Friday, November 20, 2009

The Death Of Hot 93 & How It Fits Into America's Winning War Against Hip Hop

Today I tuned in and listened as Hot 93 went off the air. I wasn't sad because let's face it we all saw the writing on the wall. Well at least I did. Hip hop radio like I wrote in an earlier post is slowly being eliminated due to the fact that radio itself is dying. Mass media conglomerates control radio now instead of small companies & they don't see how their decisions affect things on a "local" scale. Back in the day each radio station had one program director for each genre of music in charge of deciding which songs would make it to air. But due to downsizing & loss of revenue radio conglomerates have shrunk these positions down to one person trying to decide what makes the airwaves for FOUR OR FIVE different stations & genres. In a majority of these cases its someone who's background isn't nowhere related to hip hop so they defer these decisions a majority of the time to corporate. Which means in the case of Hot 93 its some dude or chick in Indianapolis who's probably getting paid by the major labels to play the bullshit you hear now.

This explains the trickle down effect. The director of urban programming in Indy or NYC says play these 8 songs every hour on the hour, object and we will find someone else to do it. Trust me your favorite on-air personality wants to but in this economy & job market would you suddenly get a conscious & prepare to give up everything you love & stop putting food on the table just because you're tired of hearing Drake's "Best I Ever Had" 20 times a day? A majority of club DJ's aspire to get one of these prized radio gigs because its stable income. This is why when you go to your favorite club those DJ's are playing THAT SAME PLAYLIST because they want that gig & YOU the listener never objects because you are too busy getting lit & dancing.

It all fits into the unseen war against hip hop. I'm not a conspiracy theorist at all but the signs have been troubling. If anything about the election of Barack Obama has shown its that when we are all together for a common goal, nothing is impossible. Corporate America has seen this especially in the hip hop community. While everybody is happy & content & talking shit about "My President Is Black" behind the scenes moves are being made to ensure that that shit talking comes to an end. Local radio jocks are being replaced by syndicated shows to stifle the local voices. Rappers are (though its their own damn fault) are being locked up left & right to silence any buzz they may be acquiring. Videos aren't being played, albums are getting leaked & undershipped, venues that cater to the hip hop audience are disappearing. It's really looking bad for our culture.

You can blame the music if you want to but that's not the central problem. There's awesome hip hop everywhere if you look for it. You can blame the companies but how can you? They don't answer to you unless you own a portion of it & even if you did you want maximum return on your investment. If they are turning a profit why should they care. The problem is YOU & ME the people who love this culture & cherish it & want to see it grow even more than it already has. We don't support the music we love by going to shows or putting a CD or emailing a great track or video to someone else. We don't put up a fight anymore because let's face it WE GOT A BLACK PRESIDENT IN OFFICE SO WE GOOD. I see this attitude is prevalent in hip hop America but we feel as though there is nothing else to achieve. This is when the enemy strikes.

An old head used to tell me the best way to catch somebody slipping is with their pants down. If you see them in a stall pissing sneak them. Well Hip hop is in the stall pissy drunk from all them Patron shots from the inauguration & corporate America is behind us with a billy club. If you don't become aware of what's going on we will lose.

Clear Channel radio has already set up shop with its own hip hop station in Austin & just like Hot they have picked up where they left off, same playlist, only this time with no voices from the community. Just music. This is what the enemies of hip hop want you to do. Just keep dancing & singing along while they ruin our community by not running PSA's about how to get a vaccine or what's happening in local politics or anything that could be beneficial to you.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Organized Rebels "Common Ground"

This is a dope video by my my folks Organized Rebels which consists of Cientifiq & Virt B. The video was directed by the World Famous Dookie Vizion Productions own M.O.S. of Crew54. And yeah I make a quick cameo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Power Of The Chitlin Circuit

The other day somebody asked on Twitter "What makes Gucci Mane so hot & why do people like him?". I know the answer to this question but I kicked back & waited to see if anyone else would chime in. Of course no one answered so the person who initiated the question simply stated "No one answered therefore he must be overrated & wack". Now I personally can agree with him being overrated & wack but I do know & understand how he has risen into the current state of position. Its a demographic that mainstream hip-hop has long over looked & never understood until its too late.

"The Chitlin Circuit"
For those who don't know back in the Motown Era a lot of its acts would tour through the segregated south to black owned & operated bars & clubs to perform because they weren't allowed to perform in the white clubs. These tours & the cities they traveled to were affectionately called the "chitlin circuit". Even though times changed & more mainstream clubs became more accepting of these acts the circuit has remained.
As it relates to Hip-Hop, this circuit has been beneficial to many of today's acts. Boosie, Webbie, Plies, Jeezy, Gucci are just some of the names that are major throughout the circuit. While Jay-Z or 50 Cent would laugh hysterically in the face of a promoter offering them 5 grand to come to Tallulah, LA to do a show at a hole in the wall club, these cats jumped at the chance. Why? The answer is quite simple...
Let me give you an example. My current job required me to travel to Northern Louisiana & East Texas twice a week (mainly the I-20 corridor of Louisiana from Monroe to Shreveport with occasional stops in Longview & Tyler TX). My partner & I would go to places & have to TELL THEM about the latest Jay-Z or Kanye or whoever we consider a major hip-hop act albums release. But they could care less. All the knew was Lil Boosie or Gucci was coming to town & everybody was going to be there. It baffled me at first but I quickly understood that these cats rapped in their language. Poor English & vocabulary structure & slang, simplified beats & hooks. Nothing wrong with that because I personally own several of Boosie's albums but they related to what they rapped about. And with these rappers choosing to come to their small town, not driving by, not stopping by, but in these folks eyes this rapper who was on 106 & Park the other day way up in NYC is actually COMING HERE is enough for them to lend their undying support.
A majority of these rural areas don't have the Internet let alone cable so they are not privy to the exposure of new hip hop from other cities & regions outside of their own. They usually have one hip hop radio station which in most cases is still locally owned & operated by a local company & not Clear Channel or Emmis. This allows program directors to put local & small time acts into rotation. But the most important factor in this whole equation is that THEY STILL BUY MUSIC!!! Like I stated earlier a majority of these places can't afford the extra income to pay a monthly Internet bill. Therefore they are not privy to illegally download music. They happily go to their local mom & pop store or Wal-Mart & drop $10 to purchase an artists music & just performing in their little hole in the wall club which will probably only fit 200 people is enough for them to make that purchase.
Major labels have know this for years, since the days of Rap-A-Lot, to Master P, to Gucci Mane. This explains why the South has had nearly a decade of dominance in hip-hop. Majors are rapidly running out of ways to make money so the second they see an artist with a strong enough buzz appealing to a group that still lays down $$$$ for music, they are going to do whatever it takes to make sure the rest of us do the same. Never underestimate the buying power of those rural areas.
That is until they start getting the Internet....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coming in November: The Hot Box

What's the damn deal family? I'll be doing a few blog posts this week since I'm on vacation from my day job. I want to take a moment to tell you about the video web show that we will be producing called "The Hot Box" which will be hosted by yours truly & Mahogany.

Basically the reason why we are doing this show is to not only give an outlet to the literally hundreds of rappers & singers out there trying to make it, but to also weed out the untalented & let you, the listener, decide for yourselves. The only way to stem the tide of bullshit hip hop is to give the streets a voice & a say in these matters because labels, radio, and TV are pretty much ignoring us. So we decided to take matters into our own hands.

So beginning right now, if you or someone you know is unsigned, independent artist & can take a little criticism, send your music to for us to put up on our blog, twitter, tagged & other sites for your chance to be heard. If you are not an artist but want to have a say in what the next movement in hip hop should be leave your comments on these various avenues to have your say on the show.

If your music is selected by the "people" we will feature you on the show also give you an interview & (if you have one) put your video on the show!!

Look the labels aren't signing anybody, myspace is dying, & there's 8 million twitter links to compete against if you are an artist, and don't get me started on how MTV & BET won't give new independent music the time of day. We can't promise you stardom but we can give you a chance to be heard.

Follow us on twitter:
Tagged (Don't know how that works but anyway)
Myspace: We'll be there too
Youtube Channel: Hotbox254 (There's no vids there now but just subscribe dammit!)
And everywhere else, hell we might do an e-harmony jumpoff before its all said & done!

So start sending your music in & lets have some fun taking hip hop back to where it belongs: TO THE PEOPLE!!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just Some Stuff That's On My Mind

Normally I like to prepare to have something to say on here, its usually written. But today I'm going to freestyle it. Check it out.

Yesterday it was announced that the president won the Nobel Peace Prize & as expected the hate began flowing. If you are a rational person you will quickly understand that the award was given to the president because of his new stance when it come to dealing with enemies of the U.S., instead of popping off talking shit, he chooses to sit down and settle differences like men should do. Of course detractors will say some shit like, "He hasn't done anything" which is true, but at least he's trying. What, I take Republicans don't like peace? Guess not.

Even though the voting closed in Febuary, in my opinion what may have sealed the deal was the president's address at the G-20 summit. After weeks of collecting the CORRECT information on secret nuclear facilities in Iran, he didn't go to the U.N. immediately & say "Either you're with us or against us", nor did he send a missile down to blow it up. He instead waited like a D.A. with discovery papers prepared to make an indictment against Iran then presented it to a jury of his peers. Without hesitation everybody jumped on board & condemned Iran & once again the world is riding with us.

The Nobel Prize was given to him as something to encourage him to keep doing things the way you are doing them right now. Its probably the highest form of "Thanks" one can receive from the international community. After 8 years of sabrerattling, fear, & all out shit talk from a political party that is out of ideas but manages to have the most fanatical base of people that rivals the sympathizers of Al Queida, we can all say that its a good thing that somebody is keeping their cool.

Things aren't getting better here at home, but as you sit down & watch the play by play of the BET Awards on Twitter tonight just remember that Barack Obama needs our prayers & support & EDUCATED defense of SOME NOT ALL of his actions. Its time we stand up & help this cat. Yes we got him elected, that was the easy part. Now comes the part where almost daily somebody somewhere will criticize him no matter what happens. Its up to us to either help or concern ourselves with whether or not Tila Tequilia kills herself (I prefer the former).

Peace & Love & Enjoy Your Weekend

Saturday, October 3, 2009

We Don't Believe You

I take it today's rappers haven't been watching the news. Despite the fact the our president is black, people are still losing their homes, unemployment hovers around 10%, etc., etc. No need to stress the rest. But in Hip-Hop Land things couldn't be better! "I Got Plenty Money" by Plies, "I Just Want My Money" by Young Jeezy. "It ain't tricking if ya got it", those type of rappers. But the labels & industry insiders say otherwise. Sales are at historic lows, concert attendance reflect the same. So what's the deal with all the money talk?

Hip-Hop has always been the story of the underdog. Take a look back at all the great albums that are considered classics, (BIG, Pac, Rakim, Nas, Jay, Face) who told the story of the struggle that WE relate to. What happened to that? Why is "Ready To Die" such a phenomenal album? It doesn't take long to realize that BIG was a man on the edge. "Everyday Struggle" says it all. You would think in these tough economic times "somebody" would tell the truth about what's going on instead of "escapism".

That's why I haven't listened to the radio but sparingly. I sit in silence during my 30-minute commute analyzing my situation instead of hearing rappers tricking (because no matter what yall say it is tricking even if you got it, ask your local pimp) and how much money ya getting. Hip-Hop is supposed to be the voice of the people, the voice of the streets, & last time I checked the streets are hurting. Sadly, Hip-Hop isn't reflecting this pain. Once that advance check clears everything is "wavy". I see some rappers whose album & mixtape covers have Rolls Royce's, Lambo's, & McMansions on it but have yet to break a song on the radio, let alone in the club.

I'm not saying we should hear bad news all the time. I've said in an earlier post we can all use some positivity, but braggadocio is not positive. It's down right disrespectful to the people who have helped put you in that position. If you are not giving me music I can feel & respect, why should I give my time, money, or attention? Respect, like money, is earned not given. Just because a million people bought your album doesn't mean I should respect you. Just because you have a car worth more than my house doesn't mean I should respect you. Hearing about your struggle earns my respect. Giving back to your community earns my respect.

This is where the disconnect occurs. While Hip-Hop has gone from ashy to classy, it's audience has gone in reverse. What made "Ready To Die" so great wasn't because of "Big Poppa" or "One More Chance Remix". Quite the contrary. Those were good for the radio but the other songs struck a chord with the streets. The stories of day to day life, the things that the average listener could relate to, were the things that stood out everybody's mind. 99% of Hip-Hop America couldn't eyeball a kilo of cocaine if you put one in front their face. 99% of this same nation will never ride in a Phantom because 99% of this nation are regular folks who are just trying to get by. They don't have champagne wishes & caviar dreams, thay just want to survive the work week & maybe throw on "I got plenty money" on payday. But the other days of the work week they searching for music they can feel & have somebody out there that understands that real ice is what they live. Of course, many of them are delusional & think that their lives are like that of their favorite "get money" rapper & if that's your fanbase then I can't knock that or them. But for the fan like me who is aware of what goes on in "real time", you really should not flaunt your riches in front of those who are on the edge of going overboard. Ask Brisco.

So go ahead Mr. "Im Rich Beyotch" Rapper Guy. Have fun throwing money in the air & continue to blow your advance & show money. Because in the end the million dollar advance will stop. The 360 deals (in all their "no Vaseline" glory) will only be reserved for the pop acts, and you will have to come back to the hood. Stopping me in the mall parking lot asking me for $5 to purchase that CD.

See "Protocol For The Out The Trunk Hustler" for instructions.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My 9/11/01

I just wanted to share what happened to me on 9/11 & how that day changed my life. Let me preface this by saying that in 2001 I was still living with my parents, broke & I didn't have a job & I was 23 years old.

I was planning on spending the day of 9/11 doing the usual, sleeping until the afternoon, wake up & hang out on the block & get drunk. My future wife was in Shreveport staying with friends because I didn't have a means of supporting her & her son. Earlier in the year I went through a terrible breakup & in my anger & heartbreak I enlisted in the Army. The only problem was I failed a drug test because in what I thought would be my last time hanging out with my friends I indulged in a blunt or two which caused my Army enlistment to get pushed back by a few months.

My mother (RIP) came home from work early & opened my door & told me to turn the TV on because Saddam Hussein had sent some terrorists to attack the WTC. In my disbelief I turned the TV & saw the constant repeat of the first tower getting hit & the announcers still not knowing if it was an accident or not. I sat up & told my mom that Saddam doesn't have the nuts to pull something like that. In less than an hour the second tower was hit. "We are under attack, this was on purpose" the anchor announced. I sat motionless for over 2 hours, literally in a state of shock.

I was in shock becuase my mother seemed to know what was up before the media did. When I snapped to I realized that I had more to worry about. I just enlisted in the Army & now I'm seriously reconsidering my decision. Due to my failed drug test I no longer had a contract & was now not obligated to join. Like just about everybody else in the first few hours I was thinking the world was coming to an end. Suddenly I thought about my then future wife, so I got on the phone & called her but the phone lines were jammed.

I spent the day glued in front the TV like every other American waiting to hear from the president. No one knew where that moron was at until my phone rung. My wife called from Shreveport & told me her mom called & was begging her to return to Hawaii & that the entire city was getting shutdown cuz the president had landed Air Force One there. I asked if she was ok which she was then we talked about our possible future together which seemed now to be in limbo. She made up her mind to go back to Hawaii. When she asked me if I was still joining the Army I told her that I didn't know. We talked for several hours until nothing else could be said. By this time the media just found out that Bush was in Shreveport but he had left.

After a few phone calls from various family members, I hit the block to see what the hood thought. At about this time it was pretty much established that Bin Laden was involved but as any hood cat will tell you they have their own opinions. I had to hear them. Some believed it was Bin Laden, others said the government, but everybody agreed on one thing: WE MUST KILL SOMEBODY!!

I went home at about the time Bush was addressing the nation. It was one of the few times I saw my entire family sitting around the TV. We talked about the events of the day when my mother asked me "So I guess you're not joining the Army now?".

I spent a majority of my day debating this. I'm sitting on my ass getting high & drunk living the life of a "scrub". I had a failed engagement that I wasted 6 years on & was on the verge of losing another one. I was a college dropout working bullshit jobs & I had been arrested twice in a year. Yet I'm faced with a decision that could make my life better but at the same time put my life at risk. It's September 11th 2001 and my country had been attacked. There is no doubt that we are going to war. What am I to do?

After answering "I don't know" my dad pointed something out. "You were supposed to leave this month weren't you?" I went to my room to look up my first enlistment paperwork & there it was:


Shocked, I showed this to my parents. My mother broke into song: "God is trying to tell you something". Indeed. The rest is history.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Crew54 - Pay Us No Mind

I was asked to play a "hater" in this video so like the "hater" I am I obliged. Shoutout to M.O.S. & G-Christ of Crew54 and up & coming producer Cientifiq. Also check for my gorgeous wife Carisa who also makes a cameo in this joint.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sorry That I Been Gone

Ok. So I'm not very good at this "blogging" thing. Its been a very hectic summer for the kid. Road trips, a couple of shows here & there, not to mention 3 attention grabbing sons & a beautiful wife to interact with makes for very limited time to blog. My original intentions were to take a month off to gather & write new material but as usual life gets in the way (not to mention a computer that decided to take a shit on me & call in sick) and soon a month turns into the entire summer. But yours truly will be back soon with that good commentary on not only Hip Hop but life in general & I will soon be soliciting you up & coming MC's & producers for music that (if you are brave enough) I will review.

Also be on the look out for "Nuthuggers: The Skinny Jeans Experiment". My first foray into video that I will be posting on this here blog & various other outlets as soon as I can get my wife to cooperate & as soon as I can find the right people to work with me on it. But please don't give up on the kid yet! I'll be back like I never left. Peace to you & yours and enjoy the summer.

One Love
Gargamel Jermel

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back To New Orleans

Over this past weekend I went back home to New Orleans for a quick visit. Its always great to visit because there's a 100% chance that I will be introduced to whatever is the hottest track on the street out there. But unfortunately due to my absence the music that I "discovered" is pretty much old news to my people. Yet whenever they are thrown on in "The Venue" or "The Duckoff" the club still goes crazy. The first question I usually asks is "Why haven't I heard this? I only live 7 hours away!" which is closely followed by "How come they not pushing this track harder?" The response I always get is "They made it for the city." And its true.

Before Cash Money made it worldwide, The Hot Boys made a song called "Neighborhood Superstars" in which they did the usual braggadochio but contend that they are happy just doing it big at home. That is pretty much the mentality of a lot of the local artists out there. Partners-N-Crime are legends in New Orleans for making great bounce music. Their 1996 album PNC 3 is considered a "monumental classic" in the N.O. bounce scene. They were signed to Juvenile's UTP imprint and released an album called "Club Bangaz" but due to little promo of the album it went nowhere and they parted ways with the label. I was plesantly surprised that they had a "new" single called "So Attracted" (Warning: Auto Tune is being used!)

Another "discovery" I made was a song by a rapper from our old neighborhood whose name is Mugzy. His song "Tear It Down" has made noise beyond the local confines but due to the lack of a deal, the track lives on through the club & street circuit.

Now some of yall have heard this before and some of yall haven't. I know some of you saying "Typical Southern Rap" which is a valid point. But after seeing how the club reacts to these songs proves to me that even though I've been to clubs all over the country, nobody "tears it down" like New Orleans. So feel free to defend your turf, then come on down for Essence Fest, Mardi Gras or any Super Sunday and see if you will feel the same way after.

Huh bruh!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Street Cred May Not Be Necessary

My 23-year old brother is visiting for the next few days and I sat down with him the other night and listened to Rick Ross's "Deeper Than Rap". As we got deeper into the album I found myself truly enjoying the album to which my brother says "Man, that nigga a cop". After I explained to him that many correctional officers are no longer considered law enforcement because most jails in America are now privately owned and operated by outside government agencies, he still was like"I still don't believe him".

Street credibility used to be the end all, be all in Hip-Hop. If you were discovered to be a fraud, your career was over. We've seen thousands of rappers fall victim to inflated egos and phony stories about their pasts. From Vanilla Ice to Boss to Ross (wow the irony), one inconsistency in your life story or piss off a writer doing a piece about you and your next album is dead on arrival in stores.

Over the past few years, thanks to the net, even my 10 year old son can access SouljahBoyTellem's grades in elementary school. There's also the fact that so many more rappers are coming from a pool of a much larger middle class background into receiving more respect from the street that this question may no longer be needed to be asked:

"Is Street Credibility even needed anymore?"
Now for the sake of full disclosure, I will say that I think Ross's latest album is damn near classic by southern standards. The production is great on nearly every track and at times Ross shows some flashes of good lyricism. Now with that said, can any self respecting Hip Hop fan honestly believe anything he's saying? I mean if you listened to 70% of the stuff out there now could you really believe it? Maybe the movie "CB4" has made me cynical towards alot of these rappers but there's always some truth in jest.
"Only live once and I got 2 kids/ If I need to feed them then I'll get 2 gigs
I'll shovel shit, I'll C.O. / so we can bow our heads and pray over the meatloaf"
-Rick Ross "Valley of Death"
No body's (except Eminem) has ever dissed Will Smith for his style and nonexistence of street cred because he never fronted like he moved kilos or shot anyone. So why after all these years are we getting so wrapped up into whether or not a rapper is real? Remember Wayne didn't get shot, he mistakenly shot himself, but we hold him in high regard as a street credible artist. Don't let lack of credibility hold you back from enjoying dope music.
By the way this is in no way a defense of Rick Ross because I don't believe him for a Wall Street second. I don't see nothing wrong with having a job before rap but if it comes out, man up and admit it. I'll respect you more than if you just deny it when the proof has been shown.
You gotta remember that the streets are watching more than ever. Keep ya nose clean, and keep ya rhymes honest. Hip-Hop is more open minded than ever so there's no need to front. The late MC Breed once said "There ain't no future in ya fronting" and more than a decade later it still rings true.
Well to a certain extent.....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Statements for 6/1/09

1. Can Spencer Pratt die a miserable death! And yes you can say I'm wrong for saying it but I don't give a f***!!

2. Lebron was dead wrong for not being a good sport so I'm calling it now: CLEVELAND WILL NEVER WIN A TITLE!! Mark it down, you heard it here first!

3. I'm officially joining the unfollow Diddy movement! Don't know why but his tweets and LOCK IN is getting annoying!

4. Prepare your ears for the SUMMER OF DRAKE!! I'm listening to Country for the summer!!

5. Sorry, I got caught up in that weird Prius commercial. I feel like I just took some acid looking at that s***

6. Niggas still drinking Moet? Really? You are not balling!! I can go to the supermarket and buy that s***! It's not '92, live into now!

7. Is there nothing funnier than seeing somebody get tasered? Don't tase me bro!!

8. MTV IS SO WACK!! And who's the black British rapper in the gum commercial? What a douche!!

9. Final Statement: It's amazing how suddenly girls think Wayne is cute, must be the money!

10 Bonus Statement: Nothing would make me happier than to see Wayne & Miley Cyrus hook up and have a children! Now bow your head in prayer!

Any Questions???

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Too Much Positivity Can Be A Negative

Last night, I was sitting in my bedroom with my wife who was watching "So You Think You Can Dance?" (One of the many reality competition shows I loathe) when I said a derogatory comment about the female judges face. My wife turned to me in disgust and said "Why do you always have to so negative?". I didn't say a word. The reason I remained quiet was because we've had this discussion a million times before and it always deteriorates rapidly into an argument. But it did get me to thinking.

Everyday on Twitter we see random quotes from celebrities and wannabes from Diddy to the random rapper who is harassing everybody to download his music to "Believe in Yourself" and "Focus + Drive = Success" or some bulltwit like that. I'm not knocking positive thinking, I encourage positivity in my kids daily. But the problem is when too much positivity makes you blind to everything that's going on in the real world. This thinking is especially prevalent in today's Hip-Hop generation. Of course its easy for Diddy or Russell Simmons to spread a positive message, it worked for them in accomplishing their dreams and the money's already been made. But what about that young kid who wants to be like them but is currently living in a climate where its getting more and more impossible for him to reach their level of success?

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book "The Outliers" (this is not a direct quote from his book, just my interpretation of it) that every human being on this planet has a basic level of talent. It is those that work extremely hard, and sacrifice everything else in life that makes them successful. We as Americans though feel like success is inevitable, that its only an opportunity away, that we will be rewarded on talent alone. We have been bought and sold on "The American Dream" and that each and everyone of us has success as a right. Since the advent of new media, you don't have to have that much talent to be successful, you just merely need to bullsh*t your way through the interview process, or have a decent sales pitch, and you will have us eating out of the palm of your hand. But just like in your office or at your job you quickly come to realize how completely incompetent and untalented that person is and you feel played for believing them.

THIS is why America and Hip-Hop is in the mess its in now. Too many people trying to be Tony Robbins and are being told to reach for heights above their talents or means if they remain positive about it. "You can afford that house, You can sing, You can rap just be positive, you can achieve anything." But next to nobody wants to put in the hard work to achieve it.

Another problem is no one wants to be the bearer of bad news because its not "politically correct" or "you are just being mean" or "you are just being a hater". One of the reasons I stopped rhyming was because I realized that I wasn't as skilled (despite the fact that I and others that have heard me knew that I'm better than the majority) as some of the people that are doing it but they aren't feeding their kids off it or being successful enough to sustain a living off what they love to do. In realizing that reality was passing me by, if I remained stuck in my "positive thinking" mode, I'm neglecting my kids future and placing myself behind the curve.

I created this blog (despite that there's 10 million other ones) as my way to contribute to the culture. I'm not necessarily looking to get rich and famous from it but if it comes so be it. You have to be realistic in your plans to achieve your goals and dreams. Then when your goals are realized "you will be met with a success unexpected in common hours" (Thoreau).

As my wife went back to watching her show, I leaned over, gave her kiss and told her "I love you". Then I said I'm not negative. I'm positively realistic.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Realest Shit I Ever Twit!! (This Weeks Statements via Twitter)

1. I too would love to F*** every girl in the world! (if I wasn't married and the girls would have to be weight & height proportionate)

2. I keep the trap bunkin, its bunkin like a summa bitch!

3. I love Springer because it showcases the ignorance that is all over WHITE America.

4. If your mom got a Myspace or Facebook page, would you be mad if she hooked up with somebody from it?

5. Dick Cheney needs to lay down and take a nap and not wake up from it!

6. I might go to the club tonight, anybody know where I can pick up a pair of Nut Hugger Denim jeans so I can get in?

7. If you have this in your kitchen in this size you will die of a heart attack in less than 5 years.

8. What is a twibe & why should I join it?

9. And if I do join one do we get to block each other out of it week after week?

10. 98% of you rappers still can't touch Eminem with a 10 foot pole standing 2 feet next to him!

Drunk Statements Edition!!

1. Threesomes= too many limbs = too much trouble

2. If your girl wants an OPEN relationship, she will catch more dick than you can imagine! Don't do it!

3. E & J is a good drink!!

4. I got a list, here's the order of my list that its in, it goes Reggie, Jay-Z, 2 Pac, and Biggie, Andre from Outkast, Jada, Kurupt, Nas and then me. -Eminem

5. If ALL your girls weigh more than 250 lbs. you are not pimpin, pimpin!

6. If you got all gray hair, don't do braids.

7. The streets need me!!.............(not now though I'm drunk)

8. Final Drunk Statement! Somebody explain to me why a woman should get vaginamony?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Lost Art Of The Slow Jam

About 2 weeks ago, I went to the club with my wife and some friends of ours. I was already inebriated and enjoying watching Rush Hour take place. As I pointed out the many characters I've described in my earlier post, the unthinkable occurred. Keith Sweat's "Nobody" began to blare out of the speakers. And for the first time in close to a decade I actually saw people slow dancing and grinding on the (now nearly empty) dance floor. After I picked my jaw and drink up from the floor I said to my wife "I can't believe what I'm seeing!" Here we are in 2009 during "Rush Hour" of all times and the DJ was playing a slow jam. The world as I knew it was turned upside down (or maybe the Henny shots made it look that way).

Over the last decade the frequency of slow jams being played in the club has dropped off a cliff. The 90's was the last great decade that R&B (as well as Hip-Hop) was a dominant factor in music. Boyz II Men, SWV, Joe, Jade, among many others ruled not only R&B but the pop charts as well. The formula was usually the same, the first single would be a collabo with a hot rap artist or just a hip-hop beat over their singing, but the second single would be the slow jam. I was in high school during this period and thanks to this music, I was able to rid myself of the stresses of virginity and my awkward teenage shyness when dealing with the ladies. Many a homecoming, Sadie Hawkins, sweetheart, and formal dances went from evacuating to the bleachers to a mad scramble for the hand of the most gorgeous girl to grind on when a slow jam came on.

Since that night a few weeks ago I've been trying to find the disconnect. Maybe its STD's and other communicable diseases that has us afraid to get close? No because then all clubs would be shut down. Maybe the rise of teenage pregnancies which I know was on the rise during my generation? It can't be that either because some of yall still getting knocked up. Maybe its the litigious state of our country that has caused a cutback in people wanting to get close? Hell Nah! The way some of yall dance to "Booty Doo" makes me swear that yall exchanging fluids! Maybe its because the ratio of guys to girls in the club forces the DJ to play more music suited to guys?

Let me make my argument a little more clear for yall! Ladies here are 5 reasons why you should want more slow jams played in the club:

1. Your feet can relax from being in those stilettos.
2. You can use that moment to fix your makeup.
3. You can hear yourself think.
4. You can sing along as loud as you want to Keyshia Cole's "Love" and no one will know that you cant sing nor will they care.
5. Most Important: You can get close to that guy you've been digging all night and lock him down for yourself!!
Fellas, I know this is a tough one but peep the advantages:
1. Gives you time to scope the room and decipher who's taken and who's not.\
2. Even if you don't have game, let the song do the talking for you! (depending on the song)
3. Aren't you tired of bumping into dudes all night and all the mean mugging?
4. You too can hear what she's saying which gives a chance to think & respond.
5. Most Important: You can actually touch a woman without charges being filed (Hopefully)!
So DJ's whether you are playing to thousands in Vegas or just a house party on the block, I urge you and I'm quite sure the ladies will agree with me, to cutback on the elbow throwing, making the trap say AYE, making it rain, joints and for a little while give us a chance to breathe.
Get close to someone and regain the lost art of the slow jam!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today's Real Statements!! (via Twitter)

I've been asked to post my daily statements on here so here ya go!!!

1. Conglomerate = The next word dumb ass niggas gonna over saturate Hip-Hop with!

2. Luchini by Camp Lo = A decade later and it still makes ya neck jerk!

3. Drake= A decade from now you will wonder why you were ever a fan.

4. If you have to wear tight jeans and shirts to get into a club, just frost tip your hair while you're at it to complete the douchebag effect!

5. Don't you cringe whenever you hear the following statement: "but I rap too!"?

6. Why are so many people acting like Lance Armstrong? Riding in your neighborhood in tights does not make you ready for the Tour De France

7. If you didn't take the time out to research the difference between a fixed rate mortgage & an adjustable rate mortgage, you do need to lose your house.

8. Why did I just pay $40 to fill my gas tank? Now I'm going into the gas station and steal something out of there!

9. Final Statement: RESPECT MY CONGLOMERATE!!!

10. Bonus Statement: Why are niggas still rocking colored contact lenses? You black with gray eyes dog cmon! I thought we went over this 10 years ago! Pause ya life!!

Any Questions??

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hip-Hop Radio's Slow Death

In the late 90's I attended Grambling State University to pursue a degree in Mass Communications. I concentrated on TV because, I figured, that's what I enjoy doing (watching TV) so why not work in it. Once I got to college the golden age of Hip-Hop was in full effect. 2Pac and B.I.G. was in their primes. Master P and No Limit was taking over the nation, Cash Money was on the come up along with Bone Thugs N Harmony and an relatively unknown rapper from New York was at the beginning of a decade of dominance by the name of Jay-Z. Needless to say that as I hung around with cats in my field of study it became clear that radio was going to be the place to be. The future seemed so bright.

In the clouds of chronic smoke and late night liquor store runs, I soon discovered that I wasn't disciplined or mature enough to go to college at that time, so I dropped out. Until recently I re-discovered that passion to help bring great new music to the masses. But as time has gone on I realized that this task is becoming harder and harder to do.

After messing around for a few years, I began to drive 18-wheelers nationwide. It was exciting to me because in my mind I'm thinking "Wow, I'm going to see and hear so many great artists from across the country!". Boy was I wrong. I've been to all 4 parts of the country. From kicking it in the streets of the Bronx and Brick City New Jersey to South Florida, to Chicago to the Yay Area. I've been exposed to so many different kinds of rap and I know that I'm the better for it. But as I drove across the nation listening to various hip-hop stations one thing became perfectly clear,

Everybody's playing the same thing!!!
Even the great Hot 97, the mecca of Hip-Hop radio would play the same 10 songs every hour just like a small station in Dodge City, Kansas and to be honest it was disheartening. Of course based on your region you might get one or two local acts getting airplay but it was the same all over the nation.
When I was in college, I had to write a final term paper for a broadcasting class and I discovered this book written in 1983 called "The Media Monopoly" written by Ben H. Bagdikian. Its about the increasing centralization of media by a small number of companies and how dangerous this is to our way of life and the flow of ideas. With only a few companies controlling nearly every way we are able to receive information and entertainment (including Hip-Hop) our ideas and thoughts and values will be soon shifted into thinking the way these companies want us to think.
Now I'm not a conspiracy theorist. No, don't ask me about Zeitgeist nor do I think there's anything sinister going on. But what I do see is how this is affecting Hip-Hop. No matter how great alot of the music is these companies will more than likely side with the sounds that are more "Party & Bullshit" (No disrespect to the Immortal B.I.G.) than "Fight The Power" over the airwaves. How else do you explain a song like Dead Prez's "Hell Yeah (Pimp The System)" has a feature with one of the most radio bankable artists on the planet (Jay-Z) received very little to no airplay? I know that might sound extreme but its also one of the reasons that Hip-Hop and R&B radio is being choked to death slowly by media conglomerates.
They are more likely to have ladies act like a "Bust It Baby" than be respected by a great song like "Woman" by Raheem Devaughn. That may also explain the reasons why even though we have 2 of the greatest role models a kid can ever ask for in the Obamas, all I see on TV is "Meet The Browns" about overweight black folks dressing like bafoons and acting crazy.
All is not lost, hope still remains and of course the options are many. Great internet radio stations, Pandora, Podcasts, Ipods, Imeem, satellite radio (to a certain extent) and many more exist to help you steer clear of the garbage. But somedays I want to turn on Hot, Z, or Power and be pleasantly surprised by something new not the same old song and dance.
I guess I'll continue listening to the same 8 gigs of music on my iPhone's iPod.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm Not A Hater.......Or Am I?

No matter how many people like to say that they hate the direction Hip-Hop is going in as a culture I beg to differ. You have great veteran MC's releasing quality material. There's also promising new jacks coming along and changing the way we look at rap altogether. And probably for the first time we are a truly "global" movement instead of being dominated by one section of the U.S. The beats and styles are more eclectic and more lanes are being created for certain types of music to get to the masses.

But let some cats tell it EVERYTHING about Hip-Hop sucks. Everything except what sounds good to them. If you don't agree with them you risk being called the most despicable, heinous, blasphemous term in the history of mankind...........

(gasp) F*** That!! I'm going get my gun!!
In an earlier post I stated that due to the definitive line drawn in the sand, Hip-Hop's fans have devolved into some sort of tribal warfare when it comes to the music they love. There should be no need to take sides because this is just music by the way. But more and more, you find people being brainwashed into liking something they probably wouldn't just to avoid being called a hater. And for the sake of full disclosure I'm no different from the rest. I'm going to give you a transcript (from the best of my memory) of a phone call I had with a friend of mine a few days ago.
Friend: Mayne, I'm going get the new Souljah Boy album.
Me: You're joking right? Dude, you're almost 30!
Friend:I know but I heard like 3 joints that I'm digging of it.
Me: What's next? You going get some rainbow colored Bathing Ape shoes
with a pink camoflage Bathing Ape hoodie to match?
Friend: Nah man, I'm just saying. You don't like "Turn My Swag On"?
Me: It's alright but we retiring the term "swag" they killing it.
Friend: Awww man why you being a hater?
I was already around the corner from his house in all black with my ski mask and 9mm when I realized something. I was hating. Who am I to judge someone else's musical like and dislikes? If he wants to jump out the bed and get his "swag on" why should I stop him?
Individuality has always been on of the cornerstones of Hip-Hop. From Run-DMC rocking all-black denim with Adidas to today's cats rocking nut huggers, auto-tuning themselves until they don't recognize their own voices, it all started with someone or small group doing their own thing. Its something that we as lovers of this culture should respect.
That's one reason why I'm afraid to review music on this blog because I don't want to be held responsible for other people not liking your music. But who's to say my opinion is the end all, be all? We are all different at the end of the day and whatever gets your neck to jerk, that should be what makes you happy.
So after much self analysis I realized that yes, I AM A HATER, and I offer you my sincerest apologies. But don't let that stop you from enjoying yourself because my opinion doesn't count for much
Go ahead. Get your "swag" on.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Protocol For The Out Of The Trunk Hustler

It's very rare that I go my local mall, but when I do its for some of that awesome teriyaki and orange chicken at the Chinese spot in there. I usually don't shop there because I know that if I buy some gear there will be a 90% chance that whatever I cop, there will be 10 other cats rocking the same outfit or kicks as me.

Now when I make my entry towards the food court I can spot them from a mile away. They are posted up outside with their tall tees with pants sagging, fake designer sunglasses, large fake diamond earrings and chains, and pacing around in their fake Jordan's. They are posted up like they have bundles to move. But its not dope they pushing, it's CD's, and they are about to try push it on me, a fiend for rap. Whatever should I do?

This not only happens at the mall but at gas stations, movie theatres, car washes, barber shops, clubs, and just about every location where you could possibly be out running an errand. They are the hustlers of music. Low budget rappers and producers who hopefully can not only make a profit off their minimal investment but get their music in the right hands that could lead to greater riches. One problem:

I'm Not Buying!
I'm not related to any super-producers nor am I an A & R for a major label. I have a middle class life so, really, for me taking a risk in this recession on an unproven talent and surrendering my hard earned cash to you is an extremely hard sell. But because I admire your hustle and due to the fact that it would benefit the world to see you make your dreams come true I will give you 5 easy steps to effectively get someone like me to buy your music.
1. Don't make it look like I'm doing you any favors!!
The word "favor" should never leave your mouth when trying to approach someone with your music. Friends do each other favors and my nigga, I don't know you! So whatever you do don't approach me with this line:
"Say mayne, can ya do ya boy a favor and buy my CD?"
No, I can't
2. If you see me or anybody else with kids, BACK OFF!!
I don't know if you got kids or not, but bringing children into a wide open location like the mall, filled with bright colors, toys, and people has the makings of a stressful situation for any parent. I nor any other parent don't need to be interrupted from focusing on our kids to hear your sales pitch. WE HAVE ENOUGH NOISE TO DEAL WITH!!!
3. If asked to describe your music, don't summarize it in one or two words!
Okay, lets say you are the lucky rapper who gets my attention and I hear your sales pitch. The questions I will ask you will sort of be a media 101 lesson. I will grill you like a writer for the N.Y. Times and I expect good quality answers. But if the convo goes like this:
Me: "How would you describe your music?"
You: "Its rap"
Me:"I know but what are you rhyming about?"
You: "Da Streets"
Me:"How are your beats?
You: "They tight"
Me: "I'm cool I'll pass" (walking away swiftly)
4. Don't ask to get in my whip and play your shit!!
How did you get to your current location? If you took public transportation I understand, but you mean to tell me that you want to hear how your music sounds in my car? Really? Are you F-ing serious? I don't want you in my car!! You are the rapper/salesman, have your joints ready to display prepared to entice me. That's like I sell vacuum cleaners and I tell you to come to my crib to see how it works. GTFOHN!!!
Just about anybody on the planet can upload music on iTunes, Emusic, rhapsody or any other online music service. get your hustle on and join us in the new millennium. Get off the corner!!
Hip-Hop's history is filled with the rags to riches stories of MC's who started just like you. Too Short, E-40, Master P, and Ludacris all made it slangin tapes and CD's out of the trunk. But just like Ice delivery, some things become extinct. Save yourself and the people who you want to enjoy your music the trouble and find other means to market your music.
I hear MySpace and Twitter are good places to start.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Hype Is Not Real!

Hype- promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind
-Merriam Webster Dictionary
The world is filled with it. From sports to the next cell phone implanted into your brain we are inundated by it. Sometimes we fall for it, sometimes we can see it a mile away, but one thing is for sure it gets our attention. I can't help but to think that hype is a word hip-hop has pushed into our everyday lexicon. Public Enemy encouraged us to not believe it but at times we can. Lately I'm finding myself starting to get more suckered into it.
Today's hip-hop has fallen more into the realm of who can get the most hype surrounding them without actually exhibiting any proven skills. Lil Wayne started the trend and without a doubt the skills are proven to be real. But a lot of artists feel that if his template works why can't it do the same for them. Here's a reality check:
It Won't!
The difference between MC's that are respected and have actual longevity and the "hype" is that skills will always win in the end. If anything about this past weekend's 2-round debacle of Pacquiao vs. Hatton showed is that you can show up with an army behind you hyping you up but skills will get you destroyed in a matter of minutes.
Never before has rap been so dominated by PR firms and how much press you can get. I have yet to hear a single song from (insert rapper here) that proves to me that he/she is the future of Hip-Hop. The unfortunate thing is so many have bought into it that it wouldn't surprise me that he/she already got their platinum ring tone plaque framed and ready to hang in their bedroom.
As a fan of the culture you have to curb your enthusiasm. Be honest with yourself and be more realistic about the things you see & hear when everyone else is telling you that the hype is real. You have to go against the grain in order to find out whether or not this is something you want to buy into. I'm not saying don't like it for the sake of being different, if you dig it, you dig it. Hell I dig Plies (I know I lost a lot of you with that one but hey I'm real) but if you get approached by the "hype machine" resist on purpose.
Because if the hype does turn out to be real, I'll be the first to sing your praises. If not, I along with a whole lot of peeps like me will have no problem pointing you out as a fraud and spreading the word about it. As a fan nothing pleases me more than being pleasantly surprised and first impressions are everything, so no, I'm not believing the hype.
I encourage you to prove me wrong.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Rock Show

Theory of A Deadman

Last year I went to my first rock concert. The performers were Theory of a Deadman, Hinder, & (my favorite rock band) Staind. Needless to say I was out of my element. I still enjoyed myself but it helped me understand something about the rock audience compared to the hip-hop audience:

Sometimes Less is More.

The number one problem with hip-hop shows is the 300 people on stage standing around with mics all of them saying different things at one time. This is especially annoying after you've spent money to see one of your favorite artists but I gotta hear Goon #7 or the crew's blunt roller get a mic and try to command me repeatedly to put my hands up or give his opinions on global warming.
Rock Concert: The headliner Staind walked on stage, picked up their instruments, and said the following:
Good Evening.

For the next 45 minutes to an hour they played music. No commands to put your hands up, no requests to make noise, no political commentary, just music. Really, they did all the work and to be honest, it was quite refreshing.

If anyone were to ask me who was the best MC, up until recently, that I've ever seen rock it would probably be DMX. I saw him a few years back during the Cash Money/Ruff Ryders Tour and he walked on stage and spit with no backup, no need for 5 dudes with mics to help, just him, the DJ, the beat, and the mic. At that same show it was supposed to be the triumphant return of Cash Money to New Orleans since becoming a major factor in hip-hop and honestly, it was a nightmare. Twenty people on stage with mics yelling indecipherable statements to the crowd. I was out before they even got to "Bling, Bling".

David Banner Rocking at SXSW '08

Hip-Hop and Rock have always been closely related but when it comes to performances, they haven't been close. I give props to Kanye for trying to change that perception but there are so many artists who haven't received the memo.

Sometimes LESS Is MORE!

At rock concerts you can tell everybody was having fun even in the stands where I was sitting. Crowd surfing, blunt smoke, drinks spilling, fights, chicks flashing, sometimes the crowd is the show. Sometimes this happens at hip-hop shows but they are few and far between. A lot of fans are too busy trying to look hard or just flat out refuse to enjoy themselves. And I don't blame them.

If I spend more than $20 to see you perform, I expect you to do all the work, not me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Beef Is Essential

Earlier this week a friend (I don't call y'all followers) on Twitter suggested that I comment on the 50 vs. Ross beef. I chose instead to comment on beef in general because it is essential in Hip-Hop

I'm not going into the history of beef because I'm quite sure you know it, but the problem with starting beef in a world where we know what you are doing before you do is that cats are beefing for no apparent reason other than to:

A: Put themselves on
B: To promote their stalled album
Back in the day you attacked because you either felt disrespected or because you wanted to call someone on your level out for their overall wackness. Your attack method was BARS, and it made Hip-Hop better especially from a fan's perspective. Of course we love it! I may have a different reason than a majority of other fans.
Beef causes you to step your game up. It cause you to make your rhymes better. It causes you to make your beats better. When that pressure is applied you have to show and prove or fold. And who wins in the end:
We Do!!
The Takeover, Ether, The Bridge Is Over, No Vaseline, The Bitch In You, Drag 'Em N Tha River, Hit Em' Up. The list could go on & on but admit it, some the game's best tracks have come from some sort of beef. I don't care what started it (it has to be legit) but the second you step into that booth and prepare to exhale those bars you better damn well be ready to execute your attack flawlessly or we will turn on you.
Quickly I will say this about the 50 vs. Ross beef. Its called Promotional Beef. Ross attacked 50 for no other reason than to promote his album which would have been Dead on Arrival in stores. Ask yourself: How many cats do you know outside of Miami were checking for that album before he attacked 50? And I'm not defending 50 because he does the same thing with EVERY album he's released since his first one. I mean really Kanye dawg? This is the kind of beef that is strongly frowned upon by true hip-hop heads because it doesn't improve the quality of the music.
New York's infected, niggaz beefin' on the mix-tape
Got Nickelbag niggaz thinkin' they can fuck with big weight
-Talib Kweli "Rush"
We understand that the goal is attract the casual fan, that 16 -year old kid from Grand Island, Nebraska that works at Domino's Pizza who has disposable income and runs down to his local Best Buy after seeing 50 & Kanye mean mugging on the cover of Rolling Stone and has no clue that Universal is setting the whole thing up. It's disappointing to us who live, breathe, eat, sleep and shit hip hop because we expect so much more. It also causes these nobodies to come out the wood works and diss whoever they see just to get a rep. Rightfully so their intended targets usually ignore them, and so do we.
I'm not calling for more peace & love, not by any means, I'm asking on behalf of those of us who are totally in tune with this culture that if you plan on taking the path of lyrical warfare, have your dictionary, thesaurus and producers on point before you invade. If you don't prepare yourself to face the climate that we as a country sit in now.
You start off with our full support but you lied to get it. You bought us in unprepared to complete the mission and now we want nothing to do with you or your beef.
Sounds familiar?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Married With Children.....& Rap

My wife and I recently attended the SXSW festival in Austin to see the Blacksmith Showcase featuring Reflection Eternal, Idle Warship, the return of the great John Forte', Homeboy Sandman and others. (I'll post video and pics as soon as my computer game gets better.)

The show was hosted by Hot 97 personality Peter Rosenberg who early in the show asked a question that has been stuck in my head since asked:

"How many of y'all are married with kids, and still love rap music?"

As is customary in Hip Hop I threw my hands in the air but the thought stuck with me. Young, single people are the ones leading the way in Hip Hop but I know for a fact that I'm not the only one in that position. I'm surrounded by folks in my shoes, but I began to ponder on whether or not this was a good thing.

I stated in my first post here that my parents disliked Rap but unbeknown est to them they introduced it to me. They were in their early 20's when the movement began to take shape and go more mainstream. I still remember my parents saying that Rap was just a fad that will play out like Disco but it didn't stop my dad from going cop the early records like The Beat Street Soundtrack and every record the Sugar Hill Label put out. My Dad made it a point that if a record was hot he didn't want to be without it if company came over and requested it. So now I'm officially indoctrinated into this "fad" that I've followed throughout my lifetime.

When I hit my teens I felt the urge to pick up the mic and spit. My friends would encourage me and at one point was close to getting a deal. But when that fell through I decided to put music on hold and take care of myself first. I went to jail, joined the Army, got married, had kids, went to war, had more kids, and then BOOM, here I am with the middle class, suburban life of football and basketball games, parent - teacher conferences, and frequent visits to a game room/pizza parlor owned and operated by a giant skateboarding rat whom shall remain nameless. But Rap has been with me the whole time.

I've spent many a night and road trip thinking about whether or not its good to let my kids listen to rap. Yes, my kids know how to do the "Stanky Leg" (much to my chagrin) but its no different then when we were doing the "Kid N Play" or bouncing and pausing with Jubilee. Both songs aren't exactly lyrical masterpieces but they are and were fun, so who am I to knock the joints that they find fun.

But its up to us to introduce them to what Hip Hop truly is!

When my 9-year old son got his first mp3 player I told him to give me a wish list of songs that he wanted. A lot of his list was whatever you will hear repeatedly on your local Hot, Z, Jammin, Power, Q or The Beat radio station but there was one selection that blew my mind:

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

"The Message"

I was floored!! I asked how did he know about this and he said he heard it in the movie "Happy Feet" and he googled the lyrics. I have to admit, this bought a Kool-Aid smile to my face. I gladly went to ITunes and bought it for him. Since then I've introduced him to MC Lyte, Special Ed, KRS-One, Ice Cube (even though he still refers to the Don Mega as "that dude in Are We There Yet"), Scarface, Em, M.I.A. and Kweli. And I think he's all the better for it.

My dad told me once that sometimes fathers have to put their own interests to the side so that their kids dreams can come true someday, so I'm not bitter. It's fun being just a fan of the music and culture. I still feel blessed to hear and see a great MC spit and tell real stories that I can relate to and exhibit a phenomenal mastery of words.

So whenever I'm in the car with my 3 sons they make sure they ask for "The Message" and we all sing along to the track (even my 4-year old knows the hook!). I can't help but to smile because I know that no matter how much cats complain about how hip hop is dying, in my own little way, I'm helping to keep Hip-Hop alive.

That feels better than any CD I could have ever dropped.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rush Hour

We've all seen the scene before. It's the moment in the night that we anticipate.

The music is blasting, the dance floor is full, the drinks are flowing, everybody's feeling great, then the DJ makes that fateful announcement:

"Last call for alcohol!
Chaos is inevitable!
The great vibes everyone was feeling turns into udder pandemonium. Suddenly the DJ, who has been on point all night, plays some bullshit you can't dance to like "Elvira" by The Oak Ridge Boys or I don't know, Kanye West's "Say You Will (Chopped & Screwed Version)" to empty out the dance floor and causes a crush on the bar. But before I go any further I'm going to point out some of the players instrumental in the cause of this insanity. There's:
Dirty Dancing Girl who don't want nobody to dance on her.
You know or might be this specimen. You put on your sluttiest outfit, do pole tricks, splits and bend your goodness all out for the world to see. But the second you get a dude to step to you, suddenly the Holy Spirit and entered your body and you don't want that type of attention. Next:
Matching Shirts Dudes
This is an especially sad breed of specimen. For some strange reason you and two of your buddies think its a great idea to not be individuals or show some originality about yourselves, and wear matching shirts. OK I'll give you some credit, you do get attention from chicks, ("Why yall dressed alike?) but in my experience of club hopping since 16, about 80% of the time yall go home empty-handed or with rosy palms.
Obese Girl inappropiately dressed
Do I really need to go into detail about this one?
Baby Daddy Recruiters
This species has multiple offspring from multiple donors and they are now seeking that one sucker, I mean great guy with benefits, to come along and be generous enough to save, I mean help, her and her kids out. They usually don't tell you about the quantity of the kids they have but more about the quality. And it never dawns on them that its 2 a.m. on a school night and they are at the club and their kids are somewhere. And there will probably be a 70 - 90% chance that the person they end up leaving the club with at the end of the night will have already or will soon be procreating another crumbcrusher for us all to take care of.
Free Drinks Girl
Let's rewind the tape a decade or two. Back in the old school if a guy offered to buy you a drink, it was understood that acceptance of the drink was a unwritten and verbal contract between you and the purchaser of said drink that the two parties involved could conversate. IT DIDN'T MEAN YOU HAD TO SLEEP WITH THEM, just talk and see how things went after that. Your denial of the drink purchase was also understood that you were not interested in that party's company.
Now in this "Get it how you live, instant gratification" society, you have what I call "Alcohol Preadators" whose main goal is to get as many guys to buy them drinks as their livers would allow and not pay a dime for it. Nevermind the fact that they showed up to the club at 6:30 p.m. to get in free but now they will gladly let you but them a drink and then happily walk away from you without a Thank You, let alone the "illusion" of interest in you.
These types along with but not limited to:
Fight Club Girls (see Bad Girls Club)
Old Pimps with Balding Gray Cornrowed Hair
Pill Pushers
Pill Poppers
Lil Jon Fan Club Elbow Throwers
and everybody's favorite, The Cougars
Which we will touch on at a different date, leads to that old familiar scene at every club, every Thursday through Saturday night, all over the planet:
Rush Hour
Rush hour is that one hour before the club shutdown in which a fury of activity begins to take place. Everybody bumrushes the bar to get their last few overpriced drinks. Guys who've struck out all night begin to lower their standards and make an attempt to pull anything with (or without) a pulse out of the club. Fights break out, death threats are made to the DJ, and suddenly what started off as a fun night of music, drinks, and merriment turns into a test of survival.
How did it come to this?
Maybe its because we've had a stressful week and need to let off steam. Maybe its our everlasting pursuit to get a nut off. Maybe its every human being's need to feel special or to have some sort of connection with somebody........anybody.
The places change whether its Rumors, Whispers, OZ, Spurs, City Lights, Starz, Dynasty, Jamaica, it doesn't matter, the game remains the same.
It's just fun as hell to watch it!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why Can't I Like Both?

What makes Hip-Hop and life in general more interesting is the great debates. You know what I mean:

Jay vs. Nas

Pac vs. Big

East vs. West

North vs. South

Underground vs. Mainstream

Gangsta vs. Revolutionary

Ross vs. 50

Fat Joe vs. 50

Ja Rule vs. 50

Kanye, Lil Wayne, The Game and basically half of the continent of North America vs. 50

Conservative vs. Liberal etc. etc. etc.

I would be lying if I said I didn't take part. I would always find myself falling into an endless hours long debate over why I think American Gangster is better than Reasonable Doubt (please don't start that one here) with my friends.

Well recently I had an epiphany:

What's the f****** point?

I mean really, what are we accomplishing with these debates? What are we learning? Why do I have to take sides? Why can't I like both?

In Hip-Hop especially there's seems to be a definitive line drawn in the sand between Artist A and Artist B and if I don't see what it is that you see that makes your artist great, then either I don't know what I'm talking about or I'm an asshole in general.

I'm from the South, born and raised, but I love N.Y. hip-hop just as much as Jeezy and Gucci Mane. OK. I don't know or particularly care for O.J. da Juiceman. Does that make me any less supportive of Southern hip-hop?

Love is a very dangerous word indeed. A lot of Hip Hop fans throw it around when it comes to their favorite artists and their albums. What ever happened to being reasonable and realistic? Of course there will be albums that are classics and live on forever but you can still enjoy the ones that will be forgotten tomorrow. Sometimes I think we act like sports fanatics. If they sold The Carter 3 or Illmatic car magnets and window flags, I'm willing to bet my meager salary from my day job that cats would run out and buy them. I wouldn't be surprised if cats had a sign in their front yard that says "All Eyez On Me" fans parking only.

There should only be a few things that you love in life: Your God, family, friends and maybe your job or career. Don't get caught up in the beef and debates and be realistic. Sure they can be fun for the sake of conversation but some of yall take it too far! Relax!! Don't be a Stan! Life is too short to take sides. It is just music by the way.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So how did Hip-Hop save me?

The year was '86. Reaganomics was in full effect, Crack was making hood cats millionaires, and I was a snot-nosed living with my parents, who thanks to my father's grinding, raised us out of the poverty that engulfed every one else in our area.

Digging around in my dad's record collection I came across a 12' vinyl with the blue Jive label by an artist named Kool Moe Dee called "Go See the Doctor".

"I went to the doctor's office, I said "What have I got?"

He said 'Turn around boy and take this shot"

I looked at him like he was crazy, and I said "What?!'

Ain't nobody sticking nothing in my butt.

Now a song about getting burned by a chick went completely over the head of an 8-year old, (I just thought that the word 'butt' on a record was endless comedy) but it was at that moment I fell in love with Hip-Hop.

Soon after my parents separated and just like a majority of my peers I was residing in a single parent household with just my mother (who hated hip hop) who drilled me with an endless dose of gospel music (she even hated gospel hip hop). But thanks to my friends, Rap City, and Yo! MTV Raps, I didn't miss out on the conscious P.E. movement and the rise of the Gangsta / Ruffneck sound.

It wasn't until '91 that I bought my first album "Naughty By Nature" (laugh if you want to but O.P.P. was irresistible). The song that connected with me the most was "Ghetto Bastard (Everything's Gonna Be Alright)". Now I wasn't a bastard in any sense but my early teen angst along with sitting in the hood, single parent apartment, friends in the same position as me, helped me the relate with Treach's lyrics:

"A ghetto bastard, born next to the projects,

Livin' in the slums with bums, I say now why Treach,

Do I have to be like this? Momma said I'm priceless

So I am, I'm worthless, starving, and that's just what being nice gets"

Over the next few years I came to realize the importance of the songs I was listening to. From Ed O.G. & The Bulldogs to Brotha Lynch Hung, I ran the gambit. From positive to horrorcore, from stuntin' to sad stories, from legends to one hitter quitters. I believed in the stories that I heard because I was seeing them unfold before my eyes. I saw my friends go from rocking their clothes backwards (See Kriss Kross) to Dickies Khakis and Chuck Taylors in the span of a school year. I lost friends who the year before we rolled worldwide on our Huffy's together, then by the end of the summer they chunking me the deuce as they rolled by in their Cutlass bumping the new Spice 1 tape.

My mother took me to see "Boyz N Tha Hood' with my cousin who had seen it twice already and was in full West Coast gangsta attire. While I looked on with sadness as Ricky got gunned down he's sitting next to me giggling. After we dropped off home my mother made an announcement to me: "If I see you acting like anything in that movie, I'll kill you myself!". Needless to say my wish for a Dickies khaki outfit went out the window. My cousin would go on to see countless nights in jail for everything from selling dope, to assaults before he straighten his life out.

Now could I have went the route of so many of my peers? Easily.

Do I blame Hip-Hop? Never.

I have 3 sons of my own (by my wife) who listen to Hip-Hop (even though I cringe at some of it). In a nation that quickly seeks someone else to blame (See Asher Roth's "hacked" twitter account) for their own personal failures and mistakes the music we love should inspire you to either avoid or go towards the lifestyles you listen to. I accept the responsibility of the failure of my kids behavior due to the influence of rappers, trappers, pimps and the occasional revolutionary.

Hip-Hop did save my life. There are thousands of songs that warned of the pitfalls of life in these streets but at the end of the day it was those closest to me that helped steer me in the right direction. I learned that from Hip-Hop too.