Monday, December 13, 2004


rated x by an all-white jury

From: J**** ******
Subject: Blocked!


What up? Love reading your blog (and occasionally poppin in the couple CDs I got off you a while ago). So imagine my surprise when I tried to read your site from a local wireless cafe (Panera Bread) and got denied! ) Pornography, even!

I didn't search too hard but this post seems to have some info on this bogus web filter:

Good luck getting off their list of prohibited sites. I don't know how widespread this particular net nanny is but I thought you'd want to know that even on the web, The Man is tryin to hold you down.

Fight the power!


Sonic Wall,
ya'll ain't ready for war,
Pop Life too strong for ya'll


I was going to post up something pithy about Cam'ron's new album but realized that anything I might possibly say would be instantly dwarfed by Exo's review of Purple Haze which says everything I might have - and more. This is part of a small but significant attempt by Exo and others to stop blindly celebrating misanthropy just because it's stylish and actually pose the question of whether or not we, as listeners, should take the issue of social responsibility seriously (answer: yes)?

This is, of course, one of those debates that will never reach a consensus, never have anything less than opposing sides passionately warring over the outcome, and no doubt will get resurrected again after everyone's forgotten the current argument (which doesn't just include Killa, but certainly includes Snoop "Smack A Hoe" Dogg, too, among others). However, just because resolution is rarely, if ever, going to be at hand doesn't mean that we should stop asking these questions and challenging artists about how they've made nihilism seem ghetto glam.

This actually goes directly back to my previous posts where I was talking about the issues of racial authenticity. I'm going to make this very small point which taps into a far, far larger debate, but when we accuse non-Black artists of distorting Blackness to advance their own careers, we shouldn't forget that Blackness is also perverted from within. That doesn't absolve transgressors of their own sins but it points out that the lines between who's "right" and "wrong" are far blurrier than most would like to admit.

As always, this must all seem like a jumble (I need to stop blogging at 2;30am but between finalizing the diss and grading student papers, this is what I have) but a colleague from Philly sent me a thought via email which I think is worth considering:
    " Wouldn't it be nice if hip hop could more than feral black men who whirlwind through cities? On those grounds I'm wondering if it wouldn't ultimately be liberating if there was some deracination of hip hop.

    Not that I want it to be disconnected from all that coalesced into hip hop and all that the African diaspora has contributed to that. It's that I think that whoever is pulling the strings has a vested interest in hip hop remaining white America's 800
    pound gorilla. At it's most popular level, it seems to be produced to reinforce stereotypes, or act as a handy scapegoat or emblem of our yielding to base instincts. Not enough people see that it's a vital, diverse culture.

    I gave up hating a ways back - too many targets. And sometimes when it's got a hot chorus and a beat you can dance to you get crunk and ignore the lack of ambition or the less-than-positive subject matter. Or the fact that it all sounds the same. What I want is to feel the way I felt in the golden era. More than anything, you had to be innovative to stand out. Realness was an expansive concept and not something that was as much of a rule bound thing. Now, this false image (pretty certainly perpetuated by the record companies) means nearly everyone, especially among lower and mid-level artists ends up trying to
    fit in the same hole. If someone comes along who changes that, the race/gender/sexual orientation/national origin is secondary.

    I'm not holding my breath for the change or anything, but it would be nice to see some progress again."

Amen to that.

Just to contradict all this positivism can I just join the chorus by saying (back to Killa) that "Get 'Em Girls," is ridiculously hot even taking into account how regressive its politics are? Exo quoted this part too but it still gets me everytime I hear it: "I style up in my gear/Stallion of the year/Medallions in my ear /Whips on my fist/ Houses on my wrist/ Your budget on my neck/ Your spouse on my dick."

Doh! This must be why I'm getting filtered out.


Broken record time. The Wire's closing run is breathtaking. Not only does the penultimate episode open with Brother Mouzon and Omar facing off in an alley, admiring each other's choice in firearms, but Avon actually sons Stringer, reversing an entire season's power relationship. Dennis' fundraising pitch was a thing of beauty. And of course, most intriguing, is how Avon and Stringer are put on a collision course against each other - we all saw it coming, but not like this. Brilliant, brilliant television. This has been a terrible year for movies, not that hot for music, but TV in '04 has been incredible and right now, Deadwood and The Wire are leading the pack.