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|Tue, January 25, 2005 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Hidden Gem of the week: "Now" - Big Pooh feat. MURS.
Let's get at it right off the gate.
I know this is a new column and all, but I got some long-brewing concerns to get off my chest, and what better medium to do so than with you dear, rhyme-hardened readers? I thought of putting this off for a while at first, but I may as well not bother p*ssyfooting around and get straight to the meat and potatoes:
Biggie and Tupac. Overrated. As hell. Let me count the ways.
It's no secret that one's artistic props are elevated by their demise. But such has never been more obvious than with the ludicrously oft-attributed "best emcees of all time" titles for Christopher Wallace and Tupac Shakur. Get two so-called hip-hop fans (17-year-olds whose first rap record was 50 Cent) in the same room and the conversation will eventually shift to "No, dude...lemme tell you why `Pac is the greatest!" "Dude! You're buggin'! Lemme tell you why BIG is the greatest!"
The tragic thing is that boxing all of what hip-hop is and has been with the memories of two dead martyrs is perpetuated in the lyrics of existing rappers. When I turn on BET (and that's a scarce "when") and every damn artist on 106th and Park gives props to "the best that ever did it," I feel like the entire culture takes a blow in the kidneys. Maybe artists say it because it's the thing to do, and maybe they actually mean it.
Either way, they are woefully misguided.
Frighteningly enough, there are so many dime-store rappers trying to emulate Biggie and Tupac that come up short on their greatness while failing as emcees in their own right. You got The Game yelling their damn names every third verse on his new, highly unbalanced album; Master P and No Limit completely fleecing `Pac's persona in the label's prime; and P. Diddy trying to convince the world that he didn't sign Shyne because he sounded eerily like a certain deceased rotund rapper.
But it's all my loose opinion without a close examination of the facts. What factors make a primo emcee? If we're talking longevity, both dead guys lose immediately. When Big was killed in 1996, LL Cool J had already been in the game for over a decade, having recently released his sixth album Mr. Smith (though Uncle L is still around, keep in mind this isn't the "quality" portion of the analysis). Meanwhile, Biggie was gone with just one LP under his belt, and he didn't have anywhere near the time to truly prove his career stamina.
Stage presence? Maybe...Biggie could really move a crowd, but there's only so much energy a 300+ pound man can really muster from an audience. The colorful wackiness of an Outkast show or the unfettered musical vibe of road dogs The Roots layeth the smaketh down on what just about any other rapper could muster on stage. Big and Pac are no exceptions.
The message and impact? People always deify Tupac as this deep, inspired brotha cloked in a Black Panther Party-inspired wisdom, when in actuality he was kinda just another n*gga talking about gun clappin', b*tches and Dee Whiteman while thinly veiled in an activist fašade. Big? He had some decent stories, but he mostly made selling drugs, partying, bullsh*tting, and kickin' it sound reeeeeeally appealing. Ready to Die made a controversial lyrical impact in the mid 1990's, even though cats like 2 Live Crew and N.W.A. had already shocked the masses with their gritty, uncensored darts. Guns, drugs and poverty in the ghetto? We know, fellas...nothing profound this way comes.
Lyrics and Flow? I'm sorry, but there are several cats out today that could wreck Biggie, and even more so Tupac.
|Tue, January 25, 2005 at 6:03 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Verizon is looking for students who are 2004 graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). If you know of someone graduating from a HBCU this year with a degree in Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, Information Technology, General Business, Finance or Marketing, please have them forward their resume to:
to be considered for career opportunities within Verizon
O, The Oprah Magazine is looking to hire fall interns in the Fashion
and Style Departments. Candidates must be highly organized, detail-
oriented and be able to juggle multiple tasks at once. Prior
internship experience preferred, but not required. This opportunity
is available for college students in need of credit hours and recent
graduates who are available to start immediately, full-time from
10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 5 days a week.
Send resumes with a cover letter to:
Cindy M. del Rosario, Associate Editor
O, The Oprah Magazine
or call 212-903-5149.
|Fri, December 03, 2004 at 7:16 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
On a cold Thursday night it seemed the winter season no doubt had the Uptown NYC blocks frigid and desolate. That is, with the exception of 128th and Amsterdam. On this particular corner is the Cherry Lounge, which was warm and cozy. Music fans, patrons, and industry execs lined the trendy spacious lounge to celebrate the release of Urban Mystic's new project Ghetto Revelations. If you walked over to the venue blindfolded to see only the interior, you would think your were at some trendy club in midtown.
Hosted by NY's 107.5 WBLS, the event began by getting the fellas energized with a fashion show...a swimsuit collection fashion show. Mystic then took to the stage with a brief 30 minute set. He performed songs off his latest effort and even went into a rendition of Silent Night (Temptations version) - finally ending with his current single, Where Were You?. Mystic Urban's album, released on Sobe Entertainment and Warner Bros., arrived in stores this past Tuesday Nov.30th just in time for the 4th Quarter rush.
To listen to Urban Mystic or for more information, visit his Artist Page.
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Tue, November 23, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
It seems Friday night, the Pistons an the Pacers weren't the only ones squaring off. Two Atlanta radio DJ's took their feud public on the airwaves. DJ Cisco and DJ Yogi both of 89.3 WRFG Atlanta held the first of a two-part DJ Battle live on "The Remix," a popular ATL hip-hop show. "The Remix" is hosted by Gerald Olivari and DJ Cisco, who had home-slot advantage, thus DJ Yogi went first and DJ Cisco went last for the first round of the spin-off.
The idea for the on air DJ Battle was sparked when Olivari said on the air that he thought DJ Cisco was the best hip-hop DJ at the station. Shortly thereafter, D Cas of the show "Casual Conversations" called in and said that Cisco was 'aight', but he thought his co-host, DJ Yogi was better. Thus they elevated it to on air contest. When the 89.3 staff took it to the phones to get ATL's opinion, both DJ's received positive responses on the air, but more people called in to show support for DJ Cisco.
The highlight of the battle was when the witty Olivari pretended as if he was taking a call on the air, while actually playing old clips of D Cas (the opposition). The clips included him saying "DJ Cisco is really putting it down" and "Atlanta make sure you support the Remix!" Calling the studio was reminiscent of watching a good Dave Chappelle episode as laughter overtook the background.
Listen to the following MP3 to hear how that happened:
It looks like DJ Cisco and The Remix pulled ahead of DJ Yogi and Casual Conversations in Round one. However, stay tuned because it will definitely not get any easier. Part two of the battle will be Tuesday night/Wednesday morning from 2a-6a EST. This time DJ Cisco will go first and DJ Yogi will go last.
Listen Online: http://www.wrfg.org
Vote Online: http://www.wrfg.org/features/shows/shows-group.asp?snid=22
For more information about The Remix: http://www.wrfg.org/features/shows/shows-desc.asp?showid=62
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Tue, October 26, 2004 at 2:13 AM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
TVT gives the world a collection of some of the South's crunk originators. Now that we're fully aware as to what crunk music is exactly, it's interesting to see where this sub-genre's roots are based. Going back as far as UGK's "Pocket Full Of Stones" (remix) and Three 6 Mafia's "Tear Da Club '97," the compilation provides a musical understanding, albeit not very lyrical, of how the South was won.
For those who don't feel an affinity towards crunk music, this might not be the CD of choice for you, unless you feel the need to enlighten your "get wild, get live, get f*cked up" curiosities.
TVT does make sure to show the ladies some love by including Gangsta Boo's classic "Where Dem Dollas At." Truly for crunk faithful, the compilation still left me with one question: Why doesn't it have any Master P tracks on it?
For more info on this and other TVT releases, click here
|Thurs, October 21, 2004 at 11:50 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly, is facing steamy allegations from Andrea Mackris, an associate producer on O'Reilly's show, who has filed a lawsuit detailing a sexually explicit verbal exchange. However, O'Reilly claims Mackris' suit is an attempt at extortion. In a press conference Benedict Morelli, Mackris' attorney read from the lawsuit and portrayed O'Reilly as a kinky suitor requesting phone sex: "Just use your vibrator to blow off
steam...You have a vibrator don't you? Every girl does."
O'Reilly took the offense and filed a lawsuit alleging Mackris of attempting to extort $60 million in hush money from him and the FOX News Channel. In side sources reveal Mackris began to making her high dollar demands after the alleged sexually explicit conversation. Mackris' lawyer Morelli declined to say whether the conversation was tape recorded and also denied his client is only after big bucks. O'Reilly attempted to shred Mackris credibility, claiming she never complained to anyone in authority at FOX, and that the $60 million demand is motivated by greed and Morelli's political connections to the Democratic Party and John Kerry.
He further stated that her Morelli perceives FOX and he to be politically conservative and supporters of the Republican Party. O'Reilly stated on Wednesday on his radio show that the timing of the allegations was quite suspicious. "It is not an accident the extortion attempt came three weeks before the election." It is agreed
that the two had a close working relationship. O'Reilly's lawsuit acknowledges he and Mackris had dinner and cocktails together and that on one occasion they were even alone in his hotel room to watch a presidential press conference. But despite Mackris claims, there is a red flag. Mackris at one point left FOX to work at CNN, yet returned even though she claims O'Reilly harassed her during her first tenure with FOX. Sources say that her initial boss was terminated due to sexual harassment and O'Reilly promised he would get her old job back.
I am not surprised a staunch conservative is not so conservative when it comes to sex. O'Reilly is an out of touch right wing conservative constantly questioning the moral character of African American's, entertaining pathological myths, and criticizing Hip Hop misogyny and violence. We all remember how the pervert got Atlanta based rapper Ludacris removed from that Pepsi campaign. The lawsuit details the nasty thoughts of a 55-year-old man and his dirty fantasies. A desire for threesomes, graphic details of Thai sex shows, and his physical endowment were a few subjects covered during his phone conversations. The tidbits are all in the lawsuit and suggest that Mackris, a 33 year old Columbia School of Journalism grad, was taking notes or had a tape recorder running while O'Reilly was getting his rocks off. The man even suggested Mackris and a college friend have sex with him. Now on that one, she will have a witness to support her claims. O' Reilly seems to be taking notes from some another news worthy hypocrite.
Conservative Rush Limbaugh, whose prejudices include almost everyone, is a drug addict making a living downing people that participate in behavior that he secretly desires. O'Reilly seems to be a freak in denial, and he and video hoes may have more in common than we could have even imagined. O'Reilly a bully that loves gloating in the face of others has pushed his alleged victim to far or either his cash for trips down pleasure lane dried up. It is amazing how quick he is to play the victim. We should not fooled by his offensive act, further proof, to me at least, that he was too cheap to pay for his trick. That is right O'Reilly; you have been consumed by your deep dark lustful desires, but like a crack he
|Mon, October 11, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
It was a star-studded night for Hip-Hop last Sunday, October 3, 2004. VH-1 held the taping of the Hip-Hop Honors ceremony hosted by the lovely Vivica A. Fox, with support from female Hip-Hop pioneer MC Lyte. Among the attendees and presenters were Salt and Pepa, Taye Diggs, P. Diddy, Fab 5 Freddy, Ed Lover, Dr. Dre, Ice-T, and Hammer. Others included Rosalyn Sanchez, KRS-One, DMC, Michael Eric Dyson, and Wyclef, who barely let Foxxy Brown get a word in during their moment.
Highlights from the show include a live performance of the summer's anthem "Lean Back" and a rendition of BDP's "South Bronx" by Terror Squad and Fat Joe. The world's greatest entertainer Doug E. Fresh blessed the crowd along with cuts, mixes, and scratches from Clark Kent, Kid Capri, Grand Master Flash, and...Kid Rock? Nasir Jones also known as Nas graced the stage with an unlikely yet refreshing collaborator. His father joined him on stage to play the trumpet and sing the hook for the joint Bridging the Gap off his upcoming Streets Disciple album. They both stepped out in blue fitted Yankee hats and matching black suits.
Later on that night, the Queensbridge legend took to the stage in a bandana worn backwards to pay homage to the late great Tupac Shakur. Nas delivered at heartfelt yet, mediocre performance of Pac's Keep Ya Head Up as the late Makaveli's sister looked on tearing up. Nas struggled with energy and delivery, not mention he did his fair share of adlibbing as he undoubtedly gazed at the teleprompter for help. Astoundingly, the New York crowd did not seem to even notice the difference.
It was just another reminder that NYC must be smacked in the face with hits in order to acknowledge that there are other cities putting it down. Atlanta certainly did that this past year. 2Pac was a gifted talented poet. It was amazing to see how different his influence was in New York, a city who seemed to discover him circa All Eyez On Me. One must wonder, had Nas delivered the same performance outside of NY would he have been let off the hook so easily?
The Beastie Boys, Sugar Hill Gang, Chic, and Public Enemy graced the stage doing the classic joint Fight the Power. It was good to see Flava Flav and Chuck D on stage. Two generations of Rock Steady Crew breakers blessed the stage as honorees DJ Hollywood and Kool Herc looked on.
All in all it was a magical night that should come across as such even on TV. The special will air this Tuesday, October 12, 2004 at 9pm EST on VH-1.
Syek Semaj is a Senior Writer for BlackVibes.com
|Wed, September 29, 2004 at 11:59 PM|Send Blog · Share on Facebook · Bookmark on Delicious
When Talib Kweli's parents named him, they couldn't have known how prophetic the designation would be. Now, 30 years later, Kweli's music is distinctly the "truth seeking" art form for which his name defines.
The son of college professors got a slow start in music. In 1998, he
teamed with Mos Def to create the conscious duo Black Star, which had dismal sales, but brought Kweli's talent aboveground.
His 2000 release was a compilation of sorts with Cincinnati beatmaker
Hi-Tek. That project, while further establishing a humble following for the Brooklyn rapper, failed to gain Kweli mainstream popularity.
His subsequent 2002 release and first solo album, "Quality" ended a
two-year hiatus, but only made a luke-warm impression on the charts. The Kanye West-produced first single off that record, "Get by" did however make its way onto urban and top 40 radio playlists.
And despite mediocre sales of his music, Kweli is as original and entertaining as he is thought provoking and socially critical.
His music addresses a plethora of social ills, domestic and abroad,
which could account for his small---but-growing fan base. Artist's who stray from hip-hop's usual course of bling, gratuitous violence and sex are mostly ignored by mainstream audiences.
He speaks to that issue on "Ghetto show" from his latest project "The
beautiful struggle," which dropped Tuesday.
"If lyrics sold, than truth be told, I'd probably be just as rich and
famous as Jay-Z."
The relevancy and potency of his lyrics are the most emphasized on the song for which the record is named. This song details the misconceptions people have about him and his political beliefs, while exposing contradictions within the music industry.
For the record's single, "I try," he teamed back up with West and Mary J. Blige, to summons the soulful sound of "Get by." On this track, Kweli relates the plight of misguided youth who idolize gun wielding rappers.
Every song has a heady dose of perspective on current events. It plays like a lyrical social studies book.
Unlike his past records, he managed to get room in the budget for such
A-list producer's as Just-Blaze, the Neptunes and Kanye West. He also
worked with former partner in crime Hi-Tek for several of the record's tracks.
One of hip hop's few conscious rappers, Kweli is among the likes of
yesterday's De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest and today's Roots and
Common. Whether or not the album will go platinum is doubtful. But
nothing can take away from Kweli's superior lyrical prowess and his ability to inspire, teach and motivate through his music.