Labels: golden state, one and done, who shot j.r.
Labels: losers, nellie smokes cuban, sausalito baby
About 4,000 of the 5,146 families who lived in New Orleans public housing remain displaced. As bureaucrats, politicians, developers and lawyers fight over the city’s redevelopment plans for low-income housing, these buildings remain closed, and residents have been told they’d have to wait for another three or five more years to return home. In all likelihood, without a drastic change of power and planning, many will never be able to come back and live in their city.
Labels: colorlines, congress, housing, HR 1227, New Orleans, Tram Nguyen
Labels: chuck brown, go-go, record reviews
Mark: Were you conflicted at all when the conversation inevitably had to go to hip-hop? I mean, I imagine that there were all kinds of pressures around you as you turned in the manuscript to make it sexier, and sexier at this moment includes an indictment of hip-hop. But you dealt with hip-hop as it presented itself in a logical way. I thought it was interesting that you could take a so-called conscious rapper like Mos Def and so-called gangsta rappers like N.W.A. and acknowledge that there was a very real consciousness, especially in the case of N.W.A., behind how they employed the N-word.
Jabari: I didn't set out to do that. I've never had strong emotions about hip-hop, one way or the other. I've never been a hip-hop head, though members of my generation are. I never felt that it spoke to me in particular or told my story. I thought that quite a bit of the criticism of hip-hop -- and I say this as an outsider and a resolute non-expert -- is superficial, in that it comes from people who perhaps have never sat down to listen to a hip-hop recording. Criticism, if it's gonna serve any constructive purpose, must be deeply informed. So I had to listen to all that N.W.A. and I had to read those lyrics. And so as I listened to it. There were songs that confirmed what I had heard about these guys -- this is some awful stuff. And then there were other songs that seem to meet all the criteria. My hastily assembled yardstick for the use of the N-word is that I think art is sacred and you just don't respond to it the way you respond to other things. Secondly, if the use of the N-word advances our understanding of the culture in some way, then to me it is valid. N.W.A.'s lyrics easily meet that criteria. People talk about hip-hop spreading the N-word through the culture, but I take pains to point out that popular culture has always spread the N-word. There is serious precedent -- in the 1920s and 1930s, you went into a white middle-class home and the N-word was everywhere. It was on the shelves, it was in the cookbooks, the sheet music on the piano, the toys children played with. Let's not talk about hip-hop introducing this word in some new and unprecedented fashion. The only difference is that hip-hop exists during a period of high technology and spreads these things a lot faster. But let's not pretend that hip-hop has somehow confused white people regarding the use of the word. I think that's a very disingenuous argument.
Labels: don imus, jabari asim, mark anthony neal, n-word, n.w.a.
You can scoff at Mr. Simmons’s modest proposal, but at the very least, he deserves credit for advancing a workable one, and for endorsing the kind of soft censorship that many of hip-hop’s detractors are too squeamish to mention. Consumers have learned to live with all sorts of semi-voluntary censorship, including the film rating system, the F.C.C.’s regulation of broadcast media and the self-regulation of basic cable networks. Hip-hop fans, in particular, have come to expect that many of their favorite songs will reach radio in expurgated form with curses, epithets, drug references and mentions of violence deleted. Those major corporations that Mr. Cooper mentioned aren’t very good at promoting so-called positivity or wholesome community-mindedness. But give them some words to snip and they’ll diligently (if grudgingly) snip away...
The strangest thing about the last few weeks was the fact that hardly any current hip-hop artists were discussed. (All these years later, we’re still talking about Snoop Dogg?) Maybe that’s because hip-hop isn’t in an especially filthy mood right now. It sounds more light-hearted and clean-cut than it has in years. Hip-hop radio is full of cheerful dance tracks like Huey’s “Pop, Lock & Drop It,” Crime Mob’s “Rock Yo Hips,” Mims’s “This Is Why I’m Hot” and Swizz Beatz’s “It’s Me, Snitches.” (The title and song were censored to exclude one of the three inflammatory words — proof that this snipping business can be tricky.)
On BET’s “106 & Park,” one of hip-hop’s definitive television shows, you can watch a fresh-faced audience applaud these songs, cheered on by relentlessly positive hosts. For all the panicky talk about hip-hop lyrics, the current situation suggests a scarier possibility, both for hip-hop’s fans and its detractors. What if hip-hop’s lyrics shifted from tough talk and crude jokes to playful club exhortations — and it didn’t much matter? What if the controversial lyrics quieted down, but the problems didn’t? What if hip-hop didn’t matter that much, after all?
Labels: kelefa sanneh, rap, russell simmons
Every day, that show was based in explicit racism--every single day. This is, in fact, certain people’s truth about race. It’s Bernard McGuirk’s truth about race. It’s Don Imus’ truth about race.
So how do you put the lid back on once this truth gets shown? You put the lid back on by getting rid of the guy who took the lid off. And then, you go for a scapegoat--and you say that this is just as bad as that.
And the thing that was sitting there, waiting for it to happen, was hip-hop. Because, first, hip-hoppers speak Black vernacular language--they talk the way people talk in their community. And second, hip-hop is made by people who don’t have the education in what you don’t say. They say it. And because they get a lot of attention when they say “bitch” and “ho,” they say it more.
Now, I don’t think I’ve ever met a hip-hopper who, one, didn’t go to church--maybe Ice T doesn’t--and two, didn’t love their mom. You wouldn’t want to be in the same room with them, and call any woman who had the loosest connection to them a “bitch” or a “whore.” Because doing that, then it’s real. Otherwise, there’s this unreality to it.
So this is yet another way that the people who make hip-hop are vulnerable. Young Black men are six times more likely to go to prison then their percentage in the population, and approximately 600 times more likely to be censored.
And now, you have the transferal of the discussion away from the fact that many of the most powerful people in America had been on that show--up to and including the most powerful, Dick Cheney. In fact, three Republican presidential candidates--John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Rudoph Giuliani--all defended Imus, until it became very apparent that the worm had turned, and that Imus was, on that day, where Alberto Gonzales is today.
Plus, this whole argument gives them cover on another issue. They can act like they’re the ones who are anti-corporate, and that the whole of rap has become this “bitch-ho” music because Jimmy Iovine wanted it that way, and Universal and the other media companies want it.
Labels: Dave Marsh, don imus
This Gangsta Stuff & Russell's Call For Change
by Davey D
I've read the recent criticisms launched at Russell Simmons and the assertions that his current position of wanting to ban the use of certain words on records is "self-serving." Of course it is. Anything Russell does is gonna be self-serving. What did we expect? Wasn't that the plan? Weren't we supposed to create an economic, political or social situation where he would see it in his best interest to change up?
He has business interests to protect -- and the social and political climate has rightly changed now, with calls for balance growing substantially louder. Russell's business is being impacted by people who are tired of the mass marketing of the mainstream minstrelsy that we see all day, every day.
Certainly no one seriously expected Russell or Ben Chavis to come up to Harlem to watch a screening of Turn Off Channel Zero. Why would we? And let's be honest...did we really want them there? I think one of the things we overlook is the role that we played in getting these issues as much attention as they've gotten. We are the ones who changed the current climate with our collective efforts.
The fact that so many people are fed up is the result of the Turn off the Radio tribunal longtime radio vet Bob Law had up at the church on 126th street in NYC several years ago.
The climate was also changed as a result of the Hot 97 campaign, which was quite successful in New York. We not only made them lose money, but we blemished people's records as well, and even got several people dismissed as that station saw its ratings drop. They went from number 1 to number 8 in their market, which, in the radio industry, is major. Sure there were other factors at hand, but we certainly played a big part in initiating change there.
The climate change that we're seeing is also the result of the KMEL People's Station campaign put together by Tony Coleman of Minds Eye Collective and Malkia Cyrill of Youth media Council in San Francisco after I got bounced from working there. That was a successful campaign that forced KMEL to start playing local music and even offer me my job back (which I turned down).
We're seeing the change in climate now as result of Black Out Fridays in Detroit too. There we had intense lobbying efforts by Industry Ears to the FCC, Attorneys General, and Congress about the continued abuses of our airwaves. The new focus on balance is the result of people like Chuck D, dead prez, Immortal Technique and so many others...voices who railed against fucked-up media in public spaces in places. It's also the result of films like Turn Off Channel Zero and Hip Hop Beyond Beats and
Rhymes, and of the Zulu Nation's Bring Back The Balance campaign.
This climate is the result of us starting our own media outlets like The Block Report, Freemix Radio, Soul Patrol, Harrambe, Radio, Breakdown FM and others. I could go on and on...
These changes, both large and small, are due to us pushing and pushing -- and agitating and demanding better scenarios for our collective community. Russell's proposal to change lyrics is but a small victory...he wouldn't have done this a year ago. We now need to take credit and push even harder for substantial change both within and outside of the industry.
Having been deeply involved with the first wave of content battles back in '88 when we led the NWA boycott, I clearly recall how the community argued ferociously against our effort. We did two weeks worth of radio shows getting community input back then, and I remember how many well-meaning Black folks who considered themselves conscious and revolutionary told us we were straight-up wrong. Maybe I'll post those landmark radio shows at some point -- shows which which included me, the guys from Digital Underground, Beni B of ABB records and all the Black college deejays from the Bay at that time. Now that time has passed people have a very different stance, but that big debate back then lead to the formation of the Bay Area Hip Hop Coalition.
The debates we had were fierce. Many felt we should never glamorize disrespectful language, while others felt like NWA and Luke were somehow revolutionary. Hell, I even have a tape of KRS coming on our show praising the rough use of language by those guys -- he felt like it was good thing at the time.
There were many who felt that the stories by NWA needed to be heard and that they were indeed a reflection of us. I recall people throwing their fist in the air saying "fuck what white people think, this is our music" and "we gonna use the N-word all day long." People felt like keeping it 'hood was important. We were coming off the tail end of people criticizing Bill Cosby for not showing his Brooklyn neighborhood as a rough and rugged ghetto. Even Spike Lee caught heat for having a 'too clean' Brooklyn 'hood when he showed Do the Right Thing.
I recall white writers like Dan Charnas of The Source getting props and blessings from revolutionary types when he praised Ice Cube for reflecting anger in the 'hood when he called women bitches. In fact, I even remember Harry Allen almost coming to blows with this cat because he took such a strident stance and had revolutionary types 'supporting his efforts.' If you think I'm lying go back and look at the arguments that were raised at that time around this subject matter.
Part of the praise placed upon NWA and gangsta rap was this was Hip Hop way of 'keeping it real' (that's when that phrase started to get popularized). Hip Hop has always been about being honest and true to the subject matter at hand -- but soon that definition got narrowed down to Hip Hop supposedly keeping it 'true to the streets.'
Complicating this issue further was the fact that West Coast rap prior to NWA often wasn't even considered Hip Hop by our east coast brethren. I have all those early New Music Seminar tapes with Egyptian Lover and Rodney O complaining about being clowned when they came to the Big Apple because their music was considered too soft.
I also remember groups like The LA Dream Team, Sir Mix-a-Lot and numerous others being dissed. Paradise even talks about the time when Hammer came up to the Latin Quarters by himself to do his song "Ring 'Em," which was big hit in the hoods out here in Cali, but was clowned in NY.
NWA, with its booming beats and harsh lyrics, put LA and the west on the map and got Cali some acceptance. This was a big incentive for folks out here to overlook their own morals and common sense and get behind those gangsta groups that knocked the doors down. Personally, despite doing some of NWA's first interviews, I felt uncomfortable calling what they did revolutionary because I recall both Cube and Eazy telling me they were cursing up a storm as a way to initially be funny and that they enjoyed seeing the shocked look on people's faces. They weren't doing it because they really felt that way (as many like to romanticize). Look at some of the old articles on them and you'll see them admitting to that.
This was a big point of contention, and was also the beginning of how shit started to get co-opted. When we did the boycotts, they were the result of community approval, involvement and support. The boycotts were effective and lasted for a year, and we did follow up interviews with NWA about them.
During one landmark interview, Cube spoke passionately about his desire to change and be more political, and even talked about the internal debates he and his group were having about being responsible. It wasn't that long after that that he left the group, and much of what he talked about soon surfaced on his Amerikkka's Most Wanted album.
Ironically the NWA boycott was broken by white deejays who felt like the group's material, and material like it, should be heard, and that NWA was somehow more authentic and real then groups like X-Clan and Public Enemy.
This assessment not only played itself out on college radio, but it was replicated on commercial radio as well -- and I personally saw our playlist switch up almost overnight from playing PE, X-Clan and Paris to gangsta rap.
Again, non-black deejays like Theo Mizuhara lead the charge in pushing gangsta material over the positive. This attitude was also embraced by several high profile black writers like Cheo Choker, James Bernard and later Toure -- who once bragged to me via email that he "killed the career of Public Enemy" by writing a widely read negative review of their album
In hindsight, we can see (and hopefully understand) that it was probably a mistake for us to not have been more involved in demanding what we knew to be right at the time, and we soon began to see people cash on the love that those outside of our communities were showing for gangsta rap. In 2007, we are seeing the end results.
The fact that we helped create a climate to start to turn things around is a good thing. If it manifests itself in stations saying they wanna change up then that's great. If it means it will help get more people excited about doing a different type of rap highlighting different subject matter then I'm all for it.
If it means Russell (who for the past few years has said he would never try and tell an artist to change his or her lyrics) is now calling for an end to hateful and derogatory words in commercially-released material, I say that's good thing. We should push harder and encourage more to follow suit.
What's the next step? That's our collective challenge.
Now that we have people ready to push for better music, how do we intend to distribute? Keep in mind that while we were arguing about Russell being a culture vulture, the RIAA and US Copyright Law flipped the script and developed a new type of payola which effectively has wiped out Internet radio and any other digital distribution streams.
They got the US Copyright office to raise rates by 1200% and to have it apply retroactively starting on May 15th. Appeals to this ruling have been denied, which means that most small internet broadcasters and streaming will stop by the end of May because cats are gonna be bankrupt. The big players like AOL radio, Yahoo and Microsoft will be around, but not the rest. So how are we gonna get all this good alternative music across?
If you think you can get around it by using independent artists, think again. Because of fear of lawsuits, most internet providers are gearing up to protect themselves from lawsuits. They won't want to take the chance of one of us putting out RIAA-owned material, so they will take precautions and limit the ability to pass the good music along.
While many small broadcasters like us (who saw the internet as a saving grace) will now find themselves in serious legal and financial jeapordy, the big time radio stations are cutting side deals with the major labels so they don't have to pay the high royalty rates -- in exchange for normal airplay.
This is why some of us -- like me, Paul Porter, and Lisa Fager from Industry Ears -- were harping on this payola stuff so much. Now the shit is about to come back and haunt us big time. That's a serious battle that we will have to undertake. For those who have concerns about censorship, this change in copyright law is where we have the real battle.
Peace out for now,
Labels: bakari kitwana, davey d, hip-hop activism, joan morgan, payola, radio, russell simmons, sexism
Labels: hot shit, lifesavas
Labels: aaron mcgruder, cartoonists with attitude, keith knight, masheka wood, mikhaela reid
I have what I call the backup catcher theory. Most other people doing a book want the top guy. My belief is, you probably learn more from the backup catcher on a baseball team than from the star. Because the backup catcher's smart: He watches the game, he's into the game, he always has to be ready, and when it's all over, 20 years later, he has a lot of time to talk because not a lot of people come to see him. When I did 'Summer of '49,' about Williams and DiMaggio on those two great teams, the Red Sox and the Yankees, no one was more fun to talk to than a guy named Matt Batts, a former Red Sox catcher down in Baton Rouge, La. He had nothing but great anecdotes.
Labels: advice, david halberstam, journalism
No Scapegoats: The Other Side of Hip-hop
By Jeff Chang and Dave Zirin
April 23, 2007
MUCH OF THE criticism of commercial rap music - that it's homophobic and sexist and celebrates violence - is well-founded. But most of the carping we've heard against hip-hop in the wake of the Don Imus affair is more scapegoating than serious.
Who is being challenged here? It's not the media oligarchs, which twist an art form into an orgy of materialism, violence and misogyny by spending millions to sign a few artists willing to spout cartoon violence on
command. Rather, it's a small number of black artists - Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and 50 Cent, to name some - who are paid large amounts to perpetuate some of America's oldest racial and sexual stereotypes.
But none of the critics who accuse hip-hop of single-handedly coarsening the culture think to speak with members of the hip-hop generation, who are supposedly both targets and victims of the rap culture. They might be surprised at what this generation is saying.
In his recent PBS documentary "Beyond Beats and Rhymes," filmmaker Byron Hurt made clear that rap music can be as sexist and homophobic as it can be positive and enlightening. Marginalized young women and men have found their voices in hip-hop arts, gathering to share culture at b-girl conventions around the world or reading for each other in after-school
poetry classes. Hurt's film pointed the finger where it needs to be pointed - at American popular culture, which has trafficked in racist and sexist images and language for centuries and provides all sorts of incentives for young men of color to act out a hard-core masculinity.
If all the overnight anti-hip-hop crusaders really cared about the generation they want to save, they would support the growing Media Justice movement led by hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa and such outspoken women activists as Malkia Cyril and Rosa Clemente. The group contends that such media powers as Emmis Communications and Clear Channel have corrupted hip-hop radio.
The critics would engage young public intellectuals like Joan Morgan ("When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost"), Gwendolyn D. Pough ("Check It While I Wreck It") and Mark Anthony Neal ("That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader")*, who are defining what they call a new hip-hop feminism.
The gap between the programming on Viacom's MTV and BET and young people's interests seems never to have been bigger. According to the Black Youth Project, a University of Chicago study released in January, the overwhelming majority of young people, especially blacks, believe rap videos portray black women negatively. That's one reason rap music sales declined 20% last year and remain down 16% this year.
Yet sales are a poor indicator of what is really happening in hip-hop.
Local hip-hop scenes are thriving. Great art is being made not just in music but in visual arts, film, theater, dance and poetry. It can be seen in the works of Sarah Jones, Nadine Robinson, Rennie Harris, Kehinde Wiley and Danny Hoch. Hip-hop studies is a rapidly growing and popular field at colleges and universities, with more than 300 classes offered. In hip-hop after-school programs, voter registration groups, feminist gatherings and public forums, the future of hip-hop is under discussion. These hip-hop thinkers want to take the culture that unites many young people and channel it toward political engagement. In 2004, voter registration campaigns using hip-hop to target youth produced more than 2 million new voters under the age of 30.**
To confuse commercial rap made by a few artists with how hip-hop is actually lived by millions is to miss the good that hip-hop does. If hip-hop's critics paid attention to the hip-hop generation, they would learn that the discussion has already begun without them and that they might need to listen. Then a real intergenerational conversation could begin.
Labels: don imus, hip-hop activism, sexism
Labels: davey d, hip-hop activism, neoconservatives, rap, sexism
Labels: birthday, father of hip-hop, Kool Herc
Labels: byron hurt, don imus, racism, sexism
Labels: the last post on getting old ever (until next year)
Memo to Imus: You're Fired
By Dave Zirin
In an absolutely mind bending turn of events, Don Imus is now a man without a job. A week after calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed hos," the man once hailed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the country, is officially off the air. The final ax fell as CBS announced that they could no longer withstand the heat from both inside and outside their company. As CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said, "There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society."
"Discussion" is an awfully antiseptic word what went down. Make no mistake: CBS's Moonves and the bigwigs at MSNBC, who Wednesday pulled the plug on Imus's TV show, were met with an upsurge inside their own ranks.
As Bob Herbert wrote in the New York Times, "Powerful statements were made during in-house meetings by women at NBC and MSNBC - about how black women are devalued in this country, how they are demeaned by white men and black men. White and black women spoke emotionally about the way black women are frequently trashed in the popular culture, especially in music, and about the way news outlets give far more attention to stories about white women in trouble. Phil Griffin, a senior vice president at NBC News who oversaw the Imus show for MSNBC, told me yesterday, 'It touched a huge nerve.'"
As the days went on, the anti-Imus tide gave expression across the country to a pent up rage people feel about the way this kind of bigotry continually goes unchallenged.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed a majority black city, withers from neglect, and not a word is said. Women face a constant barrage of sexism in our "Girls Gone Wild" culture but if you challenge it, you're a humorless prig. Imus calls Arabs and Muslims "ragheads" and still had the John Kerrys, Tim Russerts, and Harold Fords as regular guests. This was a classic case of the tipping point, when people just said enough is enough.
But why did this comment, in a career of ugly statements, finally break the camel's back? I would argue the answer partly lies in how we are taught to understand sports. Remember that Rush Limbaugh felt the biggest backlash of his career when he said that the media over hyped Philadelphia Eagles football star Donovan McNabb because of their "social concern" to see a successful African American quarterback. After thousands of angry calls and emails Rush was bounced from ESPN.
Both Imus and Rush built careers on this kind of bile but when they cross-pollinated their bigotry with sports, a new level of anger exploded. We are relentlessly sold the idea that our games are safe space from this kind of political swill. We are also told that sports are a "field of dreams," a true meritocracy where hard work always meets rewards.
But when the playing field is shown to be unlevel, it stings.
This sporting reality can wake people up and reveal the hidden inequities in our society that otherwise go unnoticed. When a Rutgers team defies the odds and makes the NCAA finals, and gets called "nappy headed hos" for their trouble, it presses a very raw nerve.
But Imus is also without a job because Rutgers Coach Vivian Stringer and her team, unlike many of Imus's victims, refused to be silent. As captain
Essence Carson said, "We're happy -- we're glad to finally have the opportunity to stand up for what we know is right... We can speak up for women, not just African-American women, but all women."
Coach Stringer took it even further in her comments last night to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
She said, "We've become so desensitized that we've allowed a lot of things to pass, and we've not been happy... Too often politicians, leaders, and religious leaders speak for us, and we sit back and don't realize the power in numbers, and when to say enough is enough....We see all the time. A kid that steals something with a plastic cap pistol, and spends 10 years in jail, and yet you see, the white-collar workers, you know, thieves that steal millions of dollars.
"And I do think that if people stood up, politicians [wouldn't] wait for a poll but strong enough to make a decision and stand...You know I happen to be the daughter of a coal miner. My father lost both his legs in a mine. He worked hard each and every day. He only stayed out of the mine six months until he got prosthetics. I know what it is to work hard and this has been a lifelong pursuit and passion.
"I've coached for 36 years...as a person of conscience, I have seen so much that I would like to see changed, with everything. I would gladly exchange winning a national championship if we, as young ladies, would stand and allow the country to somehow be empowered and that we take back our
If you want to understand why Imus is out of work, read Coach Stringer's words again. The fact is that so many of us are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We are sick of the casual racism. We are tired of the smirking, drive-by sexism.
We are done with people who make their living by selling the idea that some people are less human than others. We are fed up with the politics of division and hate. We are the majority in this country, but are often entirely without voice. This past week, our voices were heard.
It won't - it can't - end with Don Imus.
Labels: don imus
"Barack Obama seems the only logical choice for hip-hop generationers in 2008. Though he doesn't rhyme or namedrop rappers, the junior senator from Illinois has much in common with the hip-hop generation: At 45, he's (relatively) young. He's fresh. He's charismatic. He represents a new way of thinking. Oh, by the way, he's also black...
In a recent blog entry, radio personality Davey D skewered all the Democratic candidates, opining that "none of these clowns are making it happen." His gripes revolved around the lack of critical dialogue on issues like Katrina, police brutality, immigration laws, and prison overcrowding — all of which could theoretically be addressed by Obama's legislation to reduce profiling. Furthermore, until hip-hop can offer a consistent voting bloc, politicians will overlook its concerns. Plus, with a year and a half until the election, there's plenty of time for dialogue. Davey's suggestion? That hip-hoppers draft Public Enemy's Chuck D instead...
Labels: chuck d, flavor of love, obama, presidential elections
Labels: bakari kitwana, davey d, joan morgan, mark anthony neal, riots
Labels: african rap, brasil, cuba, hip-hop, karl rove
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