Sunday, July 30, 2006
Mike Stern: Cover Pimp
Mike Stern does it again. Heading off for a minute. Peace.
posted by Zentronix @ 10:38 PM
Brent Rollins: Summer Tee Pimp
Our CSWS cover boy B to the R gets his Ltd. Ed. Stussy World Tour thang on. Plus overdue recognition and a hilariously gratuitous interview. Those of us who wish he had a website, well, these links are the closest we'll get for now.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:29 PM
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Rise In Incidence of Going Dumb Seen
In the Yay, we have this little thing called "Spare The Air" day where when it's mad hot, they let you ride BART for free. Nice consumer-friendly environmentally correct idea, right?
Well, seems like now the whole thing is being called into question by the regular paying BART customers because fools were getting too hyphy on the trains. Here's the shocking report from the SF Chronicle:
The free rides brought an extra 20,000 to 30,000 patrons to the already-taxed system during each Spare the Air Day, an increase of 8 to 10 percent over normal.
There were packed cars, blaring boom boxes, food and drink containers (which are banned) being tossed everywhere -- even reports of homeless people flocking in to beat the heat.
BART police reported that the additional complaints mostly involved teenagers fighting with each other, intimidating passengers and generally behaving badly.
Now I'm pretty sure most of the complaints were filed by Red Sox fans from Walnut Creek saving 2 tanks of gas on their Hummers by taking BART to get to the Coliseum. ("My god, Jim! What is this yadadamean business?!") But anyway the issue is now on the table. Will BART end its Spare The Air days? Will schools see a new "GO SMART TAKE BART" campaign this fall?
posted by Zentronix @ 8:11 AM
Monday, July 24, 2006
NHHPC: The Future of Hip-Hop and Politics
The National Hip-Hop Political Convention happened over the weekend, and unfortunately I couldn't attend this year due to health and other issues. Davey D comes through, though, with the audio of the Wednesday plenary panel on the future of hip-hop and politics, featuring himself, T.J. Crawford, WVON radio host Roland S Martin, University of Chicago professor Travis A. Jackson, Truth magazine publisher Carl West, Chicago hip-hop artists Unique and M'Raid, and Stanford Hip-Hop Archives rep/hip-hop anthropologist/relocated-to-the-Bay-Area homie Dawn-Elissa Fischer. Audio is here.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:25 AM
Monday, July 17, 2006
Davey D: "Is Hip Hop's Audience Really 80% White?"
Here's an intriguing piece from Davey D on the question of: "Is Hip Hop's Audience Really 80% White?" (Bakari Kitwana famously took on this issue in one of the chapters of his book, Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop.)
Davey drops a bunch of zingers. I had no idea, for instance, that Arbitron counts Asian American radio listeners as white, a fact that skews the numbers unbelievably in places like the Bay, LA, and New York--hell I'd make a safe bet it even wrecks the stats in Seattle, Jacksonville, southern Virginia, and Houston. Apparently, 80+% of hip-hop listeners in Hawai'i are white!
Davey's argument is that the idea of "80% white" was floated in the early 90s in order to bring ad moneys into Top 40 stations that had begun playing rap. It was never a fact, more like a good sales pitch turned into "common sense"...kinda like "look, man, Iraq has weapons of mass destruction"...:
The truth of the matter is that this 80% white Hip Hop fan myth has long been a nice marketing tool used by media corporations to justify ad revenues for Top 40 radio stations. Here's a little background on this.
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, many rap artists complained how the urban (Black) radio stations did not play rap except on the weekends and even then it was only in the mix late at night. Chuck D highlighted this concern in his song 'Don't Believe the Hype'. He goes into further detail about this lack of support by Black urban programmers in a song called 'How to Kill a Radio Consultant'.
According to Black radio programmers they avoided playing rap, because it was affecting their advertising. In spite of Hip Hop's cross over success with groups like Run DMC and the 'positive, vibe that existed within rap at that time-(it was the Golden Era), many companies associated Hip Hop with violence done by Black people. Hence a Black radio station playing Hip Hop was likely to have difficult time getting money...
posted by Zentronix @ 9:58 AM
Friday, July 14, 2006
Hip-Hop: Pro-Logo or Pro-Liberation?
Hey fam, today ends my little takeover at PBS.org. Looking back over the past 6 weeks, it was all pretty Hip-Hop 101 for some of you regular CSWS visitors, but I'm still very happy where we went with this blog.
In fact, I think this final short piece, called "Hip-Hop: Pro-Logo or Pro-Liberation?" could have been an epilogue to Can't Stop Won't Stop, if I'd had enough distance and foresight.
In any case, please check it out. You can read the columns in order, the way they were written, or random like Lady Sov. Feel free to join or set off discussions. And most of all, if you like what you saw and read, or even if you didn't, let the good folks at PBS know. It'd be great to get more from our culture and generation into the public media pipelines...
Here's a teaser:
The scholar Tricia Rose, whose groundbreaking book Black Noise was the first great intellectual work on hip-hop, has opined that at this point in its history, hip-hop culture has completely adopted the logic of late capitalism. But it's important to note that, even in hip-hop's first breakthrough product, the 1979 multiplatinum-selling single by the Sugar Hill Gang called "Rapper's Delight", there were lyrics like this:
Hear me talkin' bout checkbooks, credit cards, more money than a sucker could ever spend
But I wouldn't give a sucker or a bum from the Rucker not a dime 'til I made it again
In fact, part of the lore around these very lyrics is that they were stolen from one of the most popular rappers of the time — Grandmaster Caz — by his self-proclaimed manager, "Big Bank" Hank, to use in the song, another story in this culture of stories that only seems to boost the "capitalism-is-theft" school of thought.
posted by Zentronix @ 12:32 PM
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Lt. Ehren Watada's Last Fight
I've been following the story of Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to fight the war in Iraq.
After closely studying the leadup to the war, Watada concluded that the war was unlawful. "My participation would make me party to war crimes," he said at the June press conference linked above.
Last week on July 5, Lt. Watada was formally charged with contempt. He faces 7 years in military prison. His lawyer, the great Eric Seitz, says he has little chance for acquittal.
The case is important to me not just for what it stands for but because of the fact that he's also a Hawai'i boy, and the great Eric Seitz also represented my cousin David Miyasato.
It's also interesting to see that the case has not become front-page news. A sample of the coverage:
-Bill O'Reilly(!) in which sellout Juan Williams switch-hits for the right. Good work! Fox News is lacing that retirement fund well, huh?
Please sign a petition and donate to his defense, and spread the word.
posted by Zentronix @ 8:25 AM
Monday, July 10, 2006
Our Last-Ditch Effort To Save Cody's Books
While Adam Mansbach and I paced up and down Telegraph Avenue this morning trying to figure out how to save Cody's...
Adam suddenly realized, "Hey! I owe the bookstore lots of money!" He had "borrowed" 10 copies of his book Angry Black White Boy for a side-sale after one of the book events he had thrown there last year.
I berated him, kicked his ass, then blamed him for the Telegraph store's demise. He mumbled something about a "Day of Apology", so I kicked his ass again, then we ran upstairs to the quickly emptying administrative offices.
Adam found the nearest employee who wasn't downstairs consoling people--it happened to be Melissa Mytinger--and after tearfully apologizing for causing Cody's closing, he took out all the money he had in his pocket (note Benjamin) and handed it to Melissa. She humored us for a little bit (Berkeley people are nice like that) before calling security.
We were too late. We were all too late.
This is from Adam and I and thousands and thousands of others:
Goodbye and thank you, Cody's on Telegraph.
The next generation will never really know what we had. And we'll never really know what we lost.
posted by Zentronix @ 9:23 PM
Friday, July 07, 2006
Vibe Sold; Staff Fired; Danyel Is Back
OK, and I'm late on this of course--cause I was in surgery, OK?--but this finally explains a lot of emails I've been getting over the last month.
Vibe was sold last Friday to an investment group backed by Wicks Media, apparently a mysterious German company that happens to own some TV stations in North Dakota and Minnesota. More info here on the sale.
Mimi Valdes was fired, taking much of the editorial staff with her, including many friends. But they also brought back the great Danyel Smith, whose once must-read naked cartwheels blog has now morphed into an Japanese product advertising thing run by some guy named Roman, which might be kinda symbolic of hip-hop as a whole. Not clear what moves Danyel is gonna make next--we still want your third novel! someone had to say that--but it'll be interesting.
The investment group includes the folks who do BlackBook Media. Reports say they want to take the magazine more upmarket. With Danyel coming in, that could mean an older, wealthier audience, a change in the sub base from something that's been largely 18-to-30 driven. This would mean a shift in advertisers to more upscale brands, and of course, more expensive ads. Or, given her from-The-Town, grassroots-loving steez, maybe not. Or maybe both.
As an aside, lots of us aging hip-hop journalists, good backs or not, have been hoping for years for a magazine that would cater to a 30-to-45 market, a market that the indy-backed Tracks tried to fill on the more Spin oriented side and failed at doing. But something that was also more political, topical, investigative, and not merely celebrity or commodity-driven. In other words, something that was more life than lifestyle. We can't be sure if this is what Vibe will become. We'll just have to trust our girl.
All this now makes Danyel and Elliott the Mary Matalin and James Carville of hip-hop journalism! Rumor mill has it that they are adopting soon.
-Clyde's take, including a link to the Wicks Group...
-Jimi Izrael's fine context and analysis, except I'm not worthy. Thanks to Lynne for the links.
-And there was always Bittervibes, comments and all. (For the record, I don't miss Crispus Attucks, but I look, just like anyone else.)
-7/11: Advertising Age reports that the firings continune
posted by Zentronix @ 1:36 PM
A Hip-Hop Museum In The Bronx?
According to the New York Sun, the New York City Council approved $1.5 Million for a Hip-Hop Museum in The Bronx. The money is for a project that would sit at 212th and White Plains in the North Bronx. It's in it's earliest stages.
According to The Sun:
Early plans call for the museum to occupy one or two floors of a multi-purpose center being built by the nonprofit Northeast Bronx Redevelopment Corporation. The group is hoping to combine several floors of low- to moderate-income housing with a gymnasium, a small theater, a recording studio, and the museum.
The project is planned for the site of an abandoned transfer station that the group acquired from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this spring. The corporation has also received more than $1 million in state funding to clean up the site, which Mr. Seabrook said could take up to two years.
The museum project apparently came as a surprise to both fellow politicians like Ruben Diaz and pioneers like Grandmaster Caz alike. Caz told the Sun: "I think we need to have some kind of input."
posted by Zentronix @ 10:22 AM
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Too Much Of A Good Thing Sometimes Is Better Than You'd Think!
His name is not Jeff.
I'm recovering from a minor operation, just maxin and relaxin with Skelaxin. The web looks much better in all these new colors.
Big shout out to the folks at Asia Pacific Arts Online Magazine, who were perhaps a little too generous with their space for me this month. But not for my man O-Dub, who gets three sections to drop just a tiny portion of his wisdom on freelancing, race, Asian American music, and a gazillion other things. This is a must-read.
BTW the editors promise that there is action video on the way which will also conclusively and definitively prove that Oliver and me are not the same person. Another conspiracy theory foiled.
But for real, it's an awesome issue, also featuring a Who's Who of Asian American arts critics. (Which reminds me: We want a 10-page interview with Ben Fong Torres!) Plus Tokyo Drift, Dante Basco, and the indomitable, invulnerable, uncanny, ever-loving Wendy Wu (Brenda Song), who reportedly has stolen the hearts of all the elementary and pre-school-age Asian Americans in the East Bay.
Best of all, there's a big package on our homie Keith Tamashiro. You can still get info on donating to Keith's recovery fund at his Myspace page. Get well, brother!
posted by Zentronix @ 1:10 PM
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