Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Hipster Is Dead, Long Live The Hipster

An investigation of the rise and fall of the contemporary hipster, via the scholars at literary magazine, N+1:
In addition to the panel transcript, the book includes responses from critics Jennifer Baumgardner, Patrice Evans aka The Assimilated Negro, and Margo Jefferson, as well as essays on douchebags, Hasids versus hipsters, and ill-fated sneaker shop Alife Rivington
The pre-order for What Was the Hipster?: A Sociological Investigation is up on Amazon.

Happy to sound off in this "hipster" death knell; humbled to keep company with smart do-gooders like feminist-activist extraordinaire Jennifer Baumgardner and Pulitzer winner Margo Jefferson. Hopefully we did former hipster ideologists such as Anatole Broyard, Norman Mailer, and Robert Lanham proud.

I'll post a snippet and offer more thoughts when the mixtape book officially drops (I brought the hip hop and gold-plated four-finger rings to the party), but click here to pre-order and then maybe start ironing your smarty-pants because everyone's gonna be sizing you up while you read this on the train, in the park, post-coitus, etc.

The Hipster is dead. Long live the Hipster.

Previously/Related:
Hipster Grifter Scavenger Hunt (video)
Smells Like Negro Musk (On "Blipsters")
The Quest for "The Negro Hipster" Continues
Hipster Sensibility Matrix (w/ Tao Lin)
The Assimilator: Hipster Reality Show Casting Call

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baby Powder Demographics: Who, Exactly, Has Got the Johnson Baby Powder and the Polo Cologne?


for those who might not know/recall, the headline is quoted from Slick Rick's famed la di da di, later reinterpolated by Snoop. Snoop changed the brand of cologne to Cool Water, but kept the Johnson's baby powder. This is telling! And this Baby Powder Code of Omertá is what I'd like to inquire about...

I'm curious about the demographics of baby powder usage outside of babies. and basketball games. I think the usage implied by the lyrics -- both Snoop and Rick have these items in tow "for all the girls they might take home" -- is the same usage I have: which is to liberally powder my balls before doing most anything as a sweaty-musk inhibitor. on really hot sticky days I also have an eye on cutting down any potential thigh friction.

now at this point i put so much baby powder on my balls they're like my version of white privilege. my boys won't even raise up off the lawn without the smell of talcum with aloe and vitamin e in their immediate airspace. and if it don't smell right they just scrunch up their faces and chill. but i've received enough "your balls always smell like baby powder" comments over the years *cough* that i wonder now if baby powder usage can be used to profile people:

Race/Ethnocultural & Baby Powder: do black people favor heavy usage over other ethnic groups? do some cultures never use it? do some people only use it in a specific way? is the hip hop lyric an indication of a hip hop/black people trend? Would Radiohead or Dirty Projectors or Katy Perry or Gaga have lyrics about baby powder for pitching men/women on sexual activities, or anything really?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Playing the CL Smooth Game, or: Why the NAACP Should Be Up on 'Snacks and Shit'

If you have any longevity as a fan of Hip Hop you probably know the group Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Their song They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) is one of the great undisputed heavyweight hip hop songs of all time. The duo emerged in ’91 as a less-gritty update on the virtuoso producer-as-Batman with professional emcee-as Robin template that Gang Starr (RIP) established a couple years earlier (the problematic dynamics of having Robin as your frontman are only one of the reasons to identify them in this fashion, and also to save a post dedicated to those issues for another time).

Recently I was looking at Snacks and Shit, a site that makes jokey pull-quotes of absurd hip hop lyrics, and it reminded me of CL Smooth, and some of his lyrics, and this game my friends and I used to play back in the day. We didn't have a formal name for it at the time, but I'm gonna call it "The CL Smooth game".

Now I’m not going to get in full-on essay mode for this, mostly because I'm still waiting for my David Sedaris/Sloane Crosley bubble bath to arrive so I can soak my prose in those funny-amiability crystals before wrangling it into something resembling an essay (do stick around for that though: i’ve been shot at, arrested for holding a dvd, and have enough 'Beauty and the Blogger' tales for a few seasons of Problematic Sex in the City). But I do think there's a meandering personal narrative that connects this CL Smooth game I'm about to share with some current events on the political landscape. Perhaps you've recently heard about the Tea Party, and the NAACP, and racism in America?


Coates has a great post-and-comments digging into this issue of how Obama is handling the Race Problem at the moment. My short-form opinion is: (1.) Hip Hop culture is what’s missing from the Race Politics conversation. To talk race without hip hop is like sharing recipes in a world without food, pots, pans, stoves. If Race is Batman, Hip Hop is the utility belt. If Race is the melting pot of NYC, then Hip Hop is our Modern Museum of Ethnocultural Art and Literature that everyone stands in front of with the younger white bloggers pantsing each other and going “shots fired!” and the older white journalists saying, “here we stand before the museum of hip hop in unified solidarity, we are passing around a petition to make a stamp of tupac, then we will go back to our uptown homes and watch sitcoms” and meanwhile no one ever goes in to look closely and consider the actual artifacts. Race is the construct, the theory that we think and talk about in pursuit of equality, justice, happiness etc.; Hip Hop is the theorizing in action. And all the conversations will continue to go nowhere until enough people get on board with that. It's deeper than rap. *swallows rick ross sized lump in throat*

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lazy Blogger's Guide to the Joel Johnson Racist Twitter-Stalk Shitstorm

a couple days ago there were a couple posts on popular tech-blog Gizmodo that generated a lot of blog-media response and about 100K views of shitstorm. well, not hardcore shitstorm. but all told maybe an internetquake level 4, 5, 6ish event? ( mel gibson hate rant, iPhone 4 theft, michael jackson dying are approx. level 8, 9, 10ish).

but, in defense of its magnitude, this particular shitstorm involved Real Issues. ones like race, and privilege, and 'other-ing', and generally being different and getting along on the internet. These are the shitstorms that get me singing in the rain because the latent social psychology is easily converted to actionable real world wisdom: The sexy black woman you stalk on Twitter can easily be the sexy smart woman you stalk/ogle from afar in the bar! or the hot/stupid/broke man! or whatever sates your personal hunger for new and different shit/'diversity'.

In spirit, the idea of "Let's everyone stalk each other!" has a level-10 merit for any conversation even vaguely connected to the notion of information/power/freedom-to-all internet idealism. should subjective novelistic creative non-fiction be part of the content agenda? When you complain about a hot-trendy restaurant, are you challenging the food, the presentation, or the hype?

worldwide q&a sessions figure to be a confusing mess for a few more days, but at least people are talking. getting the shit out of their system. i think we still need blogs to serve as Ex-Lax for these all-too-often constipated states of america. the internet, for better and worse, is our collective mental toilet bowl.
still, there's a lot of bullshit out in them thar pageviews. a lot of noise. and too much noise is annoying. but as you probably remember, or are soon to forget, TAN is like your expensive/free pair of noise canceling headphones that allows you to listen to the real issues at a comfortable level without exposing yourself to the problem of noisy-reading fatigue...

so let's light some incense throw on some grown folk music, and chillax the internet with some soothing TAN-notes of equanimity:

the short backstory: a white tech-blogger whrites a short bit on stalking a sexy black christian woman to diversify his internet culture diet. backlash ensues.

for those who want to get in and get out, here's a soundbyte: read about the joel johnson twitstorm? see, that's what happens when u steal $5 and people act like its $10 (feel free to spice that up while sharing!)

this is the main point because this is a major problem with internet discourse: people commit the crime of stealing $1 or $5, and they're often accused of stealing $5 or $10. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS AS YOU GO FORTH AND SHITSTORM THE INTERNET. It's easy to pad your i'm-so-smart invoice with a couple extra bucks in pursuit of pageview juice-and-gin. but you're f'ing up the pricing of our intellectual/cultural economy. so mind the details.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Feminist Freestyles: Jezebel Minded (Lights Please Remix)



(click for audio)

lights please
lights please
lights please...


read about this nice girl, her name is jezebelly
but down to pick a fight, if you hot and on the telly
heard they daily views lookin' something like a milli
jon's daily crew wasn't ready for they jelly

sometimes i'm jezebel minded
but don't get blinded
looking for a style like tan you won't find it
so many rhymes and subliminal signs if
you read between the lines of this criminal mind bit

you're about to be reminded,
a blast from the past
of wipe my ass, and then your mind schtick
it's peter tan leave these tinkerbells blinded
by they own behind...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Philosophy of Beauty: Is Natasha Leggero the Fergie of Comedy?

1.



2. As a postscript to the video, or if you don't want to watch it: this is Natasha Leggerro, you might recognize her as the sole female judge on Last Comic Standing. She's 36 32 (pretty sure that changed since i mentioned it last week, but for the better!), from the midwest (Illinois, stand up!), and she's been performing since the age of 10. She's also studied at Stella Adler (everyone raise they're eyebrows for that one, please), along with having a BA in theater criticism. So she's got the performing on lock: she thinks it, does it, lives it. This is a woman who has had her Mind and Being consumed with 'being on a stage' for people most of her life. I refer to this type of profile as having "pedigree"; it works on both a nature and nurture level, the idea that you were born AND raised to do something.

3. This bit was uploaded in 2008, but per the Beyonce B'Day reference (funny!) she must have done it circa 2006 when that album dropped. After the B'Day joke she goes on to explain why she doesn't like hip hop. In general the clip makes me feel a weird confusion because the pleasure of her cute smiling face is contrasted by the pain of seeing her crudely slam the head of my beloved hip hop into the turnbuckle. and quite recklessly at that.

4. If you check out the comments on the clip you'll see two main genres: People saying, "she ain't talking about [my] hip hop, fuck this girl" and others saying, " i want to fuck this girl." Close, but different! Being that I know all too well that calm, coherent, poised articulation of one's thoughts can be difficult when emotional, or aroused -- especially in those goshdarn claustrophobic comment boxes --  so i hope these youtube snipers don't mind me trying to vet this out in the wide open air of the internet...

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Notes and Links: Who Will Be LeBron James's Next NBA Franchise?

"The Decision". LeBronapalooza. LeBronageddon. Whatever you want to call it, it's impossible to escape.

My boy Leitch (who recently made his own commitment, for slightly less dollars) has been all over the King James beat for NY Mag. This comes a couple months after he co-authored the Magazine's cover story/pitch (where the image comes from). So you could do worse for a one-stop shop on all the nuts and bolts...

But it's not like you necessarily need a one-stop shop since everywhere has a little something-something to offer. Last night Julianne Moore was on The Daily Show, promoting her new movie "The Kids Are All Right". It's a movie that some might regard as important, offering as it does a modern take on the au courant issue of gay marriage and gay parenting in America. Still, the main topic of conversation was LeBron's Choice. And the best part was Julianne Moore being so eager/earnest to discuss it despite being somewhat ignorant to the nuance and variables of the story (for example, zero awareness of how signing Amar'e helps, not hurts, with LeBron). I suspect this means her native NY'er hubby might be paying more attention to #LeBron twitter alerts than his stunning Hollywood wife with a new movie out, and she's just trying to keep up with the slang of it all.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Defending the Indefensible: On Mel Gibson's Mixtape of Hate

Perhaps you've heard, Mel Gibson is outing his inner demons again. Now granted if the contents of the tape are revealed to be true, there's no legitimate "defense" for telling your wife she looks fit to be "gang-raped" (which, yes, I agree the sex-crime deserves 'precedent' over the "N-word" business). But per the "Defending the Indefensible" post/agenda, I think it's worth sprinkling some 'chill-out' on this story.

1. The bloodlust for these kind of stories is a little unseemly, don't you think? My blog-kingdom for a mirror to hold up in front of our collective media culture as they tweet and link with faces and iphones smeared with blood and feces and body parts from these freshly torn apart celebrities. I can't spit it better than Jay-Z in a freestyle jackals don't listen to, but I'd be less cynical if they so earnestly dug into institutional racism with the same hunger. Unless you exist in Mel Gibson's circle of peeps, his personal demons shouldn't be "news".

2. Personal demons is the thing here. Racists are humans also. I'm with Mike Epps on this "cry for help" angle. And this is why the NAACP and Jesse Jackson popping into the picture makes me want to call some of my homies and man-rape these dudes who leverage a story like this for their own agenda, but play no part in separating wheat from chaff in our hip hop culture, know nothing of a Lupe Fiasco or Jay Electronica, etc. etc. There is in fact work to be done, and there would be less if these dudes weren't holding racist parades over bullshit all the time.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why TIME's 'Best Blogs of 2010' List Makes Me Sad

When I last plugged into the internet, only a couple days ago, I posted some comments on my fatigue with the "shocking!" race-story of how/why cable news is still mostly white. With my tsk-tsk sentiment duly noted I eagerly flew the coop to indulge the multicultural nightlife of Montreal, my eyes wowed by a rainbow of the most beautiful ladies our northern neighbors have to offer. To be fair, upon returning I may have had a little bit of a sexist-objectification hangover (I'm not trying to sell "perfect" here), but definitely no racism on the brain. All ready to talk about people, and pop culture, and music in non culturally-divisive terms! Only to check in today and see TIME Magazine list their "best" and "essential" blogs of 2010 and not include ONE that focuses primarily on issues/news/commentary from a race perspective, or even in lieu of that, "the hip hop generation". And now I'm sort of sad and I feel the sequence of: signing off on a somewhat-sad note of internet racism, then clearing the mind of racism, only to return and find, yup, still very racist here! gives the sadness more resonance.

i'm not big on quotas or inclusion for the sake of inclusion, but it's not like i'm suggesting the venerable Time Magazine shoehorn blacksonblondesdotcom into the mix. i'm quite certain YOU, the former Time person of the year, can rattle off at least a couple culture sites that serve as excellent melanin-supplements to your internet diet. Ta-Nehisi Coates over at the Atlantic has an informed and vibrant community, and sits right next to blog bigshot andrew sullivan (memo to Time: that's means win-win for substance and superficial traffic whoring). illdoctrine is a regular plug for me and does work for npr, another no-brainer. If you have Pitchfork present, you could consider Nah Right or their "cartel" of blogs who basically supply the internet with all their advance hip hop music and info. shit, even if you want to stay in the margins of MSM-type/sponsored blogs, you can give a nod to The Root and at least get on the board. And I skew black for my culture, but give me Angry Asian Man, or Aziz Ansari, or arroz con pollo, or really anything. Just. one. site. would make me not bummed out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Will Eminem's "Recovery" Bring On the "Death of Schtick"?


(ORIGINALLY POSTED ON TAN3000; but I'll be getting into this Death of Schtick more so we put it over here also)

On Eminem's "Recovery", Jon Caramanica offers another quality submission for his budding cachet as hip hop's GOAT journalist of the moment. (i extend the props to, one, note that GOAT debates in hip hop are somewhat silly, always of the moment, and, two, to point out that JC Manic's GOAT skills fall under an Obama-esque "The Bridge" rubric, which underscores that while others might be more pointedly pushing hip hop thought forward, the bridge is what allows everyone to get on the same island and build together. Hopefully with a more solid expansive foundation. It's why guys like Gladwell and Klosterman are celebrated as geniuses and then get backlash when everyone is on the island looking for somewhere new to go. There's two different types of pioneers at work here, both doing necessary-but-different work, but i digress...)

I'm still marinating with Eminem's latest work, so I'm just adding a couple extra nuggets/points of entry. But I do agree with Em being "one of the most crucial figures in pop culture in the last 20 years" and even more. So needless to say I'll be revisiting, probably often, but for now:

1. Eminem as genie in a bottle: Caramanica does a great job, and an important one, I think, in putting a bubble/walls around Eminem's early pop supernova success. Those albums, that time, and everything else is a case study in and of itself. Specifically because Eminem is still a freakishly genius manipulator of language and words, yet doesn't carry the same cachet/popularity. So we can discern that an ingredient in his radioactive success from before is no longer present, and has nothing to do with his actual human talents.

2. Slim Shady as one of the great "fictional characters": it might help us reconcile Em's artistry to look at those early albums like a series for a fictional character. Treat them as a "phillip rothian doppelganger gambit", like the latest from Brett Easton Ellis. That might not be a spot on analogy, but mostly I want to avoid these terrible NY Times interviews that feel inappropriate in a bad-meaning-bad way... better to err on the side of the wrong book than completely not appreciate how much of a writer-athlete Em is. (that last link should go to a facebook thread with hip hop bloggers discussing a bad NYTimes interview with em, if not friend/fan Jay Smooth/illdoctrine who should be a regular part of your cultural diet regiment anyways)

3. Eminem as David Foster Wallace:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Barber

Nice slideshow on an East Harlem "Clipper Master" in the NYT. I ended up skipping the 'Hair + Black People' agenda in my book. Chris Rock's Good Hair documentary is awesome, but even he doesn't really go in on the "black males and their intricately designed haircuts, wtf?" agenda; it's difficult! So 90% of his 90 minutes are spent in the female room, and probably rightfully so.

It's also tougher for me, personally, because I'm what black-people-in-barbershops call "tenderheaded", and have generally never been able to shirk off the prospect of cuts, pain, bleeding on a trip to shape the fade(RIP) up. Soo, yeah, if the NYTimes is starting to get on it, I'll be close behind picking up crumbs to see if they lead anywhere. Here's a few:

1. black males and their intricately designed haircuts, wtf? question for the fellas: is it for the ladies, or for yourself? we should all know by now it's NEVER for the ladies. in the 80s and 90s you could get confused by general Cross Colours-style bawdiness. But, uh, now ... I just don't get the aesthetic.

2. QUOTE:"Elvis Acevedo gets his hair styled by Mr. London for the first time. Mr. London says he freestyles haircuts and is inspired by clients' personalities." It's one thing if the ghost of Tupac (or even real Anthony Mason) sends you some divine vision of hair landscaping from the afterworld (or Queens) and you decide to make it happen. But just allowing a barber artiste to freestyle what your head is going to look like?  Am I overestimating the importance of how one's head looks in real-world-life today? In the Garden of Eden I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter, so maybe this impulse is natural? Have fun with your hair, it's yours! But is anyone ever better off with a 'cooler' hair design? Who is stoked by this? please encourage anyone like this you encounter to form a facebook group and invite me to it.

3. Gender question: Is the girl in the third picture, is she problematic for anyone in the business of defining feminism/what it is to be a female in 2010? I consider females to have a symbiotic connection with beauty... is that wrong? Ok, but is anything in consideration of the Hair Aesthetic Matrix a reflection of gender roles/issues?

4. one of the slides talks about the barber being the "Star of the show". Isn't this guy more "modern art" than Maria Abramovic? Not the respective careers, but in terms of a one-off exhibition sense: This guy's DAILY shop/gallery vs. "The Artist Is Present" at MOMA. How is that not a case of the location making all the difference?

see also: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Booty Dancer

Photos: robert caplin, Rico London

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Light Up Remix (TAN + Drake)




they call me t.a.
make you shake your t.a.
boogie to the bk
amped without a p.a.
connected like i'm prepaid
flex 'em in the plié
catchin kitty
like i'm asspca
but yo, i gotta girl
she'll throw the flag e-zay
looking for possession
she don't need the instant replay
two minute warning
heads like: that's what she say
like if these jokes
sit down, i aint louis c.k.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lost & Found: 30 Years To Life



This is not Tracy Morgan doing standup, this is Tracy Morgan playing a standup in the 2001 film 30 Years To Life. The movie is sort of a revelation because:

1. it appears to be mostly overlooked despite Tracy Morgan now being a big tv and film star. to wit, this 2007 GQ profile/primer on Tracy Morgan covers a lot of ground but doesn't even mention it in passing. total blind spot. maybe Tracy doesn't like it and has put the muzzle on it...

2. it has Tracy Morgan *acting* like himself before he got the 30 Rock break. it's no Will Smith break out, but certainly the most leash I've seen him given in anything.

3. all-in-all it's actually pretty good. Not knocking Eternal Sunshine out my top spot, but as good as any rom-com sitcom-y type movie I've seen. Writer/director Vanessa Middleton sounds a little bitter-and-bruised in this interview, but she might have reason:

In the meantime the last five “black” films released are “All About the Benjamins” (New Line) starring Ice Cube, “State Property” (Lions Gate) starring Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel, “How High” (Universal) starring Method Man and Redman, “The Wash” (Lions Gate) starring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and “Bones” (New Line) starring Snoop Dogg. Each of these companies turned us down.

Unless there's a sleeper in that bunch I'm pretty sure it's much better than all those.

You should watch it (it's available streaming on Netflix), and see if you don't have your eyes opened a little. If you're an anti-sitcom person, like me, you might have to suppress some gagging in the first 15-20 minutes as it sets up and settles in, but the film works through that and the characters open up nicely as it goes on. a nice refreshing breeze of a film...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Ghost of Lauryn Hill




shit ain't been the same since lauryn said, nah
chappelle went, nah
a lot of TAN's saying, nah
badu and jay elec are on some partially, nah
even diddy's spazzing
kanye all capping
NAH,
so while you clapping
at these smart n's rapping
any poor new yorkers in the new yorker?
nah
they ain't look @whatyouselling
ain't hearing what you telling
that pop-rock ain't culture
i ain't cooking what you smelling
son, my fam is global
the universal local
the universe is loco
n's puff and look at coco
black people soul food
white people whole foods
asian peeps grabbing they chopsticks

Friday, June 11, 2010

Keep Your Spring-Summer TAN Fresh...



at TAN3000

still just laying cement down while I put books in cans, mixtapes on wax, shit in toilet bowls, etc. etc. before I Barack Ogaga the game, but YOU should just keep the good vibes playing over at TAN3000...

David Remnick, "Daddy leaves" in sweden, songs from Drake and Nneka, eminem gifs, parody-rap videos ... quick jabs on all that, more, etc, ...word

TAN THREE KIZZY

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Is Nancy Meyers a Spike Lee For Women?


I recently saw It's Complicated, a relatively pleasing movie watching experience: Compelling-enough storyline. Wonderful performances from the leads. Professionally directed....

I'm a believer in supporting the Artists and Talent. The human beings. If you impress me a couple times in a row, I'll support your evolving sensibility as an *artiste* and give the benefit of the doubt if you choose to experiment. I'm less likely to try an out-of-leftfield indie-arty-pretentious film festival, but if Charlie Kaufman decides to hold a gallery of experimental shorts, I'm in.

In my ideal world everyone would blindly pay, say, $5 for the combination of Nancy Meyers, Meryl Streep, and Alec Baldwin. And, oh yeah, Steve Martin. That's a can't-lose lineup, even if they're not on their A-game, because they have proven their dedication to the craft, which is to say, the grind. I mean if that trio doesn't trump your, uh, tripod(?) then you either hate old people, white people, or successful people. And that's not cool, man.

After reading this (late '09) NYTimes profile on Nancy Meyers carrying the mantle for women & hollywood, it made me think of a black director who for years was shouldering the load for blacks & hollywood: Spike Lee

See Spike Lee is all "god bless bougie black people". Nancy Meyers is all "god bless bougie (and middle-aged) white women" But they're both cinematic auteurs of their respective demographic. spike captures the texture of bougie brooklyn from the pounds/hand-greetings to the clumped-up parmesan in the pizza shop to the bright-but-not-too-twee color palette. Nancy is doing the same, and that NYT profile does the details better justice that I will here, but you know her steez, she would rap about ralph lauren furniture collections and cardigans and champagne flutes and ... (hmm, maybe she's actually Drake in disguise).

Anycomplicated, the name of the story was "Can Anybody Make a Movie for Women" and it explores women-issues through the prism of Nancy Meyers roles in Hollywood, and it all feels fairly symmetrical to "Can Anybody Make a Movie for (non-thug) Black People" pieces about Spike Lee when he was that dude. (next up: Nora Ephron/Tyler Perry?- actually they're not similar in this way at all)

So now maybe they'll both read this post and do a movie together - call it The Park Slope Compromise - and that project could be hot fire. that is all.

Can Anybody Make a Movie for Women [NYT]

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

With the Knowledge There's a Little Thug Blood In Me




A little while back I stumbled on this old 90s song, "Verbal Murder 2" featuring NORE, Big Pun (RIP), and Common. Off Pete Rock's Soul Survivor album. The Common verse, which I've clipped and posted here, has always been one of my favorites.

I like to talk about the intellectual DNA still embedded in hip hop lyrics that we need to recover, and this verse is a good example. The Common line I quote above gets right to the heart of some recent Bill Maher "real Black President" backlash. What Maher wants to say, and has said before, is that he wants his President to do the knowledge, but don't lose that thug sensibility, because Thugism is not all bad. Common nails the sentiment with room to spare should he choose to tweet it out.


"this stud bumped into me, beef there was 'fin to be, my appetite for destruction is finicky..."


Swap "BP CEO's" for "stud", and Obama doesn't even need to hold a press conference to share his state of mind.

Another awesome line is "he spiked his punchlines with current events". This is a nod to old school rhyme ciphers, where you got no points if you said something like, "i tear your ass down like the berlin wall" right after it happened for the name recognition of it (if you made it witty, all good). Or less dated, "I make the ladies go gaga". nah, son. don't go spiking your punchlines with current events.


Of course, if you think about the state of the news-aggregating blogosphere, most of them are just spiking their punchlines with current events. Headlines being the punchlines in a link-don't-tell culture. So, you see, Hip Hop had a sense of integrity about page views and SEO before the internet even existed (in a popular, functional sense). That's why I like to tout blogging as the new rapping whenever I can. Cause just like all the real bloggers out there, and real rappers, and Common in this verse,


"I can't take this fake shit ..."



MORE THUG BLOOD KNOWLEDGE VIA TAN3000

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On 50Centism


mulling on why most rappers can't act, it occurs that the sensibility of Get Rich or Die Trying capitalism may also be why the free-for-all democratized internet seems to break down along familiar socioeconomic lines.

it's the relation of the ego to authority, vs. the relation of the ego to empathy.
50 Cent (and most rappers) sell authority. they know what the f is up. if you question it you might get your chest caved in. Or worse. And most rappers learned this by watching you, America.

you make money here by projecting command, control, and not showing weakness or flaws. if i properly capitalize all my sentences I will project more writerly authority and subsequently be able to sell you my book with more confidence.

Same with magazines, now blogs/webzines. Think about the purpose of that objective omniscient editorial voice: project authority, sell ads against it. This is why journalists and rappers are in the same boat. G-Unit Records and Gawker Media are the same concept with different tools. They're both trying to 50 Cent the game. They already have mostly.

Get Rich or Die Trying capitalism, FiftyCentism, cultivates an 'intelligence' predicated on protecting and manipulating what you know. for your own gain. this runs in contrast to a more buddhist or zen approach to 'smarts' which stresses empathy.

when you start thinking/caring about others, you eventually come to peace of mind by realizing there is so much you don't know, and can't know. the maxim: "wisdom sets bounds even to knowledge". which is a whole different kind of math than what they teach in They Schoolz. it's a math that doesn't necessarily -- but could! -- add up to lots-o-dollars in your pocket.

but not-necessarily maybe-so is a terrible for-profit business model. and a passive voice doesn't attract an audience. RIGHT, INTERNET? FUCK YEAH!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Prince Paul: American Psycho

Prince Paul, basically hip hop's first satirist, dropped his first solo album/project in the mid 90s called Psychoanalysis: What is It?. This song "Beautiful Night", a darkly comic ode to date rape and homicide, is essentially a hip hop version of Brett Easton Ellis "American Psycho": An average negro-joe is blithely confessing his recent crimes to his psychiatrist over a beat; all of a sudden you're laughing at stuff you're not supposed to be laughing at.

Hip Hop has largely missed the 'black comedy' boat because for most of its history the socio-political-cultual obligations made making the kind of fun that cuts deep difficult. Black people had a tough enough time trying to catch up in America without the potential karmic backlash via songs that coo about it being "a beautiful night for a date rape, a beautiful night for a kill."

It's one thing to kill for survival, or to sell drugs to feed your kids. It's another to make jokes about it all. That sensibility can only come about once you're no longer fighting for survival, and you've reached a certain comfort level... I suspect I was able to appreciate/indulge this sort of art in part because I was off in my bougie insular prep/boarding school environment. Prince Paul and De La were hip hop comedy gold for the slacker hip hop heads in prep school.

Eminem was able to get away with this sort of thing (think '97 Bonnie and Clyde) in part because he inhabited that crazy-white-boy space. But maybe now, post-Obama, crazy-black-boys will be able to get their rocks off too.

[ listen to the song on TAN3000]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cultural Stock Tip: Buy KRS

Hip Hop appreciation week was last week. Since I missed it i posted a little song and homage to KRS over on TAN3000:

Remember the day
remember the play
remember the way we used to say
dee dee dee da di dee dee dee dee da di dayyy

It must be amazing to look at the world from the perspective of KRS-One:

This was a man who was homeless, living in shelters in the late 70s. Living hand-to-mouth and self-educating as a black man in the South Bronx.

In the 80s he would meet Scott 'LaRock' Sterling and start building a discography that now easily dwarfs any artist in the history of the genre. Also to this 'music' he was the primary intellectual consciousness for two schools of the artform, gangsta rap and so-called conscious rap. Essentially the 'style/sensibility' godfather to both Jay-Z, Biggie, 50 Cent, Snoop AND Common, Mos Def, The Roots, Lupe etc. When Obama was brushing his shoulders off on the way to becoming President, KRS-One was tagged on the side of the podium in a fat marker—"We Will Be Here Forever"

In the 90s as a former self-educated south bronx black dude, he would begin teaching and lecturing at Ivy League universities. This was also his most commercially successful period. By the late 90s he was, essentially, an Ivy League iniversity professor doing songs with Puffy and Angie Martinez. Step Into a World can get a party started in your office right now.

[a serious, skilled rapper now giving lectures at Yale would be like what? a stripper being married to the president? i think its easy to underestimate how singularly ridiculous this accomplishment is with how we view rappers today]

[continued on TAN3000]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Missing From How To Make It In America: Skills


I'm on the fence with all the "Lifestyle Porn" programming. (y'know, Sex & The City was like "Blondes", Entourage was like "Babes" or "Celebrities", How to Make it in America is "Interracial") Like porn, there's a whiff of something cheap and pungent about it. Then again, it's porn. Anyone you interact with has probably just finished using some within the last 48 hours (too soon?).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TAN Types, Tumbls, Sees Trees For Forest

Was this the inspiration for Redman's Dare Iz A Darkside cover?

I've been pondering these things and more on TAN3000. The hot new tumblr in town.

I think TAN Official will morph (ie. get redesigned) into a base HQ with longform, bigger project-type stuff. Slower, less fluid, but will be the all encompassing depot/spot to scratch that urban-contemporary avant garde chappelle's show-meets-nietzsche grabs a mic and spits that klosterman kafka malcolm KRS kanye hot fire itch that's been bothering you. nahmean?

in the meantime, in-between time, and so on -- TAN3000: a little south bronx, a little catcher in the rye -- will be where i get my blog legs back (and turn the lights on). more nimble and fluid. Essentially my Twitter. I'll probably use Twitter when I need to promote stuff, but for now it's too much to be *talking to the world* all the time.

what else? oh right, the rules:


ok, think that's about it for now .... I ain't gonna lie, this ain't for my basketball team or school or nothin'. i just want the extra money. and i don't want to sell drugs or rob people to get it. thank you for supporting TAN

Breaking: Possible Lady Gaga, ft. Tiger Woods, Mixtape Song (audio, lyrics)




my name's eldrick, you can call me tige
mr. woods if you bring some friends
we can have one hell of a night
through the day

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Dear TAN: Who's Better Drake or Walt Whitman?

Send your questions/letters to theassimilatednegro [at] gmail [dot] com.

In this edition: Hip Hop is new human technology!


Dear TAN,

Is it fair to compare Drake to Walt Whitman?


- Curious

~~

Dear Curious,

It can definitely be instructive to compare, say, a writer like Guru to a writer like Saul Bellow; or perhaps confer the cachet of a Walt Whitman to a modern American troubadour like Drake. But there is some risk, especially if those with only a passing familiarity with the art and culture assume the role of instructor.

For example, in the case of Drake & Whitman. If you truly respect the craft of hip hop lyrics, and the evolution of our human species, then drake is more like whitman five million thousand. times titties. and i'm not saying titties casually. stop and think what titties mean as a metaphor for life or the human condition.
.
.
.
.
.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Ten Blog Commandments




Lyrics:

It's the ten blog commandments!

can't tell me nothing about this content
these blogs
this media ...

for my creative peeps on the internet
i ain't forget you ….
~
i been in this game for years
your man tan's a caged animal
some blogs write rules
i'm a rap the manual
a step-by-step little ditty
from ny city
do as you please with
take it or leave it

rule number uno

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Songs of Evil: Notes on Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You"

A few weeks ago they released the 25th anniversary edition of Whitney Houston's debut album, Whitney Houston.

Whitney is sort of fascinating as a human embodiment of the philosophical conundrum of "Theseus' Ship (props to Jen Dziura's one-woman show for reminder on this).

The Ship of Theseus paradox poses questions of identity and authenticity in the form of a riddle/parable: If a ship leaves the port -- in this case Theseus' ship -- and while out at sea has all its planks replaced over time, piece by piece, when it returns to port with all new parts is it still Theseus' Ship?

Now you may or may not know that some scientists will tell you that our cells are regenerating every 7-10 years. In effect, we all have a little Theseus Paradox in us: our whole bodies are renewed over time, piece by piece, but we stay (in some essential way) the same person.

In the case of the fourth best-selling female artist, the paradox is striking: If when we met Whitney she was a god-fearing, clean-cut, singer from heaven, and then twenty years later all of her cells have changed, and she's a crack-smoking, Bobby Brown f'ing, reality show ghetto diva doing very little singing. Well, is that still Whitney Houston?

I don't know.... But, uh, ANYwhitney, I didn't want to unpack our enigmatic angel in this post, but rather her song, "Saving All My Love For You" which got stuck in my head upon revisiting her debut album.

Have you listened to this song recently? I personally had not, and after being briefly enamored with the parodic possibilities of turning the song into an ode to eye-crust called "Saving All My Crust For You", I realized the song is one of the most purely evil songs I've ever given my attention. It's selfish, obnoxious, and pretty much morally reprehensible. If that proves to be a harsh assessment, then it's at the very least disingenuous. Like some sort of romantic Trojan Horse purporting the spirit of true love, when it's no more than the the deranged fantasy of an intolerably narcissistic lunatic.

The title of this song suggets a paean to waiting, pining, fighting, and willing ones way into someone else's heart. In a different context, perhaps a noble sentiment. But as per the setup of the song, you get a sense of some rather questionable pathology lurking beneath the surface. Some notes on all this after the video below.


~~

Friday, February 19, 2010

Knicks Trade for TMac, Pray to the God of Big City Sports

A starting five of notes on the Knicks trading for former superstar Tracy McGrady:

1. The TMac Narrative: everyone in the analysis business wants to write off TMac as a strictly cap-money acquisition. The brains say he's too old to really help. And even if he is good he'll be too expensive to keep on the roster. It's a lose-lose in terms of him sticking around for Knicks fans. But I'm thinking sports, if nothing else, is all about defying our rational intellectual senses. This is why despite exponents of stat-head freaks overpopulating the globe compiling every statistic known to man we still in any given game NEVER KNOW WTF IS GONNA HAPPEN. This was a man crying(breaks down circa 1:50 mark), emptying his heart in front of a crowded press room only a few years ago. Sports can get schmaltzy, but still not many superstar athletes expose themselves quite like that. Allan Houston was our All Star, he never cried. Nate Robinson has heart, but he ain't been broken up over much. And it's not like these guys haven't had plenty to sob about for the last decade. I don't know how Eddy Curry gets through the days. But I think TMac has a particular qualitative element to his story that fits in with the majestic arcs demanded by the city of skyscraping dreams (too much?). Its not likely, it's not something to bet your rent on. But if we snooze, he's the kind of player who can sneak up on you and become a factor. I guess I think it's good that he's being written off by the media.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Thin Tao of Deli Meat Slices

Here's something I didn't realize until a few days ago: There's a morality to the thickness of deli slices! By morality I mean a right and a wrong. A Good and an Evil. The guy behind the counter is like a Boars Head archangel or something (whatever the kids call 'em these days...).

Haiku for the Politically Correct

Now
I'm
Gonna
Get
Everything
Right


...d'oh!

(per wiki: Haiku (俳句 haikai verse?) is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 moras (or on), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively... In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Not Bad: NBA All Star Game Rap Battle

Recently enamored of Lydia Davis and her unique brand of short story/poetry (shoetry? hmmm, pronounced show-a-tree? ...forget it, ugh!) ) I've been thinking about rapping as a form of prose styling. Which fits in with a growing notion that hip hop's grand error is its creative cachet being tied to the musical arts and not the literary arts. The music was the conduit to commercial empowerment, but the lyrics are where all the cultural and intellectual DNA reside. So as smarts trumps capitalism, hip hop is losing inventory (mostly due to bad accounting in the past).

When seen as a form of lit stylizing, then the rhythms, cadence, dialect choices all conspire to signal artistry at work in a more tangible way. Per Samuel Beckett (via Lydia Davis interview):

"I am interested in the shape of ideas even if I do not believe in them. There is a wonderful sentence in Augustine. I wish I could remember the Latin. It is even finer in Latin than in English. 'Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.' That sentence has a wonderful shape. It is the shape that matters."

This is why the art of hip hop, of rapping, can/should be respected even if the content is about nonsense. Not that nonsense, especially of the lazy commercially-pandering variety, shouldn't be held as a demerit. But fact remains you can rap about the money, the cars, the hoes artfully. The heft of the craftsmanship in quality lyrics come from the person shaping their content/story/themes into proper "hip hop form" ...

of course that leads us into style vs. substance debates, amongst other tangents. but that's for another time. my point here was to set up this nba all star rap video, which i enjoyed as a stylizing of the "who's better: east or west?" conversation/debate most nba fans are engaging in to some degree during the All Star break.



so yeah, i mean hardcore sports fans are going to find the broad nature of this as substantively compelling as the latest black eyed peas joint (or whatever fluffy pop hip hop song is at odds with your intellectual sensibilities at the moment). but, like your average BEP song, it's mostly a fun aesthetic conceit. one that more and more people are finding accessible, if not fundamental. maybe soon rapping will be the equivalent of writing someone a note in thick permanent marker, as a sonnet or something. just having fun with language/communication! word, yo!

(also, i love the east coast production style, but think it makes the song a bit biased.)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Remembering Black History

I wrote this Objective Perspective of Black History Month a while back, somehow it still feels relevant ...

In the long and storied history of the universe, nothing has come so far and overcome so much as Black.

Some have theorized that in the beginning there was only Blackness. And it wasn't a color. It was just a void. Nothingness....

(continued at McSweeney's...)

Black History Month: An Objective Perspective

Friday, January 22, 2010

TAN Guilty Pleasure Guide

so i write down things all the time. and sometimes you do it with no annotations or clues. sometimes you have some of the clue but not all of it.

all to say, i recently came across this and was bemused....


Guide To Guilty Pleasures

A: Anything From the 80s, ass, alternative porn, **award shows for black people

B: being racist, *blaming the condom, biz markee, buying from crackheads

C: Cosby, *Cuba Gooding Jr (hating on), **cumming too soon, [candy] cereals

D: *Diary/Email reading, other people's

Monday, January 18, 2010

Publishers In Agreement On How to Market the "New Negro" Literature

Tracy Morgan memoir: I Am The New Black

Helena Andrews (black, female) memoir: Bitch is The New Black

Paul Mooney Memoir: Black Is The New White (points for originality!)

Disclosure: my book WAS gonna be called .... Black Is The New Black.

what's up with that? ... my original title was deemed a little dangerous, and this was a suggested alternative. i wonder if that's the case with the others. it's sort of whatever, sort of an interesting bit of ethnocultural groupthink by publishing pros who have to determine the best ratio of risk/reward with books on race.
Related Posts with Thumbnails