Category Archives: Music

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.