Showing posts with label Public Service Announcement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Public Service Announcement. Show all posts

Friday, November 04, 2011

Five Notes To Remember On Hip-Hop Concept Albums

Recently The Roots announced and previewed their next LP, undun. You may glean from the title’s lowercase styling that it’s a concept record. undun is “an existential re-telling of the short life of one Redford Stephens (1974-1999).”

Or as Questlove says: “Undun is the story of this kid who becomes criminal, but he wasn’t born criminal. He’s not the nouveau exotic primitive bug-eyed gunrunner like Tupac’s character Bishop in Juice… he’s actually thoughtful and is neither victim nor hero. Just some kid who begins to order his world in a way that makes the most sense to him at a given moment… At the end of the day… isn’t that what we all do?”

Mmm, yes. I do do that. Quest recently told Spin that Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves served as undun's inspiration. So in the spirit of helpfulness, and as a fan of Prince Paul, concepts, conceits, and Consuela from Family Guy, here are some things to remember about hip-hop concept albums:

1. Prince Paul invented The Concept.
 Prince Paul (with De La) was to first to really make sophisticated ironic humor in hip hop (before that it was all “Pickin’ Boogers” Biz Markie humor... not that there’s anything unfunny about booger-pickin’ with Biz Markie). A friend of mine once argued that in the pantheon of concept albums, De La Soul is Dead is like the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. And Paul’s Prince Among Thieves is like Tommy. Your mileage may vary on that analogy, but it means SOMEONE SHOULD LET PAUL MAKE ANOTHER ALBUM.

2. Outkast perfected The Concept.
They started with a loose conceit in Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, but then raised the bar with every album after that, eventually ending up with the film musical Idlewild, which was lackluster on the screen, but had a solid soundtrack (there are maybe five artists who wouldn't take "Mighty O" and "Morris Brown" and whatever else and not be better off for it). Unfortunately, the goddamned concept albums tore them apart. Hopefully the Roots' yin and yang, Black Thought and Questlove, won’t let undun be their undoing.

3. The Concept didn’t help Kid Cudi, Lupe, and so many others.


5 Notes on Hip Hop Concept Albums [Grantland]

Also if you haven't peeped the first single: "Make My" The Roots "Make My" featuring Big K.R.I.T. by okayplayer

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?

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.


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]

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Black Woman's Guide to Peeing in Public

1. Bring your daughter as a lookout
2. Use a car for ass/back support. Better for people to see you!
3. Bring your own TP.
5. Keep it moving ...


(more TAN classics! newer, fresher material coming soon! ...though the amount of peeing in future content is still to be determined)

thanks: Dannelle

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?).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Friend Recruiting: Looking for Young Men or Women Who Can Breathe Fire, Etc.

Seriously. Wouldn't it be cool to have a fire-breathing type in the crew? That's definitely one of those character-types that would distinguish your circle of friends from others. Make your montage of memories a little spicier when you die.

I'm thinking an ideal crew probably has a legal person, a web/tech person, a business/finance wiz, 2-3 artists (writers, musicians, painters, comedians whatever), and then you want one random, like a cirque du soleil type in the clip below, or an origami obsessive, maybe someone in the FBI, or a private investigator. Something that raises eyebrows as soon as you say it at the cocktail party.

Man Has Friendship Privileges Revoked

Commenter-to-Friend Application

Thursday, April 30, 2009

PSA: I Need to Find These Seersucker Shorts!

My seersucker shorts died last year. I've found it difficult to let go. There has been no replacement. I know. Obviously it's a downer for me as well...

But I've been trying to figure out how to move on, and I couldn't think it anything less than divine order when on only my 2nd (maybe 3rd?) reading of an US Weekly (for real, i'm not even trying to be highbrow or better than people who read US Weekly here) I would see Kanye wearing quite possibly the only pair of seersucker shorts that could replace -- dare I say, better? -- my beloved, dearly departed, basic white seersucker shorts. I took a picture via my iphone.

I know what you're thinking: In fact, this is the only picture missing from Obama's first 100 days. But that's only because he's smart enough to keep the agenda secret. Lest the hipsters get wind and make a mockery of it all. But he's looking for these shorts also, no question:

sereously eyem in such rush to get up i kant even bother to pruufreeed this. i uzually have to doo all sawts of spel-czech but no teyem this teyem, jus need feadbakk asap!!

i might even sign up for twitter for this. someone tell twitter if she can locate these shorts i'll sign up.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Announcement: TAN Reads, Makes "Super Successful" Themed Jokes

I will issue a reminder on this next week, as we get closer to the Apocalypse. But for now, this press release should do the trick. TAN will be reading at the "How I Learned..." reading series.

At this series, see, people talk about how they learned things, like the last one was "how i learned my adolescence is over. cool, huh? I mean: cool, huh!!! So this one is about "how i learned to be super successful" and y'know I almost didn't have the resume to participate, but then I showed Blaise a trick i can do with my middle two toes, and now, well, I'm sorry I decided to write more in this intro rather than go right to the announcement ...

Not my area of expertise PERSONALLY. I'm eager to learn some tips from these talented people while laughing and drinking successfully with you. It will be hilarious, educational, AND DEEP. Enough to make Oprah punch air.

The How I Learned Reading Series presents:


(Writer, "The Assimilated Negro," Gawker, New York Times, NPR, several enviable accomplishments)

(Comedian/Writer, The Dave Hill Explosion, King of Miami, This American Life, basically a renaissance man)

(as seen, coincidentally, in a TAN Party Crash)
(Writer/Playwright, Have You No Shame? And Other Regrettable Stories, Ars Nova, also gorgeous and crazy-popular)

(Writer, The Adventures of Cancer Bitch, plus a list of successes that would seriously blow your mind)


Wednesday, April 22nd, 8PM

302 Broome Street
(between Forsyth & Eldridge)
Look for the hot pink awning that says "XIE HE Health Club."
(212) 334-9676
Get directions


PATRICE EVANS is a writer whose blog The Assimilated Negro (T.A.N.) was cited by MSNBC and The Houston Chronicle as "first in a string of blogs that act as a virtual shrink's sofa for those tackling the tricky topics of race and class." Patrice and his work have sullied the reputations of venerable media institutions such as the New York Times, NPR, The Guardian, and, um, Gawker. His first book NEGROPEDIA, an encyclopedic send-up of the modern black experience in post-racial America, will be published by Crown/Three Rivers. When not tugging at the strings of his fraying sanity on TAN, he blogs for NBC New York, among others.

DAVE HILL is a writer, performer, musician, comedy-type person, artist, thinking man, and thief. Soon he is to steal your heart. He has written for the New York Times, Salon, Blender, Huffington Post, Guitar World, and a bunch of other people too. Aside from appearances on HBO, MTV, VH1, Spike TV, Court TV, you may also know him as the star of the wildly popular King of Miami program on the MOJO network or as the host of the live chat/variety/donkey show called the Dave Hill Explosion. In addition to having been on public radio's This American Life, Dave has also rocked America (and even parts of Canada) as a member of such critically-acclaimed-but-not-so-popular-as-to-be-considered-a-sellout bands as Uptown Sinclair, Cobra Verde, and Sons of Elvis. Lately, he has been rocking people into submission as the singer and guitar player for Valley Lodge and also the guitar player for Children of the Unicorn. There is talk of stickers. He has the best website on the internet at

RACHEL SHUKERT is a playwright, author and sometime performer. Her first book, Have You No Shame? And Other Regrettable Stories, was published in 2008 by Random House/Villard. Rachel's plays, which include Bloody Mary (NYIT Award nominee), Johnny Applefucker, The Worshipped, Sequins for Satan, and Perfection (with Neal Medlyn), have been produced and developed by Ars Nova, Soho Think Tank/Ice Factory, the Williamstown Theater Festival, the EVOLVE Series at Galapagos, the Prelude Festival at CUNY, as well as extensively throughout the Netherlands. She is also the co-founder of the theater group The Bushwick Hotel. Rachel's writing has appeared in Nerve, Heeb, and McSweeney's and in the anthologies 2033: The Future of Misbehavior and Best Sex Writing 2008, among others. She is currently working on her second book, The Grand Tour, which will be published by Harper Collins in the spring of 2010. Visit her at

S.L. WISENBERG is in town from Chicago with The Adventures of Cancer Bitch, the only nonfiction book she knows of without a subtitle. Kirkus Reviews called her book "deeply personal, often darkly funny....Tart and scary." Her other books are Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions (essays) and The Sweetheart Is In (stories). She co-directs the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program at Northwestern University. She's received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has learned to be successful at: emptying drains from a fresh mastectomy site, getting friends to decorate her bald head with peace signs and anti-war messages, and living one-breasted (sort of like an Amazon but not quite). Her blog is


How I Learned is a brand new monthly reading series featuring a mix of writers, comedians, bloggers and performers as chosen by hostess Blaise Allysen Kearsley based primarily on personal hygiene and make out prowess. Offering fact, fiction, and everything in between, How I Learned strives to share invaluable life lessons against a dimly lit, self-indulgent, sexually tense and booze fueled backdrop. It's education that works.

Blaise Allysen Kearsley (also known as Blaise K because she's lazy) is a writer, photographer and veteran blogger who has appeared at PS122, Lolita, Bowery Poetry Club and Collective Unconscious. Her writing has been published in Nerve, Vice and The Black Table, and in the books Mortified and Cringe. She has been written up by Gawker, Gothamist, several major New York publications, a glossy British magazine for teen girls, and a newsletter for young orthodox Jews who live in Toronto. She doesn't blame you for being jealous.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How To Assimilate: Fresh Air Fund Edition

The minimum donation to the Fresh Air Fund is $35, but we all know the cost of seeing some homeys in a boat for the first time is priceless (how do you think Obama knew to sail around the Palin iceberg?).

Seriously though, cornrows on golden pond? So worth it.

distinguished non-prof The Fresh Air Fund (serving urban smog-breathing fools fresh air since 1877, son!) is in recruiting mode, looking for hosts in the northeast area. If you're relatively sane and don't have roaches all over the place, you win! Your grand prize is, like, being remembered in someone's heart forever and ever. awww.

Also, when people talk about multicultural America, and the melting pot etc. etc, you can say you helped out with that. Look at all the children so comfortable around people of all shapes, sizes, and stupidities! think of all the pretty mixed-race babies they'll make! all because of you! yay!

if you're a guilty white or black liberal (we have those now!), it's sort of a no-brainer: giving to a non-prof during our great depression? no one will be more self-righteous or holier than thou, yo.

holla if thou hear me. help the next barack, michelle, or jessica gomes get some fresh air. This has been a TAN Public Service Announcement. word.

the Fresh Air Fund
Fresh Air News Release

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Washcloth

So somehow the subject of washcloths came up recently, and it occured to me I had not written about this racially charged household item. I thought the racial divide was a given: Black people use them. White people don't.

But when I googled "the washcloth," the first link took me to a Paul Davidon post, and subsequent caucasian comment party. And not one person mentioned race, i.e. "what do we know, only black people use these things." Paul seemed to be under the impression that there was a cult of washcloth users, presumably a swath of people that cut across lines of race, gender, religion. After reading the post, I was disappointed. Like hip hop, Oprah, and Dave Chappelle, had the washcloth crossed over and gone mainstream?

But then I looked more closely at the comments, and it turned out no one was advocating for the washcloth. And this is what I would anticipate at a caucasian comment party. And then I noticed the one person who was advocating usage of the washcloth was suspiciously named Keef Keith. Hmmmm, I smell melanin ...

So I looked at Keef's Keith's blog, and immediately noticed usage of the word "peeps." Eureka!! We've struck gold!! Racism is alive and well!!! YES!!! *fist pump* Turns out a black guy was in fact the only person advancing the washcloth movement. At least, I hope he’s black, otherwise I might have to smack him for trying to act cool.

(Looking closer, this site will require further examination, cause reality remixed is like the real assimilated negro. This ni**a confesses to using J-Date. Holla! And E-Harmony. Double-Holla!!! Peep this:
In other news, most of my subscriptions will expire within the next few days to the various dating sites I signed up for last month in a frenzy. I will not renew them. As with the other dreaded Site That Shall Not Be Named, it’s been much effort and zero return.
A negro getting zero return off of J-Date? Color me flabbergasted. Time to remove that picture homey, or photoshop it for that Black. White. treatment.)

So back to the washcloth. Of course the problem with the washcloth, as many of the commenters on Paul's post point out is it's just plain nasty. The cloth serves as a four-star hotel for germs, dirt, and bacteria. It's like going from a room in a Hilton Hotel, to a room in Paris Hilton *rimshot*.

But Mirabella ends the washcloth debate here. The washcloth is best if you can, one, have a bunch of them, and two, wash the washcloths all the time. Tough task perhaps, but not impossible if you have the resources.

For the record, I don't know any caucasians who use them. I know some black folks who do, and some who don't.

As an aside, one of the trackbacks for this post goes to QueerMind. And forget race, I could never see a gay guy using an old washcloth. Way too potentially dirty, right? But it might make for an amusing scene in a movie, where some down-and-out gay guy has had his whole life torn asunder. And to demonstrate that he's hit the bottom of the barrel, he sacrifices that last vestige of decency, picks up the dirty washcloth, and begins to bathe. And gaydom cringes in horror. That would be hot.

Feel free to provide more demographic info on washcloth usage.
This has been a TAN public service announcement.
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