Monday, December 26, 2011

Preppy Soul: An Assimilation in Pictures

(some folks are milling about wondering: who is that Patrice Evans dude down with Grantland? well, this old Assimilation-in-Pictures post provides some clues. more to come!)

Ahh, so bright-eyed and soapy-mohawked; even liquid-soap packaging was simpler then.

Hair now dry, but still delighted with the world. A soft furry bear on your naked lap will do that.

One of these kids is smiling like a "gifted negro" with hardware to prove it, the other one's clip-on tie is black.

I look confused, perhaps because this would mark my last appearance in a public school.

Look who's leaning on the white man now; wasn't no pics like this in the BX. (Room #007, ladies.)

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ten Blog Commandments


It's the ten blog commandments!

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

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

rule number uno

Tuesday, 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]

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.”


[tune of the Grantland Theme Song plays in background]

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


The Roots: America's Band [Grantland]

Monday, December 12, 2011

21 More Questions

Here's a little piece of my 50 Cent 21 Questions parody. 

No comment on my Nate Dogg impression. Y'all know I intend to get someone to sing that for me. 

And even though it's old, I might still shoot a little sketch video for this, cause it's classic material. But in the meantime, in-between time...

New York City… 
you are now rallying…
with The Assimilated 

when I blog sometimes I twist the la 
write posts on my I-book g5 
it’s all white, like these girls that’s on my jock 
I don’t know son, it makes no sense to me 
hope you got everything you need cause I 
am so broke it might even make you cry 
got some questions that I gotta ask and I 
don’t give a fcuk what you give as an answer babe 
It’s easy to love TAN 
But what if I’m not a brand? 
Just a man 
Would you still have love for me? 
Can you get me a Ketel-cran? 
The official drink of TAN 
So scram
And show your love for me 
Verse 1 

if I got AIDS tomorrow would you still touch me? 
if I lost both my arms would you still hug me? 
if I got knocked into a coma for half a century could I count on you to still have respect for me mentally?
if I killed the prez i’m on the run from the feds 
would you mind wearing a beard and growing some dreds? 
if I give you a black eye you wearing glasses to hide? 
if you caught me cheating would you let it slide? 
if I got you a fake bag for $5.99 
are you giving me head or starting to whine? 
what if you work a tough job straight walking with blisters 
while I’m home, unemployed banging your sister? 
if I bite off your tongue would you bite back??? 
if I nut in your eye would you wipe that??? 
I could piss in your mouth you know a nightcap??? 
might pass a little gass I know you like that ... 

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.

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

5 Things I Always Tell Daisy Lowe About Donald Glover


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.


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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Greenlight Bookstore Reading



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.

WIth This Orgasm I Thee Wed

It recently dawned on me that I don’t like girls. I like girls cumming.

Don't get me wrong, girls are awesome. I don't dislike them. They're all hot and stuff. And it's cute to see them laughing. But as smoking as you may be, every girl goes up a notch when she's cumming. 

Whenever I'm on a date or something it's sort of like yeah, blah blah, you like the museum, you like shopping, you like poetry, blahbity blah. And I'm always rocking the sly smile, and thinking, yeah you might like those things .... but you ain't gonna be talkin' about none of that ish when you're cumming tonight. The only spoken words for this evening are: Oh. My. God. 

It's the ultimate equalizer. If you can get them all flushed and winded and out of control and trembling and just ..... mmmmm. You feel like the Lebron James of labias who just went baseline and dunked on her dome, and you want to stand there and taunt, “Take that!! What say your years of feminist empowerment theory now, beeotch???” 

Cause that's when it's most satisfying, with these haughty you-can't-do-nothing-for-me girls. Pffft. Although young girls are nice also. Like under 30. I almost think young girls getting the business is something that demands federal regulation. It's like legal slavery. You break off a good one and you can go ahead and hook the plow up around her neck and have her till the fields or whatever. I got my 40 Acres and A Girl I made cum last night.

Of course this is a lot of tough talk and bravado, and I know there are a couple girls reading this thinking, naaaahhhh TAN, I know you, you ain't no Lebron James son. I've certainly had my fair share of depressing nights where I've had nothing to work with but two cold eyes staring at me while I jigger-jigger away, “um, yeah, your little wrap-around-and-diddling-my-doodle thing might have worked on that virgin, but I need less limp noodle and more beef in my Lo Mein, nah mean.” Or at least, that's what the asian chicks say. 

Fact is, if you're an alcoholic and blessed with an Okey Dokey Pokey, some swings-and misses are inevitable. But it doesn't change the point. Come to think of it, I don't think I'm friends with any girls who I've swung-and-missed with. Strictly enemies. No love. No emails. Just spit in my face if I happen to cross their path. So again, it just goes to show, it's not about the girl, it's about her orgasm. The rest is all blahbity-blah. 

I think that's all I have to say. Now .... bring on the weekend!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

TAN Party Crash: Evening of Champions

Who types with his thumbs up, is brainwashed by The Man and covered in melanin??? This Guy!!! 

Oh wait, ANNNND he likes Kurt Vonnegut? Ok, I messed that up. 

See I wanted to explain that I went to this Kurt Vonnegut party this Saturday, and I don't know, not to be all racist about it, but it just seems like such a "white thing" to do. I just feel if I were chilling in the jungles of Africa and had never laid eyes on a white person before, for whatever reason, I don't think I'd be in "DUMBO" checking out "Evening of Champions" in some new "artist loft space (sorry, quotes button broke from overuse). 

Yet and still, somewhere along the way "The Man" got to me, and I must confess, I was intrigued when my friend, who was performing, passed the flyer on. I couldn't read the text well, but I remember looking at the images and thinking, hmmmm, an evening with an Old White Man and The Ghosts of Slavemaster's Past. Sounds like my kind of band... I'm in! Plus -- and clearly of more importance -- I was gonna go with a girl. A cute girl! A cute girl who knows sports!!! OMG OMG OMG!!! A cute girl who knows sports BUT ... she's from the Boston area. *sound of crashing expectations* Booooo! (Due to the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics recent success every New England girl is an expert in all three sports, so they're to be avoided in general.) 

Lucky for me, this was no ordinary Masshole New England chick. This was the spectacularly sultry proprietor of This Suit Is Not Black, seen coast-to-coast on the AOL Fanhouse Minute, and at Deadspin parties. She is heretofore referenced as "K." That sounds great, but there are problems: 1. K is hot, smart, funny and thus, out of my league. 2. She's become good friends with this girl I'm actively hearting at the moment (aww ... hi, you're out of my league too!). So even if I did somehow find The Lost Pheromones of Tom Brady, the sexual tension would still be doomed to simmer forever in Friend Zone purgatory just on the strength of the BFF Code of Proper Sexual Conduct. 

Now I haven't been out on a Friend Zone date in years. That's how I roll. To me "Friend Zone" means you want to use the extra-thick condoms that suck so we don't get all into it. So I wondered how this evening was going to go. And after the jump we'll find out if Friend Zone turned into End Zone, how to introduce yourself if you recognize The Assimilated Negro, and if K and I ended up learning anything about Durty Kurt Vonnegut. 

  --------- this is not a real jump. your ad here for, say, $500. Act now! ----------

The night begins at Union Bar, which is sort of a glorified-frat-house meets downtown-NYC type bar. It's relatively early in the evening, maybe 8PM, and the place is just getting warmed up. I order a glass of Pinot Noir cause, y'know, I'm gonna be the snobby cultural black dude that no one in the glorified frat house can say anything to cause they all reek so strong of obnoxious entitlement that I have legal grounds to beat the stink out of them based on their very existence amounting to a premeditated, AND RACIAL, assault on my person. Also, that's how I roll. So I get the glass of wine and break out my moleskine notepad and commence with looking like a dark man of mystery who wandered into the wrong bar. 

I get my first glass down and start on a second when K arrives. Now as I've established K is an attractive girl etc etc, but I was a little bemused by her outfit which looked a little like she had to borrow clothes after a sleep over at Sarah Maclachlan's place. Someone was very aware that this was a creative/concept party in Brooklyn is all I'm saying. Anyboho, I'd been recruiting K to serve on my Council of Caucasian Females who are advising me on relevant aspects of my forthcoming book .... (forthcoming as in I'm now finally writing my proposal, not that I have a publisher. whatever. like it's not gonna be the most racist thing on earth if I don't find a publisher for Black Men, White Women: A Love Story.) So we're talking, and heavens, the conversation is so free and easy and wonderful! I was really enjoying the Friend Zone. Who knew? Having the freedom to talk about everything in life without the distraction or innuendo of sexual impulses, it's great! It kinda makes me a little envious of ugly people, they must have such awesome convo ALL THE TIME. 

After a few rounds, we head to the party in DUMBO, and the whole hood looks very much like a place where people -- unhip Manhattanites, I'm sure -- get killed late at night. If I wanted to murder and have any sense of artistry about it, it would def be under one of these NYC bridges. I mention this to K and she says something about no one being able to kill the Patriots. We find the party without little hassle, and the place is crowded with hipster-lite brooklyn people, but the atmosphere is boisterous, the music is good, my friend's lady is handling drinks and everything's all gravy. Yay BK party! 

Not long after arriving I have the unique experience -- unique to me and some a and b list celebrities -- of being recognized by a stranger. This is always a treat for me cause it's not like, "oh, are you Tom Cruise?" or "Are you Tyra Banks?" It's "oh, are you ........ the ............... assimilated ........................." and then I have to let them off the hook by announcing myself and confirming their suspicions or else they think they have the wrong guy. But this guy was pretty direct, and once names are established K and I start talking to my new TAN friend. He's eventually joined by some cute hipster chick from the crowd. After further intros, I asked how they met and they tell me some cutesy story about making eyes on the train platform and him making a move. Aww. But then suddenly things turn sour. I asked a follow-up question and the girl started giving me attitude, and the guy was at a loss. It felt like one of those scenarios where a couple is in a honeymoon phase, and they're all giggly and bubbly telling some friends at a party, and then someone asks a question that neither honeymooner had considered to that point, and all of a sudden the honeymoon is over and you just witnessed it. Like this couple who found love via train and internet. At some point they're going to look at each other and be like, oh, we met on the train. This is retarded. Bye. So it felt like K and I facilitated that lovely moment for our new buddies. Hope they like the Friend Zone! 

One pleasant surprise at the party were a couple old college friends being present. I'm so proud of so many peoples from my freshman year because our class broke all sorts of low-performance records. We had something like an 80% academic-probation rate (holla!), and did a lot of the dirty work to get us, a small liberal arts college, into the the mix with the big state schools like Florida State for rankings related to alcohol and drug consumption per capita. Despite the destruction of our brains and livers, many are now legitimate success stories. There's Alex, who co-founded Dodgeball, and then got purchased by Google. And Kevin, who designs sites for the NY Times and WSJ and other high profile clients. And me .... blogging ....... I just think it sets a good example for new generations that you can party hard, and work hard, and have that big NYC kind of success if you put your mind to it ... and, you're white. 

An hour or two into the festivities someone breaks out a pull-up bar. I don't have much to say about this except Caucasians doing pull-ups at parties are at high risk of receiving the Crackdown Aluminum:
Anycrazy, the drinks had been cheap, and K and I had been drinking for 5-6 hours straight without eating, so we were pretty lubed up by the wee hours. FRIENDS! So we decided to find some food ... as friends. And after eating we planned to go home .....NOT TOGETHER. Even though we were so drunk, and when I'm so drunk all I do is fantasize about food and .... FRIENDSHIP. I honestly don't remember learning anything about Vonnegut Saturday night, I think that element was part of some Nigerian Scam or something, but as I put K in a cab so she could go home, alone, I couldn't help but wonder what KV's thoughts on the friend zone were. From a look at the flyer methinks he probably had plenty of insightful thoughts on the subject.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.


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?


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]

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.


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


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

Pour A Little Something: My Seersucker Shorts

My seersucker shorts died this week at the age of, oh, I don't know, 3 years or so from a fatal ink stain in the left-hand pocket, and further complications from the subsequent botched cleaning of "the stupid, stupid ink stain." 

My seersucker shorts were manufactured by esteemed proliferator of many things seersucker, Ralph Lauren. They were purchased, online, sometime in the summer of 2004 and fast became a TAN wardrobe staple prized for their multi-functional brand-insinuating brand of ghetto-preppy urban-panache. Like a cashmere hoodie, they represented the best in both style and function. Long a staple of historical southern fashion, seersucker is often associated with terms like old-white, white-stodgy, formal(white), and preppy. But at the turn of the century, as TANs expanded their haute horizons, the shorts proved to be an accessible point of entry for showing off your high-minded-yet-gritty sensibility. Tell a girl you only wear seersucker and Timz and she would have to come back to your place to see for herself. "Those seersucker shorts got me a lot of ass i wouldn't have gotten if i was wearing baggy jeans, " thought TAN while writing the obit on his blog. 

Now seersucker shorts (as well as the blazer) when worn by men-of-melanin are a symbol of reverse zeitgeist-engineering and cultural dynamism. Which is to say: they express the nuanced complexity of assimilation without all the big words. Simply stripes. *cough* My blue and white seersucker polo shorts are survived by my navy blue cargo polo shorts, my sky-blue khaki polo shorts, and my blue polo jeans. Despite being a frequent go-to in the clothing rotation they might not be replaced because too many other TANs are wearing seersucker.
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