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|Wed, April 27, 2005 at 3:00 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
When I first started writing hip-hop in college, my goal was to eventually become a reporter for The Source. I was a former loyal subscriber to the magazine, relying on it to keep me abreast of all things hip-hop in a pre- "everything-you-will-ever-need-is-on-the-internet" age. My allegiance was unwavering to a fault; I all but ignored Rap Pages, Blaze and the other publications of the time. I think I still have the Tupac death issue as well as a couple other classics lying around somewhere.
When they called me for an internship interview in summer of 2002, I was jazzed, but I didn't have the cheese to honor an unpaid internship in New York. At this point in time, I was reading the magazine on a fleeting level, primarily because some of the album reviews were getting under my skin; It DID bug me with its then-recent five-mic review of Stillmatic (decent album but definitely not a "classic"). Shortly thereafter is when I started to catch wind of the fact that Ray Benzino, of all people, was co-owner of what used to be my favorite magazine.
It wasn't until a year or so later that I noticed things were afoot with the magazine. Call me a late bloomer, but even though I was getting increasingly disgusted with their mic ratings, I had no idea that sh*t was all bent out of shape like it was. Sure I saw the writing slowly etching its way on the wall: increased Made Men ads in a world that knows how much they suck and more bullsh*t mic ratings.
But all was made clear to me last week after reading a huge dirt-dropping article by former editor Reginald Dennis (www.hiphopdx.com). He cleared up so many things that the light hath finally shone upon me. I highly suggest you read the article (clear up, like, an hour), but in sum, this cat Benzino basically strongarmed the magazine's creator Dave Mays into submitting to him and his crew's whims. Wanna know exactly why `Zino has had all these record deals despite possessing an infinitesimal level of talent? He played Mays for a fool, and basically destroyed the cred of the magazine in the process.
Look at the magazine's practices as of late, including a hip-hop summit in which Benzino was given reign to speak on this whole beef between the mag, Eminem and Interscope Records. That mess has managed to pervade the magazine in virtually every pore of the pages. Basically, what Mays allowed was something to the effect of a store refusing to sell Eminem albums...a monumentally bad business move.
Accusations of racism and a direct bias of the artist and his crew is the worst example of biased journalism I have seen in music culture. And now, former female editors of the magazine have come forth with sexual harassment charges that could prove to be a financial downfall for what's probably already a struggling magazine. Dennis says The Source has about a year to live. I wouldn't be too surprised.
Dennis left The Source to form XXL Magazine, which I've figured for years now is a superior publication. Still, it suffers from some of the same troubles of objective reporting that The Source does (cite: a previous battle with Eminem that seems to have concluded in a truce and side-taking against The Source). I've grown skeptical to the point that I don't know what to expect when I open a publication; more importantly, album reviews in these are completely pointless to me. I'd rather take my chances with still somewhat-pure Internet reviews.
What breaks my heart about The Source...it really was my gateway bible into the culture, but I'll probably never pay for another issue. Hell, I'll probably won't have the chance to for long
|Fri, April 22, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Everyone wants a piece of Malcolm King...
A successful and wealthy businessman, with plenty of attitude to spare, Malcolm (Anthony Anderson) has made more than his share of enemies over the years, including his soon-to-be ex-wife (Kellita Smith) and his overworked, under appreciated employees. Not wanting to go through a messy and expensive divorce played out in the media, Malcolm devises a plan to save his money from his wife's eager hands.
Along with the help of his mistress, Peaches (Regina Hall), Malcolm plots his own kidnapping in order to secure a fictitious ransom so extremely high that, once paid, the public will think he's broke and unable to meet his wife's financial demands. But unbeknownst to Malcolm, he's not the only one with a kidnapping plan. Not only his wife, but one of his long-suffering employees (Nicole Parker) and a dimwitted local bumpkin Jay Mohr), have all cooked up separate schemes of their own, each more ridiculous than the next. What results is a wild, comedic ride for Malcolm that will change his life forever.
Directed by Jeff Byrd, King's Ransom stars Anthony Anderson (Barbershop, Malibu's Most Wanted) who makes his feature film-starring debut.
While Anthony Anderson headlines the film, an amazing ensemble of actors who all have extensive backgrounds in comedy ably supports him. This talented supporting cast includes Jay Mohr (host of TV's Last Comic Standing"), Kellita Smith ("The Bernie Mac Show"), Nicole Parker (Brown Sugar), Regina Hall (Scary Movie, Malibu's Most Wanted), Loretta Devine (Kingdome Come), Donald Faison (TV's "Scrubs"), Leila Arcieri (Daddy Day Care), Brooke D'Orsay (Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) and comedian Charlie Murphy (Comedy Central's "Chapelle Show").
In a recent interview Anderson says "we had a ensemble cast...that was great to work with, so you just fed off one another's energy...so what ever they brought you just wanted to make sure you hit the ball back over the net, when they hit it to you and that's what we did."
Anthony Anderson will next be seen on the big screen Hustle & Flow for director John Singleton that made its debut at Sundance this year. In addition, Anderson has just joined the cast of the FX drama "The Sheild" opposite Michael Chiklis and Glenn Close and will be recurring on HBO series "Entourage" playing himself.
King's Ransom (rated "PG-13" by the M.P.A.A for "crude and sexual humor and language") will be released in theaters nationwide on April 22nd, 2005.
|Thurs, April 21, 2005 at 11:50 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
The world waited to see who would step out form beyond the vial. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, who has taken the name of Pope Benedict XVI, at age 78, appeared in the white Casatte and red Mosetta as the new head of the church. He humbly received the keys to the church just as Peter with Jesus.
His name Pope Benedict means blessing. His first words as the Holy Father were powerful: "Although, I am insufficient it is with the Joy of the Lord and the help of my fellow Cardinals I simply and humbly accept to labor in the vineyard of the Lord." May he bless the world for years to come.
I wish that same spirit of humility would rest in the pulpits of many of our American churches. Everyone wants to call themselves a Bishop; even without a church or stable following. The jockeying for position and recognition, for a clarion call given allegedly by God, is ridiculous.
For my fellow Christian believers the Holy Bible speaks more highly of an Elder then it ever did of a Bishop. However, it is a fight to be won. The greatest among you is the servant, but everyone wants to be served in most of our churches no matter the denomination. You know I often speak of my good Church of God In Christ (COGIC) upbringing. I have seen first hand how the lustful desire for power, money, and control can destroy even childhood friendships. A man's heart is deceitfully wicked. Who has a heart to serve the people?? Let him or her come from beyond the vial?
Rosa Parks' long-standing lawsuit filed against OutKast has been settled by her representatives. The matriarch of the Civil Rights movement objected to the rap group having used her name in a song title without permission. OutKast, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and two of the company's units admitted no unlawful activity. Both parties have made a commitment to work on projects to enlighten youth about the significant role Rosa Parks played on making America a better place for all races according to Dennis Archer, Rosa Parks guardian. The settlement states that OutKast and the other defendants will develop educational programs about Parks' life and legacy with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.
Hopefully this will make a difference in the life that Rosa Parks presently knows. She is now 92 and living with a long time assistant and was almost evicted form her apartment recently. It is most difficult to comprehend how a woman with 13 nieces and nephews came so close to being homeless. The lawsuit got a great deal of unwanted press when Parks' representative and her attorney sought $5 billion dollars from Outkast for usage of her name. The judge that heard the case appointed Dennis Archer, former Mayor of Detroit as her guardian.
Additionally, it was discovered the non profit that bares her name was a quarter of a million dollars in debt and organization vans had been reposed.
This lawsuit has been sobering for the African American Community in many ways. First, we far too often do not hold our people or our history scared. Secondly, it displayed the shameful ignorance of Hip Hop industry members who laced the counsel to determine what is in good taste. And thirdly, the lack of respect many of us have for our elders, whether they are family members or not. Under the present settlement it can be argued that OutKast caused her name to live on by entitling a song in her honor.
Russell Simmions has been the center of reconciliation in the Hip Hop community and continued in this vain in a press conference denouncing any problems with L.A. Reid, Island Def Jam Chairman. Joined by Jay-Z, Tony Austin, and Island Presiden
|Wed, April 20, 2005 at 9:53 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
"SHIFT_" Knowledge Scholarship
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Application deadline is June 6, 2005
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|Mon, April 18, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
So it finally leaked.
Y'all know of what I speak. The album we heads have been waiting for quite a long damn time. Yes, Lonnie Rashid Lynn's sixth album BE made it's rounds on the internet just over a week ago; finally stomping to a pulp that anxious, pre-Christmas, "what-Nintendo-game-is-gonna-be-under-that-wrapping-paper?" feeling I've had for the past few months.
I don't think I can remember an album being as hyped up as much as this one in quite some time. Seems like every time fans salivate for a much-anticipated release from their favorite artist, a shoddy track or two leaks and that boner you had going in drops like you just pictured Star Jones in a thong. But Common's leaks were actually appealing. First, there was "The Food", a track from way back, introduced when he and Kanye performed it on The Dave Chappelle Show. Next, there was `The Corners", which leaked sometime in February. Both cuts had the combined appeal of true-school Common versatility and atypical Kanye production that somehow just worked.
And I'll be damned if the entire project didn't live up to the hype. With just 11 tracks, dude did it Illmatic style and dropped a straight gem; proving once and for all time that quality truly does reign supreme over quantity. Kanye West was at the helm of nine tracks, which had me jazzed from the beginning because I've heard him speak of how important Common is to him, so I knew he would bring out all stops. His sound on the album, though laced with pieces of his signature style (i.e. the "chipmunk" hooks), is almost like something he saved just for Common. Take the introductory title track; it starts with that bass twang that you aren't too sure where it's going. But when the beat drops, you are subsequently blown away. "Chi City", "Go", "Testify"...all gems.
And what about Jay muthaf*uckin DILLA?? Talk about being in rare form! He only has two tracks on the album, but both are absolutely phenomenal. "Love Is" doesn't demonstrate Common's most focused lyrical chops, but the beat is intoxicating and the track as a whole is arguably Com's best love song. Dilla's other track, "It's Your World", is the album's best joint period, which is saying a whole hell of a lot. Both producer and emcee were in a zone for this; I find myself rewinding Com's last verse over and over again. Detroit talent...what a way to conclude an album.
I highly doubt anyone will f*ck with this album for the remainder of 2005. Kanye painted himself in a room with his own genius; if he plans to release his Late Registration album sometime this spring with limited guess emcee appearances, I doubt he'll be able to compete with Common in the eyes of the tried and true heads. Of course, the pop music masses will embrace him 50 Cent-style with their all, but these people probably wont be tuning so much into BE.
Too bad, too. We may have a classic on our hands. I know I'LL be the first a*shole at Best Buy on the release date.
So as to not make this column one big, ebullient review of the upcoming album, I'll talk about the other - very limited - things I've been playing. I copped Beanie Sigel's The B.Coming retail album, and I'm pleasantly surprised...this may be his best work yet, though the man has never really been the DaVinci of hip-hop. "Feel It In The Air" is an engrossing cut, along with "Look At Me Now". "Bread & Butter", however, demonstrates exactly why the oft-ignored Just Blaze is on the fast track to Kanye status. Boy is sharp...don't sleep.
That's really the only cohesive hip-hop album I'm playing right now. I'm dabbling into plenty of contemporary R&B these days...a stretch considering I hate 95 percent of the garbage people are pas
|Sat, April 16, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Faith Evans steps out of the Bad Boy shadow with her fourth release, titled "First Lady", an allusion to her status within R&B and Hip-Hop (wait, I thought that was Mary J. Blige...oh never mind, that's right, she's the queen...). Anyway, Faith has moved up in the ranks of female R&B stars, no longer looked upon as a youthful figure (I'm not calling her old!) but as a more mature, established artist. This probably happened somewhere around the time she did the "Heartbreak Hotel" track with Whitney Houston and Kelly Price.
"First Lady" sees Faith get a little experimental with her music, mixing in elements of jazz, funk and neo-soul. Only one problem: where's the church-laden, gospel, Karen Clark-Sheard-inspired soul that we've all come to expect and enjoy? It's not on this album. For some unknown reason, Faith decides to play it safe on "First Lady", perhaps in an attempt to get just enough sales to satisfy her new label Capitol. In that she can claim success; "First Lady" is currently #2 on the Billboard charts.
My final analysis: "First Lady" is a decent album. Nothing more. A good one for the summer BBQ cookouts and certainly if you need to listen to music while you're relaxing, cleaning the house, etc. However, here's to hoping that we get the soulful Faith back on her next release.
Rating: 3.5 BVs out of 5
|Thurs, April 14, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Atlanta, GA - Thursday April 14, 2005 - BlackVibes.com has launched two new services that will allow its site users to research employment/internship opportunities as well as interact with others and discuss a variety of topics (i.e. - politics, music, social issues, etc.). Both of these interactive features are the latest in a series of enhancements that are helping to solidify the popular website as the one-stop web location for all urban entertainment needs.
The Career Center, powered by HBCUConnect.com, demonstrates that the daring entertainment savvy site understands the needs of its young professional user base. What separates searching for employment opportunities at BlackVibes.com from other sites? Chief Operating Officer Marshall Lyons II says "At BlackVibes.com, many of the employers will be actively and aggressively seeking qualified African-American candidates to fill key staff positions. Oftentimes minority candidates don't know where to start their job search. We're letting them know to start with us."
The BlackVibes.com Career Center will enable site users to search hundreds of thousands of jobs. Also, you'll be able to:
Learn The Art of Networking
Access Tips & Tactics On Getting The Job And Career Development
BlackVibes.com also announces its Message Board service. Site users will be able to post messages on relevant topics ranging from the war in Iraq to the legacy of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. as well as the latest social and fashion commentary.
These services are expected to become a great complement to BlackVibes.com's already popular SoundScope and Beat Xchange paid services.
"Our company has a history of providing user-friendly services and features to its users," said Gerald Olivari, Chief Executive Officer of BlackVibes.com. "We are very excited to add these two features to our website because they help to expand upon the strong foundation that has already been built."
BlackVibes.com opened for business in April of 1999. Our purpose is to provide you with a complete on-line source for all your music needs. From Up-to-Date News to our Premium Services geared towards helping your music career flourish, we do our best to provide you with quality service at an affordable price. Our premier service, SoundScope™, has helped artists to promote their music by increasing their exposure. The Beat XChange™ has given producers the opportunity to gain exposure as well as finance their musical endeavors by giving them a place where they can sell their beats. BlackVibes.com also provides other free services such as BV Connect™, music search, email, newsletters, and chat.
BlackVibes.com site users are primarily college-educated, music enthusiasts working in a wide variety of occupations and coming from a multitude of cultural backgrounds. They are also passionate about BlackVibes.com because so few online resources offer so many music opportunities and deliver up-to-the-minute, concise news.
Marshall Lyons II
|Thurs, April 14, 2005 at 11:50 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
She is defiantly no Princess Di. It has been called the most unconventional British royal wedding of modern times as the Prince of Wales married his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles in a modest, low-key ceremony compared to the his 1981 nuptials to Lady Diana Spencer. When Prince Charles married Di 1 million peopled lined the streets and 750 million people watch around the world. The Windsor police estimated the crowd to be a mere 15,000 people on Saturday. Prince Charles and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall finally made it official. A thirty year love affair and two failed marriages they now can live happily ever after.
Not the most beautiful woman Camilla appeared to have lost weight in her two wedding outfits complemented the pounds shed and that was it. The outfit for the civil ceremony was nice, the wide brim hat and the suite, a dress complimented by lace trimming around the bottom was a great choice, but why was it white. Since I was recently honored as Man of International Style, I confidant in my critique. The second outfit was a light green accented in gold floor length suit was ok, but nothing you would not see on any Sunday morning at a black church.
Camilla should have taken a lesson from her daughter that donned a similar style feather hat that was also gold and pulled her hair back. I am tired of the 1980's poor imitation of Crystal form Dynasty quaff that she wears anyway. After the Church of England blessing in the Gothic Vault of St. George's Chapel and C and C's prayer of penitence for their sins, the new couple were off to Scotland. I am not sure if I should call him Prince Charles or Pimp Charles who had the gaul to take Camilla the same honeymoon spot he took Lady Di. Firgie was persona non grate since she was not invited.
Tiger Woods is back. It was an amazing 15-foot birdie that got him his 4th Green Blazer. He has played in The Masters as a professional nine times and four wins is not bad. Now only one man, Jack Nicklaues out shines him with his 6 Green Blazers. In this very column I have been critical of Tiger and some of his questionable statements and actions, but I must give him all due respect for his great accomplishment and his 9th major title at only 29. Back on top he is again the world's Number 1 ranked Professional Golfer. It was great to hear him dedicate the win to his father, Earl Woods, who is very ill and was unable to attend his victory on Sunday. It has been a long time coming and his first major since the 2002 U.S. Open, ten tournaments and three years later, Tiger finally ended his losing drought.
In this mist of Tiger Woods victory Al Lucas died on the same day. A spinal cord injury sustained while trying to make a tackle for the Los Angeles Avengers during an Arena Football League game. The 26 year old Lucas from Macon, Georgia, was taken to California Hospital and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, team physician Dr. Luga Podesta said in a statement.
In the television replays you could see Lucas bending down to make a tackle. The Dragons' ball carrier and blocker tumbled over his head and back, with the blocker's leg appearing to hit Lucas in the head. Lucas fell to the ground and did not move. It seems that he was dead when he landed. Football is an extremely dangerous contact sport and when you take the wrong hit, it can take your life.
While I am on the subject of football I have to mention Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick. Sonya Elliott has filed a civil lawsuit against th
|Mon, April 11, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Hidden Gem of the Week - Common - "Love Is"
As you tried and true hip-hop fans know, the first quarter of every year is the sparsest as far as new music is concerned. Usually, you will have one classic drop (Ghostface Killah in 2000 or Kanye in '04) among a bevy of duds, with things not really heating up until spring. So usually around this time is when I either pull out old albums I haven't listened to in eons or I start piecing new tracks together like Frankenstein's Monster for compilation CD's.
A couple weeks ago, I got a little nostalgic and decided to spend a girlfriend-free evening compiling an "Ultimate" Wu-Tang Clan mp3 CD for my workouts at the YMCA. Whipping out all my Wu and Wu-Fam CD's from the collection was a task in and of itself, but when I finally got `em out - every scuffed up and cracked jewel case in the collection - I went straight down memory lane. I was a fan of the Clan from back in the day, having followed every album or single I could get my grubby mitts on, so every one of those CD's I pulled out put me in a place and space in my life when I was bumping it the hardest. If you couldn't give less of a damn about me as a person, don't read on:
1) Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx - Admittedly, I was a little late catching onto the clan sound. In the early `90's, I was listening to Naughty By Nature, MC Hammer and (ugh) Vanilla Ice. More importantly, I was a preteen/early teenager with a dad who hated rap music and a mom who wouldn't buy me anything with a "Parental Advisory" sticker. So in 1996, after watching the "Incarcerated Scarfaces" and "Ice Cream" videos on the Jukebox Channel, I did the MCA "Get 23,454 CD's for a penny" thing (you know you did it too. Stop frontin'), and copped Meth's Tical album, ODB's The Dirty Version and Raekwon's joint all at once. Of the three, Rae had me hooked like Red Bull and crack rock.
It was a gradual love affair, stretching from my freshman to sophomore years of high school. "Guillotine" would give me goosebumps as soon as that beat dropped and Inspectah Deck broke into verse. "Glaciers of Ice" had me reciting every line from the track, although I didn't bother to figure out what the f*ck Ghost was talking about at the beginning until a couple years ago. I remember digging the "Ice Cream" video more than the song (for obvious reasons); all I knew was I would do anything to get my hands on one of those black GZA shirts Meth had on in the video. I fell in love with RZA's sparse sound that defined the golden-age Wu with this album. Nine years later, at the album's tenth anniversary, it remains one of the most solid albums in my collection. Most importantly, "Verbal Intercourse" features the best Nas verse ever, hands down.
2) Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele - I consider 1992 to 1996 to be the "Renaissance" years of hip-hop, but if I had to pick a "when it all fell apart" year - or the moment when a steady flow of decent albums failed to come out in a given year - it would be 2001. Fortunately, the previous year in hip-hop went out with a bang; all starting with my mans and them Ghostface.
It was January in the second semester of my freshman year in college, and I was in the audience at this date auction. Now, date auctions are corny as hell, but admittedly, this one was hyper than most of the things I went to in my upperclassman years (maybe I was getting older, or maybe things just weren't the same after that). For one of the audience participation "mini games," CD prizes were given out, and my boy Willie Green won the Supreme Clientele album before it was released. I coerced him with a crisp 10-dollar bill to hand that s*it over, because I wasn't gonna rest knowing that someone who really didn't care much had a copy before me.
Now, I had