Sunday, February 29, 2004
OK this is way old (by net standards) but it's still great: Mimi Nguyen on the movie, "Afro-Punk".

posted by Zentronix @ 6:05 PM   0 comments links to this post



The question likely to be asked this week: did Aristide jump or was he pushed? Either way, this is not a great day for democracy or the rule of law or whatever the current euphemism of choice is. Packer's essay below seems more relevant than ever.

The latest on the crisis from CNN and Reuters.

Plus reactions in Miami's Little Haiti and Jamaica, and this piece by Jim Defede in the Miami Herald.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:13 AM   0 comments links to this post



Saturday, February 28, 2004
Will Tacy of Mother Jones Online on George Packer and Haiti's lessons for Iraq.

posted by Zentronix @ 6:01 PM   0 comments links to this post



THEY CAUGHT BIN-LADEN

Oops, no they didn't. Yes, they will. (Thanks to the extra prolific Different Kitchen.)

posted by Zentronix @ 9:08 AM   0 comments links to this post



Jay-Smooth on Debra Dickerson.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:01 AM   0 comments links to this post



The deepening Haitian refugee crisis.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:52 AM   0 comments links to this post



More on the less-than-savory backgrounds of the Haitian "rebels".

posted by Zentronix @ 8:51 AM   0 comments links to this post



In the NY Times:"The Culture Wars, Part II".

posted by Zentronix @ 8:50 AM   0 comments links to this post



Friday, February 27, 2004
Democracy Now is reporting that the U.S. military is now flying helicopters over Port-Au-Prince, amidst growing evidence that the U.S. may be actively supporting a coup. They are also reporting that Venezuela has offered support for the Aristide forces. Elsewhere, reports have the Bush distancing himself from Aristide, as looting and thuggery spreads. I'm also reminded that the leaders of the rebels were trained by the U.S. military. Like Colonel Abrams once said, how soon we all forget...

posted by Zentronix @ 3:32 PM   0 comments links to this post



ON HAITI, ARISTIDE, AND ELECTIONS

The best coverage on Haiti over the last 48 hours has far and away been on Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now and Davey D and Weyland Southon's Hard Knock Radio.

I don't share the same love for Aristide that the good folks at Democracy Now and Hard Knock do. This is not the same leftist hero swept into office by the people in 1990 and was toppled by a rightist military coup. There are many Haitian pro-democracy activists not repped on either show who have become disillusioned with Aristide over his suppression of free speech and his lack of commitment to improving human rights.

Aristide has continuously squelched student protest and his Lavalas thugs are believed responsible for the death of pioneering journalist Jean Dominique. These are facts that don't fit a conception of Aristide as a Haitian black Moses, an image that most Haitians long ago rejected.

But progressives are absolutely correct to point out what we all conveniently forget: the U.S.'s active neo-colonial role in fostering destabilization in Haiti.

Haiti would not be now standing on the verge of another military coup without a devastating 11-year embargo and an explicit position on Haiti that it's OK to overturn democratic elections (even contested ones) if the winner is not a rightist. Anyone remember Florida?

Bottom line is that Aristide needs to go, not by violent coup, but by democratic elections.

If the U.S. was serious about maintaining democracy in Haiti--which it manifestly is not--it would not be starving one of the poorest countries in the world while tsk-tsking it on human rights and slamming the doors to the country's refugees. It would not be arming the paramilitary opposition, it would be encouraging the development of peaceful, democratic opposition.

As long as the U.S. maintains a hypocritical stance towards Haiti, the first black independent republic in our hemisphere, we will continue to see starvation, poverty, and unrest there.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:55 AM   0 comments links to this post



Thursday, February 26, 2004
BACK TO MY ROOTS

Thanks to the playlists in the great book by Tim Lawrence, Love Saves The Day, a review of which by our homie Philip Sherburne in the upcoming music issue of Boldtype is highly anticipated, I've been obssessed with Lamont Dozier's "Going Back To My Roots". (BTW even more highly anticipated in these parts is our boy Peter Shapiro's book on the subject of disco, which will contextualize the movement against race, class, and generation in New York City, due out later this year!)

Anyway, back to the record. I'd only been familiar with the F.P.I. Project version which was a huge Dave Moss (kind of the Bay Area's Larry Levan) track back in 1989, and my copies are probably sitting in a friend's crate somewhere in Northern California. Found out more recently about the Odyssey version (early 80s). But this one, from 1977, is the original and a classic.

Interesting background on the track: it was inspired by South Africa's post-Soweto uprisings in the mid-70s, which resulted in martial law being declared and thousands of student and anti-apartheid leaders, including Bantu Stephen Biko.

So here's Lamont Dozier's Pan-African manifesto. The version I've got--almost 10-minutes from the 2-CD Best Of set--is bracing. It starts with that famous Sunday morning piano line, then takes a while to wind up. About five minutes in, it takes on a distinctly West African feel, with highlife-style talking drums and vocal arrangements, and then in the last 3 minutes, it shifts into an almost township mbaqanga feel with a completely different rhythm and melody line. Just amazing. It could go for another 10-minutes, and would remain gripping.

The rest of the 2 CDs are just OK. Dozier's arrangements are always interesting, but lyrics? That was for the Holland bros.

posted by Zentronix @ 3:48 PM   0 comments links to this post



Reports from AP now have the Haitian rebels poised to attack Port-Au-Prince. Meanwhile, an interesting story from the Miami Herald in which a Haitian drug-lord argues Aristide was pretty much his boss, and Aristide's lawyer refers to the rebel uprising as a U.S.-backed military coup. Any progressive Haiti-watcher knows both--or neither--could be true.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:28 AM   0 comments links to this post



Ernest Hardy on two recent, very worthy, but overlooked Left Coast gems:Ozomatli and the Hard Knock Radio rap compilation.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:42 AM   0 comments links to this post



Wednesday, February 25, 2004
PLUGOLA AGAIN + WEDGING THE GAYS

Come check us Friday night in Oakland talking hip-hop and electoral politics and partying with KRS-One and Jahi and The Life. It's a benefit for On-Up Initiatives and the arrival of the Bay Area Local Organizing Committee of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention. The latter is an effort I'm really involved in and you'll be hearing more from me on it as we get closer to the Convention in mid-June.

It's been one of those weeks. Preparing to get back what will hopefully be the final draft of my book, I've been crazily tying up loose ends from last year, and for later this year. So I haven't had time to really parse the two huge events of the week: Haiti (I found this blog) and gay marriage. Thankfully, Oliver did a great job of parsing the latter. To which I'll add a little:

Gays are apparently the hip-hoppers of 2004. The same way that Bush I and Clinton used Souljah and Ice T to get over in 1992, Bush II will be using gays all year. I think the constitutional amendment thing is a ruse. It needs 2/3rds in both the House and the Senate to pass, but I can't imagine them rounding the votes up in the House.

There will be moderate exurban Republicans and liberal urban Democrats who will vote against the amendment on principle. Then there are strict constitutionists, the kind of conservatives that pushed Clarence Thomas as an anti-activist candidate to the Supreme Court. These are legal beagles who hold an awful lot of power with the process and who will use their obsession with rules to block movement of the amendment within the House. There are just no Lyndon Johnsons to do the arm-twisting on this.

Neither I suspect is there enough will or urgency to push the amendment. The thing that leftist Dems have complained about for years--that party politics is about serving the center and stroking the margins--will come back to haunt the far right, at their weakest since Gingrich's fall. The party heads will be happy with the bully pulpit and grandstanding the issue offers, and not overly concerned with the mechanics of passage.

All of this is not to say that the issue will be extraordinarily divisive, and will likely ramify in very bad long-term ways. Expect the culture wars around sex to come next. It's a good year for Sex And The City to say goodbye. Next year (whether Bush won or not) it might have been facing the wrath of the cultural right, all revved up and with nowhere to go.

Polarization doesn't begin to describe it, yall.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:40 PM   0 comments links to this post



FILL YOUR HEAD WITH CULTURE, SKIP THE ULCER

For Bay Area folks, PFA is holding a Charles Burnett retrospective! BTW the Romare Bearden is a must-see, as is their 90s overview. Also a must-see is my homegirl Aya De Leon's hip-hop theater piece: "Thieves In The Temple: The Reclaiming of Hip-Hop", a one-woman show that just rocks, coming in March.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:24 AM   0 comments links to this post



Re: the empty logic of rhetorical devices such as "homophobia is not the problem, racism is", here's Oliver on Bush and gay marriage and the Oppression Olympics.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:11 AM   0 comments links to this post



Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Fun for hours: D U B S E L E C T O R! Thanks to Oliver for the link.

posted by Zentronix @ 4:09 PM   0 comments links to this post



Monday, February 23, 2004
Today, and for the next three days at the very least, I promise not to flame anybody, particularly any SWM baby boomer rock critic. (Now let's see the page-hits drop like Bush's poll numbers!)

posted by Zentronix @ 9:54 PM   0 comments links to this post



Sunday, February 22, 2004
WHOA!!!

Ralph Nader Announces Run for Presidency.

Ignoring Democrats' Pleas, Nader Announces Run For White House.

Ralph Nader Announces Quixotic Run.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:53 AM   0 comments links to this post



Saturday, February 21, 2004
The Blogship Connection is here. Where hip-hop blogs ping. (We'd better work on that logo a bit.) Note: not completely funktional yet. Thanks to Eric Nord.

posted by Zentronix @ 4:08 PM   0 comments links to this post



Bored with Norah? Or not? Trust me, you've been waiting for Andy Bey's 'American Song'. To my ears, one of the best of 2004 already for "Lush Life" all by itself.

posted by Zentronix @ 3:15 PM   0 comments links to this post



Friday, February 20, 2004
SHAMELESS, PLUG 1

If you're nearby, come check out University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Hip-Hop Congress' Hip-Hop Awareness Week from March 4-6. I'll be on a panel with TJ Crawford, David Muhammad, Mario Africa, and Capital D on hip-hop activism on March 6. Other panels will feature Cashus D, Christie Z. Pabon, Marinieves Alba, and Kevin Coval.

SHAMELESS, PLUG 2

You'll be hearing more about this as we get closer, but I'm mad excited about this one.

For this year's EMP Pop Music Conference, I'm honored to be bringing together a panel featuring two of my heroes: Benjamin Melendez, founder of the Ghetto Brothers gang (one of whose young members, Eddie Perez, recently became the Mayor of Hartford, Connecticut, earlier this year), and Henry Chalfant, producer of "Style Wars" and "Flyin' Cut Sleeves", to introduce what we're calling a "pre-history of hip-hop" that includes a look at the pivotal, and mostly forgotten, Bronx gang truce of 1971.

Here's the relevant panel info. Video, music, dialogue, stories. What more can I say? Please join us in Mixalot's backyard, April 15-18.


posted by Zentronix @ 5:06 PM   0 comments links to this post



Where you at, Mark Jenkins?

How did you get to be such an accomplished film and music critic, and become the author of such a fantastic book--Dance of Days (buy it, it really is good)--with such poor reading comprehension skills?

It is not my style to call people out in public if I can help it. But I'm tired of all yall professional, amateur, and wannabe knee-jerkists taking cheap shots as a way of denying or avoiding the real argument.

Every time the issue of race (or gender or sexuality or...) and representation comes up, yall suddenly take offense like you've personally been called a racist. PLEASE. I don't deal with that. That's so 80s. I deal with the institutions. I deal with the discourse that's a product of those institutions.

If you want to defend all that, that's your right. If not, don't shit on me without dealing with the argument first. And smart people, take note: the line that goes "racism is not the real problem, it's sexism", "sexism is not the real problem, it's age-ism", "age-ism is not the real problem, it's BDP-ism", etc., is not an argument as much as it's a rhetorical device. Same thing with using my name as a signifier in the place of an argument (as in "Well, I'm not a real racist until Jeff Chang says so nyah nyah" or, I love this one, "racism is not the real problem, Jeff Chang is").

These tactics are all called intellectual dishonesty (psychologists call it denial), and I'm calling yall out on that. It's one of the many reasons all these -isms still exist.

So to clarify one last time, motherfuckers, here's how you read Jeff Motherfucking Chang:

1) I don't "attack" white writers' right to write about hip-hop, least of all white writers of my generation. I never have. I never will. Here's your fucking Chang soundbite/pullquote: "There are many whites who write about hip-hop very well. A few are among the very best. So the fuck what?" Should white writers be above criticism? Not any more than me.

2) I don't disparage the right of older folks to write about hip-hop. I do show my ambivalence sometimes. When you see me use the word "Elder", it's meant to honor their insights and foundation-building. When you see me use the word "elderly", I think their shit sucks. But to call me age-ist is just childish. (Let's get to the real issue someday: the generation that once said, "Never trust anyone over 30", now can't seem to trust anyone under 30.)

3) Here is what I have said and what I stand by: the mainstream of music criticism is dominated by straight white baby boomer males. That's not a "protest", that's a fact. Is that so controversial? Apparently it is, because my opinion was that, hey, maybe that isn't such a great thing anymore. Go jerk your knee here.

So if you feel that you now need me to invite you to shoot yourself, list you in some directory of racists, or kiss your AARP card, please get yourself some professional help. I did not start writing to become a Licensed and Certified SWM Ego-Stroker.

Thank you and no more.

posted by Zentronix @ 3:28 PM   0 comments links to this post



WHAT'S A ROCKIST?

Scott Woods does the comprehensive archival work so all of us can debate: Rockism, defined, kinda sorta. (Scott can we get a permalink? This one is gonna be a classic.)


posted by Zentronix @ 9:28 AM   0 comments links to this post



Just to prove to yall that I am not Oliver and he is not me, here's Oliver's take on American Idol. Plus news of a coup for William Hung and the common Asian American karaoke weekend man. For my Tito Dante, Tito Boy, my brother Fletch, and you and I too--we are all William Hung.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:02 AM   0 comments links to this post



Wednesday, February 18, 2004
LOCAL GIRLS ROCK!

Plus they're mad humble. Let Camille-mania begin! Next up: Bruddah Jonah. 808 represent...

posted by Zentronix @ 9:08 PM   0 comments links to this post



Jay Smooth sez: "Don't Hate the Player, Hate The League".

Now first of all I admit I got beef with Steinbrenner going back to the mid-70s--when he snatched Catfish and Reggie from Oakland. (Chuck O. Finley's dead already, so I'll leave him be.) I was only, like, a wee pal then, but we don't forget! I'll admit that up front.

Over the last three decades, Steinbrenner has been at the forefront of creating this rich-get-much-richer/poor-stay-poor divide in baseball--first with free agency, on up through salary cap debates, etc. At every turn, he's been there to pry the divide bigger. It's not like he's an innocent gamer here, he's very responsible for the way the game has turned out.

So yeah it will be much more satisfying when the A's or whoever crush the Yankees come summertime. It will be enjoyable to read the NY Times sports page trying to figure out what went wrong. It will be most gratifying to see Derek Jeter forced out of New York within 2 years.

But I don't see how it's possible defend the ethics of a Steinbrenner, not when you look at the history. He's got just as much of a not-so-invisible hand in everything that really sucks about MLB as anyone in the last half-century of this sport.

(Melle Mel neckveins popping) RRRRRRRRR-AH!

Addendum: My man is right about the Red Sox, though. Cheering for the Red Sox must be like being a Jeb Bush fan. Doh! Ah, spring training and March Madness must not be far away...

posted by Zentronix @ 8:07 PM   0 comments links to this post



THERE WERE NO 'YEEAARGH'S IN BURLINGTON LAST NIGHT

Howard Dean Abandons His Bid for the White House.

Didn't I tell ya Wisconsin is a motherfucker?

But the best thing about how this ends is that Dean retains his own organization within the Democratic Party, ostensibly a way to keep the Deaniacs from bolting to, say, Ralph Nader or another third-party insurgency. Of course it's a way to keep the Dean empire alive, too. But perhaps it even gives a place for Kucinich and Sharpton voters to go?

ALT-HISTORY MOMENT: If the Rainbow had pushed for something similar in '88 after Jesse Jackson's defeat--instead of, as the story goes, dumping all their computer records in someone's dumpster--think where we would be today. Sigh.

posted by Zentronix @ 1:56 PM   0 comments links to this post



Man, let me just say cheering for the Yankees because you're from New York is like rooting for the Republicans cause you're from Texas. You could do it, sure, but it's still wrong! And now back to my flu, already in progress.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:03 AM   0 comments links to this post



Tuesday, February 17, 2004
I am totally utterly completely flu-bound, for the first time in a year or two, but have to blogthis post by Aaron Wherry on the gotdam Yankees. Now it's easier than ever to hate them.

Q: how many A-Rod jerseys do they need to sell to make back their investment? Do the Yankees ever make money?

BTW the one thing you forgot, Aaron, is that Joe Torre's a self-admitted lame-duck. Steinbrenner can pull the trigger the moment A-Rod complains about his baseball cap being too itchy and hire Grady Little if he likes.

posted by Zentronix @ 12:09 PM   0 comments links to this post



Saturday, February 14, 2004
Wow. I gotta admit, I Love Music--which has often been terrible for both my self-esteem and my general optimism about humankind--has been required reading this week.

Here's one that hit it out of the ballpark. It's called Feminists and Feminist Sympathizers Unite: A Bold Call for Pazz & Jop Activism, and it starts with a provocative proposal (detours into an amusing debate over the relative sexiness of Ralf or Florian from Kraftwerk) and includes a show-stopper by Ms. Kandia.

posted by Zentronix @ 2:10 AM   0 comments links to this post



(Updated Saturday evening...now WITH MORE LINKS THAN EVER!)

One non P+J thread that's attracted lots of comments is this one on Steely Dan. Someone even posted the liners to the Royal Scam, a certifiable 5-star, 10.0 classic.

So I went and dug up this unpublished review I did last year, partly inspired by Vernon Reid and Greg Tate's paean to Becker and Fagen in Tate's book on whiteness, Everything But The Burden.

The review is part of a bunch I'd like to put up on the cantstopwontstop website later this year. Concept: revisionist rock reviews from a hiphopcentric point of view. Oh yeah, hip-hopism to match the old rockism.

Whoo hah. Hope I stop blogging before I get (really) old.


Steely Dan
The Royal Scam
MCA 1976

In 1977, the year of punk's rebel cry and hip-hop's street uprising, Steely Dan retired to the floating world of Aja. While the kids spat and spun hurricanes, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen painted Malibu hilltop Buddhist retreats that stirred samba carnival heights of ecstasy. Two against nature perhaps, but it could be they were just ahead of their time. Their masterpiece, The Royal Scam, had been released the year before, spiritual kin to the recognizable rage and incomprehensible joys of a new generation.

On the Dan's bleakest, funkiest album, the losers are trapped on the far end of beautiful, among zombies dripping with mojo or menace, carrying drugs or explosives or everything they own, and the ends they face are downright ugly. Freedom here is only available in fleeting moments of wordplay and deep grooves.

At the time of its release Robert Christgau bemoaned the group's "melodic retreat", although one listen to Larry Carlton channeling B.B. King on the soaring solo in "Kid Charlemagne" is strong counter-evidence. The melodies weren't the point anyway, it was all about the beats. In a sharp departure from the prettified rock of their first four albums, Becker and Fagen dollied back and faded to black, leaving the groove in the hands of bassist Chuck Rainey and drummer Pretty Purdie. With a pocket as big as Aretha's "Rock Steady" on nearly every track, the other players, especially guitarists Carlton and Denny Dias, turned in some of the most inspired playing on any of the Dan's records. Clearly the funk moved.

So, freshly dipped in their hips, Becker and Fagen were released to conjure outlaws and outcasts in circumstances moving inexorably toward violence, and to capture them in their moment of clarity before the great collision: the bookkeeper's son whose Oedipal revolt has become a SWAT scene ("Don't Take Me Alive"), the bored, alienated housewife who scandalizes her white-bread home with an kinky merengue episode in a Caribbean hotel and then returns to the states to domestic violence ("Haitian Divorce", "Everything You Did").

The mixed-up, miscegenated baby of that consensual union--unwittingly born into a world of rejection and desire--is a metaphor for the album's true concerns. The Royal Scam is the rare rock record to directly confront the complexities of racial wages and debts. In other words, the close relationship of funk and race is no coincidence. If Aja remains Steely Dan's most accessible record, The Royal Scam is its most influential, cited and sampled by Prince, Vernon Reid, Pharoahe Monche, and DJ Shadow (another reclusive, cerebral young white studio hound with a jones for black music) the way the Dan had Ellington, Silver, the Atlantic Records house band, and Piri Thomas.

"Kid Charlemagne" chronicles a superfly San Francisco pharmacologist who has "crossed a diamond with a pearl" and turned on the world. This is the story of a fall, Charlemagne plunging from all-city champ to man-on-the-lam. When the hammer comes down, his "low rent friends are dead", his white hippie patrons have "joined the human race", and he's assed-out. "You are obsolete," Fagen sings. "Look at all the white men on the street." A pusher's tale suddenly sounds like a race fable, a people's history of American popular culture. Becker and Fagen are winking at their rhythm section. They could be those white men on the street. Or perhaps, in the daisy-chain of pop permutation they are also two Kids Charlemagne, the Eminems of the rock era.

Katy Lied, this album's immediate predecessor, ended with "Throw Back The Little Ones", in which a white hustler tried Godfather-like to move product into the barrio and instead fell in love with the place and the people. This album reverses the process. The moody epic title track opens with a family of Puerto Rican immigrants arriving fresh-faced in the big city with little else but dreams of gold. They end up living in fear amidst ruins and fallen kings. The most literal, didactic track Becker and Fagen have ever cut is also their most pessimistic—the baddest acid from a career-vat of cynicism. In the end, all America has to offer is "the glory of the royal scam".


posted by Zentronix @ 1:44 AM   0 comments links to this post



Friday, February 13, 2004
Kerry-Clark '04? Can they screw this up? Sure they can! Never overestimate the abilities of the Democratic Party.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:37 AM   0 comments links to this post



So Bush's Sunday appearances did nothing. A Washington Post/ABC poll shows 54% think Bush lied, exaggerated, or truth-stretched to justify war. Last card to play: Osama Bin-Laden, coming in September to an American POW camp near you.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:31 AM   0 comments links to this post



Naw, it wasn't stupid at all.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:00 AM   0 comments links to this post



Thursday, February 12, 2004
Meanwhile Haiti burns and so does Courtney.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:18 PM   0 comments links to this post



SPRING AGAIN AND I'M FEELIN FINE

Well not yet exactly, but a week plus of sunshine and cool weather has me feeling good. These are the days when it's great not to be East Coast.

So is this song not a muhfuh-in classic? Of course it is. Yeah yeah Big Daddy Kane. But come on. Add some Pure Blend harmonies, and some Honeydrippers and Funkadelic samples and get wet:

"[ VERSE 1: Greg Nice ]
Hey yo
Dizzy Gillespie plays a sax

(Editorial note: I once argued with these guys after a couple blunts and industry open bar at the DNA Lounge about this point for a good hour--or at least it seemed that long, under all those substances...OK back to the beat)

Me, myself, I love to max
Redbone booties I'm out to wax
Stick up kids is out to tax
Spring again, and I'm feelin fine
Pass me an ice-cold glass of wine
So I can get mellow
Lay back, and let my girl play the cello
Hello
I hate Jell-O
Let me be me, relax in my tipi
Watch a hardy boy mystery
Greg N-i-c-e
I'm nitro
And I'm hype, so
Don't ever believe
That you can deceive me
See many visions of love and splendor
I'm the real thing, not like a pretender
I rock rhymes over beats on the real tip
Stay real strong and hang on like a vise grip
Use my mind to control all my body parts
Got an early start, plus I'm very smart
Type of man that the girls wanna read about
Indeed I proceed to rock the house without a doubt
Steppin up next, no further ado
Smooth B is gonna make it real funky for you

[ CHORUS: Pure Blend ]
I'm gonna make it real funky for you

[ VERSE 2: Smooth B ]
Smooth B, notorious, glorious
Knowledge is infinite, I live in a fortress

(Editorial note: WHAT?!!?!?)

I'm so astronomical, yet on a physical plane
My body's just a shell, in control is my brain
I strain to gain spirituality
So I can finally be in unity
Harmony with the all eye-seeing
Supreme being
Knower of histories and mysteries
I'm mystic, also stylistic
Not materialistic, simplistic
Humble while others tumble, stumble
Smooth B, not Bumble
Rumble, no, that's not likely
That's in my old 'school daze' like Spike Lee
Smooth B, my rhymes get better with time
I should get an endorsement for creating fresh lines
And as I grow older, lyrics get hyper
Cause I'm a dominant black pied piper

(Editorial note: WHAAAT?!!!?!)

Spreadin peace and love throughout my travels
And take time to read and unravel
Day to day problems, and then solve them
I can see clearly now as I revolve
Around suckers
Who perpetrate heroes
But I'm no sandwich
More like a manwich
Or maybe like a meal
Which is much more real
Than Clark Kent or the Man of Steel
Teddy Tedd, a hip-hop ambassador
Keepin you on the floor, givin you more and more
His cuts exquisite, what is it? A blizzard
The musical wizard you should come visit
The man in the back, without further ado
Teddy Tedd is gonna make it real funky for you..."

posted by Zentronix @ 8:58 PM   0 comments links to this post



More P+J: Matos crunches the numbers on the non-singles voters. Like Marley once said, "Feel it in the one-drop...the generation gap."

posted by Zentronix @ 11:27 AM   0 comments links to this post



Brilliant post by Jay Smooth on Jack White, Marley Marl, and Aaron Copland, re: the functions of noise.

Side note: isn't it amazing how convos can float through the ether like this and then someone sums it up and you just go 'wow', but first you gotta surf through all these people's blogs to do it?

Just feeling the love this morning. Thank you blog therapy.

Thoughts inspired by Keith Harris. Give the man some feedback, please.


posted by Zentronix @ 7:48 AM   0 comments links to this post



What?!!?! Kandia Crazy Horse gets her own blog, HOT VOODOO. Her book Rip It Up is out now, too, yall.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:38 AM   0 comments links to this post



Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Damn that last post was stupid.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:03 PM   0 comments links to this post



INTEGRATIONISTS ARE CORNY (PAZZ N JOP VERSION)

I've been trying to compose a 5-minute response encompassing all my views on P+J and finding myself stifled by anger and sympathy. Weird feeling.

What I can say is that P+J and all the comment threads burning up the gigabytes prove definitively why P+J remains relevant, why all my half-hearted attempts to dismiss it really mean nothing at all.

P +J gets the blood boiling and puts everyone's cards out for everyone to see. And then we get to the nub of things, what these critics really believe, behind all the 200-word style markers and 800-word canned interviews. And then we get to argue like hell about them all over again.

Beyond that, I gets emotional, some old Jennifer Hudson on American Idol, John Lennon, big-dreaming emotional. I gets angrier than a hornet and corny as fuck.

Here's Elder Tate: "For the first time since Public Enemy hit, popular taste and that of the modern Afrocentric bohemian are in bizarre sync. It's an opera and there's supposed to be a movie coming. Yay."

Here's Dean Christgau: "With all flaws and flat spots assumed, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below means to prophesy structurally: Big Boi is the self-created positivity of the gangsta culture both rappers long ago moved beyond, Andre the national aspirations they make so much more of than Eminem, Dr. Dre, and 50 Cent."

No exclamation points here. Just question marks. Do I feel happy that Outkast topped the chart? Yup. (Sympathy.) Am I happy that it needed crossover love to do it? Nope. (Anger.)

See Nate's anti-hipster I Love Music thread below. He's making a simple point. Outkast became this year's Arrested Development because they slipped over. In a good mood, those of us on this side of the line--the hip-hop gen side--get to marvel at how they did it; that Outkast can get underdog love and remain non-corny is our victory, too. In a bad mood, we go, why the fuck do we need them to validate us?

That's the stifling thing. The folks from my side that ain't bother to vote (in generals, primaries, and P+J) care as little about crossing over (just pay 'em the guarantee) as the don't-wanna-know-nothings on the other side who do.

Integrationists are corny. They're passe. They're 60s. All those politically correct teachers teach this shit to kids in elementary school. Pop music criticism, fucking America is all about teen rebellion. It's about pleasure, not politics. Sell me something, don't preach at me. Here I am, motherfucking entertain me and pass the Coors. God bless America.

I think well, I'ma go halfway. I vote, because that's what I do in elections. I don't submit comments when asked, even politely, and I refuse to become affirmative action officer because I need protection against being let down. But despite all the knee-jerk know-nothing bullshit that explodes whenever anyone begins with the letters R-A-C (or G-E-N-D-E or G-A or whatever), despite knowing without a doubt once this moment passes shit will go right back to the same old shit, I still care enough to agitate.

That's the height of corniness, to believe in something that you have no right to believe in, something that matters so little that comparing it to the Democratic primaries, let alone American global imperialism, seems the height of puffery, something that is bound to let you down but that can't be replaced by anything else in your little life.

OK there's a motherfucking comment.

posted by Zentronix @ 2:41 PM   0 comments links to this post



INTEGRATIONISTS ARE CORNY (EGO TRIP VH1 VERSION)

Our homies at Ego Trip got their big TV show on racism and Keith Harris got the homies to fess. Thanks to Jay Smooth for the link.

posted by Zentronix @ 2:09 PM   0 comments links to this post



Gotdamn I'm glad Nate Patrin set it off.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:28 AM   0 comments links to this post



Robert Christgau on NPR : Morning Edition for Wednesday, February 11, 2004. Scroll down to "New Music Picks". More comments on P+J soon come...

posted by Zentronix @ 8:19 AM   0 comments links to this post



Tuesday, February 10, 2004
INTEGRATIONISTS ARE CORNY (IDOL VERSION)

I got all Wailers over Jennifer Hudson's performance of "Imagine" on American Idol. Fucking text your vote in now, you racist bastard. Contestant 06.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:08 PM   0 comments links to this post



Hey I linked this list of great music critic pickup lines (courtesy Hipster Detritus) before right? If I did, read it again! They work really well.

Unfortunately (or not) I was never involved with Xen Cuts. And someone else once had me as a Kool Keith freak, but that was my evil non-twin O-dub.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:03 PM   0 comments links to this post



Clark is done. Let the jockeying for VP begin early.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:54 PM   0 comments links to this post



An I Love Music thread that proves the Voice editors earn what little money they make, confirms that it was probably a good idea for me to give up commenting for P+J, and kinda reminds me how embarassed I should be for even having a blog.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:06 PM   0 comments links to this post



Miles Marshall Lewis topped the 2003 Pazz & Jop critical alignment ratings, which is Glen McDonald's statistical ranking of how on target each PnJ voter was with the actual final poll. It's like a numerical equivalent of how much a critic is with the zeitgeist, the Populism Meter, as Peter Shapiro puts it.

Go Miles! I think.

Me? I'm at 310, up from 486 last year.

Thanks to rock critics daily for the link.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:36 PM   0 comments links to this post



Nice one! Scott Wood: "Reissue of the Year: Let It Be...Naked by the Replacements. Peter Jesperson's production always was a little bombastic, and what a delight to finally hear these songs the way they were meant to be heard: 'Answering Machine' without the operator message, 'Androgynous' minus those extravagant finger snaps. Plus we don't have to listen to that egomaniac Tommy Stinson harping on about how Jesperson totally 'ruined the essence of' his bass part in 'Gary's Got a Boner.'

posted by Zentronix @ 2:36 PM   0 comments links to this post



Ah shit. Keith Harris: "Lil Jon says bend over! Lil Jon says touch your toes! Now shake ya tailfeather! Ho, Lil Jon didn't say to shake no tailfeather!" Jon C. coming with fire too.

posted by Zentronix @ 2:22 PM   0 comments links to this post



MORE P-N-J

Robert Christgau talks '03.

Comments that kill by Josh Clover, Kris Ex and Hua Hsu. Great stuff throughout by Kandia Crazy Horse and Greg Tate

I'm still processing all this. Soon come...

posted by Zentronix @ 2:03 PM   0 comments links to this post



PAZZ N JOP

The results are in...the best showing for hip-hop in years, due to Outkast and Dizzee's reverse crossover dribble.

ALBUMS
1 OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Arista)
2 The White Stripes Elephant (V2)
3 Fountains of Wayne Welcome Interstate Managers (S-Curve)
4 Radiohead Hail to the Thief (Capitol)
5 Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell (Interscope)
6 The Shins Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)
7 New Pornographers Electric Version (Matador)
8 Basement Jaxx Kish Kash (Astralwerks)
9 Drive-By Truckers Decoration Day (New West)
10 Dizzee Rascal Boy in Da Corner (XL import)


SINGLES
1 OutKast "Hey Ya!" (Arista)
2 Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z "Crazy in Love" (Columbia)
3 The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" (Third Man/V2)
4 Kelis "Milkshake" (Star Trak/Arista)
5 50 Cent "In Da Club" (G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
6 Johnny Cash "Hurt" (Universal)
7 Fountains of Wayne "Stacy's Mom" (S-Curve/Virgin)
8 R. Kelly "Ignition-Remix" (Jive)
9 Junior Senior "Move Your Feet" (Atlantic)
10 Panjabi MC featuring Jay-Z "Beware of the Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke)"
(Sequence)

Full results are here.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:38 AM   0 comments links to this post



Actually, Julianne, I think this is a pretty good trade. I've been hoping Shareef might get a real team since "The Quickening"!

posted by Zentronix @ 8:07 AM   0 comments links to this post



Monday, February 09, 2004
Minority Applications Drop at Michigan. Same thing happened at the University of California and the University of Texas.

posted by Zentronix @ 6:39 PM   0 comments links to this post



Keith Harris calmly dissects the latest round of Beatlemania.

posted by Zentronix @ 1:23 PM   0 comments links to this post



Late on this but thanks to Aaron Wherry, here's an item from last Tuesday's WWD on the latest shake-ups at The Source. Truth is, there's a lot more going on there than is written here, believe.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:36 AM   0 comments links to this post



A great piece on Republican messaging and the lack of a progressive equivalent. Thanks to Lizz Mendez Berry.

Speaking of which, it seems to me that Bush failed miserably yesterday in his bid to make the case for war and jobs. Here's Howard Kurtz' grok on the topic. Today's jobs report has to add fuel to the fire, seen as more empty promises. This could be a case for the Reeps of good planning, poor execution.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:24 AM   0 comments links to this post



GRAMS, I MEAN, GRAMMYS

Nice to see:

* Prince and Beyonce doing Ike and Tina, the good years.

* Sean Paul on the big stage, although the song was all wrong. Maybe "When the World Is Running Down"?

* Justin keeping his hands on the organ.

* Pharrell as Ringo.

* Luther.

* FUNK!

Not so fun to see:

* Dave Matthews forgetting the words.

* Alicia out of key. Guess her register does have a limit.

* Quentin "Let me show you why me and Nik Cohn can use the N word" Tarantino.

Unsubstantiated rumors:

* Coldplay's Chris Martin has signed on to do all yelling for the Kerry campaign.

* Cristina Aguilera is making a kids' album with Hillary Duff. They will not be kissing on the cover.

* Justin Timberlake left after the show to record a remix with Ruben Studdard of "Sorry 2004".

* Michael Powell is replacing Judy McGrath at MTV.


posted by Zentronix @ 10:04 AM   0 comments links to this post



Sunday, February 08, 2004
On CNN last night...

HOWARD KURTZ, host CNN "Reliable Sources" show: Let's talk about tonight Grammy awards. It's not clear whether Janet Jackson is showing up or is disinvited, but Justin Timberlake, why is he being allowed to even show his face? I mean, if I reach over -- well, let's not go there.

GLORIA BORGER, co-host of CNBC's "Capital Report": Show his face, much less anything else.

KURTZ: He's the guy who liberated Janet Jackson's breast. Why does he get to go on national television a week later?

BORGER: Well, you know, this is the question that I've talked to a lot of women about this, actually. Because while none of us believe Janet Jackson did the right thing, we also believe that she is taking the complete fall for this, that Justin Timberlake has distanced himself from Janet Jackson, saying nice things like, "I didn't need this for my career."

And yet he gets to go on the Grammies and sing tonight and she doesn't.

KURTZ: Right after the -- Right after the event he was seen on "Access Hollywood" saying, "This is pretty cool. We gave people something to talk about."

And later he's all "I'm clearly so sorry."

BORGER: Really too different -- Clearly too different stories.

KURTZ: Right.

BORGER: When you dissect it. But guess what? He gets to sing.

KURTZ: Jeff Greenfield, CBS dangles goodies before Jessica Lynch to try to get an interview with her.

CBS makes that music special deal with Michael Jackson, where he got a lot of money.

CBS then has MTV, you know, produce this halftime show, which not only featured this moment we keep talking about but, you know, rap lyrics like I want to get you naked.

Isn't there a pattern of bad judgment here?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN senior analyst: They've had a bad track on this. I mean, you know, you could also raise some questions, since they were so shocked at this, they did have to approve the ads they ran at $2.3 million for 30 seconds, that featured, among other things, a dog biting a man's crotch, a flatulent horse and a monkey making sexual advances to a woman.

So, you know, that used to be the Tiffany network and I guess they're just in the same primordial ooze that the rest of us are in, looking those of us who look at it so we can comment on it while watching the tape 500 times.

KURTZ: So your view -- you view, Jeff. You use the term hypocrisy bowl. There's hypocrisy plenty to go around, because everybody who's anywhere near a camera gets to both exploit this and denounce it and joke about it and hopefully get people to watch.

GREENFIELD: Yes, I mean, it's kind of like the, you know, the confession magazines of the '50s that used to run these lurid stories about sexual perversion while having the attitude of "Isn't it terrible. Let us show you this again so you'll know just how bad it is." Yes.

KURTZ: So aren't the networks, not to mention newspapers and magazines, which have run many, many articles on this, aren't they as bad as Janet Jackson? She allowed the exposure, and everybody else is going to make sure that we never ever forget it.

MELINDA HENNEBERGER, reporter for "Newsweek" magazine: I don't know, but I do think that overall the coverage has been valid. Because I think for a lot of people...

KURTZ: Not excessive?

HENNEBERGER: I'm not so sure, because I think a lot of Americans were really upset about it. I mean, if the FCC got 200,000 calls and e-mails on it, I think we have to respond, too.

KURTZ: But Gloria Borger keeps replaying it on her show.

BORGER: I keep replaying it. Well, and then we have debates over Justin Timberlake and over -- but, you know, it's also to be fair. Let's just -- it's a diversion. It's sort of a fun story at Janet Jackson's expense.

KURTZ: Not Iraq.

BORGER: Yes. It is not Iraq. We are a nation at war. We deal with that. But that is one of those diversions that we can all relate to, because some of us got to watch it with our children, and we really didn't think that was a terrific idea.

And I agree with Jeff. I thought a lot of those ads on erectile dysfunction and the rest during the Super Bowl were probably not a great idea either...

posted by Zentronix @ 7:48 PM   0 comments links to this post



LOVELY HOW I LET MY MIND FLOAT, VERSION 1

Odyssey "Native New Yorker"--->Nas "NY State of Mind"---->Strokes "NY Cops"

posted by Zentronix @ 4:42 PM   0 comments links to this post



Eric at the Stinkzone put me onto this Bravo documentary, Story of Jamaican Music. His post includes show and interview listings. Gonna check on Tuesday and report back.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:46 AM   0 comments links to this post



The best Norah Jones review ever likely to be written, by Ben Ratliff.

The best Neptunes/Timbaland article ever likely to be written, by your boy SFJ.

And they're both from the New York Times. Fuck me!

posted by Zentronix @ 9:24 AM   0 comments links to this post



Friday, February 06, 2004
Michaelangelo Matos gets an existential crisis over...Ninjatune and Mo Wax!

posted by Zentronix @ 10:02 AM   0 comments links to this post



David Mays on his crusade against Eminem and whites in hip-hop. Is he Woodward or Bernstein?

posted by Zentronix @ 9:48 AM   0 comments links to this post



Mike Davis on Hong Kong's avian flu as the product of globalization.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:45 AM   0 comments links to this post



Thursday, February 05, 2004
More genius posting fromJulianne Blazer on You Got Serviced. I (heart) b-boy/b-girl blogs. Back to the Bronx--the book, that is. I'm rewriting the 2 chapters on the gangs into one, while wishing I could do 17 more on just this stuff.


posted by Zentronix @ 6:33 PM   0 comments links to this post



"SEPARATE IS SELDOM, IF EVER, EQUAL"

From yesterday's ruling by the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court on gay marriage:

"The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal. . . .

The bill's absolute prohibition of the use of the word "marriage" by "spouses" who are the same sex is more than semantic. The dissimilitude between the terms "civil marriage" and "civil union" is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status. . . "

I love this: the upshot of the ruling is that gay marriages begin in Massachusetts on May 17, the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

Sidenote: Mass. boy John Kerry opposes gay marriage.

I really wish I had time to parse this more with yall--there's so much here, and one of my side journalistic obsessions has become the recent cultural history of integration--but I'm in the last 48+ hours of editing.

Soon come...

In other news, Dean may quit if he doesn't win Wisconsin. Is this a way to rally depressed Deaniacs or an admission of collapse? Probably both.

Another sidenote: Wisconsin has often been the reversal point for insurgent candidacies. In '88, when Jesse Jackson was stomping all candidates after the early caucuses and primaries, Dem centrist operatives ganged up on him in Wisconsin, while Ed Koch revived the famous Hymietown thang. He never recovered.

In the end, Jackson finished a distant second to the short guy with the uni-brow from-where?-Massachusetts.


posted by Zentronix @ 9:47 AM   0 comments links to this post



Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Greg Tate on Cold Mountain. Nuff said, believers.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:32 AM   0 comments links to this post



Whoooeee.

The two-decade plus hate affair between the Village Voice and Al Sharpton reaches a new level with this cover story hit piece by Wayne Barrett.

On Democracy Now, Barrett got in an even tougher jab: Sharpton only walked out of South Carolina with 9.5%, not enough to claim the delegates he needs to position himself at the Convention in late July. Here's the NY Times story.

Still rooting for the guy, underdog love. And Dems shouldn't crow too loud. Lots of hip-hop heads are pulling for Dean and Kucinich and Sharpton...

On the other hand, glad to see you go, Joe. Relax. You and C. Delores can hang out a lot more now.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:02 AM   0 comments links to this post



Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Deadline staring at me like a hungry wolf. Nothing interesting to say about anything today, not even about the continuing, uh, fallout over Janet's, uh, pop move. (My UPS guy says he's now a Justin fan.)

Instead, here's a story about the making of Outkast's 'Hey Ya!', thanks for the link to the good folks at Rock and Rap Confidential.

Also, O-dub reviews one of my favorite unreleased albums ever, King Tee's "Thy Kingdom Come". Now I can put my Aftermath advance cassette to bed, and hopefully some of that loot is getting into Tela's pockets. I have a great story about that record, actually a few, aww hell, I could talk all day about it. But you'll have to wait. Sorry.

In the meantime, read SFJ who has been on fire this past week, recognize.

And for your listening pleasure: Harry Mudie Meets King Tubby's In Dub Conference Vol 1 <---> Art of Noise-Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise? <---> Innerzone Orchestra-Programmed.

If anyone has an algorithm for painlessly cutting manuscripts, please send.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:05 AM   0 comments links to this post



Monday, February 02, 2004
GET SERVED!

Go Julianne! You never need read another review of this movie--or any other hip-hop dance movie--in your entire life. (But hey, Chinese martial arts, what what!)

posted by Zentronix @ 1:34 PM   0 comments links to this post



WARDROBE MALFUNCTION!?!!?!!

Outraged (and, uh, titillated) FCC Chair Michael Powell is launching a, uh, probe into Justin Timberlake's encounter with Janet Jackson's right titty yesterday at the Super Bowl.

Damn. A culture war over Justin's grab and Janet's breastess? Who needs fiction? Yeah it's funny now, and I don't mean to be alarmist but when this shit becomes a presidential election issue in--what, hours, days?--oh man.

Meanwhile Jay Smooth and friends on the meaning of The Nipplegate Crisis. Definitely check the comments too.


posted by Zentronix @ 10:12 AM   0 comments links to this post



EVERYONE LOVES A HAPPY ENDING

Mingering Mike finally finds fame. I'm sure you've seen the backstory already, but if not, it's here and here .

posted by Zentronix @ 8:15 AM   0 comments links to this post

 

Previous posts
Coming Soon!
Notes On The Eve Of Day One
Students Occupy The New School
Farai Chideya's News And Notes on NPR Has Been Can...
I Am Nixon
Shouldna Lef Ya...
2G2K Is Back! :: On Hillary, Again, And Foreign Po...
The Impact of The Hip-Hop Vote
UCLA Education In Action Keynote Speech
A Great Day In Baseball History


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