Thursday, May 27, 2010

On 50Centism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Prince Paul: American Psycho

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

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

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

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

[ listen to the song on TAN3000]

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cultural Stock Tip: Buy KRS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[continued on TAN3000]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Missing From How To Make It In America: Skills

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saturday, May 08, 2010

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

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

In this edition: Hip Hop is new human technology!

Dear TAN,

Is it fair to compare Drake to Walt Whitman?

- Curious


Dear Curious,

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

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