May 2, 2008
From a nice piece in The Economist about the Obama/Wright situation:
“But there is also something deeper here: a generational struggle for control of black politics. Mr Wright belongs to a generation of activists—Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are other prominent members—who thrived in part by playing to the resentments of their black supporters. Mr Obama belongs to a much more pragmatic generation, people who want to get beyond racial polarisation and enter the political mainstream. Mr Wright’s generation is not about to leave the stage quietly. So much the worse for America.”
This article is not the first to make notice this distinction. I think Shelby Steele also captured this point perhaps a bit better in another piece he wrote in Time Magazine not too long ago about “Bargainers” and “Challengers”:
“Bargainers make a deal with white Americans that gives whites the benefit of the doubt: I will not rub America’s history of racism in your face, if you will not hold my race against me. Especially in our era of political correctness, whites are inevitably grateful for this bargain that spares them the shame of America’s racist past. They respond to bargainers with gratitude, warmth, and even affection. This “gratitude factor” can bring the black bargainer great popularity. Oprah Winfrey is the most visible bargainer in America today.
Challengers never give whites the benefit of the doubt. They assume whites are racist until they prove otherwise. And whites are never taken off the hook until they (institutions more than individuals) give some form of racial preference to the challenger. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are today’s best known challengers. Of course, most blacks can and do go both ways, but generally we tend to lean one way or another.”
So again, Obama is a pragmatic bargainer and Wright is a rash and relentless challenger. But I don’t know to what, if any, extent this fiasco should be labeled a generational disagreement between older (Civil Rights era) and newer (post Civl Rights era) black Americans regarding race relations. After all, pragmatic bargainers have always existed to some degree throughout US History.
April 26, 2008
It’s been reported that “Rocky the Bear,” most known from the movie Semi-Pro starring Will Ferrell, killed a trainer recently.
Anyway, the event reminded me of a quote from Chris Rock’s stand up special Never Scared which came out after a tiger attacked Roy Horn from Siegfried & Roy:
“That tiger ain’t go crazy; that tiger went tiger! You know when he was really crazy? When he was riding around on a unicycle with a Hitler helmet on!”
Indeed, it could be said that the bear went crazy when he wrestling humans on camera. But I’m always skeptical of the domestication of dangerous animals in general and I’m not surprised that a bear would “go bear” and attack a human.
Here’s the Chris Rock clip from Never Scared when he said the abovementioned quote (it’s around the 1:30 mark):
April 13, 2008
From Hip-Hop Game
“…the underground thing, I think people just use that as an excuse. The term “underground” used to refer to the fact that you haven’t broken through to the mainstream yet or you weren’t necessarily conforming to the mainstream. It wasn’t a style of music. It was just where you were at as an artist, like, ‘He’s underground. He hasn’t broken through yet.’ Now it’s “What kind of music do you do?” “I’m underground.” How is that? How are you an underground artist? What do you do? Do you rap underground? Shut up.
A lot of times people are underground because they’re wack. They haven’t broken through and they probably won’t because they don’t want to be the norm and they don’t want to have any rhythm in their music and they want to go over people’s heads. It’s like, ‘The lyrical syllable mineral is vital to the nth degree of polyphonic rituals, inskimmittable!’ Shut up! You probably won’t cross over and have any success outside of the success that you’ve had.
There is no such thing as an “underground style”. Not when I was coming up anyway. It was a place where you were at, like, ‘Right now we’re stuck in the underground but we’re trying to break through.’ That’s what rap’s greatest heroes tried to do. Big L used to be at the radio station with who? Jay-Z. Big L was one of the underground heroes and him and Jay would go and do the Stretch circuit and all of the underground radio circuit. That was the thing. In the highlight of New York’s underground scene, people were making good hip-hop but they still had their eyes on the prize. I think what it turned into is that people trying so hard to go against the establishment that they’re turning into scientists. I don’t know. They go over my head…and I’m a smart dude.”
April 9, 2008
This article at Word Magazine contains responses from several prominent emcees to the question “If hip-hop was a woman, what would she look like?”
Here are some of the responses:
“She would probably be a tall, big bitch with big feet or something˜A pretty bitch with big feet. I don’t know. Maybe too much cellulite on her ass because of all the bullshit [in hip-hop].”
“I think she would be a beautiful, unique person. I think she’d be like a melting pot of different races, different religions, different cultures. When I think of hip-hop, that’s the thing I think of more than anything, because you got all different types of skin color, cultures, religions involved. Me, I’m a little bit white, a little bit Asian and then I look like a little bit Spanish. That’s my whole thing when I think of hip-hop, so I would say that: Multi-cultural.”
— DJ Smallz
“Right now? She’d be a very ugly woman. Hip-hop is ugly right now…. It’s very negative right now, [and] negativity, to me, equals ugliness. [Pause] And a very stupid woman, too.”
— Lupe Fiasco
April 4, 2008
From 2005 in the Status Ain’t Hood blog at the Village Voice website, when Jeezy dropped his classic debut album, Thug Motivation 101: Let’s Get It .
“Jeezy’s nihilism is sort of the flipside of [Kanye West’s] humanism; Let’s Get It is one endless celebration of Jeezy’s drug sales, the album T.I. always should’ve made. Absolutely nothing interrupts Jeezy’s relentless drug talk; there’s precious little remorse or regret to be found …Jeezy’s not a good rapper on the level of, say, Mr. Lif or Kurupt or Sadat X, but he’s a great rapper in ways that those guys never could be. He sounds huge and immortal and bulletproof; his greasy rasp sinks into beats and makes them sound like these eternal documents of hardness. He’s the action-movie villain you end up rooting for, just because he’s so much smarter and more interesting and better-prepared than the hero–Dennis Hopper in Speed or Land of the Dead, but with the added weight and desperation of race and class. He doesn’t talk about selling drugs because he likes being evil; he does it because it was one of the only options available to him; there’s revelry and glee in his voice, but there’s also a sort of grim determinism…”
Very well put.
March 31, 2008
“Let me make this very clear, there are no rich rappers. Let me say that again, there are no rich rappers…There are rappers who have gotten rich through other entities. When you look at Jay-Z, Jay-Z is not rich through Roc-A-Fella Records, Jay-Z is rich through Roc-A-Wear clothing. Puff Daddy is not rich through Bad Boy Records, Puff Daddy is rich through Sean John Clothing. 50 Cent is not rich through G-Unit Records, even though all these people made good money, I’m not saying these people didn’t make millions on music, I’m saying 50 Cent got rich through G-Unit Clothing and Vitamin Water. You have to put a slash after your title right now, because the shit don’t pay like that”
March 27, 2008
“…See, with the soul music of the 70s, you could make love, have kids, raise your kids! It was life music! Even in the 80s, it was life music! Even in the 90s, there was still life music being made. There ain’t nothing but death music being made now man! It’s just about going to the club, get drunk, get fucked up and do that shit and rob that nigga, let’s have a party and that’s it! And the motherfuckers talking the real shit they don’t understand that yeah, they’re talking the real shit, but they’re song ain’t hot! Your song is wack! They think that just because they talk about the real shit, they don’t have to make no hot music! It’s a lose-lose situation! Why can’t a mother fucker talk about some real shit and make some soul music?”