Monday, January 31, 2011

Hiphop Needs a Union!

Once again a health-related setback strikes a Hiphop legend, and once again said legend has neither health benefits nor enough money to foot the expensive cost for the requisite health care.

And, of course, once again, the wealthiest of the wealthy rappers turn a deaf ear to the plight of their primary predecessor, DJ Kool Herc, the man who is largely credited for creating Hiphop music.

According to this article, Herc is suffering from kidney stones and needs surgery to correct the ailment and to help ease the pain and suffering that he says he's been in for months.

The article goes on to say that he has at least $10,000 in existing medical bills, and surgery will only add to that figure.

Arguably, without Herc, there is a chance that rap music may not have ever existed, let alone achieved the global dominance that it is currently and has been enjoying for some time now.

Considering the fact that Jay-Z, Diddy and other wealthy individuals who have made the bulk of their fortunes on the back of Hiphop earned [at least] ten times Herc's current hospital bill while they slept last night, it is mind boggling that they have not stepped up to the plate and offered in part to foot the bill.

Jay bragged on wax about being one of the first to donate money after the Columbine and 9/11 tragedies.

Diddy is the man behind Daddy House, his charitable organization that has founded a number of social programs.

The Beastie Boys, who also came to prominence by using Hiphop to boost their careers to superstardom, know first-hand about having to deal with health problems in an industry that does not extend health benefits to their workers.

Where are they now and why won't they help to pay for Herc's bills and then some?

Hiphop is still reeling from the losses of two major talents who also could have used the help of health benefits during the months leading up to their ultimate health-related demises.

Unfortunately Hiphop is just a microcosm of the rest of the world where the rich stay rich by ignoring opportunities for them to give back to those who paved the way for their success.

Because Hiphop is such a young genre both in age and spirit, we are just now recently seeing its artists fall victim to more and more health-related maladies that have plagued the rest of the world for centuries.

Who knows? If Hiphop had a union with full benefits a doctor could have diagnosed and treated Big Pun and helped prevent the heart attack that caused his undoing.

The possibilities are endless.

I won't get into the whole Obamacare debate but it is truly amazing how many other countries see health care as a basic human right while America refuses to consider a universal, free health care system for its tax-paying citizens.

All it would take is one prominent, wealthy rapper to make a sizable donation and challenge his peers to do the same to help fund Herc's hospital bills and I'm sure money would come flooding in. But, because cash rules, that will never happen.

To put things in their proper perspective, upstart rapper Wiz Khalifa openly admits he spends $10,000 per month buying high grade marijuana.

Rick Ross and Diddy recently "spent" in excess of $1 million in a single night at the King of Diamonds strip club in Miami, "making it rain" by throwing endless amounts of bills into the crowd.

But no one has $10,000 for Herc?

If you're in New York City tonight you can be part of the solution by attending a fundraiser at Sutra, and donations should be sent to:

Kool Herc Productions
PO Box 20472
Huntington Station, NY 11746

PayPal payments can be sent to Kool Herc's sister at

Get well soon, Herc.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jim Jones on His Crash: Through the Liar?

No idea's original and there's nothing new under the sun.

And after learning of Jim Jones' new, timely song, I can't emphasize that point enough.

Since we all know that Jim Jones doesn't have an original bone in his body (pause), my Spidey senses started tingling when I read about his recent car crash.

After all, Jim has made a career swagger jacking and piggy-backing off of others: taking credit for songs written by others; remaking classic songs; and trying his damndest to be the east coast 2Pac.

I instantly thought of Kanye's crash back in 2002, and how Kanye took that crash and flipped it into a song to showcase his passion for rhyming and music by creating a classic while his jaw was wired shut.

Unlike Kanye, though, Jim apparently and amazingly suffered no injuries despite his car being completely totaled.

My worst fears were confirmed when I woke up this morning to learn of Jim Jones' new song where he, too, raps about his own crash.

But where Through the Wire comes off as a sincere documentation of a traumatizing experience, Jim's song comes off as exploitative and an attempt to capitalize on a terrible incident.

Because before the accident Jim's relevance in rap was fading quicker than Lil' Boosie's hairstyle.

To say that it's ironic that Jim released this record just months after he and Cam both went in on Kanye with some spiteful words is an understatement at best and not a coincidence at worst.

I'm not saying Jim planned the crash -- which pictures show was very serious -- but if the rap music industry didn't pioneer the publicity stunt, they damn sure took it to a new level by staging shootings and stabbings and other violent acts all in the name of garnering some attention. So why not stage a car crash too?

And above all else, the song's bars are weak! He could have at least come with some fire lyrics or hot rhymes.

There is no ill will in this post. I'm glad Jim is healthy, and I actually like more than a few of his songs and I own two of his albums. But I can't suppress the overwhelming feeling of apprehension and doubt when it comes to the sincerity of this new song, which I believe is intended to help gain sympathy and empathy from fans to help him revive his slumping career.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Action Bronson: Bon Appitite .... Bitch !!!!!!!!!!

Remember the first verse heard on 36 Chambers?

Remember the raw, unrefined, wild and zany flow laced with that patented bravado?

If you're looking to restore that long lost feeling found on those early Wu-Tang Clan albums then I implore you to check out Action Bronson, a Queens rapper whose dialect, pronunciations and cadences are eerily reminiscent of Ghostface Killah circa 1992-1998.

No, this is not an accusation of Hiphop's most serious (and, as of late, often ignored) sin -- biting.

Rather, Bronson takes us back to those good old days where it was all about having fun and not about popping bottles in the club or flossing in Maybachs.

And the fact that his rhyming style channels his inner Ghostface only enhances the effectiveness of this project, which at once is refreshing and invigorating -- two crucial components missing from most modern rap music.

With 35 tracks, this mixtape plays like a double CD, seamlessly moving from song to song with clever and playful high-powered lyrics and rhymes.

Adding to the listening pleasure is the fact that most of the previously unheard beats used on the mixtape are surprisingly dope, employing classic breakbeats and familiar samples used in unfamiliar fashions.

And as most new artists should do, Bronson has already filmed high quality videos for several songs from the mixtape, further showcasing his easy-going spirit and penchant for having fun.

Unfortunately the mixtape is filled with so many J-Love drops that some of the lyrics are distorted, but that only heightens the anticipation for a full length, uninterrupted studio album that can hopefully materialize sooner rather than late.

Bronson, like many rap fans, is so starved for the feeling of the early 90s that he even go so far as to name one of his songs "Re-Elect Dinkins," in honor of former New York City mayor David Dinkins who ran the city before Rudy Giuliani imposed a police state on the city's residents.

Tango & Cash -- his duet with fellow Lo-Lifes (named for both the street gang and because of the affinity for Polo clothing) member Meyhem Lauren -- uses a 90s Hiphop instrumental standard to get his point across:

My mind above the clouds
Plus I love the way the thunder sounds
Stevie Wonder mixed with Rambo on the underground
Queens sculpted, stay chisel like a Greek god
I'm on the bars, I got the lyrical physique, pa.
My style attacks like a German Shepherd
Plus I never need a gun 'cause I'm the perfect weapon.

Even with an inflated number of tracks on the mixtape Bronson stays delivering crazy couplets ("You never know what kind of pickle you in till you wake up in a cell and nuts'll tickle ya chin") with the greatest of ease while covering topics from his favorite pasttime ("I got that pure smoke, gorgeous like a sushi plate, five sticks of marijuana, I hallucinate") to describing his perfect girl ("pussy tight, ass like a leather shoe, chillin on the stoop with a Special Brew, Mickey D’s, she never seen a vegetable, but she know how to hum on the testicle").

Bronson is almost perfect on Roasted Bone Marrow, which borrows the beat from Wu-Tang's Hollow Bones from the Clan's third album. Of course Ghost went off on that beat, so it's only right that Bronson does, too ("Bronson's smoking sticky quarters, and know today we running routes just like I'm Ricky Watters, light the sky, civil war, 160 mortars; prone position, focus on the target; breathing like I'm pregnant, mental straight from Harvard").

It's uncanny how consistent he is with his Ghostface and Wu-Tang posturing, but it's even more amazing how this project doesn't come off as some two-bit fake wanna be Wu-Tang rapper trying to get put on.

The following is a sample of the visuals from the mixtape. Cop it now!

BONUS: Below is a banger of a song featuring Action Bronson but not on the mixtape. Check it out.

Money is Reality
Statik Selektah & Termanology Feat. Action Bronson

Wiz Khalifa Channels His Inner Kwamé

Uploaded by yardie4lifever2. - See video of the biggest web video personalities.

Wiz Khalifa not only made his late night television debut on George Lopez's show last night, but he also debuted his new hairstyle -- a blond streak (to make his hair, like his song, black and yellow?) reminiscent of the style pioneered and popularized in the late 80s by the polka dot man himself, Kwamé.

Because Wiz was born about two years prior to the pinnacle of Kwamé's rapping career it is unclear if his choice of hair was directly inspired by The Boy Genius or not.

Wiz's upcoming album, Rolling Papers, is scheduled to be released on March 29.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hiphop Sports Anthems: The Black and Yellow Version

First there was the Super Bowl Shuffle.

Then came We Fly High (Ballin'), the unofficial theme song for the New York Giants' 2008 Super Bowl championship team.

And now, following in the established tradition of Hiphop songs fueling a professional sports team to a championship berth, there is Black and Yellow, the once-underground and now undeniable mainstream hit song that is also the adopted anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2010-11 season.

The song's rapper, Wiz Khalifa, was yesterday standing tall in Heinz Field helping to usher in the Steelers' latest AFC championship by performing in front of more than 66,000 fans his now classic Pittsburgh ditty prior to kickoff.

In an ironic twist Jets fans made their own version of the song -- called White and Green -- complete with a music video starring some weirdo in a Revis jersey who is probably still crying his eyes out in frustration today.

Hell, even Fabolous tried to get in on the fun and flip the song in favor of his preferred sports team -- the Yankees -- which, like the Jets, failed to attain their set goal of a league championship.

There's always next season.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Portrait of the Rapper as an Author

Hiphop has become decidedly more literary as of late with a slew of rappers stepping away from the mic in favor of whetting their book writing skills on their way to becoming published authors.

It wasn't surprising when we all learned over a decade ago that Chuck D was going to write a book. He kicked knowledge on wax [and on TV] so why not on paper too?

Likewise, no one really raised an eyebrow even when a more mainstream artist like LL Cool J released his autobiography.

But nowadays the most unlikely of rappers are beginning to concentrate more and more on the literary side of their trade.

This includes and especially refers to Prodigy of Mobb Deep, who is currently incarcerated but has obviously made good time of his sentence by first landing a book deal and then penning his life story.

Not to be out done, though, is veteran rapper Buckshot of the legendary 90s group Black Moon, who just yesterday released a guide for how to navigate in the rap music and entertainment industries.

These tomes all come on the heels of Jay-Z's highly publicized and equally successful book that documents and breaks down a nice selection of his lyrics, succeeding where Yale University failed at attempting to explicate a wider range of Hiphop lyrics in general.

Considering how many rappers abuse the English language in their everyday speech, the casual observer cannot be faulted for incorrectly assuming that rappers -- if they know how to write at all -- would probably produce trashy street lit, adding insult to an already injurious literary genre.

But this past summer Styles P brought an innovative conception to life by independently publishing a novel that he wrote and simultaneously releasing an accompanying soundtrack of music inspired by the novel.

Rappers -- many of whom in the past few years appear to be uninspired and fading from relevancy quickly -- who are talented enough to conceive and write novels and/or other literary contributions should take a hint from Styles and work on their own version of that book-CD package that can not only possibly revitalize CD sales but also encourage the Hiphop community to actually pick up a book and read something other than the daily Lottery numbers.

Seeing the current financial woes being suffered by Nas, now is the time for him to branch out and write that novel he has long talked about wanting to publish. Not to mention he could exact some type of revenge against his the mother of his daughter/author of a recent tell-all book that used Nas's name to make herself a profit.

If C-Murder can write a book, Nas should have no problem.

But leave it to 50 Cent to pull his trump card, bypassing the role of aspiring author and starting his own publishing company that, according to Wiki, has 11 titles to its credit, including and culminating with 50's own top-selling book being published in 2009 on the G-Unit Books imprint.

Some rappers have even been asked to write a foreword for books, an honor usually reserved for more academically-inclined individuals.

2Pac's legacy was further tarnished and abused by one of the many posthumous exploitations of the rapper. This time it was in the form of a book of poems that many accomplished poets spoke highly of.

Of course there are always the lazy rappers who, ruining it for other potential rapper-authors, gladly and readily accept hefty book advances only to never even think about writing a rough draft, let alone single chapter for the books they were contracted to write.

Malice of Virginia rap duo the Clipse has been readying and steadily building anticipation for his novel with an innovative marketing technique of sporadically released online video vignettes that feature random excerpts.

Other improbable but noteworthy rappers-turned authors include:

Not bad for a group of mostly high school dropouts.

Let me know if I missed anybody.