Category Archives: Don’t Die Hip-Hop

Yo! Where is Yo! MTV Raps

Yo! MTV Raps

Yo! MTV Raps was an iconic and pioneering show on MTV. Not since the debut of Soul Train had a TV show about music had such a profound impact on our culture.
It was the first show on Cable TV to feature Hip-Hop from the prospective of the artists and their music. It brought to our TV’s Hip-Hop on a daily basis in the form or interviews, behind the scenes, promos and freestyles from the artists of its time.

The show had two running series; Yo! MTV Raps (1988-1995) and Yo! (1996-1999). For those old enough to see the original, it still holds a special place in our memories.  Current shows just don’t hold a candle to it due to their focus on the audiences and shortened versions of videos.

MTV has release many of its shows to VHS, DVD and Blu-ray over the years including but not limited to: Beavis and Butt-head, Aeon Flux, Jackass, The Hills, Remote Control, Rob & Big, The Andy Milonakis Show, various MTV Unplugged, Laguna Beach, Pimp My Ride, Punk’d, Celebrity Deathmatch, Jersey Shore, Daria, etc. … they have not released Yo! MTV Raps to the general public.

While others have suggested that MTV simply re-air the show, I think it would be more beneficial to have it released in some form of media (preferably physical) for consumers to view. I request that the release of the show contain the following:

  • The entire catalog of shows (1,830 in total).
  • A "Best Of" will not suffice and would only do a disservice to the show, its fans and the Hip-Hop generation.
  • Full episodes including interviews and music videos should be included.
  • Commercial breaks are OK for plugging current MTV materials or artist content.
  • If DVD or Blu-ray releases are made, the episodes should be authored appropriately to allow for easy navigation to sections of the episode.
  • Behind the scenes, extras, commentary or bonuses while nice are not essential to be included.
  • An uncensored audio track should be the default if it is available.

Besides the entertainment value of this show, the historical aspect of the genre is most significant. It documented the birth and coming of age of a music genre. Many of the artists still around today were featured in their "humble" beginnings on this show. As Hip-Hop ages, it’s beginnings shouldn’t be more than the ramblings of the older folks to the youth especially when it was captured on film.

It should be noted that MTV is owned by Viacom and the music which was featured on the show is owned by many different record companies and artists.  While undertaking something of this sort wouldn’t be easy for MTV it is not impossible for them. MTV you just turned 31, it’s time to embrace you maturity and put the music back in your name. You can start by putting the music back in our lives.

By signing the petition I prepared, you can show MTV that this music is just as important to us as our past.

Sunday Versus – What Type of Woman Do You Want?

Most guy wants a lady by their side but the type of lady depends on the type of guy.


LL Cool J - Around The Way Girl


Cashmoney Millionaires - Project Bitch

 


 Apache  - Gangsta Bitch

(NOTE: The links above for this song do not link to the entire song but the ringtone. This is because neither iTunes or Amazon carry the whole song as a download. You may buy the whole CD below from Amazon for as long as the link is active.  If you find the whole since, please let me know and I will update the links.)

When Hip-Hop Crosses Religion

Meek Mill

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for current-day rappers, I happen to like Meek Mill. Being that he is local here in Philly I had the chance to hear him prior to his signing with Maybach Music Group. So far his sound is slightly different but that’s to be expected once an artist is signed by a label.  The grooming process tends to change some things.

So when his latest song Amen came out I gave it a listen. You can listen below and draw your own conclusions. For me it was a miss for one reason: I’m not a fan of overly religious references in a song. I’m not really a fan of religious music at all. When the local Hip-Hop station sneaks it into their line up, I change the station. I’m not against it, it’s just not for me.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m not an atheist or anything like that. I grew up a Baptist. I didn’t start going to church until I was a teenager and that was by my choice to do so on my own.

When I first heard the song, I was a bit turned off by the constant bellowing of "church", "preach" and "amen". I don’t even like it when people say those things in general conversation but to each his own. Then I got down to the lyrics in the hook:

Now there’s a lot of bad bitches in the building (Amen)
A couple real niggas in the building (Amen)
I’m finna kill niggas in the building (Amen)
I tell the waiter fifty bottles and she tell me say when
And I say church (Preach)
We make it light up like a church (Preach)
She wanna fuck and I say church (Preach)
Do Liv on Sunday like a church (Preach)

To me, there’s a few things you don’t make light of about a person and their religion is one of them. In that regard I think the Flying Spaghetti Monster is one of the most in your face attempts at mocking someone’s religion. I also feel that people have the right to express themselves so I would never knock anyone for displaying one of these things. If you think I just double-talked myself then you don’ understand the difference between rights and freedoms.

So then I heard Meek discussing his song on the radio with a reverend with Meek not truly understanding the definition of the word meek:

Part 1

Part 2

In summary, the heated verbal exchange had all the characteristics of a worthless discussion about nothing

  • Scream loudly in an attempt to prove your point no matter how weak it may be until the other side backs down
  • Don’t listen to the counter point no matter how valid it may be
  • Attack your adversary personally with comments unrelated to the topic
  • Defend yourself by stating only God can judge you
  • And of course, when in doubt, lash out

Had this taken place not on the radio but in person on the street, I think there would’ve been some unneeded violence. Both sides of this argument were poorly constructed. Meek seemed to be seeking ooh’s and ah’s from the crowd while the reverend wanted Meek look like a bad person.

I’m at all surprise by this type of behavior from either of them. This type of exchange is why people tune in to watch Love & Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, Real Wives of Wherever and the rest of the shows like them. Those shows are built on the expectation that someone will fight or argue which for some reason brings in viewers. It’s almost the same reason some people use as to why they watch hockey.

If you haven’t heard the song then listen for yourself. Maybe it’s about time I finally pick up a copy of The Great Debaters. Maybe they should also…

 

The BET Awards Experience

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I haven’t watched BET in almost 10 years. I don’t even know what channel it is. Seriously, I had to hunt for about 5 minutes to find it. Last time I saw BET I think Teen Summit was still a show. I don’t know if it still is one but it was back then. I didn’t even watch UPN, the channel that causes BET (hopefully you’ll get that reference).

Since it’s been so long I decided I’d give the BET Awards a chance. And boy it was a very torturous night. It’s no secret that many of the people that "should" like BET don’t. But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about the award show.

The event started off with a pre-show, a 2 hour pre-show. I didn’t know it was going to be 2 hours so I wasn’t ready for that. I had to miss part of it to go get dinner. Once I returned with food I started the night. There wasn’t anything too exciting there, a few performances and a lot of talking.

The show opened up strongly with Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz then knocked it down a few notches when Samuel Jackson and Spike Lee attempted to rap. From there a confusing award for Best Group which featured Kanye West and Jay-Z as The Throne. They were later nominated for best collaboration which also led to some confusion but what do I know.

From there it was the usual mix of performances, awards and tributes. The return/debut performance of D’Angelo was welcomed by all. And the tribute to Frankie Beverly was fantastic. The entire audience jammed to Maze and Frankie as he performed his classic Before I Let You Go. He shared the stage with Joe, Faith and Tyrese who sang his tributes.

It was a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be. I was expecting the usual buffoonery that I’ve come to expect of BET past. Maybe the channel has turned a new leaf. Maybe I’ve been too hard on them. I’ll have to watch some other shows before I can say that for certain but I’ll say that for another day and another article. All I can say is that once the show actually started and became a more adult affair than the outside was, I was able to enjoy myself.

Rodney King – Catalysts to a Resolution Gone Wrong

Rodney King

Rodney King was found dead this morning at the bottom of a pool.

In case you didn’t know, at one point Rodney did release a song but that wasn’t his biggest impact on Hip Hop. His impact was the inspiration of change in the way police interactions between themselves and civilians. His impact influenced the soundtrack to an entire coast. His impact caused a a whole community to people to stand up against the wrongs committed against them and make the whole world take notice.

The LA Riots were started because of the dismissal of charges against the LA Police Department after a video surfaced of them clearly using excessive force against him. I won’t go into the whole history of the event but the following video which aired a few weeks ago covers it in great detail.

There aren’t too many points in history where the name of the victim is remembered synonymously with the even but the world will never forget the name Rodney King.

Silenced Mics – Donna Summer, Brian Carter, Adam Yauch (MCA)

I wanted to do a piece on each of these people individually but I thought it best to group them together because they all have something in common; a huge impact on a small group of people. Of course "small" in some cases is relative.

Donna SummerShe may have been born before many of you reading this and her popularity came at the tail end of her musical genera’s tenure but her impact is still there. Though you’ll hear many people proclaim that disco is dead, Donna’s music from that era is timeless. Last Dance is played in skating rinks the world over, Hot Stuff continues to appear in music sound tracks while Love to Love You Baby and I Feel Love have been sampled by many award winning artist. Being an award winning artist herself this is no surprise. Donna’s music will forever be sampled and covered for the long foreseeable future and her voice will never be silenced.

Brian Carter
If you grew up within broadcast range of the Philadelphia area in the early to late 90’s you no doubt know of the Carter and Sanborn show. It was one of those shows that if you didn’t listen to it then you listened with someone that you knew.  The dual dominated the morning airwaves on Power 99 and then later on WDAS FM. Memorable characters such as Horace the Taurus with whom you could set your watch to and Lunchmeat Mumford we always good for a laugh. I remember my own interaction with them was a campaign they had to encourage Michael Jackson to come to Philly on his tour. They encouraged people in the area to write letters to show support. Even though we were too young to go, my teacher got us to pull out our green slips of paper and write a note to Michael every day for a week. He never came but it felt good even at that age to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Adam Yauch
If you don’t know the Beastie Boys then you don’t know Hip Hop. And if you don’t know their contribution then you don’t know your history. They were one of the first acts signed to Def Jam Records. They were one of the first successful white hip hop acts. They are one of the longest groups to be in  hip hop that are still performing. As for MCA himself, if you didn’t follow the group closely then you wouldn’t know about his activism for LBGT rights or the free Tibet movement and his interest in film production.

MCA and the Beastie Boys opened up the opportunity  to have a broader crossover audience back when hip hop was in its infancy. Without this audience, hip hop could’ve not progressed so rapidly as an art form.

Piles of headphone choices

Headphones

Some time ago, I wrote What ever happened to headphones? in reaction to the declining appearance of headphones on peoples heads. Fast-forward 2 years and the onslaught of Beats by Dr Dre gracing the heads of athletes and celebrities traveling has had a huge impact on the how people listen to music. Slowly the fad of the white ear buds are being replaced but brightly color headphones.

I’m glad to see that headphones are making their comeback, gaudy designs and all. I just can’t imaging a DJ in front of his MP3 mixer (smh) cranking out music. But we can’t all be DJ’s so when I see them on the train, bus, airport or walking down the street, I smile.  It lets me know that the person is serious about the sound of their music and recognize the difference in quality the two systems produce.

Not only is Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg (Skull Candy) endorsing headphones but also 50 Cent with SMS and Ludacris with Soul. Personal I think the team behind 50’s brand didn’t do their research or even a simple Google Search. Had they, it would’ve been immediately clear that the acronym SMS has been used in so many ways, most notable in relation to cell phone text messaging (Short Message Service) they would have chosen a better name.

Where all of these endorsements fail except Skull Candy is price point. When you’re setting the bar at $100, it suddenly becomes very costly to buy into their products. Especially since the most abundant material in their products is plastic. Anyone that has owned a pair of headphones of any price dreads that snapping sound. It’s the worse sound any headphones can make!  Second to that is the more silent wire short. That problematic, unfixable issue that has you twisting, rubber-banding and bending the wires just to correct a faulty speaker.

When it comes to which headphones to go with make sure you test them out first for the best sound. The artists themselves didn’t design or create these products but they did put their names on them so don’t let the name fool you.  They just want you to buy them because their name is on it and they get a check every time you do. No matter which way you go to enjoy your music make sure you buy that warranty if they offer it. A couple extra bucks right now could save a whole lot of heartache later.

We'll miss you Whitney

You might think it strange that I start off an article about Whitney Huston with a video about Biggie but there’s an important message there that’s universal:

“I would never wish death on nobody because they ain’t no coming back from that”

– Notorious B.I.G.

I always dreaded the day this would happen. Not because of the great loss to R&B but because I would be disgusted with the reactions of people. It seems that quite a few of our greatest can’t pass in glory; James Brown, Michael Jackson, Rick James, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Easy E, Big Pun, Left Eye, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. And just like them, if you look at any article on the internet referencing their deaths you will find many comments about how they should be dead or the problems they had while they were alive. Which brings me back to B.I.G.’s comment above that even with the strife he had with Tupac, there was still a respect for him when he died.

We all know about Whitney’s problems with drugs and her infamous interview where she made some comments about crack. What I find hypocritical is that many musicians boast about their drug habits and are praised for it. Many even make songs about. It always easier to condemn a person and make jokes for their faults than it is to help them with them. This has become one of the mantras of the world but most notably the hip hop generation. There’s a serious lack of support for the older generation in hip hop.

But let’s not get side tracked. Whitney went from singing at a gas station one day to singing on the worlds stage the next. She really was in the right place at the right time. I really hope that her legacy isn’t tarnished by the naysayers, jokers and disrespectful people looking to get a quick laugh. I don’t think it will matter much what I say so I will just have to let Whitney’s voice silence them herself. Good bye love…

 

Behind “in” music

I’ve come to know that I see things with different eyes than the rest of the world which often leads me to different conclusions than most people expect so when this video came across my screen I had to watch it a few times.

The first time I watched, I was curious to what they were trying to do. I listened and identified the songs:

  1. Family Affair – Mary J. Blige
  2. In Da Club – 50 Cent
  3. Lose Yourself – Eminem
  4. Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
  5. Changes – Tupac

Simple enough. Next I watched again and did my usual color count. Not a black face in the whole video. That’s not exactly a bad thing nor is it a big deal, I just often take inventory of the things black people are doing but then it hit me, how many current black artists play instruments?

Sure there’s a somewhat long list: Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Jamie Foxx all play piano; QuestLove of The Roots plays the drums; Prince plays guitar and pretty much every produces uses a synthesizer. Miri Ben-Ari has labeled herself a “Hip Hop Violinists” which to me is just her capitalization on the music. Especially since very few in the genre actually play an instrument. This is one of the few genres where words matter more than sound.

Gone are the days of Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes. Not because two of those guys are no longer with us. It’s because these guys knew how to compose music. They could take the sounds of the different instruments they could play and put them all together and make a song. That knowledge of music helped them create their great careers. That’s not to say that people today don’t make music, it’s just not made the same.

Instruments themselves are starting to become scarce in schools due to the funding of music programs being cut. School is often the place where people learn how to read music and play it with other instruments. Exposure to a variety of sounds people often shape the minds of people. This often the argument between home-school vs. traditional school. Not many people are skilled enough to properly teach music in the home. Pots, pans and buckets make nice pseudo-drums but they’re not a replacement.

The music behind many hip hop songs is rooted in actual instruments and not just synthesized sounds. Many use the samples of other songs but their sound often features a prominent instrument.  The instruments themselves add so much character to the song that they are like a second layer of lyrics and speak for themselves. They are so powerful that in some songs, featured below, they extended the music without the words to add to the mood.

As digital takes over, it will never take the place of the sound of instruments themselves no matter how well it can copy them. Hopefully those involves with hip hop culture won’t let instruments fall by the wayside for much longer or we will have a whole segment of the population without the skills and tools to make music should the lights go out other than a bucket.

Don Cornelius, you will definitely be missed

If you don’t know this man by name then you don’t know history. If you don’t know this man’s impact then you don’t know Hip Hop.

Don created one of the longest-running syndicated shows on TV, exposed many popular artists and dancers to the world and owned the rights to the Soul Train making him the first black owner of a nationally syndicated TV show.

We will miss you Don, and we will continue this hip trip knowing that you set the course.

An internet without Hip Hop

Note: This is the actual image

UPDATE: It appears that the link to the bill is very busy so you may have some trouble getting through today. You can either view the breakdown from Mashable or check out the Wikipedia article.

 

Imagine if you when can to this site that the lyrics on the right weren’t displayed.  Imagine if you went to SOHH and or HipHopDX they didn’t have a link to the latest song leak or video release.

What’s worse which is actually happening, imagine these sites didn’t tell you that there is a way that something like this could happen and you could prevent it.

There’s a bill being proposed (and yes you should read it all and understand it), which is being pushed by movie studios and the recording industry, that gives the government and law enforcement officials (read police) the right to shut down a site such as mine or anyone other, with notice or trial if it is suspected that they can link or have linked to copyrighted content.

Why is this bad? Because in many ways, this prevents the internet from being the sharing environment that it is. Yeah I know there are plenty of ways to illegally download songs and movies on the net but there are also legal ways to do it also do it.

If you want a breakdown of the bill you can check out Mashable or you favorite non-hip hop related news site. I say non-hip hop related because chances are pretty high that they will leave you ill-informed!

People are still on ringtones

For the record, a ringtone here is defined as a song or sound formatted specifically to play when a phone rings.

When I first looked at this I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was good that hip hop was the dominate genre but on the other hand I realized that the people who are buying ringtones may be those that are not as tech-savvy as they may think.

If you go back to my first statement, a ringtone is different than a song file. Many smartphones on the market today can play music files as a ringtone. The exception are the phones that play either polyphonic or midi files. If your phone can play music files chances are it doesn’t play one of these older music format files.

So this begs the question, are people that are buying ringtones being ripped-off? I’d say so. Advertisers are quick to push a commercial telling you to text some code to some number to download a ringtone and there are plenty of website offering the same. The unknown fact in this survey is the age of the buyer. I wonder if the people that buy ringtones are either teens or 36+. Why those ages? Well teens like conveniences and the 36+ group aren’t as tech-savvy as their younger counter parts.

Ringtones