Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TAN Is Off In Costa Rica

I should have put up this note before I left for the holidays -- my bad -- but TAN [me] has been in Costa Rica where there is mucho rainforest and very little internet.

I'm back after new years, bigger, badder, better... and con a little more espanol for the 2009 and beyond.

i'd throw up a pic or something but the computer i'm on is sub dial-up, pretty sure a monkey or toucan or something watches what i do and then flies off to tell someone to relay it to the internet.

so please bear with me on any emails, and we should be back up and running next week.

happy holidays everyone, thanks for reading, and i'll see you on the flip side



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson


and it's not just the weight that's a problem, via fox:
Since retiring in 2005, he has spoken of becoming a missionary to escape his reputation in America but recently opened a fund account that required a $50 monthly direct debit.

He declined the direct debit, noting that he could not guarantee the money would be there each month.

let's get ready to rumble humble?

image via

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Could LL Cool J Be A Spokesman for LL Bean and Live To Tell the Story?

This Onion video about the boycott of clothing company LL Bean by black people is pretty amusing:

African-American Boycott of L.L. Bean Enters 80th Year

In the wake of Obama and the new post-racial economy I'll actually be a little interested to see if LL Bean falls because they were supported by a white-sensibility system, or rises because black people were hating on the fuzzy new england goodness for no good reason, and as soon as Obama is rocking some Bean on a jog everyone will open their eyes.

If they are legitimized could the "LL for LL" promo spot be far behind? the cool j rap about how "he can't live without his LL. Bean" or "he needs Bean" or "doin' it and doin' it and doin' it weLL Bean..." would be hotter than wearing a polo sweater, timberland boots, j-crew hat and northface parka in the summer. word.

And The Book Will Be Tentatively Titled NEGROPEDIA Until "Operation: Raise Everyone's 'Negro' Tolerance Level" Is Accomplished, Or Deemed Impossible

Some day in the future, there will be a black boy, maybe of twelve or thirteen years of age. He will be precocious and smart (but not in that genius sort of way) and afforded some small cents of humor. And he will find himself plucked out of an urban ghetto, not unlike the South Bronx in NYC, and go to some boarding school not unlike a Choate Rosemary Hall, or a Pomfret School.

And he will meet his roommate, a cherubic caucasian-american, and the two will pose for a picture in front of posters of heretofore unseen or unheard of groups like Led Zeppelin (they're ok, but they're no Three Times Dope the young black boy might think.). And whimsically, as often his is wont, the brown boy will open up a book, because, at that time, in his youth, he so loved to read. And the picture will prob look something like this

(but with all the added technolification that comes from being in the future. )

and the boy will be intoxicated by the book and after reading it he will smile knowingly, mischievously. because now he knows things he didn't know before. things like:

who the 4 horsemen of the post-racial apocalypse are... (link, coming soon)

or the 5 black people you meet in harlem...

or the 9 stages of gentrification hell (as extrapolated and updated from this episode of GP)

he will know how to have sex with a racist, and the various exits on the intra-race state highway.

he will have chuckled at the letter from a black man to his average-size penis, and the letter from a black woman to her relatively-flat ass.

he will have fantasized about the 5 interracial cinematic hookups that should have happened (that one's coming soon too)

and so much more....

But most of all he will know that he too can write a most excellent, humorous, entertaining book because the book he just read, NEGROPEDIA, was written by Patrice Evans, TAN, The Assimilated Negro. And if that dude can write a book, so can anyone.

NegroAgent #3A44-southbronx-24c3000 reporting for duty!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Chang Interview: Part 3. Advanced Hip Hop Diagnostics

Subject: Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop -- a book (currently $6 on amazon? cop it now, yo.), and a website -- long and short, he's one of the contemporary Professors of Hip Hop.

Backstory: In the final verse of this three-part interview we compare the crises in Hip Hop and Wall Street, and explore how crack paved the way for our 44th President.

Mission: To sprinkle some crack on Barack. Let's do this:

(Part 1 of interview is here)
(Part 2 of interview is here)

PART 3: Hip Hop Diagnostics Check

TAN: In thinking about the "Wall Street is dead" headlines of late, the "hip hop is dead" headlines come to mind. did hip hop experience the same market correction? were some rappers living in houses their freestyles couldn't afford? has there been a hip hop recession? can an art or creative form experience those highs and lows?

Jeff: i love this analogy, and i think the similarities are shockingly crazy. i talk about this all the time, but usually get glazed-over eyes and yawns, but let me try again here and hopefully not put anyone to sleep.

the reason wall street is slumping with us right now is because deregulation got it all coked up. follow me here. deregulation made it feel omnipotent, made it feel beyond risk, made the irrational seem rational. and for a while, it got everything it wanted--risk-free money-making for the exclusive customer based off of predatory lending masked as humane housing policy.

when the media companies got deregulation, the same thing happened. it got big money rappers who could make money for them across multiple platforms (not just music, but vitamin water!) and sell to the big dark world beyond american borders (where most of the young world is urban and of color). it was risk-free chip stacking for the exclusive--the universals, the viacoms, the clear channels--masked as progressive, desegregated pop culture.

that's the thing about capitalism. supposedly it celebrates competition, diversity and creativity but it really wants monopoly, homogeneity and conformity.

and eventually monopoly, homogeneity and conformity destroy the whole farm.

think of another analogy--the move from self-sufficient farms to corporate farms. used to be everyone grew something different--crops, animals, whatever, and everyone traded and everyone lived. then someone figured out you could mass-produce corn. so the corn now creates soft drinks, feeds the chickens and pigs and cows, and turns your biodiversity into one big cornfield. pretty soon everyone's fucking obese and lazy or steroided and crazy. cause you gotta take steroids to get those muscles you no longer get from working the field.

i know you are reading this now and saying wtf?

my point is that it's not a correction, it's the way capitalism goes in the 21st century. wall street is now paying the cost, and corporate rap--because hip-hop is most certainly alive if you leave out corporate rap--is too. nothing's shocking anymore. fools in that game are either fat and lazy or steroided and crazy, and while that may be a good look for some, it's definitely not for most. it gets pretty boring for the average fan also, which is always the next source of renewal.

having painted this wall-e world, i do want to say that i'm the eternal optimist. maybe hard times will make folks hungry again.

and one last tangent: i guess in the end i feel about the hip-hop is dead argument the way i feel about all these anguished 'irony is dead' articles. isn't it ironic how much ironists want to believe irony is dead?

TAN: the "?uest love thesis" (as termed in your bloggingheads vid), puts crack/the crack trade in a more positive light. to my warped mind, your logic allows me to formulate this equation: the crack trade helps form hip hop ----> hip hop helps pave the way for Obama ---> therefore Obama has evolved from the crack game. An evolved Marion Barry? funny cause it's true? maybe?

Jeff: funny cause it's true enough. crack sucked, and musicians on crack still mostly suck. i also don't want to romanticize the relationship between hard times and art, because good art doesn't always come from hard times and hard times aren't a prerequisite for good art. i myself prefer not to be unhappy and i think most artists feel the same way.

but it's also true that lots of great art came from the environment that crack created. one version holds that more white people paid attention to hardcore rap because of the media blowup over crack. that may be true, but who cares? to argue that the artists back then were making music strictly for those who didn't live in cracked-out neighborhoods is to rewrite history backwards--say, from the clipse to n.w.a., not the other way around. you'd have to be an idiot or a serious narcissist to try to pull that one off. besides, when hasn't there been a mass hysteria in american society that didn't involve notions of illegality and darker shade of skin than pale?

TAN: I like the notion of gangster rappers as Republicans. care to expound?

Jeff: ah, young jeezy proved us wrong tho!

TAN: a big part of hip hop's multicultural cachet is really legitimized/propagated by the asian/asian-american embracing of it. I recently saw Ballerina Who Loves B-Boy, basically some asian breakdance crews doing an all-dance West Side Storyesque production. Can you enlighten as to what makes hip hop and asians get along so good?

Jeff: the same thing that makes hip-hop and everyone get along so good. not that it always enlightens us all. i was at r16, the international b-boy competition hosted by the south koreans, who simply dominate breaking now. i interviewed russia's top b-boy, this blonde-haired blue-eyed boy named robin, a nasty breaker with that bronx-style chip-on-the-shoulder, who cited how much folks like bob marley and nas had shaped him. then, in competition against the south korean crew called rivers, really the inheritors of the zulu kings legacy, robin made slant-eyes at c-4, one of the rivers crew's top dancers.

wtf? in front of a korean crowd? the russian kid was all balls and no brain.

still, and this is what i love about asians and hip-hop--this dude c-4 went back at him three times as hard, literally castrated robin and left dude with his tongue wagging. the crowd went bananas. now, i know from asians and pacific islanders having swag--i grew up on an island full of em--but hip-hop took us to a whole new level. and for that, we say thanks.

TAN: No, no Jeff. It is I who says thanks.

Seriously, thanks for the interview!


TAN Caption: Awww, Little Black Stripey Scarf Is Lost

awwww ... don't you want to just grab her and have a college orientation program on race and whatnot?

more caps:

If you're ethnic and you know it clap your hands drink a beer *sip, sip*

raise your hand if you're sure! hold your hands close to your sides and look around nervously if you're unsure.

could anyone here point me to Africa-America? .... anyone.... anyone ... Bueller ... anyone ...Bueller ... anyone here see Ferris Bueller? .... anyone ... i'm just trying to make small talk and fit in here people ... Ferris Bueller ... Matthew Broderick ... anyone .... Bueller...

(sorry if that's you, it's all fun and games until someone cries over a blog. you're beautiful.)

photo via

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bert & Ernie: The Original Assimilated Gangstas

You see a lot of videos when you live on Internet St., but somehow, amazingly, I had missed what has immediately been dubbed the TAN 2008 Assimilated Video of the Year. Not even the surliest of Grinches can dampen the holiday spirit emanating from "Ante Up" by M.O.P., as lip-synced by Bert & Ernie.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Chang Interview: Part 2. Et tu, Obama? Then Fall, Hip Hop!

Subject: Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop -- a book (currently $6 on amazon? cop it now, yo.), and a website -- long and short, he's one of the contemporary Professors of Hip Hop.

Backstory: In part two of this three-part interview, we get into Obama and hip hop, and really the question that prompted me to get Jeff's opinion.

Mission: The two meatiest Q&A's in the interview are below. Let's peep the science:

(Part 1 of interview is here)
(Part 3 of interview is here)


TAN: I think this is the pea under my mattress that prompted all of this: in a recent slate article you used the phrase, “postracial-is-the-new-black.” It made me think, maybe Obama is the new hip hop...

Your book Can't Stop Won't Stop seems all the more relevant today, not because of hip hop, but because it's the story of our post-racial generation. In the current phrasing we’re swapping out hip hop semantics for new slang that's more inclusive/accessible.

Obama has personified this transition; the same way "hip hop" once served as a cultural uniter, Obama is now serving that role in a a more tangible way.

Looking back now, it seems hip hop, perhaps, had a certain misplaced ambition. In the 80s and 90s all we had was Hip Hop, so we needed it to be in politics and fashion and music and make cookies and do dishes and be transcendent. Now we know different. We can’t deny hip hop’s influence, but that no longer makes a given thing "hip hop" in that KRS-istential sense. Obama may brush the dirt off his shoulder, and show his love, but he's clearly not hip hop, right? He's bigger, badder, better.

All this makes me wonder: is hip hop still as relevant as it seemed to be, or at least aspired to be, a few years ago? if so, how? if not, didn't obama play a big role in killing it off?

Jeff: i think you're right on the mark in identifying right now as a moment in which everything is shifting. success--even partial success--always creates new tensions, new anxieties, new questions. obama is certainly a symbol of hip-hop's success in literally desegregating the popular culture. but without hip-hop, obama is unimaginable.

it's as simple as yz calling for 'a black president solution' back in 1989. i'm certain that against the backdrop of ronald reagan, nelson mandela, 'do the right thing', tawana brawley, and howard beach, he was imagining someone like a fela anikulapo-kuti/louis farrakhan figure--'black power's in the realm and the government's disagreeing'. now that we're in 2008, the first real black presidential candidate is, well, half white.

in a way, that's the difference between culture and politics. hip-hop is the art of the impossible. it imagined we could rule the world when we were clearly so far from actually doing so. politics is the art of the possible. democracy in theory reduces everything to the mean+1.

i'm as ambivalent about the idea of the 'post-racial' as you are, and not just because it denies an identity of blackness or brownness or yellowness--or an identity that sits somewhere between all of that--but it also denies an identity of whiteness. whiteness is an identity born of and linked to power, after all, and one that we thus have to understand as well.

hip-hop was the new black, and in that way, it created all kinds of avenues for people like me who aren't black to understand and value culture differently than it has been valued by society in the past. that, in turn, created ways of understanding what political power looks like in this country, and furthered desires to understand and value people and communities differently. so in the end, i'm for a movement whether in culture or politics that redistributes power, shares power, flips off authority and flips the given script.

if hip-hop would go back to being disadvantaged voices yelling loudly, that might solve the problem. but here's the problem--that's impossible now. too much has changed. the only realistic way forward is to admit that in some important ways we aren't the underdog anymore, that we fucking won. and then we have to get over our fear of 'what happens next'? what happens next is we take this shit over and run it.

TAN: A lot of your piece talks about the new multi-racial majority. reports have whites becoming minority in 2050. How do you see things changing once ethnics are running this piece?

Jeff: dude. now the census bureau says 2042. and the brookings institution says 18-29's hit that g-spot in 2028. 2028!!! i might even live that long.

so yeah, this is the big question now, right? this is where whiteness as the identity of power is crucial--i think of all the anti-black racism of my folks. it's pretty viscerally about both being higher up the food chain AND being lighter skinned. that, i think, was part of the real fear behind the 'is he black enough?' talk--but it was the Fear That Could Not Be Named, except perhaps by a cadre of folks who lived through COINTELPRO with a gun under their pillow. and generationally, some of us have been so eager to crash the party that those folks just sound really old. that's the flipside of 'post-racial' if you will.

the truth is probably somewhere in between--and my sympathies probably lie closer to the cadres than the david broders of the world, who are ready to call it a day for racism before driving home to their gated community.

lots of folks i spoke to this year, especially bun b and david banner, really wanted to emphasize that obama would be the president of america, not of non-white america, and that we needed to deal with that. which for me raised the obama and faith question. do we place our faith in him that he's gonna make things right? in this sense, 'yes we can' was a neat little rhetorical device--it allowed obama to wipe that dirt off his shoulder. it's not me, it's you. barack is getting ready to let us down easy. but then again, i truly buy his sincerity. i'm feeling that earnestness. after so many years of 'kick me please', it's nice to hear someone say, 'have it your way' and like really really mean it.

i guess my best hope is that the difficult conversations around race continue, that obama's presence puts a ceiling on the biliousness and the viciousness, and that the general arc gets pointed again in the direction of justice. as for the rest of it, i take his challenge seriously--if obama's in the office, then let's get it.

Saving the best for last in PART III: Which came first: The Death of Hip Hop or The Death of Wall Street... and, did crack pave the way for Barack

barack bigot

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Black Man In An Elevator Video

Have you seen this "Black Man In An Elevator" video? (Also known as: "They Clutch Purses, Don't They?")

You probably have. There's a lot to like here, I see why it's popular. good tone. the direct monologue to the camera. well paced. all adds up to me liking what I presume to be the "direction" of the video.

But the premise, i.e. the whole reason to make the clip, is way too stale for the hip sensibility that styles it. It looks and feels progressive, with the midget black guy doing the talking. and he's confident. man, I haven't had a tough-talking midget black guy put me in my place in years! and I like the assimilated brooklyn-chic clothes. and the woman is attractive, but not inaccessible. it all has a nice post-racial feel.

But, hello? no one clutches purses in 2008. wtf are you talking about? seriously? clutching a purse???

Even if there were people who still have physical muscle-reflex conditioning at the sight of a diminutive well-dressed black person, do we really care about them? Such that we would make cool video clips that address them? They have to be a small percentage of people at this point (c.f. Obama), and they have to be idiots. Very niche. Sub-sub-sub culture. Let's not have our creatives even bother with them anymore.

All things considered, overt purse-clutching racists are probably more of a disadvantaged minority than any african-american or ethnic-american group. You think a woman who shrinks from black people in an elevator is gonna have an easy time getting a job these days? pfft.

still... cool, funny vid. just sayin'.

(thanks calvin)

The Chang Interview: Part 1. The Brand Named Hip Hop

Subject: Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop -- a book (currently $6 on amazon? cop it now, yo.), and a website -- long and short, he's one of the contemporary Professors of Hip Hop.

Backstory: I first came across Jeff at a sorta Jews-to-save-hip-hop panel at the 92nd St. YMCA.
And he did the recent Obama cover story for Vibe. And is generally an Asian blazing the charts these days, so it was a nice opportunity to holler at him about the intersection of race, hip hop, identity politics in the wake of Obama.

Mission: Figure out what all this "postracial" business means for hip hop. He gave me plenty of fodder, so let's get into it:


TAN (The Assimilated Negro): I recently went to a hip hop show with a writer from Gawker, he's a hip hop head. we talked some about the struggle for a writer who comes from that hip hop background but now speaks to an audience that doesn't appreciate it. so if he does something hip hop focused, and it gets no reaction-- without taking into account our inadequacies as writers-- is that indifference a product of hip hop's limitations? or people who are small minded? why is it so tough to get page views for substantive hip hop content?

Jeff (Jeff Chang): i don't know. i ponder this a lot when i'm writing or speaking on hip-hop and politics. the way i keep from going nuts is i tell myself i haven't found my audience yet. :) it's a serious question, but i think sometimes it's hard to tell what's the result of daily tides and what's the result of global warming, you know?

TAN: What do you think about the assimilation of hip hop into advertising? i.e. the abundance of white people rapping and such. The skills seem to be getting better -- people love this one for holiday inn express -- but it still feels exploitative. is it?

Monday, December 08, 2008

EthnoCultural Tug Of War: N+1 vs. Okayplayer

Diary of a Serial Assimilator:


Dear Diary,

I was randomly commenting on the blog of Keith Gessen and thought I stumbled on to a flair of genius: An okayplayer and N+1 bougie-off!

"it'd be a cool field trip to bring both those crowds to one place for a good ol' fashioned tug-o-war."

Holla if you hear me, brethren!

There's no question Obama has helped level the scales, but for those who want to discuss how it's just a start, or how much more there is to be done, why beat around the bush? Let's fight this puppy out!

Or love it out, i don't mean it to sound so fatally competitive; just to say determining a winner or loser is important....

now i'm not positive on how we should do this, but i'm thinking the best way would be for both sides to *accidentally* plan their parties/ethno-cultural worship events at the same time, same venue. This will require some vision/manipulation on the part of leadership, because I don't think these respective multi-intellicultis will cross-pollinate demographics without some forcing of the issue.

Once it's all set up i'm not sure what happens next, but i know if we're doing it for real-for real then sex needs to be involved. Like King White Bougie and Queen Black Bougie have to mate before the congregated-but-segregated masses. And if we're doing it for real-for real-for real, then murder must happen also. Like black-white ultimate chicken fight to the death. I know, it's sad. Well maybe we can just keep it at the sex level. (in fact now i sort of regret this whole thread because it's unnecessarily reckless, but i think it also enhances my cachet as an "unexpected" writer, so i'll just close the parentheses here and leave it at that)

anyuhhh... whenever i get the chance to sit on Obama's lap and tell him what I want for America, i'm going to force these camps to do a collaborative project. 'twould be awesome.

pics are good for blogging, so these are the images i found for my multicultural tug of war allusions.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Check for yourself:
N+1 Magazine
Okayplayer, home of The Roots

dog tug

Maybe Soon The Giants Will Be Good Enough To Have Cheerleaders?

Currently the Giants FAQ says they think "the game should be the focus of the day", but we'll see how long that stays in place now that Eli is a stud. Don't good teams need cheerleaders? Why would cheerleading exist if the best team didn't have cheerleaders?

At the least, the Giants on-field goodness, and lack of cheerleaders, offers opportunity for a referendum on the value of cheerleading.

Yes, this applies even after losing to the Eagles. That was a bye week for Giants fans. I was practically rooting for that loss.

Giants Clinch NFC East [NBC NY]

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dear TAN: Which Gang Starr Album Should I Buy?

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: G-A-N-G to the Starr, son.

Dear TAN,

If i were to buy only one Gang Starr album, which should it be?



Dear TC,


well they have a fairly comprehensive double album of their hits -- Full Clip -- you can't go wrong with that.

looking on itunes, apparently they have another greatest hits album, i haven't peeped it myself, but it's 20 tracks to 30+ on the other, and a little cheaper. again, figure those are the best bets.

But if you're looking for a real album, to achieve that authentic Gang Starr experience, you have to choose between Hard To Earn and Daily Operation. my vote would be Hard to Earn, I think that's their most complete album. But you lose Ex Girl to Next Girl and Take It Personal, and I'd shed a tear if I could never hear those songs again....

Then again, presuming you're an Obama lover, and if we go along with hip hop paving the way for Obama, you might want to go ahead and cop both those albums and chalk it up as back pay. Maybe tell your negro friends (i know a black person isn't asking which gang starr album to buyy) that you put 5 on it (+ another $15 for inflation) on some hip hop reparations tip. That would be thoughtful, generous, and provide some multi-cultural oriented entertainment/chatter for your next cocktail party (soundtracked by Gang Starr of course).

Also, make sure you drop that extra wisdom about "Dwyck" on that girl you have your eye on, she''ll surely be impressed.

good luck!




Dear TAN,


i'm all about going with the full albums. i like getting the feel of a whole album as opposed to just hits.

well, think i might go "with hard to earn" since it has your jam Dwyck on it and mass appeal. probably will go with moment of truth too. everyone online is apparently in love with "moment of truth". a hundred hip hop fans can't be wrong, can they? wait...

other than winning the new yorker caption contest, contributing a "dear TAN" is a major life goal of mine. that would be sweet. guide us to hip hop greatness.

thanks man


no, thank you TC, for allowing me the opportunity to further spread the love that is primo production. if you close your eyes while listening, you might see the synchronized neck-snapping of a million TANs who came up on this ...enjoy, assimilate and be merry! and thanks for the note.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

If Plax Isn't Actually Stupid, Then What Is He?

here's the nut of my take on Plaxico-Gate

And if Plax isn't actually stupid, then what is he? Is he unlucky? Is he an obnoxiously selfish a-hole? Is he a big proponent of the second amendment, and an armed populace? Is he too invested in male machismo? Does he have daddy issues? Is he aloof, such that he might overlook the immediate and unnecessary danger simply possessing a gun in a crowded club creates?

I have no idea on these questions, and have gotten little help from the coverage on PlaxicoGate; so it seems much like a young athlete who has all the tools but lacks the focus, blogs and the media at large are failing to maximize their potential. This is a story with serious issues a the heart of it -- gun culture, rights/rules for the rich and/or famous etc. -- by covering this from an angle that prioritizes stand-up routines over insight into how such a reckless accident can occur, we are in essence dropping the ball, and/or shooting ourselves in the leg.

it's not all wagging a disappointed finger at the media, some plax jokes in there also. after all, who can resist....

If Plax Isn't Stupid, Who's Really Dropping The Ball? [NBC New York]

Related Posts with Thumbnails