Why Chuck D was right about Hot 97

By now the Chuck D/Hot 97 beef has been well-documented by blogs, and anyone with access to Twitter can see the back-and-forth exchange that’s spanned several days.

Long story short, Chuck D blasted Hot 97 for this year’s Summer Jam show, calling it a “sloppy fiasco” and criticizing the liberal use of the n-word, questioning where Hot 97 would be if the concert had been filled with Anti-Semitic and gay slurs. He wants urban radio to “get it right or be gone.”

Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg of Hot 97 responded, and a war of Twitter words ensued.

On the surface this seems like just another social media spat that will be forgotten tomorrow, but in reality it runs much deeper than that. This is not just about a sloppy show or racial slurs. It’s not about Summer Jam or Hot 97 or Ebro and Rosenberg. It’s not about specific hip hop radio stations or specific hip hop concerts. It’s about what all of these things collectively add up to. This is about what “hip hop” has become, and Summer Jam was just the most visible example…continue reading at Rap Rehab.

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Why Rick Ross won’t answer hard questions

Rick Ross

Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably caught my rant about this earlier today. But I wanted to express my ideas in more coherent and complete form.

Rap journalist Ernest Baker recently published a piece for Noisey called “I Had To Stop Interviewing Rick Ross Because He Can’t Handle Hard Questions.” The title is pretty self-explanatory. During an interview, Baker tried to ask Ross a question touching on the rapper’s rapey lyric from “UOENO.” Ross threw a low-key rap tantrum, dodged the question and shut the interview down, presumably so he could deal with a journalist who wouldn’t reference anything but his greatness.

The experience caused Baker to question the state of rap journalism and conclude that “a superstar rapper’s inability to be real is why rap journalism is a fucked up game”…continue reading at Rap Rehab.

The problem with hip hop journalism

Most hip hop journalists these days fall into two camps, neither of which has much to do with journalism.

The first camp includes press release aggregators and groupie types who act more like publicists than journalists. These writers attend all the right parties, score all the right interviews, blindly co-sign “hot” artists, post new singles as soon as they receive them and act as virtual mouthpieces for record labels, never questioning the direction of the culture or the artists who represent it.

They invite readers to look, listen and click, but not think. When confronted about the ills of hip hop, these “journalists” will make endless excuses in defense of rap and why they aren’t addressing deeper issues in their reporting – and they have to make these excuses, because their livelihood and status depend on rap’s popularity.

On the other end of the spectrum are “cultural tourists” at so-called hipster magazines. These writers know little about hip hop as a culture, have only scant association with the community it springs from and subconsciously gravitate toward ignorant strains of rap because they’re more comfortable with black stereotypes and caricatures than real people…continue reading at RapRehab.com.

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.

Hip hop reality check: A brief manifesto on Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz and betrayal

Hip hop fans, let’s be clear about a few things.

Wiz Khalifa can’t rap for shxt.

Rick Ross is an impostor whose fabricated identity is based on betraying his own people.

And 2 Chainz has little to offer besides swag and stereotypes.

And no, this is not hate, this is the informed opinion of a hip hop junkie who has watched the art form devolve from a beautiful display of skill and innovation, an outlet for a wide array of black perspectives, a voice for a community that previously had none, to a collection of negative stereotypes that send destructive messages about who we are and what we should be as black people. Continue reading “Hip hop reality check: A brief manifesto on Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz and betrayal”

Review of Boston’s 2011 Hip-Hop Unity Fest

[Originally published in the Boston Herald. All kinds of people caught feelings about this one. Oh well.]

The world didn’t end on Saturday, but a rapture of a different kind swept over hip-hop heads at the Paradise that night.

The fifth annual Boston Hip-Hop Unity Fest had emcees from multiple styles and stages of notoriety rocking the same stage, with famed producer DJ Premier closing out the night in tribute to Gang Starr comrade and Roxbury-born wordsmith Guru.

The rap marathon’s massive lineup almost proved too stacked, as the lengthy roster ran long and Premier was forced to shorten his 90-minute set to just half an hour.

Continue reading “Review of Boston’s 2011 Hip-Hop Unity Fest”