Labels: barack obama, vibe
Labels: defend KET, graffiti, michael bloomberg, street art, stress magazine, the splasher, the walls belong to us
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?
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Labels: hip-hop intellectuals, mark anthony neal, public intellectuals, the clips
Labels: aesthetics, passings, sekou sundiata
...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."
Labels: detroit, grace lee boggs, hip-hop not dead, rebecca solnit
Labels: b+, bling, brasilintime, global hip hop, raquel cepeda, total chaos
Labels: b+, brasil, brasilintime, total chaos
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...
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Labels: aesthetics, haruki murakami rocks, total chaos
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."
Labels: everyone needs sisters, sly stone
Labels: check the technique, hip-hop not dead, i paid the price to make my mic sound nice
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...
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Labels: brown v. board, supreme court
Labels: Yankees still suck
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