Friday, March 31st, 2006

Two Brothers With Checks: Seattle, Portland

Curse that puny digital camera flash!

Back off the road for a few minutes. Portland, we love you. Despite the steady Twin Peaks-style drizzle, there was so much love, books, music, art, and good food in the city, it never felt cold. Big shout to Chris Riser and the Powell’s crew, Connie and the global hip-hop headz, Chris Funk and The Decemberists, John Jay and the W+K crew, Kevin and the Nike crew. In Seattle, calling out to Joann, Jeb and Trev from AR-15, and Drew Wobbly. Like the UCLA Bruins, we’re coming back.

And while we’re on the topic, here’s a great report on why the West will win this weekend, no matter what yall East Coasters say. ACC? Big East? Psssssh. Fall back, and take ya Yankees and Red Sox and Dipset with you. It’s all about the Best Coast in ’06!

posted by @ 5:05 pm | 3 Comments

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Rapid Fire :: Random Droppings On The Road


The Seattle Public Library turns ya boy into SFJ.

+ Thank you to everyone who came out last night to the UW Bookstore. Toure and I say: we love you Seattle!

+ Spring has barely sprung. But the streets are talking. Millions! Here’s Juan Gonzalez on the national walkouts. (And BTW, did anyone peep HBO’s Walkout? Some sort of pop-cultural prophecy, loop-of-history thing. Lalo, I know you hate Eddie, but hey, you gotta admit this is kinda cool.)

And while we’re at it, Paris is still burning , and it looks more and more like 1968 everyday. No doubt this will intensify the anti-hip-hop campaigns.


Buy this book, or steal it!

Random thoughts in between massive amounts of work while road-tripping (an expanding thread):

+ Prince’s new record “3121” isn’t great, but it’s not bad. The lyrics are trite, certainly less interesting than “Musicology”. On the other hand, the songwriting is incredible, but something’s wrong with the mix. The textures are there, especially the percussion and his guitar, but they’re mixed very airlessly, antiseptically, with not nearly the amount of ecentricity and experimentation the sounds deserve. How good could “Black Sweat” be with Jazze Pha working the knobs? How good could “Love” be with, say, Timbaland behind the boards? Doesn’t he need the work right about now anyway?

+ George Mason is what sports is all about. Speaking of which, just began reading Dave Zirin. You must check out What’s My Name, Fool? Brilliant. My new favorite sportswriter, next to Scoop Jackson and William Rhoden, and sometimes-sportswriter Will Blythe.

posted by @ 2:58 pm | 7 Comments

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

500,000 Strong In Los Angeles!

Doesn’t this say it all?
Photo Credit: SCHA-LA on LA Indymedia

Reports are 500,000 in today’s Gran Marcha in Los Angeles to protest the Immigration bill! (LA Times headline is here.

Yes, it’s spring. And the youth are getting restless.

Thank you to Sister Rosa for the Indymedia link.

posted by @ 8:13 pm | 1 Comment

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Mike Davis: Who Is Killing New Orleans?

More politics of abandonment. Planned shrinkage continues on the Gulf Coast, with even the Black middle class as targets. Mike Davis in the new issue of The Nation on Who Is Killing New Orleans?:

The paramount beneficiaries of Katrina relief aid have been the giant engineering firms KBR (a Halliburton subsidiary) and the Shaw Group, which enjoy the services of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh (a former FEMA director and Bush’s 2000 campaign manager). FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, while unable to explain to Governor Blanco last fall exactly how they were spending money in Louisiana, have tolerated levels of profiteering that would raise eyebrows even on the war-torn Euphrates. (Some of this largesse, of course, is guaranteed to be recycled as GOP campaign contributions.) FEMA, for example, has paid the Shaw Group $175 per square (100 square feet) to install tarps on storm-damaged roofs in New Orleans. Yet the actual installers earn as little as $2 per square, and the tarps are provided by FEMA. Similarly, the Army Corps pays prime contractors about $20 per cubic yard of storm debris removed, yet some bulldozer operators receive only $1. Every level of the contracting food chain, in other words, is grotesquely overfed except the bottom rung, where the actual work is carried out. While the Friends of Bush mine gold from the wreckage of New Orleans, many disappointed recovery workers–often Mexican or Salvadoran immigrants camped out in city parks and derelict shopping centers–can barely make ends meet…

The Republican hostility to New Orleans, of course, runs deeper and is nastier than mere concern with civic probity (America’s most corrupt city, after all, is located on the Potomac, not the Mississippi). Underlying all the circumlocutions are the same antediluvian prejudices and stereotypes that were used to justify the violent overthrow of Reconstruction 130 years ago. Usually it is the poor who are invisible in the aftermath of urban disasters, but in the case of New Orleans it has been the African-American professional middle class and skilled working class. In the confusion and suffering of Katrina–a Rorschach test of the American racial unconscious–most white politicians and media pundits have chosen to see only the demons of their prejudices. The city’s complex history and social geography have been reduced to a cartoon of a vast slum inhabited by an alternately criminal or helpless underclass, whose salvation is the kindness of strangers in other, whiter cities. Inconvenient realities like Gentilly’s red-brick normalcy–or, for that matter, the pride of homeownership and the exuberance of civic activism in the blue-collar Lower Ninth Ward–have not been allowed to interfere with the belief, embraced by New Democrats as well as old Republicans, that black urban culture is inherently pathological.

posted by @ 1:34 pm | 3 Comments

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Stop Complaining: Whiny Kids Grow Up To Be Conservatives

It’s scientifically proven! Of course, the study was done in Berkeley…

posted by @ 12:32 pm | 0 Comments

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

US Gets Hyphy

Whoa, E-40 opens at #3 Billboard. I’d wager this is probably the biggest Yay rap debut ever. (Don’t think Hammer or Too Short ever started out this high…but I could be wrong.) Am I proud? Yep.

Other links:

+ Here’s O-Dub’s take on E-40 and prospects for the hyphy movement.

+ Eric Arnold catches the hype in Emeryville.

+ Peep Joseph Patel’s homecoming MTV production of My Block.

posted by @ 5:46 am | 0 Comments

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Reggae and Homophobia

Missed this while on tour last month, but this is a great piece
on dancehall and homophobia by Elena Oumano
, among the best pieces she’s ever written.

Slavery and colonialism are gone, but Jamaica’s 1962 independence masked the economic abandonment of an absentee plantation worked past profitability. The queen gifted her former colony, though, bequeathing Jamaica her church, Bible, and buggery laws. That little-old-lady-in-the-Cotswolds mentality is more recent, and therefore, more vivid in the Jamaican consciousness than any dim genetic recollections of pre-colonial Africa. Even the Rastaman who rejects church as part of the Babylonian West is not immune. Folded into his message of black self-reliance (and for some, separatism) and an African utopia is good old-fashioned King Jamesian fire and brimstone for Babylonian abominations like homosexuality. Yet mounting academic research suggests that the West’s legacy to Africa is homophobia, not homosexuality.

posted by @ 1:19 pm | 1 Comment

Monday, March 20th, 2006

The Story of X-Clan

Brian Coleman, author of Rakim Told Me, tells The Story of X-Clan’s classic first album. Rest In Power, Professor X. Davey D and Wendy Day’s tributes are here.

One side note: In recent months, Brother J has reformed X-Clan and been on the road with Damian Marley. Brother J is now based in Los Angeles, as is the group. Although Brother J and Professor X stayed in touch over the years, Professor X was not part of the new group.

UPDATE: Here’s the official X-Clan statement on Professor X’s passing…

On March 17, 2006 hip-hop culture lost a pioneer and a front line general. Lumumba Carson, aka Professor X of the X-Clan/ founder of the Blackwatch Movement, passed away from spinal meningitis in Brooklyn, NY. For those not in the know, X-Clan’s mission was always to spread and influence pride in Black culture by fusing the freedom fighter mentality of the Black Nationalist Movement with the power of hip-hop. And while X-Clan – consisting of rapper Brother J, DJ Sugar Shaft and producers/elders Professor X and Grand Architect Paradise – released only two albums, both To The East, Blackwards (1990) and Xodus (1992) are considered hip-hop classics.

With the passing of Professor X, Grand Verbalizer Funkinlesson “Brother J” and X-Clan, consisting of Ultraman Ra Hanna, ACL, DJ FatJack, Kumu M. Haynes, Master China and Grand Arkutect Paradise, will carry forward the message into the next generation of X-Clan.

“With regret, Professor X’s appearance was not previously recorded to include his energy on the project, but the blueprint to resurrect the efforts of the Blackwatch Movement of this millennium will be carried out,” emphasized Brother J. “We of the X- Clan sincerely hope that the efforts of Professor X will not be overlooked as the history of the original X-Clan has been.”

Professor X’s history in hip-hop reaches back further than the X-Clan messenger group. PX has been responsible for show promotion and management for many groups in Hip Hop’s golden era, including Whodini. His Blackwatch Movement was and is a powerful influence to many of the musicians, poets and producers that use hip-hop and the freedom of speech wisely. The signature phrase of Professor X is truly legendary in hip-hop history; “Vanglorious! this is protected by the Red, the Black and the Green with a key sissiieeeeeeeee!”

Our prayers go out to Lumumba’s family; he has done much work for the upliftment of oppressed people worldwide. We salute the life of our Brother Eternally.

posted by @ 8:04 am | 2 Comments

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Quote of The Year, Entry 1

“If you go to the newsstand today, you see 1,000 magazines, and there’s hardly an idea in them. They’ve been invaded by advertising. I had a poem in Good Housekeeping a few years ago. I looked through and I couldn’t find it. I finally called them and asked, ‘Where’s my damn poem?’ It was on Page 150, opposite the Clorox ad.”
Ray Bradbury

Plus, some really smart words from ?uestlove, who belongs in the Hip-Hop Interview Hall of Fame. If you can’t get enough of talking about minstrelsy, check the comments on Oliver’s Matisyahu post. I’ll just say Matisyahu sucks and leave it at that.

posted by @ 8:09 pm | 0 Comments

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming

George Mason? Bradley? Wichita State? This has got to be the strangest Sweet 16 ever. My brackets are shot to hell, but I’m still in a state of bliss.

The Shield Finale, Cuba vs. Japan, the Sweet 16 and a trip to New York City to talk with the man called Toure all in one week. That’s way too much fun for one dude…

posted by @ 6:54 pm | 0 Comments

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