Professional Hood Shit

Regular readers know I love hip-hop. It’s my favorite medium of entertainment and despite the fact that I get frustrated with the content and imagery at times it will forever be my favorite. My love of hip-hop doesn’t just stop at the music but it extends to battling too. Now hip-hop fans are used to the concept of battles on wax where diss records are exchanged between artists who are competing but what I am talking about is street rap battles.

Street rap battles have always taken place but with the influx of technology they are now recorded and spread throughout the web, shit there are even professional street battle rap leagues. SMACK DVD in the early 2000s, to my knowledge, began the trend of recording and selling street battles between unknown artists. The battles would be added to a dvd entitled S.M.A.C.K (Street Music Arts Culture Knowledge) that featured interviews and other interactions with well known rappers. S.M.A.C.K was used to help the careers of many of today’s artists like Jae Millz, Nicki Minaj, Maino, Cory Gunz etc when they were just local New York artists. Rather they were battling or just kickin’ a freestyle or just doing an interview S.M.A.C.K. gave them an outlet to get their face in the streets across the nation. Here in Detroit it was hard as hell to get S.M.A.C.K. dvds we had to wait for the hustler’s from New York to come to town and even then we had to hope they had a few of the dvds to sell. It didn’t take me and my friends long to become more enamored with the battles than the rest of the dvd. It was interesting to see DMX do a street interview uncensored, drunk, high and whatever else but watching those battles was the real treat. It seems that alot of people agreed and the original S.M.A.C.K dvd format was dropped to focus on the battles.

S.M.A.C.K. dvd disappeared for awhile and was restarted as URL (Ultimate Rap League). URL stages rap battles in the same way boxing events are staged. 2 guys are chosen to battle, they negitiate fees, search for venues, have a production team and the whole nine yards. Despite having better production, contractual agreements and the battles now taking place in venues URL has kept the street feel it had back when it literally took place in the streets. However URL were not the first to make that jump.

For a short time there existed another battle rap league called the Fight Klub. Fight Klub took place in venues and had rules such as time limits, that S.M.A.C.K didn’t have at the time. Fight Klub was wildly popular for a time, so popular that it was picked up and given time on MTV2 as a episodic television show. Unfortunately that didn’t last long and the Fight Klub ultimately folded and was taken off the air.

Street rap leagues started popping up everywhere there were multiple that popped up just in New York. Soon there were rap leagues all over the country that had the basic set up of the original S.M.A.C.K dvds. With the birth of youtube these leagues were able to stretch their talent all over the country by doing this some of the talent of those other leagues began getting spots in URL.

I like to think of URL as the WWE of battle rap leagues. Wrestling being another one of my guilty pleasures i can recognize how both were able to become huge in their respective fields. WWF raided smaller promotions and signed away the talent to exclusive contracts and the promoted the promotion as the best in the world. URL is very similar. URL does not have exclusive contracts which means that talent most known for being in URL can take their talents to smaller leagues and compete with that leagues top guys and make more money. The biggest way URL has become the WWE how street rap is because URL is considered even by competitors (and it’s actually URL’s tagline) “The World’s Most Respected Rap League”.

I will post some of my favorite URL/S.M.A.C.K. battles as well as a few from their competitors to give the reader a sense of how the street rap game has changed and evolved into a business.

Hitman Holla (St. Louis) vs Arsonal Da Rebel
(Newark) (2010)
an example of what URL is today.

Jae Millz (Harlem) vs Murda Mook (Harlem)
great example of what URL was during the S.M.A.C.K. dvd days. I can remember waiting for these dvds to come out monthly.

Iron Solomon vs Jin Tha Emcee from the Fight Klub. This shows how popular and culturally diverse battle rapping has become. Solomon a Jewish guy versus Jin a Chinese emcee. A great battle.

In Defense of Hip-Hop

I recently came across an article on the web written by a guy named Thomas Chatterton Williams the article is called Black Culture Beyond Hip-Hop it was published in the Washington Post back in 07 and its made of the kind of things that piss me off. First the guy attempts to make the argument that its hip-hop that causes the stagnation of graduation rates of black inner city kids. Well firstly he has no proof of such a statement its mindless ignorance. Second there is who knows how many factors that play in why drop out rates are so high. It could be inner city arrest/crime rates, drug usage, inadequate education, too high education standards, lack of support, and the newest one a lack of credible institutions. To blame hip-hop for drop out rates is asinine to say the least. He cites a writer in his column that I would much rather tackle his name is John H McWhorter. McWhorter (black guy believe it or not) is a black conservative “intellectual” who has written books and for the purpose of this topic also wrote a negative critique article on hip-hop.

John H McWhorter is on of hip-hops most out-spoked challengers. In his article called How Hip-hop Holds Blacks Back he points the finger of blame at hip-hop for promoting black stereotypes with a few more added gems. He blames hip-hop for misogyny, anti-social behavior, anti-authority behavior, criminality, over aggression and hypersexuality. He views hip-hop as an assault on the black race that should be extingushed. Well I say all the elements he blame hip-hop for is American. America promotes criminality (The Sopranos, Goodfellas etc…) America promotes hypersexuality (Real World, Sex In The City etc…)Yep America promotes misogyny (anyone notice how the media butchered Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin? or how women are greatly disrespected in those old gangster movies i.e Michael Corleone slapping his wife in Godfather 2?) Hip-Hop is a reflection of American culture believe it or not. He says hip-hop provides a fatalistic view of the inner city and assaults the mentality of young blacks. I say no song is worse than actually walking past drunks and crackheads on your way to school. The view he speaks of existed before hip-hop because the people’s complaints existed bfore hip-hop.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Appreciation

I can remember not being a big rap fan unitl 1994 (I was 10 years old) which was the first time I heard “First of tha Month”. Its a strange story I tell everyone. I didnt start out listening to Nas or Notorious B.I.G. or 2Pac but for me Bone was bigger than all of those guys. I pitched a bitch to get the tape but never got it. I pretty much gave up on it until one Christmas I got a boombox radio and 3 tapes. The 3 tapes were Bone Thugs N’ Harmony “E.1999 Eternal”, LL Cool J “Mr. Smith” and Blackstreet. Of those 3 tapes I burned one out completely, listened to one once and never opened the other. I will leave it to the reader to make the distinction but one thing was for sure the Bone tape barely lasted 6 months before I needed a new one. The biggest hit of their careers “The Crossroads” wasn’t even out yet and my tape had the original version of the song with the same name.

I can remember the first time I played it. The darkness of the music was compelling to me. It didnt have the party atmosphere everything on the radio had. It was dark, gritty and almost scary and when my mom heard someone epeaking in tongues she almost wanted to take it back. I had no real connection to the content, meaning I didnt know what the fuck they were talking about but I knew I liked it. I could only catch some of the lyrics but what I was able to make out I never stopped repeating and I must have played Mr. Bill Collector 400 times a day, which was very hard on tapes with all the rewinding and everything but I didnt care.

I can remember when the Art of War double disc album came out. I didnt have a cd player so I had to hear it at a friend’s house and bootleg it for myself when I got home. This was of the only time I paid attention to a 2Pac verse really I wasnt impressed. However I was impressed with Bizzy and with the intensity and speed he delivered his verse it was juat phenomenal for me as a kid. I didnt like that album as much as I did E.1999 Eternal and this was without knowing what the rest of the world thought about the group at all.

Shortly after Art of War the breakup rumors started because Bizzy was releasing a solo album (Heaven’z Movie). I didnt believe it until I saw the video for his first single Seeing the other members in the video kinda gave me a feeling of relief. Heaven’z Movie was my favorite album for a long time (and its still one of my favorites today) but I still preferred to hear them all together as a group.

Krayzie Bone released a double disc solo album (“Thug Mentality”) in 1998 (I believe) and it was the second cd I ever bought (DMX It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot was the first). I skipped school and went to the record store to get it.I remember played it very loudly for at least 5 hours when I got it. I didnt like it as much as Heaven’z Movie but I still loved it and since I had finally stepped into the cd game I could play it all day wihtout worrying about rewinding and fast forwarding.
It would be a long time until the next Bone album which was in 2000, I think BTNHResurrection. Which was in my opinion a great album. I wont continue to go forward with how I felt about each release because I burned pretty much all of them out within a year.

The important thing I wanted to get to in this blog was not that I am a huge Bone mark but that my love of all music came from my love of Bone. The harmonizing, which dudes swear they hate, was started with Bone. Buddah Lova’z was almost completely sang and it was released in 1994-1995. About 7 years before swaggerjackers like Nelly and Ja Rule would be doing duets with Ashanti. About 10 years before characters like Drake would be making Teen Beat/Heartthrob hip-hop, yet Bone doesnt get any respect for it.

Granted Bone was more style than substance. Which means the delivery and cadence was more important than lyrics but the lyrics werent wack by any means. I mean no Krayzie Bone isnt Nas but hes not wack either. Bone has a style so unique that they can do songs with Phil Collins and still put together dope shit with street rappers like The Game. No other act in hip-hop history could mesh well with Mariah Carey and 2Pac but Bone.

The creativity of each individual member in itself was insane. You have Krayzie remaking Aaliyah’s If They Only Knew and creating the same vibe. Let’s not get started on how Krayzie alone can take an R&B song from wack folks like Ciara and make something completely new and hot.

So even though the group is feuding…again. And Krayzie has left the group a long time fan like me will still support even if the mainstream continues to ignore them and not see what they brought to the game. “Black hippys” like Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa (which the majority of his album Rolling Papers sounds like commercialized Bone album)should pay homage. Harmonizers like Chamillionaire, Drake, Lil Wayne and Nelly should bow down to the almighty Bone Thugs N Harmony.

Album Review: Rick Ross God Forgives, I Don’t

album cover
“Rick Ross” the star-maker, hottest MC in the game (arguably) brings his newest offering God Forgives, I Don’t.
The traditional MMG sound is in full effect, complete with street records and radio friendly girly songs.

Bringing some big name features to the table is another staple in the “Ross” formula, however it only works for him twice on this album. 3 Kings feature Dr. Dre & Jay-Z falls flat due to an uninspired Hov verse. It has plenty of redeeming qualities but one can’t help but say its a let down.

Sixteen featuring Andre 3000 is an absolute gem. Everything comes together on that record and A3K brings more of his abstract lyrical musings and adds some singing on the hook. Andre ultimately becomes the album’s MVP to the chagrin of the album’s star.

When it comes to content “Ross” doesn’t vary at all, its the same topics from beginning to end and after awhile (bout 10 songs in) I kinda clocked out and it became background music. The street records were welcome wake up songs but after that it goes into the girly records and its sleepytime again.

It failed to engage me all the way through. “Hold Me Back”, “So Sophisticated” & “911” was a nice change of pace in the middle but then it goes right back into his more formulaic sound. The street records were blocked here and maybe they shouldn’t have.

It doesn’t have high replay value to me but its not a bad album, I see how hardcore fans would love it, because its on par with the rest of his material but maybe that is a problem because us casual fans are pretty much “meh” on it altogether. It has what you would expect from “Ross” but adds nothing new to his oft-storied career.

Standouts:
**Sixteen:
A3K was a blessing to this album. He managed to bring something new, it was a more engaging verse than “Ross” himself spit. I also like the premise of the song and the hook was interesting.

**Maybach Music IV:
Smooth as usual and “Ross” is in his zone on this one as he usually does on his “Maybach Music” song series. Ne-Yo plays co-pilot but its almost a complete retread of the other ones however.

**3 Kings:
Only really a standout because of Dre & Hov but neither really bring the heat. Dre just isn’t that good a rapper and Jay-Z seemed aloof in his verse. Its a track you get “up” for (as in you look forward to it) but the execution lacks a bit.

**Street Records:
So Sophisticated, 911 & Hold Me Back are all thumpers that will, as Mannie Fresh once bragged “Knock pictures off the wall”…if your sound system is strong enough. They are high energy, shit talking, bangers in the same vein as BMF from his earlier album Teflon Don.

Weaknesses:
Like I said it fails to engage all the way through, its zone out music but I’m not exactly sure you want the audience to zone out as much as a casual fan would for this album.

“Ross” lyricism is the same ol same. Not much variation on his voice or flows with the exception of the street singles. On those tracks he’s not as laid back but more aggressive and forceful perhaps more of that was necessary on other records.

Content is also the same old same. Luxury rap is fine because its what he does best but it got boring after awhile. It seems like some of his verses could be interchanged in other songs and not lose the integrity of either song.

Final weakness is structure. The blocking of songs like the “girly”/trickin songs near the end was a bit of a turn off. This may be a personal slight because I can’t stand trickin/girly records with RNB singers and stuff like that but it takes away from the album to me.

He also blocked the street records in the middle which gives you able 15 minutes of energetic rap but then it goes back to being smooth and non-threatening. By spreading all these out he could have made an album that breaks up monotony in certain places.

All in all I gave it a 71% (regular; 75% deluxe) so its an enjoyable album from a casual standpoint but replay value isn’t there and playing it all the way through more than twice is not likely. Some tracks you will find yourself playing all the time, others are just white noise. A casual fan should find plenty to enjoy and a hardcore fan should be happy with the overall project.

Album Review: Curren$y The Stoned Immaculate

album cover

Musically comparable to anything on the radio or television today. Curren$y doesn’t deviate from his topics at all, he speaks strictly about money, luxury items [armoires, cars, etc] and women.
The music is diverse, yet oddly similar and it holds fort throughout the entire album, even though as you listen to the record you get deja vu multiple times. Its a simple and basic formula that he uses throughout the album that both helps the project and hurts it ultimately.

Sonically impressive and lyrically pedestrian is the hallmark of Curren$y’s career thus far. The guy has a great ear for sound, he also has a knack for networking and bringing in top notch assistance when needed. The problem is most of his features are just names, few add anything of note to the song they feature in.

Wale brings the best performance of a featuring artist, unfortunately he’s in the first track (What It Look Like) and there are 12-15 others. Marsha Ambrosius brings some spice to Take You There as does Estelle to That’s The Thing and Pharrell on Chasin’ Papers.

Curren$y brings his usually homies to the dance too. Big KRIT lands hook duty on Jet Life while Wiz Khalifa comes mushy on the two records that feature him (No Squares & Jet Life).

2Chainz drops a humorous verse that leaves the listener with the only memorable line of the entire project (“pockets on Rick Ross…WOOOP”) which parodies one of the MMG Boss’s ad-libs. A random Daz Dillenger feature on Fast Cars Faster Women closes out the list of medium to big name features.

Playing the album from beginning to end seems like a chore. Some tracks have high replay ability, are catchy and smooth (What It Look Like, Privacy Glass, JLR) but others leave the listener wondering if that track wouldn’t have been better off on the cutting room floor (Showroom, Chandelier & Sunroof for instance).

The album is engaging sonically because the sounds are different. Some of the hooks stick with you when the song is over (Armoire, No Squares for example), however the lack of true lyricism means the audience can just kick back and let it ride, opening the opportunity to become bored with the project.

A casual Curren$y fan can easily say this is his masterpiece. Its the best project he’s put together and that he’s finally achieved something that justifies the huge buzz he had back in 2008. But it is 2012 and this album sounds way too inspired by the “Rick Ross”/MMG sound that has dominated rap the last few years.

Despite what seems like a rough review it is a good album, and is highly enjoyable in small doses and the standouts are true gems but playing it all the way through is not suggested for casual fans and fans of lyricism will not be happy at all. But if you like the MMG style this album comes suggested as he does MMG’s thing a little better than some of the members of the MMG squad does.

The rating is pretty high I give it a 76% (regular version; 75% deluxe version) and there are plenty standout cuts on the album. XXL magazine gave this album an L (large) which I think is a pretty fair grade.

Standouts:
**Armoire–
A thumping production that immediately makes the head nod. It comes off very majestic but the hook brings it back to the block (“this rap shit just my hustle baby we paper chasin'”).

A fun, guaranteed bounce record made for ringtones and deserves a video (if one doesn’t already exist).

**Chasin’ Papers–
A smooth but bumping production that’s attractive to the ears. Pharrell brings a fairly decent singing style hook even if the hook itself isn’t that creative. Singing in the style of the Chi-Lites “Oooh Child” brings a bit of humor to the track.

**No Squares–
Bumping attention grabbing production and Curren$y delivers his best verse of the album (verse 1). The elitist hook: “No squares shall enter in the circle of winners” coupled with Wiz’s braggadocio brings a style similar to mixtape Spitta from back in the day.

Weaknesses:
Uncreative-
It sounds like an MMG production and a heavy usage of the same styles come off as a knock-off.

Lack of lyricism-
Of course this is going to be a give considering Curren$y is not a lyricist.

Content-
Curren$y never moves, in fact he doesn’t even pivot from his position on talking about money and broads. Eventually that gets tiresome.

New York Niggerblockers

phil mushnick

Whoa, here we go again…
Let’s just jump right into it. A white writer for the New York Post by the name of Phil Mushnick, decided to play shock jock for a second and criticize the changes in the New Jersey Nets these were his words (via Villiage Voice blog):

“As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment? Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”

Later on the Villiage Voice posted an updated version of the story with this guy’s “explanation” attached, as usual the “explanation” was little more than a rationalization but for our entertainment check it out:

“James – did you actually read what I wrote and what I’ve been writing for 30 years? I don’t call black men niggas; my kids never heard the word until folks such as Jay-Z came along. I’d suggest you talk to him about it. What I wrote today was on Jay Z’s artistry, and only the wishful and foolish would so badly misinterpret and mischaracterize it as you plan to do. Thanks -mushnick.”

Ever heard of the techniques of neutralization? If not they are ways that criminals defend themselves whenever they get caught doing something wrong. There are several different techniques but the one that matters the most right now is the “condemn the condemners”.

Condemning the condemners is simple to understand, basically you are attacking those who criticize you, basically calling them a hypocrite.

He attempted to shift blame from himself to Jay-Z. His “criticism” of Jay-Z’s artistry, as he puts it is so well rooted in racism and stereotypical nonsense it can hardly be called anything other than a bigoted rant by an upset white writer.

Of course he pulled the old “misinterpret” argument out of his ass to try and cover himself. I mean Jay-Z DID say he wanted to call the cheerleaders the “Brooklyn bitches” didn’t he? Wait, no he didn’t. Jay-Z also didn’t say anything about 9MM logos either, all this all came from Mushnick’s brain (how apropos that his name features “mush” apparently that’s what his brain is made of).

I’m not as quick as others to call Mr. Mush a racist or a bigot but its obvious he has a problem. As a middle-aged white man I’m sure he holds some frustrations that his children listen to Jay-Z’s music, which is petty to say the least. Because the kids like something you don’t you have to ridicule the man for no reason? Grow up Mushy..please for your sake.

I also don’t get upset over white folks using the word “nigga/nigger”, I assumed they all do anyway. I don’t want my fellow brothers or sister getting all riled up because the N-bomb was dropped, what they should be upset over is the fact that Mushy made all these “suggestions” despite Jay-Z only owning about 1.5% of the team (according to Forbes).

That’s right, Jay-Z is a minority owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owns about 80% of the squad but Mushy didn’t say that the Nets logo should be the hammer & sickle and the colors changed to red & gold from Russia’s old communist days or that the AK-47 should be the logo (considering the AK-47 was invented by a Russian arms maker), nope he singled out Jay-Z to ridicule, for what purpose?

I suppose only Mushy knows for certain but at the end of the day, let’s not call for Mushy to be fired because he dropped the censored N-bomb on the Nets but let’s give him hell for being an idiot and being what Huey from The Boondocks would call him an “irresponsible white person”.

Let’s attack him for being too cowardly to call out the Russian billionaire who is the majority owner and ultimately the decision maker for the team and finally let’s all go outside the New York Post offices blasting Jay-Z hits at absurd levels of volume, the most fitting for the moment being “Can’t Knock The Hustle”.

Let’s not be so quick to call Mushnick a racist but let’s be quick on the draw to call him out on his bullshit, mainly because there’s so much of it.

Jay-Z Nets jersey

Choices and Responsibilities

Too $hort

I am just now seeing this interview conducted by hiphopdx.com and Too $hort. It creates a helluva predicament and honestly forces me to confront

In the interview, Too $hort tells out how Jive Records CEO Barry Weiss promised to back a politically conscious Too $hort record in exchange for a extremely raunchy album.

$hort put the whole situation into context. Hip-hop was moving away from the conscious content of the 80s to the explicit material of the 90s. $hort is known today for his outlandish persona glorifying pimp-dom and limiting his vocabulary to “bitch”, “dick”, “ass” & “pussy” for the most part.
However Too $hort’s first major hit was “The Ghetto”. A track about, well, the ghetto. Over his career $hort managed to sprinkle more conscious material in his albums apparently much to the chagrin of Jive Records.

As $hort explains:
“I’m not gonna blame this on anybody, but I was actually being pushed into a direction where I would talk to people at Jive [Records], I would go talk to the President, Barry Weiss, and he was like – I always wanted to do these [side] projects… [But] they kept making excuses and so it never got done.

I wanted to do an album that was filled with songs like “The Ghetto,” “Life Is…Too Short,” “Money In The Ghetto,” “I Want To Be Free.” I wanted to do a whole album of positive Too Short songs, just to keep that balance.

I had made a verbal deal with Barry Weiss, where he was like, “Right now would be the perfect time, you should do like the raunchiest Too Short album ever – the album cover, the songs, just do a dirty fuckin’ Too Short album.” This is the executive running the company advising me to put out an entire album of just cursing and sex.

So I’m like, “If I did that I’d have to then do the exact opposite and follow-up that with an album that’s all positive.” And so, I did the album for him, we did You Nasty. I thought it was a funny idea at first – we had like a porn star on the cover,

I’m naked, the girls are naked and we really did a butt- naked photo shoot. And it got a gold album and all that stuff. But when it came time to do the positive album, it was never a good idea. It never got the green light. Once I did what they wanted, they would never let me do what I wanted.” (http://www.hiphopdx.com/m/index.php?s=news&id=18861)

$hort made a deal. A deal for which many have given him hell. Too $hort played on the stereotypes and the imagery of Blacks as oversexed, money hungry, goons. Some would say that because of his position in the game as an influence to more than a generation of MCs that he made a decision extremely detrimental to the Black community.

As people shake their monkeys, blow their whistles and try to say “bitch” like him, they totally have no idea this other side of Too $hort exists. Too $hort will forever be known as one of the most vulgar artists ever and perhaps that is not what he wanted.

But all that begs the question: “did he do the right thing?”

There are two or three ways of looking at that. On one hand, as a Black man in a position of influence, maybe he had a responsibility to be more positive and made sure to get that positive message out there. On the second hand, as an employee he was being charged to make what the label wanted him to make. In a purely business sense Weiss wanted what would be assured to make Jive money. And finally the perspective of Too $hort the individual, a man who needs to provide for himself.

On the flipside of those are a few questions. One of which is “What responsibility does Too $hort have to the Black community?” Nobody voted Too $hort President or Senator of the Black community and he has no responsibility to uphold any image of Blackness. But at the same time he helped to create such a negative image of Black males that has permeated the industry and many younger individuals for decades.

Another question is: “Wasn’t Too $hort’s real responsibility to Jive?” Short answer (no pun intended) is yes. Jive is the church in this instance and $hort would be fuckin up the church’s money by refusing to produce the content they want. To be honest Weiss didn’t or shouldn’t have had to make a deal with Too $hort to get him to make the material he wanted him to make. $hort was Weiss’ employee…period.

Too $hort, the individual, the man himself is Too $hort’s responsibility. The explicit nature of his music has sustained him for decades and created one of the pillars of the hip-hop community. Could a more politically conscious Too $hort have had such longevity and impact? There’s no telling, but the fact that it is 2012 and Too $hort still makes extremely explicit music (his new song is called “Porno Bitch”) means that Too $hort the artist, is making the music he wants to make.

$hort’s case is one that also forces people to come face to face with the music industry. Recently hiphopdx.com did an interview with Chuck D and his response is to check the system of people and institutions involved:

Chuck D: “…Barry Weiss should be on blast then. Barry Weiss is the son of [former Stax Records executive] Hy Weiss. I mean, things is like – Forget a corporation, I think when you have a problem with somebody you should put that person on blast. You should put their family on blast. [Laughs] You know, the whole nine.

If you feel like your family’s on blast, put their family on blast too. Forget Jive Records, [put] Barry Weiss [on blast]. And Barry Weiss should be the person that answers to the community, and if Barry Weiss comes out and says, “Well, yeah, I told him to do that, and fuck Black people,” then the next step is whatever, if anything at all. But at least you get right to the source, you get to the core of it. ”

Chuck D also believes that the industry and the political system of the country has allowed people like Weiss to wield immeasurable power over artists:

Chuck D: “The consolidation of radio stations was like the worst thing ever done to music.

And, look man, conscious record versus unconscious record, political record versus street record, that’s a bunch of bullshit really. [On an artist’s album pre-consolidation] there were always two to three songs for the hood, for your mom’s or whatever – by every artist. I think when it became formula to continue to just cut joints and you’re pressured to sell – Understand this, niggativity has always been popular and has always been a money-maker in America. Blacks [being degraded and] looked upon at our lowest has always sold – just like slavery itself – more than something that happens to be high standing on its own two feet … to this day. So we shouldn’t be surprised if somebody makes a conscious move to make a quote-unquote positive record and that doesn’t fly out of the record stores, and you make something that might just be talking about stripping or drug-dealing in the year 2012 and it happens to rise because it [works] in the club. I don’t think it’s unfair to measure the music by its quantity instead of its quality …. And too often Rap music and Hip Hop is weighed in bubblegum type standards.

Chuck D.

The situation is much deeper than Too $hort, he is just one of many. As a influential artist he had the ability to take a stand against Weiss and the industry but instead he buckled and was rewarded with boatloads of money and the adulation of several dozen young rappers. Perhaps it would be unfair to call $hort a sell out, perhaps it would be appropriate…who knows?

The conversation on how people (both artists and consumers) can take back their power over creativity and consumption continues. Whether its Too $hort vs Jive or Lupe Fiasco vs Interscope, artists will continue to fight for control over their art.

Seeing The Light

Simply put Common’s “The Light” is by far Hip-Hop’s greatest love song. I know some people prefer the R&B laden tracks like Method Man & Mary J. Blige’s “All I Need” but for my money, the song that best tells someone how you can possibly feel about them is “The Light”.
Common & Erykah Badu
The song not only has a dope message but its deeply romantic and somewhat mushy without being overly soft. It manages to straddle the fence of love letter and hip-hop record. At times it leaves the listener unable to tell whether Common is portraying his real feelings or is it just a song.

I love samples and “The Light” boasts a fantastic sample of Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes” but the lyrics….man the fucking lyrics are so deep that I can’t believe any human being could resist repeating them to someone he cares about. The song is sonic magic.

But the song wasn’t enough for Common apparently. Now let me preface the following statements: I don’t gossip, and this isn’t a celebrity gossip blog but apparently Common & Erykah Badu (who is equally awesome) were dating during the time the song and video were released (I’ve always believe Erykah was the silhouette in the video). Now if their relationship didn’t work out and she was the muse for this record then love aint real…..period.

Check out what this nigga Common said:
“It’s important, we communicate
and tune the fate of this union, to the right pitch
I never call you my bitch or even my boo
There’s so much in a name and so much more in
you//

Few understand the union of woman and man And sex and a tingle is where they assume that it land But that’s fly by night for you and the sky I write For in these cold Chi night’s moon, you my light//

If heaven had a height, you would be that tall
Ghetto to coffee shop, through you I see that all//

Let’s stick to understandin and we won’t fall
For better or worse times, I hope to me you call//

So I pray everyday more than anything
friends will stay as we begin to lay//

this foundation for a family – love ain’t simple
Why can’t it be anything worth having you work at
annually Granted we known each other for some time It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine”

Are you serious? The nigga said “If heaven had a height you would be that tall” if a nigga didn’t hypnotize the pussy permanently saying shit like that then a nigga like me has no chance.

Now I know Erykah isn’t the normal chick and she probably dealt with poetic characters like Common often but not only does the relationship falter but nobody even recognizes the epicness of the song itself. Regardless of the failure of Common & Badu’s union the song beats any Hallmark card I’ve ever read…bar none.

Very few love songs I’ve ever heard, in any genre can compare to that record. I just wish it were better received and understood. I don’t believe people even think about each other like that anymore. A love song today is pretty much is relegated to ……well what love songs?

More of these records need to be made. It kills me that a song so epic could still fail at its intended purpose and not only that but fail to be considered one of the all time greatest love songs EVER. Maybe niggas prefer “Buss It Baby” or whatever else hoodrat shit is being made today to flawless record like “The Light”. Maybe a lot of people just look over the song (much like they look over the artist that made it) but one day it will be done again. Like the man said “it don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine”.

Erykah Badu & Common

My Hottest MCs List vs MTVs Hottest MCs List

Okay here’s MTV 2’s list of Hottest MCs of 2011:
10–Wale
9–Wiz Khalifa
8–T.I.
7–Meek Mill
6–Jay Z
5–Lil Wayne
4–Nicki Minaj
3–Kanye West
2–Drake
1–Rick Ross

Incredibly shitty list I’d say. Let me first say I have no problem with Rick Ross at #1. Dude has been on fire the last 2 years or so and even though I’m not a fan a nigga can’t hate on that. So my critique will start at the bottom half.

Firstly, what the fuck T.I. doing on this list? What the hell has he done? I don’t even remember him dropping anything in 2011 so he should be ousted off top. Wiz Khalifa fell off very early, I don’t think he deserves to be on the list either honestly. There’s no point of those two being on anyone’s “hottest MCs” list when the shit they dropped (if anything) wasn’t memorable at all.

So who would I add? Well not exactly in their spots but I’d add 2 Chainz, Big Sean and J. Cole. All three of those cats did their motherfuckin thang in 2011.
J. Cole was nominated for Grammys he also dropped a #1 album, Big Sean surprised everyone by making at least two major club hits with “A$$” and “Marvin Gaye and Chardonnay”. 2 Chainz, while being nonsensical lyrcially, has been bubbling uncontrollably on the streets. The nigga even had me listening to his shit!! “Spend It” was arguably hotter than anything T.I. did in ’11 period.

So now we come to the rearranging part. Quite frankly all the Young Money artists are too damn high. Nicki is garbage, steaming garbage but she’s popular and thus maybe earned a spot on the list. Cupcake Drake deserves to be there for “I’m On One” alone. But above Wale? Shit no. Wale made “Lotus Flower Bomb” the song that niggas are still playing in February of 2012. He also made the song “That Way” with Jeremih (if that’s how the nigga name is spelled, if it aint fuck ’em sue me). I hated both those tracks by the way, but they were big hits (for Wale) and played all year long, so how Nicki and Cupcake got above him is beyond me.

The true shaft is given to Jay-Z who fell in at #6 and Kanye West who came in at #3 despite “Niggas In Paris” still being in rotation and “No Church in The Wild” being used in the trailer for Uncle Denzel’s new movie “Safe House”. If fuckin’ Denzel Washington is using your songs in a movie trailer you hot…period, Unc said so. Jay-Z should be linked with Kanye, I mean it was a damn collabo album.

Meek Mill is meh, he had a lot of appearances. Featured on “2Pac Back” and a few other MMG records that came off as very Rick Ross heavy cuts. He did his thing and yes he gained some notoriety but I don’t believe he gained that much.

Lil Weezy sold a million in a week that alone = hot. But Wayne also made no real splash other than selling a lot of records. He did what Lil Wayne does: make disposable music that plays for a month or two and then is kind of chucked to the side.

So here’s my list:

#10–Meek Mill
(give Ross the lion’s share of the credit for his success)
#9–Nicki Minaj
(*sighs*)
#8–2 Chainz
(had the mixtape scene on SMASH, it was a travesty that he wasn’t mentioned)
#7–Big Sean
(nigga made 2 big time hits and if I remember correctly had a #1 album)
#6–J. Cole
(nominated for a fuckin’ Grammy AND had a #1 album)
#5–Wale
(made 2 hits, got all the hoes claiming they got “ambition” and had a #1 album)
#4–Drake
(the hook for “I’m on One” was kinda raw, no hate)
#3–Lil Wayne
(sold a milli AGAIN)
#2–Jay-Z & Kanye West
(Uncle Denzel says so)
#1–Rick Ross
(no hate that nigga made Wale & Meek Mill household names)

Now that was changing MTV’s list.

My honest list wouldn’t feature 90% of that roster.
MTV’s commerical bias and lack of knowledgeable people in the voting process destroy their credibility.

In reality A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Tech N9ne, Mac Miller, Pusha T, Royce Da 5’9″, Yelawolf, Fabolous, and Killer Mike all made better material than Nicki, Wale, Mill, Drake, Wiz, T.I. 2 Chainz and a lot of other people. However we know that unless they hear you everyday on the radio you not “hot”.

That bias invalidated MTV’s list and my own to some extent. However I know that there are guys out there that have made major progress in 2011. Tech N9ne was probably a virtual unknown outside his very large underground following but after dropping a verse for Little Weezy’s album and heating up BET’s cypher for their hip-hop awards combined with putting out a solid LP in All 6’s and 7’s, people should have their eyes open now.

Royce’s resurgence with his long time buddy Eminem for their Hell: The Sequel under the name Bad Meets Evil is a triumph unto itself. Lyrically superior to Kanye & Jigga’s Watch The Throne but not nearly as commerically successful “Hell” is still a great album, worthy of acknowledgement. Then Royce doubled up and dropped a solid solo LP Death Is Certain capitalizing off of the newfound mainstream attention.

Royce & Tech are veterans of dropping unappreciated albums but Kendrick Lamar & Mac Miller aren’t. Kendrick Lamar gained a small name for himself dropping mixtapes and finally dropped an impressive street album Section 80. Mac Miller has been flying under the radar most of his short career but raised plenty of eyebrows with his successful independent album Blue Slide Park. Both of those artists are on the rise, maybe they wouldn’t make a “hottest MCs” list but they have grabbed attention in 2011.

A suggestion for the MTV crew: at least acknowledge some of the talented guys who don’t make your lists. Stop giving spots to guys based off of “name value” *coughT.I.cough* and get some fuckin’ DJs on the panel, get people who listen to stuff outside the radio, get people who are familiar with hip-hop on a deeper level and maybe your list wouldn’t be such green dog shit.

The Cult of Personality: Chris Brown vs CM Punk

Ladies, gentlemen and children of all ages. Our main event of the evening scheduled for one fall. Coming down the aisle from Chicago, Ill, weighing 220ilbs he is the WWE Champion…..CM PUNK!!!!
WWE Champion CM Punk
And his opponent….. singer, songwriter, rapper, actor, the grammy award winning…..CHRIS BROWN!!
Chris
By now everyone who follows celebrities, hip-hop or professional wrestling has heard about the improbable beef between WWE champion CM Punk and Grammy Award winning singer Chris Brown.
It all began how things typically begin with one person stepping out of turn. That one person is CM Punk.

Chris Brown’s odyssey back to respectability since his domestic abuse case against “singer” Rhianna 3-4 years ago has been a rough one. People refuse to ever let him live it down. The recent gossip page stories of their reunion has swept the underbelly of the media and reheated the old story. The police report floated around on the net and was tweeted to CM Punk. Punk being who is, boisterous and mouthy, spoke on the situation.

Like so many people Punk has an opinion. Which he voiced by saying Chris Brown should fight someone his own size (paraphrasing) and then the fan turned Brown (no pun intended). Chris Brown shot back referring to Punk as a “steroid junkie”. Because of Punk’s real life “straight edge” lifestyle (no drinking, smoking or drug use) he took the steroid jab a little personally. And the comment prompted Punk to post a video via twitter directly challenging Chris Brown to fight. Not a WWE style fight mind you, but a legitimate fist-fight. Punk said he intended to make Brown feel as helpless as the woman he beat up on (paraphrasing).

And from there twitter took over. Chris Brown & #TeamBreezy took to the web to assault punk with various tweets. The tweets ranged from saying Punk is replaceable (as he states all wrestlers are) and that Brown’s music is forever (yeah….right) to starting a trending topic entitled “#notnopunks”, where Chris Brown spoke about his appreciation of other wrestlers but damn sure “#notnopunks”. #TeamBreezy indeed went hard and verbally assaulted Punk for what seemed like hours.

During the twitter barrage CM Punk was on television wrestling. Immediately afterwards Punk started his own trending topic “#aintnowomanbeater”. Since the video dropped Punk has been invited to do interviews with hip-hop radio jockeys to explain why he blacked out and spoke on Brown in the first place. Punk explained that Chris Brown has been unapologetic about the situation with Rhianna and that he’s unrepentant. He also believed that Chris Brown hadn’t learned anything and intended to teach him a thing or two about a thing or two in the world of fighting. He said the proceeds from their fight can go to any charity of Brown’s choosing.

In June of 2011, CM Punk gained a level of notoriety by verbally abusing his own place of occupation on live television. Punk’s “shoot” promo on RAW garnered him quite a bit of a reputation as vicious verbal jouster. Our as we call it, he’s a shit talker completely capable of saying the most unpredictable things (Punk refers to it as dropping “pipe bombs” which sounds much cooler by the way). His outburst on RAW brought him unbelievable popularity. Wrestling crowds began to come unglued when he music struck, he was offered spots on sports radio programs (like ESPN’s Jim Rome Is Burning) to further air his grievances at Vince McMahon & WWE. All in all Punk is no stranger to controversy and his mouth getting him attention.

The bottom line is both of these dudes are attention whores. Controversy creates cash, that’s a fact. Both Wrestlemania and Chris Brown’s music have been promoted heavily during the beef. Hell who can be mad at the increased attention? If I were Vince McMahon or Chris Brown I’d look into trying to make a couple bucks off the deal too. The story is everywhere, TMZ, SOHH, and other sites that follow celebrities in entertainment and music have picked it up. Punk’s verbal threat has rumored to have even made Worldstarhiphop.com (that nigga Punk done made it now)!!

#TeamBreezy the legion of teenage girls and immature young women who still love Chris Brown regardless of him boxing Ri-Ri the fuck up, have shown up the power of the cult of personality. For those who don’t know what the “cult of personality” is let’s define it: “arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image” (wikipedia).
Chris Brown over the last few years has used TV, songs, and social media (like twitter) to create the image of himself as the victim.

Now we are supposed to believe that he’s learned his lesson and that everyone is picking on him and won’t let him move past the situation BUT the fact still remains, HE BEAT A BITCH UP!!! At what point is all forgiven and forgotten? No idea, and in some ways I agree Chris should be left alone. He should be given the opportunity to make the most of the time he has left but Chris Brown is no victim.

The strange thing about all this is: CM Punk’s theme song when he enters the arena is Living Colour’s 1988 song “Cult of Personality” [bizarre right?].
The song symbolizes how Punk has gained an incredible following in the wrestling world by being exactly who he is: a boisterous, self-aggrandizing asshole. Punk believes he should be the biggest star in wrestling (and he may well be on his way to achieving that) and that he should be the guy to finally vanquish the evil Chris Brown. If that isn’t an exaggerated sense of self importance I don’t know what is.

This has been a wild few days for Punk.
He’s got people talking about wrestling again.

Funny thing is, a lot of rappers like wrestling and mention wrestlers in their songs. Not too long ago 50 Cent put out a song name dropping now retired WWE Superstar Shawn Michaels of all people.

Rappers Pusha T & Killer Mike have both put out records featuring professional wrestling legend Ric Flair. My man Naitch is becoming a gotdamn hip-hop icon!! The Rock & Stone Cold are already hip-hop icons having been name dropped by numerous people over the years and having popularity that exceed the industry that spawned them.

Wrestling & hip-hop go together very well.

So what Punk has done is added his name to the list of guys rappers will be talking about next. That’s not bad at all. I’m totally over the idiocy of why Punk wants to fight Chris Brown. We all know he will never get that chance. We should move on past Chris Brown and Rhianna’s situation, I mean they got past it. WWE and Chris Brown both got some free publicity from each other and I suppose it will all work out in the end.

As someone who likes hip-hop and wrestling I’m totally stoked to see wrestlers mentioned on hip-hop sites. I am stoked to see hip-hop guys at wrestling events. Its just a natural synergy in the entertainment industry. You gotta love entertainment and twitter. If there is a God he surely made twitter in his own image. Where else could a loud-mouthed, 33-year old professional wrestler who looks like the next Unabomber face off against an ill-tempered, 22-year old grammy award winning, heartthrob that has become the poster child for domestic abuse?
Nowhere on Earth. God bless twitter, professional wrestling and hip-hop music, you all have brought me great joy.