Friday, July 29th, 2005

Your Handy Hip-Hop Family Tree + New Quannum Site

Whoa…got this link from Cindy Campbell, courtesy the Tampa Bay Times. Click on “Rap’s family tree”. It reminds me of those old rock band charts folks used to do. Endless fun…

Speaking of which, run over to the new Quannum site. More fun in the new world…

posted by @ 2:47 pm | 2 Comments

Friday, July 29th, 2005

Live From Iraq: TV and Country Versions

What do folks think of “Over There”? I was disturbed by some of the ways the characters fit reality-TV race and gender archetypes, but I’m looking forward to the character development, to the potential humanization of those Bush has put into harm’s way as well as the Iraqi people. Bo’s encounter with the IED was wrenching, probably the closest American TV will ever get to actual uncensored pictures of war. (Props should be given also to MTV’s ongoing specials on young soldiers, Iraqi youth, and the war.) If the character development in Over There proceeds, it could be the best argument media has made yet to end this war.

This meanwhile, from today’s AP newswire:

Soldier in Iraq Records Country-Music Hit
July 29, 2005 1:20 PM EDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – His boots battered, his spirits sinking, Luke Stricklin struggled to explain his experiences in Iraq to his family and friends back home who kept asking him what it was like to fight in Baghdad.

“Time calling home was precious,” the soldier said. “That’s the last thing you wanted to talk about. Mom always said I wasn’t telling her the truth, which I wasn’t. I would tell her everything was just fine. Ashley, my wife, couldn’t hear me talk about it. We just talked about anything else.”

He couldn’t speak the words. But he could sing them. He looked at the bottom of his boots one day. The boots he’d worn 12 hours a day for 14 months became the breakthrough.

“Bottom of my boots sure are getting worn,” the 22-year-old Arkansas National Guardsman wrote. “There’s a lot of holes in this faded uniform. Hands are black with dirt and so is my face. Ain’t ever been to hell, but it can’t be any worse than this place.”

He kept on writing, entering lines on his laptop computer or jotting them down in a green waterproof Army-issue notebook he was required to carry while on patrols.

The song became “American by God’s Amazing Grace,” and by the time Stricklin came home from Iraq in March it was on country radio stations from Albuquerque, N.M., to Lima, Ohio, and Lexington, Neb., to Jackson, Tenn.

While writing the lyrics, Stricklin showed them to his Army buddy J.R. Shultz. The two worked out the music and decided to record the song. Stricklin grabbed his $25 guitar – which an Iraqi boy found for him at a Baghdad street market.

“You can’t expect much being over there, but it was good enough. I played the heck out of that thing while I was over there,” said Stricklin, who, on top of the money spent on the guitar, gave the boy a $25 tip for finding it.

The soldiers shut themselves in Shultz’s room in a bombed-out concrete building at their Baghdad camp. They set up the laptop recording software and hooked up a cheap microphone.

“I sat on a five-gallon Igloo water cooler,” Stricklin said. “We called them recording stools.”

With guitar on knee, Stricklin finished the song and e-mailed it home, writing, “Mom, listen to this.”

His mother, Sheila Harrington, said she was excited to see a note from her son, but didn’t expect his creative response to her continuous questions.

“The song started playing and I literally broke down in tears,” she said. “It all came together, the whole scenario of it for me.”

Harrington quickly forwarded the e-mail onto friends and family, but she thought her son’s song deserved a larger audience and she sent a copy to the local Fort Smith radio station. It prompted dozens of requests.

(Stricklin’s song follows Big Neal’s rap album, “Live From Iraq”.)

Upon his return from Iraq four months ago, Stricklin started playing local shows in Fort Smith and before long was on his way to Nashville, Tenn., where he recorded a studio version of the song and his self-titled debut album, due out in September.

Before leaving for Iraq, Stricklin worked in an electric motor shop, but now he’s trying for a full-time music career. Internet chatrooms buzz with talk of him as a rising country star and “American by God’s Amazing Grace” has been released as a single. Stricklin has made appearances on national television and radio shows promoting it.

He hopes for a hit, but his mom is just happy for the lyrics.

“I think I know them by heart,” she said. “I carried the CD with me everyday and listened to it.”

Check the website here.

posted by @ 11:21 am | 0 Comments

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

Underdog Love: Trade Deadline Edition

There’s Sony/BMG Payola, John Roberts, and Jean Charles de Menezes. Then there’s the A’s.

The world is finally realizing what we faithful knew all along. Sorry to Boston and the Twin Cities, even to Houston–and oh yeah: f**k Steinbrenner and the Yankees! (wow, what pleasure I get from saying that…)–it’s all about us.

Yes, the A’s are officially The Hottest Team of The Summer. That means the rest of you may all join the bandwagon now–even Joe Morgan, and the brilliant prognosticators at Street & Smith’s, who picked the A’s to finish fourth behind the Mariners. (That’s the last time I waste $5!)

+ AP here and here

+ New York Times


Trade rumors are at: Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.

And welcome to our little world

posted by @ 10:31 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Can White Hollywood Get Race Right?: Me and Sylvia On "Crash"

So when I was in the BK early this summer, Paul Haggis’ film “Crash” opened and a breathtakingly huge number of my friends went to see it. Most came back raving. So I went to check it out.

What could I say about it? A lot actually.

So I sat down with my homie, the brilliant Sylvia Chan–who writes often for the Bay Guardian–and here’s the result.

If you dig what we did–even if you don’t agree with us–please post your comments on the piece there and let the good folks at Alternet know.

It’d be great to know that Sylvia and I are just two people of many who would love to see more dialogues on race, culture, and politics, on Alternet and other progressive websites.

posted by @ 9:12 pm | 5 Comments

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Wins American Book Award!

Just got word from the Before Columbus Foundation that Can’t Stop Won’t Stop has won an American Book Award!

Here’s the background on the award from the Foundation:

The American Book Awards, established in 1978 by the Before Columbus Foundation, recognize outstanding literary achievement by contemporary American authors, without restriction to race, sex, ethnic background, or genre. The purpose of the awards is to acknowledge the excellence and multicultural diversity of American writing.

I’m not worthy. I really do want to say thanks to all of you for all your love and support. It’s deeply appreciated.

posted by @ 8:19 am | 22 Comments

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Davey D on DJ Firings UPDATED

UPDATED 7/20…longer version

Davey D on the firings of 2 St. Louis DJs last week:

Hip-Hop, The Police and The Media
By Davey D

Last week two St Louis deejays from radio station KATZ (100.3 FM), were suspended after local police deemed their on air remarks inappropriate and called for a boycott of the Clear Channel owned station known as ‘The Beat’. For some this may seem like an unusual story, but in fact there’s a long history of police being able to use their influence and sometimes the law to silence those who wish to speak out against them especially within Hip Hop.

The most glaring example is what happened to NWA after they released the song ‘F–K Tha Police’. The popularity of the song resulted in numerous police departments all over the country stepping to concert venue owners and insisting that contracts be drawn up prohibiting the group from performing the song. In one infamous scenario in Detroit, the group tried to do the song and were bum-rushed by 20 undercover cops.

Although the group went on to do another ‘F–k tha Police’ type song on their second album, the point was clearly made-think twice before you go out and make or play those records. As far as many of the police unions were concerned such incendiary records could actually lead to violence against the police hence it was in their interests to make sure that at the very least these songs were put on the back burner somewhere.

I recall the concern that was raised during the Rodney King riots in April 1992. Disruptions happened up and down the state for two days in various cities including a serious one in San Francisco. During the second days of disruptions I had witnessed a SF police officer chase down an unarmed man hitting him with his bully club. He never caught the guy he pummeled and through all the confusion I saw him turn in my direction and thought he might come after me.

That night I was scheduled to do an on air mix at our radio station KMEL and because I was angry from what I witnessed earlier that day, I was inspired to do something ‘special’. I started off by playing a message someone had left me where they read a heartfelt letter that appeared in the LA Times from a despondent woman who felt like justice would never be done when it came to people being brutalized by police. The letter was read over the instrumental of Gang Starr’s ‘Take It Personal’. The letter combined with the song made a profound statement that left one feeling really pissed at the police. Quite naturally the follow up song was ‘F—K tha Police’.

When I arrived at the station that night our on air jock Kevin Nash had noted that there were reports that the riots in San Francisco had taken a turn for the worse and things were on the verge of really getting out of hand. I told him that I had prepared a special mix for this evening which at the time everyone was gung-ho to hear. As soon as the beat to Gang Starr’s ‘Take It Personal’ hit an eerie silence fell over the room. I remember Nash looking at me with concern asking ‘Hey man do you think we should be doing this? Should we not be calming things down?’ It was too late to stop the mix, but he pulled a couple of carts to put in cue just in case we had to dump the mix and go to something a bit more tame..

Nash knew as well as everyone else in the room from the tone of the letter what the next song was going to be and what it would mean. It’s one thing to bump ‘F—k tha Police’ while driving down the street in your ride with the stereo turned up loud. It’s a whole other thing to play ‘F—k Tha Police’ in the middle of a riot over 69 thousand watts of music power. You’re essentially making not just a bold statement with all the backing of an official established media outlet that happened to be number one in the market at that time. In other words, whether it was intended or not, by playing that song, we had involved ourselves in that evening happenings and if anything crazier jumped off, folks would be factoring in our involvement as both on air deejays and as a radio station. Mind you we were never told we could not play the song, we just knew from all the stink the police and law enforcement had already raised that a line was drawn in the sand and we had crossed it..

When ‘F—k tha Police’ hit the airwaves you could feel the energy…It felt like every ear in the Bay Area was tuned into us. To this day I’m not sure of the reaction if any we may have caused. All I know is that every phone in the station lit up and all of us were too scared to answer any of the lines including the hotline. No one wanted to hear any sort of disapproval or expressed concern about what we were doing that night. We just let the song play as we collectively resigned ourselves to whatever fate would come upon us. At the end of the a statement was made about the police, but as I said earlier they had already laid groundwork to get their message across.. Think twice before you dis…

For folks who wish to go down memory lane for a bit if you recall, around that time in ’92, you had a lot of activity on behalf of law enforcement. First, you had 2Pac catching heat because of the video to the song ‘Trapped’ where he shows a police officer being shot at the end. A few months earlier Pac got beat up by Oakland Police officers who stopped him for jay walking and started making fun of his name. That’s what prompted the song. In any case Pac not only found himself under fire from law enforcement, but also from Vice President Dan Quayle who put him on blast for his anti-police rhetoric.
If that wasn’t enough, Pac also found himself being sued by the family of a slain police officer who stated that the perpetrator was listening to Pac’s music when he shot him..

Also that year Ice T was caught in the crosshairs, when he did a rock song with his group Bodycount called ‘Cop Killer’. To this day people still refer to it as a rap song even though most hip hop fans never heard this distinctly heavy metal tune. Nevertheless, Ice T also caught the ire of law enforcement as well as President Bush sr. His song put into motion a well healed campaign by police agencies which resulted in him being dropped from the Warner Brothers record label and them severing ties with anything that could be classified as ‘gangsta rap’. A lot of people to this day think all that hoop-la was because rappers were talking about ‘bitches’ and ‘hos’ and morally corrupting the youth. The truth of the matter they had pissed off the police and those who we pay to protect and serve via our tax dollars was not trying to have folks talk bad about them on records.

There are lots of other stories that we can point to that show type of swift reaction the police have had toward Hip Hop acts that have spoken out against them. One of the most egregious tales centers around the incidents leading up to the bank robbery conspiracy conviction of the late Bay Area rapper Mac Dre.

Around ’92 scores of young Black men in Mac Dre’s Vallejo neighborhood called the Crest were being rounded up and questioned after a series of bank robberies. The police accused a loosely knit group who resided in Dre’s neighborhood called the Romper Room Crew. Dre responded by releasing a song called ‘Punk Police’ which smashed on VPD for their faulty moves. He gave props to the Romper Room cats and called out an overzealous police sergeant by name. The rest they say is history.

A few weeks after the song was released Dre found himself being monitored by both VPD and the FBI. When he made a road trip to Fresno, California, a passenger he was rolling with, told police that him and Dre had planned to rob a bank-a charge Dre had vehemently denied to his recent death. That accusation coupled with the lyrics in Dre’s song helped get him convicted for conspiracy to rob a bank. He served 5 years.

Two weeks after Dre’s conviction he called into Bay Area radio station KMEL from prison to discuss his situation. He let listeners know he was set up by a police informant. The following day law enforcement showed up at the station in mass and held a closed door meeting with station managers and basically put the fear of God in them. The result was we were not to diss the police on air or take anymore phone calls from prisoners especially Mac Dre.

Dre’s scenario was the start of the whole Hip Hop Police thing which made headlines a couple of years ago. Here in the Bay Area police over the years used their influence to determine what acts could and could not appear at certain concerts or even the type of music one could play at a night club. Those who decided to oppose any police department recommendations or ordinances would find their entertainment permits pulled by these various police agencies and over the top policing of their venue with patrons and even artists being harassed. For years KMEL would have to consult with local police to see if it was ok to have certain rap acts perform at their Summer Jam concert. The people who were most penalized were local rap acts who the police had erroneously determined had gang affiliations (meaning they lived in neighborhoods the police considered dangerous).

For those who think this is far fetched look at the type of steps that have been taken by police unions around the country that have called for the boycott of entertainers who have called for a new trial for political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal who is now on death row in Pennsylvania accused of killing a police officer.

Over the years we’ve heard stories of popular Hip Hop radio deejays and radio stations either being warned or stepped to by the police with the goal of making sure heated rhetoric was toned down and particular songs not played on air…

Folks in Los Angeles may recount a colorful incident that took place with comedian Steve Harvey when he was doing morning drive on KKBT. There was an incident a few years back when an up and coming actor was attending a Halloween Party. He was dressed as a cop and was outside the house looking inside the window when LAPD officers rolled up on him and shot him under the pretense that they thought he was gonna shoot them with his fake gun. Party goers were horrified and angry as was Steve Harvey who promptly got on the air the next morning and blasted the police a new one for their mistake.

The next day after then LA Police Chief Bernard Parks got at Harvey, he went on the air the very next day and apologized for his outburst and said it wasn’t his job to be a police critic and basically toned down any anti-police rhetoric all the way up to the time he left-which was earlier this year.

Another case which falls in the same vein was the overwhelming silence that took place after the Amadu Diallo trial where the cops accused of shooting him were released. If you recall, popular radio station Hot 97 which has made a career promoting beefs, avoided that beef like the plague and never opened up their phone lines or even acknowledged the verdict or sentiments felt by many of its Black and Brown listeners to what was one of the NYC’s most watched trials. Go figure that…

Adding insult to injury was stations like Hot 97 and other all over the country hardly playing the anti-police Brutality collab song put together by Mos Def and Talib Kweli called ‘Hip Hop for Respect’. I want everyone to peep out this article that outlines the group’s initial response and plans of action after the Diallo acquittals and ask yourself the following questions:

1-Why did my favorite radio station for Hip Hop and R&B not show their efforts any love?

2-Why were they not nominated for an NAACP image award for their tireless efforts that year?

the link to the article…

Also peep out this other article about the turbulent relationship between Hip Hop and the police…

As you read the article below, keep in mind that while these two deejays got suspended after threats of a police boycott, you still have stations where the N word and other racial and sexist epithets are used day and day out. You also have the recent case where a Clear Channel station in San Francisco hired a racist producer who penned a parody song for Emmis’ Hot 97 where he made fun of Tsunami victims by calling them ‘Chinks’ and ‘Gooks’.

So Clear Channel will suspend two jocks for making inappropriate remarks about the police the week of a funeral for a slain officer, yet that same company will go out and hire a known racist who made fun of 220 thousand innocent victims to a horrible tragedy. So where do we draw the line as to what’s appropriate and what isn’t?

So the message is clear, our tax dollars which support the public airwaves LICENSED to the Clear Channels of the world can be used to support over the top racist behavior, but those same tax dollars will not tolerate anything said against the police who by the way we pay with our tax dollars… Something to think about…

posted by @ 8:16 am | 3 Comments

Saturday, July 16th, 2005

Hot In Watts

Protests are erupting over police shootings in Watts, including last week’s incident in which Jose Pena and his toddler daughter were killed. Pena reportedly held his daughter up to shield himself as he fired at police.

Meanwhile, the long-standing gang peace treaty has broken down. The PJ Crips from Imperial Counts, backed by the Bounty Hunter Bloods, and the Grape Street Crips are again at war. Aqeela and Daude Sherrills, two of the architects of the treaty in 1992, say the lack of leadership has led to the breakdown. “It’s gonna be a real hot summer,” Grape Street member Dell Hester told LA Weekly reporter Michael Krikorian, who covered the treaty for the LA Times over a decade ago.

posted by @ 10:02 am | 7 Comments

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

‘Tsunami Song’ Co-Host Tells All

From today’s New York Daily News, infamous co-host of Miss Jones, Todd Lynn apologizes for the ‘Tsunami Song’ and comments against Asian Americans which has left his career broken.

He confirms that the impetus for the ‘Tsunami Song’ was competition with Clear Channel’s WWPR–specifically, the move of Star to Power’s morning show. Delgado, of course, just started his career up again at Clear Channel’s WILD here in the Bay. Miss Jones is also still on the air at Hot 97…:

“Another take on ‘Tsunami’

Fired staffer rips Hot 97



Todd Lynn, fired by Hot 97, tells his side.

Todd Lynn doesn’t defend the ‘Tsunami Song’ that led to his firing in January from WQHT (97.1 FM). ‘A very, very bad mistake,’ he called it. But he also thinks he’s taken too much of the blame. ‘Management heard the song and approved it,’ he said. ‘After it aired, they said keep playing it. They thought it was great until the protests started. Then they fired me and [producer] Rick Delgado and said, ‘We don’t condone this,’ as if it were all Todd’s and Rick’s fault. But they did condone it.’

The ‘Tsunami Song,’ which ran a week on the morning show, was intended as a parody of do-gooder disaster relief projects. But its ethnic slurs and graphic lines about victims sparked a firestorm that reportedly cost Hot 97 several million dollars in ads.

Morning host Miss Jones, DJ Envy and assistant Tasha Hightower were suspended for two weeks. Delgado was fired for writing the song and Lynn primarily because he joked on the air, ‘I’m gonna start shooting some Asians’ – a gag motif he used often, but which he admits was ill-advised this time.

The station also donated a million dollars to tsunami relief, and while critics wanted more, the station has gone forward, regaining its ads and rising slightly in the ratings.

WQHT yesterday issued a statement saying, ‘Hot 97 stands firmly behind the strict disciplinary actions that followed the unfortunate ‘Tsunami Song’ incident, which included terminating Todd Lynn.’

Delgado was hired last week to produce the morning show at KYLD in San Francisco. Lynn, who has a master’s in education and was a teacher before he went into standup comedy, hasn’t done so well.

‘I was doing the voice-overs for Budweiser. Gone,’ he said. ‘A development deal with Buena Vista. Gone. I’ve lost gigs at comedy fests. It’s affected my family, too. I was engaged, and now that’s shot all to hell.

‘Almost everyone else involved with the song is still there, and I’m getting killed.’

That’s one reason, he said, he’s now breaking his silence on the subject. He’s scheduled to appear today with Opie and Anthony on XM Satellite Radio.

The real root of the ‘Tsunami Song,’ he said, was Hot 97’s ‘deep fear’ about Star coming to a rival station, WWPR (105.1 FM).

‘They were terrified of Star,’ he said. ‘We were all under constant pressure to push the envelope. They told me to be an antagonist, be ‘edgy.’ They told me I was the agitator and Miss Jones was the mediator. As long as we didn’t violate the FCC, they said, everything was cool.

‘When Rick wrote the song, none of us really liked it, but it was the kind of thing they’d been telling us they wanted. This and Smackfest, which was the dumbest thing I ever heard of. So Rick, Envy, Tasha and I sang it. Miss Jones wasn’t there. We recorded it on Friday, and on Monday Rick said management told him the lawyers had cleared it and go ahead and play it.’

Lynn said that after the controversy erupted, he asked if he could apologize on the air and was told no.

‘So I’d like to apologize now,’ he said. ‘The song should have been pulled, and I should have been more sensitive.’

Originally published on July 13, 2005

posted by @ 1:22 pm | 8 Comments

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Reggie Hudlin To Program BET

According to, Reginald Hudlin (not to be confused with Reggie Dennis!)–best known for the “House Party” films, “Boomerang”, the late great HBO show “Cosmic Slop”, and “The Boondocks” adaptation for Cartoon Network–has been hired by BET as president of entertainment.

This could be the long-awaited signal that BET will finally move towards foriginal programming. The decision comes after last month’s shift of power at the network from founder Bob Johnson to Debra Lee.

The interesting twist–Hudlin is a close associate and friend of Aaron McGruder, who has been one of the most merciless critics of BET. Has Hudlin sold his soul? Is BET really serious about programming? Stay tuned…

posted by @ 12:48 pm | 1 Comment

Monday, July 11th, 2005

Danyel Smith and Kim Osorio on Bliss and Women In Hip-Hop

Thanks to our homie Hashim, Danyel Smith and Kim Osorio are blogging about women in hip-hop, the industry, and a ton of other stuff. Great reading…

posted by @ 11:14 am | 0 Comments

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