Sunday, April 30, 2006
Zirin on May 1: A day without all-stars?
The great Dave Zirin on tomorrow's May Day walkout:
The growing Latino presence in Major League Baseball is a story of exploitation and opportunity. Club owners set up baseball academies in countries where future prospects can be signed in their early teens for pennies, then fired with little cost if they aren't good enough to play in the big leagues. As one player said to me, "The options in the Dominican Republic are jail, the army, the factory or baseball."
posted by Zentronix @ 5:56 PM
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Who Killed Biggie?
BET tries to answer Mos Def's question Sunday afternoon. Here's the word from Selwyn Hinds' new show The Chop Up:
Produced for BET and THE CHOP UP by Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer and author P. Frank Williams, the segment entitled “Long Kiss Goodnight” peels back the layers on the nine years since Biggie Smalls was gunned down in Los Angeles. In her first television interview since winning a multi-million dollar wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles, Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace shares striking details about the FBI investigation of her son’s murder. Also for the first time on television, Lil’ Cease, a member of Biggie’s Junior Mafia crew, shares a chilling eye-witness account of what happened inside the car where Biggie was riding when the fatal shots were fired. Hosted by Jeff Johnson and Jina Jinay.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:15 AM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
A Frustrated Golden State Fan's Guide To The Playoffs
Detroit, because Detroit is Detroit.
New Jersey, because we still love Jason Kidd.
Cleveland, Lebron is from Vallejo. OK, he isn't. But Gooden is from Richmond, and played for El Cerrito.
We don't care if Dallas or Memphis wins.
Phoenix, because the Lakers are the Giants. One highly problematic superstar, a bunch of uninteresting supporting characters, and an embarrassingly huge bunch of Grey Poupon fans.
Sacramento, because it's next to Davis.
The Clippers, because they are the closest thing to the A's. Westside underdog love!
posted by Zentronix @ 5:04 PM
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Gangsta Gumbo And The Hip-Hop Nostalgia Shuffle
It's Nagin vs. Landrieu. Should be an interesting runoff.
In the meantime, here's Kelefa Sanneh at his best, musing on New Orleans rap, the Smithsonian, and New Orleans' Gangsta Gumbo.
I love K--although I don't always agree with homie, he deserves his rep as one of the smartest crits out there, and it's undeniable that he's a helluva writer--but I often feel like he's holding back at the keyboard. These days I think it's a common malady among younger hip-hop writers (especially bloggers, whose constrictions of form have now permanently affected print writing) to be shallow. I think this is because we've got a generation of aesthetes who are learning to be activists--to be advocates for a particular kind of form or style, not to mention geography and ideology. It's also much more fun and comment-generating and technorati-scaling to be breezy than earnest, the default mode for those of us over 35, many of whom were activists before aesthetes. But I often feel like the easy irony hides the more difficult emotion, and all too often, the real insight.
Here K doesn't hold back and I think he perfectly calibrates the anger and ambivalence many of us older hip-hop genners who still love H.E.R. feel about the way outside moneybaggers, high-powered cultcrits, our Nuyocentric "Golden Era"-nostalgic peers, even our own damn crack-rap-aghast selves do us alldayerrrday. You don't have to not believe Mardi Gras Indians are the shit, and you don't have to be a 50 or Jeezy fan--even a Juvie fan--to feel deez nut graphs:
"If all the dying traditions are valuable, does that also mean all the valuable traditions are dying? If a genre doesn't need saving, does that also mean it's not worth saving? If New Orleans rappers seem less lovable than, say, Mardi Gras Indians or veteran soul singers, might it be because they're less needy? Cultural philanthropy is drawn to musical pioneers--especially African-American ones--who are old, poor and humble. What do you do when the pioneers are young, rich and cocky instead?
Believe it or not, that question brings us back to the Smithsonian, which has come to praise hip-hop. Or to bury it. Or both. The genre is over 30 years old by now, and while its early stars now seem unimpeachable (does anyone have a bad word to say about Grandmaster Flash or Run-DMC?), its current stars seem more impeachable than ever. From 50 Cent to Young Jeezy to, well, Juvenile, hip-hop might be even more controversial now than it was in the 80's; hip-hop culture has been blamed for everything from lousy schools to sexism to the riots in France. In a weird way, that might help account for the newfound respectability of the old school. To an older listener who's aghast at crack rap, the relatively innocent rhymes of Run-DMC don't seem so bad. If the new generation didn't seem so harmful, its predecessors might not seem harmless enough for the national archives."
posted by Zentronix @ 10:21 AM
Friday, April 21, 2006
New Orleans: Vote!
To all our folks from the Crescent City, good luck with the vote tomorrow! For a hip-hop take, here's an official League? of Really Pissed Off ?Voters Guide.
In other news, the new Wax Poetics is here, including a gratuitous Mac Mall shout-out and a sick history of Black Rio. No better way to spend a few hours this weekend.
posted by Zentronix @ 4:33 PM
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Krups :: Grups of Color
Oh shit. We've been pegged!
posted by Zentronix @ 7:59 PM
More Evidence Media Consolidation Causes Stupidity In Humans
After reaching an impasse in discussions with the four biggest radio corporations, looks like the FCC is finally ready to get familiar. Boo-yaa! This will be fun.
These lines were especially hilarious:
The FCC's action comes amid New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer's pay-for-play probe, launched in 2004, which has alleged wrongdoing by both music and radio companies. In February, Spitzer sued Entercom, alleging that high-ranking executives had implemented scams to trade cash for airplay of songs by such artists as Avril Lavigne, Liz Phair and Jessica Simpson.
Entercom has denied the allegations.
The other three radio companies are also under investigation by Spitzer, who has shared his evidence with the FCC.
Radio programmers at stations around the country say that fear of regulatory scrutiny has scared them into airing fewer new songs. Instead, many stations are sticking to less diverse playlists.
Oh really?!!! So you're telling me that because you're under investigation for receiving bribes to play fewer songs, that now you're going to cut back the playlists even more?
I love how stupid media consolidation makes even the people who do it.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:09 AM
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Hip-Hop Is Dead, Part 35,784
Hip-hop is MINE. Moo hoo hoo hoo hahaha.
Random headlines from The Expert™:
+ Reggaeton is dead. (But Latin hip-hop--AKA Freestyle--is back from the dead.)
+ Hip-hop is dead.
+ New York hip-hop is dead dead dead. Evidence? click and click.
+ More things that are dead: Click. Click. Click.
+ All kidding aside, here's a real--and a real sad--story by the great sportswriter Marcos Breton about the death of Mario Encarnacion, a Dominican baseball player who came up with Miguel Tejada as a highly-touted A's prospect, but died playing in Taiwan, broken in part by steroids. In all the noise about Bonds, consider this story the other side of the game.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:31 AM
Monday, April 10, 2006
It's My Birthday
...and I got a book due. Won't hear from me for a while!
In the meantime, Expand-O-Links and Rapid Fire returns:
+ Much respect to everyone in the streets today. All eyes on Paris for inspiration. Here's Rinku Sen on La Marcha.
+ Two great pieces on preserving the music of the great Horace Tapscott in the Los Angeles Weekly, here and here.
+ It's your turn to remix David Byrne and Brian Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts!
+ Florida's sophs are coming back. A UCLA-Florida rematch in the Big Game?
+ A's, baby. (You didn't think I'd have a blog entry without talking about how good my team is, did you?)
+ Proof of D12 was shot this morning. He's dead at the age of 32. Is there something going on in Detroit?
+ I didn't even know this ran. I was somewhere getting my back twisted up in some airplane seat. Me on "golden age" hip-hop, but probably not the era you're thinking. Please post any tips for curing angry sciatic nerves.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:03 AM
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Peter Scholtes on Juvie and New Orleans
Peter Scholtes writing passionately and on-the-mark in "Can't Go Home":
"In an era when rap videos aren't supposed to be political, 'Get Ya Hustle On' is dreamlike street theater. Yet it's also a document: Months after Juvenile shot the video with director Ben Mor in December, the Lower Ninth Ward looks pretty much the same. On the afternoon of February 27, my girlfriend and I drive over the bridge on North Claiborne into what looks like a ghost town. There are cars on fences, houses blown into the middle of the street, and no working stoplights for miles. Spray-painted signs include: 'No bulldozing,' 'No trespassing,' 'R.I.P. Fats: You will be missed.'"
posted by Zentronix @ 10:28 AM
Cyril Neville: "This Is My Country"
From Dallas Morning News columnist Thor Christensen on the new New Orleans Social Club release:
"...some of the album's most powerful moments are etched with post-Katrina pain: Willie Tee's 'First Taste of Hurt,' John Boutte's version of Annie Lennox's hit 'Why' and Cyril Neville singing Curtis Mayfield's 1968 civil rights anthem 'This is My Country.'
'That song taught me that we, the people, have a right to change the [expletive] that's going on,' says Cyril, 57. He's sipping Tazo Calm tea, but it doesn't seem to work. 'We have a right to be pissed off--and to say whatever I feel, even if other people get pissed off at me for saying it.'
He speaks from experience. First, he came under attack for wearing a T-shirt that said 'Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans' during a hurricane benefit show in New York. Later, he became a target for The New Orleans Times Picayune's Chris Rose, who devoted two columns to 'The Bitter Neville Brother From Austin Who Besmirches Our Name.'
'Cyril, baby, the storm is where it's always been: In your head,' Mr. Rose wrote. 'Leave us behind, if you want. But don't trash us. Not now. Not ever.'
Mr. Neville admits the columns stung: 'When I start thinking about Chris Rose, I have to put on Jay Z's '99 Problems' and sing along.'"
posted by Zentronix @ 10:20 AM
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Argh. Pretty crappy Monday for this sports fan. Oh well. UCLA has 2 more years to go, (as does Cal--technically if nothing else), and, if everyone stays, a Florida-UCLA rivalry could be something amazing.
Meanwhile, despite Marcos Breton's pessimism--BTW he did a great book on the A's and Miguel Tejada several years ago--we got 161 games to go, and 2 more in this series.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:44 AM
Monday, April 03, 2006
Barry Area Forecast: Poor Visibility, Severe Overheating
What you think you see may not be what it really is...
This billboard had folks hysterical over the weekend. Turns out it isn't what we all thought it was. It's just an ad campaign with uncanny timing.
Do I think Bonds did it? The evidence seems to pull hard in that direction. Do I think steroid usage should go unpunished? No. I'm not from the "Legalize It" camp. Do I think this is all about race? Yes I do.
Here's Dave Zirin injecting some very welcome nuance and clarity into the Barry Bonds debate:
"Is [the Selig investigation] racially motivated? The question is too simplistic. The fact is that Bud Selig is deflecting criticism off the owners by putting the heat on the most prominent player in the game who happens to be Black. Whether this is conjured up in some back room or not is beside the point. MLB owners seem willing to sacrifice Bonds if it keeps Congress and the public off their backs."
posted by Zentronix @ 11:57 AM
Throwin Up The W, March Madness/Opening Day 2006 Edition
Big Baby: "Damn, Farmar! Who's your barber?"
Garrett Temple: "For real, dog, he give you a glow stick with that?"
If, as the LA Times says (and I concur) the Bruins Still Get No Respect, it probably has to do with Jordan Farmar's early 90's "raving, I'm raving" haircut.
I love you Florida, but yall are going down. I don't love the Yankees, and Toure is gonna owe me lunch. Westsiiiiiide!
posted by Zentronix @ 8:30 AM
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