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February 2008

Posts from January 2008


Two Talib Kweli interviews that's worth the read:

From LAist:

In an interview you did just recently with PopMatters you said "the perception of hip hop is at an all-time low" but in my opinion there are many artists like Kanye [West], Ghostface Killah, OutKast, Common, yourself and even Lil Wayne who seem to have captured the attention of the most respected critics of music as a whole, not just hip hop. I don't remember seeing something like this in hip hop 10 years ago. Please explain that statement for me.

What I meant by that statement was the perception of music outside of the critics and outside of the intellectual circles. Music critics are great and like I said have been great to me. They do have influence on the buyers of music, but just a small percentage of buyers. I feel like when hip hop is being talked about outside of intelligent circles it isn’t given the respect it deserves. I have heard a lot of people compare hip hop to the hair bands of the 80s. You know heavy on the image but the substance isn’t there. When I was on MTV doing Made I was surprised by the kid Colin's idea of what he thought hip hop was. His perception of hip hop was ignorant. I know he isn't the only one who thinks that way about hip hop. Because of this perception, I feel like those outside of hip hop automatically dismiss it and dismiss us as artists.

What can hip hop do to improve its perception?

Let me start answering that one by saying I am not worried about the future of hip hop. I don’t want people thinking I believe we are doomed. But I will say one way we can improve ourselves is by simply making the best music we can make. With most African-American art forms, this music is not done for the sake of art it’s created as a necessity. We can make music so we can eat, so we have a roof to live under. Soulja Boy made "Crank That" as a necessity. What we should try to do is respect the art. I think we are caught up in the consumerism of our music right now, caught up in record sales and what we need to do to increase our numbers. To a degree you definitely need to be aware of the consumer and the dollar signs involved with the music. But it cant just be like we’re just doing anything just to make some money and get on TV.

From Detroit Free Press (via The Rap Up):

Q: A lot of your lyrics have a political consciousness. However, you've been pretty forward about not voting in elections because the system is broke and you typically don't believe in any candidates. Has Barack Obama changed your mind or is it politics as usual?

A: Obama is very inspiring. Certainly I am considering whether or not I am going to vote for him, which is a big step for me. When I was younger, I might have voted for Bill Clinton in his first election, but haven't since. There is still a long time to go before Obama even gets nominated; we just have to see what is going to happen. But I'd be lying if I said he wasn't impressive. I still feel the same way I do about voting, but I have never seen anyone like Barack Obama before. I'm equally impressed with Hillary Clinton as a person, but she to me is definitely part of the system. She doesn't inspire me the same way he does, you know?

Talib Kweli -- "Country Cousins" (featuring UGK) [MP3 Audio]


Make It Plain


"'Make it plain'" is the code word that he used for us to bring him forward. So, anyway, I did. I brought Minister [Malcolm X] forward. He didn't like a lot of icing, you know, "Here's Minister Malcolm, the great," and all that. He didn't like that. Just plain, you know."
-- Benjamin 2X

Illinois Senator Barack Obama won Saturday the South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary in a triumphant victory. With 99 percent of the electoral precincts reporting, Obama had 55 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton had 27 percent, and John Edwards had 18 percent. During his rousing post-victory speech, Obama declared this year's election is not about race, it's about change.

To wit:

"The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It's about the past versus the future.

It's about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation -- a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

There are those who will continue to tell us we cannot do this. That we cannot have what we long for. That we are peddling false hopes.

When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can't join together and work together, I'm reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with, and stood with, and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don't tell us change can't happen.

When I hear that we'll never overcome the racial divide in our politics, I think about that Republican woman who used to work for Strom Thurmond, who's now devoted to educating inner-city children and who went out onto the streets of South Carolina and knocked on doors for this campaign. Don't tell me we can't change.

Yes we can change.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can seize our future."


A Dilla Dream

I have a dream . . .

That one day, people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds will come together in unity under one funky groove.

And that groove will be a J Dilla soundtrack.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, blogger/DJ/writer Khal mixed the infinite sounds of J Dilla with the infinite words of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

Listen to "Martin Luther King Jr. Vs J Dilla" right HERE.

I have a dream today.


Ten OTHER Things Martin Luther King Said
[Via Illdoctrine]


The Big-Ass Music Post

Check out these joints (audio and video links) that I'm peeping right now. (clickety, click away!)

Ne-Yo -- "Go On Girl" (Music Video)

It's Ne-Yo and that damn overused "Irreplaceable" beat. Forget about the song, the main attraction here are the visuals in this Hype Williams-directed black-and-white clip. It's similar to the Ray-Kay-directed video for The-Dream, but with a huge creative twist to it. The women featured in the video are absolutely gorgeous! Good googly-moogly, those women are very tasty. Director Hype proves once again that when it comes to innovative videography, he is simply unfuckwithable.

** Bonus Song**: Ne-Yo -- "Dream" (unreleased track?)

Young Buck -- "New York City" (Audio)

This joint is off the fucking heezy! I love this song. The track is not about the Big Apple, but it's inspired by New York's "on the grind" mentality. There's a familiar sample filtering the song, but I don't know what it is. This is could be a New York and Miami anthem for the 0-8. Young Buck should have never released this track. Why? Because this would be a perfect first single for his upcoming third album. But since he has nothing coming out as of yet, this is wasted on the Internet. Buck better drop this single on iTunes (b/w with an instrumental) and get some download money off this track. This is one of those "coolin-while-you-are-crusin-in-your-car" tracks.

MIA -- "Paper Planes" (music video)

One of the best songs off of MIA's Kala LP. Watch for the hook!

Just Blaze (F/ Talib Kweli, The Game, Large P, Razhel) -- "One Degree of Me" (Audio)

The Almighty Just Blaze is behind this great posse track. I don't know where this song is going to be featured on, but I'm thinking this would fit well on a Just Blaze compilation album (ala DJ Clue's The Professional).

Del The Funky Homosapien -- "Bubble Pop" (Audio)

Well, well, well. The "Mistadobalina" man, himself. This is the first single from Del the Funky Homosapien's forthcoming disc, Eleventh Hour, which will be released on March 11 via Def Jux. Knowing Def Jux's track record of releasing classic material, Del's set will probably be the first great rap LP of 2008.

***Bonus Video***: Remember Del's "Mistabobdilina"? That song was the shiznit back in the dayz -- peep the video.

Common -- "Freestylin' on New Year's Eve at his local church"
This is why Common is the best rapper in hip-hop right now and (Finding) FOREVER!

Janet Jackson -- "Feedback" (Music Video)

Not a big fan of Janet's new song or the video. Do you want to see Janet in all of her hotness? Then check out J.J. in Michael Jackson's "Scream" video, right HERE.

Notch -- "Dale Pa'Tra (Back It Up)" (Music Video)

A little reggaeton for that azz! I heard this song at a Puerto-Rican cuisine-styled restaurant, and several female patrons got up from their table and started twisting their hips. I was like, "Damn, who is this dude and what is this song called?" This is the perfect track for a DJ to throw on at an outside Bar-B-Q party in Miami Beach. Notch's LP, Raised By the People, is not bad either.

Blu & Exile -- "Below the Heavens" (Audio) [*scan-down at the bottom]

A nice introspective track from one of the "sleeper" indie-rap acts of 2007. Take a listen.

Razah -- "Rain" (Audio)

Here's a nice watered-down (Ha! Get it?) R&B ballad from a young crooner I have never heard of. It looks like he's following in the footsteps of Ne-Yo.

Estelle -- "American Boy" (featuring Kanye West) [Audio]

U.K.-based songbird Estelle is . . . okay. Her first single, "Wait a Minute," had me nodding my head, but this song right here is not a good follow-up. I think she'll bring some nice U.K. flavor to the R&B scene. Let's hope that her mentor John Legend and 'Ye gives her the music she needs to get more visibility on the radio and MTV.

Raheem Devaughn (featuring Big Boi) -- "Energy" (Audio)


The N of YN at XXL

(images swiped from XXL and Different Kitchen)

What the fuck?!?!?

Those were the first three words that came out of mouth when I read the news, "Elliott Wilson Fired From XXL." reports:

Long-time XXL Editor In Chief Elliott Wilson was suddenly fired from his post at the rap magazine today (Jan. 7). Undisclosed sources from inside the XXL offices have confirmed that Wilson was terminated, though as of press time no reason has been offered. SOHH has learned that Wilson's contract with XXL parent company, Harris Publications, was up this month. Sources say Deputy Editor Vanessa Satten has been appointed interim EIC.

Other news outlets also are reporting that Music Editor Leah Rose has left the building, as well.


A lot of industry heads are now proclaiming that they saw this coming, but I was totally blindsided. Quite frankly, I thought Wilson (aka "YN") was doing an excellent job at XXL. I was looking forward to more Lil Wayne covers and maybe a peace treaty between Ludacris and Mr. Wilson in 2008. Yeah, those Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Jay-Z covers were redundant but they flew off the newsstands. It's all about the circulation numbers and ads -- and this magazine X-celed in both areas.

Although, I have to say, YN may have went out in a whimper with Nas as their cover boy for its March issue. The veteran rhyme-slinger had already graced the cover of the Source last month and talked about the brouhaha over his upcoming CD title Nigger. XXL's Nas cover story is probably well-written (with a better presentation) but it's the same old song. It's getting to a point now where I don't even care what Nas calls his album.

I think the Source is on its way back from obscurity with its Pimp C tribute issue. I like the cover and the whole presentation. I haven't checked out the magazine's article on the late rapper or the other editorials, but I'm quite sure it's all good stuff.

So what's in the future for Elliott Wilson?

Clyde Smith of Pro Hip-Hop (and YN's blogging arch nemesis) has a prediction -- Elliott Wilson Will Return Via TV.

Television would be a good look for YN, plus the money is good. Another Ego Trip book is probably in the pipeline. And hey, maybe even a YN blog (watch out Clyde!).

It would be interesting to see how XXL moves forward without their HYNIC.

Dang, the publishing game is harsh!

**Added [1/09/08]** Former Source honchos Dave Mays and Benzino are gloating over Elliott Wilson's termination at XXL magazine. "If I see him in the streets I'ma put a foot in his ass," says Zino. "I'ma do that for Hip Hop." (via Mahogany Girl)