Web, social media ‘connection’ is a double-edged sword

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[Originally published in The Sun Chronicle]

My mind was wandering the other day and I got to thinking: What did people do before the Internet? And a question I had an even harder time answering: What did I do before the Internet?

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it became a central part of my life, when I started using my computer for something besides typing papers and playing Oregon Trail, when writing e-mails and visiting Web sites became new methods of procrastination.

Continue reading “Web, social media ‘connection’ is a double-edged sword”

Why hip hop needs a voice on Zimmerman verdict

[Originally published in thegrio.com]

Since George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin, the reaction within the hip-hop community has ranged from long-winded Twitter rants to total silence.

While rappers like Lupe Fiasco, Immortal Technique and Phonte have been vocal about the verdict and what it says about the value of black life in this society, far too many high-profile stars have said nothing.

Kanye West, for example, positioned himself as a new age revolutionary on Yeezus, but his revolutionary spirit seems to have disappeared since he stepped out of the booth; his last tweet as of this writing was a link to a GQ article about his new creative direction.

Jay-Z recently took to Twitter to connect with fans as a promotional stunt for Magna Carta Holy Grail, but we haven’t heard a peep from him about arguably the most important court decision of our generation.

Continue reading “Why hip hop needs a voice on Zimmerman verdict”

More to Molly than meets the eye: A look at rap’s latest drug trend

Move aside Mary Jane, and make way for Molly.

Once associated primarily with weed, hip hop has cozied up to a party drug with a cute name, a mysterious identity and a potentially lethal set of side effects.

Artists such as Kanye West, Juicy J and Trinidad James have all name-dropped Molly, and Rick Ross’ Molly-laced date rape lyrics (“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it”) caused an uproar and got the rotund rapper dropped from Reebok.

Some emcees have dedicated whole songs to rap’s new designer drug — take, for example, Tyga’s “Molly,” which has racked up over 7 million views on YouTube and features Tyga-as-cyborg rapping “I show up in that party like where the f*ck that Molly?” A robotic female voice chants “Molly” during the chorus, and Wiz Khalifa offers up more drug references during a guest verse — “Got champagne and we pourin it/she poppin it and she snortin it” — while images of pills flash onscreen… Continue reading at RapRehab.com.

Bigger than Rick Ross: Hip-hop has to take responsibility for its objectification of women

[Originally published on thegrio.com]

Rick Ross has rightfully caught flak for lyrics that allude to date rape on the song “U.O.E.N.O. (You Ain’t Even Know It),” a track from Atlanta rapper Rocko which also features up-and-coming artist Future.

Amid talk of having “a hundred rounds in this AR” and “a bag of b*tches,” Ross raps: “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it,” offering up a virtual instruction manual for how to drug and rape a woman.

The lyrics have prompted a justified backlash on multiple fronts. Petitions have been launched on RapRehab.com and Change.org denouncing Ross’ lyrics and calling for the music industry to take greater responsibility for the content it promotes.

Another petition demands that sneaker and fitness apparel giant Reebok drop Rick Ross as a spokesman.

Continue reading “Bigger than Rick Ross: Hip-hop has to take responsibility for its objectification of women”

Lil Wayne, sizzurp and rap’s drug problem

Lil Wayne

Syrup. Sizzurp. Lean. Purple drank. Texas tea. Whatever it’s called, the recreational drug made popular in Southern circles is now making headlines with the recent hospitalization of rap superstar Lil Wayne.

Weezy, who is reportedly “recovering” after suffering multiple seizures, is a self-proclaimed sizzurp fiend who has alluded to his penchant for purple in numerous songs. In 2008, he told MTV News that quitting the drink — which typically includes soda, Jolly Ranchers and prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine — “feels like death in your stomach when you stop. Everybody wants me to stop … It ain’t that easy.”

Wayne’s hospitalization has thrust sizzurp into the spotlight, but the drink has been creeping into the mainstream since it originated in Houston, Texas, as a companion to the “chopped and screwed” subculture invented by DJ Screw in the early ’90s…continue reading at RapRehab.com.

Near-death experience: Woman training for mental, physical challenges of Spartan Death Race

Ivana Peterkova probably has a breaking point. She just hasn’t been able to find it.

She’s trudged through mud, crawled under barbed wire, competed in overnight challenges, placed among the top finishers in grueling events with names like “Rugged Maniac” and “Spartan Ultra Beast,” and still, she can’t find her limits – physical or mental.

That’s why the 32-year-old will compete in her first Spartan Death Race on June 15.

Yes, a death race.

It’s an extreme endurance test that pushes competitors to the brink for 24 to 48 hours.

According to the race website at www.YouMayDie.com, contestants will endure between 15 and 20 mental and physical challenges through a 40-mile course in the Vermont woods during the one- to two-day event.

While the exact race itinerary is top secret, those challenges might include chopping wood for two hours, lifting 30-pound rocks for five hours or memorizing the names of the first 10 U.S. Presidents, hiking to the top of a mountain and reciting the names back in order. In short, nothing is off limits… Continue reading at The Sun Chronicle.

Detoxing from Facebook

Jessica Mooney gave up on Facebook last July. The 30-year-old pediatric nurse knew something was wrong when she caught herself looking at a friend of a friend of a friends’ wedding photos on the popular social networking site, which boasts 800 million users worldwide.

“I was like, ‘This is so pathetic and a waste of time,'” said Mooney, a former Foxboro resident who now lives in Boston.

Then, last summer, Mooney traveled to Europe with her best friends and realized she was taking pictures of incredible places and people, only to put them on Facebook.

“I knew I was done then,” she said. “It was stupid to take pictures just to post them on Facebook, instead of actually enjoying things.”

Since ending her Facebook life, Mooney says her relationships have become “deeper and more meaningful.”

She logs on to LinkedIn about once a week to keep in touch with professional contacts, and now makes time to meet with the friends she formerly “connected” with on Facebook… Continue reading at The Sun Chronicle.

Occupy Boston: Demonstrators say the system is broken

The signs told the story.

On the cusp of Boston’s Financial District, just after 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, a collection of homemade posters and handwritten messages conveyed the collective frustration that fuels the Occupy Boston movement.

The sentiments ranged from anger to desperation:

“Eat the rich.”

“How do we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when we can’t afford boots?”

“America, this is your intervention.”

“The only banks that need bailouts are food banks.”

“Use my tax dollars for jobs and education, not war and occupation.”

“Too many problems to fit on one sign.”

Occupy Boston is one of about 150 offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street protests that began almost a month ago in New York City, condemning corporate greed, government bailouts and politicians more concerned with the interest of lobbyists than citizens. Providence’s version got under way Saturday night.

While the movement has a tendency toward self-absorbed rants and vague objectives, it also calls attention to significant problems, from skyrocketing unemployment rates to staggering income inequality…continue reading in the Sun Chronicle.