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.

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”

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.

Justin Timberlake and the disappearance of black R&B artists

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake is everywhere. Or at least he seems to be.

The actor and pop/R&B phenom recently hosted “Saturday Night Live” for the fifth time — a historic event that drew appearances from comedic heavyweights like Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase — and followed that up by co-hosting “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” for a series of consecutive nights dubbed “Timberweek.”

In February, he was named the creative director of Bud Light Platinum, and a slick new commercial for the beer features the crooner performing his comeback single “Suit and Tie,” which he also performed at the Grammy Awards alongside rap mogul Jay-Z. This summer, JT and JZ will embark on a joint stadium tour that stops in 12 cities. 

And this week, Timberlake drops his much-hyped third album “The 20/20 Experience,” which follows up his 2006 multi-platinum masterpiece “FutureSex/LoveSounds.”

With the barrage of well-timed advertisements, performances and hosting duties, the superstar’s return to music after a seven-year hiatus feels like a pop culture tidal wave. And the excitement is — ahem — justified, because his genre-bending brand of R&B fills a massive void left by artists like Rihanna, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and Usher. All of them launched their careers in R&B to one degree or another, and all of them have since switched to a dance-pop sound that inspires fist-pumping sessions and dominates club dance floors, but leaves little in the way of lasting impact.

Continue reading “Justin Timberlake and the disappearance of black R&B artists”

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”

When is it acceptable to use the n-word?

[Originally published in the Bay State Banner.]

It was the tweet heard ‘round the world — at least the portion of the world that pays attention to Twitter.

One weekend in early June, actress Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted a picture while onstage at Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” concert in Paris, with the caption “Ni**as in paris for real” (the asterisks are Paltrow’s).

It was a reference to the rap duo’s wildly popular song, “Ni**as in Paris.” And naturally, chaos ensued.

Continue reading “When is it acceptable to use the n-word?”