load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and runthrough a regular cycle. The Coca-Cola will help loosengrease stains. It will also clean road haze from yourwindshield.




FOR YOUR INFORMATION:




#1. the active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid.It will dissolve a nail in about four days. Phosphoricacid also leaches calcium from bones and is a majorcontributor to the rising increase of osteoporosis.




#2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup! (the concentrate) thecommercial trucks must use a hazardous Material placecards reserved for highly corrosive materials.




#3. The distributors of Coke have been using it to cleanengines of the trucks for about 20 years!Now the question is, would you like a glass of water?or Coke?