Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rules for Rhyming in Public



On behalf of this dude, and the viral video frenzy he created, I put some tips for rhyming in public up on Grantland. But definitely looking forward to everyone getting more comfortable with intense emotionally fraught karaoke sessions on public transportation

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Wanna Dress Like Mike

I had sort of noticed Michael Jordan seemed to dress not quite like a champion. But only until someone started collecting the case studies on tumblr did I grasp the hilarious weight of the problem. OMG

what can you say about the greatest basketball player to ever live wearing a two-tone chopper suit?


i was expecting the YMCA look before he became the most heavily endorsed athlete ever


he had to lose a bet with Dr. J on this, right? 


I am no fashion plate, or style guru (all the people who know me are nodding their heads right now) but this is bizarro. the only explanation is that same singular focus that led him to being the greatest baller, guides his wardrobe choices. only his closet is full of L's instead of championships, and he accepts no coaching.

and lest you think it's only hanging out with the fellas


WTF is Michael Jordan Wearing? [Tumblr]

Monday, December 19, 2011

Be Right Back, Working On My Craig Ferguson



i think this is my favorite flirty late show banter segment ever. make sure you peep the "kiss" towards the end. great finish!

...gotta get me one of them snake cups.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When You Said You Were Getting Your Nails Did I Was Not Expecting The Finger Apocalypse

via The Daily Beast and Hairpin, and I can only presume in cahoots with the curators at the Museum of Modern Barbershop Art, comes THE CRAZIEST EXPERIMENTS IN GETTING YOUR NAILS DID EVER:



These are my favorite. Knives for fingernails! You've got something in your eye, let me get it for you...



and for the sneaker head in your life...



"a new book, Nailed: The History of Nail Culture and Dzine, is a 232-page exploration into the underground world of nail culture." Not for everyone, but ok. cool. Might be a fun gift, or warning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are The Roots 'America's Band'? (Yes)

Pop quiz!

But with a twist: We’ll provide the multiple choice answers (a la Jeopardy) and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out the correct question.

Looks like this:

a. The Beatles 
b. The Beach Boys 
c. Nirvana 
d. Coldplay 
e. The Rolling Stones 
f. Jeez, are our music sensibilities still colonized by the Brits? 
g. The Roots 

The answer is: “g. The Roots.”

WHAT IS OUR QUESTION?

[tune of the Grantland Theme Song plays in background]

Ok. Sorry I forgot to mention the timer, but: Time’s up!

...CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND...

The Roots: America's Band [Grantland]

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Who Will Star in America's Cutest Hip Hop Baby Video?

I have few words for this supernova of adorableness, except to say I may be pregnant with this two-year-old Rap Star



and also, this might be enough to get the "Who Will Be America's Cutest Hip Hop Baby Video?" competition started. I guess you have to set an age limit, and at two years old the homey above might just make the cut for the "Baby Division". (The four-year-olds might be licking their chops for his graduation though.)

On the more truly "baby" end of the field, your likely #1 contender is the Biggie Baby.



Can't front on the charm of "ok, ok, biggie is coming back...", but I think I give more points for actually rapping confidently, on beat, and unintelligibly.

I guess we'll get one more on here to make sure we got a full trend piece:



 solid effort from someone taking a nap at the start of the clip. but we'll have to view the rest of the field in competition to see where it stacks up in the final rankings. stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mike Tyson Sings the Bossa Nova Classics!

Every time you think Mike "I want to eat your children" Tyson can no longer shock you, the 2008-2011 Renaissance Man of the Year comes up with a new chameleon transformation. And now, drumroll please, here he is singing "The Girl from Ipanema":

 

Whuuuuuut?? Well, that wasn't terrible. Think he had some autotune on it. But man, we've come a long way, baby.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Is Mac Lethal's Pancake Rap Video the Devil?

On Grantland, I dug in a little more on the latest viral sensation. The "devil" reference comes from this  scene in Broadcast News:



In defense of Mac Lethal, who comes off as a cool customer, and can't be faulted for doing 2.5M views in a couple days; I'm not hating the playa, so much as the game. As some point you gotta be like, OK, IT'S PANCAKES! Neither the tastiest or healthiest thing in the world! So there must be some voodoo at work.

I got my eyes *points to both eyes* on you, devil.

The Problem with Mac Lethal's Pancake Rap Video [Grantland]

Also related:
Problems and Non-Problems with Andover Rap Video [Grantland]

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mac Lethal: Pancake Rap

Mac Lethal raps fast, cooks pancakes, goes viral (over a million views in approx. 24-36 hours or so! UPDATE, now 2.5M in 48 hours)



will he get a record deal? will it be hip hop or ihop? with the label Bisquick or, uh, Atlantick? TIME WILL TELL.

Hopefully there's a crew and I can get some bacon, eggs, and fresh-squeezed OJ with my freestyles too. tired of eating rappers for breakfast anyways. hollerrr

(via Gawk)

Pour Some Liquor: Patrice O'Neal

Well, I know how power works. It has worked on me, and if I didn’t know how power worked, I would be dead.”


I guess it's a little weird to lead off a nod to Patrice O'Neal with a quote from James Baldwin. Two black guys, but not exactly the same profile: Baldwin was petite, gay, a "perfumed" literary type from civil rights era racial politics. Patrice stood like 6'4 300ish (with two hefty James Baldwins for legs), and was a rudeboy standup comic from the modern white-girl-terrorism era of racial politics. Also, very much not gay.

But when he passed away Tuesday morning I found myself re-watching his clips (like everyone else) and thought of this passage on power, and some of Baldwin's essays on race, etc. I think the thing they both shared, that so many minorities who are not "traditionally" beautiful share, is a repressed(ish) inferiority complex about one's looks. Baldwin wrote often about growing up feeling ugly, and I think Patrice clearly uses the same experience, the same hurt to fuel his observational comedy. (I think of Nas retort to Jay-Z in Ether, "you seemed to be only concerned with dissing women, were you abused as a child, scared to smile, they called you ugly?)

What Patrice loved to hold court on is how race and beauty influence power, his funniest sharpest comedy consistently digs in on this relationship. And in honoring his memory, I think this is the genius we've been talking about and celebrating. He's a "comic's comic" not for his joke craftsmanship, or polish on stage, but for insights as smart and penetrating as Baldwin or any other celebrated thinker on race, gendered sexuality, interpersonal relations. He comes off raw, but in his clips and radio spots and interviews we see a savant when it comes to knowing how to use people as a medium, like clay or oils.

Watching the Charlie Sheen Roast where he goes off script, not only do we see a comic seemingly hitting his stride within the zeitgeist, but like Vick on the run, Kobe breaking off triangle, someone who's always at their best winging it on-the-fly. At 1:25 Patrice says to a black guy near the front row, "congratulations to you! look at the white woman you're with!" Ha. Do not try this at home!



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Best "Safe Sex" Song Since the Invention of Safe Sex

I do not understand why this song has not won an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Have they just not cast votes yet? It is amazing.

forever indebted to Noz for getting in internet rotation. And he sums it up best:

"It’s a banger though and a fascinating record, particularly as far as the continued evolution of shock rap values are concerned. Dudes used to advocate late term coat hanger abortions in their raps, now they try and trick them into keeping babies."



a gender battle, dope hook, homey poking holes in the condom, hip-hop wave feminist.... there's no wink to the camera, just flame-on fiiiire...PLAY IT, LEARN IT, LIVE IT

Bo Deal f/ Mello G Bianca - “Safe Sex” (Brick Squad/Mixtape, 2011)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drake Meme Power Rankings

(On Grantland we couldn't actually post the Top Ten Drake Meme images. So I'll do that here because, well, NEVER FORGET)

Now that Drake’s Take Care has been out for a couple weeks and we’ve all had some time to consider our emoooootions. It’s time to get back to real fix-the-economy business and rank the field of Drake Memes because, I don't know, because I just spent six million dollars on myself and I feel amazing?

Herewith, the top ten Drake Meme power rankings:

10. DRAKE YOU MAD BRO? It breaks my heart to see this flagrant Nicki Minaj character assassination. Just another innocent drive-by meme victim in the hood. Increase the peace! But this one is so smug and hostile and perrrrrfect, girl. Even Nicki’s probably laughing. Sometimes you just got to laugh, sprinkle some crack on the victims, and try to do better the next time.



Drake Stress Level (DSL): Mad, bro. Gonna make someone around him "catch a body like that."

9. Fancy Drake. This one will probably be put to bed soon since it comes from the Thank Me Later days. Then again, I don’t know if there’s anything more catchy on the new album, so maybe the “Oh you fancy, huh?” earworm stays in the mix. This is the one meme that's sort of a legit honor to Drake’s talent: You nailed that hook, Mr Graham. We salute you! (With a big picture of a pink WHAT IS THAT and your brooding visage grafted on a belly pocket. Dreams money can buy.)


DSL: Cool. "They say they miss the old Drake. Girl, don't tempt me."


8. Rhymin’ Drake. Like haikus, sonnets, and villanelles, Drake couplets have become their own form of poetry. And while Drake isn’t the true inventor of hashtag rap, he's the guy who gets all the credit for it, *pause* #ThomasEdison.



DSL: "It's whatever. You know. Feeling good, living better."

7. Elf Drake.

5 Things I Always Tell Daisy Lowe About Donald Glover

ON THOUGHT CATALOG

I have this recurring dream.

In the dream I turn to my model girlfriend Daisy Lowe at a Childish Gambino show and say, “See, he’s like The Throne and Lonely Island in the same dude!”

Her eyes twinkle before she grabs me, plants a kiss on my lips, and yells out like that adorable Debeers Diamond commercial, “I love this man! Yes, that’s brilliant! And it’s so sexy to deconstruct it from afar, over being, like, on stage. Seriously! We should just go home and talk more…” followed by a big slow wink and a smile.

CONTINUED...

5 Things I Always Tell Daisy Lowe About Donald Glover [Thought Catalog]


Monday, November 28, 2011

Beyonce's Sin City



The name of Beyoncé's latest video is called "Dance for You". The style of it is not so much noir, as it is noooooooooooiiiiiiir. I keep typing "Sexy Sexy Chinatown" and then deleting it. (Sorry). But I wrote notes on some of this for Grantland.

We hear about actors immersing themselves in role, but with Beyoncé that dynamic is reversed. Every premise or aesthetic conceit in her videos is subsumed by her Beyoncéness. She's an auteur. The choreography has grammar and syntax. Her hips are articulate, fluent, multilingual. It's all about the dancing.

This is how I imagine Beyoncé's creative pitch meetings going:


Excerpts from Beyoncé's Pitch Meeting:

D(irector): How about you are the President of the United States?

B: And then, what? Do you think I just like maybe in the middle of the speech start dancing and grinding until the song is finished?

*dances*

D: Well, sure…I mean, looking at it, that works. can't argue with it. and you have that song "if women are presidents" or whatever.

B: cool. you are so special to me

NEXT MEETING

D: How about you are an alien, eating the world, stomping men out.

B: And then, I don't know, maybe my tail slowly starts to come alive and...


*starts dancing*

D: hmmm… something like that makes sense. and it's a good song, this one about women being aliens who take over the earth. strong message.

B: yeah, but we have to spice it up a bit.

D: hmm

B: maybe the alien should be real sexy. and almost be like a sexy humanoid who makes the world desire her/him. oooh, it should be a her and a him!

NEXT MEETING

D: How about a recreation of Nightmare on Elm St.?

B: Am I Freddy Kreuger?

D: Yes?

NEXT MEETING

B: guys, this time i want to get back to my roots. just some good ol' fashioned sexy dancing! who's with me???

NEXT MEETING

D: how about it's in a museum and you're one of the dinosaur skeletons?

B: will I only be dressed in sexy bones?

AnyBey, you probably get the idea. Don't quote me on this, it's highly speculative.

But I almost feel self-conscious joking because the video is sooo sexy. It's like that awkward, don't-want-to-have-sex-moment. And with Beyoncé your brain is like, you should be CALLING A FRIEND and SAYING "yo, you see that, yo, OMG, oh snap, yo" high-five. Boredom is not allowed. Makes me think about Jay-Z. His [redacted] must be like "I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS KIND OF PRESSURE, WTFFFF!!"

Still, the video, and life itself, is worth it just for the melodic "swirlin' in your face." Forever hot and/or hilarious there.

She also explains the whole initiative with "this is for the time,you gave me flowers..." So I guess what I've been trying to say here is... GET YOUR LADIES SOME FLOWERS, FELLAS!

Another One: Beyonce's "Dance For You" Video [Grantland]


BONUS: if the noir thing throws you off. or if you just want to practice, here's some rehearsal footage:

Grab Your Puffies: The NBA's Coming Back


I'll round up some of our Grantland coverage here. Updates to come (I think)

The NBA Is Back, Grantland Staff
Why We Will Forget the Lockout, NBA and Social Media, Jay Caspian Kang
How the Summer Lockout changed the way we watch basketball, Hua Hsu
NBA Winners & Losers, Jonathan Abrams
It Wasn't (Just) About the Money, Charles P. Pierce
Lasting Images from the Lockout, Carles
25 Reasons We'll Miss the Lockout, Rembert Browne
Secrets of the New CBA Revealed, Ben Detrick

Previously: Nuclear Winter Reading List

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Occupy Tyler

Perhaps it’s a bit of a lowest-common-denominator hack move for me to joke that the 99% of Tyler Perry's fans have decided to Occupy his blog in protest of casting Kim Kardashian in his new film “The Marriage Counselor”. I prefer to call it an homage. Alas, the perfectly ironic frosting on what figures to be another cinematic shit sandwich is not as sweet as we’d hoped since the recent divorcée is not slated to play the title role.

Still, Tyler felt compelled to write an 830-word play defending it all. It starts with him acknowledging the comments and emails, then smash-cut to Perry in a Mexican restaurant being accosted by a cute old woman who doesn’t know how to pronounce Kardashian (KAR-DAT- CHA-NEM). She demands an explanation for the atrocity that is Kim Kar-Dat-Cha-Nem. He explains the plot of the movie to her — which, spoiler alert: a young black woman from Virginia who was raised in the church runs into relationship problems en route to fulfilling her dream of being a Marriage Counselor — and then re-reads his script (!) and realizes the youth (“ESPECIALLY THE YOUTH!!”) need to see this film. And so:

(CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND)

Occupy Tyler [Grantland]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lighters Up: Horses Stay Poppin' on Lil Kim Beats

(via Hairpin, arbroath)

I def know my Lil Kim better than my competitive equestrian sports, but now that I know some of these horses come from bed-stuy, where horses either do or they don't die, I might stay better informed:



A chance to play Lil Kim's original

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Just A Friend" = the New Hip-Hop National Anthem

Everyone knows Biz Markie's classic "Just A Friend. Probably more so than the real national anthem (also a "classic").

And it's useful for commercials:



Or Late Night television where Jimmy Kimmel got it updated it for Facebook




Not to mention my interview w/ Biz a few years ago. Which if you missed it, here's that transcript again:

The Justin Bieber Mixtape Experience

Is Justin Bieber better on old school tracks like "Dwyck:



or new school, like "Otis":




I prefer old school.

Dwyck dropped in 1994, on Gang Starr's "Hard to Earn". Here's 10 more songs from 1994 with dope beats for the Biebmatic('94) Mixtape:

Who Shot Ya (Notorious BIG, Ready To Die - The Remaster)
Come Clean (Jeru, The Sun Rises in the East)
Halftime (Nas, Illmatic)
Resurrection (Common, Resurrection)
Props Over Here (The Beatnuts, The Beatnuts)
Get It Together (Beastie Boys, Ill Communication)
Cosmic Slop (Redman, Dare Iz A Darksize
Distortion to Static (The Roots, Do You Want More?!!!??!)
Let's Organize (Organized Konfusion, Stress: The Extinction Agenda)
Crumblin' Erb (Outkast, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik)
Comin' For Datazz (Gang Starr, Hard To Earn)


The only artwork that could suffice: Bie - Biebmatic

Take Care, Baby Drake


lol, at those shoes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Greenlight Bookstore Reading

Steamboat



TODAY


Thursday, November 17, 7:30 PM
Steamboat: A Literary Humor Series
Hosted by Bob Powers
Featuring Larry Doyle, Patrice Evans, Rev Jen, and Jon Friedman

On the third Thursday of every month, join comedian Bob Powers (author of Happy Cruelty Day) as he hosts the city's best humor writers for a night of wine-addled, text-based hilarity. This month's lineup includes Larry Doyle, author of Deliriously Happy and Go, Mutants!; Patrice Evans, aka "The Assimilated Negro," author of the new book Negropedia; Reverend Jen, author of the new book Elf Girl; and Jon Friedman, creator of The Rejection Show and editor of the book Rejected.

Steamboat Reading w/ TAN [Greenlight Bookstore]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Protect the Internet!

Something is rotten in Congress.

I don't know much, but many of the major blogging platforms and a lot of high-profile websites are pleading for folks to make their voices heard about possible new legislation that will allow entertainment companies to essentially censor the internet (protecting the corporations copyright over individual free speech, is what I understand to be the essence). Here's a video:

   
PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Read more:

American Censorship Day
Fred Wilson: Architecture of the Internet
BoingBoing: Stop SOPA, Save the Internet
EFF: Hollywood Finally Gets Chance to Break Internet
The legislation itself: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
Ars Technica: House makes bad internet censorship bill worse

and there's plenty more if you dig around on any of those sites. but mostly I think aggregate clicks and presence from the collective voice of the internet is needed, so spread the word. use the American Censorship Day link, or Tumblr's Protect the Net page.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Porn Stars: Good Teachers? Or the Best Teachers?





Some interesting debate last week when Sasha Grey read to 1st graders and everyone was like, "why are we allowing an anal sex scene award-winner read to our children!"

Drake Vs. Tumblr = Drake Is Tumblr

If you missed it, Drake vs. Tumblr happened. He doesn't like the silly emulating bloggers. Lots and lots of "turkeys" out there.

Needless to say, this is the beef the world has been waiting for! It's on now: Man vs. Technology! The collective hive mind vs The indomitable individual spirit. Autotune vs. AutoRe-blog. Once more unto the breach!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Culturally Biased SAT: Hip-Hop Edition

Hello and welcome to the Culturally Biased SAT: Hip-Hop Edition. This exam will help you most if you take it under as adverse conditions as possible.

1) ____ said knock you out

a. Tyrone and them
b. The Wu Tang Clan
c. Mama
d. Big Daddy Kane
e. Obama

2) Can you kick it?


a. oh, hell to the naw
b. sheeeeeiit
c. nah son!
d. yes, you can
e. knahmean?!!?!?


3) If Peter Piper picks peppers, then ____ rocks rhymes?

a. Run
b. Dun
c. Son
d. Pun
e. Hon


... CONTINUED ON THE HAIRPIN...


Culturally Biased SAT [The Hairpin]

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

YouTube Hall of Fame: Eddie Murphy Edition

Wednesdays on Grantland we always run a "Youtube Hall of Fame" feature (last week was a good one, "worst music videos of all time"). This week it's a special Eddie Murphy package, I believe tied to the good reviews he's been getting for Tower Heist.

I submitted the "Kill the White People" sketch,  and the crossing-the-freeway scene from the movie Bowfinger. You can read what I wrote when it goes up later, but basically I said they're awesome...
 


and Bowfinger almost makes one want to go on a what's-up-with-Heather Graham goose-chase, but no, stay focused, and I think this was the last time Eddie made me snot myself in the theater.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Lykke Li the Swedish Erykah Badu?

What's the real difference between Lykke Li and Erykah Badu?

On the surface a TAN couldn't marry two more different artists: black, white. badu's fro to lykke's.... anti-fro. neo-soul and neo-swedish pop don't often spin at the same parties (though certainly now more than ever). But I think they're good examples of two artists who if thin-slicing on skin, hair, music aethetic reflect different worlds, but the heart of their music makes my heart skip a beat in the same way (aww). The artists, and I imagine their fans, live in different worlds but are likely kindred spirits.

Couple posts ago I went in on Erykah Badu. America's B-Boy Queen. No one else like her. GQ agrees

This interview with The Vine has Lykke Li panting (just a little bit) at the end of a long tour. Very woe-is-me Artist Lament: my skin feels like stale crackers, agghh! the world sounds like my ears are clogged with truffle oil, grrm! (my translation). And the cliché of it all is funny, but it made me aware of my soft spot for these us sensitive flower types.

And so, possibly only for the convenience of this post, but I boiled down the components of her otherworldly presence in the Badu Guide to Live Dopeness as: her hip hop, her beauty, her 'individual quirky flair', her 'weird sexy non-sex thing', and ultimately all of that supports her just being an undeniably talented singer and songwriter.

And checking on some Lykke clips ? here we have a female soul artist who

covers a milli?



has a face that can hold down a video by itself




a personality with that little splash of irreverence, this bathroom joint for example:



which is like the b-side to the legendary black cab sessions single (hold your head):

Friday, October 28, 2011

On Sale Forever: Chopper Suits

Complex did a feature on Big Suit Fails which was both entertaining and educational.

This is Diddy; Drew Gooden; Tim Thomas

apparently the new nickname for comically large suits is "Chopper Suits", so named after our old friend Chopper (from Da Band) who put out a video in 2009 to take shots at some folks and let the world know he's a boss these days. Except no one informed him that bosses who survived the 90s now wear tailored suits, not one-size-fits-all from off the rack at the big-and-tall store that's going out of business. So he embarrassed himself and now he's an internet meme, and every day, literally, people eat breakfast, say their prayers, get dressed, make a joke about chopper suits, then go to work where they will probably read other people's jokes. There's well over 500 comments, and counting. Someone in 2009 said, "yo, the comments are the best!". if you want to squint a little, here's a sampling.

Daddy's Little Girl: 5 Songs Jay-Z Will Regret

I've heard it said nothing transforms a man like having a baby girl. So news that Jay-Z and Beyoncé are having a daughter could mean we will never see or hear from the old Shawn Carter again. Old Jay-Z: "hard dick and bubble gum". New Jay-Z: poopy diapers and baby food.

It’s the beginning of a new era in hip hop. The Old Man Rap era. And a lot of emcees are gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do. Hov, to his jeweler’s credit, has always talked more Maybachs and ice, than about his sidepiece and wife. So he won’t have as much umm, err, umm stammering to contend with as, say, Kanye. But here's five songs we still expect to be removed from Lil Hovita’s iPod.


Jay-Z Songs He Doesn't Want His Daughter to Hear [Grantland]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Erykah Badu: Queen Diva for the Hip Hop Generation

GQ has a special edition about "Survivors” out now. They're listing Gods of Rock like Eminem, Lil Wayne, Keith Richards, Raekwon, PJ Harvey, others. Erykah Badu is the only black woman on there. And I don't say that to start trouble, but to point out that Erykah Badu > better than Beyoncé (and I'm a Beyoncé fan as well). Which I didn't quite realize until seeing GQ get ahead of the curve a bit.

Now it’s true that I'm partial to her steez cause she's a b-girl, and I'm a b-boy. And it’s true that Beyonce's more accomplished in her way. But Badu sometimes gets overlooked when talking about today’s divas (“scientists come out with your scales up”), and on the low she might be the Queen Crown Jewel of the hip hop generation. We have enumerated points and clips here for definitive proof. Let us watch and count the ways:

1. She's wearing the chain: The main difference between Badu and Bey: Badu is a b-boy, Beyonce’s a b-boy’s pinup girl. It was great for the time, but I think both Bey and Jay will come to regret “the dopest chick in the game wearing my chain”. Come on, that’s some subversive power play shit. And you know what Erykah would say to some nonsense like that:



Whut? You better go back the way you came. WRONG WAY. You don’t want to FA-LA-LA, son. “You ain’t the worstest one I have done, but you’ll do until he comes”. Whuuut? Beyonce gets a little bit of growl going on occasion, but she never gets on her “gonna be some slow singing, flower bringing, if my burglar alarm starts ringing.”

This would not be dope if Badu was in and out of rehab, or on some hoodrat shite where you can’t bring her home to the parents. But that's where Erykah can flip it and come back on some Cosby Show-caliber respect. Since Baduizm she's been rolling with the dopest intro in the history of womankind: Can I ask the elders in the house if I can speak freely?



That's straight B-Boy/Girl. But, hol’up:

2. SHOTS FIRED: You don’t want it with E: (via)

"I look at some other videos. I’m not naming names, because I don’t want that to be mentioned. There is the thing with sexuality. I’m naked for 13 seconds, and these people are naked the whole time and gyrating and saying come “lick on my lollipop,” and “suck on my cinnamon roll,” and, you know, suggesting sex. People are uncomfortable with sexuality that’s not for male consumption. Could be ‘cause I did it in public too. Do you think people would have been complaining if I had on high-heel shoes?"
Unh. She's not naming names, but who run the world? Baaaa-du. But wait up...

3. Which leads to getting her Hipster Art-Sexy on:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five New Promo Ideas for Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music Album

A couple days ago, Kanye West tweeted that his next album — one presumed to be a compilation featuring artists signed to his G.O.O.D. Music imprint — will drop in Spring 2012. Which, more than anything else, served as a reminder of how much more entertaining the world was when Kanye was playing along. These days, even when he occupies Wall Street, he only speaks through an interpreter. We're a little appalled, to be honest. No one man should have all that power if he's not gonna walk around acting like shit is fuckin' ridiculous.

So we're throwing a few ideas out for promoting that next album. Hopefully one will stick.

1. Make a sex tape with Gaga.
There aren't many more shockers left in the pantry for either of these artists. My informants tell me they're both single, so let's just go ahead and get this one done already. Maybe it's my dark twisted fantasy, but the celebrity sex tape game needs some new energy. And a hot new soundtrack wouldn't hurt either. We already know Gaga's down for whatev, so it's on you to make it happen, Ye. Do it.

2. Make audience members sing.
Strange but true: The whole reason I wrote a post on Kanye was to have an excuse to post this clip:


And the award for best Youtube Comment goes to...

"I read lips. She said: No, Beyoncé, don’t make me sing. Please no. I was born deaf. No, no, please dear god, no. Don’t let this happen. If there’s a soul in that body, please select someone else. This will be on youtube in ten seconds. Please, no, no,ÿ please. Ohhhhh, oohhhh wo-woooooooohhh.”

3. "I'm Bi...."

CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND

Friday, October 14, 2011

Old Man Rap: Nas Still Got It, Son

(On Grantland)


In Never Scared, Chris Rock had some fun riffing about what it was like to be a 39-year-old hip-hop head. And I can personally remember The Chronic dropping and talking with friends about how this would be our generation’s smooth-jazz retirement music. I’m still looking forward to bumping “Let Me Ride” as I lean back playing some Bingo at the Soundview Senior Center.

But what about when the rappers get old? Back in the day, KRS-One famously rhymed “No one’s from the old school, cause rap on a whole isn’t even twenty years old / Fifty years down the line you can start this.” Well, it’s not quite fifty years, but we’re getting close! And with Jay-Z and the Roots' Questlove and Black Thought over the hill, and Em turning 39 in a few days (Happy Birthday!), it feels like we’re ushering in a new era of Old Man Rap. I’d call it a Renaissance except it’s really the first time we’re seeing our platinum rap stars approach their platinum anniversaries.

I got to thinking about this because the ever-youthful-looking Nas, who is working on the tenth album of his 20-year career, and now pushing 40, dropped the video for his first single “Nasty" (below). It's a little sample of what his Old Man Rap game looks like.



CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

State of the Black Sitcom: Does the World Need A New Cosby Show?

On Grantland: notes on BET's "Reed Between the Lines"...

On the matter of “black sitcoms,” we haven’t had anything rival the impact of The Cosby Show, a ratings juggernaut that was Illmatic, Star Wars, and American Idol all in one raise of Clair Huxtable’s eyebrow....

(click images or link to READ MORE)





Is Reed Between the Lines the New Cosby Show? [Grantland]

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Think Different: 5 Rappers Who Should Take Acid


In 1997, Steve Jobs fired shots at Bill Gates: "I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He'd be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.'' Get it? I’m a Mac, and you need some LSD.

A few year later in John Markoff’s book on how the hippies and Vietnam War shaped the world of personal computing, Jobs famously cited acid-taking as "one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life." Don’t you see? Drugs help you Think Different, dude.

Drugs can also help you make music. But what kind of music might depend on the drugs. Thoughout the history of hip hop, critics, fans, and artists have always resorted to comparisons of popular rap stars with iconic bands of the sixties and seventies. When Jam Master Jay died, many likened the Beatles to Run DMC. Now some do it with Jay-Z, and arguments about which hip hop artists are most similar to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, and Pink Floyd can extend long into the night. But amid the chatter, we forget about the drugs, man. The only drugs you hear about in mainstream hip hop are weed, alcohol, and Marshall Mathers. What if more hip hop artists went on hallucinogenic benders?

CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Maybe "Illmatic" is Hip Hop's "Catcher In the Rye"?

Re-upping this one for my peeps from The New Yorker, this Illmatic meets Catcher in the Rye didn't make it in for Negropedia, but we got some other good stuff in the book, and exploring the shared literary-hip hop (Audio-Lit?) spaces is an ongoing pet love of mine. We will be here forever!

Yesterday JD Salinger passed away at the age of 91.

As a former disaffected "Choatie", I grew up in a world, uh, beholden to his majesty Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye for poetically exposing the sturm und drang of white preppie youth. As this obit on Gawker points out,

"his ability to channel the internal monologue of a bright-but-alienated kid made the book essential reading for generations of high school students."

Now this type of line gets to the heart of the problem of cultural inequity; because while I was obligated to lighten my pinky through the learning of traditional anglo spirituals (nobody knows the troubles on Park Ave, nobody knows their sorrows), my own personal Holden Caulfield years came right around the time Nas dropped his debut novel, err, album Illmatic. And I'd be a phoney moron to not recognize Nas as "channeling the internal monologue of a bright-but-alienated [black] kid which made the album essential listening for generations of [black] high school students."

So, hmmm, Catcher vs. Illmatic...

a cursory check of the wiki on Salinger and Catcher reveals:

"written in first person (as if Holden himself had written it). There is flow in the seemingly disjointed ideas and episodes ... Critical reviews agree that the novel accurately reflected the teenage colloquial speech of the time."

What's this? Flow, disjointed ideas and episodes, teenage colloquial speech?? Sounds like my kind of rapper...

how about something on Nas:

"[Nas] realistically depicts the darker side of urbanity, creating highly detailed first-person narratives that deconstruct the troubling lives of inner city teenagers"

or the NYTimes noting, "Nas imbues his chronicle with humanity and humor, not just hardness ... [He] reports violence without celebrating it, dwelling on the way life triumphs over grim circumstances rather than the other way around"

These thematic similarities are striking even before the thought of autotuning the voice of Holden Caulfield through some sort of ethnocultural babelfish translator, and getting the lyrics to "New York State of Mind". Or hypothetically plucking Nas out of the ghetto at an early age and sending him off to boarding school where he learns the writing of prose fiction books instead of ones filled with 4-measure rhymes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

More Beatbox Assimilation: Where Da Ladies At?

Is there still a growing contingent of female beatboxers? I def need to know if young girls are telling their mothers: I'M NOT FINISHING LAW SCHOOL, MOM, I ALREADY TOLD YOU I WANT TO BE A BEATBOXER!! I would be the dad who says you have to let her spread her wings and fly. Or her lips and make beats. Erm. Whatever. But seriously, if it's plateaued, ok, but if there's still a cresting wave of feminine spittle short circuiting mics around the globe I, for one, would like to read that trend piece immediately.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Roger Ebert, Times Talks

Went to a Times Talks with Roger Ebert and A.O. Scott a couple days ago. wrote a little recap on it for Grantland.

His memoir "Life Itself" is getting a lot of coverage, and of course everyone pretty much loves Roger. As they should. He's a modern day saint, in all aspects of the term (didn't fully vet that phrase out in my brain, but per his internet/social media proclivities and general dopeness as a reviewer and person, I'm sticking with it).

You might be able to see a stream of the talk somewhere. And Flavorwire (home of the best Exciting Fall Books List in all the land!) put up a ten best quotes list.

Long live Roger Ebert.


At Roger Ebert's Times Talk [Grantland]

The Case of Will Leitch & The Burning Q-Tip

The Case of Will Leitch and the Burning Q-Tip
PART 1.

Mr. and Mrs. Negro had one child. They called him TAN, and so did everybody else.

Mr. Negro was the head of all media, and the chief mind on matters of race and culture. The CEO or Chief Ethnocultural Officer. Whenever a TV station or radio show or magazine needed counsel, ideas, or understanding of some race/culture related issue, they’d ask Mr. Negro. And Mr. Negro always had a good answer for them. His track record in the realm of race was without blemish since 2005.

But Mr, Negro had a secret weapon. And that was his son, TAN. No one would believe it, but it was really TAN that provided Mr. Negro all his fodder. The streak since 2005 was no coincidence; it was also when young TAN started his blog.

Now TAN would help typically help his father solve cases for free. But after a while he realized he enjoyed ethnocultural matters so much he should open up a detective agency to help others solve the mysteries of race and culture. So he stole some money out of his father’s wallet, rented out a bodega, and set up shop. He hung up a sign to advertise himself:

As fate would have it, one evening around midnight Q-Tip came marauding into the office. He was clearly bothered by something. Q-Tip, of course, is a living legend, the lead rapper of iconic hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. TAN immediately roused to attention upon recognizing the face.

Tip scanned the sign and fished around in his pockets. Eventually he took a quarter-water out from inside his jacket and looked TAN in the eye, "I don't have any change on me, but I can give you this drink. I have a problem, and I want to hire you." Apparently Tip had happened upon some tough fiscal times of late.

TAN looked at the quarter water. It was cherry flavor. His favorite. He smiled and reached for the Bible on the desk that he hollowed out and used as protection for his copy of The Low End Theory. He lifted the CD towards Q-Tip and said, “Yo, Tip. Do you know how much prep school and college cooch this CD got me? If Obama owes something to the Cosby Show, then they owe something to you as well. You’re the soundtrack of our assimilation. Certainly mine. I’ll take the quarter-water -- cause you know I love me some cherry drink -- but trust, i got you on expenses and all of that for this case.”

“So, now, tell me, what’s the scenario? forgive me, but ... you on point, Tip?” TAN asked.

“all the time, tan!” Tip chorused back.

Q-Tip was calmer after quoting an old classic. but he was still pacing as he spoke, “I don’t know why I’m bugging out. But there's this crazy article online. I think it's offensive, but I'm not quite sure. it just feels wrong.”

TAN was puzzled, "well, it’s an internet article. why don’t you just ignore it?"

"hmmm, well yeah, I was going to do that.... but then after i read it I decided to say something."

“You COMMENTED?!!?” TAN knew entering the world of anonymous commenters could only spell trouble for a veteran hip hop artist .

“What did you say, tip?”

uh,something like this:


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear TAN: Is Perez Hilton Always This Racist?

My book, Negropedia, Touré's book, Baratunde's book coming soon, all seem to pose the question of: what does racism look like today? And, is it to be taken seriously, or with a sense of humor. And I guess the answer is: Perez Hilton is still a racist!



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

In this edition: The metaphysics of Perez Hilton's racism!


Dear TAN,

For whatever reason, I've found myself skimming his site for the past week or so.

Check this out: "She joined by some dude name Zalon. In this alternative universe, the white bitch is rapping, while the black guy is singing the sweet melodies. Go figure!"

Or this one: "Also, Whoopi Goldberg eats fried chicken - and we love her for it!"

???? I like to err on the side of not accusing people of being bigots, but I don't even know how else to interpret these. Do you follow the site regularly? Are these just aberrations, or part of a trend?

- Not Terribly PC

~~

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Salt Water Taffy Creators Concede Failure, Return To Drawing Board

(before this blog became a space more pointedly focused on deconstructing race/culture etc. it was just a sketchpad of riffs, rants, other odds and ends. That TAN will return, but here's one from the archives...)
+ + +
The creators of Salt Water Taffy have decided to concede failure and go back to the drawing board in their quest for a “candy that provides a satisfying taste experience.”

Said one of the inventors of Salt Water Taffy, “we look at the candy marketplace right now and we see a lot of options, and our Salt Water Taffy (tm) product is just not cutting it. We have some niche cult fans who continue to swear by us, and amen to them, but that’s not enough to grow in today's economy. We want to be up there with the Snickers, M&M’s, and Jolly Ranchers of the world. So we’re formally announcing our agenda to go back to the SWT drawing board and try and tweak the formula some.”

The current formula on the drawing board for the mildly popular candy is:
mediocre flavor

+

disconcerting texture

+

high stickiness-to-teeth ratio

+

generic blob shape

+

peculiar “salt water” flavor reference/association

=

Salt Water Taffy

Can I break character for a moment?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blackface: Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't...Take It Off Before Anyone Sees

I don't think I can add much to what white people Gawker and Gabe have had to say on the matter of the University of Monteal business students putting on blackface to celebrate (YAY!!) and honor Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

Gabe came up with this wallet-sized flowchart to the right for everyone considering an outfit topped with blackface and smiling about the hijinx and wacky hilarity sure to ensue. Because, y'know, there was that time when the *blackface gag* (haha!) was nailed so perfectly by [nobody's name goes here]...

I had experience with this odd impulse soon after starting this blog, from my own school no less (no, it wasn't a tribute in honor of me). So I'm starting to think words and blog posts don't matter much in getting the message across. But undaunted and always on the cutting edge of anti-racist technology, I'm pleased to inform anyone reading this that I've just come back from purchasing all the Wite Out in my neighborhood. Oh yeah. I figure if telling people blackface is retarded doesn't connect, then maybe putting on witeoutface will drive the point deep into their hearts and allow them to finally understand.

while i'm putting on my makeup, here's the vid of those crazy canadians:



so funny and awesome! who wouldn't feel honored?

An Open Letter to the University of Montreal students Who Wore Blackface [Videogum]
Trinity's Assimilation Program Stronger Than Most [TAN]
Don't Support Blackface by pre-ordering NEGROPEDIA!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

THIS SUNDAY: TAN @ Brooklyn Book Festival


The BROOKLYN BOOK FAIR has a ton of amazing writers, panels, readings this Sunday. I'm fortunate to be a guest on one of the late afternoon panels.

SUNDAY, 9/18, BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAIN HALL (128 Pierrepont Street)

5:00 P.M. Media Representations and Reality. The debate continues over whether the media reflects reality or has a hand in shaping it.  Like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, the act of presenting the news can very often alter it.  No one knows this better than Brooke Gladstone of "On the Media," whose new book The Influencing Machine with Josh Neufeld examines the role of the media in American society. Patrice Evans, (Negropedia), examines media representations of African-Americans, and Jennifer Pozner (Reality Bites Back) looks at the completely unreal world of reality television. Moderated by Juan Gonzalez (News for All the People).

look for the Clair Huxtable Flyers



Have you forgotten the borough already?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Squirrel's Like, AAAAYYYOOOO!!

From Daily Mail: This attention seeking squirrel will do anything for some nuts - as he dances with his jazz hands out in a desperate plea for the spotlight.

The outgoing critter was photographed by Ian Rentoul as it sprinted across a fence top to alert him as he dished out nuts.



Read more: HERE

No Homo and the Evolution of Tolerance

(ONLY A FEW WEEKS FROM NEGROPEDIA ON SALE DATE. MANY VAINGLORIOUS PLANS IN THE OFFING. WE GOT A PRE-ORDER WIDGET TO THE RIGHT HERE--->> AND NEW HOT FIRE CONTENT COMING. BUT FOR JUST A LITTLE WHILE MORE WE REPUBLISH SOME TAN CLASSIC POSTS (i.e. ONES WITH COMMENTS and CONVERSATION ON THEM!!) ... SO IN THE MEANTIME, IN-BETWEEN TIME, HOLLER AT YOUR BOY, STOCK UP ON CANNED GOODS AND PREPARE FOR THE REVOLUTION!!!)

Jonah Weiner, who serves as one of the hip hop/urban music ambassadors for Slate, has a solid point-of-entry piece on the "No Homo" craze in hip hop (and beyond, since the term has by-and-large crossed over into more of a pop cultural phenomenon). His point, essentially, is: yes, saying "no homo" is still homophobia; but it's a lot better than what used to be status quo in hip hop.

Both those things are true. But, just like when racial or religious or *any* sort of intolerance needs a firmer hand, or at least noting that we are only scratching the surface of a much more profoundly complex issue, I think that's called for here. Because honestly, we need to be further along, and I say that mostly from the spirit of being a fan and hip hop urban-culture enthusiast.

Coates at the Atlantic has run some harsher words over this before. And been much more pointed about the problem. It makes me briefly wonder if Jonah, and/or Slate as proxy, can only approach with a certain cavalier attitude because it's not *their* issue so much. Maybe The Root and Skip Gates need to be slamming the door on this a little harder. Because while i don't actually cry, I do think about shedding a tear or two -- i feel the emotional swelling (no homo) -- when considering the rampant homophobia and ultimately, hypocrisy of intolerance, when I think about all the rappers and artists and *Heroes* who have brazenly been hateful to a group of people. It's really no different than your daddy being a racist.

Jonah opens his piece with the both brilliant and obvious example of Kanye. Specifically mentioning his rant about homophobia, that came a little prior to his "george bush hates black people" comment. Which got a lot more pub. He notes the anti-homophobia rant for its unique anomalous nature; no one else has really come out of the closet in such a bold declarative way on the homophobia issues in hip hop (and hip hop serving in some sense as proxy to black culture here).

But the more direct attack and implication is to consider Kanye extending the George Bush comment in this way: "George Bush doesn't care about Black people, Black people don't care about homosexual people. (Homosexual people don't care about vaginas, but that part is neither here nor there.)" Such a line might have framed the tradition of (American?) intolerance in a more comprehensive light.

In any event, i wonder about proprietary issues when righting a wrong. Correcting an error. Obama challenging black folk is different than Bill Clinton. An old-wave feminist doing the same to women, is a similar formulation. Rappers and black people need to be more forceful and demanding in this zone. Because we are losing when we reject ourselves in this way.

Which segues to some of Jonah's extended premise in his piece. A sense of humor/jokes as indicator of progress, movement towards truth.

This makes sense in the realm of racial and sexual identity politics. Black people make black people do this and white people do that jokes. Men and women make men do this and women do that jokes. "No homo" is in fact often a funny addendum. If you can insulate yourself from the hateful part of it all, it's an amusing pithy little phrase. And certainly when used to access the even broader construct of masculinity, femininity etc., it can bring a smile. Of course, that shows the "no homo" isn't even actually about "homos" any more. But what we consider masculine and feminine. The Katy Perry "ur so gay, and you don't even like boys" sentiment. Kanye and many famous "tough rappers" are probably a little removed from knowing how to fix a car that broke down on the highway, chop down a tree and start a fire, fist-fighting, but know about the latest fashion-designers, getting pedicures, etc. No homo?

But as any dysfunctional comedian will tell you, the sense of humor, comic relief, is sourced by a sense of detachment. ironic distance. you/we couldn't make jokes about black people for a long time, because it was too raw and serious and immediate. The wounds were still open. Then they scar over, and it gets a little easier. And now, shoot, we almost can hardly tell it's there now with all the cosmetic surgery we've enlisted *cough*.

So that's progress. But again, point of entry. There's a narrative of tolerance here. Where are we progressing from? How did the story begin? Why was hip hop culture so invested in hating others in the first place? I sense this racial issue, like so many others, is a gateway to larger American or human issues. In this case my suspicion is that when we have been abused we want someone else to at some point experience the same pain/abuse. We want to be empowered by damaging someone the same way we felt damaged. If we stop and *pause* and think about it, such logic doesn't make sense; all of these abuses and wrongs are circumstantial. You can never inflict the same pain, only the particular pain for those particular people/circumstances. If you as a father abuse your son, he doesn't know the abuse you received from your father, his grandfather, any more intimately. He only knows the pain he's receiving from you. This is why the Golden Rule works practically, not only as a morally idealized notion of the universe. We can't transfer our rationalized selves, which is what the psychological scars from abuse are. There's the immediate pain (or joy), and then how we live with it and synthesize it into the new us that emerges from the experience.....

I've sprawled out into deeper waters, and want to stay swimming safely in this smaller pool.... so, no homo. i guess, much like with women, we just need a "homo" rapper who through the sheer force of his will makes all the jokes and lines premised on intolerance, obsolete.


The Changing Face of Hip Hop Homophobia [Slate]

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

NPR's Tell Me More: Talking the VMAs


During Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards, Beyonce announced that she is expecting a baby, and Lady Gaga flipped her script. The event also went without a host and instead concentrated on musical performances. Host Michel Martin discusses the night with music critic and blogger Patrice Evans.

MTV VMAs Break Tradition [NPR]

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seven Day Weeknd: Notes on a Mixtape

Earlier this year, the music world was batting its eyes and doing embarrassing pelvic grind moves to the music of the new darlings of R&B. Frank Ocean of Odd Future fame dropped his gem Nostalgia, Ultra in February. A few weeks later, the Weeknd (born Abel Tesfaye) made everyone peel their panties off with the first installment of his mixtape trilogy House of Balloons. Some were like, "Oooh, don’t look now, y’all, but this might be The Next Generation of R&B." From the primordial ooze of Twitter the term PBR&B (nice one) was coined. Some of the young traditional-minded connoisseurs of the genre were like, "I don’t know about all that hipster R&B, but it’s good music."


But that was the spring and now it’s the fall, where spring things go to die. Frank Ocean shed the cocoon of Odd Future, along with the underground stigma, when he got to spread his wings with royalty. He’s currently swimming good somewhere.

On Friday, The Weeknd, continued his run of sexy music for vampires with Thursday, the second part of his mixtape trilogy. The blogs and twitter were abuzz. I listened to it over the weekend but couldn’t get you these thoughts until right now. Aww XOXO.

Sunday: Labels, Why Again?
It’s been the case a for a while now that anyone hot is hot off that free download. “Respect first, then money — basic shit,” as Jadakiss said. Last week I swear I used to remember why labels existed. But now I think we’re getting close to only needing: Do you make music? Send me your links. Annnd Scene. That’s it. Oh, And PayPal and a secure server. The politics and bureaucracy of the label system are starting to outweigh its benefits. Ocean’s album was buried in a vault, and now after being released as a mixtape, is being reissued. Label fail. The-Dream, tired of red tape, is putting out his 1977 for free. I got $11.99 says that’s label fail (both Def Jam, btw). Lupe Fiasco started an online petition to stymie Atlantic’s label fail. Even the king of the label system, Jay-Z, said he's done. (The best thing he could do is a mixtape right now anyways. Another S. Carter collection would hit the spot.) Artist liberation, combined with pressure from itunes and amazon, has record labels on notice. Give me your money, stay out of my way.

Monday: American Psycho Music for 2011
Entourage used the Weeknd’s “High for This” in a recent trailer, and of course this is the music Entourage wishes it could use for its entire half hour. Coked-out, panties to the side, we all young, hot with money in here. Let’s party like we mean it. And whoever today’s Patrick Bateman from American Psycho is, he probably listens to this urban coke music at high volume when he’s having sex, while he’s working out (which is having more sex), and definitely while he’s tweeting after killing you.

(continued...)

Seven Day High: Notes on The Weeknd [Grantland]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lauryn Hill, Em, Throne, and other Candidates for Hip Hop President

On July 23, Lauryn Hill had a baby, her sixth. A week later she performed at L.A. Rising Festival. All in a week’s work, y’know. Word to Zion.



Now I’ve been wrong (and hurt) before, so please correct me if this comes off sounding a little Miseducated, but I can’t help wonder if either on a symbolic level (she now has more children than Grammy’s), or just a fiscal level (so many kids to feed), this bodes well for Lauryn making a full-on return to the landscape as an artist, a performer. We all have the same wish, don’t we? The same flashback? It was an August much like this one when we first heard the 1-4-1-1-1-2-1-1 finger-snaps on “Nothing Even Matters,” announcing the undeniable truth: Lauryn Hill was president — nay, EMPRESS — of these here United States. The skies could fall! Your boss could call! But L spitting hot fire, singing lullabies could make the world seem so very small (snap-snap).

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill felt like a genuine Presidential moment, a space where we find not only music and escapism, but bars that explode with inspiration. Lauryn delivered something akin to leadership. Her fireside chats were nostalgic and sentimental: “Today we’re gonna talk about love.” Giggles from the class, but they still listened to the reassuring voice of the best teacher ever. It was a stream of music that was impossible to rally against...

(continued on Grantland)

Assessing the Candidates for Hip Hop President [Grantland]

Monday, August 08, 2011

Notes on Andover's Rap Video

Over at Grantland:

Last week, the Internet weighed in on "The Andover Song" with chuckles, snark, and furrowed-brow curiosity. The prevailing sentiment seemed to be: Let’s drag every bit of this video around a manicured lawn and play ultimate Frisbee over its carcass. Die, Andover rap video! Die!

But there are lessons to be learned here, ones valuable enough to be taught at a prep school. We can break the issues up into “Not a problem” and “This is a Problem."



1. Not a Problem: Earnest rap

The most immediate cringe-factor with this video is how earnest and cloying it is. But the “genre” of earnest rap (or “educated rap”), in itself, is not a problem. Overstuffed, too-literal rap suffers from a disconnect between teaching and being cool. Sort of like a history teacher putting on skinny jeans, a leather jacket, and aviators to teach you about Freddie Knuckles (that’s Nietzsche, btw). But the teacher is not the problem. It’s the execution.

We should encourage fearlessness when it comes to trying too hard. Earnest failures are the ones that count. If it comes from an authentic place, the execution can be worked on. The dude with the braces and Celtics shirt, well, if you can say “the school molds to everybody like a mattress pad” and not snort on yourself in the process, you’re probably a well-meaning, glass-half-full dude who should be given a chance to lose the braces and develop a sense of style. No less than Jay-Z, Eminem, and Kanye were mediocre emcees when they started. Why? Too earnest. Jay was an overzealous fast-rapper. Em was boring and just overwrought w/rhyme schemes. And Kanye, well, we know the story.

(CONTINUED ON GRANTLAND)

Watch the Diploma: Andover Rap Video [Grantland]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marry/F@#$/Kill: A Tribe Called Quest

Family, here's full disclosure: I have a very intimate relationship with the music of A Tribe Called Quest. When I was born, I requested "Push It Along" for my intro. My iBeeper plays "Skypager." My ex-girlfriend wore unitards with red and green ink blot patterns. (We broke up 'cause we both knew how it feels to be stressed out, stressed out. Also the unitard.) It's all single black male stalker-y enough to be considered a classic, classic, classic example of a … A date rape. ETC. ETC.

So suffice it to say a Tribe news cycle courtesy of Michael Rapaport's documentary Beats Rhymes & Life has meant nothing less than the chance to LIVE AGAIN! Forget Friends with Benefits, more like Tribe with Benefits, amirite? Doesn't the air itself have that extra little Luck of Lucien?

Maybe that's why we've decided to play Marry/F@#$/Kill with their catalog. All these emotions going through my body demand choices! If only so I can stop buggin' out, get a hold, and maybe set up a butter playlist for some peace of Mind Power. (Oh My God. What? It's just Youthful Expression, y'all. Let's keep it rollin.)

Here's what I'm thinking as the scenario for M/F/K Industry Rules 4081-4083:

Marry: is the song you can listen to forever-ever. (or wedding song)

F@#$: is the song you listen to once. Nice but no repeats. Thanks! (or sex song)

Kill: For better or worse you will never hear it again. (or murder song)

(In honor of the Tribe doc, we run through their catalog at Grantland, I kick things off with People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (fun to type out!). While I'm here I'd like to take a moment to say: I'm sorry, Phife. I love you. It's nothing personal, just how the game is played....

Hollerrr (and click pic or link below)


M/F/K: A Tribe Called Quest [Grantland]
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