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Clyde Smith on Hip Hop Culture & Politics
now at: www.hiphoplogic.com

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   Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Hip Hop News Roundup

Interview with Gift of Gab of Blackalicious.

Hip Hop youth programs in Seattle.

Interview with KRS-One.






Reviews: Ugly Duckling, Biz Markie

Ugly Duckling's Taste the Secret

Biz Markie's Weekend Warrior

Available from Amazon:
Taste the Secret
Weekend Warrior.




   Monday, December 29, 2003


Holiday Hip Hop News


Review of Kelis's new album Tasty. Love that milkshake!

Legal beefs between DJ Jubilee and Juvenile/Cash Money regarding that azz! With review of P/Popper Club Hopper by Choppa and DJ Jubilee.

Available from Amazon:
Tasty.




   Sunday, December 28, 2003


New Issue of Blazzin

A new issue of the online hip hop zine Blazzin is now available. Be sure to check out the interview with DJ Chela No. 1. For more on one of NC's hottest djs, check out Chela's home page.




   Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Site Update

netweed will not be switching servers till the New Year. Weblog posting will be intermittent till then. Happy Holidays!




   Monday, December 22, 2003


Regional Hip Hop News and News Sources

Everybody at netweed is going on extended vacation from Christmas to New Year's with intermittent postings. Unfortunately that means I've got a few cds that won't get reviewed till next year. Also, netweed will be down for a couple of days as we switch servers, probably starting Monday evening.

Homeless rappers in Oakland.
Review of Cold Flow by San Francisco's Variable Unit.
Questioning Eminem's racial politics and Tupac: Resurrection.
Interview with Ice Cube and other members of the Westside Connection.
Varick "Smitty" Smith writes lyrics for rap stars but wants his own solo career.
Roc-A-Fella fronts on MTV's MC Battle winner's contract.
Revew of Memphis Bleek and Raekwon albums.
B-Boys in Seattle.




   Saturday, December 20, 2003


The Beastie Boys - Sabotage

Sabotage, the video based in part on the albums Ill Communication and Check Your Head, was released in 1994, documenting the wide range of influences present in the Beastie Boys' work by that time. Including music videos based on album tracks and live concerts with a variety of segues, Sabotage shows the influences of 70s revivalism, from clothes to sounds, the return of punk elements to the Beastie's music, the emergence of social and political concerns and the use of live instrumentation. Ultimately this work is a continuation of developments first heard in Paul's Boutique in 1989.

Seeing this video clues me in to how played out 70s revivalism is today, especially in the fashions of white boho youth and Snoop Dogg pimpology. What's interesting here is how far they've come from the early frathouse bboy antics of Licensed to Ill released only a few years before Paul's Boutique. It's crazy to think about them opening for Run-DMC on the Raising Hell tour and then to see Run-DMC flounder in the 90s while the Beastie Boys got ahead of the game.

For some this video is evidence that the Beastie Boys became an alternative rock band but I believe it's a part of the incredibly broad terrain of hip hop that is gradually permeating massively dispersed sectors of contemporary culture. Plus, you get the directing genius of Spike Jonze, among others, a closing joint with Cypress Hill and a bonus documentary regarding Tibetan monks (on the real).

Available from Amazon.com:
Sabotage
Beastie Boys DVD Video Anthology
Beastie Boys' Albums.




   Friday, December 19, 2003


Russell Simmons Presents - The Show

The Show is a decent hip hop documentary movie that came out in the mid 90s. A Russell Simmons project, it's not clear how much of this footage is from one show that included multiple artists and how much is from other performances. The big point seems to be to make connections between East Coast and West Coast artists, including B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Wu Tang and Naughty by Nature, with props to historical NY influences, especially Run-DMC.

Historical influences are represented by Run-DMC doing a couple of numbers and various references from certain artists plus a roundtable of old-timers who are kind of cool but seem to feel left out. In one instance dissing current (at that time) artists and seeming to claim that they don't have stage experience when much of the live footage is of current artists.

The best old school insights come in the form of interviews with Slick Rick who was in jail at the time and seemed to be in an extremely thoughtful place. At one point he talks about the tendency to claim that rappers writing lyrics about shooting and drug dealing are just representing reality, a reality that they want others to avoid (which is a questionable claim in many cases), by pointing out that:
"We all seen it. We all lived it and we all not havin' it. And now we got to move on to something else."

Andre Harrell, from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, also makes a brief appearance. At this point running Uptown Entertainment right before assuming leadership at Motown, he talks about the fact that things seemed more hopeful when he came along and that he may have been part of the "last generation of the affirmative action rapper groups." He talks about current artists as facing much bleaker times due to Reagan as "Reaganomics rapper groups." For those of you who missed out on the Reagan-Bush 80s, they were marked by incredible cutbacks in social programs that made things much worse for poor people and helped create a world in which it ultimately seemed reasonable to elect George W. president.

But overall the movie was rather fragmented and incoherent. Russell Simmons discussion of why he loves models and calls them "bitches" with the utmost respect is totally gratuitous, Run-DMC seemed irrelevant, P. Diddy's appearance as Sean "Puffy" Combs backing up B.I.G. reminded us that his best artistic accomplishments are long gone and the connection between these people seemed rather distant, more like second cousins than brothers. And one has to wonder if Russell Simmons would include an interview with Suge Knight on any current project. Nevertheless, it's worth seeing for footage that you won't see anywhere else. Plus, it tries to do so much that there's probably something that you will appreciate.

Available at Amazon.com:
The Show.




   Thursday, December 18, 2003


Getting Your Act Online: Unsolicited Advice Part 1

I'm getting more albums to review from artists that don't have websites or are between hosts and that kind of thing. Because I think the Internet is an essential tool for any hip hop artist who's serious about getting know, I'm going to do a series of unsolicited advice columns for artists working on a budget. Although I will mention services that I use or have used in the past, I'm not making money from any of these recommendations. If that changes, I'll let you know.

Basics:
You should have a consistent email address. Yahoo and Hotmail are both reasonably reliable but Hotmail is fucked up in various ways, some of which I describe at netweed on Free Offers. Yahoo is a little more flexible when you go over your inbox limit and you don't have to sign in as often to keep your account. Whoever you choose, make sure it's somebody that's been around for a few years that seems unlikely to go out of business. If you later get a different address, keep the free account so that people who have you in their address books can still make contact.

Register a domain at GoDaddy.com or any other registrar that charges less than $10 annually. I like Go Daddy because they're cheap and reliable plus you can get a free redirect to any other site. So you can pay less than $9 a year, have your own domain and have the address point to a free website until you get regular hosting. If you switch sites, you can easily change the redirect at no charge. Remember, you can register your domain with whomever you want and host it elsewhere. Those are separate services and don't get tricked by companies that make it sound like they're not.

I would suggest getting a .com address and, if you can afford it, getting the .net and .org version as well. I would strongly suggest coming up with a name that's not registered rather than getting the .net or .whatever version because the .com is not available.

Set up a free website with basic contact information. I started out with a free site at Yahoo Geocities. They seem to have less intrusive advertising and are more reliable than some other free hosts I've seen. Plus, if you set up a Yahoo email account, you can then have that name as part of your Geocities address. Also, even though Yahoo has cut back on free services, once you sign up for something, so far they are letting you keep it.

You could also set up a page at a free music host like SoundClick or IUMA . But these are an example of businesses whose stability is difficult to evaluate. Recently MP3.com went out of the free hosting game and a lot of sites that were listed in the Open Directory are being removed with no new address available. One option is to go with a service like Yahoo's Geocities that seems reasonably stable and then link to other sites from there.

Another possibility is to set up a free blog. I recommend Blogger which has less intrusive advertising. You can also remove the advertising fairly cheaply. This gives you a site where you can post news and add links.

A cheap master plan (one example):

Register your domain at GoDaddy.com.
e.g. - www.hiphoplogic.com

Set up a free Yahoo email account and free Geocities website using that name.
e.g. - hiphoplogic(at)yahoo(dot)com and www.geocities.com/hiphoplogic
[note: the (at) should be replaced by @, the (dot) by . I do it this way to keep spambots from spidering my email address.]

Redirect the domain through your GoDaddy control panel to your free website. Make sure the website has basic information about you including your email address, where you're located, things that people living far away might like to know to have an idea of who you are. Update it regularly and check your email regularly.

If you can do everything you need to do online at this point, that's great. It's fairly simple and easy to maintain. If you decide to upload music files to free music sites or create a blog or whatever, you can add links from your home page. Whatever you add, it's important to have a long term presence that people can find. The rest just adds to it. If you later go for paid hosting, keep the free site. You can announce your new site on there and people that have it in their bookmarks or in links page will still be able to find you.

Future installments of Unsolicited Advice will cover web design and writing and getting your website known. If this is helpful information, please let me know at:
hiphoplogic(at)netweed(dot)com
If you have questions or comments, I'll try to respond in future posts. The Internet is a great tool. You can use it to build globally while you're still developing locally. Don't sleep!




   Wednesday, December 17, 2003


The Perkin Experience

I received "The Perkin Experience: Hand2Fist Edition: by the REAL Pac Dime from GunzBlazing Entertainment and High Society Music a while back. I checked their website but it's down. I don't have any real background info with the disc but I think these guys are from the Bay Area.

The album has kind of a mixtape/freestyle feel, strong street vibe, with tracks like Sloppy Drunk Intro, Bitch, Negotiate the Dick, CockStrong, Fuck the Police '03 and so forth. Individuals listed: Official, D-Robi, Chioke, Tunde and Bell.

A lot of it seems to be about partying and having sex with women that you have absolutely no respect for and occasionally fucking people up. Having big dicks seems to be an important theme. Various R. Kelly references occur. Some of these guys do have a nice flow, though the occasional attempts at singing are not so successful. Some people would find this stuff funny and interpret the harshness as a realness from the streets.

And On the East Coast

Juan Pablo has an interesting piece in the Village Voice on police harassment of rappers in New York. Plus, there's a review of Non-Prophets "Hope".




   Monday, December 15, 2003


NC Hip Hop Online

I've been working all weekend on a redesign of NC Hip Hop Online, the website with which I began all my online activities. Check it out. North Carolina's got a lot going on, first Petey Pablo blew up for awhile, now Little Brother and 9th Wonder are taking off. Don't sleep!




   Saturday, December 13, 2003


Bavu Blakes

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I saw a local (Austin) hip hop show that included Bavu Blakes. Bavu was one of the first people I wrote about in this weblog, though I misrepresented some things due to misinformation. It all got sorted out and, in the process, Bavu showed he could both take care of his own interests and understand where other people are coming from. Since then Bavu's been building and he's one of the few hip hop artists from Austin with any real national visibility. If you want to know more, I'd suggest checking out this video off his first album which is very well made and communicates his unique combination of intelligence and accessibility. Even more? Try this Google search for Bavu Blakes or get his album Create & Hustle from Amazon.com.

Stocking Half Empty or Half Full?

Since I mentioned the 12 Days of Jux-Mas with downloads from Def Jux I have to report that it's a disappointing non-event. So far the downloads have been two mp3s and a video clip, all of which are incomplete segments from longer pieces, as far as I can tell. You know, promo sampler stuff that is typically used for advertising. The kind of stuff you put with product, not release as a special event.

Unsure of the Concept

I haven't gotten the chance to check out MovieRap.com so I'll withhold commentary. The concept is that emerging hip hop artists do a complete music video that is a review of a new movie. No further comments, your honor.




   Friday, December 12, 2003


Austin Underground Hip Hop

When I started this weblog, it was partly focused on the Austin hip hop scene. The weblog's changed over time but, after mostly sleeping on local acts for a year or so, I finally reconnected. The event was a cd release party for Cali Zack and a whole crew of local folks. I think a lot of these guys were with ATX Records but the website's not up and I don't use the phone so this will be off the dome.

From the flyer:
Cali Zack at Flamingo Cantina with Emcee, J-MPRINT, Broke Bread, Progress, Joe Average, Azatat, DJ-Bean, Zeale 32, Fools Inc., Earth Raiders and Bavu Blakes. And somehow 45's on 33 Rec./Kafka Rec. were implicated.

High points:
I came in on the last two joints from Zeale 32. Great stage presence, fun lyrics. I'm hoping this guy will send me his cd to review and I'm also hoping his live act translates to cd. That's never a given but Zeale works the stage very well.

DJ-Bean represented throughout the night. People kept calling him Beans as well. Whatever he goes by, he's a solid presence. I'm assuming he didn't make all the beats but I'm not sure. In any case, he's way professional and worth keeping an eye on wherever he goes.

Broke Bread and J-MPRINT were strong. They did back to back sections and worked well together. By that point there were a lot of people coming and going on stage, which can raise energy quite a bit. They seemed to focus it and play off it pretty well. J-MPRINT has the gentle giant thing going on and when he was fully engaged physically really had impact.

Emcee and Cali Zack also worked well together. I'm less in to what they were doing but Emcee, in particular, has a commanding presence and I got the feeling that they could take this a long ways. They have an aggressive approach and periodically dropped some deft lyrics.

Bavu Blakes closed the show and it was kind of a weird situation cause a lot of folks came out for the previous acts. Even though the crowd dwindled, Bavu worked what was there and showed a fairly unique approach to performance. Very consistent, playful, smart. He dropped little freestyle moments related to people he knew there and brought people in for a closing freestyle that was one of the high points of the show.

Funny moments:
One guy backing up a couple of others guy apparently thought his main man had a weak mic and traded with him. Suddenly the backup guy was louder than the other two guys on stage.

Bavu Blakes kept taking a video camera from someone by the stage and getting interesting angles on his performance. It was funny partly because it was so natural. A lot of things this guy did could have seemed contrived but they totally worked in the moment.

Weak ass moment:
Walking in, Flamingo Cantina had a couple of hand written signs saying "taggers will be prosecuted." I asked if it was a hip hop special and they confirmed my suspicions. You know, I used to tag and, if I still did, I would have been up all over the place in response to that kind of provocation. Fat markers rule!

Closing note:
What binds underground hip hip and commercial rap?
Telling the crowd to make some noise, raise their hands, show some love, etc. The amazing thing is that people still respond to ancient cliches. Or maybe they're not cliches when they're heartfelt.




   Thursday, December 11, 2003


Gang Tapes

Adam Ripp's Gang Tapes is a much more solid film than I expected. Although it's not a hip hop film per se, hip hop is a part of the landscape of the gang members of South Central L.A. as portrayed in this film. Plus there's a freestyle scene and a hip hop act at a house party. And with the various historical connections between gangs and rap music, perhaps it is a hip hop movie.

If you haven't heard, the basic concept is that a video camera is stolen from tourists in South Central and a young man documents his life in the hood, from joining a gang to the inevitable funeral of a friend. The themes are ones with which we are all familiar and this movie succeeds, in part, by making them worth watching yet again. Supposedly the actors in the film are gang members or former gang members. I haven't pursued the facts on that, but it's a good example of people who seem relatively real, basically a documentary style narrative where you're not reminded that these people aren't actors cause they mostly don't seem to be trying to act.

The concept of a kid with a camera also sets it up to be an insider's view that a documentary couldn't get. Plus it creates an excuse for occasional interesting shots, like from the handlebars of a bike. Overall a smart film.

Side note: Just like the classic Boyz N the Hood, Gang Tapes is a reminder that a lot of South Central is much nicer than places like the South Bronx, and yet still bloody as fuck.

Related Links:
Gang Tapes: Available from Amazon.com
Boyz N the Hood: Available from Amazon.com.




   Wednesday, December 10, 2003


Regional Hip Hop Coverage

I'm checking out more regional sources for hip hop news and reviews. Some of the best writers are writing for free weeklies scattered around the country and I don't see them getting much attention elsewhere.

Some of my recent finds have included interesting profiles of Blowfly and Dirt McGirt.

Coverage of regional artists, such as Miami's P.M., DJ Sky of St. Louis and Atllas, an mc based in Phoenix.

And with Aesop Rock touring, regional writers from Denver and Phoenix have written some of the more interesting profiles of this unique contributor to the next stage of hip hop.




   Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Hip Hop Announcements

Starting Wednesday, Dec. 10th, Definitive Jux will be celebrating the 12 days of Jux-Mas (yes, like John Lennon, they are now bigger than Jesus!). Check in daily for free audio and video downloads.

I just found out about Fat Lace Magazine, the magazine for aging bboys, with some content online. Funny stuff and record reviews.

A new issue of THE SOULution Online is now posted with news, politics and hip hop culture.




   Monday, December 08, 2003


Journalist Alert and Sweatshop Insights

Oliver Wang wrote me about his weblog Pop Life and it introduced me to an excellent hip hop journalist, something that's in short supply today. His blog is hosted on his site, The Ozone, that also archives his writings about hip hop and other cultural matters for a wide range of publications including the Village Voice, URB and The Source. He's a regular contributor to the SF Bay Guardian and I think this short piece, that puts 2003's best singles in the context of his personal reconciliation of hip hop and pop music, is a great example of meaningful relevant writing. If that's not enough, you can get the book he edited, Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide, from Amazon.

I've discussed the fact that P. Diddy's fortune may be built, in part, on sweatshop labor in Guatemala and my belief that it's unlikely that he will address this issue properly. One of my main points is that men in his position are usually going to listen to other powerful men (multicultural male bonding over money) and tours of such facilities by outsiders like P. Diddy or his representatives will be a dramatic production designed to hide the truth. For an illuminating expose of how this kind of thing works, you can read about American businessmen touring oppressive factories in China that produce everyone's favorite, Etch A Sketch.




   Saturday, December 06, 2003


Alternative Hip Hop News

I'm trying to keep up more with the online news from various free weekly papers around the country. Often some of the best hip hop coverage gets published on those sites. For example, this lengthy portrait of Paris, the radical hip hop artist who also did a stint as a stockbroker before returning to hip hop and sparking Guerilla Funk Recordings.

From the East Bay Express:
Bicasso of Living Legends Goes Solo
Review of Floetry's Floacism "Live"
Review of Jaylib's Champion Sound

And from North Carolina, graffiti artists respond to a local painter who bites their work.

Available from Amazon:
Sonic Jihad by Paris
Floetry's Floacism "Live"
Jaylib's Champion Sound.




   Friday, December 05, 2003


My Name is "I'll Kill Your Moms"
But Please Focus on My Talented Lyrics
About Killing Your Moms

How quickly news like the fact that Murder Inc. is changing it's name to the really stupid, The Inc., becomes old boring news. What I find amazing is that this is supposed to refocus people on the "talent," like the recent single from Mr. Peaceful, formerly known as Ja Rule, that seems to be about shooting people. Wasn't that released the day of his "peace conference" regarding the 50 Cent beef? Maybe it's not just the Murder but the Gotti and the ongoing legal issues that one can find from searching Google news for Murder Inc. that keeps misdirecting the non-hip hop audience from the talented tracks about killing people.

Look, if you're a fan of these guys, you probably know better than me that this is kind of silly. I won't take it seriously until Gotti changes his name at the very least. And, by the way, I never took the double meaning Gotti referred to in his press conference. I always thought it simply meant that they worshipped Italians who formed complex organizations, ripped people off, undermined the Unions, sold heroin and cocaine, etc. etc. You know, businessmen.




   Thursday, December 04, 2003


Joe Dirty

Even though I'm not into guns and cocaine and all that stuff, I still get cds to review from people who are, at least in their lyrics. Most recently I received Joe Dirty's Not Your Average Joe and prepared myself to be unhappy. Although I was right in assuming that the topics weren't my kind of thing, I was surprised to hear such a commercial sounding album coming from the grassroots, in this case, Fayettenam.

Fayetteville, NC is a rough place with Ft. Bragg plus local thuggery and Joe Dirty aka Joe Killa tells the stories of life in a town I generally avoid. The guy's got a strong dirty south flow and an album with a number of potential singles. Not Your Average Joe was released by EDC Entertainment and seems to be their main product right now. You can find out more at their website.




   Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Blog Alert and Motown History

Notes From a Different Kitchen mixes hip hop and other music news with political commentary and related elements that might cause a lesser writer to refer to the kitchen sink.

I've been ranting recently about many things, including the fact that, when a member of an oppressed group makes it big, that doesn't always help other oppressed people. Apparently that held true for Berry Gordy of Motown as well.




   Tuesday, December 02, 2003


Cops Kill Nathaniel Jones

After two days of ranting here on Hip Hop Logic, I'm sobered by the news of Nathaniel Jones being beaten to death by Cincinnati police. I just found out about it from The SOULution Online whose coverage includes links to the police cruiser videotape of the beating. For more news, you can search Google News for Nathaniel Jones.




   Monday, December 01, 2003


Ali G. Indahouse

So I finally broke down and rented Ali G. Indahouse. I was hesitant because it seemed like another flick based on laughing at white people trying to act like black people. I was so disappointed by Malibu's Most Wanted that it was difficult for me to check it out. But I did, for two reasons:
1. A lot of people come to this site after searching for "hip hop movies."
2. Ludacris references Ali G. in a recent song I've been hearing on the radio.

So it just seemed like my responsibility was clear. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed. Ali G. is the creation of an English Jewish guy (at least that's my understanding) named Sacha Baron Cohen that started out as a television show. Very controversial in England because he makes fun of the Queen and could rather easily be considered racist, sexist and homophobic. Nevertheless I found this flick worth watching.

There was certainly the over the top stupidity of white people, actually some other ethnicities as well, trying to act hip hop. An interesting twist is that they're Brits trying to act like American black rappers and hip hop artists, so there's a weird translation that goes on. Plus the soundtrack has a lot of American acts including Public Enemy, Ja Rule, NWA and Nelly. There are also some Jamaican reggae connections at certain points.

But what caught me was that, within a few beats, the scene could go from totally stupid to totally brilliant. A good example involved the Queen. Due to various plot twists, Ali G. is introduced to the Queen. He takes her hand to kiss the back of it, then licks it, then starts working it over with his mouth for awhile. That's the sort of thing I find stupid, although mainstream American audiences actually eat that shit up. The smell doesn't bother them for some reason.

But a few lines later, the Queen's pants are down and Ali G. is staring at her shaved pubes saying, "Shaven haven! Respec!" You don't see her pubes but it's clear what's up and it's fucking hysterical. By the way, Respec (i.e. respect) is one of Ali G.'s catch phrases and it's used in surprisingly funny ways.

At a certain point, I realized that it wasn't just white wannabes that were being ridiculed here. Some moments reminded me of CB4 with Chris Rock where rap lifestyles are ridiculed. For example, is a big Jewish Englishman dancing by the pool with a lot of black women in thongs really making fun of white people or of all those stupid fucking rap videos made by black men that Americans suck down like champagne?

And is Ali G.'s worship of pimp gear, especially at one point when he's dressed like a giant pimped out leprechaun, really making fun of wannabes or of bullshit U.S. pimp worship from many races of men? For that matter, the various homophobic slurs and obsessions of the characters seem not unlike the homophobic hysteria of a lot of males in the U.S.

So yeah, it's kind of stupid and it's kind of brilliant and the brilliant parts of Ali G. Indahouse outweighed the stupidity, at least for me.

Related Links:
Ali G. Indahouse: Da Soundtrack, Available from Amazon
Official German Site
Miscellaneous Links.