Friday, July 27, 2007
Ignite The Crowd Like...
Hey fam, I thought you should hear it from your boy first.

Three words: Vibe. Juice. Obama.

Monday it'll all make sense...

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posted by Zentronix @ 1:54 PM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Defend KET :: The Walls Belong To Us

Defend Ket!

If anyone has any doubt that the idea of President Michael Bloomberg would be bad for America, just look at the way the man has treated hip-hop graf historian, activist, and graf writer Alain KET Mariduena. The co-founder of the legendary Stress Magazine, the publisher of three classic books on hip-hop (Martha Cooper's Hip Hop Files and Street Play, and The Nasty Terrible T-kid 170) and a champion of real street art is defending himself from trumped-up charges brought against him by Bloomberg's attack dogs. In this era of globalized corporate hip-hop, KET's case reminds us all of what the real stakes are for those who want to practice and support transgressive art.

In October 2006, NYPD's Special Investigations Unit burst down the doors to his home, looted his vast archive of NYC and global graffiti history (one of the most thorough in the world), and threw him in jail, charging him with felony criminal mischief and possession of graffiti tools. He has since spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself against the trumped-up charges.

Apparently, this was payback.

In 2005, KET had curated Marc Ecko's block party, an event that paid tribute to graffiti pioneers and introduced the company's graf-styled video game. Mayor Bloomberg--who came into office talking tough about graffiti and street art--tried to revoke the event's permit, but after a heavily publicized court battle, the City was forced to reinstate the permit and the event was a huge success.

Since then, New York graf and street art have enjoyed a kind of a third (or maybe, fourth) renaissance period. Some college grads now consider street art the route to becoming global stars, and the art world is paying top dollar for previously ephemeral wall work. In this context, KET's central role as an unapologetic spokesperson, scholar, historian, and activist has made him a target of Bloomberg and NYPD.

(Really and truly, all this stuff makes this whole Splasher controversy look like the psuedo-political, privileged little kid's stuff it really is. But that's another beef for another time.)

Beginning tomorrow, "THE WALLS BELONG TO US" will be an online art auction for KET's defense fund. At that website you can check out the incredible art and the long list of artists who support KET and you can also bid on the pieces. There will also be a panel discussion and exhibition on July 28th featuring T-KID, YES2, PART, KEL 1ST, WANE, KAVES, CHAIN3, DR. REVOLT & others at Tuff City Styles in the Bronx, and a silent auction and a benefit jam on August 1st at the Powerhouse Arena. All info--as well as the online auction--will be here.

KET, his family, and his friends are spending lots of their own money and working hard to defend him, exactly what the Bloombergites wanted--to wage a war of attrition on the hip-hop and street-art movement by attacking one of its underground heroes.

So whether or not you can bid on the art, you can spread the word about KET's cause (here's a summary of the facts of the case) and help out the cause by donating here.

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posted by Zentronix @ 11:57 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 23, 2007
Michael Eric Dyson And Black Public Intellectuals In The Hip-Hop Era

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

He's appearing at the East Bay Church of Religious Science in an event sponsored Marcus Books on Tuesday and at Barnes & Noble in El Cerrito on Wednesday. Check here for all the information.

Below is an excerpt from my piece in today's Chronicle. I'd also recommend this great piece from Mark Anthony Neal.

At a recent town-hall discussion sponsored by the television network BET, newly appointed Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson found himself sitting next to the chart-topping rappers Nelly and T.I.

Squaring off over sexism in rap, Dyson objected to Nelly's explicit, late-night-viewing-only video for his song "Tip Drill." The video features a man swiping a credit card through a girl's behind. Dyson charged that, whether he realized it or not, Nelly had commercialized the trafficking of black women's bodies in a way that had recalled slavery's auction block.

With a cocked eye, T.I. asked Dyson, "Is it really that serious?"

Dyson retorted, "Of course it is."

"Wait a minute," Nelly said. "What was you doing watching my video?"

Dyson, 48, said, "I'm a cultural critic. That's my job!"

That moment of levity illuminated the continuing debate over the role of black public intellectualism. Should scholars engage themselves in the no-holds-barred world of talk shows, shock radio and pop culture? Or are they better off dispensing wisdom within the confines of the ivory tower?

Read the whole thing...

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

Tribute to Sekou Sundiata
A fine tribute to the the great Sekou Sundiata, an elder who understood and mentored the hip-hop generation and whose work was a profound influence on many young hip-hop poets. Here's another one as well.

Rest in power.

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posted by Zentronix @ 9:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Music And The Post-Industrial City :: Rebecca Solnit on Detroit

Photo by Misty Keasler

From this month's Harper's comes a fine meditation on the prehistory, present, and near-future of Detroit by one of my favorite writers, Rebecca Solnit. As you might always find in Rebecca's writing, the piece is breathtakingly written, wrenchingly honest about race and history, and, in the end, cautiously, even defiantly optimistic. You can see why I love her work.

Here's an excerpt where Rebbeca interviews one of my heroes, the inspirational Grace Lee Boggs. In this short passage, my fellow Detroit music fans not from Detroit or nearby, you might find some of the real context for J-Dilla, Invincible, Sa-Ra, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, PPP, Black Milk, Soundmurder, Dana Burton, and the list goes on...:

...inside that stockade of racial divide and urban decay are visionaries, and their visions are tender, hopeful, and green. Grace Lee Boggs, at ninety-one, has been political active in the city for more than half a century. Born in Providence to Chinese immigrant parents, she got a Ph.D. in philosophy from Bryn Mawr in 1940 and was a classical Marxist when she married the labor organizer Jimmy Boggs, in 1953. That an Asian woman married to a black man could become a powerful force was just another wrinkle in the racial politics of Detroit. Indeed, her thinking evolved along with the radical politics of the city itself. During the 1960s, the Boggses were dismissive of Martin Luther King Jr. and ardent about Black Power, but as Grace acknowledged when we sat down together in her big shady house in the central city, "The Black Power movement, which was very powerful here, concentrated only on power and had no concept of the challenges that would face a black-powered administration." When Coleman Young took over city hall, she said, he could stgart fixing racism in the police department and the fire department, "but when it came time to do something about Henry Ford and General Motors, he was helpless. We thought that all we had to do was transform the system, that all the problems were on the other side."


When she and Jimmy crusaded against Young's plans to rebuild the city around casinos, they realized they had to come up with real alternatives, and they began to think about what a local, sustainable economy would look like.

They had already begun to realize that Detroit's lack of participation in the mainstream offered an opportunity to do everything differently--that instead of retreating back to a better relationship to captialism, to industry, to the mainstream, the city could move forward, turn its liabilities into assets, and create an economy entirely apart from the transnational webs of corporations and petroleum.

Jimmy Boggs described his alternative vision in a 1988 speech at the First Unitarian-Universalist Church of Detroit. "We have to get rid of the myth that there is something sacred about large-scale production for the national and international market," he said. "We have to begin thinking of creating small enterprises which produce food, goods, and services for the local market, that is, for our communities and for our city...In order to create these new enterprises, we need a view of our city which takes into consideration both the natural resources of our area and the existing and potential skills and talents of Detroiters."

That was the vision, and it is only just starting to become a reality. "Now a lot of what you see is vacant lots," Grace told me. "Most people see only disaster and the end of the world. On the other hand, artists in particular see the potential, the possibility of bringing the country back into the city, which is what we really need."

Shout out to the AMC fam and to the Detroit Summer crew, past present and future, wherever you may be.

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posted by Zentronix @ 10:50 AM   4 comments links to this post

July Rains + The Bad News A's
Normally in the Bay, there's no rain in July and no last place in July either. But today we're looking at both. Welcome to One Of Those Years. Even the faithful are losing faith.

It's almost enough to make one feel sorry for the Yankees. Almost.

"Bronx Is Burning" is getting better.

Zito actually won.

Back to work.

posted by Zentronix @ 10:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Global Images :: Brasilintime in LA Times + Bling on DVD
Fantastic piece by Lynell George on Brasilintime in the LA Times. Check the opening graph...brilliant newswriting.

BTW just got word today that Raquel Cepeda's film Bling: A Planet Rock, a film on hip-hop and the Sierra Leone diamond trade featuring Paul Wall and Raekwon that aired earlier this year on VH1 will be out in her essential director's cut DVD this September. Another brilliant project that is a powerful must-see.

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posted by Zentronix @ 6:20 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Brasilintime :: The Event Of The Summer

Forget Transformers, The Bronx Is Burning (so far, the book is much much better), or The Police. This is what you have been waiting for.

Brasilintime--the second of B+'s journeys into rhythm, time, generation, diaspora, and the future--is a transforming event. It's impossible to describe all the ways it will make you see, hear, and touch the world differently.

For the LA premiere next week, B+ and Eric Coleman (our esteemed Westside BC, not our esteemed Beantown BC) have lined up these happenings:

July 17 :: Movie Premiere @ The Egyptian Theatre
July 18 :: Photo Exhibition Opening by B+ & Coleman @ Turntable Lab LA
July 19 :: The Concert! @ The Mayan :: Featuring: Paul Humphrey, James Gadson, Derf Reklaw, Babu, J.Rocc, Cut Chemist, Madlib and direct from Brasil João "Comanche" Parahyba, Ivan "Mamão" Conti & DJ Nuts.

Tickets for the movie premiere and concert and pre-orders for the DVD can be purchased here.

If you can be there, you should.

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posted by Zentronix @ 1:22 PM   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, July 08, 2007
Haruki Murakami :: "Rhythm is the thing"

To bite an old Jay Smooth line: This is not a picture of me.

Really inspiring piece by the great Haruki Murakami today on how jazz inspired him to make a crazy move at 29 and try his hand at becoming a novelist.

This piece hit home. I was 29 when SoleSides ended, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could write for a living. A decade plus later, we're still seeing about that, but so far I have nothing to complain about.

The last few graphs have some crazy parallels to Adam Mansbach's essay in Total Chaos too. (BTW here's a link to a podcast of our final Total Chaos Hip-Hop Forum held June 14th at the Walker Art Center. It was a great night.)

Anyway, enjoy:

When I turned 29, all of a sudden out of nowhere I got this feeling that I wanted to write a novel — that I could do it. I couldn’t write anything that measured up to Dostoyevsky or Balzac, of course, but I told myself it didn’t matter. I didn’t have to become a literary giant. Still, I had no idea how to go about writing a novel or what to write about. I had absolutely no experience, after all, and no ready-made style at my disposal. I didn’t know anyone who could teach me how to do it, or even friends I could talk with about literature. My only thought at that point was how wonderful it would be if I could write like playing an instrument.

I had practiced the piano as a kid, and I could read enough music to pick out a simple melody, but I didn’t have the kind of technique it takes to become a professional musician. Inside my head, though, I did often feel as though something like my own music was swirling around in a rich, strong surge. I wondered if it might be possible for me to transfer that music into writing. That was how my style got started.

Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work. I learned the importance of rhythm from music — and mainly from jazz. Next comes melody — which, in literature, means the appropriate arrangement of the words to match the rhythm. If the way the words fit the rhythm is smooth and beautiful, you can’t ask for anything more...

Read the whole thing...

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posted by Zentronix @ 5:53 PM   3 comments links to this post

Friday, July 06, 2007
Sly Stone :: That's When I Had Most Of My Fun Back

Hi hi hi hi there!

David Kamp's piece on Sly Stone in this month's Vanity Fair reveals another wonderful family affair-type story. Big up Vet Stone! And Vallejo!

Not to mention it blames the whole madness thing on him leaving the Bay for SoCal. Like we didn't know that already here in the neighborhood?

(BTW Greg Errico is one of the nicest people in the industry I've ever met. Just thought you should know.)

Here's an excerpt:

On the designated day, Vet and I arrive early at the designated meeting place: Chopper Guys Biker Products Inc., a Vallejo business that manufactures parts and frames for custom motorcycles. Sly, who lived in L.A. on and off for 36 years but recently relocated to Napa Valley, gets his bikes serviced here. As Vet and I kill time chatting, we eventually notice that it's about 10 minutes past the appointed start time of our meeting. Nothing worrying, but a long enough period to have faint thoughts of Hmm, maybe this won't work out. Vet tells me how many doubters she's had to deal with in booking those summer European dates, "people who wouldn't take my call, people who hung up on me, people who think I'm a delusional woman." She has been the catalyst of Sly's tentative re-emergence, the one who pulled him out of L.A. and found him a home up north, who persuaded him to play with her band and get back out on the road again. It's exhausted her, and she's openly daunted by the logistics of planning for her brother, never the smoothest of travelers, to fly to Europe and then zip from Umbria to Montreux to Ghent.

But she's gotten this far, which fuels her faith. "All I can say," she says, and it's something she says a lot, "is that I'm his little sister, and he's never lied to me."

Read it all...

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posted by Zentronix @ 8:17 AM   0 comments links to this post

Mark Anthony Neal :: What's in Your Hip-Hop Canon?
When you get to our age, making hip-hop canons is definitely a Steely Dan kind of thing--"Hey Nineteen, that's Aretha Franklin/She don't know the Queen of Soul"--done out of being aghast, AGHAST at how little, LITTLE the kids know.

What a false emotion. That's why I try not to do it.

But then your homie comes along and does something like this and this, and you go, wait, Very Necessary? Not Hot, Cool & Vicious? Drop the crack pipe, old man!

I do heartily co-sign my man's opinion on this though.

Anyway, all this is to say, if you liked this, you will LOVE THIS. Guaranteed.

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posted by Zentronix @ 7:33 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, July 05, 2007
A View On School Integration From A Young Black Woman
In this powerful piece from Pop+Politics, artist Vivianne Njoku talks about being front-row at the school integration wars:

I was thirteen going on fourteen and already sure of what I was going to be as an adult: an artist. For as long as I can remember, I have known that I receive a great deal of satisfaction and even feel a sense of “completion” from creating art. The year I turned fourteen, I found myself spending a great deal of time with my older brother and his best friend, a bona fide artiste who studied at a very faraway school that, despite its reputable art-immersion program, was known throughout my county, Prince George’s County, Maryland, as a “rough one.”

Even though the program accepted students based on potential for artistic growth as well as academic merit, the school itself possessed a high minority and underprivileged population and what appeared to be a lot of “troubled cases” flowing in from the nearby District of Columbia; infamous for being home to more than a fair share of “rough ones.” Regardless, I set my sights on making this school and this program the place I was to spend my high school years. I still vividly remember driving to the school with my mother on the evening of my audition; it was a very long forty minutes...

Read it all here...

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posted by Zentronix @ 6:15 PM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, July 02, 2007
Oh The Unfairness

Note to Joe Torre :: Overwhelmed Yet?

After Chad Gaudin one-hit the Stankees on Saturday, Joe Torre sniffed, "He wasn't overwhelming". This despite the fact that if the A's #3 pitcher were on the Hankees' staff, he'd be their frickin ace. (Roger Clemens never need to throw another strike. He's banking his great-great-grandkids retirement fund thanks to Brian "Don't Know How To Spend Steinbrenner's" Cashman.)

Yet these guys still get 3 all-stars? Well if it makes the Pankee fans feel like they're getting their money's worth, I guess.

Anyway, thanks for helping us getting out of our rut. 7 runs (and 2 homers) off Petite in the 2nd felt great yesterday. Maybe everyone will be burning their gear before the All-Star break. And maybe Torre might want to head down Mike Hargrove's road.


posted by Zentronix @ 8:19 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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