Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Zirin on May 1: A day without all-stars?

The great Dave Zirin on tomorrow’s May Day walkout:

The growing Latino presence in Major League Baseball is a story of exploitation and opportunity. Club owners set up baseball academies in countries where future prospects can be signed in their early teens for pennies, then fired with little cost if they aren’t good enough to play in the big leagues. As one player said to me, “The options in the Dominican Republic are jail, the army, the factory or baseball.”

posted by @ 4:56 pm | 2 Comments

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Who Killed Biggie?

BET tries to answer Mos Def’s question Sunday afternoon. Here’s the word from Selwyn Hinds’ new show The Chop Up:

Produced for BET and THE CHOP UP by Emmy Award-winning journalist, producer and author P. Frank Williams, the segment entitled “Long Kiss Goodnight” peels back the layers on the nine years since Biggie Smalls was gunned down in Los Angeles. In her first television interview since winning a multi-million dollar wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles, Biggie’s mother Voletta Wallace shares striking details about the FBI investigation of her son’s murder. Also for the first time on television, Lil’ Cease, a member of Biggie’s Junior Mafia crew, shares a chilling eye-witness account of what happened inside the car where Biggie was riding when the fatal shots were fired. Hosted by Jeff Johnson and Jina Jinay.

posted by @ 9:15 am | 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

A Frustrated Golden State Fan’s Guide To The Playoffs

Damn, Adonal.

We pick:

Detroit, because Detroit is Detroit.

New Jersey, because we still love Jason Kidd.

Cleveland, Lebron is from Vallejo. OK, he isn’t. But Gooden is from Richmond, and played for El Cerrito.

We don’t care if Dallas or Memphis wins.

Phoenix, because the Lakers are the Giants. One highly problematic superstar, a bunch of uninteresting supporting characters, and an embarrassingly huge bunch of Grey Poupon fans.

Sacramento, because it’s next to Davis.

The Clippers, because they are the closest thing to the A’s. Westside underdog love!

posted by @ 4:04 pm | 8 Comments

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Gangsta Gumbo And The Hip-Hop Nostalgia Shuffle

It’s Nagin vs. Landrieu. Should be an interesting runoff.

In the meantime, here’s Kelefa Sanneh at his best, musing on New Orleans rap, the Smithsonian, and New Orleans’ Gangsta Gumbo.

I love K–although I don’t always agree with homie, he deserves his rep as one of the smartest crits out there, and it’s undeniable that he’s a helluva writer–but I often feel like he’s holding back at the keyboard. These days I think it’s a common malady among younger hip-hop writers (especially bloggers, whose constrictions of form have now permanently affected print writing) to be shallow. I think this is because we’ve got a generation of aesthetes who are learning to be activists–to be advocates for a particular kind of form or style, not to mention geography and ideology. It’s also much more fun and comment-generating and technorati-scaling to be breezy than earnest, the default mode for those of us over 35, many of whom were activists before aesthetes. But I often feel like the easy irony hides the more difficult emotion, and all too often, the real insight.

Here K doesn’t hold back and I think he perfectly calibrates the anger and ambivalence many of us older hip-hop genners who still love H.E.R. feel about the way outside moneybaggers, high-powered cultcrits, our Nuyocentric “Golden Era”-nostalgic peers, even our own damn crack-rap-aghast selves do us alldayerrrday. You don’t have to not believe Mardi Gras Indians are the shit, and you don’t have to be a 50 or Jeezy fan–even a Juvie fan–to feel deez nut graphs:

“If all the dying traditions are valuable, does that also mean all the valuable traditions are dying? If a genre doesn’t need saving, does that also mean it’s not worth saving? If New Orleans rappers seem less lovable than, say, Mardi Gras Indians or veteran soul singers, might it be because they’re less needy? Cultural philanthropy is drawn to musical pioneers–especially African-American ones–who are old, poor and humble. What do you do when the pioneers are young, rich and cocky instead?

Believe it or not, that question brings us back to the Smithsonian, which has come to praise hip-hop. Or to bury it. Or both. The genre is over 30 years old by now, and while its early stars now seem unimpeachable (does anyone have a bad word to say about Grandmaster Flash or Run-DMC?), its current stars seem more impeachable than ever. From 50 Cent to Young Jeezy to, well, Juvenile, hip-hop might be even more controversial now than it was in the 80’s; hip-hop culture has been blamed for everything from lousy schools to sexism to the riots in France. In a weird way, that might help account for the newfound respectability of the old school. To an older listener who’s aghast at crack rap, the relatively innocent rhymes of Run-DMC don’t seem so bad. If the new generation didn’t seem so harmful, its predecessors might not seem harmless enough for the national archives.”

posted by @ 9:21 am | 5 Comments

Friday, April 21st, 2006

New Orleans: Vote!

To all our folks from the Crescent City, good luck with the vote tomorrow! For a hip-hop take, here’s an official League? of Really Pissed Off ?Voters Guide.

In other news, the new Wax Poetics is here, including a gratuitous Mac Mall shout-out and a sick history of Black Rio. No better way to spend a few hours this weekend.

posted by @ 3:33 pm | 1 Comment

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Krups :: Grups of Color

Oh shit. We’ve been pegged!

posted by @ 6:59 pm | 0 Comments

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

More Evidence Media Consolidation Causes Stupidity In Humans

After reaching an impasse in discussions with the four biggest radio corporations, looks like the FCC is finally ready to get familiar. Boo-yaa! This will be fun.

These lines were especially hilarious:

The FCC’s action comes amid New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer’s pay-for-play probe, launched in 2004, which has alleged wrongdoing by both music and radio companies. In February, Spitzer sued Entercom, alleging that high-ranking executives had implemented scams to trade cash for airplay of songs by such artists as Avril Lavigne, Liz Phair and Jessica Simpson.

Entercom has denied the allegations.

The other three radio companies are also under investigation by Spitzer, who has shared his evidence with the FCC.

Radio programmers at stations around the country say that fear of regulatory scrutiny has scared them into airing fewer new songs. Instead, many stations are sticking to less diverse playlists.

Oh really?!!! So you’re telling me that because you’re under investigation for receiving bribes to play fewer songs, that now you’re going to cut back the playlists even more?

I love how stupid media consolidation makes even the people who do it.

posted by @ 7:09 am | 0 Comments

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Hip-Hop Is Dead, Part 35,784

Hip-hop is MINE. Moo hoo hoo hoo hahaha.

Random headlines from The Expert™:

+ Reggaeton is dead. (But Latin hip-hop–AKA Freestyle–is back from the dead.)

+ Hip-hop is dead.

+ New York hip-hop is dead dead dead. Evidence? click and click.

+ More things that are dead: Click. Click. Click.

+ All kidding aside, here’s a real–and a real sad–story by the great sportswriter Marcos Breton about the death of Mario Encarnacion, a Dominican baseball player who came up with Miguel Tejada as a highly-touted A’s prospect, but died playing in Taiwan, broken in part by steroids. In all the noise about Bonds, consider this story the other side of the game.

posted by @ 7:31 am | 0 Comments

Monday, April 10th, 2006

It’s My Birthday

…and I got a book due. Won’t hear from me for a while!

In the meantime, Expand-O-Links and Rapid Fire returns:

+ Much respect to everyone in the streets today. All eyes on Paris for inspiration. Here’s Rinku Sen on La Marcha.

+ Two great pieces on preserving the music of the great Horace Tapscott in the Los Angeles Weekly, here and here.

+ It’s your turn to remix David Byrne and Brian Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts!

+ Florida’s sophs are coming back. A UCLA-Florida rematch in the Big Game?

+ A’s, baby. (You didn’t think I’d have a blog entry without talking about how good my team is, did you?)


+ Proof of D12 was shot this morning. He’s dead at the age of 32. Is there something going on in Detroit?

+ I didn’t even know this ran. I was somewhere getting my back twisted up in some airplane seat. Me on “golden age” hip-hop, but probably not the era you’re thinking. Please post any tips for curing angry sciatic nerves.

posted by @ 9:03 am | 5 Comments

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006

Peter Scholtes on Juvie and New Orleans

Peter Scholtes writing passionately and on-the-mark in “Can’t Go Home”:

“In an era when rap videos aren’t supposed to be political, ‘Get Ya Hustle On’ is dreamlike street theater. Yet it’s also a document: Months after Juvenile shot the video with director Ben Mor in December, the Lower Ninth Ward looks pretty much the same. On the afternoon of February 27, my girlfriend and I drive over the bridge on North Claiborne into what looks like a ghost town. There are cars on fences, houses blown into the middle of the street, and no working stoplights for miles. Spray-painted signs include: ‘No bulldozing,’ ‘No trespassing,’ ‘R.I.P. Fats: You will be missed.'”

posted by @ 9:28 am | 1 Comment

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