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

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   Wednesday, April 27, 2005
ProHipHop Launches Talking Hip Hop Business

Late last week I added a new series at ProHipHop called Talking Hip Hop Business. The first edition features rapper/producer Tahir discussing Hood Economics.

Hood Economics is also the title of Tahir's third solo release. You may know Tahir from his work with Abu as the production team Hedrush. Their work appears on albums from Dead Prez, The Coup, The Roots and Thrill A Playa, as well as in the films Soul In The Hole, Brooklyn Babylon and The Ladykillers. They are now part of a larger project, Hedrush LLC.

   Saturday, April 23, 2005
Update on Album Reviews

I've been totally swamped with work and unable to respond to the many requests for album reviews. School finishes up in about two weeks and then one of my big priorities is doing reviews over the summer. I've got a lot of interesting looking stuff that I'm sure folks will want to here about. So I should be back in full effect at Hip Hop Logic by mid-May. Sorry I can't get to things sooner.

   Sunday, April 17, 2005
Album: Vintage by All Natural

all natural - vintage

All Natural is Tone B. Nimble and Capital D. Vintage is rather different from Capital D's Insomnia that I reviewed fairly recently. Though Capital D writes for both albums, his lyrics are much more accessible, simpler, yet still meaningful. Aside from an opening group vocalization that seems off key, this is a nice album with a lot of guests, including Jungle Brothers and El da Sensai.

You can peep some videos and sample tracks at Okayplayer and get more info at All Natural Inc.

Media Coverage:
David Jakubiak
Amy Phillips

Available from Amazon:
All Natural - Vintage.

Album: Kool Keith Presents Thee Undatakerz

kool keith presents thee undatakerz

I guess that Kool Keith Presents Thee Undatakerz is basically a Kool Keith album cause it definitely has some mad genius energy at work. But, if you know much about Kool Keith, you know I'm already belaboring the obvious.

This album has numerous really funny moments, though it is fairly inconsistent. The opening track featuring Kool Keith as Reverand Tom is simply hilarious. His take on Baptist preachers is perfect. He's got the cadence down and he plays off of various church traditions, like the wearing of elaborate hats, to great effect. You can download the single and check out more about Thee Undatakerz at their website.

I was also particularly struck by M-Balmer. M-Balmer is the female mc in the group and she's really strong. While trying to find something online about her identity, I found this solid review by Steve 'Flash' Juon who says "the female rapper M-Balmer is the real surprise." I agree and I wish I knew who she was. Write me if you know:

Here's an interview with Kool Keith about the project.

Available from Amazon:
Kool Keith Presents Thee Undatakerz.

   Saturday, April 16, 2005
Hashim, the Feminist?

Hashim Warren claims to be a feminist or a neo-feminist or a post-neo-feminist and that's a cool thing. He's exploring the possibilities and trying to do so without giving up the contradictions within hip hop. His post on this topic, linking to the Good For A Girl blog and related email discussion group that came out of the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference, also includes an interesting discussion in the comments area. That's a rare thing and that rarity is one of the reasons I don't have a comments section. I just don't want to spend my time filtering out spambots and assholes.

I've given Hashim a hard time about some of his statements in the past and, I know it's perverse, but I partly do it because he actually pays attention and considers what I say. Most people seem to have difficulty handling my attitude and never get past that to discover that I will change my position and become responsive when engaged. On the other hand, when people say I'm addressing the wrong enemy or bringing up irrelevant topics, I tend to be fairly dismissive, which doesn't help the situation.

Anyway, I'm glad to see this activity happen and people talking to other people. I hope it continues because that lays the groundwork for other levels of action.

Let me know about related projects and websites that I should mention:

   Friday, April 15, 2005
Davey D on the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference

Davey D has a great piece about the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference. I originally posted excerpts because it was on a site requiring registration. Now that he's got it up on his site, he should get the traffic.

That Pyramid Blogger Spreads Feminist Knowledge

MJ drops Part 2 of her take on the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference and gets all serious and shit.

   Thursday, April 14, 2005
From the Pyramids to the Hip Hop Conference

I heard from MJ at How'd We Get From the Pyramids to the Projects? and she has an initial report on her experiences at the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference in Chicago. It's more of a general impression of her trip but it says Part 1 so I'm sure they'll be more.

It was interesting to hear her impressions of Chicago cause it is kind of a nutty place. I lived there for about 6 months when I started my journey through grad school with a semester at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago way back in '92. I'd visited and performed there before at the now defunct Randolph Street Gallery with a small dance company from San Francisco and dug the town as a visitor. But living there really sucked. Except for relatively cheap rent for a big city (at least at the time), there was a general air of violence in the streets quite unlike anything I'd encountered across the boards before, almost every cool neighborhood had some kind of visible gang activity, the pollution was really bad and personalities were often quite unpleasant. But I don't want to alienate people with my take on urban midwestern personalities (ok, Chicago and Columbus, OH personalities). Plus, I also met some of the greatest people I've known while I was there. Tracy Hudak, where are you?

Ok, enough memories for the moment. MJ also says some folks from Vibe and Essence were there. They're the obvious publications to expect some print attention from, so we'll see. Apparently MJ, Joan Morgan, Kim Osorio and Jessy Terrero were on Davey D's Hard Knock Radio show after a panel. I went to the Hard Knock Radio site, figured out where the shows were and there's Davey D's but no topic is listed. I can't listen to talk radio. It moves too slow and I can't do other things and listen to people talk. But apparently they only archive them for a week, so I guess it's there and gone, unless he archives it at his site.

If I hear about other stuff, I'll let you know. Also, MJ has an interesting response to a blogger's fucked up take on the gender discrimination and sexual harassment charges at The Source on which I've commented at ProHipHop.

   Monday, April 11, 2005
Source Legal Action and Hip Hop Feminism

I'll be covering the legal action against The Source over at ProHipHop cause that is some serious hip hop business news. But the case is obviously strongly related to the women's issues in hip hop that I've been discussing here lately. One thing that struck me in one of Jeff Chang's posts about the situation was his mention of the speech former Source editor Kim Osorio gave at the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference.

Here's what Jeff said about the speech:

"In the meantime, former Editor-In-Chief Kim Osorio appeared at the University of Chicago's Hip-Hop and Feminism conference on Saturday. Kim stunned the crowd by starting off by saying, "I want to admit to having made a lot of mistakes." She went on to say that, in retrospect, sections such as "Dime Piece" and the swimsuit issue may have been ill-considered. "The way we treated women was as objects--turn around, take off your pants, put this on," she said. She added that she was even asked at one point by another magazine to do a fashion spread. She declined."

"In a very revealing moment, she said that she had to pick which battles she wanted to fight. One which she chose not to pursue had to do with a story about rappers and rape in hip-hop. The story was timed to coincide with the Kobe Bryant trial. But, she says, "I was told (by higher-ups), 'You can't do that story'. That was a reality check."

These statements are extremely important and I hope there will be more coverage of her speech, ideally a transcript of what she said, as well as some substantial coverage of what went on at the conference. The actions against The Source provide an excellent opportunity for activists to leverage, just as they did Hot 97's tsunami song incident.

The tsunami song got the widespread attention it did not because of the issue of racism, but because of the deep response to the tsunami disaster. Activists often miss such facts and start to believe that the rightness of their cause is finally prevailing when they happen to connect to a larger zeitgeist. Not distributing transcripts of Osorio's speech would be one example of how the left drops the ball on the regular. Let's hope that doesn't happen this time since the hip hop press, both on and offline, seems unlikely to give substantial coverage of actual conference events.

Chicago Sun-Times on the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference

There's an interesting piece in the Chicago Sun-Times by Cheryl V. Jackson about the Hip Hop and Feminism conference, though it has some flaws. Picky fuck that I am, I'm going to point out the ones that bug me. The Source is described as "hip-hop's most highly regarded magazine," which is kind of questionable unless you're basing regard on sales. To whom, would be my question.

Tricia Rose is described as the "chairwoman of the American Students Department" at UC Santa Cruz. That would be American Studies, damn it.

Didn't the editor that wrote the misleading headline actually check out the article? The conference wasn't about "battling hip-hop stereotypes" but about addressing the realities of hip hop.

But, actually, this article is full of great stuff. I was most interested in the following:

"Conference participants . . . heard about the establishment of the Progressive Women's Caucus of the National Hip Hop Political Convention. The caucus was created last year when the convention refused to acknowledge issues of rape, domestic violence, incest and the sexual abuse of young girls as urgent as those of police brutality, racial profiling, black male incarceration and black male unemployment. . . 'the most vocal and hostile opponents to a critical view of hip-hop were women themselves, not the prototypical male leadership,' noted Zenzele Isoke, a researcher and a founder of the hip-hop political convention. She is a fellow at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Those women didn't want the culture singled out for misogyny and considered the feminist critics as race and culture traitors, she said."

You know, it's always those who are closest to you that are going to hurt you the worst.

   Sunday, April 10, 2005
Lyrical Swords, B-Girl Be, Hip Hop and Feminism

Over at ProHipHop I've posted a nice little quote from Lyrical Swords about hip hop, youth and parents.

B-Girl Be:
"Over the last two years, a group of Twin Cities women have been getting together weekly at Intermedia Arts to develop the idea and concept for B-Girl Be. This winter, they finally raised enough money through fundraisers, sponsors and foundations to take a chance and produce the first-of-its-kind Women in Hip-Hop summit in the Twin Cities. From April 22 to June 12, 2005, the doors will open for women of all ages and cultures to celebrate women’s accomplishments in all elements of hip-hop."

Bloggers who are or may be posting about their experiences at the Hip Hop and Feminism Conference:

Cowboyz 'n' Poodles
How'd We Get From the Pyramids to the Projects?
Urban Snapshot

Urban Snapshot says she was going even though registration was full. I'm glad to hear that and I'm curious to know how it worked out. But the fact that registration was full says a lot about the organizers and their focus. If this was perceived as a serious political event focused on social change, then registration should not be closed at any point. If it's a typical academic event that has little resonance outside the ivy walls (and the University of Chicago is a mostly white outpost in Chicago's Southside, at least the last time I checked), then it's not so surprising that the organizers undermined their cause by limiting registration.

If you were there and are writing about it, please let me know. Also, let me know if you noticed any reporters from Essence or Vibe. Write:

   Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Further Updates to Hip Hop Albums

I've added more late March and early April releases to Hip Hop Albums.

   Friday, April 01, 2005
Hip Hop Albums Updated

I've been sound asleep and the new hip hop releases have been piling up around me, but now I've updated Hip Hop Albums. And there's more to come, much more.