Friday, May 29, 2009

...our heroes.

"Let's hear it, one for the coons, on UPN 9 & WB. Who "yes massa" on TV.........Let's hear it, two for the spooks, who do cart wheels. 'Cuz they said they played their parts well."
- NaS, "These Are Our Heroes" from Street's Disciple, 2004

First of all, to hell with "Flavor of Love". If you've never witnessed Flav's show "Under One Roof" (a UPN show, btw), you are missing a lifetime's worth of coontrocity at it's most epic. The basis is as follows: Flav is a felon who, upon his release, moves in with his rich, white-washed, douche-nozzle brother. His brother, who is married to a pasty, money hungry, lazy broad, is the total opposite of Flav's character, Calvester.

Yeah, dude's name is Cal-Ves-Ter.

He's a 40-something year old nigga (sorry, it fits too well) with braids, tarnished gold teeth (not make-up; those are his), & a habit of still wearing those night gown t-shirts that went out of style with throwback basketball jerseys. Like 50 years ago. When people listened to CD players. & rappers sold millions of albums purely off skills. & only rich folk sent e-mails.

Now, the show is so richly based off of stereotypes (including the Asian housekeeper with that nail shop-n-day-hood attitude), that just watching it sets racial equility back about 40 years. Probably the same way our parents felt when they watched James Evans, Jr. & Arnold Jackson shuck & jive their way through lines like "Dy-no-miiiiiite" & "Whatchutawkinbout?", respectively. But, Flavor has no catchy one-liners. He just has him. & That's all he needs. I'm not sure how far removed the character is from Flavor's actual being, but I'm just waiting for some Redneck with a flashlight, a pack of dogs & a double-barrel shotgun to claim ownership to his ass. I try not to use the term "jigaboo", but, well, you get my point.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a pretty "average joe" type guy. I enjoy the subtle, racial humor & unspoken nuances on T.V. for entertainment purposes, just like any other American. But, at a time where they are no visible heroes, this kind of malarky shouldn't be tolerated. Its bad enough that Hip Hop, the proverbial bridge between "us" & "them"*, is rife with ignorance & self-hatred. Now, instead of 3 1/2 minute videos depicting such idiocy, we get 30 minute television programs who can afford to go even MORE in-depth with the stupidity. Heaven help us......

Let's do the math. 3/4 of kids nowadays (pick a social divide; any will do) don't have an immediate positive male role model. The lucky ones have mom's smart enough to end up with a decent guy who chooses to give a damn about them. The unlucky one's are forced to fend for themselves, seeking that greater influence that helps children become adults. That influence lurks, be it good or bad. But without the proper guidance, intentions are overpowered by availability. I can go out on my porch right now & throw three rocks. One will hit a crackhead, one will hit a criminal & the last one will just land quietly in the street. See where I'm going with this?

Al Sharpton's old, Jesse Jackson's bitter, Barack Obama's got better things to do. So where are our heroes? Even better, I'll tell you where they aren't.

They aren't making rap songs. They aren't starring in prime-time TV. shows. There's a pretty good chance that they aren't even living yet.

Regardless to the consensus, heroes aren't manufactured today like they were in our grandparents' heyday. Now, they're home grown wildflowers, like dandelions, all willy-nilly without a purpose. It's time for "us" to reclaim our nation, to right the wrongs & stop following the lead of every flash-in-the-pan noisemaker that thinks they have a point to prove. The blind have been leading the blind for going on two generations now. I can't speak for others, but Stevie Wonder can't keep telling me to trust him because he's pretty sure he knows where he's going.

Maybe I'm just getting older, but with age comes wisdom, so in that case, I should be even more convincing.

Think about it.
*"us" vs. "them" is the moral vs. the immoral, the ignorant vs. the educated, the good vs. the bad, just to clarify. It's not a race issue, it's a Human Race problem.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Back Road to Redemption

So, T.I., convict-turned-rapper-turned-convict, has turned himself in to Arkansas authorities to began his year-ish sentence yesterday, for gun charges. There's been a lot of clamor as to the specifics of his case, including snitching & judge/jury tampering, but that's neither here nor there at this point. & this point is, incarceration. He's locked up. Truthfully speaking, he shouldn't have a hard time in the bing. He's been there quite a few times that the public is aware of, & who knows about the trips to Juvenile Detention Hall, which I'm sure are just as numerous. No Judgment, I'm just saying. Don't get me wrong, I like his music somewhat, but seriously, that dude is a criminal.

Now, I know some criminals, & a handful of convicted felons. In fact, a healthy percentage of my immediate family is well versed on their "vacation" time. I'm very familiar with their way of life, & there's nothing "civilian" about it.

True story, a buddy of mine would come through all the time & hang out at the pad. He's never admitted it, but I believe he's killed at least once. & I'm not talking cockroaches or spiders. One day, the lock on my security door was broken. The only way in/out of the house was the back door. Its not a long walk around my meager abode, granted you're not morbidly obese & a cheeseburger away from cardiac arrest. But, my dude was in good shape, possibly from fleeing crime scenes so often. Joke. He came to the front door, & I informed him that the door was "locked" & that he had to come through the back door to get in. He said, "Bring me your tool bag". I took it outside, around the house, all appreciative that he was willing to help me out, but as he handy-man'd his way to fixing my lock, he went on & on about how he's spent so many years of his life locked inside, that he refuses to come inside my spot unless he can leave on his own terms. It was pathetically hilarious. Hours later, he fixed my door. All he asked for in return was some cigarettes. I offered him some beer, but in hindsight, I realized that he declined my offer because it would have violated his parole. & in other news, he's currently serving 7 years for robbery & ag. assault.

Point is, hardened criminals live in another world than us regular folks. Its not good or bad, it's just very different than mine.

We've all seen the hoopla following T.I. for about the last year or so. He's been building up to his prison time in a variety of ways. Talk shows appearances, speaking at public schools, participating in rallies, that reality show, urging the youth to get involved with politics, basically trying to prove to America (& maybe himself) that he's turned a new leaf in life. Actually, I couldn't care less, but God bless his efforts. The last two things he's done have caught me off guard though;

He's performed a string of concerts loosely called his "Goodbye" or "Farewell" tour. Okay. One year doesn't garner a "farewell", unless a psychic told him he's going to get shived in the lunch line. & what self-respecting convict wouldn't want to have "stabbed T.I. for his macaroni" on his list of greatest accomplishments. Is it that he's playing on the public's love/hate towards him? I would hate to think that after all the positivity exuded from his reality show "Road to Redemption" that he's now throwing himself a week-long party to celebrate getting yet another strike on his permanent record. That just seems odd to me. Like in those mobster movies, where they throw "the kid" some type of schindig for being arrested. Seems like the wrong message to send to the millions(!!) of kids who obviously bought his album. Like it or not, serving time for a crime should be an embarrassing, shameful experience. Not one to jump around on stage for, like this is the last time he'll ever be seen by mankind again.

But, he does have a bunch of kids, so maybe he's just trying to stay ahead of the Georgia court system. Maybe.

Which takes me to the next point, that he finally married his long time babymomma Tiny, uh, whatever her real name is. She's the light-skinned, big-headed girl from Xscape. If you're younger than 21, you may want to google them.

I'm not even sure how many kids they have, but I know it's plural. Now, if marriage was so important, why wait until its time to be surrounded by men to profess his love? Does he, being a criminal, know something that we, being civilians, don't know? Was this his way of showing her that he's going to remain faithful on the inside? I doubt a wedding band will stop a horny, aggressive man from having his way with a shower-drenched Clifford, & from what I hear girls say, he's not bad looking.

If I were her, I'd wonder why all of the sudden must we be man & wife, when all this time it was dude & babymomma? I know all women want to be wed, but sometimes, you've got to question motives. Maybe there's an honor system that frowns on raping a married man? Highly doubtful. Then again, it may have been his idea; who knows what kind of promiscuous freak she may be. That $1000.00 dildo might not cut it. Again, No Judgment, I'm just saying. He's not the only rapper in Atlanta.

There should be a reality show that follows dudes around during the period leading up to the day they turn themselves in. Most of the cats I know usually end up going straight from the courtroom though. Just enough time to blow a kiss at their mom's, & be escorted into the Beast's belly. Then again, I guess that show would suck. Everybody can't be OJ or Clifford.

Let's just hope & pray that, at least for his kids' sake, that this situation is more rehabilitation, & less incarceration. Some folks actually do get locked up & learn their lesson(s). Not that I know any of them personally. No Judgment, I'm just saying.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Death & a German soldier

My Grand Dad fought in WWII. Pretty cool, huh?

I would get bits & pieces of stories growing up, but he never got too graphic. How could he? He was too busy telling me how my earring made me look like a little girl & that my hat looked "stupid" backwards.
He died when I was about 13, from lung cancer. He was definitely an Army dude; even after he was diagnosed & they started him on all the necessary treatments, he still smoked. The last picture of him I had was on my 13th Bday. Smoking one of his uppity, skinny, douche bag cigarettes on the couch. Stubborn until the day he passed away in his bed;

One day my Mom came home early from work. She didn't like being home much when I was a kid, so when I heard her coming up the back steps in the middle of the day, I knew something was wrong. The look in her eyes confirmed my suspicion. She didn't say much, although she didn't say much to me anyway, so that wasn't anything unusual. However, I saw tears before she had the chance anyway.


I walked into my room, & in an odd act of grief, I changed my clothes. I had a USC pull over & my Grand Dad graduated from there. He was very proud of his alma mater, so I replaced my Black Bart t-shirt, out of respect, right before we left for my uncle's house.

When we got to my Dad's brother's house, my Grand Dad was in his bed, long passed away. I heard the adults whispering about how he was sort of smiling. I tried to see it, but No Dice. All I saw was my Grand Dad dead. No smiles, no grins, no type of personality whatsoever. If anything, I didn't see the same grimace from pain, so in hindsight he looked somewhat peaceful. Relaxed. More & more family gravitated to the house, & within a couple of hours, it seemed that all of my father's side of my family was crammed into my uncle's modest house. It turned into a party, & among all the grown folks reminiscing & children running about, small groups of relatives would check-in on my Grand Dad from time to time, as if he needed anything. If he were alive, he would have said "Everything I need is already here", granted he had a cigarette to complete the family gathering.

Eventually, the coroner was called, & they gathered the shell that was my Dad's Dad, & took him to the place that dead people go. That was the sad part. I'd never see him again. Funny but, out of all of the things I've forgotten throughout my years, some of which was very important, I've never forgotten his laugh, his smell, his voice & the plenty things he told me. I have a hard time remembering what I did last Thursday, but I can still feel my Grand Dad hug me. He bought me my first computer, first telescope, took me back & forth to junior high when I broke my leg & unbeknownst to me at the time, he'd been putting away money for me for when I graduated high school. I guess it's only right that my Dad is such a good GrandDad now.

Oh yeah, this was the point of my post. When he returned from the war, he'd brought my father a souvenir. It was a german pistol, a wallet chain & a knife. My Dad waited until I was an adult to show them to me. He said my Grand Dad & a german soldier had one of those one-on-one fight scenes acted out in "Saving Private Ryan", & obviously my Grand Dad won.

He killed the german soldier, & took his personal effects, just to drive home the point. I'm not sure there's any point left to prove to a man who one has just killed, but hey, those were different times. Then, when he returned to the States, he gave them to his son (my dad) in an ultimate show of "Your Dad's is no punk!". I could just imagine how a game of "My dad can kick your Dad's ass" would have gone;

"Oh yeah? My Dad murdered a man. & got paid for it, too".

"Okay, you win."

God Bless America & those who defend her honor.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wasn't the First, Won't Be the Last.

There's this rapper named Dolla who got shot & killed last week. He wasn't the first MC to be murdered, wasn't the first young person, wasn't the first Black kid. Technically, the only difference between him & the thousands of guys like him gunned down in the street daily is that the media took some sort of interest in him. Probably because his uncle told the people there that he was a rapper. Unfortunately, the fame he was chasing was ascertained the moment his heart stopped beating.

God bless his family & may his soul find peace.

I'm not quite sure what the exact story was behind his death, but it was undoubtedly the same as most unnecessary murders. You don't find too many young, black guys dying for political causes nowadays. Whatever the cause, at some point, it could have been quelled; that's just a matter of mathematic properties. The science of murder, if you will. The equation can only balance out when the proper formula of variables is executed, no pun intended. The sum is, well, I'm sure you catch my drift.

All the stories focus on the young man who was murdered. But, I think the real story lies in the life of the murderer. As Jay-Z says (& many an ignorant dude has repeated), "respect the shooter". My take on that is, what made this guy in particular feel the need to destroy what God built? In broad daylight, with the proverbial world watching, he made the decision to undo a hundred blessings & trade the remainder of his life for that young mans, but not in a noble way.

Did this Aubrey guy have a Dad? A Mom? Was he abused as a kid? Did he watch too many violent movies &/or listen to all the wrong rap songs? Unlike manslaughter, murder is something the courts view as premeditated. Using this story as an example, getting into an altercation in Atlanta, "running" into one another in L.A, & being killed at a crowded, popular shopping place is as far from accidental as abortion is from miscarriage.

It seems, to me at least, that at some point, that group of people that finds cures & solves World issues would take up a certain amount of concern with these scenarios. They happen way too often to ignore (pardon my cliche). I would be tempted to even put senseless violence in the same category as sex, in terms of addressing it on a public school level. Maybe anger management should be taught following Physical Education. Mental Education, as it were.

I would hate to think that the only possible solution to all the madness is genocide. Or suicide, depending on your vantage point.

God can't possibly be happy with all of this, but I guess know one cares. That's sad in itself, because Judgment Day is coming. Like, for real.

Thursday, May 21, 2009



Busy week. My bad. But don't worry, whatever holiday is on Monday, I won't be celebrating, so at the beginning of next week, it will be back to business as usual.

But, let me take a quick second to thank my folks who've been supporting your boy (actually, I'm a man, but that wouldn't sound too kosher).

Shout outs to Capital G, Newyawka, JCITY, KrisRaestar, KayBee, ThaKemizt, Pierzy, $yko, SUPRSHAZ, my homegirl from NEANDEVERYTHING, FlapJack, Jordan, The COMMISSION, EmCDL, Jamal7Mile, my XXL comrads, Datwan Thomas (wherever you're at..), ______, ______, ______ & _______.

The blanks are for the names I can't remember. Feel free to whip out a Sharpie, & write your name on the computer screen. I have some kinks to work out on the site, so pretty soon, we can carry on the convo's in the comments.

Peace. & Oh yeah, go buy Meth & Red's BlackOut!2. I'm Tony Grands, & I support that album.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Suge & Dre's dirty little secret

Y'all remember Michel'le (Toissaint)?

She was kind of famous in the late '80's for doing some R&B work with Dr. Dre, on Ruthless Records, the then-home to NWA, D.O.C., Eazy-E, Above The Law, & eventually Bone Thugs 'N' Harmony. If I'm not mistaken, her biggest hit was "No More Lies". & she was a part of the "All In The Same Game" song, singing the hook. In fact, I suggest you google her. The Net is much more informative than me on a Tuesday morning.

So, she's recently filed a child support lawsuit against former husband/former owner of Death Row records Marion "Suge" Knight. There isn't anything strange about that. Black women are notorious for laying down for nothing more than a bag of sunflower seeds, then blaming the sperm donor for all of their life problems. It happens everyday.

See, I'm one of those guys who uses equations for everything. Statistics, ratios, grade curves, the whole shabang. & it's mathematically impossible for every single dude who has seeds out in the world to be the most horrible bedfellows ever. Every man doesn't drop his load then get dressed laughing, with no intentions of being a father to his child. Life isn't so dramatic. In other words, let's stop candy-coating & pussy-footing for the sake of political correctness. These broads are just as, if not more so, shameful than a lot of guys. Ever seen Maury Povich? I love when he says "you are NOT the father!". It's vindication of sorts.

I read about this Marion/Michel'le situation, & the first thought I had was, "Damn, Marion is a brick catching mofo.". The second thought I had was, "Women be on some bullsh!t!". The third thought I had was, "Wait, doesn't she have a kid with Dr. Dre, former employee of Death Row records?".

Yes, she surely does.

So, what does this situation tell you about her? Was she a singer who got gang-raped after a studio session with 20 guys? Or was she a groupie who just happened to know how to sing? I have a babymomma (ugh...), & the last thing that any of my remaining friends would do is A) get her pregnant-sloppy seconds impregnation is just plain humiliating & B) marry her. I can't speak for those dudes, but my manhood has several inhibitors & governors which prevent me from doing something so ridiculous to myself. The drunken guys-night-out jokes would be unbearable.

Come to think about it, is that why Dre left Death Row? Because his babymom's was getting pinned up by the boss on his desk while Dre's knocking on the office door asking for the rest of his paycheck?

It's a curious situation, to say the least.

I think that, when us father's have the "sex" talk with our daughters, we need to drive home certain points. One being that you don't pass around the twat to numerous dudes in the same crew. Especially now, in the insta-video era, that type of lascivious behavior is throwing one's self under the bus with a million people watching, pointing & laughing. In the good old days, when parents forced adoptions & families were hush-hush about uncle's getting their niece's pregnant, that kind of behavior was tolerated. But not anymore. Oh, & we should warn them about unwanted babies & AIDS also.

Now, Suge & Dre's beef makes a little more sense. But, where did Tupac fit it, calling Dre "gay" & such? He probably hit that too. He did have a lot of songs about boning girls. She may want to call Maury & have the show DNA test his mom.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I can make you famous.

We all wanted to be famous at some point or another. I know I sure as hell did.

I planned on being the first rapping actor. Decades ago. After I reached the heights of celebrity status, I was going to teach a class on how to be the best icon one could be. No Dice. The closest I've ever gotten to super stardom was being the father of the most smart-mouthed girl in the second grade. But, I did get to sign autographs though. All over parent-teacher conference notices.

Obviously, I took a spot on the sidelines & have been an avid spectator ever since. As we all know, from here, you can see the whole game. The best coaches do so from their recliners, with their drug(s) of choice at hand. I was watching an episode of "I Love Lucy" (best show ever, btw) this morning, & I noticed that the best ones were where Lucy was trying to help Rick's career by creating some lame ass publicity stunt. Good intentions, bad results, like getting married because of pregnancy.

Now I'm thinking about the whole "beef" in hip hop controversy deal. More often than not, the public declares "pub stunt!" when a couple of artists start throwing darts at one another. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But, I've been alive long enough to know that scientifically, some folks just don't mesh well, like wives & babymommas. But, assuming the "beef" scenarios are stunts, why not kick it up a notch, a la Lucy McGuillocutty Ricardo.

I say Balls to the Wall [||].

They want autographs, give them autographs. Walk through the mall, nude as a newborn with nothing but a bright red Sharpie. The fine you'll receive for Indecent Exposure would fail in comparison to the amount of fans that draws. You might even get some sweet action in a public restroom. This particular stunt is geared more towards the men, because we wouldn't want any ladies being gang-raped at the food court. While it would make for the most akward porno ever, it just wouldn't be a good look for whatever city she represents. Body grooming for such an excursion is optional, but if they don't recognize you for whatever talent you've been showing, there's always the off-chance that some tourists might mistake you for Bigfoot. Or the worlds most hairless man. Either or, someone will be talking about you by dinnertime.

Public intox is always a crowd pleaser also. Not drunk driving, I don't condone that, but taking the family out to Disneyland, completely hammered would be the "TMZ" moment those pesky paps search for. The guy in the Mickey Mouse costume may be used to kids kicking him about the thigh & shins, but imagine a 20-something year old man dry-humping his hind quarters. Good times. But not just there; everywhere. 7-eleven. Walmart. Chuck E. Cheese's. Church. Kind of like a One Man Show, except incoherent & throw-upy.

Hell, I'll even take a page from Jim Jones' *dusts off paper* book of fame. Have one of your baggage handlers keep a camera phone ready at all times. Be your own paparazzi. There's always one guy willing to do anything to be down with the "movement". So, slap him around, record it, send it to YouTube, Myspace, WSHH, vimeo & before you know it, you'll be the douche you aim to be known as. With the right coersion, you may even have a buddy willing to let you shoot him in the ass, granted the gun isn't more than a .22. It worked for the guy in the movie "Notorious".

Controversy sells, this we know. But all I'm saying is be the master of your destiny. If you can properly commandeer these talents, your actual talents can be meh at best & you'll still blow the eff up. Anyone who dares to challenge my theory, I ask you; what the hell did Paris Hilton do to become so popular? How does one have their own perfume without any sort of skill whatsoever? I know plenty of girls who sleep around & the last thing I would want is for my significant other to smell like those broads.

Take note, all you fame chasers. It's 5% skill, 25% luck & 70% what you do with it.

& be advised, only the most talented of performers 15 minutes extend beyond the time limit. Inevitable scrutiny & short attention spans demand that the "It" person of the moment be replaced more rapidly than a prostitute's pantyliner. You MUST give the public what they want. Stupidity, idiocy, Tom Foolery, & in some more advanced cases, nigtastic shuck & jive coupled with coontrocities beyond belief. Like thanking slave masters for one's success. Or opening schools in a African wastelands while there's a 40% drop out rate here in the USA. Trust me, the boundaries are limitless.

So, stop sitting around hoping that the world is waiting anxiously for your skill set to be unsheathed. That probably won't happen. But, with a little know-how, TMZ will be broadcasting your personal life, thus making yours a household name. & for the record, same-sex kissing & amateur porn are yesterday's news. Time to step your game up. America loves a psychopath.

Your audience awaits.......

Friday, May 15, 2009

West Coast vs. East Coast>>>Hip Hop Today

Rest in peace Tupac A. Shakur. Rest in peace Christopher Wallace Sr.

With all due respect out of the way, I miss that coastal rivalry. True, we lost the two spokespersons from each coast, but I'll be damned if we didn't get some good hip hop out of it. The trade off doesn't balance out, but somethings in life have to happen. In most arguments, the blame falls on P. Diddy & Marion Knight alike. Look at both of them now. If you're a believer in Karma, who do you think REALLY started it all?

Most (who're old enough to remember) will agree that the 90's were the best years for rap. That was a more distinct time in Hip Hop music. At a glance, one could tell where a person was from, rappers & civilians alike. If the appearance didn't clue you in, their speak gave them away. Baggy jeans, a Carhartt hoodie & Timbs, you knew automatically that he was from somewhere on the East Coast. No questions, no confusion. If you saw Dickies, White T-shirt/pendleton & Chuck Taylor's, no doubt dude was from the West Coast (Cali, usually). Not to discount the mid west or down south, but back then they made a different kind of noise. But, they did make noise none the less. The music was as different as the uniforms.

In the "Golden Era", it was all about territory. All about representation. With this state of mind in full swing, it was only a matter of time before the two biggest gangs in hip hop, Death Row & Bad Boy bumped heads. It stated with the predestined pairing of 'Pac & Biggie, but that's a story for another blog.

Words like "finna" only got as far as the mid west, before it stopped. East coast cats wouldn't dare defile their slanguage with such bamma grammar. Nor would they sport the footwear that Snoop made look so fly. They were about their winter wear, triple gooses & various sports garbs. & the music was a clear reflection of the organized confusion that was their lives. You could hear the hunger & thirst in their speech. No doubt, you know a East Coast cat when you saw/heard him.

Out West, it was all about affiliation, colors & sets. You might not have banged, but your brother did. Or your uncle. The only team one could rep was the one connected to their turf. My dad refused to let me wear Mariners or North Carolina gear growing up. He was smarter than most Dads. The bustle of the hustle wasn't the same as the East Coast, but it was a bustle even still. In the traditional laid-back attitude California is known for, block tales & hood stories were painted vividly. Street survival. Some even called it "Gangsta rap".

In the midst of the whole West vs. East conflict, the respective artists went out of their way to make music for their hoods. Mobb Deep, NaS, Wu-Tang, & dozens of others repped the NY sound without fillers. No bounce, no snap, no funky worm reconstructions. Strictly boom-baps & sampled loops. Then you had the bassline heavy, funk-inspired synths of the West Coast. Snoop, Tha Dogg Pound, Ice Cube, to name a few, were determined to separate G-funk from whatever it was that you listened to.

Think about it; when people say the 90's was THAT time in hip hop, this is why.

Unlike now. Now, everybody is a clone of somebody who's copying someone else who stole another guy's whole steelo. Originality & individuality died, not Hip Hop. The few who do think outside the box may as well be trapped in one, according to the general consensus. But basically, if you've seen one rapper today, you've seen them all. Most songs sound so similar nowadays, that it's not even really important what state is tattooed on their backs. All that matters are record sales. "It ain't where you from, it's where you at" has never rang more true than this very moment.

YouTube & Myspace aren't helping matters either.

I remember when rap dudes would say they don't listen to other rap songs, especially while they're recording their own. Now, scouting the competition is mandatory, like an NBA game. I wonder if Clint Black has to know what single Kerry Underwood released before he decides on his?

I'm sure somebody saw this coming but didn't get the memo out fast enough. Assimilation usually results in forced commonality. "Why be different if noone else is?" You can literally cut & paste hip hop artists with one another, & the fans wouldn't be the wiser.

So, the next time someone says "the 90's was the best decade in rap music", ask them why? The music or the culture?

Both answers would be right.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"See, what had happened was...."

We can all agree that Hip Hop has kind of fizzled to a stand still, can't we?

The dinosaurs of Boring Rap have let out their dying roars & apparently it hasn't moved a soul. Much less a party. We can blame it on various factors, or a cacophony of them all, but the fact remains that the newness of our beloved culture's soundtrack has worn off.

At times, it would appear that without asinine beefs, mediocre filler-turned-singles, & WSHH, hip hop would soon become what Jazz became to our grandfathers. A watered down, over-saturated, poor example of the genius it was once facilitated.

Fif is all but musically dead in the water (at least as of right this moment). The proverbial elephant in the room (pun intended) has withstood the onslaught known as Curtis Jackson, only to get pushed to the wayside a week after dropping the most anticipated (?) album of the first half. Lil' Wayne has begun his migration to the other side (sonically, not sexually as some think). Jay-Z is at home trying to get Bee pregnant. Lucky Bastard. NaS is on his way to baby momma #2, & while we all know that pain makes for the best inspiration, he has bigger things on his plate than satisfying our need for good Hip Hop.

Now, there's only so much we can do with a severe creative drought staring us right in our Hata-Blockaz.

What we can do is hope that the impending wave of creative juices [||] washes away the bad taste left behind from a year of garbage music. With Kissanova's album making some relevant & much needed noise, & Eminem d/b/a Slim Shady's latest release getting ready to touchdown, we can only pray that the next batch of MC's follows the path being laid.

As he did last year, Dwayne Carter seems to be pioneering the next phase of Rap music, stretching it beyond the boundaries set by his multi-million selling Tha Carter 3. Kanye's been dropping bits & pieces of a post-808's man on a mission via guest spots on various songs sans Auto-Tune. Alongside Slaughterhouse's Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I & Royce da 5'9", the "hip" may soon be rejoining the "hop" of our movement. Stars on the rise, Charles Hamilton, Kid Cudi, B.o.B, Drake & Curren$y are slowly but surely availing their promising talents, giving less & less life to the phrase "hip hop is dead". Even Asher Roth is giving hip hop a good look right now, depending on your vantage point.

Whatever it was that first pulled "you" into Hip Hop, be it Run DMC, NWA, Redman, Fat Joe, Common, Luke Skyywalker, UGK, rest assured that the circle of mediocrity has just about reached the rollover point. Everything happens in cycles, & we've seemingly reached the maximum capacity of meh we can tolerate.

See, what had happened was, Hip hop went to the hospital, because it was sick. It stayed for longer than we thought, so we assumed it was dead. But, on the contrary, it was receiving the biggest make over ever. We've suffered through our SB Tellem's, Flo Rida's, D4L's & the ilk.

A new day is finally on the horizon. & it looks as if the operation is almost complete.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wishful Thinking

Damn, I had it all planned out. So much for wishful thinking.

My plan began to take shape about a year ago.

"America is nearing a recession."

I figured, according to my knowledge of the machine that is the USA., that this meant stock market crash was imminent. Subsequently, anything based around our currency was bound to follow down the tubes. The job market, housing, value of the American dollar globally, the entire microcosm that we'd all came to know & love would be on it's back, flailing it's lifeless limbs like a cockroach on it's last ticks.

In turn, society as it were would be up for grabs. The bottom-feeders would now be on a leveled playing field with the well-to-doers & the lucky-if-they-got-it's. Organized confusion, if you will. Not being one of the wealthy would finally come in handy, like being the first guy in a soup kitchen line.

Fortunately, my tax bracket fell in somewhere between "too much" & "not enough"; mid-middle class extraordinaire.

Just as the getting appeared ready to be gotten, word spread of a new, deadlier strand of the flu heading out of Mexico with a vengeance, called the Swine Flu. After a few days of fearing for my children's lives, & the contamination rate beginning to soar, I saw my opportunity to seize the moment broaden. Alas, my plan began to gain momentum.

The way I saw it, rich people love to vacation, right? Jumping in & out of airplanes, jetting off to unknown islands where the only inhabitants were witch doctors & savages. At some point, they would have no choice but to come across some unlucky schlub who unknowingly had this sickness.

With any luck, they'd catch it one night while dining on open fire-roasted pig & machete sliced pineapple shards. Then, they'd carry it back to their sprawling golf courses & fancy jacuzzi parties, further infecting douche bag after douche bag. After that, they'd return to their plush villa's, coughing & sneezing rudely in the faces of the help. The help would then take it home to their husbands, who work at the car washes that the rich people get their million dollar chariots primped & primed for the next board room meeting. At this rate, they'd all be dead in a matter of months. From the rich, to the poor, & back to rich; so on & so forth.

This is where the middle class raises up, bearing arms like the gays when California voted no on same sex marriages. Without all the high-pitched yelling & open-toed sandals.

The jobs would be ours for the taking. The money earned from those newly available labors could be used to purchase property, creating a new rung on the ladder of hierarchy. The common man would now strike back & regain it's respect.

But wouldn't you know it.

President Obama made good on all his promises. Thus, avoiding the biggest economic downturn of all times. & just as that turmoil leveled off, the swine flu turned out to be a distant, less aggressive cousin of the traditional flu. It even killed LESS people than the regular flu did last year. Two massive bummers in less than a month.

So, regardless of wishful thinking, I'm still stuck between "too much" & "not enough". I could almost taste the success. & it tasted like everything on the McDonald's 99 cents menu.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Momma Day Blues

Mother's Day was yesterday. Since I know for a fact that a least two moms read my posts, let me take time to say "Happy Mother's Day". & if it applies to you, it's yours as well.

With that said, let me just get this off of my chest (no Janet Jackson). I sent my mom a card via my Pops, but no phone calls. We don't get along, & coincidentally had an argument Saturday morning that I know that I didn't start. That, compounded with the fact that the last time I saw her we had an argument, again that I did not start, & I found myself hard-pressed to call her & tell her anything aside from "kiss my ass".

Now, the reason that I said "get this off of my chest" is because it bothers me that she makes me feel so angry that I wouldn't at least want to spread some love her way on a day intended for her. I'm sure some of you have this type of mom; one of those super-mom, single parent, against all odds moms that holds you down no matter the circumstance. Well, not me. My Mom pretty much pushed me out & passed me off to my Dad, which wasn't hard because they're still married, so he was just in the other room.

I wasn't even that bad of a kid. I waited until my adult years to start whylin', & even then it wasn't that bad; I've never been arrested & only had one child situation out of wed lock (even though they're twins, it's still one pregnancy). So, that alone sets me apart from literally thousands of "kids". Yet & still, for reasons unknown, I'm treated like I tried to kill her dog(s).

I've attempted to reconcile numerous times, half of which I didn't even know what I was apologizing for. I would just see some movie/TV show & think about how cool it would be if I had that kind of mom. Subsequently calling her in hopes of rekindling some bond which, for the most part, never actually existed. But, No Dice. Ever. So, I give. I concede. She won. I won't be bothering her anymore with that bothersome "hey, but I'm your son" rhetoric.

So, as much as I would like to have that TV mom that has my back, it's not going to happen. God speed to her though, because at some point in her life, she's going to have the realization that she alienated quite a few key people from her life. I'm not really the forgiving type. In my opinion, when Jesus turned the other cheek, he bid his rival a "farewell", & walked away leaving them to fend for themselves. So, that's what I do. I may forgive, but surely will never forget. I wonder how many of her relatives & friends will be so generous with their feelings when that day arises.

What I did do, though, is make sure that my wife had the best day in May. She deserved it. & from what I gathered, she enjoyed her day extensively. I even went with her to this crowded as Mexican restaurant to get some of these hot wings that she swears by. It was like a hundred people in there, & I don't do well in crowds. I more or less hate people, so that may have been the most meaningful gift I gave her. Okay, maybe it was the jewelry, but I was trying to make a point.

So, I may be a day late, but Happy Mother's Day to my readers who went through all that abdominal/vaginal pain to bring us into the world. & be nice to your kids every once in awhile. Remember, as much as we appreciate you bringing us into the world, we didn't ask you to, so the respect has to go both ways.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Rick Ross Effect

Yes, I'm still on my hip hop kick.

I'll admit, I bought Rick Ross' album strictly off of the strength of his "beef" with Curtis Jackson (50 Cent). The closest I'd gotten to him before that was "Hustlin'", & that song was on a mix CD that my brother owned. So, never was it part of my plan to purchase/download any of his material purposely.

Then, he starts up with 50 over some feminine nonsense & I became intrigued. So, a year & some months later, I went out on the day it was released & bought "Deeper Than Rap", his third album. I like it.

I've found out quite a bit of information on Ross (legal name William Leonard Roberts), thanks to 50's relentless attempts at ruining his life. The majority of it is so unimportant that it's no wonder that regardless of all the commotion caused, Ross' CD still debuted at #1 on somebody's charts. What I did learn to be of interest, though, was the fact that his present day incarnation (not incarceration) isn't his first. He had been rapping before he blew up as the biggest coke dealing rapper in Florida.

In the late 90's, he rhymed under the moniker Tephlon Da Don. Upon further, um, research, I learned he had worked with quite of few artists that were, at the time, were pretty relevant to the industry, such as producer Erick Sermon of EPMD. Apparently that direction had been met with mediocre reviews, because his music was, well, mediocre. He has a song on some soundtrack to some movie also under that Tephlon name. Google it, because I'm being lazy right now.

So, when he did decide to make his "comeback" to the game, he was a changed man. Literally & physically. Gone were the throwback jerseys with matching, yet atrocious, headgear. Now, the man who once resembled B.I.G.'s less fortunate second cousin, was draped in linens & silks & massive amounts of jewelry. His body now covered in tattoos. He even has pictures of George Washington & Benjamin Franklin on his breasts, respectively. Did you know that Ben Franklin is the only non-president to appear on money?

& along with the change in his appearance & image, his content received a face lift as well. Coke rap is the appropriate term to label his music. 99% of his rhymes consist of tales that revolve around a lifestyle rich in cocaine dealings, only rivaled by the movie "Scarface". He does pull off the imagery of such a living, although at times it's obvious he's not telling the truth, & we all know that rappers don't lie.

If I were ever to meet this Rick Ross, I'd ask him "Why?". Did he think that he'd have a better shot at making doe if he acted as if he's selling pies (no fat joke/food references; those are legitimate slang words)? The skeleton of his word play is definitely void of any real thrilling skill, so one can only imagine how good he'd be at rap if it weren't for his fantastic voyages down Cocaine Alley. It doesn't bother me personally, because I've never even used the phrase "keep it real" until like two days ago.

He's not the only MC to surface & be met with less than admirable response. Jay-Z, Tupac, even Ice Cube all started their musical careers then swiftly pulled a 180 degree turn. What began as "for the love of the art" quickly transformed into "for the love of money". Now, I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.

It's only right that one seek financial retribution for their skill, but at what cost? Leaving behind what's concrete in your heart? Is it possible to have a healthy mix of the two & still become & remain successful. Apparently it is. There's dozens, if not hundreds, of rappers who have a stable fan base & have avoided crime or manual labor employment for the fact that people pay them for their craft. Now, those same dudes may not be pushing $250,000 cars or flying to countries with names I can't pronounce, but they would still be able to eat & provide for their families.

Smells like some people are a little greedy, no?

When it's all said & done, I couldn't care less. Give me good music, & you can have your fancy automobiles, cigars, drugs or whatever else your heart(s) desires.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

.....according to the X-files.

There was an interesting debate on the other day about reality-based rap music. It was called "Rap Pinocchio". Which, is a hilarious title, because according to that story, not only would the majority of the industry be walking around like the illegitimate children of Steve Martin's character in "Roxanne", but eventually, they'd all become real people. No Dice. They're just folks who happen to get paid for what people do daily; convince us of some alternate universe. Or, at the very least, give an assessment of reality through their eyes.

People lie all the time. Some lie for sport (lawyers), some lie to make you feel good (doctors), some lie to keep the peace (police officers) & some do it because they think they have to (politicians) or don't know any better (teachers). Our parents lie(d) to us daily, though I try not to lie to my kids. Santa who? Fairy what? My least (or most, depending) favorite is "well, you may be a little better at something else", which I've had to unholster a few times. Point is that "truth" is an elusive creature; almost mythical. According to the X-files, it's out there, but not one of those episodes showed us where the hell it is. I even watched the movie; same results, Diceless. Instead of searching for it, why not just adapt.

Now for rap music, the argument is "keep it real" vs. "entertainment".

If we don't "keep it real", we're setting bad examples for the children & more impressionable youths of society......

I don't buy that. I refuse to blame any of my parental shortcomings on an entertainer. Rick Ross is no more of a role model to my children than Dwayne Johnson. I'm their role model, & rightfully so. That being said, I refuse to let my kids fall into the trap of believing what someone says or emulating what they do. If my kids decide to engage in less-than-productive activity, the last place I lay blame is their "entertainment". But, seeing as though I monitor it, I don't see that being a problem. I'm more worried about the kids they attend school with than say, Lil Kim or Soulja Boy Tell'em.

The entertainment value, on the other hand, is priceless. I enjoy a great audio movie. It gives me an opportunity to see & be a part of things I wouldn't otherwise be privy to. I'm not prejudice with my disbelief in the average person; I think the entire planet is full of shit. So, I would be very hard-pressed to think that [insert rapper] is giving me an autobiographical account of their life. Nor could I even care any less if they were.

Art is not life. It's the perception of what life could be under different circumstances. Take the Statue of Liberty. Whatever French dude who designed that surely has never seen a 100 foot tall woman, right? If he said he has, who's the bigger idiot? Him, or the guy that buys that bridge?

Most things in life MUST be taken at face value.

If any given situation (especially entertainment-wise) seems to require even the smallest amount of investigation, two things have happened. 1) You've undoubtedly begun to take it too seriously, & 2) you've forgotten that life is an illusion best performed by the one who's witnessing it.

Deep, huh?

Even a situation that's void of any sort of educational value holds the possibility to teach someone something. I'm not sure what though, perhaps I'm just being overly optimistic. I won't say I've never learned anything from rap music or the ilk, but it definitely wasn't long division or the mating habits of the wilderbeests. Which, is a coincidence in retrospect because I wasn't looking for a life lesson at that particular time anyway.

Rap music, to me, is escapism. The day I take it so serious as to make personal attachments to the message (or lack of one) is the day I refer to TMZ as my daily news. They can murder all the cats they want, & sell all the dope they feel the need to. It makes me no nevermind. In fact, I'm playing Rick Ross' latest album right now.

& I don't feel bad about it.