Often when I read fluffy profiles of rappers in magazines, I'm left with more questions than answers. Sure, it's cool to ask that gangsta rapper where his bullet holes are, and that female rapper if she has a boyfriend...but then what?
March 2005 Archives
By now most of you have read about McDonalds' offer to pay rappers to mention "Big Mac" in their rhymes. There's nothing wrong with product placement in general (mad videos have them), but this type a deal will hurt the credibility of the rapper, and hip-hop's credibility is key to its popularity, which is what McDonalds is trying to latch on to.
50 Cent was quiet this week. No one got shot, stabbed, or dissed at all in the last seven days. Of course the media is unhappy with that, including myself. Last time dude stirred up trouble I got invited to MSNBC to talk about it. I was hoping someone would really die soon so I could cover the funeral for Larry King Live.
Silly me. I thought the camera lingers on the iPod in Game's Hate It or Love It video because he really likes the mp3 player. However, according to the Strictly Business blog it seems that Apple paid for the iPod to be placed in the video.
And that XBox featured in the Ludacris Number One Spot video? Paid for. Mattel is in overdrive, placing their portable video player in that same Ludacris video, and in T.I.'s Bring Em Out.
According to Jose Martinez of the NY Daily News being a rapper is a deadly profession. In today's article about Al Sharpton's anti-hiphop crusade, Martinez writes:
"50 Cent, for one, boasts about surviving nine gunshot wounds. But several other rappers have been gunned down in beefs that turned deadly."
I would like to know who these several other rappers are.
The future of music is niche markets, and hip-hop is probably the best example of this. Years ago all of the biggest rappers came out of New York and Cali. Fast forward to 2003 and the highest sellers that year were Eminem and Nelly, both from the midwest. Their popularity though is only a reflection of what's been bubbling in hip-hop at the local level.
Peep truth. Regional artists are talented. Regional artists sell. Regional artists have solid, devoted fanbases. But here's the weird thing- regional artists still don't get much media coverage.
I believe Junior Mafia's explanation of why they
snitched on testified against Lil Kim.The Feds already had all the evidence they needed on video, so anyone to testify something contrary was bound to be taken down right along with Kim.
Though in the same way Kim's lawyers dropped the ball by letting this case even go to trial, Junior Mafia's publicist (or advisors or whoever) should have planned against the backlash of their testimony. Hip-hop fans hate Junior Mafia right now, and many have branded them snithces, probably the worst accusation for a group of gangsta rappers, especially ones with Mafia in their name.
"Where's all the harm being done by the deluge of sexist imagery in hip hop? Despite tons of anecdotal evidence to the contrary, pregnancies are decreasing amongst Black girls. As a matter of fact, teen pregnancy in the Black community is at a historical low. Black women already outnumber Black men in college, and are well on the way to outearning Black men. So where's the crisis, ladies?"
Don't believe the hype.
RWD, the UK's underground hip-hop magazine is wondering if Vibe stole their cover photo idea. Judge for yourself:
RWD stops short of accusing Vibe, but asks the question:
"Did they like our January cover so much, that the ideas team at Vibe decided to steal it? Or was it just a coincidence that they shot 50 Cent as Tony Montana on the cover of their April issue, only a few weeks after RWDâ€™s editor Matt Mason went to meet them and showed them what we did with Kano, in a bid to try and (unsuccessfully) convince them they needed to come to the UK and write about grime?"
I hope Vibe responds, though I doubtÂ they care what any small mag thinks about them.
I'm late on this, but I can't let the Bay Area's 106Kmel radio stationÂ slide without putting them on blast for their Black History Month contest. The details:
106 KMELâ€¦celebrates Black History Month. Tell 106 KMEL an African American leader that's making a difference in our community.
Grand Prize winner could win a Dell computer and a yearâ€™s supply of food from Popeye's Chicken.
Courtesy of Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits and PG&E!
The irony of giving Black people a bucket of chicken for Black History Month must be lost on them.
BrendanÂ I.Â Koerner breaks down the question, "Why do Dr. Dre's protÃ©gÃ©s always top the charts?" He's goes into the obvious explanations about Dre's beats being just so good, his perfectionist habits, and how he makes sure not to overextend his presence (can you think of any other beat he did in 2003 other than In the Club?).
But Koerner misses the most important factor in Dre's success. All ofÂ Dre's big production projects have been with artists who have compelling back stories. Out of all media, radio is probably the only format that even cares about the quality of music. Everywhere else- the video channels, magazines, and websites will boost you if you have a good story to sell.
Think about it. Snoop, Game, 50 Cent, and Eminem all have historiesÂ that are interesting enough to make movies out of. Actually,Â they are making movies about their lives!Â See, that's what's amazing about Dre. He doesn't just produce hits, he molds icons that the media (and through them, America)Â will love, or at least be fascinated by.
What a wild last few months in hip-hop, right?
We have our athletes beating up fans, our awards shows breaking out in stabbings, and our artists are having shoot outs in front of radio stations. The older heads are condenming us, the government wants to regulate us, the press is dismissing us, and corporations are reconsidering their hip-hop flavored promotional strategies.
With all the craziness going on, I think I need to make a collective confession for many of us who are living and writing about the culture- secretly, we're glad that hip-hop is back!
First, let me say that this is a good exercise book. The writer, Mark JenkinsÂ doesn't pushÂ gimmicks or shortcuts.Â And the results of Mark's advice can be seen on D'Angelo (the old D', not the new D'), Mary J. Blige, and P. Diddy when he ran the NYC Marathon.
But peep it- if you want to buy this book then you're probably a hip young man or woman who cares about their image. Now with that in mind why would Mark make his book look like this:
If you go missing and are a young, pretty, white, female then the national media will step over themselves in order to help find youÂ (think Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, JonBenet Ramsey). However, if you're a Black man, the best you'll get is jokesÂ (too bad, Rashawn Brazell).
But you already know that.
Cops shoot another unarmed Black man. The jury won't convict the officer(s). The media yawns. Stop, play, repeat.
The Connect Politic blog predicted this familiar pattern would repeat in the case of Ousmane Zongo's killing. Haven't heard of Zongo? Oh, dag. That's probably because his name isn't 50 Cent or Martha Stewart. Maybe if dude had a record contract and 100 unreleased songs on deckÂ his death would matter to the media. But nope. No flow, no promo.
Earlier today I was featured on MSNBC discussing the 50 Cent shooting(s) and violence in hip-hop.
My final thoughts were cut off, so I'll share them here.
Judging by this exhaustive list of 40oz sightings on tv, movies, etc., it seems that malt liquor is the ultimate media representation of g-h-e-t-t-o.
The wonderful Danyel Smith (former editor of Vibe, and bestselling novelist) is pleading with the writers of today and tommorrow to stop talking about their story ideas and actually go out and write them. She acknowledges the difficulty of getting a book deal, or a magazine feature if you're a young writer, or any feature outside of "ethnic issues" if you're a Black wirter. She also recognizes that hip-hop mags seem more concerned with celebrity profiling, rather than any investigative journalism.
When the whole 50 Cent vs Game / Hot 97 shooting erupted last night I wondered to myself- what does Funk Master Flex think of this whole situation, now? He's the guy who interviewed 50 about Game's "disloyalty," gleefully asking all the right questions, and actually giggling after 50 gave some of his most heated answers.