Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Old Hip Hop Is A White Thing (Rock The Bells, pt 1)

Wow... I don't even know where to start about the Rock the Bells show I went to last Saturday. I certainly wouldn't want to take anything away from the performers, who given the size of the show and the impossibility of getting the whole crowd of 30,000+ (most of which was definitely there to see RATM) amped, did a damn fine job. I shyed away from the Paid Dues stage, mainly because I've either seen those acts perform before or I don't really care to. Anybody who paid a hundred dollars to see Sage Francis and Atmosphere instead of Public Enemy and EPMD needs their head examined (and I would hope Sage and Slug would back me up on that).

Perhaps the most humorous moments of the day took place before I even got to RTB. The line of crackers on 125th and Lexington was worth the price of admission alone (although technically I didn't have to pay anything to have seen that portion). I noticed the great white mass comin' up the block from my apartment on 120th. An amorphous mass of caucasian out of towners, holdin' the shit in their pants only due to their "strength in numbers" mindset, anxiously scuttlin' towards the special MTA event buses.

Little do they know of course that this particular section of two-fifth is most renowned not for the Apollo Theater, bootleggers, African oils, and the other ammenities of the most famous Harlem street, but for the dopeheads that congregate their each morning. One RTBer noted how smart Rock the Bells was for sending vendors out to 125th to sell water. I didn't have the heart to explain that one of the most lucrative ghetto hustles in the post-911 era is the summertime Poland Springs gig. And that today was a serious payday for some of these "vendors" who had been waiting for an event like this all year.

One "tour guide," or, as we refer to them here in the hood, dopefiend even convinced a bunch of oh-so-gullible light-skinnededs to walk with him down to the end of 125th street (0nly about four avenue blocks... longer than street blocks to you out-of-towners), up an onramp, and down the sidewalk deficient Triborough bridge to Randall's Island. A hike, which might have been worthwhile had people gone their directly from the train and bypassed the approximately thirty five minute line to the event buses, was instead taken up by several non-tri-staters who were near the front of the line to get on the bus. Well, at least they got some exercise.

Most of the Harlem residents were completely unaware of the concert and stopped frequently on their drives to and from wherever to ask the white folk, "What the hell are y'all waiting in a huge line in Harlem for?" Needless to say groups like the Wu-Tang Clan, EPMD, Cypress Hill, and Public Enemy haven't been a hot topic of conversation in US hoods for close to a decade now, and Rage Against the Machine never was. And as much as I enjoyed the subsequent show and love all the acts that performed, I realize that the most 2007 hood-relevant artist performing that day was Flava Flav, distantly followed by Talib Kweli (despite what white people think, black people do generally like and respect Kweli). If a Harlem native is going to pay 100 bones for a concert it better be Beyonce or Summer Jam (good thing I'm not a Harlem native... just a gentrifier).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

...For All You Rock The Bellers Who Might Be In Town...

If you're in town by Friday night, and feel like comin' out to crazy type gathering of music, comedy, jokes, and fun shit then come through. Flyer below:

If you can't read it, then click on it, and it'll get a lot bigger (pause).

...The Originator of G'yeah...

New Mix from the Cleanhobo over at Philaflava.com. He makes these from time to time and posts them up in the forum. He always does a nice job sequencing and selecting, so I'ma try to convince him to keep doin' these and maybe do a guest blog occasionally. For me the mix is nice, cuz I only had Music To Driveby and We Come Strapped back in the day, and other than "Growin' Up In The Hood," (which I kinda reconstructed at one point "Woods to the Hood" - not that you care) and "Streiht Up Menace," I either don't remember or haven't heard any of the other cuts that are on the mix. Nevertheless, I still always found Eiht Hype to be one of the most brutally ill and criminally slept on West Coast vets. In fact, had Eiht been down with the right label at the right time (eg Ruthless or Death Row in their prime eras), I think he would've probably gone plat a few times. But that's neither hear nor there. Last I heard he's kinda rollin' with Snoop now, which is a good fit. And nobody has ever used a catch word (see "g'yeah") to such perfection.

1. Def Wish III (from We Come Strapped)
2. Hit The Floor (from Music To Driveby)
3. Give It Up (from It's A Compton Thang)
4. Hood Took Me Under (from Music To Driveby)
5. Take 2 With Me (from We Come Strapped)
6. Growin' Up In The Hood (from Straight Checkn 'Em)
7. Duck Sick II (From Music To Driveby)
8. This Is Compton (from It's A Compton Thang)
9. They Still Gafflin' (from Straight Checkn 'Em)
10. Goin' Out Like Geez (from We Come Strapped)
11. Wanted (from Straight Checkn 'Em)
12. It's A Compton Thang (from It's A Compton Thang)
13. Late Nite Hype (from It's A Compton Thang)
14. Def Wish (from Straight Checkn 'Em)
15. N 2 Deep ft. Scarface (from Music To Driveby)
16. We Come Strapped (from We Come Strapped)
17. Can I Kill It? (from Straight Checkn' Em)
18. All For The Money (from We Come Strapped)
19. Streiht Up Menace (from the Menace II Society Soundtrack)

192 VBR

Saturday, July 21, 2007

...Where My Dogs At? Rrrrr Arf Arf, What the Deal?...

Am I the only one who thinks animal activists are out of control? Has anybody ever seen that show on Animal Planet where they arrest people for not feeding their dogs, or neglecting their cats, or putting their Betas in the same fish bowl? While I agree that pet owners should not maliciously harm their animals, shouldn't we value human life a little more than the life of Fluffy? After all, Fluffy got around find for thousands of years before we domesticated him, and can probably still take care of himself if we drop him off at Yellowstone.

Dog fighting has been around since the days of the Holy Roman Empire, if not before that. Our country decided it was illegal, because we decided that animals have rights, which I think is a good thing in general. I don't have a problem with guys like Michael Vick and DMX being arrested for their involvement in dog fighting rings or for abusing their animals, they should be. What I take issue with is the hysteria around it, the proverbial "blame game" that inevitably leads to hip hop every single time any issue, especially one involving black people, hits Fox News. I'd be willing to guess that dog fighting takes place on a regular basis in all 50 states (well maybe they have spider monkey fights in Hawaii or something) and in most, if not all, countries around the world. Furthermore, although I have no proof of this, only an intuition based on living in both very white environments and very black environments, I'd be willing to place a rather large bet that the majority of animal fights are conducted by white people. And like Don Imus and Michael Richards, these are not the type of white people that traditionally listen to hip hop. So the recent assertion that hip hop, which is already the cause of all gun violence, racist rants, sexism, and mysogyny, is also the cause of dog fighting, came as somewhat of a shock.

The logic, similar to many of the let's blame hip hop arguments, actually has nothing to do with hip hop as a whole. It's based around the work of two individual artists and, interestingly enough, has nothing to do with their music whatsoever. The evidence? Jay-Z's unedited version of the "99 Problems" video, and the liner notes of DMX's disappointing fifth album (which somehow went platinum, I'm guessin' entirely off the sales of 15 year old white boys). Say what? The Humane Society REALLY thinks the liner notes of Grand Champ and the youtube version of "99 Problems" are causing a resurrgence in dog fighting? Are they smoking dust? Can you imagine how stupid somebody would have to be to start a dog fighting ring off the strength of a music video? Next thing you know they'll blame the reissue of Roots for the resurrgence of chicken fighting.

Anyway I'm working on a Best of '07 Mix... I'll let you know when it's done...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

...My Triple Sevens Broke The Slot Machines Out In Queens...

Alright, alright, alright CALM DOWN. The blogosphere is buzzing with renewed rumors of Superb ghostwriting for Ghostface Killah on Supreme Clientele. I don't know why so many so-called journalists got their panties in a bunch over something Tony Yayo said in a 50 Cent interview. Need people be reminded that Supreme Clientele was one of the first records (if not THEE first) to carry very overt, and severe, suggestions that 50 Cent was the snitch we all now know him to be? Ghostface had just come off a bid (so he may even have had first hand knowledge on that issue), and Superb (one of Ghost's more intriguing weed carriers) is now doin' one (shoot maybe that's how Yayo heard his information). Now Superb never claimed that he penned Supreme Clientele (Yayo's assertion) in anything I've read or heard, but he has suggested that he may not have received proper credit and monitary compensation for the work he did do on it.

Now, and this is just a thought... the famous "Knuckles" skit at the end of the album, which suggests 50's dime dropping, is notably placed on an album entitled Supreme Clientele. I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest this connection, as Rae and Ghost, were heavily involved in the on record lore of NYC crack scene (if not heavily involved in the scene itself - "I got two spots on New Lots, flooded with rocks"). So maybe 50 and Yayo have more reason to downplay Ghost's artistic achievements aside from the fact that he's not moving G-Unit numbers these days (of course, 50 convienently seems to forget that G-Unit isn't really moving G-Unit numbers these days either).

In my response to Brandon Soderberg's blog over at the great http://www.ohword.com/, I reminded people that these types of accusations are not an unusual thing in hip hop. Classic albums are almost always born out of great collaboration and it is often not the true collaborators who get the proper credit and compensation.

Anybody who's read Brian Coleman's brilliant Check the Technique knows that almost all our classic albums have some inaccurate writing and production credits. For instance, Erick Sermon's production legacy is in serious debate these days. Parrish, Redman, and Das Efx all claim Erick did virtually nothing on the production tip for any of their early work. Parrish goes so far as to claim Erick didn't produce anything on the first three EPMD albums, and although Erick sees it differently, he suggests that it was their engineer at the time (I'll plug his name in later... can't remember it off the top of my head) who did most of the REAL production work. Now I've heard from sources in Brentwood who know P fairly well, that he's really not all right upstairs anymore, so maybe his memory is distorting things a little further than it should. Nevertheless, Redman and Das Efx both acknowledge that Erick did no real production work for them during that time period. Now Erick doesn't really have many production credits on Red or Das' albums, but it's sort of always been a general hip hop assumption that behind the scenes he was helping these cats out. Parrish claims he did a lot more than people assume and was much more involved in production than Erick ever was, but he doesn't really have the solo production discography to back that up like Erick's does... so... who knows?

Young Sparks (State Property) made similar claims on Hot 97 during the Ms. Jones morning show a few weeks back. He said he wrote a lot of the State Property material and certain joints for Jay-Z himself. When pressed further, he admitted that he wasn't talking about verses (at least for Jay), he was talking about things like snatching the hook from Rick James for "Give It To Me." Well how much credit do you deserve for stealing somebody else's lyrics? Shoot Ja Rule claimed he didn't get sufficient gwap off of "Can I Get A..." and that was legitimately HIS song, that Jay-Z stole and added a verse to and put out on Vol 2. Royce '5"9 and Em made the original, and arguably superior, "Renegades," which Jay-Z had to have, but that's not the version most of the hip hop audience knows and loves.

To be honest, this is more along the lines of what I think Superb probably did. A couple of the songs ("Ghost Deini" and "We Made It," would be obvious choices, as Superb was featured on those) on Supreme Clientele probably started out as Superb songs. Ghost being fresh out, and desperately working with The RZA to save the dying Wu dynasty, probably deaded Superb and reworked Superb's demos into a couple of classics. I'm sure promises of fame, fortune, and a recording career came along with this exchange, and due to circumstances we have no idea about that never happened. Now Superb is a disgruntled ex-rapper who probably 200 people in the world are aware of stuck in the prison system. OF COURSE he's going to claim partial responsibility for the only classic piece of music in which he was ever involved. Or... maybe Ghost has always had ghostwriters. Maybe Raekwon wrote his verses on 36 Chambers, and collaborated with Cappadonna to write Ghost's lyrics for Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Ironman. Then they got tired of carrying Ghost on their shoulders and went on to their own oh-so lucrative classic solo material sans Ghost (please note sarcasm). Superb took care of writing Supreme Clientele and Bulletproof Wallets and Trife Diesel handled Pretty Toney, Fishscale, and More Fish. Riiiight. For me, it's impossible to believe. The man has rocked way to many styles, invented too much slang, and flawlessly executed way too many concepts and storytelling classics to have used ghostwriters for anything more than a hook or a bridge. If he does use ghostwriters, he's got an eye for talent like MC Serch in the early nineties. But then why isn't he an A&R for Wucorp or something?

And speaking of taking other peoples' work and passing it off as your own, check out a couple joints my "unreleased" search in albumbase yielded today. Again, I haven't checked these out for quality or authenticity yet, so I don't know. Oh and check the link to that PhilaFlava thread MGP posted that I linked in "Only Built 4 Jackin' Linx" if you want to see the next level in net theivery... I'd post the link directly to the goldmine that was discovered, but it's a little too good to just have floating around too many places on the net. Let's just say if you're into unreleased and new shit in mp3 form, you definitely should investigate a little bit.

All apologies to the bloggers and rippers who uncovered these gems in the first place.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

...Only Built 4 Jackin' Linx...

Thanks to a little tutorial on hyperlink thievery from Philaflava's MGP, I've ante-upped my link snatchin' skills and put some things together for the readers/downloaders courtesy of Just Blaze and XXL (and Spinemag, although there's are a little more jacker friendly).

I'm Back...

...Like I left somethin'. Sorry to leave heads in the lurch with only an option of checkin' the 99,898,743 other hip hop blogs out there. My reason for not being around as much? Well there's a few things, but mainly hip hop has just sucked tremendously as of late. Shoot I even downloaded a Lil' Wayne mixtape the other day and was disappointed (normally the kid at least makes me laugh a couple times). No, the new Pharoahe Monch album didn't save the game either, and I'm sick of cats deminishing their expectations for great artists and allowing them to get away with shit like this. The number of good reviews I've seen for Desire is enough to make a b-boy puke, so good thing there aren't any b-boys left. Not to say the album is terrible, in fact the game is so wack at this very moment, I suggest everybody go pick up that album, which at best rates 7/10.

They stopped playin' music at the Kingdome (a basketball tournament in Harlem for those of you who don't know) this year to appease the encroaching white comdominium owners in the neighborhood. I almost don't mind, because I've heard enough "Lip Gloss" this year anyway, but increased police presence also means nobody's burnin' anymore, which of course limits my enjoyment. Either way, there are other tournaments in Harlem. Oh, and how do people feel about 50 Cent's recent attempt to simultaneously join the 80's revival and make a song that sounds an awful lot like "I'm A Hustla?" By now I'm sure you've heard "I Get Money," but personally I wish I hadn't.

On the positive side I'm interviewing the NYG'z soon for PhilaFlava so be on the lookout for that. They're about to drop their "Street Album" on Primo's new label Year Round, and then they'll be following up with Pros & Cons, which is the first 100% Primo produced album since The Ownerz (which I have to say was unnecessarily hated upon, given that listening to it now, it sounds like a relic of the bygone era in which dope hip hop was still a somewhat viable artform).

So I spent a little time on albumbase jackin' 4 linkz this morning. Decided to type "demo" into the album category and see what showed up. Here are the results, of course I can't vouch for quality, or legitimacy of these demos, as I haven't listened to all of them yet, but enjoy if you're so inclined.

Ras Kass - Van Gogh (Unreleased Album)

A Tribe Called Quest - Lost Demos

Joe Budden - 2002 Def Jam Demo

Notorious B.I.G. - Demo Tape

O.C. - Demo Tape

PMD & Agallah - Death Before Dishonor (Demo)

Royce 5' 9" - Aftermath Demo