Category Archives: Don’t Die Hip-Hop

Back again

That’s right I’m back! In the time off I’ve made some changes around here.  First you’ll notice the site looks a little different. I’ve switched to WordPress  from BlogEngine.net (for those of you that care or know the difference) because of upgrading issues on the backend. I’m a software programmer by trade so I’m more comfortable with the technology behind BE but WP is offering me a better choice in terms of getting posts out there from my phone. So now I’m picking up a new skillset!

With the new platform came a new layout which is always nice to switch up every now and then if need be.

I’m still in the process of converting everything over and feeling my way around WordPress so there may be a few issues here and there but I’ll have them ironed out soon enough. For now, have a look around and get ready for new things to come.

Putting words to good use

Here’s a project I wish I thought of first. (Actually, I did around the time that I dreamed up this site a few years back but not to this extent.) Here’s the premise, they take song lyrics and analyze them by date, region content and a whole lot of other things. Then you can find out things such as who was the first artist to product place a shoe or how long did it take for the word shorty (showdy or showdee depending on where you are from) to be used across the coast.

It’s has a lot of promise and I hope that it exceeds its funding or if it doesn’t continue to look for funding because I really like this project.  It’s good to see a creative way of using Hip Hop that isn’t being utilized anywhere else. I’m sure there will be others that will come along and still this idea and use it in other forms of music but I hope it’s this project that spins off into other genres. 

Pledge you support today as there are only a few more days left to donate.  There are incentives depending on how much you donate from chocolates to beta or lifetime access to the site.  I’ll be pledging my support because every dollar counts!

The Take Over – Updated

I have to say, I really hate making statements like this but it seems to be proven over and over again.  While this post includes racial topics, it is not intended to be a racial or prejudice issue, just pointing out some observations.

There’s been this long standing social stigma that blacks can make something popular then once whites adopt it, it no longer becomes cool because of over use or abuse of use. Over use happens when you apply too much and abuse happens when you apply something beyond its intended use.  I’ll give you two examples, baggy pants and the words phat and hot.

Baggy pants, origins aside, exploded in fashion among blacks and then skaters came along and took baggy pants too far then surprisingly went the other way and opted for super tight pants. Thanks to Pharrell, blacks became skaters to and started wearing tight jeans too.

Of course people never gave up on this trend and still continue to do this today. I can’t speak for anyone else but I wore my baggy pants for comfort. To get away from the tight or fitted pants look of  my younger years.  I never had my pants too low unless I didn’t have a belt and it couldn’t be helped but I never did it to purposely show my underwear as people do today. As with most things that young people do, it lead to an outcry of the older generation and there were laws attempted to be made to prevent it but that’s hopefully all behind us now (pun intended).

But you didn’t come here to read about pants, no this is about music.  You may remember that Cee-Lo released a song over the summer called F**k You:

Of which 50 Cent quickly jumped on:

Which was all and good. Everyone liked both versions and and we had a summer jam.  Now fast forward a few months to the  George Lopez Show and we find William Shatner’s attempt at the song:

Well thanks Shatner, the song had a good run while it lasted.

UPDATE  – Damn, my post wasn’t even a few hours old and yet again I discovered Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee (never seen the show and don’t plan to by the way). It would be nice if the original artist can enjoy some time to enjoy the success of this song.

Serious Radio

It’s around 7:20 AM and just like any other morning I hope into my car, turn the key and the radio comes on.  As always while getting situated, the sounds coming out of the speakers don’t register as intelligible at first. A few seconds pass and I recognize what is going on; a phone prank. Not being a fan of this "ageless" gag, I tune to another station for relief. A few minutes later and it starts again but with different voices. On to station number 3 and they are giving a recap of a phone prank I thankfully missed earlier.  WTF?

After enough of the Hip Hip and Top 40 stations I move to the R&B stations hoping for relief.  Hopefully the more mature DJ’s can bring a more serious tone to my day but alas not.  The buffoonery is more intense so that it lacks the taste and is only mildly amusing. Is this the humor of the older generation or is it a left over of different times when we were to be mocked rather than treated as equals?  Whatever it is, it is not something that I can tolerate for too long.  And did I mention that some of them also do phone pranks?

What happened to radio?  When did it become so devoid of originality? As one of my friends put it, the radio is like a tape stuck on replay (or a playlist on replay for those of you that don’t get the reference).  Ever since the radio companies were bought by parent companies (ClearChannel, Radio-One,…) they have become franchises serving the same menu across the country. 

Gone is the local flavor that made us tune in.  No more does the local artist get his first break to be heard.  Playlists are distributed to all stations and re-run throughout the day to push the latest release.  Payola may not be a published practice but it is clear that it is being masked in some way.  How else can you hear the same songs every hour during peak listening times (rush hour and 8 to 10).

With the advent of digital music devices, radio is now in trouble. Once HDRadio is put into play, I believe that radio will vanish completely. Radio must evolve or rather revert back to it’s roots to survive.   Bing back the local influence that once ruled the airways.  Let the listening audience dictate the playlists and play a broader variety of songs.  There has been too much music created to only play the same 34 minutes of music throughout the day. This one is for you Radio Raheem!

Real Dads Stand Up

If you haven’t heard by now, a father in Florida boarded a school bus to confront the bullies of his daughter who has cerebral palsy. During his escapade, he threatened violence against everyone on the bus including the bus driver and children on the bus. You can see the details in the videos below

The support for him is overwhelmingly positive which I though was surprising.  Here a black man went onto a school bus and threatened children with violence and he is being supported. I’m not sure if his daughters illness has to do with the support but I have a strong inkling that it does.

Does Hip Hop fuel the bulling flames with it’s culture?  It may very well be since it is full of confirmations, conflict and issues that seem bulling like.  Many rap battles start due to someone being a bully and calling out his target.  If the bully isn’t confronted or responded to, then the target faces the ridicule and possibly being ostracized from his or her peers.  Many artists have threatened to (and some succeeded in) end the career of another artist or some type of violence against someone they know.  Beanie Sigel often referred to himself and an album as the Broad Street Bully.

We know bullying won’t stop in Hip Hop and despite all the claims, we know that Hip Hop influences peoples actions so what can we do to stop it?  Just as the "expert" in the video above says, we need to put it on the audience to stop the conflict.  If Lil Random Guy says he’s going to put an end to DJ Wusisface and in response DJ Wusisface claims to know the mother of his child and has a sex tape, the audience should take the responsible route and ask "why can’t they both exist". 

But I know that won’t happen.  We’ll want to see the sex tape then we’ll want to hear their diss songs all for the sake of entertainment.  Which is the true reason for bullying.  The bully is just looking for a way to entertain himself because he was not taught how to properly do so.  So rather than getting to the point of having to get on the bus, let’s teach our children that bullying isn’t a form of entertainment, it’s an act of low self-esteem and the lack of the ability to occupy oneself without it being at the expense of another’s well being.

The Audacity of Vulgarity

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was listening to a religious talk show on an AM station where the topic was about vulgarity.  After the show, my friend called me and asked, "Why is our culture so vulgar? Why is our music so full of references to sex, b’s and h’s?"  Of course many have asked this for years. I too have pondered this question.

I wondered if this is really all we know.  Looking at Hip Hop from the outside in, there are lots of examples of vulgarity.  We don’t often see or notice it because we have become accustom to it. We use profane language in our homes then tell our children not to used "adult words."  We wear clothes that reveal parts of our bodies many people tend to cover up.  And let’s not even mention the things we watch and listen to

We’ve become numb to many of the things that society at a large considers vulgar.  Sometimes it is pointed out to us in the wrong way by people who don’t understand it.

These are the people who preach that we must learn from our mistakes of the past and point out key moments in history to back up their points but then in the next breath inform you that you should get over slavery and pretend it never happened.  But that’s a different discussion.

Is it time to let go of the notion that we can brute force acceptance of our behavior  or culture on others?  Maybe, maybe not. That’s for society to decide.  Me, I guess I’m just going along for the ride.

Where's Blkbam

WhereIsBlkbam

If you want to look, I really am in there somewhere. If you find me there’s 5,000 cool points in it for you. To get paid, set up a PayPal account and I will transfer the funds into your account.

Seriously though, I’ve been working on things behind the scenes improving the site and other projects.  If you haven’t noticed by now, the comment system is now different.  This should cut down on the spam I’ve been receiving.  All of the comments are now handled through Disqus. Using them you can track your comments all around the web no matter what site you comment on.

Also coming soon will be links to the iTunes store for the same items from Amazon.

There’s still more to come and of course more topics to be posted.  Stay tuned….

The Perfect Formula

 

A couple years ago, I had a few conversations with my friends about how to assemble the best album, crew or label.  Thinking about it now, the ideas seem pretty odd but the principles we came up with were reproduced by many and a small few were largely successfully using them. Maybe we were before our time in our thinking but it seems we were dead on for some.  Maybe we should’ve be talent scouts.

Album

For many years there was a format to Hip Hop albums; an intro, a song for the club or radio, a song for the streets, a song to show your softer side, a skit and a R&B collaboration or a song with your crew. 

Many albums attempted this format as to emulate others and it proved a success for many.  It became a way to appeal to a broad audience and it worked.

Crew or Label

Take two male solo rappers, one female rapper, an R&B group then add a duo or group and what do you get? Something that ends in -Family, -Crew or some other creative name. Diversity would surely be the way to ensure success for a record label.  Collaborations on albums would be easy and every year there would be a group album.  And let’s not forget that my crew doesn’t like yours so there will be our typical beef.

So is it successful? Not in the long term.  All too often there is some problem among label mates and someone is kicked out within a year.  This proves beneficial for the remaining members but spoils the formula.

Outside of Hip Hip

I took this examination a little further and looked outside of Hip Hop to see how other genres of music fare on this topic.  Not surprisingly, it doesn’t exist.  I couldn’t even tell what labels the artist belonged to because no other artists (Prince excluded) even mentioned their labels in their songs. There were no crews or allegiance to anyone unless they were a group or solo artist and nothing else. And depending on the age of the artist, there were no typical arrangements to their albums.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of people looking for friends in this way or any other employers with these requirements. In our everyday lives we don’t form these types of relationships.

This is just one of those unique things that helps make Hip Hop one of the most influential art forms in the world.  Though there is no exact formula to its success, there will always be imitators even within trying to reproduce the success of others.  There attempts continue to fuel us with great music for years to come.

Social Media Day

Maybe you’ve heard of it but chances are you haven’t.  Today is Social Media Day.  In a nut shell it’s a day to celebrate the revolution of media becoming a social dialog.  So sign up for a Meet Up near you then go out and be social;  Tweet, FB, Check-in or whatever your favorite site uses then go meet some people.

Why is this Hip Hop? You do use these services don’t you? And more than ever, we need to be out representing in a positive way.

Summer Jam

No not the music festival in Northern New Jersey, I’m talking about songs of the summer.  Not that it’s the official summer (Memorial Day being the unofficial starting day but the official start of Reggae Season) and the songs have already started. Here in the Philly area we get one song over and over and over and over and over and over… year after year all summer long:

It’s a good song but I’ve heard it way too many times.  I always what happened to Doug E Fresh’s song Summertime which was out before The Fresh Prince’s.

Of course there are other summer songs:

So I want to put the challenge out to all of the wanna be, aspiring, established and veteran rappers; Come up with a good summer time song that would replace and retire this song once and for all!  I’ll even add bonus points if you are from the Philly area.

NOTE: This is not a promise to compensate you for the song should you create such a song.  I’m just sick of hearing The Fresh Prince every summer.

What are we doing?

I turn on the radio and I hear rappers singing about who they know, what they have and what they’re going to do someone for whatever reason.  And then I turn on the TV or pick up the newspaper and I see the result of it.  Yesterday in Chester, PA, a 2 year old boy loses his life to gun violence.

A few days before, a man is shot under unknown pretences.  Months before in the same city, a woman is shot by a stray bullet while sleeping in her bed. 

This is just a few examples in one city.  I’m sure you have many others in the city you live in or near.  The temperature is going up and with it so does the violence in the streets.  We have to get a grip on ourselves and each other.  The value of life is diminishing in the eyes of our youth. 

We say our music is the message of the streets, a way for the oppressed to speak about atrocities they’ve seen so that the world can know of their struggles but we don’t learn from its messages.  We’ve turned our music from outcries and celebration to bragging and boasting of how much we (or rather the artists) own. 

At one point in history, the artist grew tired of the problems and banned together to try to send a positive message to the youth:

 

Theses days, the artist ban together to help line their pockets:

Look at the lead photo a little longer.  Burn it’s image in your mind.  Imagine that it’s someone in your family.  Imagine it’s someone you know.  Now imagine that it’s you.  If we keep up what we’re doing, one of those phrases will be true!

VH1 Hip Hop Honors Take Away

Most people watch the VH1 Hip Hop Honors for the performances which is why the show is mostly music and less talking. This is done with good reason because it is about music after all.  We want to hear the songs of the people being inducted and see people pay homage to them.

Me, I’m listening to what the honorees are saying about the music.  Of all the inductees, Timbaland got it right;

  • Don’t put his style in a box.
  • Make music that can move you 20 years later from now
  • The key word to this is sound.

 

 

 

Time's 50 Worst Inventions

Time Magazine just released a list of what they’ve deemed The 50 Worst Inventions.  Most notable on the list are recent inventions such as the Segway Scooter and the Facebook Application Farmville.  I’m no fan of either of them but I am a fan of Hip Hop so let’s take a look at it’s influence on the list.

First up, Venetian-Blind Sunglasses.  These hideous things were left back in the 80’s until but Kanye decided to go back and pick them up.  They took a couple unneeded swipes at him in the process but he did bring them back into style.  

Next up on the list, Fake Ponytails. Sorry ladies but I put this, weave and wigs in the same category.  I know someone won’t like that but fake hair should be left for play time, stage or theater.  IF you want long hair, grow it.  While we’re on the subject, Hair in a Can and Bumpit also made the list.

The last on this list is Auto-Tune.  I’m not sure if abuse of an invention should make it appear on the list but i am sick of hearing the damn thing.  See here for a list of offenders.  There are too many to list.

Certainly the sound had it’s place with Zapp and Roger’s use of the talkbox.

LeBron on CNN

Don’t miss LeBron on CNN’s Larry King Live this Friday. He will be giving his first TV interview since being eliminated out of the playoffs.  Topics to be discussed are unknown at this point.

Let’s hope LeBron can save face and not lose more respect in my book.  Not for his ball skills or not winning a championship again.  But for taking a public swipe at Hip Hop to make a buck.  Yeah I remember Kid n Play and the dance is a lot better then what Soulja Boy came up with.  More of that later…