Monday, July 28, 2008

This Thing On Bodegas Is Like That Thing On Bodegas

So saw this thing on the Gawk:

Did you know that your corner store (aka bodega) probably sells a lot more than ho hos and beer? Perhaps even fresh produce.

Hmm, sounds similar in spirit to my thing written for Gawker:

On the surface you might think the Corner Bodega (Co-Bo) is just another wiki-able oasis of convenience. A sort of de facto ghetto 7-11. But, like the big rock in the forest, a look underneath reveals a self-sufficient ecosystem of subterranean life. Home of the 2 for $1 special, the Corner Bodega is the ghetto chamber of food and commerce for marginalized gentri-folk and ne'er-do-wells alike. Typically open through the wee hours, and stocked with all the bare essentials — food, alcohol, horny-goat weed — Corner Bodegas are not only a full service resource, but a genuine lifesaver.

Of course mine was a column/feature-y type thing, and theirs is an actual business model. Or something? But I happily refer them to other sections of the Ghetto Pass series so they can arrange parties at Ghetto Chinese Spots, or with Ghetto Pick-up Artists, and not just single out the Bodegas.

Also: their choice of dropping the word "Ghetto" in favor of "Neighbors" and phrasing like, "people living in cities who want to connect with their diverse neighbors to improve the neighborhood for everyone." Brilliant!

I'm not being overly tongue-in-cheek here. It is a cool idea. And some crew of gentrifying multicultis had to do it. I just want to make sure they keep their "papis" and "habibis" straight and not forget the Chicken Spot and other Urban-Neighborhood Landmarks. Holla if you need help.

Please Buy This Gentrification Kit [Gawker]
Bodega Party In A Box [Neighbors Project]
Ghetto Pass: Corner Bodegas [Gawker]

Songs You Should Know: The B*tch In Yoo

Many folks now know the artist Common pictured on the right. And if you were one of those enlightened enough to go to a liberal arts college, and have black friends, you may have heard of him before his most recent album Finding Forever afforded him long-deserving Grammy accolades. Some early adopters might have known him even before he started doing commercials for The Gap.

But do you know this Common?

"A b*tch ni**a wit an attitude named Cube, stepped to the Com with a feud..."

The Common we know is pro-black, pro-women, pro-god, pro-life, pro love; a black man calling a "ni**a" a "b*tch" is a vortex of hateful epithets that would surely sear his khaki-melanin skin, right? That can't be the Common that freestyles in church:

Your lease is up, at the crib house ni**az get evicted
In videos them white boys talking you get Wicked

Common is calling out someone for being a "house ni**a"? Aww yeah, hypocrisy is all that and a bag of chips conflict diamonds. Come to think of it, how hot would it be to see George Bush start calling out former presidents for being retarded. Or generally start picking on the intelligence level of others. That would be like the UPS uniform calling the piece-of-doodoo brown, or however that saying goes. And it would be awesome.

Hyprocrite, I'm filling out your Death Certificate
Slanging bean pies and St. Ide's in the same sentence...

Yes, more calling out. But now is probably a good time for some context/backstory:

This is Common, over ten years ago, calling out Ice Cube (perhaps the grand patriarch of "hip hop selling out", but we'll explore that another time). Common's song I Used to Love H.E.R. (that's the Common we all know) was quoted and used by Westside Connection (Cube's post-NWA crew) in a diss record aimed at Mr. Sense. Of course these were the days that ish like that mattered, and so Common came firing back with one of the fiercest battle songs ever: The Bitch In Yoo

So this is a song you should peep because you might not know this Common:

I heard a ho say you her favorite rapper
(So what) so I had to slap her

Holla! Now that's the Common we know: slappin' h*es when they say stupid stuff. I like the Gap ad, but this makes me think a parody would be even better. Have Common rapping his jingle while slappin' white folks in a Gap t-shirt and cargo shorts. You can even tweak some of the lines from the commercial:

(to' when I flow, feel the power that rap has
white people give me love when I slap 'em in Gap ads

Actually get Kanye in there also, and that might be straight gold.

Of course, the spoof works off the contrast with the Common we identify with. Conscious, positive, not-judging-you Common.

That Common we know didn't first appear in the Gap ad. That Common we know first appeared with the album One Day it Will All Make Sense. The first album after Common became a father. Also the first album after writing the Ice Cube diss track.

Since then, this has been the Common we know:

This ain't no East coast, West coast, none of the above
I'm from Chi, I went to Cali, ni**az gave me love

Common does go from coast to coast and get love from all people. Presumably receiving positive vibes because he puts positive vibes out there. But this is a song to know because even then -- when he was edgier, meaner, realer or whatever -- he got love coast-to-coast. Just out of respect for his skills. This song is lyrically ridiculous: full of wordplay, coded references, puns and everything else that often goes underappreciated in non-mainstream rap songs. As he challenges Cube towards the end, "ain't got no choice but to fight, none of y'all motherf'ers got a chance on the mic". This was never really a battle because they weren't gonna get with Common on that emcee level. So even as Rashid gets his own Ice Cube on via movies and mainstream media, the thing that will give him cred, perhaps eternally so, is a song like Bitch In Yoo.

Common could be Liz Phair, and this song/era is his Exile In Guyville.

Anytime you come out yo, I'm a talk about you
Until you let that bitch in you, walk up out you
Any last words before I hit the switch?
From the immortal words of one: a bitch is a bitch

No one that matters really cares about "Uncle Toms" or "sellouts" etc anymore because we're all trying to make $ and now that everyone has the tools we can all "tap dance for the man" in our own way. It seems with that pretense out of the way, especially in hip hop, we can better appreciate an artist's evolution. From "F*ck The Police" to "Barbershop 2"; "I Used To Love HER" to "Driving Me Crazy" the aesthetics may change to fit your mood, or the times, or an agenda but the heart and soul stays the same. I think. Maybe.

AnyCom, "The B*tch in Yoo" makes me think of some this stuff and pass it on as a song to know. Here's the popular version in a youtube video:

"we're gonna give it to the world, peace, love, and Gap"

(that's the popular version, the original "demo" that only the cool kids know about is posted below. )

MP3 File

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nas on Colbert Is Stillmatic

So Nas held it down on The Colbert Report last night. Over the course of his career I've been disappointed with Nasir, both his performances and interviews are often incoherent and a general mish-mosh of ideas, quotes, whathaveyou. And it allows bits like this NY Mag piece to completely miss the point in terms of the genuine value he brings to the mass-consumable pop culture table.

More on that broad criticism later, but in the clips below Nas is up to the task of having the #1 album on Billboard, leading protest against racism on Fox News Network, and most arduously, appearing on The Colbert Report. Its amazing what can happen when you decide to skip the blunt for an afternoon:

Here's his performance of the perfectly relevant song, "Sly Fox," (and no dropped lyrics!)

Here's the actual video of Sly Fox which is worth peeping:

(clips via: nah right, hiphopmusic)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dear TAN: Martin Lawrence & The Circle of Def Comedy

I once started a neverending interview, but now we're switching to a "Dear TAN" feature. Send your questions/letters to theassimilatednegro [at] gmail [dot] com.

In this edition: Martin Lawrence has a new comedy show!

Dear TAN3,

Yo, I got some sort of pub pre-release note on Martin Lawrence's new show. Not sure if I'm gonna be able to peep it and write something before the show airs (July 9th), but since you're the Prime Minister of Everthing Related To Martin I thought I'd pass it along and see if you had any thoughts. holla back.



Dear TAN,

Good looks with the link. I checked it out and a couple of clips. My thoughts:

Ever since the debut of the ORIGINAL Def Comedy Jam (hosted by our boy Martin...pre-Gina), everyone has been trying to emulate the success of that program. This had spawned the horrendous P. Diddy's Bad Boyz of Comedy and the lackluster reincarnated Def Comedy Jam - hosted by DL Hughley.

This difference in these shows and the original classic Def Comedy Jam is that the original show featured talent that was already developed. It just provided a venue to bring them all together and showcased their talent. Off the top of my head, I remember seeing Martin, Chris Tucker, Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, Dave Chappelle, Bernie Mac - and that's just who came to mind!

Key points - 1) These guys were already good and somewhat known 2) With that kind of talent - you HAVE to bring your A game - or else you'll be exposed. The attempted recreations of that show are all missing that key element. While it's great to give new guys a chance - the fact of the matter is that all the talent have been nobodies - and they just aren't funny. You have to have at least one anchor to hold things down - and get TAN3 to tune in!

As for Martin Lawrence's show - it appears that he is purely behind the scenes - understandable. The clips show that he is at least showcasing some talent that we already know - Ricky Smiley, DC Curry, Guy Torry - which is a good start. I don't know who the host is - but he can't be worse than the new Def Jam host - DL Hughley (I've never been a fan).

I didn't have the patience to sit through the full show - so I only watched the clips. Decent. Again - I think it's good that he seems to be starting with better talent, so this show at least has a chance to be good. It's somewhat disappointing that he only makes an appearance in the audience and never on stage though...Yeah, I know it's just like Kobe not wanting to do the dunk contest anymore - but give the people what they want!! Word!


Word up.

I'm actually feeling a little harsher in terms of him not participating. Even if the show is great, since his name is on the marquee I think it's dropping the ball for him not to participate. We know DCJ, and so they're following the formula that worked, but with the examples you point out obviously it's not a no-brainer equation that couldn't use some sprucing up and creative thinking in terms of approach. And with us assimilated negroes in particular, I think this formula-following laziness kills us. Some of it is just american capitalism; i.e. everyone's copycatting, and it's just the cycle of life for artists, performers etc to work hard on breaking through, then wash-and-repeat until they get old and fall off. Whichever comes first. But for our modern-day negro icons, these dudes had to be so different and special to get their platform that it feels ridiculous when they so easily fall back on the okey-doke whatever-whatever just-put-my-name-on-the-thing-and-get-my-checks flowing.

Easier said than done --
I've even fallen victim on my small blog-level ish -- but legends like Martin are supposed to show a better example for us young bucks coming up in the system. Plus he was so abundant with the characters and creativity when he broke in. Shoot, he could have Otis host the show or something.

That said, he was another one who fell victim to White-People-Drive-You-Crazy disease, like Chappelle. It's kind of ridiculous how much that happens, especially with the comedians. Maybe because they're speaking the truth? Hmmmm ... I guess that's fodder for another post.

Anymartin, as for the clips, as you say they have some established talent, so they might be closer to the winning formula than some of the recent also-ran efforts that have come out recently. This clip below is pretty damn funny
UPDATE: some rigamarole happened with the original clip, so I'm inserting an alternate, but unfortunately it doesn't have the jokes I found so funny.

oh, and PS: the host, Doug Williams, has been featured on TAN before. I guess he's come along since the Jamie Foxx fiasco.
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