Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rapping Isn't Fundamental

When I did ironic little rap ditties (diddy's?) for 50 Cent's Vitaminwater,, Gawker and such I thought I was on to something new and different. The future. Hip hop's untapped potential as both an art and a more compelling form of communication. Like cellphones and twitter, Hip Hop was a new technology to deliver whatever message you wanted: Like, Eat at McDonald's!, or, buy khaki pants!, or, we love black people!

But just like watching a movie on your cellphone, you realize in execution the premise doesn't totally satisfy. turns out some of the things that make the cellphone convenient (i.e. it being small) undermines your ability to totally indulge the movie. Likewise, a rap's rhythm, pacing, style that make it artful undermine its ability to function as effective, direct communication (make your point and stop internal-rhyme-scheming already!).

As a hip hop enthusiast and champion, i always thought if you had flow and make some good punchlines, you could convert anything into the form and the young urban kids would bob their head and be like, yeah, i feel you. And even the white-people-rapping pandemic of the mid-2000's didn't persuade me otherwise. Those people just weren't good.

But now it seems, most people can at least kick a few bars without totally embarrassing themselves (right, Miley Cyrus!). And it's just like, eh. Not bad, you have competency ... but why are you doing this again? Anyrap, that's what I thought after seeing this journalism school graduation video...

It's like, don't stop on my account. Go, have fun! Rap! But i don't know, it's like seeing an interactive exhibit at a museum or something; I nod at the proactive gesture of edutainment more than i feel viscerally engaged by it. knahmean?

Packed My Bowl, Err Bags, And Moved To Portland

From the town that brought you the Portland Jailblazers, and mad roses, comes the latest smellgood sensation: the first "marijuana cafe" in the United States.

The Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon (opened mid-November), is the first to give certified medical marijuana users a place to get hold of the drug and smoke it -- as long as they are out of public view -- despite a federal ban.

Just make sure it's not Oregono you're smoking. hey-O!

Previously From the Oregon News Dispatch:
There's a "Meet A Black Guy" Booth In Oregon [TAN]

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Assimilated Piano

They're calling it "the fluid piano"; I'll just call it a "culturally assimilated piano", since that's longer and more cumbersome to say or write. In either case, here we have an instrument of art that dares to step outside of its western music roots/tradition like artists themselves occasionally do. how fancy!

Pretty awesome. I mean hip hop/electronic music producers etc. have been doing this for a while through sampling, keyboards etc, but this seems like a serious breakthrough with all the never-seen-before tuning/modulating options now on the instrument itself.

if kanye gets wind of this it might be the piece that finally lets him be great. we could also call it the Lady Gaga of pianos. or maybe the tiger woods of steinways since it's kinda-sorta cheating on the plain ol' regular notes. or maybe the michael jackson of [piano instrument] for reinventing how black-white notes sound when children play with it ...(?) hmm, that last one is a little off-tune but you know what i mean if you think about it. right? RIGHT???

Monday, November 23, 2009

Looks Like Someone Put Something in Katie Couric's Drank

I dare you to deny your love for some Katie Couric after seeing photos of her getting her freak on...

surreal... but ooh, looks like Katie was the one that got the party started also

yo, she's backing that thang up and erything!

seriously is she, like, bogling and doing the butterfly?!!? work those legs, katie!!!

I'm putting my money on it being Weezy that's responsible for this Moment of Assimilated Genius ...

pics via: gawk

Where For Art Thou Black Lady Gaga?

I've caught the Lady Gaga fever of late. Methinks the proof for her legitimacy is in the live acoustic pudding.

When she's sitting at the piano doing her hipster-glam-quirky Amy Winehouse meets Alicia Keys (Alicia Winehouse?) thing we get a more intimate feel for the song itself, along with her naked vocals (vs. nude body suits, etc), and her own personal charm/isma.

and Paparazzi is a pretty tight piece of songwriting craftsmanship ...

Compare those with her official cinematic vids for those two songs and you have a spectacular case study for "Art over Artists".

Then her recent American Music Award exhibit is a nice capper on a string of raising-the-bar performance art stage shows.

I'm excited she and Kanye are schmoozing, I feel she represents exactly the over-the-top fantastical sensibility hip hop emcees struggle to assimilate into their own "art". Kanye is surely inspired by the ambition of her whole Artist Presence. Also, Beyonce. This video with her and Lady G is fairly compelling dreamscaping ...

Gaga says herself she played it down out of respect for the B, but I still think Beyonce holds her end down as Superstar Presence. (it's a video that raises other questions as well: for example LG schtick seems "post-racial" and Beyonce's def has a "black/racial" quality (is it just the hips, etc?) to it. what does that mean?) ... but either way - as to the race/culture angle on all this, per TAN commentary objective C-1-4.2 -- negroes need more of this kind-of-crazy so maybe B's alter-ego Sasha Fierce and Kanye's alter ego, uh, Kanye West could make some sort of Amorphous bi-inquisitive Black Lady Gaga superartist. it's like a homosexual black dude who raps, video-hoes, and plays the flute all at the same time. And lights his balls on fire at the end of every show. And he's twelve. A 12-year-old ball-lighting cello-farting falsetto-beatboxing prodigy. From a broken home in a forgotten hood. And diddy discovers him. And he blogs. And he's me. Or am I him? Or am I a she? Kanye Fierce: flute-fart-beatboxer extraordinaire? perhaps, perchance to dream bwahahahahaheehehehehoohohohoh, uhhhh, o-k-bai......

DJ David Sedaris on the Wheels of Steel

yo, i knew my homey, my stromey david sedaris was down with hip hop! that's got to be why he's dropping his next audiobook in a format they used to call vinyl. wax. phonograph records.

i think it's a very cute hipster-funky idea, but i honestly haven't seen a working victrola in some time now. does apple still make those?

i can't imagine at a hopped up price and less material ($25 and doesn't have all the material, huh?), that it's getting the best opportunity to succeed. but i sincerely wish this "vinyl" good tidings on the marketplace.

And I definitely hope DJ Sedaris takes the opportunity to cut and scratch and blend his essays for a pipin' hot new yorker literary party or something. he should include katie couric and black lady gaga in his video girl entourage.


Popular Author's Audiobook Tries New Format: Vinyl [NYT]

image: via

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Am I In The Right Place? I Don't See TAN's Laptop Anywhere ..."

while you're fixing your straps and awaiting my return. here are some old items to peruse at your leisure while smoking a cig, or not:

Michael Vick's been in the news. I once challenged the dogs on his behalf.

Eminem's back. I once did a spoof of "My Name Is".

Football's back. Do you remember Negro Bowl I?

Who Will Be America's Next Top Racist?

I still think Salt Water Taffy is a fairly retarded invention...

internal: might be worth revisiting Post-Racial Fight Club again ...

since we know Post-Racial is not PostModern, or somesuch...

Who's Got Next???: y'know on the whole Minorities Being President tip ...

remember the girl whose booty Obama supposedly looked at? No? Well she probably remembers you sizing up her booty.

unrelated: my shower doesn't talk anymore....

hmm, speaking of showers, i haven't talked about sex in a while. i wonder if i should re-sex "Sex is re-sex"...

kanye's still around, but who's the new 50?

eh, should be back by the time you finish this and listen to lykke li's black cab session 500 more times.

pic via: Ye

Monday, September 07, 2009

Table Beat-Boxing Has Improved Since I Was A Kid

As a kid in the south bx, banging a beat on the desk or table was standard practice. nothing to see here folks. when i went off to prep/boarding school, and me and my boys would start orchestrating multi-track instrumentals in the dining hall, it was probably a little more avant garde. a future look at the assimilated learning curve, or somesuch....

and now it's just cool to see that the kids are a little bit on some table beat-box 3.0 with it. this business with the pencil was definitely beyond our skill-set in the 80s, 90s.

via videogum

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

TAN: Out To Greece

TAN is away in Greece. Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Your regular irregularly scheduled programming will resume end of this week. The Greek assimilation will not be be televised, but probably blogged. holla.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hov's Blueprint 3 Leaking, Might Be A Little Watered Down

If the world is made of two people, artists and executives. animals and zookeepers. or somesuch. I've long thought Jay-Z's legacy might be most interestingly framed as testament to an executive pushing the artist envelope as far as possible. A zookeeper jumping around with gorillas, hunting with lions, and pulling it off, for a while, with great success. The Black Album might be where he even blacked out and ate like some raw carrion or some shit before puking out Kingdom Come on some "raw, uncooked flesh does not agree with me" ish. Hov is technically brilliant, and knows his *brand* inside-and-out, but he lacks the stomach for the risk required of the most brilliant, soaring, time-spanning art[ists].

The Blueprint 3 looks like its fitting the same formula. Recent leaks from nahright and the NMC:

Reminder (prod. Timbo)
Off That (w/ Drake (on hook))

of course DOA makes airs of ambition, but ends up staying a solid song.

Run This Town bumps, but the vid is conceived in a much airier space; the song itself is much more dense, inert. It's a solid song.

that's 4 of 15 or so. 25%-ish for the lazy mathematicians in the building. suffice to say, there's probably some decent music coming- we hope. which is nothing to complain about. but for jay, if he really cares about such matters, it's clear The Chase is still on.

Friday, August 21, 2009

When Will Hip Hop Get That Woodstock Love?

TAN's bringing in guests and correspondents! Herewith: MGJordan on Woodstock, hip hop's lack of media respect (no Rodney Dangerfield?), and how he learned to stop worrying and love Jonah Weiner.

Last week, anyone with access to a TV or computer was treated to a display of boomer self congratulation so vast and insistent that experiencing it became compulsory—Woodstock turned 40. The entirety of the MSM stopped to remark on that glorious occasion when America’s youth gathered in the mud of upstate New York to drop acid and listen to the Grateful Dead’s poorly amplified noodling. For a single slight shimmery weekend the 60s counter-culture realized its belief in peace, love and understanding—and then everyone grew up and ushered in Reaganomics.

Yes, put me in the group dedicated to deflating the Woodstock bubble. The continuing fellation of the boomer’s moment in the sun—remember Woodstocks 1995 and 1999? (hopefully not)—annoys me to no end. But even though it’s beyond obvious that Woodstock reverence is beyond hyperbolic, it’s not necessarily its extent that irks me. Culture, to a degree, is delusion on a grand scale and that’s fine. There’s no real difference between scrawling “Clapton is God” on a London subway wall and swearing to your friends that Jigga man is the God MC.

What really bothers me about the Woodstock celebration (besides boomer hypocrisy…that’s a horse to flog on another day) is the disparity it reveals between the press’s attitude towards hip hop and the press’s attitude towards other cultural movements. This October marks the 30th anniversary of “Rapper’s Delight,” the first top 40 rap single and the song that launched hip hop culture’s global explosion. Will Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood put together a retrospective like they did for Woodstock? Doubtful.

I suppose that’s fine in a way. The appreciation gap between rock and rap doubtless has much to do with racism and classism, but it probably has even more to do with age—rock is old and rap is young. Rock, already canonized, has affected all the change it ever will—rap is rock’s kid brother, all grown up but still largely undefined by critical consensus. So I guess I’m okay with hip hop not receiving as wide coverage as rock does—how can we celebrate hip hop as a group if we haven’t really agreed yet on what parts to celebrate?

My real beef is that the press seems congenitally incapable of treating rap as a legitimate art form. Consider the lazy journalistic device of rendering articles humorous by mashing up hip hop and a “serious subject.” As offensive and nonsensical as these articles are, they’re still alive and well. Check out this NPR piece on how the feud between Jay-Z and The Game mirrors world politics. The author writes:

The Game is the erratic wildcard.

"He's North Korea; he's Iran," Lynch says. "He might not win, but he can hurt you if he drags you down into this extended occupation, this extended counterinsurgency campaign."

Why is he doing this? After Jay-Z released "D.O.A. ('Death of Auto-Tune')" The Game saw an opportunity to peel off Jay-Z's key alliance partners to form a coalition and undermine Jay-Z's hegemony.

No. Fine, Game is an erratic wild card. But what “key alliance partners” is he trying to peel off from Jay? What, he wants Memphis Bleak to guest on The R.E.D. Album? It’s just confusingly wrong. Anyone who knows anything about hip hop can recognize that this article is logically barren.

But that’s sort of beside the point, isn’t it? The intent of the article isn’t to conduct an interesting juxtaposition between hip hop and international relations. The article exists to compare a subject that is, to NPR’s audience, obviously silly—hip hop—with a subject for grown ups—international relations. The whole thing is just an excuse for suburban house wives to exclaim “well, isn’t that a riot?!”

Hip hop deserves better than that. Hip hop definitely deserves better than blogs like Snacks and Shit, which gets its name from a woefully misinterpreted Jay-Z lyric and purports to catalogue “preposterous” rap lyrics. I’m all for acknowledging that hip hop can be ludicrous and stupid, but most of the blog’s posts either aren’t funny or depend on taking a lyric outside its original context. I mean, wow, if you take rap lyrics literally they often make no sense? I guess these guys never heard of figurative language.

Rock ‘n’ roll is no less inherently silly than hip hop (“I am the eggman, they are the eggmen/ I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob”), but it hasn’t been held up as an object of ridicule since hair metal went out of style. Enough with the goofy or ironic hip hop references: hip hop, even when it’s being fun and insane and over the top, is worthy of serious consideration.

That’s why the embrace of rap music by mainstream critical outlets—Pitchfork, The Village Voice, Slate, The New Yorker—is so important. Reading Jonah Weiner painstakingly explain the ins and outs of rap to a rap illiterate audience may grate on the nerves of serious hip hop heads (see comments here), but at least Weiner’s articles propagate the idea that rap is a legitimate art form. Maybe with a few more Weiners (and a few more Nathan Rabins and Sasha Frere-Joneses), hip hop will eventually get the mainstream respect it deserves.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quotable Nietzsche: Why TAN Is So Wise

(more and more feeling like TAN is trending towards a meaning closer to that of "The Assimilated Nietzsche" over "The Assimilated Negro", but then any minority rising to power is Nietzschean, so yeah, makes sense ... anyFried, more/excess is coming...)

"How much truth does a spirit endure, how much truth does it dare? more and more that became for me the real measure of value. Error (—faith in the ideal—) is not blindness, error is cowardice ... Every attainment, every step forward in knowledge, follows from courage, from hardness against oneself, from cleanliness in relation to oneself ... I do not refute ideals, I merely put on gloves before them."


"Under these circumstances I have a duty against which my habits, even more the pride of my instincts, revolt at bottom, namely, to say: "Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else!"


"My practice of war is formulated in four principles: First: I only attack causes that are victorious,—I may even wait until they become victorious. Second: I only attack causes against which I would find no allies, so that I stand alone—so that I compromise myself alone ... I have never taken a step publicly that did not compromise me: that is my criterion of doing right. Third: I never attack persons,—I avail myself of the person merely as a powerful magnifying-glass that allows one to make visible a general, but creeping and elusive calamity [...snip...] Fourth: I only attack things when all personal differences are excluded, when any background of bad experiences is lacking. On the contrary, to attack is to me a proof of goodwill, sometimes even of gratitude. I honor, I distinguish therewith by associating my name with that of a cause or a person: for or against—that makes no difference to me at this point.

- all quotes from Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is
(no homo?)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Real Recognize Real: 2 Years Is a Long Time On the Internet

A couple years ago I posted a Failed Ideas in Hip Hop video, billing it as "a funny sketch by people who do funny sketches". Lo and behold, "It's The Real" (I think they changed their name from "The Real to "It's The Real"?) are still making funny videos a couple years later. As the hip hop loving jews say, muy impresivo.

Also they got all kinds of internet and hip hop cameos/testimonials in their 2-year anniversary video. Which is like the internet version of "making it rain" or something.

2 Real 2 Furious from jeff on Vimeo.

Congrats to It's the Real, here's to two more years, 95 more vids, 200 more testimonials, etc. etc.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

If Obama Is The Joker, Who Is Batman?

The couple of posts I've seen with these Obama-as-Joker "socialist" pics all say the same thing: it's a striking image, that's making it way around not only on the internet, but in The Real World (so much as Los Angeles can be called The Real World), but no one knows or has any sense of what it means.

And to that I add: Ditto.

via: American Thinker, NRO

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

About TAN: Web Hunk, 4.0

The Houston Chronicle included Patrice Evans, TAN, The Assimilated Negro in their gallery of Web Hunks today. Indeed, as you suspected, the Apocalypse is nigh!

Since I don't want to just be ogled as a savory hunky piece of melanin-meat laptop. Here are some links:

Hip Hop Stuff:
Will "Keeping It Real" Ever Go Right?

Is Elzhi Deeper Than John Updike?
Maybe We Should Just Hand Hip Hop Over to the Ladies?

Racial, Post-Racial Stuff:
Black People film boobs like this, White People film boobs like that

The 4 Horsemen of the Post-Racial Apocalypse
Negropedia Brown and the Case of the World White Web

Matrices, Video, and Random Hits & Misses on/for Gawker stuff:
The Morality Matrix
A Bronx Tale: In Search of Sonia Sotomayor
Does Weed Have "5" On the Economy?

House of Hot-Ass Interviews
: including The Roots, Sasha Grey, Larry Wilmore and, uh, still more... (?)

100 Things About TAN: this is kinda old, but, y'know, has a personal facebooky touch.

What Else???
sports head: not so much recently, but for nbc new york, deadspin, fanhouse and others in the past. I also think the Mets Are Better Than Sex.

I've done readings: about letters to my genitals, and sex on shrooms.

book deal, "Negropedia" is no longer the title, fyi.

There's more if you want to noodle around, but I'm guessing that should be plenty to scare you away at this point. But before you go: PLEASE SUBSCRIBE -- i don't blog-churn out volumes, but there is more, bigger, better in store. And Subscriptions allow you to keeps tabs from a safe distance, and maybe I won't have to whore my body out for internet celebrity currency. it's like saving an african baby, except i went to prep school and live in nyc.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prom Night In Mississippi

How old are you?

Did you go to your High School Prom?

Was it integrated?

I'd imagine that last one to come across as sort of a joke question -- is it integrated??? do you mean like cavemen and dinosaurs? these are the jokes people -- But for Charleston High School in Mississippi, it's a legitimate query. They just had their first "integrated" prom a couple years ago. The story of it serving as the old world grist for Paul Saltzman documentary "Prom Night In Mississippi".

Here's some pub copy on it:

The film deftly weaves together student-made videos, interviews, and fly-on-the-wall moments with scenes of school officials, parents and Morgan Freeman himself, as white and black members of the Charleston senior class work together to organize the groundbreaking dance. While students prepare for the big day, seemingly inconsequential rites of passage suddenly become profound as the weight of history falls on teenage shoulders. We quickly learn that change does not come easily in this sleepy Delta town, as Freeman’s generosity ends up fanning flames of racism among several generations of Charleston residents.

And a video clip:

Some thoughts:

1.Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. These people are from The South:

Monday, July 27, 2009

KRS, I Knew, Duh, But I Did Not Know Buckshot and Talib Had Off The Dome Skills Like This

I think there is an objective philosophical argument to make for dropping "freestyle" as our textual indicator of off-the-dome skills. It muddies the clarity of our folklore/storytelling. It will be confusing *in the future*. But it's also an argument that's tough to make with conviction, cause I do agree, with many, that whatever you call it -- "freestyle" -- is the pinnacle of the hip hop culture. Professor Chang once said "hip hop is the art of the impossible", and freestyle is the most transparent, immediate practicing of that. A good freestyle is that perfect form of spontaneous literature. And as readers, consumers you have a sense when you're seeing the *real* shit.

Two samps below:

But for real, I always thought Buck and Talib were "written freestyle verses" types. And I'm not quite certain with Buck if that was all off the top, I mean if it was, he's sick and immediately moves up a pay scale or two.

Hate to be Grumpy Old Men about it, but def don't see it that much from the young boys. Here's Drake, "freestyling, on Flex. Not off the dome. Off the cellphone. I like Drake, but y'know, it's not the same. KRS and Buck got 20-somethingK views, on two clips, Drake has gone gold with this one. Huh?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Got Beef, The Game Vs. Jay-Z: Satellite Just Went Down

"A wise man once said don't argue with fools/ cause people from a distance can't tell who is who"

So a couple days ago, somewhat surprisingly, the hegemonic Jay-Z did actually speak out on the whole beef with "The Game", and he wasn't particularly stately about it saying bluntly, "tell groupie, get over it".

The Game, who when not barking in front of the Hov estate has been tussling with Bow Wow in ALL CAPS, was probably delighted to get wind of Jay taking notice, and subsequently gave an *exclu-clu-clusive* to the Boodah Brothers where he fires back.

It's more of the same, which is to say childish blather from someone not playing in the same league really. Like if the kid who dunked on LeBron recently started talking to the press about how he is a better all around ball player than James. ...As I'm writing this, I sort of feel like I'm too biased to Jay, but Game calls Jay ugly, old, and wonders why he doesn't have a child "is he firing blizzanks or somethin'". It's like, come on, really? For 15 minutes, that's all you got? Firstly, ugly, besides being childish when repeated ad infinitum, is irrelevant when this guy is marrying (married?) a girl widely considered "the hottest chick in the game". Nextly, hello, we're all gonna get old. Thirds: Game's bio talks about a history of child abuse, from presumably too-young parents, ... so the final stab seems particularly short-sighted.

Forward Fodder

Do people still do the email forward thing? I think some people who read my blog do. I take 'em 8-80 dumb crippled and emailing-crazy, etc.

Anyfod, came across this site with so many wonderful little images/sayings to forward I could hardly choose which ones to post. And goshdarnit if they're still not fun as all heck.

for the "gotta have my coffee" workaholics:

for the slow chin-strokers:
for socially-conscious-liberal-do-gooders-who-do-good-to-the-extent-that-bumper-stickers-and-such-constitute-doing-good:

for ironic quirky humor lovers:

for people who like to intellectualize their cycles of depression

for all my single ladies, who know what they want:

via Make My Mood, People Sayings

AssimiLinks: Your Jealousy and Black Female Rabbis are Useless To Me, Like Newspapers and Indie Dream Girls

Changes afoot. TAN soldiers being recruited and suited up for war. There will be AssimiLink-dumps. Send assimilated links, news, brainfarts to theassimilatednegro at gmizzy.


On Jealousy: "Jealousy may be losing its utility in contemporary life, more useful to our ancestors than to us" -- does this mean in 100 years jealousy might not exist? useless and/or phased out via our evolutionary tract like the dodo bird, the appendix, third nipples? what other emotions are no longer useful to us nowadays? Psychology Today with the fodder for thought.

Paper vs. Web, the unscientific experiment: Slate's having some people only read physical newspapers for a few days, while others only read the web. Unscientific but interesting, and a model TAN might use to to conduct some cultural experiments of his own.

Speaking of newspapers, how does the Times home page gets made: don't need much more explanation than that. via the Observer.

LeBron James going from classy to ashy: Josh Levin dissects the Lebron James video cover-up. "The man who wants to be known as "The Global Icon" should be smart enough to realize that a single dunk in a pickup game does a lot more to build the name of the unknown dunker than it does to harm the world-famous dunkee. LeBron lost face the only way he possibly could have: by failing to be magnanimous." Indeed. Although really the reason to peep is for inclusion of video of Michael Jordan losing a one-on-one game to CEO John Rogers. Nice insightful pull on that one, Josh.

Indie Dream girls: Doree Shafrir, who's hot to death right now, explores the genre of manic pixie dream girls in movies. we're gonna have some focused follow-up on this.

First African-American Female Rabbi: have the jews gone post-racial and post-gender? i'm surprised at the lack of negro memos i've received on this.

And finally, some unreleased Nas, a snippet from a song called "Colors", from DJ Khalil and OKP

DJ Khalil and Nas in the studio recording "Colors" from DJ KHALIL on Vimeo.

illustration: via

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear TAN: As the Ass of Your Blog Turns, Or Something

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

In this edition: How to shortcut-access this blog!

Dear TAN,

Noticed I'd started typing "ass" into my browser address bar to get to your site a bit back. Realized I could just as easily type "as". Would you rather have a rump association going on in my head when I'm looking for you, or preposition?




Firstly, thanks for asking! There are many things we do not understand in this world. Many things we know exist, but can't tangibly grasp. Associations by way of browser address routines are certainly one of the numerous, perhaps infinite, number of intangibilia that indeed influence the way you, me and everyone we know lead our lives. If you think a certain thing, or are triggered into a certain mode/sensibility by way of my url-shortcut, then that quite possibly frames my content as much as the blogger template, letters, and words. It -- WE -- are all connected.

As we try and fix the circuitry of life, it'd be easy to overlook this little filament of a notion. Luckily, because you are bold enough to ask what needs to be asked, we at least have a point of entry.

So. Now. "As" or "Ass"? Well, I guess it's more about what the associations do in your head. That is to say TAN is here to please. Or at least provoke in a pleasant fashion. So my natural impulse reaction is to give the "Ass" a thumbs up, but then again I'm a guy; we thumbs up most anything that's moist on the inside, and in close proximity to a viable orifice for our egos. (hmmm, should I edit that?). So the question really is for you: does "ass" make you think, "oooooh, ass. i want me some of that." or "i'm glad i do yoga/run/eat right/sex-like-a-champ cause i got a good one..." or maybe "lots of fine asses 'round town these days." Does the word make you think things that fall on the spectrum somewhere between positive and innocuous?

Or does it make you think of assh*les, and/or people who act like asses (is there a difference?); the smell of ass, and/or the ghosts of gas-passed past. and other such cheerless ephemera.

i can only presume "as", the preposition, is more of a blank slate. at least, that's what it is for me. something neither here nor there in terms of associative properties. I guess its entirely possible for you to have strong feelings about grammar, and positive or negative emotive connections in that regard. I know grammar enthusiasts. And was once good friends with a girl who was abused by commas as a little girl; totally killed our chances of making beautiful poetry together.

Anyas, i like showy. i like to stand out. when i can. when appropriate. I'd rather be a stinky ass, than an unnoticed preposition. Psychologist Caorl Gilligan teaches growing up as a process of slow-forgetting. I want to be remembered! Even when you're old! So if forced to choose between two undesirables, i'm inclined to go with an indelible ass.

but as with all things, it really just depends... somehow, though, i think this particular train of thought will linger with me for a while. Thanks for the food for thought.



top ass image: via

The Prep School Negro, Trailer

This isn't in my *voice*, but it is in so many ways what TAN is all about. Where the conversion process begins.

Looking forward to peeping the movie in full. Contact has been made with Andre, the director and producer, so hopefully more recon/stuff to follow on this thread. But really it all just gets me to thinking about how we're close to hitting *our* stride; maybe the final hurdle will be when we finally have the *assimilated* Judd Apatow sensibility on the screen. Not oriented as documentary (unless it's faux/mock), but as simple funny story-telling. Baby steps, negrosan.

We are coming. We are Assimilateds. Hear us roar!

The Prep School Negro

Friday, July 17, 2009

BYOBBQ and The J Period Mixtape Giveaway

This weekend the hip hop blogosphere is getting together for a first annual BYOB (Bring Your Own Blog[ger]) BBQ. That's BYOBBBQ for short, and blog-cutesy.

AnyB's, looks like they got some online power brokers in the building. Nahright, Missinfo, 2dopeboyz, smoking section, OKP, others ...

also jperiod (mixtape king-ing-ing-ing!) on the wheels, and in the spirit of a first annual, and the online-free-hip-hop-content-sphere, there's a couple classic mixtapes being given away. here's the links:

Alternate Links:

not sure if i'm gonna be able to make it cause my daddy went and got born on the same day and wants to have a party himself, so if you're in nyc and interested and have the ability to socialize and mingle, holla at me for details, i might want to send an emissary or something.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

If It Looks Like a Duck, And Quacks Like a Duck, Then Maybe It Has a Spiraling Maze-Like Vagina

Sometimes you come across things on the internet and you're like, how did this not result in an intergalactic media extravaganza, the likes of which a leaked Michael Jackson-Sarah Palin sex tape could only hope to muster, ... or at least land a Time magazine cover story or something:

Female ducks have evolved "maze-like" genitals with many twists, pouches and dead ends, in a bid to prevent rape and retain control of who fathers their offspring – while male ducks have evolved equally convoluted penises to keep up.

OK then!

You win everything, ducks. Congratulations.

Duck genitals locked in arms race [Cosmos]

image: via

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How I Learned To Be Super Successful By Writing Letters to My Genitalia

A couple months ago the lovely and charming Blaise asked me to participate on her "How I Learned..." reading series. The subject that month: How I Learned To Be Super Successful.

Video from the evening just came in. Here's part 1, which is the letter I wrote that started the viral-meme-chain-reaction of people writing letters to their genitalia (everyone knows about that craze, right? right???):

A Letter From A Black Man to his Average-Sized Penis [TAN]
How I Learned [HIL]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Michael Jackson RIP: "ABC"

The End of Pop, looking at the story and legacy of Michael Jackson one song and video clip at a time.

1.2: The Wicked Witch of Motown

The songwriting collective that bequeathed MJ and The Jackson 5 four #1 singles was called "The Corporation", and they remind me of the wicked witch in fairy tales who shows up when The Prince or Princess is born and gives some sparkly gift that's also a terrible curse only realized over time. Like a diamond ring that allows the wearer to turn any piece of doodoo they touch into gold, but then every ten years, on your birthday, one of your fingers fall off.

That character in fairy tales is usually mean, and I wouldn't want to ascribe the karmic sin of "evil intent" to The Corporation -- songwriting collectives, after all, have the noblest of goals; championing Art over Artists -- but in the narrative of MJ King of Pop, these guys are playing that oft-forgotten role that sets our hero on his predestined journey. The gift-curse of the gold-doodoo ring, or somesuch.

"ABC" is the second #1 single, but the first that showcases a little of this weird yin-yang golden-doodoo relationship.

So on one hand it's a song that's the epitome of "bubblegum soul"; this is what a songwriting collective should produce: Fun, bouncy, danceable hits. On a musical-enjoyment level, it's brilliant.

But then, on the other hand, from a distance you might think: hey, wait a minute. did that 12-year-old befroed boy just tell the girl (presumably older) "to git up and show him what she can do?" And how "t-t-t-teacher's gonna show her how to get an 'a'?" Huh? What in tarnation is this fresh befroed boy talking about? What does he know enough about to t-t-t-teach anyone?

This is a definite theme from the early Jackson 5 era. There's an empty soulless precociousness that conjures images of Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageants and child labor laws.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jaydiohead: The Encore

Max Tannone, the DJ behind the Jaydiohead (Jay-Z + Radiohead) mashup that got some buzz late last year, and eventually landed a twitter shout-out from Mr. Carter himself, has released a 5-song encore.

When I unpacked the concept a little bit in January i said:

Jay and Radiohead seem complementary on the surface but are actually antithetical artists in sensibility. Jay in his own words, "is a business-man." "He's not trying to do numbers like The Roots." The Roots, of course, are artists. Maybe the closest thing to a Radiohead of hip hop. Also, the Obama of hip hop bands.

Jay is an artist as well, of course (my word choice is/was lacking); but this also ties in with the DOA critique. Hov's flow, presence exudes a bottom line sensibility that prioritizes business over "artsy" impulses that could potentially expose him, i.e. artist vulnerability is lacking. Mr. Carter plays it smart/safe as an emcee. Which is why I think the *concept* of Jaydiohead strikes more than the actual execution (though as toure and jay attest, there are definitely a couple joints that really cook). Radiohead's ethereal vibe/sensibility is more befitting abstract poetry, not matter-of-fact smooth criminality; hence my RadioNas suggestion.

I haven't gotten to marinate with the 5-song additions to really dig in on those, but I'm glad Max is still experimenting. It's all good-culture in the hood.

Jaydiohead: The Encore

5 Fingers on Jaydiohead [TAN]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dear Mayara Tavares

You opened my eyes yesterday. And not in the way everyone, including myself, who got suckered into O-Bum-a-Gate would imply.

I don't know. I just empathize with your position. And want to apologize for being part of the knee-jerk media monolith (an eensy-weensy small part that sells Snotsicles in the back of the mailroom) reaction.

Because when the picture came out that seemingly captured our President Barack Obama taking a peek at your tush (perhaps elevating you to "ass that changed america" status), some clowns made jokes, some crazies exclaimed how this meant our president was a pedophile, some skeptics skepticized it as a plant by conservatives. Still others wondered why anyone cared either way because guys look at girls behinds all the time.

But no one really wondered about Miss Tavares. No one, so far as i saw, was like: Hello??? Everyone?? Please everybody just shut the f up and think about this young socially conscious and proactive teenager getting to go on what is likely a once in a lifetime trip of her dreams to meet the president -- the new and improved *special* president who represents the face of a new world order -- and how everything is absolutely ruined when your ass ends up circulated around the planet as, uh, the butt of headlines, and now people are slow-frame analyzing your walk, and feeling free to comment on the power rankings of your booty, and every possible reaction you could have except for the one that empathizes with the little girl who just wanted to look nice when she met the president.

so, i don't know... for what it's worth (very little), i was guilty too, but sorry about that.

(uh, and you too, #1 megan fox fan.)



Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama Trying to Get His Hands Around Global Warming?

UPDATE: with retraction/apology.

This is the presidential sitcom moment right before both Barack and Sarkozy face front and see their beautiful wives glaring at them.

I think we can skip to the end and award this "picture of the year". I also anticipate more photos of Obama walking Bo by himself in the future. And maybe doing lots of other things by himself. (Which actually does raise the questions of whether Mr. Obama, y'know, occasionally rubs one out before a big speech or something. It might seem obvious that he does, it's just natural, but I could see feeling self-conscious about such things if you're President. And is there really any privacy in the White House? I don't know. If he does, i bet that first one carried some extra tension, or emotion, or something)

But I guess our Ass Commander in Chief won't actually be by himself; Sarkozy looks committed to the role of giggling-sidekick-wingman. Is he not about to elbow Barack, and be like "not bad eh, EH"?

This is TAN, though, and it wouldn't be right if we didn't add a couple more pics of powerful black men where the thought bubble is pre-scripted with a "DAAAAAAM"

Actually Diddy's thought bubble seems like it's more complicated than that.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Emma Shulman: A Woman to Stay Young With

Had this passed on to me, a profile/interview on what I can only imagine to be the baddest mamma-jamma in New York City. She's probably gonna slap me good for such corn-ball phrasing, but for real, let us count the ways:

1. She's a consultant at the Center for Excellence on Brain Aging and Dementia. I didn't know this existed, but now aware it sounds very necessary and very brilliant. I don't care so much about me getting old, so much as my brain. And, of course, consultants are always the best kind of job to have.

2. You'd be a consultant too, with this sort of itinerary: currently pursuing a master's in cultural anthropology. private class in writing. acting class at John Jay. fordham for english lit class. and belong to the Philharmonic, the ballet, the Roundabout. -- wow. that's a lot of classes, are you in high school miss lady with the dyed gray hair?

3. ok, well with all the studying, how do you let loose?: "I smoked. Seventy-something years. I just quit three months ago. Cold turkey. I like red wine, a glass with dinner. I used to drink Scotch. I was a Scotch maniac.

I was a pretty wild kid, running around with a lot of guys."

4. oh yeah? Pretty wild with the guys? Well, you're so smart and interesting, maybe we could go out or something?: "I didn’t want to get involved again. Men who are older are looking for someone to take care of them. They don’t cook, they don’t clean. By the way, I never cooked, I never cleaned."

5. Playing hard to get are you? Well, how old are you anyways?: 96

NINETY-SIX??!?!?! Holy smokes! talk about being out of my league: more educated, more wordly, has drunk more scotch, smoked more cigs, told more significant others to hit the dishes because she doesn't do that, helped more people in ways that matter, and had more fun while she did it, and .... SHE JUST QUIT SMOKING THREE MONTHS AGO. AND SHE SAW THE GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE GET BUILT. AND SHE'S LIKE, I ONLY MESS WITH YOUNG GUYS CAUSE I CAN'T BE FOLDING CLOTHES FOR THESE INFIRMED DUDES WITH ALL THESE CLASSES I'M TAKING, AND BLOGGING AND BALLET AND STUFF. WHAAAAATTTT????

Is she 26 or 96? What's the movie where lindsay lohan jumps into her mom's body? that's obviously the only explanation for what's going on here.

Seriously, I've been sussing out the MJ narrative and indulging the inspiration from "superstars", but look no further than Emma to see inspiration, life etc is all around you, what you make of it, and any other cliche she'd smack me for because life isn't about talking it's about living.

ok, off to throw pebbles at her window and see if Emma, Queen of The Olds, will have a scotch with me.

Experience Necessary: She Knows a Thing or Two About Aging [NY Times]

Previously in "Amazing People":
My New Rap Name Is Wesley Autrey

image: Sara Krulwich

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Little Bird Told Me ...

You should be up on this song

José James, "Little Bird"


of all the things I found in life
no moment's better than this
of all the things i'd ever known
nothing prepared me for your kiss

if we fly
if we fly
if we fly into the sun
of all the things i needed baby
you were my cherished one

a little bird told me
that you can't find your way home
a little bird has shown me
that you can't run away from love

darkness falls upon the city
like the ocean falls upon the sands
waves of sorrow leave me breathless
can you love this broken man

if i try
if i try
if i try to love again
i wake up every morning
unsure of where i stand

a little bird told me
that you can't find your way home
a little bird has shown me
that you can't run away from love

open wide my feelings
and tear me down until i break
show me what the real me is
guaranteed to seal my fate

if i cry
if i cry
if i cry would you be gone or
help me rub my sadness
tell me i'm the only one

hold me
hold me
hold me
hold me
hold me
hold me

lovers only
giving when you
feel it in your heart

i knew it when you
kissed my body
loving every part


of all the things I found in life
no moment's better than this
of all the things i'd ever known
nothing prepared me for your kiss

if we fly
if we fly
if we fly into the sun
of all the things i needed baby
you were my cherished one

a little bird told me
that you can't find your way home
a little bird has shown me
that you can't run away from love

"Little Bird" is off the Jazzanova album "Of All the Things".
José James -- he of the timeless voice -- can be tracked at his myspace.

Hip Hop Culture Is LIke A Homeless Emcee

I sort of spontaneously combusted when I discovered D-Nice's blog at the start of the year. He was trotting out these amazing, beautifully composed (i.e. visually) "True Hip Hop Stories"; interviews with hip hop legends that mostly may have fallen off the radar a bit. My initial post had clips from Master Ace and Dana Dane.

I remember feeling some pride thinking I was going to help unleash a beast on to an unsuspecting internet population. I mean it's like a hip hop head's wet dream (next to a film version of "Secret Wars" using real-life rappers as the heroes and villains). And I'm definitely happy to see D's still doing his thing.

But I'm sort of amazed and given pause to see the clips aren't doing bigger numbers. The joint with Buckshot of Black Moon broke into the six figures, but many more are sub-10K. I don't know, I just don't see how it gets anymore hot-like-fire than this. And it is what it is, but gives some perspective on the *hip hop space* and overall bottom-line impact. A few years ago, if in the position, I would have thrown mad bankroll at this thinking we were sitting on a goldmine. Maybe a few years ago with proper packaging, distribution etc, it would have been.

AnyD, here's Special Ed.

Word. But I was refreshed on this series because I saw a clip of a new school dude (via rap radar), and the kicker is he's homeless. The Homeless Emcee. And I've long been a fan of trying to access the homeless sensibility/situation for content. There's comedy, tragedy, drama, human condition. All that and more.

But here's the emcee:

Now that's probably gonna be too dark and gully for most (I had been thinking a lot more sketch comedy, "Pimp My Box" or something). But still. Dude's a thinking man, obviously. And that's the ultimate point. The best "freshest" content accesses how people think in situations we haven't thought about. The triumph of The Sopranos or The Godfather movies is dramatized verisimilitude for italian mafia life. I bet the homeless have enough thinking people, and culture, to support a hit series or two. Unfortunately, he's a rapper not an actor, so he might be able to drop some hot mixtapes, but I don't know if it's gonna get him off the street.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Dear TAN: Can I Be the Nubian 'Queen of Leon'?

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

In this edition: Kings of Leon bump in South Africa!

Dear Uncle TAN,

So I’ve got this problem, see I thought I’d cured my malady of assimilation by growing some locks. But it seems the infection was a little more deep seated than I thought, because lately I have become an unabashed fan of some unbecoming music for an intelligent, South African black woman like me. I am… a fan of Kings of Leon.

I could go into the sordid detailed angst of being an assimilated individual on African soil. (I say this with my head hanging in shame, because even though there’s a valid excuse for my current state of being, apartheid, I’m not proud). I don’t think it’d help to dredge up painful memories of being called a coconut when growing up but rather go right ahead and ask for your assistance – or insight.

How can this be? What’s wrong with me? I don’t think something like this would happen inversely.


Nubian Queen of Leon sing-along fan


Dear Queen of Leon,

Why so glum? I refer you to the homey Nietzsche, "Maintaining cheerfulness in the midst of a gloomy task, fraught with immeasurable responsibility, is no small feat; and yet what is needed more than cheerfulness? Nothing succeeds if prankishness has no part in it."

It might help to know that by prankishness, he means farting. Nothing succeeds if farting has no role. And it's really true, when you think about it.

(*story idea: farting is the ultimate social palate cleanser; no one can be racist while people are farting. explore.* )

On to your particular issues:

1. One should not consider assimilation a malady, m'lady. Rejoice! Assimilation is alchemy of the human spirit. It is our collective will to power. The Kings bump in the mother-land? Good to know! TAN is an old swedish lady addicted to Too Short if you didn't just expand the matrix by a few dots with that particular impulse. give yourself a pat for being a true original.

2. You were called a "coconut"? Surely at some point in life you'll find this hilarious, but more important: did you grow up in the early twentieth century?
In what era besides old-timey times can you call someone a "coconut" and have it register as being painfully offensive? Did they call you a coconut AND make fun of your pantaloons? Did they also call your mother a "liar"? There's really no conversation where "you're a coconut" is not a non sequitur. YOU'RE A DIRTY F'ING COCONUT!!! Uh, ok. *pause* Soooo, I was saying ...

3. I'm not as up on the Kings as perhaps I should be. But from a cursory checking out of their "media narrative" it seems they're a perfect example of how artists (or artists as identity-memes) often evolve over time (read: assimilate). They had grassroot support from the underground, then they blew up as pop stars of their genre. and now they have a faction of *original* fans who are like: yo, I remember when Kings of Leon use to not use deodorant and eat pork chops with their hands. Now they got haircuts and shit, Pfft!

Blah Blah. I refer you to the homey Hov, "everybody look at you strange and say you change, like you work that hard to stay the same".

4. This opens up the door for you, Queen of Leon, to appreciate that perhaps what resonates with you about The Kings is not the twang in their strings, but their southern rock approximation of being a coconut in Africa. THEY'RE A BUNCH OF FRIGGIN' COCONUTS, ALL OF 'EM!! At the very least, they'll let you bring a certain prankishness to any situation that arises.

Viva le Leon!

UPDATE: Kings of Leon Video Hot Pick, "Be Somebody"

image: via

Friday, July 03, 2009

White People Film Boobs Like This, Black People Film Boobs Like That

I might need to unpack this at some point, with y'know, like words. But for now I'm just going to watch these two videos until Christmas.

For Caucasian peeps:

For my nizzas:

I feel like the heteronormative guys of all race, color and creeds are going to be able to hold hands in appreciation of these two model examples of modern art. But I think the thing we need to wrap our immerse our heads in is the fact that on a Matrix binary code level, THIS IS THE SAME VIDEO.

TAN-Pack: Death of Auto-Tune

Jay-Z's Death of Auto-Tune video dropped this week. I might comment on it, maybe not. Sort of like Drake's "Best I ever Had" video, it's a little disappointing. The potential conceptual upside outweighs the physical execution (like how about something more macabre than italian gangsta, with Jay snuffing famous auto-tune artists in a gruesome grisly way?). But so it goes with making videos and songs, whatever, it's not "bad" by any means. And there is a lot of wine-drinking, and it will be so hilarious if rappers start talking about pinot noirs by way of Mr. Carter's trend-cue...

AnyJay, these "TAN-Packs" might be how I brand and package thematically-related content once the new site is up and all dat. So just starting a janky ghetto beta version here. Ghetto Pass, Negro Bowl, and other stuff like that could be called TAN-Packs. (Hmmm, actually that might be sound too much like a certain brand of female menstrual flow inhibitors, soooo, we'll see if that sticks ...)

If I had to tweet this, it's simply: the shit TAN's written about about/related to DOA recently.

Jay-Z/Superstar hunger
Reading the Rhymes: Death of Auto-Tune
Negropedia Brown: The Case of the Undead Auto-Tune
Will "Keeping It Real" Ever Go Right?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Um, Maybe We Should Just Hand Hip Hop Over to the Ladies?

What does that mean exactly? I don't know. Maybe it's sexist. Maybe it's just a headline. But this female emcee (her name is "Invincible") I just got put on to prompts some thoughts on the subject of hip hop's proprietary gender issues:

First off, I'm sure I'm under-informed, but this is the first caucasian female i've seen with a *hardcore* hyper-lyrical flow. I haven't parsed the lyrics to give it a real grade, but it's the first time I've even felt compelled to. Now we know here on TAN, "a white chick is just light-skin". And we know they've quietly-but-surely been part of a renaissance for the beat-boxing arts. But flow? Like a Black Thought, or a Kweli, or a Jean Grae? Holla.

Now I'm sure she's pissed about the "white girl rapping" angle, because any interview/article/blog is going to want to discuss it, and she will be dealing with that forever (the youtube blurb indicates there's plenty of backstory in this regard already); but in terms of the whole Asher Roth a-solid-white-rapper-is-better-than-a-solid-black-rapper hip hop affirmative action plan, this girl kills that for white guys because if your average white rapper is just a better marketing proposition than your average black emcee, there's little question a white female is better than both of those options (all else being equal).

But that's all sort of tongue-in-cheek blog talk. Hip hop heads are over the white-black culture issues, they abide by the microphone. And the real bullshit is still entrenched in gender. Hip hop needs some mf'ing women in positions of power. That means behind the scenes, of course. But also artists that command respect amongst their peers (I can already visualize the eyebrows raising, the blunts falling to the ground, as this girl spits hot fire).

Once hip hop got embraced by pop culture, it wasn't about racism holding the culture back; it was the f'ing sexism. Because even the "conscious" artists were kinda-sorta misogynists. And homophobic.
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