Let’s Be Frank-N-Dank

48-hours

So any given hip hop DJ will laud the utility of some good ol’ instrumentals on vinyl. It allows them to showcase their skills on the wheels of steel without being drowned out by an overzealous emcee. When it comes to instrumentals, J Dilla be the holy grail. So it comes as no surprise that the previously unreleased instrumentals off Frank-N-Dank’s “48 Hours” LP was met with much consumer joy. You can pick up the product in the Stones Throw online store. My concern is the verbiage accompanying the product in the store, here’s some of what I’m talking about:

J Dilla spearheaded a project for two of the most unlikely major label emcees: Frank N Dank. In retrospect it’s not hard to understand why the label shelved and eventually dropped the project.

I get it, I get it. Frank N Dank weren’t The Roots, and they weren’t Mobb Deep. But I was bumping their bootlegs and so were countless others (and this was in Toronto, Canada). Frank N Dank composed of Frank Nitty & Dankery Harv were grimey spitters married to their style and their way of doing things. This ostracized some but made a plethora of hip hop fans ecstatic anytime a random FND track got some airplay. Their involvement in the Detroit hip hop movement inspired a slew of rappers to follow, and gave a vital co-sign to some Canadian artists who now drive luxury cars (ahem, Kardinall & Saukrates).

So please do celebrate this release, Dilla was a genius, and this was one of his finest works. But let’s not use this as an opportunity to subtly blame a couple of uncelebrated dope emcees for causing the delay.

This Beef Was A Skirt Steak

So how often is a diss track listenable? The answer is almost never, especially if you have zero interest in the artists in the actual tussle. Personally you’d have to go back to that Hova-Nas situation to get me hype about some beef (Hova bodied him, for the record). So I was uber impressed when I heard Joey Bada$$’s response (above) to Lil B’s misplaced diss track (below). Apparently Lil B took issue with a verse from Pro Era affiliate Capital Steez on a track called “Survival Tactics“. This is the verse:

“They say hard work pays off, well tell the based god don’t quit his day job”

Lil B’s effort sounds en par to pretty much everything Based God does, quantity over quality, eccentricity over performance. As far as Bada$$ is concerned, it took him 24 hours to record this banger of a response. Considering Capital Steez took his own life this past Christmas Eve, I have a feeling inspiration wasn’t hard to elicit.

It’s beef like this that makes me thankful I’m vegetarian.

 

The Incestuous Relationship Between Chief Keef, Pitchfork, And Guns

guns

Watching our President lay down the initial groundwork on major gun control legislation this morning was surely met with mixed emotions across the diverse board of these United States. There is no doubt that the highly publicized mass shootings that have catapulted this discussion onto Obama’s desk will dominate debates about the President’s unilateral legislative action. However, it would be outright ignorant and even somewhat racist to ignore the elephant in the room when it comes to guns in America; urban neighborhoods across this country are plagued by social issues that more often than not end in gun-related deaths. Nowhere is this phenomenon more exemplified than in the city of Chicago. Last year there were 506 homicides in the Windy City, most of which were the result of gun shot wounds. This year the city is on a two-a-day pace, about 200 more homicides than 2012. Needless to say, not everyone has been a victim to this deplorable statistic, some, including Chicago native and teen rap sensation Chief Keef, have successfully homogenized their music with gun violence. His videos and music are a virtual who’s who in the Chicago gang culture and his involvement came to a head when he taunted the death of a rival rapper on Twitter only days after the release of a video calling out Keef and his crew. His music video, I Don’t Like, was shot entirely in his grandmother’s house due to the fact that he was under house arrest for brandishing a gun in front of police officers while resisting arrest, it is riddled with gun references and boasts a hearty 23 million views.

Since the taunting tweet, Chief Keef has secured his major record deal and released his first album, Finally Rich via Interscope Records. No doubt Interscope recognized a pay day when they saw one and the desire to sign a rapper with a violent rap sheet is by no means breaking new ground in the industry. It’s still blood money though, and for that someone over there should sleep less. A new twist to the usual story was the involvement of a media source, in this case music power player Pitchfork Magazine, in the capitalization process. Pitchfork runs an interview series called ‘Selector’ whereby they interview an artist in somewhat candid settings. Pitchfork’s ‘Selector’ experience with Chief Keef took place at a Chicago gun range where a few guns were popped off by both Keef and Pitchfork staff in between some straight up horrendous questions. The interview was virtually unnoticed by most, though plenty of bloggers chimed in on the lack of moral fortitude the publication had selecting the controversial location. Since then, Pitchfork has pulled the video from their archives and issued an apology for their role in perpetuating the Keef experience in light of all these actual murders happening around him. Chief Keef was arrested yesterday in light of that Pitchfork interview, apparently the act of him holding a rifle in the video violated terms of his probation. Pitchfork has also been subpoenaed by the court to hand over the video footage in question.

Nobody gets a pass here. Chief Keef doesn’t get a pass on account of him being 17 years old and/or being caught up in the streets. Interscope doesn’t get a pass for simply being a label focused on music (everyone knows that it’s all about artist development, period), and worst of all, Pitchfork certainly doesn’t get a pass for capitalizing/publishing a highly insensitive video that will result in this most fortunate arrest. These are the players in the gun control debate America, the players you won’t see on CNN.com today, but that do very much drive the pathological problem that is gun violence in our urban centers. You want to do something for this country and our gun problem, start by passing on this kid’s projects and being wary of who your tastemakers are, Pitchfork is on many of your Twitter feeds, unfollow them, take a baby step. Because when media outlets begin dictating your musical preferences at the cost of lives on our streets, that’s that shit ‘I Don’t Like’.

The Racism of Suicide When It Comes To Rappers

honeycocaine

You ever notice the disturbing reactions to the suicide of a rapper? I often hear somebody say something along the lines of “what was his problem? He was a rapper!” Perhaps a few jokes about how said rapper must not “have had enough bling” or perhaps a comment about how piss poor their content was. Yes, I feel confident saying, when rappers kill themselves, it’s met with a dehumanizing dismissal from the general public. As if the convolution of a rapper’s lifestyle could never rival the complexity of suicide. A little over a week ago, Seattle based rapper Freddy E. killed himself, prior to doing that he left a few chilling tweets.

freddyetweets

Many were to quick to blame his apparent failed relationship with Toronto based rapper Honey Cocaine. Although she was quick to dismiss that notion as sheer ignorance, she did drop this track today which certainly sounds like a goodbye to Freddy at the very least. The track is a pretty good manifestation of what Honey can do lyrically (think Nicki Minaj without the multiple personality issues), but more importantly it’s a solid memento of the fact that Freddy was a person (Frederick Eugene Buhl) who died too young for most of us to judge without prejudice. Just another reason to appreciate that the word “rapper” is a label used to pigeon hole certain musicians into a place where they can be simplified into a statistical punchline.

Honey Cocaine – He’s The One (ft. Roxie LS) Prod. The Midi Mafia

It’s That Time Of Year

I know a part of the problem is that I am slowly becoming a curmudgeon, being an 80’s baby now has its archaic qualities I suppose. But for Christ’s sake, this is the same guy who once laced Goodie Mob with hooks so ill, The Deadliest Catch crew wouldn’t have known what to do with them. Now he’s pasted in a Santa outfit spewing holiday jargon with a bunch of Muppets. Ugh, tack this up on the dartboard along with Andre 3000’s non-stop pursuit of the perfect Gillette ad and Dr Dre’s undying effort to push Dr Pepper. It’s that time of year I guess, where puppets and Muppets sell music and everything else under the sun. If you’re going to go there, go there, like Kid did.

Fashion Rio 22: Full of fashionably trendy items, like racism.

The season’s energetic colors and eye-catching prints adorning fresh fall dresses and smart winter suits at Fashion Rio’s 22nd edition were clouded by storms of objection emitted from brightly painted protesters representing the Afro-Brazilian and indigenous majority in Rio de Janeiro last week.

AFP reported the activists from labor rights group Educafro were not just demanding spots on the runway, but more opportunities for black and indigenous people to work in general. A main difference between a lack of diversity on runways in Brazil vs the same lack of diversity on catwalks in the US and Europe? – Brazil’s black and indigenous population make up more than half of their 194 million people.

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DJ E-Day

I threw my back out, Obama is getting reelected, and traffic is madness in Los Angeles. Needless to say, I barely have the gusto to put this post up. However, press eficionados Audible Treats came out with a election friendly playlist polled from their esteemed clientele. Check out the playlist on Spotify here.

Read about the artists and the reasoning behind their selections after the jump. Oh, and vote for Jill Stein, duh.

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Corporate Spray Cans Equals Doom?

Scion (aka Toyota’s youth brand) is sponsoring Hot Sugar’s Midi Murder. BET sponsored the Kendrick Lamar led TDE tour last month. So by now you should know, corporations are back on the investment wagon when it comes to hip hop. Nevertheless I was taken aback to see this interview of Doom by Adidas, let alone the footage that he gave them of him bombing this random wall in London. Dude used to be media shy, now cats be selling their personal day to days for a lifetime of free gear. Mask makers beware, Doom is evolving. Oh and that random wall is not so random, it’s actually the SAW (Shoreditch Art Wall), read more about London’s artistic murals at http://www.londonartwall.com.

Your Presidency would be real, but your Twitter followers aren’t?

“Fight night! Round 1 of the debate is finished.” By Michael Greaney via VisualNews.com

@PharoaheMonch called the first debate last night the “Presidential rap battle” & it is a good analogy – dudes talking about how great they are with pre-written words meant to sound like they are ‘debating’ live & of course no females are invited to take part (the wives and daughters of the candidates are there for hugs after, of course – forget including Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein & running mate Cheri Honkala who might actually have brought different points to debate about rather than political style points to prime time television). Just like in a rap battle, we are meant to decide who we like to look at and listen to better while hearing the same empty nonsense over and over again & just like when you watch an awards show – the most talented people you actually want to hear and see perform are on the outside, without the bling, being effectively hidden from the masses.

The world is a phony place these days. From fake food to fake hair to fake nails to fake help to fake boobs to fake journalists to fake butts – we are a world and certainly a nation that expects and accepts a high level of fakery on a daily basis. Political campaigns seem to embrace a level of fraudulence that can annoy even the most artificial people – and if they are fake about simple things like who follows them on Twitter, how can they be real about what they would do if elected?

Obama and Romney made of Play-Doh by Ian Williams via VisualNews.com

This morning, @BarackObama’s camp was firing shots at fakery over Twittter, calling out “the real” Romney who they claim did not show up to battle rap at the debates last night. Here are 3 examples:
1) “The man onstage last night — he does not want to be held accountable for what the real Romney’s been saying for the last year.”
2) “When I got on stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney. It couldn’t have been Mitt Romney.”
3) “The real Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts that favor the wealthy.”

Obama’s campaign team obviously thinks it important to continue the debate from last night over Twitter today, but how real is @BarackObama’s Twitter following? Statuspeople.com is here to help, claiming the President’s Twitter account is followed by many fake or inactive followers. Here is the #ZIF breakdown:

@BarackObama (verified account) 20,515,399: 18% fake + 31% inactive =
49% zombies vs. 51% “real” followers (10,462,853)
the Vice President:
@JoeBiden (verified account) 177,765: 15% fake + 44% inactive =
59% zombies vs. 41% “real” followers (72,883)

What Americans saw during the debate last night may not have been the “real Romney” (who clearly doesn’t feel he has anything to prove over Twitter today) – but how real are @MittRomney’s Twitter followers? The #ZIF breakdown:

@MittRomney (verified account) 1,273,313: 18% fake + 34% inactive =
45% zombies vs. 48% “real” followers (611,190)
his VP running mate:
@paulryanvp (verified account) 344,919 = 21% fake + 32%inactive =
53% zombies  vs. 47% “real” followers (162,111) – (I must note that a few weeks ago when I started researching for this post, only 7% of Mr. Ryan’s followers were ‘real’ – kudos to his camp for figuring it out.)

And what about the Green Party presidential candidate? Is she full of Twitter fakery, with more zombie followers than real ones? @JillStein2012’s Twitter following may be a small one (13,552) but of those followers, Statuspeople.com claims 76% of them are “real” – giving her the highest percentage of active followers.

Perhaps, like many hip hop artists we love, you will choose to support none of the candidates this election year. Perhaps you have been waiting for more “information” trickled down from what we are still calling “debates” (they should be called “Ruling Class Conversations” or “Simple Talk with the Republicans and Democrats” something more descriptive of what is actually going on there) and whatever propaganda the news outlets have in store. Regardless, in the meantime, when you sign into your Twitter account and see annoying political retweets on your timeline, let it be a comfort that you can know the facts about the level of fake attached to each campaign account.

Want to check out my level of fake (@infamousladyt), or find out how fake your favorite rapper’s accounts are? (like @kanyewest for example, who can boast an embarrassing 60% fake followers) – check out Statuspeople.com.

If that doesn’t interest you, try eating a Thug Waffle instead & remember that the only candidate who will allow for the kind of sour treats Flatbush Zombies are talking about is the Green one, Jill Stein who supports the legalization of cannabis and slams the Obama administration for attacking medical cannabis patients across the country.

xo – Lady T

It Takes The Most Powerful Man In The World To Get Jay-Z To Tweet

Jay-Z has over 2 million Twitter followers and he hasn’t tweeted since May of this year. Well, there goes that commendable streak, Jay-Z tweeted the following under an hour ago.

The guest list he is referring to is for tonight, when he will be hosting President Obama during a fundraiser in NYC. Attendance will be capped at 100 people, though a few seats will be set aside for some lucky contest winners. The $40,000-a-head bash will be held at the 40/40 Club, the chichi Jay-Z owned joint in Chelsea. As for the second tweet, I’m not sure what “work” Hova is referring to, sounds obnoxious and lacks presidential grace. Damn Jay, can’t take you anywhere anymore.

As for Mitt Romney, he will be in New York later this week for a breakfast fundraiser. Expect a Nicki Minaj tweet?

#MuhammadShowedMe

Seems like a century ago when Lupe Fiasco dropped the skater anthem “Kick, Push” effectively making him known to every backpacker out there. As the years progressed we saw a hybrid presentation of commercial joints with cheesy features along with serious activism tracks intent on making a political statement (see Food & Liquor and The Cool vs. Lasers and Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album)  Needless to say, his activism has gotten the better of him as his career has progressed, so has his religious piety and its manifestation in his music. Lupe is a Muslim, very much anti-establishment, a vocal Obama critic and hibernates on election day. He recently has gotten a lot of press for his beef with Chicago thuggie Chief Keef and his reaction to it, which was an apparent retirement announcement. That story is lame sauce, I refuse to even link you to it. However, if you are following the events in Libya and Egypt, you’d have heard about the atrociously nauseating film “Innocence of Muslims” for which the violence is currently being attributed to.  The Israeli “filmmaker” responsible for the film clearly had an agenda intent on fanning the flames that currently blaze daily in the Middle East. Well, Lupe took to his Twitter to start a campaign dedicated to showing his fans and others how The Prophet Muhammad impacted him, all tweets were accompanied with the hashtag #MuhammadShowedMe.

The response was…well, overwhelmingly good.

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Opinions are like A-Holes, Everyone Has One

My homie Jamar Thrasher is a good guy, with what seems to be a positive mind set, a strong education and motivation out the Yin-Yang. So when I saw this open letter to Kendrick Lamar in my inbox, I showed the man respect, and proceeded to read it. It’s essentially a response to Kendrick Lamar’s decision to stay out of politics, at least the political machine that has been propped up by corporations and the Old Boy’s club since a bunch of “fathers” got together and wrote our apparent destiny on a piece of parchment with a quill pen. Those who know me, know that I’m a firm dissident when it comes to the two-party system that has plagued this country. The concept of choosing between two evils is one that many do not find appetizing. The notion that minorities must participate in the status quo to make a “difference” reeks of “settling”, unless one believes that there was any inherent desire for the architects of our system to actually desire change, that change being the redistribution of goods, liberties and opportunities in an equitable manner. Call me racist, but I don’t buy that a system set up by privileged country club regulars was ever intended to do anything but ensure their long term monopoly on both political and social power. So do I find it appalling when rappers like Kendrick Lamar decide to opt-out of this said debauchery of a political system? Absolutely not. However, I do appreciate the reason that Jamar employs when it comes to role models and its importance when applied to successful minority artists, I just don’t think that it necessitates political involvement. Additionally, I appreciate the fact that we live in a country where differing opinions can be thrown around without a Gestapo like agency showing up at our respective doors boasting cease and desist grins. On that note, here’s Jamar’s extremely well written thoughts.

Dear Mr. Kendrick Lamar,

I want to address your recent comments regarding why you do not exercise your right to vote. You cite contradictions and lack of control of world events and affairs as reasons not to vote. You have a right to your opinions, but your statements were foolish and dangerous.

Now that you have been pushed into the public spotlight, you are burdened with being a role model; whether you are tactful and responsible in your new role is up to you. You have an influence and reach that is phenomenal: Your music is on the top music blogs, you have fans all over the world, and most importantly, you deliver meaningful messages. When you are a rapper, it’s almost certain that you are a trendsetter. People, the youth especially, will follow and listen to your every word and some might emulate your behavior.

In 2012, voting and politics are “cool.” Elections, especially presidential elections, have become mainstream events; they have even become more closely associated with hip-hop culture. Jay-Z, Diddy, and Young Jeezy have all asserted messages in their music urging their fans to vote. In 2008, hip-hop was instrumental in improving voter participation in election campaigns, motivating young people to get out and vote.

According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau tracking voting trends in presidential elections, voters ages 18-24 were the “only age group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout in the most recent election, reaching 49 percent in 2008, compared with 47 percent in 2004.”

If timing is everything, then your words do a disservice to the disenfranchised communities of America, especially now, during an election year. This seems odd, especially since your music paints vivid pictures of the issues plaguing the world, specifically poverty issues.

In your seminal work, “Section .80,” you rap, “Everybody can’t drive Benzes so I make it my business to give them my full attention.”

When people aren’t getting the attention they deserve from politicians, they have to demand it.

Politicians have a job, and at the end of every term, they are faced with reelection. The two main resources politicians need to create a successful campaign and win an election are money and votes. In disenfranchised communities, there might not be money, but there are votes. Voting demands attention from the top.

For years, community organizers have developed strategic ways to get people to vote. One way is by having community leaders (like you) get the message out about the benefits of voting.

Many times, people stop believing in the American Dream when it seems like it is unattainable, but by voting, they have a say. People in low-income communities can vote for candidates who have an interest in raising the minimum wage, for example.

Even if you do not vote, please encourage your listeners to do so. Voting is a right community members must exercise to have a say in how their communities operate. If communities do not make decisions about their communities, someone else will make these decisions for them.

Vote for the black citizens who were, at various points in history, threatened, intimidated, maimed, raped, and killed for wanting to vote. Vote for the women who fought tooth and nail during the suffrage movement to cast a vote. Vote even for people in other countries across the world who are still revolting and rising up against tyrant political systems to get a chance to get their voices heard.Vote for the people who cannot vote: the mentally ill, the incarcerated, and the youth who are not old enough to vote.

Music educates people, and as a teacher, you must be cognizant of the lessons you are teaching.

By not voting, you further exacerbate and make definite your claim that you have no say in how the world is run.

Thank you,
Jamar Thrasher

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Jamar Thrasher received his undergraduate degree in political science and communications from the University of Pittsburgh.  He is currently a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College for Public Policy and Management. Thrasher is also a partner at Kennedy Blue Communications, a communications firm based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Contact: jamarthrasher@gmail.com or @jdthrasher on Twitter.

Nonsense Meets Crazy

When Noisey announced that they had tagged along with Danny Brown to attend  the infamous Gathering of the Juggalos, I was admittedly intrigued. I was and still am imagining all sorts of anecdotal goodies from that experience. For now, we get this interview between the Insane Clown Posse and the somewhat saner Danny Brown. If Bruiser doesn’t watch himself he’ll end up being a MTV/VICE/VH1 correspondent, like full time. Note to Noisey: Hit us with the real footage from that weekend, thanks.

Beats, Rhymes, Life

1.  UK based youth Charli XCX is following the Jai Paul formula, foregoing an album and releasing just a few singles a year and focusing on marketing them hard. This one gets remixed and features OFWGTA’s The Internet.

2. Ghanaian wonder duo the Fokn Bois have been pinching hearts and minds in Europe as well as their native Ghana. Hopefully the visa issues get resolved and they finally can touch down on US soil. If there are two harder working men in the scene then these two, I am yet to be introduced. The new video continues a rich tradition of shooting unique aesthetics while keeping things lighthearted.

3. Some dogmatic website released their list of The 20 Richest Rappers Alive Today, you may find the results (below) predictable for the most part. Surprises for me included Rick Ross only being worth a quarter, T-Pain being tied with T.I., and that Master P is ranked #3 with a net worth of 350 million, beating out the likes of Dr. Dre and 50 Cent. Ice cream sells!

#20 Rick Ross – Net Worth $25 Million
#19 Tie between T-Pain and T.I – Net Worth $30 Million
#18 Nelly – Net Worth $55 Million
#17 Busta Rhymes – Net Worth $60 Million
#16 Ludacris – Net Worth $65 Million
#15 Beastie Boys – Net Worth $75 Million Each
#14 Timbaland – Net Worth $75 Million
#13 Pharrell Williams – Net Worth $77.5 Million
#12 Tie between LL Cool J and Akon – Net Worth $80 Million
#11 Kanye West – Net Worth $90 Million
#10 Lil Wayne – Net Worth $95 Million
#9 Ice Cube – Net Worth $100 Million
#8 Snoop Dogg – Net Worth $110 Million
#7 Birdman – Net Worth $115 Million
#6 Eminem – Net Worth $120 Million
#5 50 Cent – Net Worth $250 Million
#4 Dr. Dre – Net Worth $260 Million
#3 Master P – Net Worth $350 Million
#2 Jay-Z – Net Worth $475 Million
#1 Diddy – Net Worth $500 Million

4. For those wondering how many ways we can connect the Olympic Games to hip hop, here’s a pretty legit bond. Everyone knows about Ryan Lochte right? Anyways, he’s an Olympic swimmer for the US that has already retrieved some gold. Upon being given the chance to show off his medal for photogs, he was sure to include his custom-made grill from hip hop artist and impresario Paul Wall. Wall is famous for his custom grill business and apparently laced Ryan with 4 of them, apparently the one he showed off with the gold medal is worth a cool 25k.

5. The contest that turned into a viral joke finally turned into Pitbull visiting and performing at a Walmart in Kodiak, Alaska. The campaign was originally designed to market an energy strip for Walmart but quickly turned into a wonderfully consolidated effort by “fans” to “exile” him to the farthest Walmart possible. Much to the chagrin of residents of Kodiak, Alaska. Unfortunately there were no messy bear spray incidents.