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February 2005

Posts from January 2005

Ghost In the House

[Muhammad] Ali's cornerman, Drew "Bundini" Brown, used the boxer's affinity for [Jack] Johnson to encourage him in the ring. During several of Ali's major fights, Bundini was heard to call from the corner, "Ghost in the house! Ghost in the house! Jack Johnson's here! Ghost in the house!"
-- from Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

In 1986, the Washington Redskins beat the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XXII by a score of 42-10. Leading the team to victory was Redskins quarterback Doug Williams who was honored with the Most Valuable Player trophy and the distinction of being the only African-American quarterback who has ever won a Super Bowl.

Fast forward 19 years later:

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb will be the third QB to start a Super Bowl, behind Tennessee Titans' Steve McNair (1999) and Washington Redskins Doug Williams (1986). If Donvovan -- along with the Eagles -- wins Super Bowl XXXIX on Feb. 6 he will become the second quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. For Donovan no other win is important as winning the "Big Game."

The ever-so brilliant blogger hardCore examines the historical and racial impact of Donovan's trip to Super Bowl XXXIX as it relates to Doug Williams' triumphant win at Super Bowl XXII:

hardCore writes:

"I was a young kid in junior high when that happened [Doug Williams winning the Super Bowl], and man, I still remember how much it meant to the race. It was like seeing the first black heavyweight crowned champ or something. We all knew how big it was, and I can't even begin to express how big it felt. Well now, some seventeen years later, we still yearn to see another black quarterback follow in Doug William's steps, by winning it all."
hardCore's post reminded me of PBS's informative series Unforgivable Blackness about the legendary boxer Jack Johnson, who was the first black heavyweight to be crowned champion. More so because Jack Johnson, much like Donovan, had to fight some of the same prejudices and doubts about his ability as a boxer.

For four years, Donovan had to hear "negative comments" by naysayers who felt that he wasn't a caliber quarterback in the NFL.

hardCore writes:

"McNabb is arguably the best quarterback in the game, but much like Doug Williams, no one is going to ever give him the benefit of the doubt. The only way he can truly hush the naysayers is by winning a Super Bowl. Which, I truly hope he does. For years, black quarterbacks in the league have been chasing Doug Williams's legacy. And although Doug Williams is far from dead, it would be great to bury the black quarterback debate once and for all."

Ghost in the house!
Ghost in the house!
Doug Williams's here!
Ghost in the house!
Ghost in the house!


Sunday Random Ten: Damn, Look At All Of This Snow Edition

There's about 10-14 inches of snow outside and I'm not in the mood to shovel it. Oh well, what are you gonna do? Somebody has to do the dirty work. But before I go out and wage war on the snow, here's what's rockin' in my iTunes/iPod.

I stole this from the blog master Mister JT. Play along if you like with your own digital music players. To the lurkers, just post your top ten songs. Fuck it, we are all family.

Sunday Random Ten

01. Refuge (When It's Cold Outside) -- John Legend
02. Emily (Remix) -- Pigeon John (from an advanced CD copy of "Pigeon John Sings the Blues", due out in March)
03. It Don't Have To Change -- John Legend
04. Live It Up -- John Legend
05. I'm A Hustla -- Cassidy (via DJ Green Lantern mix-CD)
06. Lust -- Martin Luther
07. Sideways -- Citizen Cope
08. Your Love -- Van Hunt (from Coach Carter soundtrack)
09. All That You Are -- Phonte & Meridian (Foreign Exchange Project)
10. Stronger -- Lalah Hathaway

Continue reading "Sunday Random Ten: Damn, Look At All Of This Snow Edition" »

Get Well J Dilla!

[UPDATE: J Dilla is fine and well! He's healthy and thanks everyone for their support!]

Straight from Jay Smooth at

Hip-hop/soul producer Jay Dee (aka J Dilla), one half of the super rapper-producer tandem Jaylib (with esteemed beatmaker Madlib), is sick and in the hospital -- but he is not in a coma as The Roots' ?uest Love incorrectly reported on Monday. "He is not in a coma, and his life is not in danger," according to a statement released via a rep from Stones Throw Records, Madlib's recording home. "We spoke to [Jay's] mother who was with him only hours after this rumor began to spread on [Monday], and she confirmed that it was false."

To those of you who don't know, Jay has been battling kidney problems as a result of malnutrition and is in need of a transplant.

Keep J Dilla in your prayers and send your love.

Peep Jay Dee's extensive discography. The man is no joke behind the boards.

Get well, homie!


Baker's Dozen: The Blueprint

(From the Seattle Times/AP)

"I want to suggest some of the things that should begin your life's blueprint. Number one in your life's blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don't allow anybody to make you fell that you're nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance."

"In your life's blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You're going to be deciding as the days, as the years unfold what you will do in life -- what your life's work will be. Set out to do it well."
-- Martin Luther King Jr. , "Your Life's Blueprint"

Here are THE RULES: You have to come up with twelve thoughts and one picture (totaling 13) to describe your weekend. Try using quotes, events, links to blog entries and websites, etc.

01. Tonight (Monday), you can catch me glued to my television set, watching Unforgiveable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson on PBS. You should be too.
02. Also, as we celebrate/acknowledge Dr. Martin Luther King's dream, he should know that the struggle still continues. Racism will NEVER GO AWAY. So let's tolerate one another and more importantly, go out and accomplish your "Life's Blueprint."
03. Jamie DID and now his Eyes Is On the Prize: Oscar.
04. Peep blog/music scribe Kris Ex's thoughts on the legacy of MLK. Very Enlightening.
05. Blah, Blah, Blah,
06. Oh, I'm still penning my 2004 wrap-up. Yeah, I know -- I better wrap it up and just drop that sucka. I will, I will . . .
07. I'm also beaming that I got raise last week: Whoo-hoo! Fuck love, it's all about the cheddar. I'm still tippin', bitches!
08. I have to buy a new vaccum cleaner. Over the weekend, I had to sweep -- instead of vaccuming -- the carpet up with a broom. Has anyone ever swept up lint from their carpet with a broom?
09. Blah, Blah, Blah
10. Blah, Blah, Blah
11. In sports, Bird Bowl (aka Next Sunday's NFC Championship Game): Eagles V.S. the Falcons. Which bird is better? Go Eagles!!
12. Lastly, for those of you looking for brothers to get personal on their blogs, check out this Brotha2Brotha. He's a entertainment/TV writer who gets personal and also reports on industry. Start linking up!


Long In the Tooth

"Hip-Hop is not dead, it's really the mind of the MC . . ."
-- k-os, "Emcee Murdah" from Joyful Rebellion

"Whenever I hear someone say 'hip-hop is dead,' it's usually from someone who is bitter and broke."
-- unnamed rapper

"I love hip-hop, but I'm tired of defending it."
-- quote snatched from the hip-hop blogsphere

"Negative or positive, hip-hop music reflects the culture and we ain't going nowhere . . . "
-- Honey Soul

I'm getting old.

And so is hip-hop.

Gregg Tate's Hip-Hop Turns 30 piece (aka "The Eulogy") has erupted a firestorm of reactionary comments across the hip-hop blogsphere. Hashim, Lynne d Johnson, Jason T., hardCore, O-Dub, Jay Smooth, Metal Face and many others all penned some equally strong responses to Gregg's swan song to hip-hop -- both its music and culture.

I'm proud to say that I'm an "old head" who still holds on to the nostalgia of hip-hop's past. Evidence of that is my long-winded novel that I left on Lynne's comments. (Sorry Lynne, your words always sends a spark to my brain cells and to my fingers.)

And I'm very much like what Jason T. wrote in his commentary. He writes:

"Maybe we old heads are like old addicts always chasing that first high knowing it's not out there but unable to give up the dream. We can always find $20 on the hype hoping it's going to be the one. Forever hoping that that next record is going to blow our minds like Public Enemy or Poor Righteous Teachers or Ice Cube or BDP."

That's me all the way and I make no apologies for it. I yearned for the good old days of rap music. And I'm always hoping that there will be a rap artist out there TODAY who will blow my mind. But alas, that high, that fix always seems to elude me.

But on the flip side, I still pretty much enjoy today's rap scene. I still believe that hip-hop is vibrant, revolutionary, and the leader in artistic innovation in popular culture.

So, whenever this subject ("Hip-Hop Is Dead") ever rears it's ugly head again. My answers are simply those four quotes mentioned above.

And finally, I'm going to finish with my long-winded novel that I left on Lynne's post recently. It pretty much sums up my appreciation for hip-hop (with a few minor edits and additional wordage) and the reason why Beats and Rants is here existing in the blogsphere:

I guess I treat [Beats and Rants] like a mini-magazine because of my past work-related experience as an editor for magazines and websites.

I don't treat my blog like a personal journal because:
(1) I don't get personal -- or share my personal experience with anyone even in my private life.
(2) None of my readers care about my personal life -- which is perfectly fine with me.

So, in turn, I write about my first and only true love, which is music. I post about hip-hop because -- as cliché as this sound -- it's the soundtrack of my life. And as shocking as this sound -- hip-hop defines who I am: the way I dress, the way I write, the way I think and some of my belief systems are based on hip-hop. Yes, The Good, The Bad, The Misogyny and The Bullshit that are filtering in hip-hop I embrace them to the fullest.

Hip-hop is not a perfect culture. And I never asked my rappers to be perfect.
Hip-hop has its hubris (Kanye West) and it's heel (Nelly's "Tip Drill" video).

I'll admit that hip-hop has some major problems that need to be dealt with immediately and effectively (Read "Hip-Hop Has A Gender Problem").

So when Gregg Tate -- whom I consider the godfather of hip-hop journalism (along with Bonz Malone and others) -- pens a eulogy for hip-hop, essentially, he's telling me that I should buried the past. The culture that I have embraced no longer exists. While some have contended that Gregg's piece is not a eulogy to hip-hop but more of an observation of hip-hop's decadence, I disagree. The article reads more like an obituary than a keen examination. Although I might add: It's a very well-written and insightful obit piece.

So I'm very thankful when I read brilliant essays on hip-hop by Lynne, hardCore, Jason T., O-Dub, Jay Smooth and the rest of the diarists. Thanks to them, I know that hip-hop is not dead.

And it is these long-winded conversations on the strengths and weaknesses of hip-hop that will remind us of its failings -- that none of us want to admit -- but it also reminds us of its great potential. For us to still continue to talk about hip-hop shows that this music and culture still lives collectively within all of us. And for me, it's my salvation.

Addendum: You can now trade hip-hop (or at least the Halls of Hip-Hop) on the stock market.

Hip-hop is now a stock. How many of us are willing to invest in it?

Hmmmm . . . ?