Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's The Rap Up. (Uk Edition.)


British rapper Mystro attempts his own wrap up, focusing on events that happened across the pond. Should he try again next year?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's The Rap Up.



The last song to be released in 2009 is here. Skillz dissects another year in music and entertainment. Dig it.

Skillz - Wrap Up 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Robbery suggested as motive in rapper's shooting


The Richmond Times-Dispatch says that the two men who entered the recording studio where Michael R. Mitchell, 30, aka "Mike Ezie," was on Dec. 23 were trying to rob him.

Authorities said two males went into the building and left after Mitchell was shot. It was unclear what, if anything, was stolen. No arrests have been made.

UPDATE: Joseph Michael Rodriguez, Jr., 20, was found guilty of slaying Michael R. Mitchell, known as "Mike Ezie," on July, 14, 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

South Richmond Rapper, Mike Ezie, Dies


Police are still withholding the name of local rapper killed in a recording studio last night. But sources say the victim was known as "Mike Ezie," a member of a collective of emcees known at the "Young Richmond Outcasts." Their songs include "Weirdo Stank," "Let the Cops Know Everything," and "My Buddy and Me." The group, which consists of ChiChi the Kid, Heir Borne, Jwrek, Jaesen K, Jay Dash, Real and Mike Ezie, incorporated the logo and spelling from the Atlanta rap duo, "Outkast."

One of his relatives spoke to the Richmond Times Dispatch: "This building was his life," White said on a snow-covered street outside Glenncroft. "He lived a superstar life right here in his own town. He didn't need Hollywood -- he had Hollywood right here."

The clips for "Boogie" and "By Myself," follow.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Richmond Rappers "Get" Locked Up


When today's Richmond Times-Dispatch announced that a group of local rappers had been arrested, I was skeptical. Did the cops find a CD-R with the name of a gang written on it in and assume that they had busted the next G-Unit? Well, not this time. "Get Money Green Brothers," sentenced yesterday, were certified aspiring artists, with myspace page, videos and a profile at garageband.com.

According to the Times-Dispatch report, the three members, "Big Get It,"P Get It" and "Little Get It" were allegedly "getting large quantities of cocaine, redistributing it in the Richmond area, and using the proceeds to support their music venture." Their conviction was the result of a four-year investigation, the article states. Some of their songs include, "I See U Looking,"Where Dey At," and "Disco Ballin'."

Here's some video from their myspace page. This is the clip for "Disco Ballin'"


Let's go shopping with the crew.


Here's what our local media had to say.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Check out the Phifer

Former Tribe Called Quest member Phife is respectful and polite in this 1999 discussion about the dissolution of one of hip-hop's greatest groups. But by the time he finished his solo debut, the five footer was singing a different tune about one of his former bandmates. He mocked Q-Tip's new look in his video for "Flawless," rocking an afro wig and purple bandanna for comic effect. If that wasn't enough, the lyrics included jabs at the group's former frontman: "Sing ballads if it's all about the Maxwell look ... Or a purple bandanna cause it matches your shawl?/Now tell me, what you rhymin' for?/This shit is all about flows, fuck a fashion show." If he felt that the commercial curve Tip's solo work took was tarnishing their legacy as a solid hip-hop crew, it would certainly be a valid concern.

Phife, after his lukewarm first release, faded away from the hip hop scene for awhile. He recently made news when he recovered from a kidney-related ailment and when the crew was honored by VH-1. In addition, he's featured on a mixtape tribute to De La Soul, which can be had here, and he video blogs over here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DJ Peachez, Richmond DJ, Dies


Terika Grooms, aka DJ Peachez died at an area hospital today after a brief illness. I'm not the target audience for contemporary urban radio, so I had no idea who she was until recently, when I heard she was sick via facebook updates from a friend yesterday. You can learn about her life at reverbnation.com:

DJ Peachez was born in Lynchburg, Va and spent her childhood in Amherst, VA. Her parents were unable to take care of her, so her paternal grandparents became her guardians. Even though her grandparents cared for her, her parents were an important part of her life. Overall, her childhood was happy, but there were several hardships and tragedies. At age 7, an electrical fire destroyed her home and all of her possessions. At age 12, her father passed away, and later, her grandmother passed away 3 weeks before her high school graduation. Despite all of these obstacles, she graduated from high school with a 3.9 GPA and became to first in her family to go to college. She graduated from James Madison University with a BBA in Marketing and a Minor in Music Industry.

She was a mix DJ at WCDX and had bigger plans.

All of her life, she has dared to dream big, and her goal is to become a business mogul and philanthropist. She wants to become internationally known as a DJ and talk to youth and young adults about the importance of education. In addition, she wants major sponsorships and product endorsements and eventually start a marketing consulting company. Later on during her lifetime, she would like to earn a Ph. D. and possibly teach at a university.

Rest In Peace, DJ Peachez.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bazerk is Back


That summer tour may not have materialized, but the Son of Bazerk, the cutting edge rap group that released one album in 1991, has reunited. Tony Allen aka Son of Bazerk, is in the studio with longtime Public Enemy DJ Johnny Juice and the original members of SOB. No work on a release date or distribution plans yet.

For those who slept or forgot:

Saturday, November 07, 2009

That's so Richmond!

I haven't ventured out to the clubs in my hometown on a regular basis in years. From the looks of this video, not much has changed.

DJ/Blogger Big Nat fronts this video clip that shows Pretty Rickey getting the official Richmond welcome at a club last night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Soundbombing Pt 4: Escape from New York


I'd never seen anything like the performance above by RA The Rugged Man in 1999 and I probably never will. I don't have the words to do it justice, so I won't try. Rugged Man dropped a new CD this week, if your interested.

After a day and half of spending Rupert Murdoch's money and hanging out with hip-hop's elite, it was time for DJ Reese and I to return to day jobs in Richmond. We ordered room service one last time, leaving the waitstaff yet another ridiculous gratuity and before we boarded a van to the airport. Reese pondered whether he owed his contact at Rawkus and apology for exploiting their hospitality while we waited in the airport. This moment marked the end of fun in New York.

My traveling nightmare may not compare to the recent airline snafus that have left passengers stranded in airplanes for hours, but it was a long, uncomfortable journey that got worse as it wore on. Our first flight was  postponed several hours. Then it was cancelled. Then we got another flight to Richmond, but it was leaving from a different airport. The airline put us on a bus to LaGuardia, where we waited for our plane to come. Almost six hours after our planned departure, we were finally in our seats. We were still feeling releived  when plane turned toward the runway and stopped.

The pilot said that a "important device" wasn't functioning properly and we weren't going anywhere until it was fixed  A mechanic entered the plane a few moments later and laid on his back in the cockpit, with his toolbox beside him. We found out later "the important device" was the plane's radar, which wasn't getting fixed that night. After the repair attempt, we were taken back to the airport. Reese and I were the last to leave the plane. I  remember turning around and seeing him still in his seat, shaking his head as dragged my gear through the narrow space between the seats.

The airline people put us on another bus. This time, we were going to a hotel where we could stay until the next scheduled flight to Richmond in the morning. The first hotel we went to was booked up. The second hotel was was booked, too. The bus driver took us back to the first hotel and everyone that has been on plane spread out in the lobby. Some slept in chairs, others in restaurant booths. I found a sofa in the lobby. Just a few hours before, I was in a five star hotel ordering room service and watching cable television. Now, here I was trying to sleep in a semi-public area a few inches from the floor.

If there was a  moral to this story, I've misplaced it, along with an expired voucher from US Airways.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bombing the Sound Pt. 3


The next chapter in the story might not be worth the wait, I think the footage above of Pharoahe Monch and Shabaam Sahdeeq is an acceptable consolation. The asthmatic former member of Organized Konfusion spits the first verse of "WW II" twice, after his first delivery left the audience shell shocked. Don't you wish he would rhyme like he used to? (Monch is revisiting his early days this weekend.)

So where was I? Oh, yeah. DJ Reese and I were headed to the NY office of Loud Records where a young lady owed him a favor. We were going to the Soundbombing 2 concert and this was supposed to be a quick stop on the way While he and the record company person settled up, I was left in what might have been the meeting room for Loud. But I wasn't alone. There were rappers in there.

I wasn't a fan of Dead Prez then and I still don't own any of their material. So hanging out with the revolutionary gangsta duo wasn't on my "things to do while in New York" list. But here they were, just sitting there and I had nothing to say. I was hoping whatever business DJ Reese was taking care of wouldn't take long and we would on our way to the Bowery Ballroom to see Mos Def and 'nem. Then I heard the words that make rap critics cringe.

"You wanna hear our new shit?"

I'm sure my facial expression said "Not Really" or "Get me out of here," but I gave the polite answer and braced myself for some uncomfortable moments. I wasn't prepared for what happened next. I liked their music. All of it. They must've played the majority of what would become "Let's Get Free," and I was feeling every track. We chatted for a few minutes afterward and they considered heading to the concert, but I didn't see them there. DJ Reese finally returned, mysterious mission accomplished, and we were on our way.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bombing The Sound Pt. 2


This is the second installment about first trip to New York on the music industry's dime.
Rawkus, the label that put out Soundbombing 2, put us up in a swank hotel in midtown New York. Since it was my partner Maurice's room and hook-up, I didn't want to rack up charges on his bill, I started to give them my credit card information. The clerk wouldn't take my card and told me there was already an account set up for the room. The name on the card was "Fox Inc." For awhile Maurice and I thought their was some mistake, then we remembered there was some connection between the Fox and Rawkus.

We made good use of Rupert Murdoch's money. We ordered breakfast, lunch and dinner and tipped the staff exuberantly. I remember racking up the long distance calls, calling friends and family, saying stuff like, "Guess where I'm at ..."

But this trip wasn't just about the perks. We were there to see the Soundbombing 2 concert and Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Pharaoh Monche and airbody else from that album were on the bill. But before we could go to the show, Maurice had to make a quick stop that would leave me in a tight spot.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Roc Raida Dies


Busta Rhymes personal DJ and X-exuctioners members Roc Raida died today. The pioneering DJ was reportedly admitted to a hospital for a spinal injury, but an official cause of death has not been released.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Don't Call it a Comeback Concert

D'angelo, according to a source close to the singer, will not be performing at an after party for the Video Music Awards. A post on ticketalternative.com claims that the reclusive singer along with "Tony S. Soulfinger Sam, Herbert Holler & Marc Smooth" will perform at New York night spot called the Country Club. The site also says the show is sold out.

I've never been to Country Club or met Soulfinger Sam, but I would wager that there a better places and company in which to stage a return to the music game after nearly a decade between album releases.

Expect an official denial and refund demands shortly.

UPDATE: D'angelo's manager denies that the singer is performing in New York this summer.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ya Still Tellin' Lies to Me


There are quite a few doctors in the music game, Dr. Dre, Dr. Ice, Dr. Demento. But it's uncommon for a musician to actually become a legit doctor of philosophy or medicine. Perhaps that's why a story about a underground rap artist who went on to graduate from Cornell on the music industry's dime was so charming.

This Slate.com expose on Roxanne Shanté says her story broke this summer, but I recall hearing about it on the interwebs awhile back. It was a rare tale of a woman taking control of her destiny and exploiting the music industry in order to live her dreams. But now it seems Shanté's rap was just lies.

Shanté has been telling the world how she used a clause in her Warner Records recording contract go to college, eventually earning a Ph.D. She has alleged that she's used her degree and experience to create a hip-hop therapy clinic. A moving story of redemption and determination for an artist whose career had been ruined in part, by one line from rival MC KRS-ONE. (If you don't know this line, ask somebody who has actually bought records in a record store in the 1980s or listen here around 1:50.) But the real story is much more complicated.

According to Slate, Warner Records says it never had a contract with Shanté, and it was not obligated to pay for her education. Shanté—real name Lolita Shanté Gooden—doesn't have a Ph.D. from Cornell or anywhere else. Indeed, she admitted it in an interview with Slate. And Cornell has no record of Gooden (or "Shanté") ever attending or receiving a degree. According to Marymount Manhattan College records, Shanté enrolled there but dropped out less than four months later without ever earning a degree. 

New York state records indicate that no one named Lolita Gooden or Roxanne Shanté is licensed to practice psychology or any related field.

The rapper claims she graduated from another college, not Cornell, under another name. When told this school has no record of her graduation, she blames it on a "computer error?" Or perhaps it was Untouchable Force Organization, up to their old tricks again.










Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nas talks to Nardwuar


It's not easy to get a rap artist to expand beyond their stock answers and prepared comments. This guy finds a way, but at what cost?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bombing The Sound


Back when indie rap lable Rawkus was flush with street cred and Fox, Inc. cash, I talked them into flying me to New York for the Soundbombing 2 release party/concert. They booked us on a small plane that left me and my partner DJ Reese shook ones. Our ride back would also be ... problematic.

DJ Reese was on the radio back then and had better connects than I did. While I could only swing airfare from the record company, he had a hotel room and some other perks. But when he said there would be a man with a card with his name on it waiting for us at the airport, I didn't believe him. Sure enough, when we got off the plane, we didn't see the man or the card. Resse made a call (I remember it was from a pay phone. Damn, this is an old story.) and within a few minutes a man with a card appeared and took us to a ... limousine.

Reese and I were like Arnold and Willis Jackson in that ride, rolling the windows up and down, taking pictures and (watch out 'deah now) talking on the car phone. Could it get any better than this?

More about this trip later. Above is some of the footage from the concert, featuring Sadat X and Common doing "1-9-9-9."[

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rapper Baatin of Slum Village Dies


Detroit's hip hop community lost another pivotal member this weekend. Baatin, a founding member of Slum Village, died yesterday. The rapper, who had recently rejoined the group, was found dead on a Detroit street after leaving a cookout. The cause of death is unknown.

The 35-year-old rapper's death, follows the unfortunate demise of two other major players in the Detroit scene. Rapper Proof, of D12, was shot to death outside a Detroit nightclub in August of 2006. Former Slum Village member Jay Dila, also died in 2006, from cardiac arrest.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Not So Fast and Furious


Ice Cube starred in "Torque," a box office bomb that borrowed heavily from the hugely successful "The Fast and Furious." Both movies feature rappers-turnt-actors in major roles and have the characters head for Mexico when things get tough. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Neal H. Moritz, produced both films.

Fortunately I never had to suffer through this flick. Former Wavelength host Yasmine Weaver was flown to Los Angeles back in 2004 to see a preview of the film and meet the people who should be held partly responsible for it's lack of merit.

Cube was so irrelavant as a rap artist at this time, Yaz doesn't even bother to bring it up. She does mention a shot to the face he took on the set of the film, which finally gets the stone-faced O'Shea Jackson to loosen up a bit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Day Has Come, I Guess

Like murder, there is no statute of limitations on sampling. That's why Lonnie Lynn can be sued today for using the music of songwriters Andrew Andrew Marks and London McDaniels, on his debut album, nearly 20 years ago. I guess the recession has songwriters in a pinch, too.

The song, "Take it EZ," was the top single from "Can I Borrow A Dollar," one of two albums the Chicago rapper did under his original name, before a legal claim from a reggae band forced him to drop "Sense."

The original song, by a group called Rasa, follows.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Steve Harvey knows what boys want



Since being crowned a king of comedy and starring in the long-running sitcom, "The Steve Harvey Show," Steve Harvey has kept busy. His current day job is hosting a syndicated morning radio program, "The Steve Harvey Morning Show." I guess he saves his creativity for his jokes and doesn't waste it on coming up with cute titles for his projects.

Harvey is also known for his popular book on relationships, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man." During this brief exchange with former Wavelength host Yasmine Weaver, the comedian gets serious when he talks about what boys want and what girls need to know about them.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

So We Can Rock Forever


The death of Micheal Jackson has been hard to process. Like all seventies babies, I haven't lived in world without Mike and his sudden death has me a little shook. I've found some comfort remembering what comedian Lucille Ball's daughter said after her mother died.

Lucie Arnaz said that for fans of her mother's work on radio,television and films, her mother wasn't dead. She would continue to be there for them the way she always had and they could enjoy her jokes and pratfalls forever. Death wouldn't change the wacky readhead's relationship with her fans. While she had lost a mother, the people who appreciated her mother's artistry hadn't lost anything. They still had their Lucy.

If Micheal Jackson were alive, it's unlikely that we would've seen him complete those 50 show. It's also unlikely that we would've heard any new music from the King of Hype anytime soon. Micheal Jackson hadn't followed up the unlistenable "Invincible," 8 years after its release and had no record deal at the time of his death. He wasn't coming with anything but promises.

Now that Micheal is gone, we can reflect on his legacy and finally hear some of the music that has been locked away for years. An expert on the marketing of dead celebrities suggest that Micheal Jackson may be worth more than Elvis. He added that MJ may become the most profitable fallen star of all time, surpassing the current leader, Lucille Ball.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hammer's Words to Third Bass


MC Hammer finally addresses a story MC Serch of the defunct rap group Third Bass has been telling for years. Although he doesn't confirm or deny what happened, Mr. Stanley Burrell's careful word choice and knowledge about the trio's commercial in impact is revealing.

For those who don't have dog-eared copies of The Source magazines in their attic sealed in plastic containers, the story went something like this. Serch, along with members of Run-DMC, (members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who Hammer dissed at least twice) abashed Hammer with their song and video,"The Gas Face." In the clip, an over sized hammer with eyeglasses is toppled and carried away as Hammer is dissed for about ten seconds straight. Also, on their debut, "The Cactus Album," they rapped "the cactus turned Hammer's mother out."

In certain communities, speaking ill about someone's mother is an invitation for violent confrontation. Since MC Serch and Pete Nice, as white boys, were visitors with passes in the hip-hop world, this might seem like a rather bold and unnecessary insult, in retrospect. Actually, it was more of the clever wordplay that filled the duo's first record that made it so appealing. "Turn this Mutha Out," was a single from from Ham's second album, "Let's Get it Started." They weren't talking about his mom, but his music. 

Getting Done
According to legend, that's not how the Hammer saw it. The former Oakland A's batboy allegedly called a Def Jam executive and said, "Don't send your boys to Cali. They're gonna get done." As much as Serch lampooned Hammer and his music, this time the dancing man in the baggy pants and space goggles was taken seriously.

In the above interview with allhiphop.com, Hammer says "It's ridiculous that you [Serch], want that [the alleged contract on his life] to be your claim to fame." It's hard to characterize this comment as a denial of the sequence of events Serch has shared. He could of killed (whoops) the issue once and for all, just by saying it never happened. But he didn't. 

Hammer goes on: "I didn't know who that dude was ... " Well, if he didn't know then, he certainly did his research, as Hammer is able to pull estimated sales figures for Third Bass albums out of thin air. Predictably, he considers himself above discussion about the group, as his platinum-selling titles dwarf their "wood" status. (Actually Stanley, wiki lists two of the three Third Bass albums as "gold.")

Please, Hammer Don't Hurt 'em
Was Serch's story about a supposed hit legit? It's hard to say. Hammer made pop rap, but he is from a rough section of East Oakland. He also hung out with Suge Knight and flirted with a gangsta image while signed to Death Row. But this is same artist who made gospel rap with a group called "Holy Boys" before he blew up and is now a minister. Death threats certainly aren't very Christian. What I can't get past is why Serch would think creating a story about being threatened by a pop rapper would enhance his reputation.

20 years later, who's ahead?
So where are they now? Who's making the best use of that rapper's pension fund and trying to take their 15 minutes of fame into overtime? In the interest of allowing us all to sleep better at night, I've taken a look at this issue.

Artistry
Third Bass rhymed circles around MC Hammer back then. Their disses of him were clever, artful and humiliating. Yeah, I would've been mad too, Ham. Their music holds up pretty well, but you might not realize it as it's seldom heard on the radio. With only three releases, their catalog is considerably smaller than Hammer's, but it doesn't contain the missteps and screw-ups that his does. Pumps and Bump anyone? Hip-hop purists viewed much of Hammer's work as treasonous back in the day, but in retrospect and in comparison to today's ring tone rap, it really isn't that bad. I kind of like this one, in a nostalgic sort of way. But if the aim of the game is to create compelling work that holds its value years afterward, and I think it is,  Third Bass knocks this one out of the park.

Long Ball
Airbody knows Hammer squandered millions of dollars on elaborate stage shows and funky pompadour hairdos for his 32 back up dancers. But his biggest mistake might have been not retaining the publishing rights to his hit records. It's a terrible and unfortunate situation when an artist has to part with the music that they made. This is part of the reason has to humble himself with self-effacing  commercials like this one. 



and this ...



Serch's catalog may not be filled with platinum hits that are part of the popular culture landscape, but it hasn't changed hands. Not only does the rapper retain the rights to his own music, he owns other artists' music, including Nas' "Illmatic," which is considered one of the greatest hip hop records of all time. Jay-Z made note of this during his feud with the Queensbridge rapper, reminding him that when he sampled Nas' voice he paid "Serchlite Publishing." 

The rap careers of Serch and his partner Pete Nice seem to be over, but Hammer never stopped releasing music, even if you didn't care. He's put out three albums since 2000 and shows no signs of stopping. Serch's most recent release consisted of unreleased music from the 1990's, which succeeded in proving that there is a reason why some songs never come out. Hammer might not hit like he used to, but he keeps swinging, while Third Bass can't step up to the plate. 

Both Serch and Hammer have worked in the post-career graveyard of reality television, but only one of them has their own show that airs on A&E Sunday nights. The reality is Hammer is a rare pop icon who can appear on the Today Show and allhiphop.com while MC Serch and Pete Nice are largely forgotten rappers. A tarnished image beats no image. Score one for Hammer.

Final tally: 1-1. Tie goes to the running man. 






 

Monday, June 08, 2009

Kansas Just Don't Understand?


Skillz and DJ Jazzy Jeff had their show at Kansas City Power & Light District Saturday night cut short. The dj and the rapper say the powers that be in the club didn't want to hear any hip-hop music. The event organizers claim that Jazzy Jeff ignored requests to turn down his sound and they cut the show to save their speakers.

Skillz gives his version of events in the video above.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bruno Crash Lands on Eminem


It's a matter of debate of whether Marshall Mathers (Eminem) agreed to let Sasha Cohen, performing as his "Bruno" character, land on his lap ass up at the MTV Movie Awards last night.

Em hardly needs the publicity and his sensitivity is well-noted after he mushed a puppet that insulted him at the same award show, so I find it hard to imagine him agreeing to an idea such as this. What do you think?

UPDATE: It was all planned.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bazerk in the Studio


If and when Son of Bazerk returns to the stage, they might have some new songs to perform. The group is in reportedly the studio with DJ Johnny Juice in New York.

Juice is one of the unsung heroes of the Public Enemy phenomenon, playing the background while bringing the noise to P.E. recording sessions. The other P.E. producers, the Bomb Squad were responsible for most of the bands combustible debut, "Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk," on Soul/MCA.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dolla's Family Speaks Out


The family of slain rapper Dolla released this statement today:

“First and foremost we, the Burton family would like to thank everyone for all their kind thoughts and prayers during these trying times,” the statement reads. “Most recently, the Burton family was made aware that there have been numerous false claims of information floating around the ‘net and also reported in reputable media outlets. Part of this was due to someone who was not authorized to speak on the family’s behalf and who claimed to be the publicist of record decided to disseminate false information on her own and without the consent of the family to several media outlets.

“Due to the circumstances of the situation no other information will be released at this time. We are grateful for your continued support in these trying times. We now ask everyone to allow us to mourn the loss of our beloved Roderick Anthony Burton.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rapper Dolla Dead


Dolla, shown here with DJ Lonnie Battle during a Richmond, Va. appearance at Pearl Lounge, was shot and killed yesterday. The rapper was slain while waiting for a ride at the Beverly Center mall in Los Angeles.

The rapper was signed to Akon's label in 2007, and was in L.A. to put the finishing touches on his oft-delayed debut.

Dolla was part of the Konvict Entertainment family and an incredible artist. This is a senseless crime and the industry has lost a real talent. Our heart goes out to his family, friends, and fans,” Akon said in a released statement.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Clipse of Reality


In the above video, Malice, of The Clipse, all but confesses that the cocaine raps that they put out for young minds to consume, may not have been true stories. As that guy used to say on This Week In Baseball, "How 'bout that?" While this admission is not surprising, the fact that he made it is.

“There’s a lot of foolishness in hip-hop as my grandmother would say,” he said. “And I just want to say that I am and have been a part of the problem, the thing about it is I need foolishness in my hip-hop, I need foolishness in my movies. I happen to like that."

Given that Malice likes dwelling on foolishness, it's a safe bet that the duo will continue telling lies to our wives and children with their next release. But they may be on the hunt for new source material. Their manager was recently indicted for allegedly operating a large drug ring in Virginia.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Chain and the Star


It didn't take long for rap veterans Guru and DJ Premier to gauge that former Wavelength host Yasmine wasn't well-versed on their career. The duo takes over this 2003 interview, tag-teaming on talking points, which means this interview is probably like many they did that day, but who cares? It's Gangstarr.

After the "The Ownerz," the album that duo is shelling in this interview, Gangstarr broke up and nobody really knows why. I can't put my finger on it, but some ingredient that was in there other albums just wasn't there on the last one. I love their other music so much that I wondered if, perhaps, the problem was on my end. After repeated listens, I officially cleared myself. If a reunion is going to bring more music like that, maybe I can learn to live in world without a new Gangstarr album.

The status of the duo's relationship was the subject of April Fool's Day cartoon, which would've been funnier if it didn't ring so true.

This was the group's first time meeting Yasmine, but their second appearance on Wavelength. You can read a transcript of that interview here and there.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Kings in the Hall


If you read DMC's account of his days with Run and Jam Master Jay, you probably remembered how it all ended. Shortly after the death of Jam Master Jay, Run announced the end of the group at a press conference. This was news to hip hop fans around the globe and to DMC, as Run hadn't informed him of his plans until that moment. Since then, there have been reports that their relationship has been cordial but icy, as they only communicate via text message regarding business matters.

It wasn't Eminem's awkward induction speech that had me on the verge of tears this morning, but seeing Daryl and Joseph exchange friendly glances and a genuine embrace before walking on stage. It may never be the same between them and we may never see RUN-Dmc rock another crowd, but at least for last night they were friends again.

via nahright.com

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rah Rah Rah


Rah Digga was the brightest star in the Flipmode Squad, a name that Busta Rhymes gave to his friends and family who wanted to become rappers but would settle for just hanging out with him. The crew of weed carriers has dwindled down to four members, with rappers like Digga, Rampage, Papoose and Lord Have Mercy leaving the group to struggle on their own.

We met Rah at Willie's Record Store in Richmond back in 2000. Although this clip catches her on a bad hair day, in the right light, Rashia Fisher is an strikingly beautiful woman. "That's me," she said with a laugh that day as she signed pictures of herself looking slightly more fabulous. Along with revealing her fresh face, Rah shared with us her uncommon orgin, which includes private school and a stint as an egineering student.

The Willie's store is now a Radio Shack. Rah Digga is reportedly signed to "The Inc." as part of a suspergroup with Vita and Charlie Baltimore. It's hard to say which is the better look.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The McN*e*r*d Dance


Tennis shoe pimp and rock star wannabe Pharrell attempted to persuade a Paris McDonald's to open early recently by giving them a impromptu and unwanted mini-concert. I guess if Hammer could dance for popcorn chicken back in the day, this school teacher's son can humiliate himself for a couple of McNuggets. Although the money is probably long gone, at least Hammer got paid for his fast food shuffle.

Although he and his psuedo rock group, N*E*R*D, never appeared on Wavelength, the failed video show that inspired this blog, I did run  into Skateboard P a couple times while doing business. The first time I saw him he was performing onstage at Flood Zone, a defunct Richmond nightspot. He and a couple of other guys were wearing matching flowered shirts and talking over a couple beats they had produced, Noreaga's "Superthug" and MC Lyte's "I Can't Make a Mistake." The crowd was polite but unimpressed. Later that evening, I was shooting Wavelength at another club when I was tapped on the shoulder.

"What's this?" he asked.

"I'm shooting my video show," I said.

"I want to be on this."

"Alright," I said and went back to setting up my shot.

"I want to be on this," he repeated.

"Well, you can't be on it right now," I said. "I'm shooting."

I guess the "P" doesn't stand for patience. He walked away from me and went on to become a successful producer and popular recording artist. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wavelength Goes to the Movies


At the height of our irrelevance, Wavelength was among a handful of music shows that were invited to a series of press days for urban films in New York and California. A movie studio paid for my train ride to New York, (I never fly to New York. That's another story.), put me up in the W Hotel and gave me a per diem. All I had to do was watch a movie and chat with a few celebrities. It was the best of times.

Like much of the music that arrived in Wavelength offices during that time, I realized I wasn't the target audience for the film "Love Don't Cost A Thing." So I sat out the interviews and let Yasmine, who had moved from Richmond to New Jersey by then, to do her thing. In this clip, Yasmine talks to Nick Cannon, who after failing as a rapper, may have found his true calling as Mariah Carey's purse holder and bodyguard

Friday, March 06, 2009

Yasmine wants you to man up


Every now and again someone wants to know whatever happened to former Wavelength host Yasmine. I got a message from her today to check out her article in Man Up magazine. As she's dabbled as a journalist, I was expecting to read something. But this is not that kind of article. Looking good, Yasmine.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Coup on the Boulevard



It was a rare to have a national rap act as a studio guest for Wavelength, the failed video show that inspired this blog. A convergence of events had to happen; the rapper had to be on a promo tour or in town for a concert, they had to be in Richmond on a Wednesday, they had to be available between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and they had to decipher my perplexing directions to the studio.

After getting stuck in an endless loop of toll booths, The Coup finally made it to the studio for a brief interview. There were supposed to perform, but we didn't have the tables at the 918 N. Boulevard studio that day. I'm sure we missed a treat if Pam is as half as good as she says she is. We came up short in other ways that day, too. We could have used another 2 to 3 feet of our painted canvas backdrop, another microphone and somebody, anybody to work the cameras. That was public access television, you go with what you got. Or don't got.

Boots Riley, the lead rapper of the The Coup, now a duo, was in Virginia last year where was charged with using profanity in public after leaving the stage of a Norfolk concert. Defunct Hampton Roads news magazine Portfolio Weekly covered the story. The charges were eventually dropped and the city council rescinded the ant-profanity ordinance after realizing it was a bunch of bullshit.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Chris Brown & Rihanna ... now what?


According to People.com, Chris Brown and Rihanna are together again and staying at one of P. Diddy's home in Miami. (I assume it's not the same one where he's twittering while in the midst of a tantric sex marathon.)  I can't think of another time where the old domestic violence scenario (guy meets girl, guy beats girl, guy loses girl, guy gets girl back) has played out on the pop culture stage. I hope this unfortunate situation inspires parents to talk with their daughters about "nice guys" who speak with their fists.  It's sad, but I think we know where their relationship will goes from here. But what about their careers?

Professionally, Chris Brown is a pariah. Wrigley spit him out as their pitchman and the milk mustache people have wiped him off their list of promoters. His next film is "Bone Deep," but you wouldn't know it, because they've erased his image from all of the promotional materials. Radio stations have banned his music and former fans have been seen grinding his CDs into the asphalt. Some celebrities spoke out in his defense, but backed off after getting a taste of the bad press that Brown is generating. (What's going on with you, Terence Howard?) Anyone who rides with Chris Brown, who was last seen on a jet ski, is putting their career in jeopardy. This includes you, Ri Ri.

Since news of the assault broke, Rihanna's CD sales reportedly went up 35 percent. I don't expect she'll see a similar bump now that she's seen as an enabler as well as a victim. But unlike her boyfriend, she can walk away and start fresh whenever she wants ... if she wants.

Pop music fans are fickle. The memory of Rihanna's battered face will fade and if Brown is never charged, all could be forgotten ... by some. If Brown is able to return to making mediocre pop music,  he'll be subject to unwelcome questions from the media, protests and threats for quite some time. Sort of like what awaits Michael Vick in a few months.  Chris Brown may not go to jail but he won't get his life back.


Image via Mavrixonline

Monday, February 23, 2009

She's a Lady

Lady Sovereign - So Human


After her on-stage meltdown in 2007, I thought pint-sized UK rapper Lady Sovereign was down for the count. The young spitter showed promise on her Def Jam debut, "Public Warning," with songs like "Those Were the Days." But things fell apart as she complained about being broke, the United States and not wanting to perform at a show in New York. Instead of leaving the stage, she stood there while the people who paid to see her rap watched her unravel. (The video has been removed from the youtubes by the people who do such things.) She managed to collect herself enough to continue the tour, but was off the radar for much of 2008.

Since Lily Allen seems to have given up rapping, the white girl lane in hip-hop is clear and the "SOV" is back. I kinda like it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Hammertime" for reality TV


MC Hammer won't go away. Although he hasn't had a hit record in ages, the dancer/rapper continues to find ways to creep into the public consciousness. Hammer a.k.a Stanley Burrell was last seen during the Super Bowl telling us how easy it is to turn our golden household items into cash money. Aside from his work in commercials, which often trades on his riches-to-rags life story, he's also been a role player on reality shows. Now, it's time for the Oakland rapper to take center stage. "Hammertime," a reality show about the dancer and his family, is being produced by A&E and will premiere later this year.

The show will feature Hammer, his wife and their brood: daughter Akieba, 21, nephew Jamarius, 18, daughter Sarah, 15, Stanley Jr, 13, aka Boobie, nephew Meschek, 12, Jeremiah, 10, and 3-year old Samuel.

"Each week we'll open our home to viewers to showcase the hectic pace of our lives and our eclectic family ..." said MC Hammer.

"Hammertime" is produced by 3 Ball Productions Inc., the people responsible for the reality shows "Biggest Loser" and "Beauty and the Gee." J.D Roth, Todd Nelson and MC Hammer are executive producers. Executive Producers for A&E are Robert Sharenow, Scott Lonker and former Wavelength cameraman Stephen Harris.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Chris Brown Will Do Next


Now that singer-turnt-alleged assailant Chris Brown has found himself in such an unfavorable situation that he'd be willing to trade place with one of the townies in Tappahannock, Va., it's time for the fast dancer to make a move. Here's what I think might happen in the coming days.

Chris Breezy will announce he has voluntarily enrolled in anger management classes. He'll also mention that he plans to donate some loot to a battered woman's shelter. Then, he'll issue a vague statement, that kind of sounds like an apology, but really isn't. It may go something like this: "I regret that my actions have put those I love in bad positions, I'm just a young man who makes mistakes, I was an abused child, my dog ran away, blah blah blah." 

If all that is followed up with a hot album and he "beats" the court case, Chris Brown can come back. But if those pictures of Rhi-Rhi looking like Randall "Tex" Cobb ever come out, it might not matter. He can throw in some chopped meat and diced tomatoes and put it on a plate. 'Cause it's a wrap.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Playing with Fame

I've never heard a complete song by Marques Houston, Immature or Imx and I probably never will. That's part of the reason why I handed over the hosting duties of Wavelength, the video show I produced for more than a decade and came to naught, to a younger person. Yasmine seems really comfortable with Mr. Houston in this clip, as if she didn't have to do her homework for this one. Maybe she once had a poster of Romeo, LDB and Batman over her bed. Immature was pretty huge back in the day, as I remember.

On this Wavelength appearance from 2003, Houston offers a humorous explanation for the group's demise and talks about working with R. Kelly and his manager Chris Stokes, both men who have a fondness for hanging with the youngsters. The singer followed his first album "MH," which he discusses here, up with two more albums, including his 2007 release "Veteran," which debuted at #1 on the Hip-Hop/R&B charts. It would appear that the career trajectory former this pop idol has traveled a direction inverse from what I would have predicted. But if you're judged by the company you keep, the singer might have already peaked.

Houston is one of the "stars" (The show will also feature Kel Mitchell, Bobby Brown and Keshia Knight-Pulliam) tied to BET's new reality show "Played by Fame," which premieres on Friday. The show pairs celebreties with fans, who become the victims of pranks played by the semi-famous. In BET's hands, I'm sure this show will be much worse than it sounds.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Notorious is the Illest


Finally got around to seeing "Notorious," last night. It's a solid film. The legacy of Christopher Wallace hasn't always been treated with reverence it deserves (Duets and Born Again) so a project like this "Notorious," had little room for error. Fortunately, the errors are little in this well-constructed and provocative biographical film directed by George Tillman (Men of Honor, Soul Food). 

The majority of the cast, especially the actor who plays Biggie, Jamal "Gravy" Woolard, succeeds in their portrayal of famous personalities and making you care about what happens to them, even though you know how it all ends.  Angela Bassett inhabits the spirit of Voletta Wallace, bringing the dignity and grace to the role that you would expect. Anthony Mackie and Derek Luke are horribly miscast as Tupac Shakur and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, however. 

Missteps aside, this is a good film that's worth a trip to the barbershop or movie theater near you.  



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MSNBC News Feed

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nas & Kelis: Oh Baby!


Kelis and Nas are having a child, according to Us Weekly. The girl known for her milkshake is three months along and sporting a baby bump, according to the magazine.

It's good to see these two still together. They've seen their share of drama during their breif union. (They married in 2005.) Kelis, while with Nas, was arrested in March of 2007 for screaming obscenties at police officers in Miami. (She was acquitted last year.) In recent months, Kelis has been the subject of sex tape rumors, which is usually a career boost, but the tape hasn't surfaced yet. Which may be for the best, as the footage is reportedly more embarrasing than titilating.

When Wavelength host Yasmine met Kelis, she had recently become engaged to God's Son and spoke about how being in love colored her approach to the material on "Tasty." The two young ladies also discuss fashion favorites, breakfast options and who's got the better milkshake.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The B.I.G. One That Got Away






"Nobody Is Invincible" scene from "Notorious"

As the release of "Notorious," nears I've been reflecting upon that era. I had a chance to interview Biggie when he visited our home base, the Phono Booth, in 1994. Unfortunately, I was sick and couldn't will myself to come to the record store. My partner, Dre, shot some footage of the rapper as he signed some autographs. I attempted to sell that tape to Nick Broomfield for his "Biggie and Tupac," documentary, but he passed.

When Biggie came to Richmond again, (Dec. 26, 1994) I missed out on another chance to to record him. The rapper was performing at a local nightclub (The Flood Zone) and there was a guy from Bad Boy running through the audience putting his hand over video cameras and making threats. I knew I couldn't get way with filming the show as my camera was about three times the size of what most people were using. Somebody else was able to shoot the whole show, however and I've been trying to get that tape for minute. 

I do have clear memories of that night. Keith Murray opened with an energetic performance which climaxed with an unfortunate decision to stage dive. The crowd of Richmonders parted and Murray landed hard and came up swinging. He didn't miss a line of "The Most Beautifullest Thing," but he was relieved of his pager, which was an expensive communications device back then. 

Biggie came out with Puff Daddy and members of the Junior Mafia. The rotund rapper's performance was understated, which complimented Puff's dancing and continuous ad-libs. Busta Rhymes came out for the "Flava In Ya Ear" remix, which nearly tore the packed club in half. 

Later on during the show, someone from the crowd climbed onstage and made a few steps in Big Poppa's direction, and was thrown off the side of the stage by a member of Big's crew.  He might be the only one has bad memories from that show. 

A Notoriously B.I.G. Movie


Newsweak published some shoddy articles on hip hop back in the day, as did many mainstream publications, and they've had to work hard to earn my trust. I stumbled across the first review I've seen of "Notorious,' the bio pic on the late Notorious B.I.G, at the doctor's office and since I had already perused last month's Family Circle, I dove in.

The write-up, written by veteran journalist Allison Samuels, is generally positive, which was a relief as I have been bracing myself for an exploitative take on the last years of hip-hop's golden era. Samuels didn't see it that way: "NOTORIOUS... managed to stun, unsettle and move me. It's been 11 years since the still-unsolved murder of the hip-hop icon, and the film does a wonderful job of revisiting that dangerous yet creatively rich time in music history. For a hip-hop fiend like me, it's a bittersweet journey to the days when the Cristal was overflowing, the bling was blinding and the performers burned brightly — but briefly."

You can read the whole thing here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year's Evestyle


Before Skillz became a globetrotting entertainer and ghostwriter, he suffered the often-poor entertainment options of Richmond, Va. along with the rest of us. One night in the late nineties, he was among the unfortunate few who came to the Richmond Centre to see Black Moon and the rest of the Boot Camp Clique. None of the groups ever took the stage to perform and somebody lost quite a bit of money that night.

The only performance came from Skillz, who freestyled about an recent altercation with a security guard at the event, with some help from Jazzy Joyce.