Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cool Geek

Lost Nintendo Commercial Featuring ODB, The RZA and Prince Paul

Greatest commercial ever? Yup! Hearing RZA scream “and the BORDERS” is a surprising effective advertising technique.


Props: TheRapUp

Awareness Politics

Can Hip-Hop Change The Style Of Politics? : NPR

NPR asks an interesting question.  One that seems to come up every election season with increasing alacrity.  Can Hip-Hop Change The Style Of Politics?

I have to say that my suspicion is no.  Hip hop, like many other things with a following and with celebrity backing, can have an impact on changing public opinion.  Sure, it’s been crucial at raising awareness of many issues and probably has made a few people start thinking about things in a particularly different manner.  However, it cannot do it alone.

To get a better sense of the issues, NPR interviewed Lester Spence, an associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University.  They had him to discuss his book: Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics.

The audio interview is 12 minutes if you can spare it.  Otherwise, there’s also a transcript that will let you scan the interview.  It’s actually a fascinating piece, and if you have the time I strongly suggest you take a read/listen.  Here’s a snippet.

MARTIN: So the idea that hip-hop is a core sort of truth teller, its primary purpose is to say sort of uncomfortable truth. Has that always been a part of its history?

SPENCE: Yes, it has. Hip-hop starts and rap starts as a way, as a vehicle for working class, black and Latino youth to express themselves and, although there is this boastful element to it, where you have MCs talking about how dope they are, etc., etc., people have always made the attempt, at least, to connect them to everyday reality.

MARTIN: What is not in dispute is that hip-hop is associated with a certain generation, or the rise of a certain generation with its own kind of preferences around music and style and a beat and so forth. And it doesn’t seem illogical to think that a generation that grew up with hip-hop as its primary musical form would also kind of take it into the voting booth, you know, as it were, or take it into the world of political activism.

Here’s a moment that crystallizes this for you very clearly, which you talk about in the book. The former Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, elected in 2001 at the age of 31 – of course, he comes from a political family. His mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, was the long time congressional representative from the Detroit area.

And you describe one of his inaugural events where he enters the room, but rather than silencing the crowd in the traditional manner to speak, he – finish telling us about that scene and tell us why you found it particularly powerful.

SPENCE: Yeah. I mean, so I was there. There were a number of DJs spinning house hip-hop all night long and he comes in while Biz Markie is DJing and Biz Markie is an old school MC who’s transitioned into being a DJ. And around the time the mayor walks in, Biz starts spinning his own stuff, like "You Got What I Need." Right.

And Kwame comes in and, instead of calming everybody down, you know, he takes up the mic and he starts singing with Biz Markie in the song. And then we all start singing with him. And I remember saying, like, man, this was the most charged political moment of my life. It was like, finally, there was somebody like us in office.


Black Star performs on Fallon

Watch them perform Little Brother and You Already Knew on the Jimmy Fallon show.


All courtesy of Blackstarhub


Green Notebook


This guy lost something precious. All he wants back is his notebook. It’s not hip hop related but this guy does sound like a musician.

Help if you can. Let’s spread this around a little!


Will Shortz is illin’

Okay, not really.  But Shortz and a fan got into a little spat over the definition of the word “illin'” and it’s inclusion as a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle.  For those of you who don’t know him, Shortz is the NYT crossword editor, and seems to be a pretty nice guy.

A clue in Saturday’s New York Times crossword has caused an Internet uproar over the correct meaning of the word “illin’.”

The divisive clue, 28-down, read, “Wack, in hip-hop,” and the correct answer provided was ILLIN.

UPDATE: Colbert had a field day with this, and invited Mike D from the Beastie Boys up to discuss.  According to Mike D, Shortz is wrong.



Drake and Common are beefin

Drake like ‘Canada Dry,’ says Common in rap feud.

I don’t even know what to say about this.  I have much love for Common, and I’ve got to say that Drake is growing on me (and I’ve always got a soft spot for him thanks to his Degrassi days), but it’s hard to imagine two less hard rappers getting into something.

Common calls the Toronto-born rapper “Canada Dry” in a remix of “Stay Schemin,’” a Rick Ross track that features Drake: “I’m taking too long with this amateur guy/You ain’t wet nobody, n—a, you Canada Dry

Common called the kid ginger ale.

Lord I can’t wait to see where this goes.


Things Kids will never have to worry about


Amusing article from Forbes about things our kids will never have to worry about thanks to technology.  This one especially struck home

8) Having to endlessly search to find unique content.

Related to the previous point, the digital generation will never recall a time when they had to hunt for the obscure media content they desired. When I was a teenager, I spent an absurd amount of time and money trying to find (and sometimes import) rare vinyl or CD versions of singles or albums from my favorite artists. I will never forget the day in the early 1980s when, after a long search, I finally found a rare Led Zeppelin B-Side (“Hey Hey What Can I Do”) on a “45” in a dusty bin at a small record store. It was like winning the lottery! Today, virtually any piece of desired content, no matter how obscure, is just a quick search away.

It’s true.  Our kids will never know quite how hard it was to find a rare album or single.  These days, once they’re found, these type of things often end up as MP3s and publicly distributed.  Beautiful in terms of sharing, but some of the experience is lost.


NME’s Top 100 bands of 2012

This is not mostly hip hop, but you’ll love it anyways.  It’s a list of NME’s top 100 bands to watch out for in 2012, and they’ve linked to soundcloud so you can hear a track from each of them.  This will keep you busy for DAYS.

The only one I recognize off the top of my head is 212 by Azealia Banks.  Vulgar, but still blowing up the charts.


Questlove’s interview


Questlove gave a nice long interview to the Globe and Mail.  It’s a fascinating insight into the evolution of the Roots and into the production of Undun, and is well worth the read.

Questlove, on the narrative theme and structure of Undun, a song-cycle that comments on the often short, tragic lives of African Americans, some who die from bullets and some from bad diets. The album begins with the sound of a cardiac flat-line, chronologically working its way back in reverse: “There’s age 23, and there’s 48. Violence is the hooded stranger of death that’s around the corner that you have to avoid. And then there’s your heart. High cholesterol is that same monster waiting for you at age 48. We wanted to tell a story, not personalizing it where the listener would have pity. We didn’t want the protagonist to be a villain or a hero. We thought it would be more interesting to do the album as the voice inside of his head. Also, it was a challenge to tell a story backward in reverse linear fashion, and to tell it in a short manner. Most of our albums are sprawling 78-minute magnum opuses of sound and rhyme. We wanted to cut it by half, but to have the same impact.”

No mention of the Redford Stephens character that the album is supposedly designed for, but there is a little hint at an album that could have been with the late Amy Winehouse.  He says “She wanted to do an artistic jazz record, with the two of us and Mos Def and Raphael Saadiq.”  That would have been amazing.


Things our kids will never have to worry about