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January 2004
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March 2004

Posts from February 2004

J.J.'s New Not-So-New Single; News Headlines

All For You, Janet Semi-nude

• Fellow hip-hoppers unite! The Blogship Connection is in FULL EFFECT. Please add this site to your links or blogrolls immediately. I'm not fond of the name, tho. (Maybe hip-hop blogship or hip-hop station? ) Also, keep in mind that the blog is not fully operational, yet. But big-ups to Eric Nord (of Stink Zone) who is doing a helluva job bringing hip-hop bloggers together on one website. Oh boy, this is going to be big. I can feel it!

An idiot at Virgin Records took down the link to Janet Jackson's brand new song. The lovely ballad was produced by the "producer of the moment" Kanye West. Take my word for it, the song is real hot. And -- much to my chagrin -- the track does sound a little bit like Alicia Keys's "You Don't Know My Name." Yes, Kayne used a dusty soul/doo-wop sample in the song. As hardCore stated in a post last year, "It's hip-hop for no reason." Nevertheless, Kanye is doing his thing. I'm hoping that somebody at Virgin Records will have the good sense to put that link back up.

"I think [Kanye West] is bigger than Pharrell (Williams). He's a rapper, a producer and a businessman with a serious work ethic. He's a label's dream -- a team player. He's also positive for the culture of hip-hop."
-- Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash beaming about his newest superstar, rapper-producer Kanye West

(via Reuters)

• But not everybody is cheering for Kanye West.
During his lecture at Brown University, noted hip-hop intellectual Michael Eric Dyson -- a professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania -- feels that Kanye's anti-college sentiments devalues hip-hop culture::

"We're not challenging the status quo by trying to accumulate money. It's through intellectual values and lyrical dexterity that hip-hop can further its credibility. The 'dumbing down of lyrics' is spreading throughout hip-hop, spurred on by widespread anti-intellectualism in American culture. This phenomenon started in the White House. We have an everyman bragging about how inarticulate he is."
(via Brown Daily Herald)

Ouch! I have so much to say about this. In a future post . . .

And speaking of Roc-A-Fella ::

Jay-Z reportedly has inked a fashion deal with clothing designer Ralph Lauren. This rumor adds more hysteria to recent reports that Jigga is no longer a part of the Roc-A-Fella empire and that he has a major beef with Damon Dash. But I don't think that's the case. Right now, I think Jay-Z wants to be looked upon as the sophisicated rapper-turned-businessman. It's time for black folks to start looking proper.
(via Chicago Sun-Times Online)

• If you want some intellectual hip-hop, Blackalicious rapper Gift of Gab will drop his debut solo CD Fourth Dimensional Rocket Ships this spring. Check out his underground single, "The Writz." I prefer the b-side track "Just Because" . . . just because, it's a doper track. And don't fret, Gab on the solo tip doesn't mean that Blackalicious are over. According to Gab, the group is on hiatus.
(via Mean Street magazine)

• Is this a dangerous shift in hip-hop? ::
Get really really "Low" with Lil' Jon & The Eastside Boyz. Check out this promo clip. (Warning: Lots of T & A . . & P!!!)

• Was Jesus Into Hip-Hop?
"Hip-hop is a voice for disenfranchised people and is doing what the church was intended to do. Hip-hop often sounds angry and 'in yo face,' but its role is to prick our social consciousness."
-- Alex Gee, author of Jesus and the Hip-Hop Prophets
(via Channel3000)

This is funny

Coming To A Theater Near You In Surround Ghetto-tron

(via O-Dub; To look at the full image, click THIS)


Loon-y Tunes; News Headlines

American Black and Different Kitchen do a much better job of reporting the daily news, but I figured I do my part since I saw some items while surfing the net.

Loon The Goon??

I'm in shock by this news:

Pretty Bad Boy rapper Loon -- who released a forgettable self-titled rap CD last year -- along with two other men were arrested and booked on attempted murder charges over the weekend in Los Angeles. According to authorities, the men were taken into custody after allegedly stabbing a security guard who refused to let them enter an event for Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz. Loon has since posted bail and was released. (From

What was Loon trying to do raise his gangsta quotient up?

• Lil' Flip is about to "flip it" in court ::

Southern rhyme-spitter Lil Flip has launched his own record label called Clover G Records and has disassociated himself with Sucka Free Records despite being under contract with the Sony Music-distributed indie label. According to reports, Flip and Sucka Free CEO Duane "Hump" Hobbs had a falling out over money. "Flip has gotten so greedy behind money," Duane told "Flip has burned a lot of bridges in the South, thinking he's Tupac, acting all big headed. It's crazy."
Duane plans to take Lil Flip to court, if they don't resolve their differences. "I told Sony and Flip 'I got a label deal, not an artist deal.' I hope it doesn't go that far. The only way we gonna [let Lil Flip] off Sucka Free is if Sony buys me out." (From AllHipHop)

The National Hip-Hop Political Convention will be held at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. on June 16-18. (From AllHipHop )

Janet Jackson exposes her breast . . . then she gets an award ::
Titillating songbird Janet Jackson was bestowed on Friday the Behind the Bench humanitarian honor for her various charitable contributions. Behind the Bench is an organization consisting mostly of NBA players' wives. Miss Jackson attended the annual fundraising event in Beverly Hills, Calif. No nipple was exposed.
(From AP/Launch)

A Def Gig?
New Island/Def Jam CEO L.A. Reid says he's up to challenge of running the music industry's top label ::

"Finally, yeah, in a lot of ways I am starting all the way from scratch. But we're talking about Island/Def Jam -- Ludacris, Jay-Z, Melissa Etheridge, Mariah Carey, Hoobastank, Sum 41. I'm walking into a couple of amazing companies here with amazing rosters.

"What I personally built [with LaFace Records and Arista], yes, that's gone. But that's exciting. My run with Arista and LaFace was like 15 years. It's good for me to be faced with new challenges. I've got a fresh slate and a blank canvas. I rather like this position I'm in."
(From Constitution-Journal)

• Please remember :: Hip-hop culture is worldwide . . . hip-hop is even in Kenya.
Rap duo Gidi Gidi and Maji Maji are blowing up in South Africa
(From Tonight)

• Detroit Pistons player Corliss Williamson has become a hip-hop entrepreneur, opening a shop that caters to clientele who want the latest clothing from rap stars Nelly, Eve and P. Diddy.
(From The Commercial Appeal)

• Before there was Kayne West, there was Common (formerly known as Common Sense) who is still hip-hop's most profound lyricist out of Chicago. Writer Stephen Hicks remembers Common's classic 1995 sophomore CD Ressurrection. The album's centerpiece was the hip-hop ode "I Used To Love H.E.R." Stephen reflects on Common's lyrically ingenuity on his near-classic album.

• Speaking of music writing, music journalist/editor/hip-hop enthusiast Oliver "O-Dub" Wang talks about the values of a music critic ::

"I recently had lunch with Ann Powers, former New York Times music critic and arguably one of the most important female rock critics of the last 15 years, along with Greil Marcus, the undisputed godfather of modern rock criticism and the topic came up as to why both of them became music writers.

"Their response surprised me and I've thought of it often since then. I'm paraphrasing here so apologies to Ann and Greil if I get this wrong but both became critics because there was something about a song or album or artist that got under their skin and they needed to find a way to talk about it. When they began to write about music they weren't do it for the artist. They weren't doing it for the consumer. They weren't doing it for an editor or a magazine or a paycheck. They did it for themselves - to see what they could come up with that would adequately articulate what was in their heads and hearts about music.

"Ultimately, I think if you are true to that goal, then it doesn't matter if you've heard one album or a thousand. It doesn't even matter if anyone but yourself reads what you have to write - if a writer can accomplish the goal of really getting out what they want to say about music, that's an achievement in and of itself.

"There's no checklist you can run through [to] insure that what you write will be good or valuable. Ultimately, that's for history to decide, not us." (From Urban Smarts)


Music Critic Vs. The Enquirer

The Day the Music Critic Died

Like I have written in a previous post, the working life of a music critic is not a glamorous one. I haven't met a writer who is making a six-figured salary as a music reporter/critic. When you chose to be a music journalist, you do it for the love of music and to write about your most recent music experience.

Much like veteran music critic Larry Nager -- a 50-year-old, eight-year reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer -- who loved to write about the vibrant music community nestled in his beloved city, Cincinnati. "Cincinnati has been a hugely musical town and it's almost never been recognized,'' he told writer Lew Moores in the Cincinnati CityBeat newspaper. "We're a black and white city, we're an urban and rural city, we're a northern and southern city, and we've got this wild mélange of music."

But on Jan. 9, Larry was told that his services as a music reporter were no longer needed -- The Enquirer fired him.

Larry believes he was terminated because he was too old and not female. Following his dismissal at the newspaper, Larry filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that he was the victim of age and gender discrimination. He's seeking unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, and he wants his job back. "Mr. Nager believes that The Enquirer is making a concerted effort to replace older reporters and columnists with younger, mostly female, writers, in order to accomplish its stated goal of capturing a younger, female audience,'' says Nager's lawyer Sheila Smith.

Enquirer editor Tom Callinan has no comment on the matter. However, he did admit that the newspaper is actively seeking female reporters. "I don't know that's necessarily a bad thing," he says. "I don't think we're trying to change the makeup of the staff at the expense of any one gender or age group. I think we're trying to make sure our staff reflects the diversity of our community.''

This is the first time Nager has been unemployed as a music critic in 20 years.

"This is devastating, this is unimaginable to me,'' he says. "I'm completely devastated professionally, financially. Emotionally, this has been a nightmare."

Have A Bear-y Happy Valentine's Day

A Bitchin' Bear!

It's the Shit Bitch Bear!* You can buy it HERE.

This is funny, but I don't know if this is the appropriate gift to give to your special lady (or guy) on V-Day. But I hear that some women love the teddy bear and think it's sweet cute.

I guess so . . . in a misogynistic kind of way.

But for you lovebirds out there, here's soul crooner Anthony Hamilton's ballad "First Love" (featuring R&B newcomer-songbird LaToiya Williams). It's one of the few tracks I love from Hamilton's debut CD Comin' From Where I From.

And this is for me on Valentine's Day:

This is Robert Randolph and the Family Band's raise-the-roof-off-the-sucka guitar jam "I Need More Love."

We all need more love, don't we?
This world needs more love.

Sing it with me: " my liiife."

Happy Valentine's Day!


* (From Blunted on Reality via Josh)

The Last OutKast Post; Pazz & Jop

This will be the last OutKast post. Please believe me. There's nothing more to say.

But here's one last item:

According to 700-plus music critics who voted in the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop poll, 'Kast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was indeed the best album of 2003. 'Kast also is occupying the No. 1 spot on the singles list, as well, for Andre 3000's Beatles-esque tune "Hey Ya."

You can check out my ballot HERE. On my list I went with more underground rap, soulful R&B and endearing pop (Seal's Seal IV). I like my list to represent music from all genres, but this year, I decided to stay with rap, R&B and pop.

If you love OutKast's double-CD, you will adore Little Brother's disc The Listening simply for their nostalgic rap sound and b-boy anthems. Kem's Kemistry CD is wonderful -- highly recommended. Some of the underground rap stuff like Zion I (Deep Water Slang), Jean Grae (Bootleg EP) and CunninLynguists (southernunderground) I wanted to include on my list because I'm always searching for inventive rap music whether it's above ground or higher ground.

I believe that their music is just as valid as any other artist on a major label. I'm always championing the underdogs no matter how underground or "indie" they are. I don't list these guys to be cool or to be "avant-garde" (or "indie cool"), I do it because their music is tight. Plus, I can introduce listeners to more obscure, if not broader, rap music. If you don't know who Zion, Jean Grae and Cunny are, do yourself a favor -- click THIS and enjoy.

Music Journalist/hip-hop thinker Lynne d Johnson has a ballot on HERE too. I wanted to put R. Kelly's CD Chocolate Factory on my ballot, but I didn't love 'Kels' CD as much as I did Dwele's CD Subject. Dwele may not be able to carry a tune on stage (so I've heard) but the songs on his disc spoke to me and reflected my feelings on love and romance ("Hold On," "Subject"). 'Kels' disc was banging, tho . . . fo' real. The R-er may be a pervert, but when it comes to bedroom ballads, nobody does it better. I still feel joy when I hear "Step In the Name Love" and my heart skips a beat when I hear "I'll Never Leave You," which is a great song.

Everybody loves T.I. I can stand that boy. He's i-ight. ("Rubberband Man" I'm feelin' that joint.)

Okay, that's it. It's 2004. I need to let go of OutKast and move on to somebody else.

Sooo . . . who's the next artist to blow up in 2004?

Can you say Ghostface Killa?


Check out this banging kinky cut from Ghost called "Tush" featuring Missy Elliott.

Oh boy! Ghost is fiiiiya!