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?