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

  Web netweed.com   
   Monday, May 31, 2004

Late May Hip Hop News Roundup

75,000 registered in Detroit!

Talking to ?uestlove of the Roots.

Hip Hop in May at Pop Matters:
Diddy-cized by Mark Anthony Neal
Okay Player Tour by Shawn Despres
Talib Kweli Concert Review by Andrew Watson

Reflections of an underground mc.

Artists' radio in New York includes Charlie Ahearn and Grand Wizard Theodore.

David Banner provides scholarships.

Grahame Bent reviews RJD2's Since Last We Spoke.

   Friday, May 28, 2004

"No Mo No Homo"

I'll have to agree with O-Dub on this, the no homo trend has got to stop. Whatever the intention, it's a homophobic statement at it's core and I will no longer link to writers that use it. Generally I've been quick to point out homophobia but I was a little baffled by this one, like I'm baffled by the general use of the term "gay" to describe a wide range of things these days, as in "that shirt is so gay," "that video looks gay," etc. I mean that I was baffled by people's intent because it seemed to come from people who weren't really homophobic, at least, some of the time.

On that note, I found this interesting interview with hip hop photographer Ernie Paniccioli at BlackElectorate.com. It's worth checking out for the strong political stance but I found the bullshit discussion of misogyny and homophobia in rap in Part 2 to be, well, total bullshit. Editor Cedric Muhammed's choice to put homophobia in quotes was the first tipoff that their heads are up their asses on this one. But I guess it fits the strong conservative streak within certain sectors of black nationalism that makes BlackElectorate.com an always mixed blessing.

In related news, if you're interested in getting a clearer sense of what's homoerotic in the work of a rapper like DMX, you can check this review in the Village Voice. If you're interested in commentary on gender issues in hip hop, see this article by Mark Anthony Neal.

Hip Hop in the Newsweeklies

The Denver Hip-Hop Summit collapsed but local folks celebrated Hip-Hop Appreciation Week by Dave Herrera
Playing MP3s like vinyl with the Scratch Amp by Michael Serazio
Urban Beach Week by Celeste Fraser Delgado
Luke Campbell comes out as a narc at a symposium on hip hop in Miami by Humberto Guida
City Spud's still in jail but his impersonator roams free by Randall Roberts
Cuban rapper Pitbull by Mosi Reeves
MC Prozack almost makes it big by Dan Strachota
Adam Bregman's Top Ten Most Radical Hip-Hop Discs Ever
DOA (Deadly On Arrival) by Jordan Harper
Riding with Ruka Puff at the Annie Malone May Day Parade by Jordan Harper

Album Reviews
Brother Ali - Champion EP by Peter S. Scholtes
Billy Martin - The Turntable Sessions, Vol. 1 by Mark Keresman
Cassidy - Split Personality by Quibian Salazar-Moreno
D12 - D12 World by Michael Roberts
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke by Steve Boughton
Vast Aire - Look Mom . . . No Hands by Nate Patrin
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free by Abigail Clouseau
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free by Mike Seely

Movie Review
The Battle for LA: Footsoldiers, Vol. 1 by Geoff Harkness

Available from Amazon:
Brother Ali - Champion
Billy Martin - The Turntable Sessions, Vol. 1
Cassidy - Split Personality
D12 - D12 World
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke
Vast Aire - Look Mom . . . No Hands
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free.

   Thursday, May 27, 2004

Hip Hop Politics Plus An Update

I've been trying to do Hip Hop Logic's theme of hip hop movies justice by writing more hip hop movie reviews plus working on the new Hip Hop Movies links pages for netweed. This weekend I'm hoping to get caught up on my album reviews and also post more news. However, next week may be a bit light and the following week Hip Hop Logic will be quiet because I'm moving back to North Carolina for awhile.

During the last week there's been some interesting news on the hip hop political front, including the news that P. Diddy is going to do some kind of political show on MTV. Although it's highly unlikely that George W. would show up for an unscripted question session, Kerry might come through as a way of boosting his youth ratings.

The attempts to connect hip hop and voter registration are continuing to grow as this overview by Don Hazen discusses. Even more illuminating to me was this feature in Sojourners on Bakari Kitwana and the upcoming National Hip-Hop Political Convention.

I'll have to say that this article gave me more insight into where the organizers of the Convention are coming from and now the schedule has been posted at the Convention's website along with the speakers. The site also now lists the contact people at local and national levels. One of my big concerns has been that such information was not previously provided, as I discussed in this combination rant and analysis.

But the reality is that most people don't look very closely at who's organizing an event, they tend to go for the message and the graphics. And for many people, if the message sounds good, they're not concerned about who's behind it. That's why there's a long history in the U.S. of really fucked up organizations managing to gather resources and get press by putting up a good front. I don't attack such things for the sake of attacking them. I point out very basic issues that should concern anyone interested in progressive social change who doesn't want to see their energy sucked up by groups who will take advantage of the naivete of well meaning people. Because the inability of progressive forces in the U.S. to develop viable alternatives to the Republicrats has been a matter of life and death both here and abroad.

So I'm glad to see the Convention becoming a bit more transparent in terms of its goals and structure. Actually I'm starting to wish I could go so I could blog first hand from the Convention. If anyone's going that wants to share their impressions but doesn't have an outlet, feel free to email me your thoughts and observations and I'll feature them in this blog.

For you news fiends, tomorrow I'll be posting my weekly Hip Hop in the Newsweeklies report and will try to do a news roundup over the weekend in addition to digging into some reviews.

Follow Up: National Hip-Hop Political Convention

After writing the above I spent a little time online seeing what I could find out about the Convention's organizers and contacts. They seem like a pretty amazing group of people. Unfortunately I don't have time to really get into creating a bunch of links and, in some cases, it looks like I'd have to contact specific people to verify that they are the ones I'm reading about or would have to spend a lot more time online to be sure. But now that I have a clearer picture, I'm pretty impressed and could see being more involved.

Unfortunately I was unable to get a clear picture until now and the Convention's too soon for me to get involved, with a move from Texas to NC for me before it starts. When I've raised questions about the Convention, the one thing I didn't discuss very much is the times I've seen progressives undermine themselves by not giving clear information about who they are and what they're doing. In this case, posting profiles of the organizers and contact people would have done a lot to convince me that this is a particularly important gathering, because I don't base that kind of opinion on hype or on good intentions. From the little bit I've found so far, these people bring a real depth and diversity of experience to the table that interests me much more than what musician is going to show up. But there are some cool musicians too. I'm just sorry that this information has been obscured and remains incomplete.

   Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Hip Hop Movie Review: Style Wars

I finally saw Style Wars, the first hip hop documentary, just as Wild Style, which I recently wrote about, was the first hip hop feature film.

Actually Style Wars is more of a graffiti documentary with additional footage of breakdancing plus some hip hop music. So it's not really about what they call the 3 elements of hip hop - rapping, writing and breaking - and it doesn't mention dj-ing as the 4th element or beatboxing as the long forgotten (for the most part) 5th element. And the connections between graffiti and breakdancing are barely even made, just assumed.

That said, this is an important early document of the graffiti movement in its heyday, during the height of the battle to stop graffiti writing on the subway trains in New York at the same time that graffiti artists were starting to enter the gallery system.

Although the overall organization of the documentary is a bit incoherent, there's a lot of incredible stuff on here:

the opening image of a train aboveground in darkness pulling past some streetlights that illuminate the car length graffiti murals as Wagner is played on the soundtrack only to transition into a hip hop track;

the interview with one of the writers and his mom, which lays out the generation gap that's as much about a young artist doing his work because he loves it and a mother concerned about his future as about the issue of the validity of graffiti;

the presence of a figure named Cap, who covers other people's work with his tag in a malicious manner and in a way that they can't seem to stop (further evidence that they're acting as artists rather than gang members);

a ride on a subway train as it's being sprayed with toxic chemicals to clean it up and the driver talking about the smell of the toxins which were really bad for their health;

the inclusion of outtakes, especially an interview with Dondi as he discusses his work on canvas, including a work done with Rammellzee as well as interviews with the directors and editors;

the unique verbal stylings of Mayor Koch;

and so forth.

Just writing this list I'm reminded of what a rich film it was at a time when white artists and businesspeople were starting to catch on and either document the work as fellow artists or look for ways to capitalize on the energy of the scene. One of the more interesting elements was seeing the white kids involved with graffiti, a reminder that hip hop culture has deeply multicultural roots.

It's also more honest about the tensions and beefs within hip hop culture than just about any documentary I've seen except those that are all about beefs. One of the surprises was a breakdance battle between two crews in which one of the groups, in particular, was dissing the other in extremely juvenile fashion, not surprising given that they were juveniles.

I could talk about a lot of interesting things in this documentary that make it worth checking out. However I've probably said enough except to say that I only saw the single disc version cause I got it through Netflix. The current dvd release actually has two discs and I'm not familiar with the bonus material other than it looks like a lot of cool stuff.

Available from Amazon:
Style Wars.

   Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Hip Hop Movies

I want to let you know that I'm finally launching Hip Hop Online beginning with a section on Hip Hop Movies. Hip Hop Online is going to be the space for future hip hop resources at netweed. So instead of adding new pages to the Web Directory, like Hip Hop News and Hip Hop Albums, I'll be adding new sections to Hip Hop Online.

Hip Hop Movies is quite raw, more of a framework for a section, but it gives me a place to start. Taking it public will push me to keep expanding it. Right now it simply has some very obvious links to an initial list of movies that's nowhere near complete. The long term goal is to include not only feature films and documentaries but dvd and video only releases of concerts and other feature length projects.

Public Enemy: Live From House Of Blues

I've been trying to check out more concert movies lately and recently saw Public Enemy: Live From House Of Blues. Although I don't listen to Public Enemy like I used to, I still really appreciate what they're up to and, for me, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is an all-time classic.

This PE concert was recorded in LA during their 1999 tour and I didn't even think about the fact that I'd seen the San Francisco show from this tour until I was watching the dvd. One of the cool things about this tour was that Professor Griff was back and they decided to include some songs from the first album, Yo! Bum Rush The Show. Although I'm not that into Griff's politics, his background vocals are really a crucial aspect of the PE sound. Plus, he's as important to the overall theater of Public Enemy as Flavor Flav.

The whole show is very solid and well filmed. Chuck D and Flav represent, the S1Ws have short swords, which is kind of cool, and it's generally a reminder of the fact that PE is a solid live act with a deep catalog. However, Terminator X couldn't make this tour due to personal issues and DJ Lord was filling in. Though Lord did an excellent job, I still regret not having seen Terminator X in action. This dvd is definitely a must see for both fans and those who missed the heyday of Public Enemy.

Available from Amazon:
Public Enemy: Live From House Of Blues.

   Monday, May 24, 2004

Nobody Likes a Critic

I've got a lot of stuff I should be writing about, some albums, some movies, and hopefully I will soon. But I was just checking out a blog search and trend analysis site called BlogPulse. I haven't checked out the trend analysis part but I typed in hip hop and found this interesting older entry at the underground post on indie rappers giving Oliver Wang a hard time. Check out all the links including the title. The best link is to an editorial by Wang aka O-Dub that lays out various attacks.

You know, I've had fairly minor issues with O-Dub but mostly I feel like I can take him at his word and that he brings more to the table than most critics. Yet it doesn't surprise me that people are overly sensitive about getting negative press. Since I'm pretty low profile, people mostly ignore me when I say bad things. But I can understand the emotional responses of artists to bad reviews in general. Back when I did a lot of dance and theater performance, I always hated reviewers who said negative things. But I also felt that most of the negative criticism I got was beside the point, so it must be tougher getting negative criticism from somebody that does seem to know what's up.

For myself, I don't lay claims to being an especially good reviewer and try, as often as possible, to change that role into something else. I present personal responses, play off the issues, try to say something useful about the music and add some links into the mix. And I regularly consider not doing reviews or review-like commentary at all because I hate saying bad things about people's work. But I love to rant on the political tip!

Check out the underground post, it's pretty cool.

   Sunday, May 23, 2004

Pimpin' Hasselhoff

I'd heard about the Ice T/David Hasselhoff connection but forgot to find a clip for you guys. While browsing Hip Hop Politics, I was directed to this brief article about Ice T's intentions to create Hassle the Hoff. Pimpin' may not be easy but, damn, how much more degraded can the rap game get?

   Friday, May 21, 2004

Hip Hop in the Newsweeklies

Ghettopoly by Eric K. Arnold
RJD2 by Darren Keast
RJD2 by Vivian Host
MF Doom by Nate Patrin
Big Mike by John Nova Lomax
The Strange Fruit Project by Jeff Wade
GuerillaARC by Esther Park

Performance Review
DJ Nu-Mark by Andrew Asch (scroll down for this one)

Album Reviews
Wiley - Treadin' on Thin Ice by Jess Harvell
Dead Prez - RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta by Jeremy Glick
Dead Prez - RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta by Oliver Wang followed by Juan Pablo
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free by Michaelangelo Matos
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free by John Nova Lomax
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free by Lily Moayeri
Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album by Oliver Wang
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke by Nate Patrin
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke by Mosi Reeves
D12 - D12 World by Geoff Harkness

Available from Amazon:
DJ NuMark - Hands On
Wiley - Treadin' on Thin Ice
Dead Prez - RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album
RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke
D12 - D12 World.

   Thursday, May 20, 2004

While Searching For Petey Pablo Reviews

I've started posting some reviews of Petey Pablo's new album, Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry, on my NC Hip Hop Online Petey Pablo page.

While searching for such reviews, I ran into this interesting yet somehow odd article about a press evening with Wyclef Jean that included Lennox Lewis. I'm not sure who I'd rather see more. I dig Wyclef but Lewis is truly historical.

I also ran into a review of Cypress Hill's Till Death Do Us Part, which particularly caught my interest after just seeing their video collection that I wrote about yesterday.

Somewhere recently, prior to hunting for Petey Pablo reviews, I got turned on to this profile of Murs that includes a nice discussion of his work with 9th Wonder on Murs 3:16.

Available from Amazon:
Petey Pablo - Still Writing In My Diary: 2nd Entry
Cypress Hill - Till Death Do Us Part
Murs/9th Wonder - Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition.

Damon "Roc-A-Fuckhead" Dash

I got turned on to an article about Damon Dash while checking out past entries at Notes from a Different Kitchen. It's an interesting article and it reminds me of various reasons why I generally don't trust rich people.

The article profiles a visit by Dash to London to do as much business as he could cram into a brief trip. Part of his trip involved hooking up with DeBeers Diamonds people, at least socially, so he could further his quest for diamonds for his line of watches. Since DeBeers is strongly associated with the apartheid history of South Africa, I was happy to find this older piece about diamonds and hip hop at Guerilla Funk.

Supposedly one of his favorite lines is:
"Roc-A-Fella will be the new Rockefeller."

Obviously Dash means he will be the next Rockefeller. Which means he'll be an oppressive asshole whose financial empire will allow him to fuck over huge numbers of people. Perhaps he'll be able to contribute to putting more black people into prison, like the Rockefeller drug laws have done.

Or maybe Dash can work with the CIA and when one of those third world countries decides it's time to nationalize his sweatshops, he can have their democratically elected leaders overthrown.

Or perhaps he can take over support for Protestant evangelism in Latin America and get Protestant leadership into power, like Rios Montt who slaughtered so many Mayan Indians in Guatemala in the 80s.

Yeah, that's great. The next fucking Rockefeller.

For some reason, though, I found myself most annoyed with the statement that "Dash refuses to wear anything twice." I mean, what the fuck is up with that? He sounds like Richie Rich Russell Simmons' wife or something. The up side is that probably means none of his clothes ever get washed and his system is gradually building up to a toxic overload from the manufacturing residue.

Fuckhead of the month quote by Damon Dash:
"There is no one else who can tell the hip-hop story better than me."

   Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Hip Hop Movie Review:
Cypress Hill Still Smokin': The Ultimate Video Collection

Cypress Hill Still Smokin': The Ultimate Video Collection came out in 2004 but the best parts are based on songs that the group recorded in the early 90s. The dvd has a number of videos, a bunch of songs from a live concert in San Francisco and a mini-documentary about the group.

The information I can find online about this collection is kind of fucked up. As best as I can tell, this collection takes the 2000 Still Smokin' video release and adds footage from a concert that resulted in the album, Live At The Fillmore. Or, this is the exact same thing only in different order. Anyway, that's what I get based on the official website, various movie sites and Amazon.com, which is actually a good source for figuring certain things out but with a variety of limitations.

In any case, it has a higher number of songs from the early days, which were my favorite time for Cypress Hill. Those first couple of albums were really strong and presented a unique sound. And, although they've said they weren't forefronting Latino rap, it certainly seemed like it at the time. Maybe they meant they weren't rapping primarily in Spanish, but the Spanglish mix is very much a part of the Latino experience. I remember being hyped about the Latino element, in part, because I wasn't really aware of the early Puerto Rican involvement in the creation of hip hop and thought that Latinos were finally getting into hip hop, but mostly because it was a big part of my California experience (89-92, San Francisco, still my favorite American city).

I hate to be a spoilsport, but their move into more rock oriented approaches really undermined their game. I think that's pretty obvious in this video collection as the songs get weaker as they get more current and the focus of the live footage is on the earlier work. For me, the mixture of rock guitar is an important part of their work but once you get a complete rock band going it kind of loses my interest.

Yet Cypress Hill is pretty clear about rock being an important thing for them and they probably broke ground in that respect although my interest in keeping up with the historical development of rap/rock is fairly minimal. The live show footage makes it pretty clear that their audience is more of an alternative rock audience than a straightforward hip hop audience, although those lines are pretty unclear these days. Anyway, the fact that they let people stage dive during the Fillmore show was kind of interesting.

Overall, I'd say that if you're a fan of Cypress Hill you'll probably appreciate this release. It is stronger on the rap end, rather than the rap/rock end, so if you're looking for the rock angle, you may be disappointed, but that's a part of the dvd as well.

Hip Hop Blog Notes

Hip Hop Politics is an interesting combination of old school interests, political discussion and pictures of attractive women. One of the nicer elements is that the writer, Robert, apparently lives in DC and so his comments are sometimes responses to demos and stuff going on there. Plus, he seems to be pretty willing to address his own contradictions, like the fact that he posts pictures of women he finds attractive yet also has political concerns about objectifying women.

I'm getting caught up on my blog reading and found this post from last week at hiphopmusic.com that provides more insight into the Rawkus Records story via interviews with Mr. Walt and Evil Dee of the Beatminerz. I haven't had a chance to listen to the actual interviews but there are also some Vanilla Ice stories as an added attraction.

   Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Great Writing, Crazy Talk

I've started reading hip hop blogs again after a week or so off. Trent Fitzerald at Beats and Rants 2.2 is now writing hip hop news limericks. And they say that classic literary forms are dead!

Yet, my headline isn't about his entry but about an article he linked to by Armond White on Jay-Z and P. Diddy. It's a beautifully written piece which claims that the video of Jay-Z's 99 Problems and the production of Raisin in the Sun starring P. Diddy:
"represent responses to a dead end [in hip hop]. Ultimately, both works signal a regenerating of New York culture, New York potential. I can't think of any other popular artists who are attempting or achieving as much. "

Now, I can believe that this video is excellent, though I haven't seen it, and that P. Diddy does ok as an actor, though I haven't seen that either. But making such grandiose claims for a music video, which is the main focus of the article, is just a bit much to take. And, though White gives credit to the video director, Mark Romanek, it's surprising that he gives P. Diddy such props in a production in which he acts, not directs, not produces, just acts, and in an ok manner from everything I've read.

One more line that just boggles the mind:
"At this cultural moment and in these works, Romanek, Jay-Z and P. Diddy are forcing a reassessment of what hiphop culture means. "

What the fuck? Forcing who to reassess what? I don't buy it for a moment.

This is one of those things I could rant on about and get into a more detailed line reading but I'm trying not to go there. Let's just say that this article reads like a very personal response to artwork that is then used to underpin a claim about the works being much more important to the larger culture than they're ever going to be. In some respects it reads like the fairly worn out "New Yorker at the center of the universe having a personal revelation" (which, by definition, is obviously important and universal) with really excellent writing making it sound plausible until you recognize that there is almost no evidence for the claims made.

Hip Hop Album Reviews: Not

I think I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. The last couple of weeks have been rough. One of the backlogs is album reviews. I did listen to a bunch of things over the weekend and discovered that my list got shorter right away. For example, one album that I received and was looking forward to hearing won't get a review or a link or anything. Basically, every track I listened to had these intense voiceover moments to remind me that this was a preview album. I've run into this before, but this was the most fucked up example yet. It basically made the album unlistenable and, rather than give it even the minor publicity of mentioning it, I won't say what it was.

The point is, although I'm not much of a reviewer, I give coverage to releases and say what I can and I take that seriously, in my own way. I don't review MP3s or albums that aren't predominantly hip hop. I will review demos and I'm fine with promotional copies that are just cds with none of the artwork or packaging if they have the actual music. But if every track is fucked up partway through then it's like a novel with every 10th page totally obscured. And I won't review such nonsense.

There were two releases that I was going to try to review anyway cause one of them's by an artist I deeply respect and the other one's pretty damn cool from what I've heard, but I sat down after writing the above and the opening tracks of each one had a couple of verbal reminders over the track so fuck it. I'll go toss them in the free stacks at the next cd store I drop by.

Am I displaying prima donna behavior or a desire for simple professional courtesy?
You can judge for yourself but if you want me to review something of yours, make sure your record company is sending the actual music rather than a damaged facsimile.

   Monday, May 17, 2004

Hip Hop Movie: Wild Style

I just saw Wild Style again after many years. Wild Style was the first narrative feature on hip hop with a focus on the four elements, especially graffiti. It's also a historical document from the early 80s with performances and art by legendary representatives of the South Bronx too numerous to list.

Wild Style has a nice local flavor at a point when hip hop was getting ready to explode in the public eye. There's a sincerity to this movie that would just seem corny in anything filmed today. But there are also hints of violence that I didn't recognize at the time. The rappers with toy guns and suits, kind of an early form of gansta rap, the actors who used their own sawed-off in a scene and the club where, apparently, they were lucky they didn't get ripped off when shooting the music scenes.

I was truly struck by how fully Fab 5 Freddy had developed his smooth persona. And I'm also glad that this flick has an official website.

Available from Amazon:
Wild Style - DVD.

   Friday, May 14, 2004

Hip Hop in the Newsweeklies


Saul Williams
Carlos Mena and Hip-Hop Meditations
DJ Z-Trip and DJ P's Uneasy Listening Vol. One

Hip Hop Album Reviews

Cypress Hill - Till Death Do Us Part
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
Chingo Bling - The Tamale Kingpin
Madvillain - Madvillainy
(More) Madvillain - Madvillainy
DJ N-Wee - The Slack Album
Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album
Wiley - Treddin' on Thin Ice
Eightball and MJG - Living Legends
Lil' Flip - U Gotta Feel Me.

   Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Recent Hip Hop News Of Note

Paris to produce Public Enemy.

Review of Vast Aire's Look Mom . . . No Hands.

Review of D12 World at Rolling Stone.

Review of Madvillainy at Rolling Stone.

Dave Mays of The Source interviewed at mediabistro.com.

Beastie Boys action figures!

Review of Definitive Jux Presents 3.

Words, Beats & Life hip hop journal seeks submissions.

New means of retrieving fragile album audio.

CDs and DVDs won't last forever.

Reviews at Loosie.com:
Dujeous - City Limits
Ghostface - Pretty Toney

Available from Amazon:
Vast Aire - Look Mom . . . No Hands
D12 - D12 World
Madvillain - Madvillainy
Definitive Jux - Definitive Jux Presents 3
Dujeous - City Limits
Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album.

   Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I'm Back

Sorry about the absence. Let's start getting caught up.

Review of Ty's Upwards by Sam Chennault.

Thinking about screw from San Francisco.

Secondhand Outfit holds it down in South Florida with Clean Gloves Hide Dirty Hands.

Wiretap is a youth oriented left-lib website. Hip hop coverage this year has included features on hip hop and electoral politics and hip hop activism.

Available from Amazon:
Ty - Upwards.

   Saturday, May 08, 2004

King of New York

Although King of New York isn't really a hip hop movie, it does have a couple of hip hop songs in it, lots of black actors and it's gangsta all the way. The only thing I really have to say though, is that there are a couple of scenes with music and people dancing, but the sound isn't synced with the movement so they're all offbeat. It must be really demoralizing as an actor to watch yourself dance offbeat when you know perfectly well that you can keep rhythm.

But I also want to say that I realize that I've been neglecting the hip hop movies angle of this weblog. I just haven't seen anything in a while. However I am planning something new that should make hip hop movie fans happy. Don't want to say what it is till it's happening though, since I've already decided not to do the World Hip Hop Online project I mentioned a while back. Happily, working on that helped clarify some things, so stay tuned for future developments.

   Thursday, May 06, 2004

Hip Hop Album Reviews at Pitchfork

I'm starting to check out a wider range of music news sources, particularly music sites that don't feature hip hop but include it. So today I'm linking to hip hop album reviews from Pitchfork.

Ghostface - The Pretty Toney Album
Vast Aire - Look Mom . . . No Hands
DJ Zeph - Sunset Scavenger
DJ Signify - Sleep No More
Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill (reissue).

   Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Dress Like A What?!?

I was just getting ready to get some sleep (I have an odd schedule) and a bunch of fire engines rolled past my house. So I'll go ahead and post on this let's dress like grownups thing. I've noticed various blog posts on it recently and I remember an article about this topic quoting Wyclef Jean a while back cause my father sent it to me (not sure what he meant by that).

I don't have a problem with people wanting to wear suits and if I could afford really nice suits I'd have one myself. Currently I have only one black Italian suit by a not so famous designer. And it was great that one time I went to church in the last decade and for the funeral, oh yeah, and the company dinner party back when I had a job.

But I'm not interested in being told to dress like a grownup, fuck you very much. I think Farnsworth Bentley is a clown, however that's a good gig, just ask Flavor Flav or Ronald McDonald. Those "silk knots" look like the scrunchies white girls wear, especially teens and preteens. Bow ties are for clowns, but I repeat myself. Andre 3000 can't really show us how to dress like men since he's too busy being a drag queen (which I respect, seriously). Once you have a lot of money, you don't have to dress up to play businessman, they just have to deal with you, whatever you wear. And this is all marketing nonsense anyway, so just give me a break.

Um, if rappers are going to be gentleman do they still get to call women bitches and hos?

Is dressing like a grownup anything like Michael Jackson switching from shades to glasses for his recent court appearance?

I think Clyde needs his nappy nap cause he's getting cranky.

"Quick, Fast, In a Hurry"

Please look at Monday's post and respond.

Record companies once again prove what fucking scumbags they are.

Look, this blog isn't about Oliver Wang, but there's a decent interview with him about his career as a hip hop writer. While I do think he's right about not selling yourself short, I also think the business is not as easy to break into now as he makes it sound. But I'd love to be proven wrong on that.

   Tuesday, May 04, 2004

News Bits and Native Issues

Nobody's emailed me like I asked you to yesterday. But I still love you guys and, even though I've got a stack of papers to my left that I should be typing up, I'd rather be blogging.

I did a quick check of some hip hop news and some of the things that most interested me were this article on hip hop culture's effects on the auto industry, news of the Dirty States of America documentary and this press release about BBuggz. If I wasn't so busy I'd take the time to figure out if BBuggz is really kind of cool or just totally bizarre.

You know, I might not have posted if I hadn't caught the current intro art at Pop Life. O-Dub changes this stuff periodically but, since I've remarked in the past about the Outkast/Indian minstrel show in relationship to his postings, it feels almost like dialogue. Perhaps I'll initiate a more direct discussion in the future, which I would dig cause the brother's smart, but I noticed somewhere he mentioned that he's in the final stages of his dissertation and I know from experience about that insanity. I'm assuming that he's currently blogging as a way to (a) avoid finishing his dissertation or (b) maintain sanity while finishing up.

Anyway, if the art's gone when you check this out, it's a picture of a guy who looks "white" (i.e. with ancestors from Northern or Western Europe but certainly not Southern Europe) in what appears to be a tricked out Plains Indian get up. You know, the headdress with all the feathers, but the tourist version, not the elegant styles you can see at pow wows with all sorts of tribes these days.

This art caught my interest because I recently wrote about O-Dub's comments regarding appropriation of black hip hop iconography by Native American hip hop artists. It's interesting because it looks like a white guy appropriating Indian garb, perhaps a member of the fabled Wannabe Tribe. But these things are hard to call and the route to a particular picture can take many paths.

Back in the day, I read a bunch of stuff about race and liberation struggles and Native Americans were a big interest of mine (still are I just don't read the relevant history as intensely these days cause I'm reading other stuff). One of the things I picked up was that some Native Americans are willing to accept so-called white people as Indians if they have even a relatively small amount of Native blood. I read that as a generous accepting kind of approach to identity. But I've also run into instances where this generosity is taken up in rather ludicrous ways and I don't mean by white people who think that they were Native Americans in a past life.

While I think it can be really beautiful to expand your connections to other people based on rediscovered ancestry, one example that comes to mind is that of Joel Spring, an educational historian. Now, I had heard from a professor at Ohio State, where I got my doctorate, that Spring went for many years without acknowledging his Indian ancestry, although his bio states that his dad was Choctaw. She was under the impression that it wasn't so close a connection but the point was that he'd written a number of books on U.S. educational history with little attention to Native American "education" (the process where kids were taken from their tribes by U.S. government officials, punished for speaking native tongues, etc. - i.e. cultural genocide). At some point he acknowledged or rediscovered that part of his ancestry and started showing up at conferences with native jewelry and also suddenly started including Native Americans in his history writing.

In any case, that's probably a boring non-hip hop story but it brings up interesting angles on who can claim to be what. And even if they're jerks about it that doesn't mean it's not their's. But I guess I found O-Dub's example of Litefoot's cover art, that was like a lot of African American hip hop acts, more an interesting example of how this stuff spreads rather than an act of appropriation, at least in a negative sense. And I find the picture of the white guy with headdress funny as fuck, even though I could see being outraged by his audacity.

If you noticed my quote marks around white above or the references to Northern/Western Europeans vs. Southern Europeans, it's cause the definition of who's white has changed over the years. For example, Italians used to not be considered white but, in the U.S. in particular, the concept of whiteness has expanded over the years. I also shift between Native American and Indian cause a lot of Native Americans call themselves Indian.

I've got more thoughts on this stuff but I've got to get back to work. Later.

   Monday, May 03, 2004

Slow Week Ahead - So Email Me!

I won't be posting as much this week because I'm finishing up the semester and cranking out a lot of projects. But I'll be back full steam by the end of the week and will try to post when I can along the way.

Since you've got a few extra minutes that you might have spent on today's entry, how about sending me some feedback on Hip Hop Logic? I'm particularly interested in what you like about the site and what you'd like to see more of so that I can improve this thing.

If you write, please let me know if you're a regular visitor or if this is your first time here. I value everyone's feedback but knowing how often you visit helps me understand more about what you tell me.

So write: hiphoplogic(at)netweed(dot)com

I'd really appreciate it.

   Saturday, May 01, 2004

Hip Hop Bloggers, Academics, Journalists

In my recent short discussion of cultural appropriation in response to some thoughts of Oliver Wang's, I found myself held back by the weblog format. Actually, if this were a more academic weblog, then I could probably go for more of a theory head discussion. If that happens elsewhere, I'll let you know. And if you're into academic writing, I'd suggest checking out New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone by Raquel Z. Rivera for a really sharp scholarly discussion of race, culture and identity in hip hop.

O-Dub also brings up some interesting points related to Rawkus Records [you'll have to scroll down], as does Sam Chennault who takes a historical peek at Rawkus through the eyes of El-P.

Their brief comments remind me that hip hop journalism is really missing a strong investigative journalist or even a crew of such journalists. The more I dig into any specific issue, the more I see that there are lots of interesting angles that are unpursued. It would be great to see a hip hop journalist with credentials, connections and backing who isn't worried about pissing people off and is relentless in investigating what's behind the scenes in the world of hip hop. Obviously there are people who could do that and occasionally something good happens with a single article or in weblog discussions but it just seems like it would be a really great journalistic niche.

On an unrelated note, I'm disappointed with the Thursday April 29 post heading at I'm so sincerr, Iller than a AIDS patient. I've just had too many friends die of AIDS to see it turned into a "humorous" compliment about a video.

[UPDATE: David Drake from "I'm so sincerr" contacted me to let me know that he was not trying to harm anyone and was making a reference to some Nas lyrics. I appreciate him writing me and the entry linked to above wasn't a negative one, just the title. I've been reading his blog long enough now to know that he's not putting out hate and he covers a lot of interesting stuff from the underground to mainstream. But it was just one of those things I had to bring up.]

Available from Amazon:
Raquel Z. Rivera - New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone.