Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Son of Bazerk Drops Video

The visual compliment to cutting edge rap group's return to the game, "I Swear on a Stack of Old Hits."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Does the world need more Skillz?

Skillz "Celebrate Life" (Live) from on <">Vimeo.

It's the end of the year and there's new Skillz material. But it's not the annual list of celebirty slip-ups set to music that he's known for. Instead, it's a full fledged album, "The World Needs More Skillz"

The footage above is from the record release party in Norfolk, Va.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hip-Hop's Greatest Album Cuts, Pt. 5

The final five.

5. "What a Mess" Xzibit Man vs. Machine
Xzibit has great songs. They're just spread out over all of his albums, hiding behind songs that aren't very good, unlike this one from "Man Vs. Machine." The X-man's collaboration with DJ Premier is a state of the union for hip-hop in 2002 and reminds us all that rap music has been a mess for a long, long time. X's justifiable anger and frustration are amplified by Primo's production, chock full of shredded samples and funky breaks.

4. "I Inherited The World" Mad Skillz From Where???
This song (from "From Where.") isn't some "I Am Legend," last man in the world-type stuff, as the lyrics would lead you to believe. I hear a young artist, a long way from home and wondering what's next as he began his new life alone. The Sean J. Period-produced track fuels this song about trappings of success, which keeps some people chasing their dreams and others running in the other direction.

3. "Shabba Doo Conspiracy" Chino XL Here to Save You All
Chino XL's "Here to Save You All," is an album littered with pop culture references that aren't as cool or clear as they were in 1996. But this gem of a track with Kool Keith has aged gracefully. Overflowing with vulgar punchlines and wicked wordplay, Chino and Keith curse the artistic corruption of gangsta rap using the career of dancer/actor Adolfo Quiñones as a metaphor. Unlike some of the rappers who have songs on this list, Chino and Keith still haven't gone pop.

2. "Standin' on the Korner" Young Black Teenagers Young Black Teenagers
Yeah, there was a lot wrong with the Young Black Teenagers concept. They weren't teenagers, they weren't black. But they could rap. The YBT used old school vocal techniques on this track and surrounded them with Bomb Squad production, elements I'm equally partial to. If Cold Crush had been steady making music into the 90's, it might've sounded something like this.

I'm still lookin' for a clip of this one.

1. "Gutfest '89" Digital Underground Sex Packets
Shock G voices three characters on this song (none of whom wear a prosthetic nose) and convincingly carries on a conversation with himself over manufactured mayhem. The song might be based on a fictional event, but the music is as real as good hip-hop it gets. Tommy Boy had the nerve to leave this off the initial CD release of "Sex Packets."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hip-Hop Greatest Album Cuts Pt. 4

6. "What's the Difference" Dr. Dre The Chronic 2001
Critics of Dr. Dre say his sound is dependent on the contributions of others, like this Mel-Man-assisted track from his 1999 comeback album. But whatever Mr. Young does in the studio, whether its sequencing, tweaking, filtering or straight jacking, it works. Mid-way through his sequel to his best-selling debut, Dre dishes on his personal relationships with The D.O.C., Easy E and presumbably, Ice Cube over a thick bassline and fractured horn hit. After a misstep with The Aftermath compilation, this song helped make the difference for The Doctor.
We're almost done counting down the songs that make good albums great and terrible albums almost listenable.

7. "She Watch Channel Zero" Public Enemy It takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Back in the days when albums had sides, it was important to sequence songs carefully to prepare the listener for what's next. After the sonic onslaught of this song from "It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back," you were prepped for the second set of Public Enemy's greatest work. This little number is an indictment television's influence on society atop a Slayer sample and a James Brown beat.

8. "Children's Story" Black Star Black Star
Heeere we go. One of the many shining moments on the sole Black Star album, Mos Def flips Ricky Walter's script about a kid gone wrong to fit his tale of a rapper gone pop. A rare rap remake that builds on the legacy of the original.

9. "Oodles of O's" De La Soul De La Soul is Dead
De La Soul resurrected themselves with this song's hypnotic bassline, quirky samples and Trugoy's uncoventional flow. "Oodles," introduced "De La Soul is Dead," a record that redefined the Long Island trio's career, signaling the end of the daisy age and the death of innocence.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best Hip-Hop Album Cuts, Day 3

My run down of the best hip hop album cuts of all time continues.

10. "Black Woman" Jungle Brothers Done by the Forces of Nature
In 1989, the Jungle Brothers released this valentine to African American woman. It's hard to hear this record without thinking about your moms, your wife, your girlfriend or the cafeteria lady from high school. The JB's were unashamed to offer women praise and adoration while their peers degraded them with and name-calling and cheap insults.

11. "MC Lyte Likes Swingin" Mc Lyte Lyte as a Rock
Even before he produced a group called De La Soul, it was clear Prince Paul wasn't a typical rap producer. This track begins with a sample that sounds like an interlude from a 70s game show and quickly morphs in to a hip hop delight, with upstart spitter Lana Moorer going for broke over a delicious break beat. Swing on this: Like 'Good Vibrations', I'm like Sunkist/The rap is smooth, 'cause it's sealed with chapstick/Not gonna say that I been rappin' since the day of birth/But I've acquired the knowledge like Ms. Butterworth.

12."Sons of 3rd Bass" 3rd Bass The Cactus Album
If you mistook Pete Nice, MC Serch and Richie Rich for Def Jam's replacements for the Beastie Boys, this song showed you how wrong you were. The three decimated the party boys turned art rappers with poetic put-downs and and verbal affrontery. The song let it be known that the trio would have much more than to offer on "The Cactus Album" besides their exciting first single.

13. "Just About Over" Goodie Mob Still Standing
After hearing this, it was clear that not only was Cee-Lo the best rapper in the Goodie Mob, he was something else entirely. Appearing on a single verse and the hook of this rocking guitar-driven track, he narrates an stirring meditation on fear and loneliness. All the other guys had to do was show up. Just about over? More like just getting started.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

25 Choice Cuts, Day Two

The list continues.

14. "Please Listen To My Demo" EPMD Unfinished Business
Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith shared the story of their humble begininings over a breezy loop that was a stark contrast from the hardcore sound of "Unfinished Business." Rappers don't always tell the truth, but this song has a degree of validity and humility that's audible.

15. "Grand Puba, Positive, & L.G." Brand Nubian One For All
This track is so infectious and funky there was no need for a clever title. Grand Puba shines on this cut from the street classic without his Brand Nubian brothers. Positive & L.G. filled in nicely and had you wishing more songs were a lot like this.

16. "Represent" Nas Illmatic
The centerpiece of one of hip hop's greatest albums. Nas conveys of the harsh realities of urban life over DJ Premeir's trademark boom-bapstic production. With casual references of rap beefs ("Before the BDP conflict with MC Shan/Around the time when Shante dissed the Real Roxxane") Nas pulls you into his state of mind and doesn't let go.

17. "Drink Away the Pain (Situations)" Mobb Deep feat. Q-Tip The Infamous
An jazzy ode to alcoholism disguised as just another street story from the Queensbridge duo, taken from "The Infamous." Q-Tip shares production credit and offers a artful verse that appeals to both the fashion conscious and criminal minded. "Daney take me away, Daney take me away."

18. "So Far To Go" Common featuring D'Angelo Finding Forever
Produced by the late J. Dilla, this track is a welcome shift on the Kanye West-dominated "Finding Forever." I'd like to pretend this song proves the reclusive R&B singer featured on the hook still has it, but the track was several years old when it was released here. It's timelessness is a testament to the extraordinary talents of the producer and the artists.

19. "Thirtysomething" Jay-Z Kingdom Come
The former Def Jam CEO birthed adult contemporary rap with this track from "Kingdom Come." Over a Dr. Dre beat, Mr. Carter welcomes the wisdom that comes with aging and makes it sound cool to be older that Lil' Wayne. A bold stance to assume in the face of hip hop's relentless youth movement.

Monday, October 11, 2010

25 Choice Cuts, Day One

"There used to be pride in the album cut ... " - Chuck Creekmur CEO, of Allhiphop.com

I've been holding on this post for the longest. I thought I better let it go before someone else does it better. Here are 25 of the greatest hip hop album cuts, some are parts of classic efforts, others are forever trapped among the duds of a wack release.

I'll be updating this list airday this week.

20. "Story Of My Life" The Marxmen (M.O.P.) Marxmen Cinema
The aggressive energy of the Mash Out Posse is contagious. Not even the R&B chick who sings the hook on this guitar-driven track, "Tanya" is immune. By the end of the number she's cursing along with the duo and nearly takes over this mixtape track. M.O.P. has perserved in an industry that doesn't seem to have a place for them and that's their story.

21. "The Doo-Wop" LL Cool J Bigger and Deffer
What was it like to be LL Cool J back in 1987? Mr. Smith breaks down the lifestyle of a rap star atop a Platters' loop and Cut Creator's scratches. The song takes us through a day in the life of the young, black and fabulous: wearing Devon cologne, eating cornflakes, wham-bamming freaks with minks and making more money than your Dad. The song ends with a unexpected moment of humility as Cool James admits it was all a dream.

22. "I'm Only Out for One Thang" Ice Cube & Flavor Flav Amerikkka's Most Wanted
Perhaps the first clue to the general public on how wild Flavor Flav really was. Turned loose on a Bomb Squad track with South Central's illest, Flav sounds like 90s era Donald Goines without the subtlety. This shade of Flav closed the first side of this record and confirmed that Ice Cube's debut as a rap landmark.

23. "Kick in the Door" The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death
The late Christopher Wallace wore suits and rhymed over R&B loops, but his street cred was never in question. Songs like this one are the reason why. Biggie eclipses the rappers that inspired him with ferocious wordplay and DJ Premier's prodigious production. The music starts after the skit, around 1:14.

24. "Word From Our Sponsor" BDP Criminal Minded
This track follows "Wadadang," one of the first hip-hop songs to show a strong jamaican influence. That songs' patios and Krs-ONE's attempt at singing were a bit of jolt, but after a few seconds of "Word From Our Sponsor," you were reminded that you were listening to something special. KRS takes a trite phrase from the early days of television and makes it an anthem for his life and mission.

25. "On the DL" The Pharcyde
The title of this song reminds us all how the media destroyed a perfectly good catch phrase when they gave it a slightly different meaning. We all have our secrets, but the Pharcyde's confessions are just unlikely and unusual as their debut, "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde." J. Swift's jazzy production is perfect landscape for the group's secret shames and dark desires.

Stone Cold Rhymes

The new Son of Bazerk and No Self Control album is out. I'm looking forward to a physical copy, but itunes or Amazon will do for now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Skillz: Call Him Crazy

Skillz is still at it. This is the first video from his forthcoming album, "The World Needs More Skillz," shot in part the Richmond institution and tourist trap, Croaker's Spot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

WOWI's DJ Law Dead

Virginia's music community lost one of its most popular and constant voices over the weekend. DJ Lawrence “Cool DJ Law” Brown died after suffering a heart attack on Sunday. The 40-year-old radio personality had been a fixture on 103 Jamz in Norfolk for many years.

Law is survived by his wife, mother, father and sister.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bazerk in Boston

Son of Bazerk started their run as the support act for Public Enemy's tour at House of Blues in Boston last night.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Trey Songz Show Tanks on BET

A month ago, former music industry executive Kevin Liles was on a roll. The former Def Jam records president received the "Medaille de la Ville de Paris," for hip-hop's cultural contributions to the French capital on July 8. A few days later, he wed a fairly attractive woman named Erika Jones in Birmingham, Liles has had a lot of success in his life, (and you can too, if you buy this.), but I would think that first week of July will have to be one of his best ever. Congrats, Kevin. But it's August now, so don't expect it to be as hot as July.

Liles, who at a low point in his career regularly returned my phone calls, left his record company days behind him and is now the manager of Virginia singer Trey Songz. The popular R&B artist, born Tremaine Aldon Neverson, has a reality show called "My Moment," on BET. The show recently received a unique distinction, as the lowest rated show on cable televison on Aug. 4., according to Shadowandact.com. That's a staggering feat, when one considers just how many cable channels there are. It's doubly bad news for Liles, who was planning other reality show projects.

Like most of America, I haven't seen the show and probably never will. So if you have witnessed this historic program, please let us know. What when wrong with Songz?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

She's a Scene Stealer

Former Wavelength host Yasmine Weaver appears in this recently released short for BET's Lens on Talent Scene Stealers.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Black Eyed Baptist

Years ago, a young man came to the campus newspaper I edited in Richmond, Va. and pretended to be a journalist. I had my suspicions about his motives, but I needed help so bad I couldn't afford to picky. Besides, how dangerous could a guy wearing sandals and wishing everyone "peace and blessings" be? He would later admit he posed as music journalist to meet other musicians, a ruse that eventually paid off.

While waiting around for an Outkast interview, the artist now known as Jean Baptiste struck up conversation with Will.I.Am and they stayed in touch over the years. After the Roots-style hip hop band he led disbanded, Baptiste headed to he left coast and went to work with Will, doing music production. The above clip features Jean on vocals along with Kelis, whose new album features his work. The clip underneath is the stuff he used to do while trying to make a name for himself in Richmond and Philadelphia.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Soulz on Ice

Not many rappers have been able to escape the gravitational pull of Richmond's local music scene. A decade after his debut on Atlantic/Big Beat, Skillz is still the only rap artist from the city to drop more than one record on a major label.

Two duos came close to establishing themselves; Shadez of Lingo, who dropped a album on Capitol in 1994, and Dirty Soulz, a group backed by Richmond's favorite musical son, D'angelo. The latter group never released any music, despite being signed to East/West and appearing in The Source magazine. Their label lost interest in them for some reason and let them go. The music they created never saw the light of day and allegedly lives in a closet somewhere at Micheal Archer's house.

Enjoy one of the few songs from Dirty Soulz that you'll probably ever hear, an ode to masturbation set to a popular Christopher Wallace tune.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gary Shider, P-Funk Vocalist Dies

Gary Shider, one of the original and signature of voices of P-Funk died today. Shider had been battling cancer for several months.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Can Her Marriage be Saved?

Yasmine Weaver is the former host of Wavelength, the failed video show that inspired this blog. Since her exit from the show, she's kept busy, but I think this spot for Ladies Home Journal might be a turning point for her. Lucky dog.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Full Clips: The Gangstarr Files

Here's every appearance of a member of the Gang Starr clique on Wavelength, the failed video show that inspired this blog. The last clip, a long talk with Guru and Premier hasn't been seen since it originally aired in 1992. For more on these interviews, with Big Shug, Jeru Da Damaja, DJ Premier and Guru, hit the links like Gary Player.

RIP Guru.

Gang Starr 2003

Jeru Da Damaja - 1996

Big Shug - 1996

Gangstarr - 1992


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rap Legend Guru Dies

MTV UK is reporting that Guru, one half of the legendary rap duo Gangstarr, died yesterday. The channel's web site says that the rapper suffered with cancer secretly for several years.

After Guru slipped into a coma on March 2, knowledge of his condition became public. Information about his health was hard to obtain as family and friends fought over access to the 43-year-old rap vet. It was a unfortunate public battle, waged with over twitter, youtube, press releases and radio interviews. It is also one that will also likely continue, given that his producer has him writing a letter from the grave, but that's not where my focus is right now.

Gangstarr was one of the most consistent rap groups of all time. They maintained a formula for their music over the course of six albums, but never fell victim to the law of diminishing returns that plague other acts. While some artists see their careers as a sprint, Guru & Premier were long-distance runners, building endurance with each journey. The left behind a track record that is untouchable.

Gangstarr appeared on the failed video show that inspired this blog twice. You can read about there first appearance here and here. Watch the second here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Defari Focused Daily in '99

Even in 1999, a former high school teacher seemed out of place in a the hip hop world. Now that the industry has tilted sharply toward ignorance and indulgence, it's hard to fathom a rapper who would confess to having an education ( Defari has his master's from Columbia) and teaching experience. But then again, some people think being a former corrections officer is no big deal.

Defari was promoting his first album ("Focus Daily") when we met him in 1999 on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. I remember enjoying album and regretting that I gave it away to one my associate producers. He would release two more albums, the last one, "Street Music." in 2006.

Not sure what he's up to these days. We could use someone like him right now. Dumb rappers need teachin'.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

David Mills 1961-2010

I met David Mills in 1997. He was working on a book about Parliament Funkadelic and I had just graduated college. We were both in Cleveland for the band's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once David found out I wasn't just a funk fan, but a writer as well, we exchanged information. We kept in touch via a funk newsgroup that was popular at the time, but once that fizzled, we rarely touched base. I found him again a few years ago on his blog, undercoverblackman.

Since Dave's death a few days ago in New Orleans, much has been written about him and his writing. He wrote scripts for E/R, Homicide: Life On The Street, The Wire as well as news and music articles for The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. One article he wrote changed the course of popular culture. While working for The Washington Times, Mills interviewed Public Enemy's Professor Griff and reported some anti-Semitic comments the group's "minister of information" made. The fallout from the article gave weight to the band's critics and Griff was ultimately booted from the group. Bitter PE fans still refer to this as "Enemygate."

Back then, as a die hard PE fan, I often wondered what kind of brother would let Professor Griff hang himself like that, considering the incredible impact the group had on black popular music. One day I realized that the David Mills I knew was the David Mills. As readers of his blog will remember, David's politics were a tad right of center and he viewed black nationalism as failed ideology. He posted on white supremacy web sites and they sometimes commented on his. One commenter on his blog charged that they shared some of the same views.

David's blog was one of the few that I frequented that didn't reinforce my own opinions and notions. His writing challenged me to think and rethink my positions. I rarely budged but sometimes he could sway me just a little. I'll miss that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wyclef Jean's Mistress is a Charity Case

You have to hand it to Wyclef Jean. Just as the Chile earthquake threatened to make the Haiti disaster vanish from the front pages, he continues to make news, keeping his homeland and its struggle on our minds. Unfortunately, his reputation continues to suffer body blows and we find out more about the charity organization called Yele Haiti.

In addition to recent allegations of mismanagment and unpaid taxes, Jean's charity is now accused of funnelling $105,000 to Zakiya Khatou-Chevassus, a woman who is allegedly the guitarist's mistress.

From the Miami-Times:

That $105,000 represents about one-third of all management and general expenses Yele paid out in 2008.

A Gawker source also says that's about three times what Suzie Sylvain, the program director, earned even though she's credited with keeping Yele running and planning the charitable efforts.

Monday, March 08, 2010

D'Angelo Arrested in New York

Former R&b superstar D'angelo was arrested in New York Saturday after he allegedly approached a female police officer for sex. He was reportedly cruising the West Village area when he made contact with a woman, offering $40 for oral sex, according to reports.

In the photo above, the artist formerly known as relevant leaves Manhattan Criminal Court.

via New York Post

Saturday, March 06, 2010

DJ Premier Speaks

This is first official statement regarding the condition of his former partner, Guru.


What's Really Going On with Guru?

The news that legendary rapper Guru of Gangstarr lay in coma in a New York hospital last week was shocking. As the story unfolded days later, it got stranger and stranger.

In addition to being a substandard producer, Solar, Guru's friend and business partner appears to be as shady as a lady in a mustache. He's reportedly barred some of Guru's family members from seeing him and issuing statements in his name. Recently he's taken to twitter, where "Guru" has been leaving tweets very similar in syntax and content to Solar's own comments. He issued a press release with quotes from Guru that just don't sound right. There have been some other unusual developments as well.

Statik Selektah raises some important issues in this video.

Pray for Guru.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Moments of Truth from Guru's Nephew

Guru's nephew Justin Nicholas-Elam Ruff details the drama behind his uncle's hospitalization. This is not easy to watch.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Gang Starr's Guru in Coma

DJ Premier confirmed yesterday on a radio programs that, Guru, his former partner in the group Gangstarr, is in a coma. The rapper reportedly suffered a heart attack in New York City yesterday and fell into a coma. Premier added that Guru is scheduled for surgery soon.

The duo appeared to have broken up after 2003's "The Ownerz," but their may have been a reconciliation, according to a recent report in The Guardian. The UK media outlet claims that Guru recently hinted on twitter that new Gangstarr music was on the way.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Robert 'Chilly B' Crafton III, of Newcleus Dead

Newcleus-Jam On It

DIAZ | MySpace Video

From the Newcleus myspace page:

Newcleus co-founder, writer, rapper, singer, keyboardist and bass player Robert Crafton III p/k/a Chilly B has passed away due to complications from a massive stroke. The stroke had left him brain dead and in a coma. On Tuesday, February 23rd the decision was made to remove him from life support and he passed on not long after.

Chilly B's signature moments were his classic verse from "Jam On It", his funky bass guitar licks from "Jam On Revenge (The Wikki Wikki Song)", and his booming deep vocal and sizzling synthesizer solo from "Computer Age (Push The Button)".

In recent years he was involved in independent production, including working on a new Newcleus album, and touring with Newcleus.

He is survived by his wife Valerie and his sons Justin, Jason, Joshua and Isaiah.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hip-Hop Eats Its Young

Lil Bow Wow continues to escape the curse of the child rapper that befell his predecessors. While Kriss Kross, Illegal, A+, Chi Ali, Another Bad Creation and Da Family are frozen in time on the back of a milk carton, the former 13-year-old genius has a hefty discography (six albums) and a few movie roles under his belt.

Recently, he's been in the news for his reckless use of social media and a Lamborghini a few months back. The rapper allegely tweeted while driving drunk, about being drunk. "Face numb," he posted. "im whippin the lambo. Tispy as fuck. Just left @livmiami." And later: "Im fucked up!!! Ohhhh damn. Y i drive the lambo. Chris might have to drive after next spot."

He apologized later. But while he may have stopped driving while tipsy, he kept on tweeting. In January, he got into a twitter beef with his mother, who he mentions in the video above. Rapper Fabolous has also been a target of the tart tweets from the pint-sized rapper. He's also twittered comments that have led some to beleive he was suffering from depression. Earlier this reportedly paid The Game a $100,000 after losing a Madden game.

In this brief interview I shot for another video show, Lil Bow Wow doesn't do anything to embarrass himself. He was saving that for later.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Skillz Rap Up Video Surfaces

Just came across this clip for the rap-up.

Chuck D Assembles Rappers for Hati Project

Public Enemy frontman Chuck D pulled together some of the artists from his Slam Jamz label, along with Son of Bazerk, to produce a album called KOMBIT pou HAITI (“coming together for the good of Haiti”).

The idea for the album was conceived in the hours after the disaster. “I think that in this age of technology and communication we can come together with extraordinary urgency to address an emergency like this,” said Chuck D. “Since many cannot be there to physically help, the gift of music is something that realized we can give for fundraising efforts." Proceeds from the sale of KOMBIT pou HAITI benefit the Lambi Fund of Haiti, an organization dedicated to helping Haitian communities rebuild and recover through building economic community enterprises.

Here's a track listing:
1. This Bit of Earth Mistachuck featuring Kyle Jason and DJ Johnny Juice Rosado 2. Help Is On The Way Heet Mob 3. Knockin' On The Lord's Hi-Coup 4. Find My Way Home Kyle Jason 5. Faith Dontique 6. La Misere Lowdown 7. Why Y'all Wanna Kill GOD? Professor Griff featuring The Seventh Octave 8. Raise Up Son of Bazerk 9. Candela Pa'lo Monte


Friday, January 22, 2010

Rapper Apache Dies

Former Flava Unit MC and Queen Latifah ghost writer Apache died today. The rapper was known for his Q-Tip produced hit "Gangsta Bitch."

I met Apache at the apex of his popularity, when his single was hot and he was in demand. It's probably not a good time to tell that story, so let's just think good thoughts.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wyclef Gives the 411 on Yele Haiti

Former Fugee and guitarist Wyclef Jean might be the most famous living Haitian. So when an earthquake ravaged Port Au Prince recently, killing thousands of people, many eyes turned to the singer. But some of those looking at Jean's charity organization, Yele Haiti, did so with a critical glance.

The Smoking Gun reports that the organization has been lax in filing its records with the Internal Revenue Service. It also alleges that some of the charity's funds have been channeled to businesses that Jean controls: As seen on the following pages from the foundation's 2006 tax return, the group paid $31,200 in rent to Platinum Sound, a Manhattan recording studio owned by Jean and Jerry Duplessis, who, like Jean, is a foundation board member. A $31,200 rent payment was also made in 2007 to Platinum Sound ... The recording studio also was paid $100,000 in 2006 for the "musical performance services of Wyclef Jean at a benefit concert." The return, of course, does not address why Jean needed to be paid to perform at his own charity's fundraiser. But the largest 2006 payout--a whopping $250,000--went to Telemax, S.A., a for-profit Haiti company in which Jean and Duplessis were said to "own a controlling interest."

The Better Business Bureau, based in Arlington, Virginia, is also looking into Yele Haiti: In 2007, the foundation's spending exceeded its revenues by $411,000. It brought in just $79,000 that year. "It's questionable. There's no way to get around that," said Art Taylor, president and chief executive of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.

In the above video, the singer denounces the reports and explains that charities have operating expenses, like other organizations. He doesn't deny any specific aspects of The Smoking Gun's report, though he does address why Yele Haiti didn't file tax returns for a few years. Let's hope a more detailed explanation is forthcoming and Wyclef is not in real big trouble. In the meantime, people still need help.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Son of Bazerk Spring into Comeback

That Son of Bazerk reunion I've been blogging about? It's real. Bazerk, Daddy Raw, Half Pint and
Almighty Jahwell have been in the studio with P.E. sound provider Johnny Juice and have set a March 2010 release date.

"We are about 10 songs deep," Juice said in a post on a fairly reputable web site. " It's like if they never left."