Wednesday, August 31, 2005
A Prayer For New Orleans
To all the poor people who couldn't leave the city, to all those called looters for trying to take care of their family, to all those who lost more than they thought they could, our deepest prayers and hopes go out to you.

Here's Randy Newman on the Flood of 1927:

"What has happened down here is the wind have changed
Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
Rained real hard and rained for a real long time
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline
The river rose all day
The river rose all night
Some people got lost in the flood
Some people got away alright
The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne

Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away
Louisiana, Louisiana
They're tryin' to wash us away
They're tryin' to wash us away"

posted by Zentronix @ 2:31 PM   2 comments links to this post

Monday, August 29, 2005
DMC and LL Cool J on Fresh Air Tomorrow
Here's the promo for tomorrow's Fresh Air. In the meantime, you can get Herc, Flash, and Melle Mel on their website today:

On the next Fresh Air – Hip Hop week continues with DARRYL MCDANIELS… the
DMC of Run DMC. They were the first rap group to earn gold, platinum and
multi-platinum albums. We'll also hear from L.L. COOL J. Join us for Hip
Hop Week on the next Fresh Air.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:23 AM   1 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 28, 2005
Hawai'i Dominates Little League, Brah!

Gimme 1 large combo plate, gravy on da rice, side order poi!

West Oahu beat reigning champs Curacao to take the Little League World Series title. The Oahu All Stars took the Cal Ripken World Series last week. Both are events for 11- and 12-year olds, with the Ripken as the top prize for Babe Ruth Leagues and the Little League World Series as the top prize overall. Three other teams from Hawai'i played in World Series matches this year. Yeah buddy!

And yes, people. It's the poi.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:03 PM   5 comments links to this post

Hip-Hop Week on NPR's Fresh Air
Here's the promo copy for Monday's show on Hip-Hop Week on Fresh Air. I'm told that they will be deciding day-to-day on the content, so I'll post as I hear about it:

On the next Fresh Air, GRANDMASTER FLASH and DJ KOOL HERC bring on the funk and tell tales about the old school as we kick off our end of the summer Hip Hop Week --featuring some of the greatest names in rap, including Will Smith, Queen Latifah, the RZA and LL Cool J. Join Terry Gross for the next Fresh Air.

posted by Zentronix @ 4:11 PM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 25, 2005
End of Summer Jammies
Late on this due to vacating, but thank you Dusted!

posted by Zentronix @ 9:56 AM   0 comments links to this post

LA's War On Graffiti Continues
From the good folks at 149th comes this story:

Los Angeles is often called the mural capital of the world — and no place is this truer than on the streets of Boyle Heights, where hundreds of walls at pharmacies, general stores, guitar shops and even churches have been transformed into urban artwork.

The murals depict Mexican American history, advertise businesses and take the form of abstract art at the hands of graffiti taggers.

But now some residents complain that they cannot tell some of the murals from the illegal graffiti that have long plagued the area. So the city is cracking down.

Using a little-known ordinance that allows the city to regulate murals that abut public property — including sidewalks — officials have notified some property owners that they must either modify or remove their murals.

This renewed war on graf began with the arrival of Police Chief William Bratton, and now appears to be making headlines again as new Mayor Villaraigosa swings right after being elected by a liberal-progressive, brown-black coalition.

posted by Zentronix @ 9:32 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Terry Gross Fresh Air Hip-Hop Week
More radio madness! Just got word that not only will NPR be rebroadcasting DJ Kool Herc's interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air next Monday--but the whole week will be dedicated to re-airing Terry Gross' hip-hop interviews.

Apparently they have a huge library of interviews that Terry has conducted going back to the late 80s, including Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, DMC, and Arthur Baker. Who knew?

Right now they are apparently still deciding which ones to bring back, but the classic RZA interview will almost certainly be on. No word on the interviews with Russell, ?uestlove, or De La Soul yet. When I get the full lineup, I'll post it here.

posted by Zentronix @ 12:50 PM   1 comments links to this post

Got Hurban? Si!

Lalo Strikes Again!

For more madness on the airwaves, tune in to the Pocho Hour of Power (which I guess makes Lalo and Zul 60 Minute Men!) on KPFK, also available now in Chicago on WRTE!

posted by Zentronix @ 12:31 PM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
To MFA Or Not To MFA?
Easing out of vacation back into real life with this piece on the value of an MFA in yesterday's SF Chronicle Magazine:

Each year, 2,000-3,000 writers (!!!) emerge with freshly minted MFAs, turning out submissions to journals, publishers and agents. The Del Mar-based Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, which has shepherded a stable of renowned writers to literary success, receives hundreds of unsolicited manuscripts each week.

After years of experience wading through the slush pile of submissions, Dijkstra -- a former university professor with a Ph.D. in French literature -- discerned that MFA programs can foster "well-written but sterile work." But there's also a practical upside: Dijkstra pays more attention when she sees an MFA on the resume...

posted by Zentronix @ 10:56 AM   4 comments links to this post

Monday, August 08, 2005
Sizzla Signs To Dame Dash Label

Photo by the legendary Afflicted!

Just received this press release, re: Sizzla. Old "New Roots" fan that I am (and I am still hoping for an Ini Kamoze comeback--80s version!), I feel like he's about 6 or 7 years off his peak. At this point he's like Prince in the 90s. Lots of output, not a lot of killers.

Diversion: I loved Da Real Thing but it was only 80% of a perfect album. Remember 1997? Black Woman & Child and Praise Ye Jah. That's like putting out Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint in the same year.

All this said, "Be Strong" was probably the best "Drop Leaf" 7", and Sizzla's been playing with hip-hop crossover for about 4 years now (mostly unmemorably). There's a lot of ways that this marriage makes perfect sense. The main thing will be to pair him with a producer who can inspire and--mainly--edit.

Maybe give Don Corleon the job, and tell him not to come back until he has 12 certifiable bangers. Even if that means spending more than two weeks to actually do an album.

Thing is, general North American audiences won't be as forgiving as we reggae fans are. We'll buy every 1 of the 16 Sizzla albums every year, hoping to get maybe 3-5 good tracks. These fools will download the shit with Foxy Brown for free and be like, who's that Jamaican dude and what's he yo-oh-yoing about?

Overall, I haven't had a chance to listen or write about dancehall as much as I would have liked to for the past 2 years, but I'm convinced that this year is going to be a really interesting one. As Buju would say, here why:

-Soca no-names and non-Jamaican neo-dancehall divas are burning up the summer charts.
-You can now hear reggaeton playing in a Mill Valley Baskin & Robbins.

If you count the Caribbean influence on grime and crunk--that latter thing is a debate I'm dying to fire up, but not here--dancehall has conquered hip-hop in death by a thousand hybrids. And yet dancehall artists still might not win. Again, here why:

-Sean Paul's followup appears to be stalled.
-Baby Cham's album is still not scheduled.
-Ele and Vybz never caught flight.
-Beenie Man is missing in Aruba.

The question is: did our dancehall heroes do it to themselves, or is everyone else just moving a lot faster?

And now everyone is supposedly talking about roots again. But forgive me, because this is my sound, but I gotta say this: I Wayne is not the real thing, Jah Cure can't tour for another decade, the Marleys (even those whose mother is not named Rita) always get a free pass from foreign, and all of these dudes have women problems. How long will this last?

More questions for a hot summer day.



NEW YORK, NY - August 8, 2005 - International reggae superstar Sizzla, one of Jamaica's most gifted, most prolific, and best-loved artists of the past decade, has signed with the Damon Dash Music Group (DDMG). With over 30 full-length albums released for labels like VP Records, Greensleeves, and Jet Star, and countless 7-inch singles released in his native Jamaica - including last summer's crossover smash "Just One Of Those Days (Dry Cry)" - his forthcoming DDMG release, set for an early-2006 release, will mark Sizzla's major-label debut.

What may seem at first a strange musical marriage - Jamaica's Sizzla, a reclusive, devout Rastafarian and Harlem's Damon Dash, the brash, outspoken mogul and CEO of DDMG, Sizzla joins an already eclectic DDMG roster including the infamous rapper Beanie Sigel, R&B singers Rell and Nicole Wray, and the legacy of the late Ol' Dirty Bastard.

"The signing of Sizzla to the Damon Dash Music group is actually a perfect fit," explains Dash. "I am an entrepreneur: when I see a market I haven't yet infiltrated, I'm going after it. Reggae and Caribbean music is a huge international marketplace and, of course, I like the scope of that. Sizzla is unquestionably the genre's biggest, most talented, most prolific, most important star. I'm looking forward to reaching Sizzla's already massive fanbase, and more importantly, exposing him to a brand new one. I'm proud and excited to have Sizzla as a new addition to the DDMG family."
Emerging during the latter half of the '90s, Sizzla - born Miguel Collins in the rugged August Town area of Kingston - has been one of the leaders of the conscious dancehall movement. Along with veteran acts like Buju Banton and Capleton, and more recently I-Wayne and Damien "Junior Gong" Marley, Sizzla has helped lead dancehall back to the musical and spiritual influence of roots reggae, favoring organic productions and heavily Rastafarian subject matter. Something of an enigma to the public at large, Sizzla has rarely granted interviews and has kept his concert appearances to a minimum. All of that, Dash insists, is about to change.

"When my VP of A&R, Clark Kent, brought Sizzla to me, I didn't know what to expect. This artist has blown me away. We're actually very much alike. He's a workaholic, like me. He's in the studio every day, recording literally hundreds of songs. He's not only punctual, he's actually early for promotional appointments. We're both respected and accomplished, yet we're both still hungry."

Regardless of his public persona, Sizzla has ranked as arguably the most popular conscious reggae artist of his time. From his breakout year of 1997, which saw the release of his critically and publicly-acclaimed second and third albums, Praise Ye Jah and Black Woman & Child - both instant classics - to 2004's return to form Da Real Thing, Sizzla career-spanning 30-plus albums have amassed a catalogue of anthems beloved by reggae fans everywhere, including "Dry Cry," "Thank You Mama," "Solid As a Rock," "Praise Ye Jah," "Black Woman & Child," "Good Ways," "Holding Firm," and many, many more.

posted by Zentronix @ 8:41 AM   39 comments links to this post

Friday, August 05, 2005
A Convo On Hip-Hop Writing
If you didn't know already, Tamara Palmer--whose Country-Fried Soul: Adventures in Dirty South Hip-Hop is out now!--and I have been blogging on's Connect Politic... about hip-hop writing. Check it out and let us know how much we suck. Meanwhile if you have a hip-hop book jones, peep the reading list on the right!

posted by Zentronix @ 3:39 PM   2 comments links to this post

Boogie Down
After a long unexplained absence, your boy is back up at Sticker Shock today--with a long-lost Bronx favorite. Keep tickin' and tockin' for a limited time!

posted by Zentronix @ 8:30 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 04, 2005
Mos Def Calls Out Suge Knight In LA
Finally getting some light on SOHH and The Situation UK is the fact that Mos Def climaxed his concert at the Hollywood Bowl on July 24th by shouting: "Tell them who killed my man (Biggie), Suge. Tell them who killed my man, Suge!"

I was at the concert.

The crowd was shocked at first, but then responded with loud applause. Mos said, "Gotta tell the truth. We fear nothing."

The concert itself--sandwiched in between performances by the excellent Senegalese rap trio Daara J and an high-energy show by Femi Kuti--was billed as "Biggie, the big band experience". Mos came out on a bed with neon signs reading "Freedom" and "Oysters" next to it. The concept was to have a jazz band, featuring Will Calhoun, play covers of songs that would trace the story of Biggie's life.

It was uneven, at best. The band opened with a fascinating cover of "Stakes Is High" and moved through long versions of stuff like "It's Just Begun", "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down", and ended with "Umi Says". It was loose and unstructured, with Mos dictating changes onstage as the band played, and apparently not a lot of thought given to pacing. When the clock came up on an hour, Mos admitted they had prepared a lot more but they had run out of time.

That's when he got into the line about Suge.

The song that Mos went into after that had him solo at the piano banging out a two-chord drone in which he sliced together lyrics from "Jam Master Jay" with comments on Biggie's death. He ended by flipping the classic "Run DMC and Jam Master Jay" into a scream: "Who killed Pac, Biggie and Jay?"

Brave shit. But probably not ready to be recorded yet...

posted by Zentronix @ 11:19 AM   6 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Jim Farber on The Source

Supply your own caption.

From today's New York Daily News:

Observers feel the magazine's spiraling problems mirror a central struggle within hip hop itself. "The roots of the music are very 'street'," says Minya Oh, alias Miss Info, Hot 97's hip-hop gossip. "But that has to get along with its newer role, which is very big business."

Many industry insiders feel the biggest blow to the magazine's credibility stems from its two-year war against Eminem, whom the magazine has cast as a racist, out to whitewash an African-American art form. (The Source's own founder, David Mays, is white.)

"By battling Eminem, they end up battling the whole family he's down with - 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Lloyd Banks - the biggest people in the game," explains Nelson George, a long-time observer of popular music and the author of "Hip-Hop America." "How can you sustain and not cover those guys?"

"Regular readers really don't care about the whole back story of the magazine's problems," says Oh. "But they do want to know what Eminem is doing on his vacation or what 50 Cent has to say about Vivica Fox."

To get that information, readers are increasingly flipping over to The Source's rival, XXL. That upstart mag began eight years ago (The Source kicked off back in 1988). In 2003, the younger mag's circulation was little more than half that of its role model. Since then, its circulation has increased by more than 10% to an audited figure of 273,257, the overwhelming majority of them moving on newsstands.

"XXL is now the biggest to us," says a source at Def Jam Records.

posted by Zentronix @ 7:51 AM   3 comments links to this post

Monday, August 01, 2005
Judith Miller: No Journalistic Martyr
From Elizabeth Mendez Berry (now a hard-boiled reporter for Time Magazine!): Arianna debunks Judith Miller's martyrdom--Miller is the source.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:23 AM   3 comments links to this post

I Just Want It To Be Over

posted by Zentronix @ 9:33 AM   2 comments links to this post


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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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