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

  Web netweed.com   
   Friday, October 22, 2004

My Problems, So Much Smaller than What's In Store for the Music Industry

As usual, I'm slow getting out of town. Nevertheless, the move is coming together and I'll be in San Francisco next week. I'm looking forward to being out there and have already started checking out some Bay Area opportunities. I was looking forward to attending the BloggerCon in San Jose but just found out the registration is closed. Unfortunately I found out only after I registered for a site that I wouldn't otherwise register for, waited for the email, logged in and filled out the conference registration form. Can anyone say, fucked up provision of information? I've always been amazed at computer scientists and librarians who do great things online but can't really support new visitors properly.

But my concerns are relatively minor compared to the pain the music industry is about to experience at the hands of Elliot Spitzer. Never heard of the guy? He's the New York state attorney general that's currently bringing it to the insurance industry.

See you late next week.

   Monday, October 18, 2004

OK, I'm Moving Again

I'm moving to San Francisco this week and so I'll be back with more blogging action early next week. I still have lots to review but I'm back in the game and remain committed to reviewing everything I've received so far. And that's my general policy until otherwise stated.

I'll also be revving up a new hip hop related project in November so keep your eyes peeled. Till soon. Clyde

Further HSAN Disapointments

This is a really bizarre news account related to further disappointments from Russell Simmons and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

Closing line:
"Man, voting is a waste of time," Dawson said.

The Teacher on 9/11

KRS-One keeps it real as always in his initial response (I'm sure there will be more) to media coverage of his 9/11 remarks. I don't know what to say but I understand where he's coming from and I understand why people are appalled. Mostly it's just The Teacher doing his thing and finding that 9/11 is still a hot topic. But I do think he's being a bit disengenous when he says hip hop is about peace and kind of fronts on past statements that, I believe, indicate his perception that armed struggle is necessary to create peace. I'm sure searching on Google News or BlogPulse for KRS will continue to get you a lot of press coverage and blogger responses. I can't wait to see what it does for his international sales.

By the way, KRS-One is no anarchist. I'm sure he'd be quite happy to be put in charge of the whole show and reign supreme over absolutely everyone.

   Friday, October 15, 2004

Zion I - Family Business

Well, this marathon concept didn't work as originally conceived but it has gotten me to face up to my responsibilities and start reviewing stuff. I guess it's become one of those "I'll keep walking till my legs fall off" kind of thing. Which actually is rather overly dramatic but that's my mood today.

You'd think that such a mood would result in really fucked up reviews, but I was fortunate to listen to the Family Business mixtape from Zion I and that lifted my mood.

Although somewhat uneven, Family Business presents a pared down sound that features the vocalists to good advantage. The team of beatmaker Amp Live and MC Zion are a solid combination. Although the beats are fairly simple on this release they aren't simplistic. In fact, a lot of them rock, especially on the first half of the album.

The tracks featuring Lyrics Born and Vast Aire seemed a little weaker than the earlier ones, although I always enjoy hearing Vast Aire's voice. Other guests include A-plus, Pep Love, Encore, C Rayz Walz, and Raashan Ahmad of Crown City Rockers.

You can peep a review at Gridface and an interview with MC Zion and Deuce Clips.

Available from Amazon:
Zion I - Deepwater Slang 2.0
and Curb Servin (Bonus DVD).

   Thursday, October 14, 2004

It Just Goes To Show You

Jumping to conclusions, something I have plenty of experience with, just leads to mistaken impressions. And sometimes that's how unnecessary beefs start.

By the way, the above refers to the third paragraph down, beginning with "On the flipside, the blogosphere works by a strange logic at times." O-Dub, consider breaking up those posts a little. Just a thought.

Hip Hop News Mix

I haven't seen much more on Ed Lover's new label Full Blast other than the initial announcement. Where's the website to take advantage of this burst of publicity?

Apparently the attempt by Russell Simmons to spearhead voter registration is meeting resistance from the grassroots. I knew that the various HSAN cancellations, at least 3 that I know of, are making them look bad. But this is the first time I've heard it stated (whether accurately or not), that:

"Groups within the black community have been turning out to oppose his appearances as a national, corporate-backed effort to win the black vote with celebrities rather than substantive ideas and programs."

Sounds about right to me.

The emergence of people who mix music videos in clubs like visual djs is partly due to technological developments, so it's interesting to see how a company offering such equipment, MediaXtasy, markets itself. I just love the closing paragraph:

"For advertisers and event sponsors, MX Works adds a powerful new medium for communication. Animations and motion clips created from still images of logos or product images, plus clips from promotional or commercial footage can be built into branded content palettes. As a result, marketing messages are seamlessly woven into the music visual experience. The message is unmistakable, yet it is not perceived as 'advertising.' "

An unmistakable message whose true nature cannot be perceived! Has Russell heard about this? Maybe that's what he's doing with voter registration.

I recently ran into this friendly interview with Guerilla Black at MahoganyGirl.com. I'm not following things too closely but I guess people are hatin' the Biggie voice. However, I love hearing those thick, luscious syllables on new tracks. I say, keep the voice but upgrade the content.

If you're scholarly or just have a paper to do, check out Researching Hip Hop History, Culture, and Politics, a bibliography from the Cornell University Library.

   Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Mixtapes Etc. - Group Mixtape Review Blog

Hashim and co. continue to explore the possibilities of the hip hop weblog with Mixtapes Etc. I know other blogs include mixtapes and there are various mixtape sites, a selection of which are linked to from Mixtapes Etc., but there's something just so right about this concept.

   Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Pauly Snubnoze - Corn Likka

I gave Pauly Snubnoze an ok review for a cd he sent me a while back but, at the time, I couldn't play his dvd at home, put it aside and forgot about it till recently. Now that I, too, have a dvd player, joining the rest of you in the 21st Century, I've been able to check out the video Corn Likka. And, damn, it's good!

Apparently it was made back in '02 and filmed by Sunny Carson. Corn Likka is a song about moonshine and partying in the contemporary south where you may be out in the sticks but you can still keep up with current haps in hip hop. Snubnoze is a white member of an interracial crew, in general one of the cooler developments in race relations via hip hop. And they present a positive, upbeat energy throughout the song. But what's really cool about this video is that it raises the profile of the black moonshiner, an artisan long neglected in popular representations of shine artists.

I'm starting to wax almost eloquently because I recently had my first encounter with really good moonshine. Really, really good.

In any case, Corn Likka strikes me as a single I would have been much happier watching blow up than Petey's Raise Up. At the moment, Pauly's 21st Records site seems to be down, but check back in case he's got samples posted.

Future Plans and P. Diddy

I'm planning a more commercial project, something serious that requires me to pay close attention to things like P. Diddy's Vote or Die campaign but, until that project goes public, I am so happy to turn off that self serving egomaniac's television commercials.

   Monday, October 11, 2004

Hip Hop Albums Updated

I know I'm procrastinating on my reviews, but I really needed to update Hip Hop Albums. Really.

The Law, TV and Reruns

The Smoking Gun comes correct with a report on the NYPD hip hop dossier.

Not only have I been missing most of the VH1 hip hop activity, but I've also missed Russell Simmons Presents Hip Hop Justice.

But sometimes, when you've totally slept, you can still go back and enjoy something later, like this interview with Jay Smooth from last spring.

   Saturday, October 09, 2004

Aunt Beatty, New Address

Yep, my Aunt Beatty turned 90 today and you know she wasn't having me sit around and review those nasty rap records!

In other news, I'm moving again, this time to San Francisco. It should be happening in the next couple of weeks and I'm asking everyone to hold review submissions till I have a new address out there. If you sent something already, the contact information is still good and I'm holding on to the mailbox through the end of the year.

But wait for the new address, it will work better for everybody.

Hip Hop at netweed

I know I should be posting more reviews and that this marathon is off to a fast walk, but I've been busy updating Hip Hop Albums with new and recent releases.

If you're new to this scene, you can check out a listing of all hip hop related projects at netweed.

   Friday, October 08, 2004

Jedi Mind Tricks - Legacy of Blood

I'll shoot you. You're a faggot. I like to watch cartoons. Did I tell you that I'll shoot you and you're a faggot. Did I mention that I'm on a nonstop ego trip spewing vitriol and dungeons and dragons scenarios?

Like the man said on the first track:
"Who gave you the fucking impression that I care?"

Official Website

Available from Amazon:
Jedi Mind Tricks - Legacy of Blood.

Russell Simmons and HSAN Walk Out On Another Event

As news unfolds of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network's pullout from a voter rally this weekend, I'm reminded that I never commented on their pullout from the March on New York: Still We Rise march and rally scheduled for the beginning of the Republican National Convention. This event was focused on the oppressive Rockefeller Drug Laws and activists were seriously upset at the decision by Russell Simmons to withdraw.

I think it's telling that, in news accounts and the HSAN press release, the scheduling of the MTV Video Music Awards also conflicted. Social change or money? Social change or money? This sort of approach indicates Russell's serious desire to build power in a way that's edgy but safe in order to support his long range plans and visions, which I don't believe he's letting us in on at this stage in the game.

   Thursday, October 07, 2004

REDEYE - From The Trenches

One of the last things I got before I stopped reviewing for the summer, was a promo from REDEYE of Austin. At that time he was expecting to release an album entitled Waiting Room during the summer but it looks like it hasn't dropped yet. REDEYE was also organizing a weekly hip hop showcase at the time, so he was staying busy.

The promo, From The Trenches, includes a guest vocalist, CJ, a male R&B singer who adds a nice touch to the track How I Feel. And REDEYE is a decent mc and lyricist though his voice seems a bit constrained. But overall the promo suggests that REDEYE has yet to develop to the point that a wider audience will respond to his work.

Fortunately, REDEYE doesn't take himself too seriously and is willing to include some humorous material in which he pokes fun at himself, in part. Unfortunately, the humor is a bit sophomoric and becomes somewhat mean-spirited in the William Hung intro and outro.

I haven't heard his previous cd release, Bloodshot, but Harjit Bains was feeling it.

Where You're At, Take 2

For a much better review of Where You're At, check out Notes From a Different Kitchen.

Hip Hop Morning News

So somebody just beat me to the coffeemaker. And she drinks decaf!

I'm going to post a couple of news items, go get some coffee and come back and try to say something plausible about this giant stack of cds I've got to review.

Hey, maybe I should simply discuss the current arrangement of the cds as an aesthetic object and leave it at that. What do you say?

OK, I'll post some news, go get coffee and then get back to work.

Sasha Frere-Jones has a great interview about pop music in the New Yorker, but he's the one being interviewed for a change. I found out about it from Pop Life, a hip hop blog with newly cleaned up blogrolls! Way to go Oliver! The thing about these guys, is that they aren't afraid to talk about pop music in an intelligent way while testifying to their love of certain songs and artists.

As is the case with blogs, Pop Music led me to a post at We eat so many shrimp that led to this interview with DJ Kay Slay who really sharply sums up the situation for musicians, including those making mixtapes, when dealing with the music industry.

And it also led me to this article about Mister Cartoon's sneaker deal with Nike. Mister Cartoon is the tattoo artist who inked Eminem, Jay-Z and Beyonce (subliminal love triangle?). Links to pix.

Trump, Gorbachev and Russell Simmons? Hip hop can take you places.

And where will hip hop take Cuban rappers?

Good news, the coffee maker is free. Reviews to follow.

   Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Where You're At by Patrick Neate

Although I mostly review cds, I occasionally get other interesting hip hop related items. Patrick Neate's Where You're At: Notes From the Frontline of a Hip-Hop Planet is one such item that I was happy to receive and, even though I often had issues with the author, a British novelist, I ended up reading the whole book. Not that it's rare for me to finish a book, but there were moments that I really questioned the author's take on what he encountered.

As I understand it, Neate's book was actually released in England earlier on and so he's able to discuss early reception of the book in the intro to this new U.S. edition. One of the things he points out is that he's caught a lot of criticism from the hip hop community about a variety of issues that resulted, in part, from a combination of marketing and hubris. It appears that the guy made some fairly short visits to New York, Tokyo, South Africa and Brazil, and used them as a way to work through certain ideas he has about hip hop while learning more about what's happening at those locations.

That's not necessarily a bad thing but Neate overreaches himself in a variety of ways. In New York, as he's hanging out and smiling at people he doesn't know a white guy calls him a "bitch." The use of the term bitch is later presented as evidence of hip hop's influence on white culture (WTF!?!). It's funny, a couple of years back a wiry, grizzled old white biker about my height looked at me and said, "bitch," as he walked past. For some reason, I got more of a prison culture kind of vibe and a term that speaks much more about gender roles in the U.S. than hip hop history.

Look, I've gone back and looked at a couple of things but I'm going to stop fact checking and give you the rest off the dome. The reason I kept reading Neate after he showed himself rather disconnected from his "data collection," was because the guy does a nice kind of self reflexive thing. Not only does he point to his own limitations in the intro, but he sometimes presents what he's thinking at one point and then points out his own mistaken conclusions at another.

Some of his observations are interesting and his visit to South Africa seemed the most productive. At least, that section of the book seemed the most successful at combining an investigative style based on hanging out with personal contacts, a strong focus on oppositional culture, a heightened awareness of the intricacies of race, doses of academic scholarship and a real love of hip hop when it meets his stringent guidelines.

I could say more critical things but I think you get my drift. And it wasn't just his willingness to critique himself that kept me reading. Neate's an excellent writer and he did end up checking out some pretty cool things. If you're into "conscious" hip hop and related political perspectives, if you like writing about popular culture that has a lefty academic edge or if you really still need evidence that hip hop isn't all bling bling, then you should probably take a look at Where You're At by Patrick Neate.

Available from Amazon:
Patrick Neate - Where You're At.

   Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Vast Aire - Look Mom...No Hands

I'm one of those people that thought Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein was one of the most amazing hip hop albums I've ever heard. Or, as tadah puts it:
"There was a giant appearing at the horizon with "The Cold Vein".

Part of it was the high point of his career to date production by El-P that makes one want to throw around phrases like sonic landscape and even better shit if I was in a poetic mood. The rest was the combined force of Vast Aire and Vordul at both a lyrical and a vocal level. Following that with a solo act is nothing but tough.

I like Look Mom...No Hands. Interesting, enjoyable, thought provoking, nod producing. To some extent it takes Vast Aire out of the LSD studio and into the streets. The guest mcs bring solid but not quite so esoteric content and the producers seem pretty free to experiment without feeling overshadowed by El-P's previous masterpiece.

Having a lot of guests can trip up an mc, as I've been noticing with other folks lately. Although I'm not disappointed by this album, Nate Patrin felt:
"The record is unfocused--too much production schizophrenia, too many mediocre guest MCs, too many signs that he's saving his peak shit for the proper Can Ox sophomore record. But as disappointments go, it's cause for optimism."

I have to tell you that I'm listening to it now and feeling no disappointment whatsoever. No, it's not a masterpiece, but it is a solid hip hop album with a lot of interesting contributors and Vast Aire's imposing presence.

Available from Amazon:
Vast Aire - Look Mom...No Hands
Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein.

Listening Party of One

I'm getting started late with the first review session, which I hope to do later this evening. Somehow this event feels like it's going to be as haphazard and fractured with occasional flashes of brilliance bogged down by a general cluelessness unknown to the author as the rest of this blog.

Wait, that's me, the author. And I've just finished organizing a pile of cds and related material from an interesting range of artists including:
Vast Aire
Paul Ma$$on
Jedi Mind Tricks
Capital D

So I'm looking forward to what the underground, the indie artists, the almost famous and the always unknown are putting out. But, I should warn you, it's my birthday and I'm on hip hop time, so I can't tell you whether or not the party's about to start, it's starting late or it's been going on all along and I've just been passed out.


   Friday, October 01, 2004

Marathon Record Review Session

I'm cutting out until Tuesday, Oct. 5th when netweed relaunches. To contribute to this event, I'm doing a marathon review session of over 25 recent hip hop album releases by rising artists. I'll start posting reviews on the 5th and continue every day till I get through. And then I'm moving again, but more on that later.

Slamming Stupid White Men

Slam poet Vanessa German wins the Slam Bush National Rhyme Competition. Organizer Wordsworth shows how it's done and then gives some background at Democracy Now.

How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office is a collection intended to inspire political action. To that effect, a book tour has been organized by the League of Pissed Off Voters at indyvoter.org.

More electoral news as the Pennsylvania Hip-Hop Political Convention kicks off, a continuation of activities related to the National Hip-Hop Political Convention.

Hip Hop Video Games

The new hip hop game Get On Da Mic is about to drop with a great list of tracks.

It turns out that the voice of the lead character in the upcoming release Grand Theft Auto San Andreas is that of rapper Young Maylay. And, according to Chris Stead who got an early view, the signs are promising for a much improved GTA experience.

Available from Amazon:
Get On Da Mic
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.