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

  Web netweed.com   
   Sunday, April 27, 2003

Contact Info Problems

I've found that early versions of Netscape don't let you go to my Contact and other links. If you're having that problem and want to contact me or submit material for review, email me at:
I'll fill you in by email.

Key Note - Looking for Austin hip hop? Want your music reviewed?

If you're looking for Austin hip hop commentary, it's on the 2002 Version of Hip Hop Logic. I'm not focusing on local events so much, especially cause I may be moving soon. If you want to get your hip hop related stuff reviewed, go to Contact. And if you want to tell me what a great job I'm doing, drop me a line: hiphoplogic(@)netweed.com

Weekly Report - Quick Takes on Hot Websites and 8 Mile

First let me say that I finally discovered hiphopmusic.com, a great hip hop blog by Jay Smooth. I've got to say the guy writes with a nice flow and a lot of insight. From hip hop as the art of noise to the incompetent coverage of hip hop by the mainstream press, Jay Smooth shows that it's possible to be a dj, aesthetic theorist and political commentator all on one page. Check it out for the blog plus the Underground Railroad radio show.

If you're politically active or thinking about it, you'll find Mobilizing the Hip-Hop Generation useful. Written by Jesse Alejandro Cottrell, this article gets into some of the issues involved in moving beyond personal statements to organized action including things like funding with some useful links.

I finally saw 8 Mile, the Eminem movie. I put it off because of my mixed feelings about the guy but I have to say it was a decent movie. But not a great one. The bottom line is that it's a sanitized version of Eminem's story. Instead of an uncaring mother, a mean attitude towards other humans, a dangerous club and a really nasty city, you get a deeply caring but troubled mom, a frustrated angry guy who means well, a club that's a little rough but nothing special and a typically postindustrial Midwestern town that's depressing but not overwhelmingly fucked up. If you check out Eminem's past, you'll see that he bitches about his mom, that he used to do things like shoot paint balls at prostitutes (not the heroic cop hunter he appears in 8 Mile), that the club he hung out in was an incredibly rough place and that Detroit is generally fucked (though apparently on the comeback trail).

One of the few negative points, when he finally turns away from everyone and says he's going to do it on his own, is actually the least true part of the film. One of Eminem's few positive attributes is his commitment to his crew. When he made it big he hooked up his Detroit pals, like many in hip hop would do. Plus, he wrote a great theme song, a well-done rags to riches tale. Nice to hear him tell a story rather than complain about how everybody's been mean to him and they still don't understand his punk ass.

But if you like that E-ass, you can check out a freestyle with Eminem and Thirstin Howl, beats courtesy of DJ Spinna at hiphopmusic.com's freestyle archive.


   Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Mid-Week Note

If you haven't checked out the antiwar collab between Zack de la Rocha and DJ Shadow, March of Death, you should. The war's kind of over, but it always continues by other means. Hip hop artists that made antiwar songs should be proud. Other efforts, such as ads by Mos Def and Russell Simmons, were also a very cool thing.


   Sunday, April 20, 2003

Review of Biggie and Tupac

Nick Broomfield's Biggie and Tupac: The Story Behind the Murder of Rap's Biggest Superstars should probably be retitled "Part of the Story." I don't say this because of problems with the documentary so much as because Broomfield reveals some scandalous material but is unable to show a complete picture because this is a complex story with a lot of details that remain hidden.

The first part of the documentary contains info that a lot of people will be familiar with and the best part is some of the footage of Tupac clowning around and Biggie rapping as a young artist. Over the course of the film the most interesting single character is Biggie Small's mom as other reviewers have pointed out. But it's the second half where he digs into the involvement of Suge Knight, the LAPD and possibly the FBI in the shooting death of Biggie Smalls that is the most powerful and reveals the most radical aspects of what Broomfield found. However his evidence for Suge Knight masterminding the initial shooting of Tupac is not as strong, though it certainly is something to consider.

The upshot is that in addition to the gang elements connected to this history, Suge Knight also employed off duty police, some of whom ended up arrested for various crimes including bank robbery. Broomfield tracks down the cop who was leading the investigation that was stopped in its tracks by LAPD leadership as well as various other folks such as Tupac's bodyguard, all of whom present a great range of details that make it clear that the investigation should have continued. The overall argument is that Suge Knight put the whole thing together with the help of LAPD henchmen. And maybe the FBI was in there somewhere as well, Broomfield isn't noted for creating tidy packages.

But it's no news that the LAPD and the FBI are organizations with a major criminal history as well as difficulties in running their crime labs. And the use of rivalries such as those between the Crips and the Bloods by power figures to cover their tracks is a tactic used internationally in the form of ethnic conflicts and age old grudges. Broomfield is only able to scratch the surface of a story that involves a wide range of interconnected players and histories that would be difficult for a team of historians with major funding to sort out. But he does a good job of introducing the issues and exposing details that you might not be aware of.

The DVD is a cool thing because of the extra footage, though I wanted even more. As Broomfield states in an interview, he did speak to at least one highly placed official who really was too slick to reveal anything so that footage was left out. To find out more about Suge Knight you'll also have to go elsewhere and the documentary was shot before Suge got out of prison. However the brief comments and Death Row website footage definitely seem relevant with ongoing events surrounding Snoop Dogg. Of course, Suge finds many ways to remain in the press.

It is cool to see Nick Broomfield, an out-of-place Englishman, roaming around South Central, talking to Suge in prison and so forth. I like documentaries where the filmmakers don't hide behind the camera. The bottom line: If you're looking for a music video, go watch tv. If you want an introduction to some of the details behind the shootings of Biggie and Tupac, details that reveal that they didn't die because they rap about guns or if you just need a reminder that some cops are corrupt or even if you want some footage of a strong mother whose son was taken away, then check out Biggie and Tupac if you haven't already.

   Friday, April 18, 2003

The Return of Hip Hop Logic

I've been gone for awhile but now I'm back. To see the original blog, visit the 2002 archives link to the left under the MENU heading. I'll be posting weekly beginning this weekend with a review of the recent dvd release of Biggie and Tupac. So check back, ya hear?!!

PS - I will be emphasizing reviewing stuff people send me. So hit me up via Contact under the MENU, ya'll!