Friday, October 30, 2009

Might Have Missed It

MTV music awards 2009 video package by Prologue from Huitième Degré on Vimeo.

The MTV Awards graphics packages are consistently more interesting, more ground-breaking than the music being rewarded.

This year's was no exception. You appreciate it more when you see it all run together.

These visuals courtesy of the winning graphic design house, Prologue.

Flashback Friday: Requisite Halloween Jam

What are some other Halloween-type tracks (obviously not including "Thriller")?

Flashback Friday

This is an anniversary week, of sorts, for me.

Ten years ago, I wrote my first published piece for my school's paper and I've been writing ever since?

What was that first CD review about? I'll set the scene.

Back when there were these things called "record labels", they'd try a variety of marketing techniques to sell albums. The biggest indie underground hip-hop label was Rawkus Records. On October 12th and October 19th of 1999, Rawkus had what they called "The Week of Kings". October 12 marked the release of Mos Def's Black on Both Sides and on the 19th, they dropped Pharoahe Monch's Internal Affairs.

I wrote a glowing review of Internal. Per the "Backpacker Code", I couldn't do anything less. I broke down the album's production and lyrics with laser-like percision. Looking back at it now, though, all of the lofty language I came up with was clearly an excercise jack-assery. I knew what was good and I was going to use as much superfluous language as possible, dammit. Oh, those oh so heady times.

But getting back to the music at hand, here's the lead single from the album that started it all for me. Enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Retro Game Music

Laugh all you want...

The music was pretty damn memorable.

Here's a compilation. Some of these songs you haven't heard in 20 years.

Golden Age?

People hate on all the new hip hop. (Straw Man anyone?)

But I think Hip Hop BEATS are in a golden age. I mean, lyrics aside, some of the stuff out there is just nasty. Don't tell me you wouldn't bump this in the ride on the way to work.

The Dream & Lil' John, Let Me See That Booty

Kanye & Friends, Best In The World

Kids In The Hall w/Phonte, Paper Trail

Rick Ross & Jigga, Maybach Music

Kanye and 88 Keys, Stay Up

Clipse with Skateboard P, I'm Good

Tanya Morgan, We're Fly

Craig cites the ascendancy of produducers out of the shadows of the performers as the reason we'll never have another pure singer the way we did with Luther Vandross (click that link and be amazed.)... But where Teddy Riley, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis simply made their names as important as the artists they were producing, Hip hop producers took it to another level. They became more important than the artists, then, in Pet Shop Boys fashion, they became the artists themselves.

Still and all I think that, in lieu of amazing lyricists like we had just a few years ago, I'll take the beats. The beats are great.

But it does beg an interesting question, what song or hip hop songs represent the perfect joining of amazingly great beats and amazingly great rhymes?

What song could you listen to without the lyrics and love, just as an instrumental...or listen to acapella, no beat, and love just the same?

What song has that perfect balance?

I vote for this one.

BUT...this one is a close second.

Where Were You When...

Shyne went to jail?

Over 8 years ago, June of 2001 to be exact, Jamaal "Shyne" Barrow was sentenced for a club shooting in New York. Wednesday, after being deported, Shyne, who's name is now Moses Michael Leviy, returned to his native Belize.

Remember the days when this story was headline news? You know, back when Diddy and J. Lo were an item?

Oh, how time flies.

But where were you?

In '99, I was in college and probably sticking pins into my Puff Daddy voodoo doll. By the time Shyne eventually got sentenced in 2001, I'd bought his album so I could play "Bad Boyz" during a skating party I "deejayed" and sold it shortly thereafter to finance my cap and gown.

Looking back at it now, I wonder what would've happened if Shyne never would've fired (as he was convicted of doing) that weapon. Would Sean and Jennifer have tied the knot to become the first Jay-Z and Beyonce?

The only thing I can say for certain is that Shyne would probably only be doing slightly better than he's doing now. Look at Mr. Combs' track record: Dream, Black Rob, Dannity Kane, Ma$e, 112, and whatever the names were of those other groups he formed on MTV. Long and short of it, Bad Boy had little talent for developing artists. Most folks never made it past two albums and then they seem to wind up in an industry Bermuda Triangle.

So congrats, Shyne, on regaining your freedom. Consider yourself lucky that your career with P. Diddy ended before it really had a chance to begin. You're better off than a lot of former Bad Boy minions.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dirty Basslines (Pt. 1 in a series)

Nothing better in the world to me than a dirty bassline.

First entry in the series comes from the geniuses Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers (Chic), via Carly Simon.

Has anyone sampled this joint?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Morning Show Performances

Is it just me? I don't think its ever a good idea to send your "urban radio" artist on these local affiliate morning shows unless they are playing something acoustic.

Seriously, even if the person can really sing, it just sounds cheap and cheesy, almost like public access television.

Sorry, guys, a backing track and a mic meant for speaking, not singing, just doesn't cut it.

This Week In HBCU News

As the last Flashback Friday eluded to, Howard University's homecoming wrapped up last weekend. I didn't really follow any of the festivities but I did read some interesting stories involving three of this nation's most popular HBCUs.


This isn't gonna end well.

Meet Hampton University's latest homecoming queen, Nikole Churchill. No, not her. No, not that other one. Not her, either. The one in the purple. You know, the white one.

Churchill, who hails from Hawaii and describes her ethnicity as Asian and white, won the coveted crown to become the Virginia school's first non-Black queen.

And then came the isht storm. Apparently, some folks in the Hampton community thought she shouldn't hold the title because, well, you know--she's not black.

To compound matters, Churchill wrote a letter to America's favorite bi-racial Hawaiian to intervene on her behalf. Seeing that he's got some other things on his plate (think Afghanistan, Health Care, Golf with staffers, etc.), she never got a response.


Right before "the REAL HU" broke out into party mode, a story ran in the blog version of the D.C. alt-weekly, the City Paper. The City Paper post was about a post done by a Howard student blogger which poked fun at a school landmark referred to by some as the "Booty Wall". In what the CP writer probably thought was a innocuous blog post, she essentially jumped into a swimming hole of hydrochloric acid. If you don't believe me, read the "Comments" section of her piece. They seemed to disturb her so much, she did a secondary post where she reached out to an editor at Howard's Hilltop newspaper. Still, she learned the hard way that the Howard crew goes hard.


The 'House made news this week with a new dress code policy. While I've seen some publications focusing on the "sagging" jeans, I was more interested in the cross-dressing. The administrator quoted in the linked article suggested the rule applied to, maybe, five guys on campus.

Well, I guess that qualifies for an epidemic of MAC-wearing black men.

There's a reoccurring theme in all these stories. That is, imagining shit that's not true.

News flash: There are white people attending HBCUs (Morehouse had a white valedictorian and Bluefield State in West Virginia is majority white). There are some less than savory (at times) mating rituals that go down on college campuses. There are black men who are gay and dress "feminine" or with droopy drawls but can kick ass academically.

Maybe because I didn't go to an HBCU, I don't have as deep a personal connection to my alma mater (although I'm very glad I went there), something I think a lot of HBCU alums have. What I do think I have, though, is a healthy disconnect that allows me to see when things like a non-black homecoming queen comes to be, I say, "Hey, this is interesting. It looks like our institution is evolving". Granted, I'm guessing most people tied to these institutions aren't throwing fits but I think the idea that institutions like HBCUs should somehow operate in a bubble to protect them from "intruders", criticism from "outsiders", or a perceived hedonistic popular culture is a bit paternalistic. These institutions are in society. Let them date a white chick, loiter on the corner just to get chastised by neighbors, and wear stunna shades with pumps every once in a while. Trust me, there are bigger things to worry about. How about hiring some faculty and staff so people can drop the "interim" and "acting" adjectives from their titles? That'll go a longer way in maintaining the integrity of these schools than a dress code or entertaining the "outrage" over the race of the homecoming queen.


P.S.--Please take a look at my former softball teammate's letter to his alma mater regarding (but not exclusively about) its new clothing requirements, professor/blogger/TV commentator Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back At Work

New week. New music.

New Clipse.

Reminds of this Nas gem.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flashback Friday

I know this is low hanging fruit but I have a rationale (other than being damn tired).

Until this year, Howard's Homecoming festivities were likely the most looked-forward-to set of events in D.C. Even though the weekend hasn't closed out yet, it's a safe bet there's no way this year's parties will be able to compete with Inauguration weekend's happenings.

No. F-ing. Way.

Still, I feel like I need to acknowledge one of the greatest acts of '92, who just so happened to attend HU and filmed their video on campus.

Yeah, we all know Ananda's in the vid but did Cyndi Lauper really direct it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We've been out of the office this week, as the show went on hiatus.

We've also been shooting our short film, which as of this posting is technically shot and in the can, ready for some post-production work.

Just keeping y'all in the loop.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Once Again, Madness at work.

Movie Review: Good Hair

I finally got a few hours to check Chris Rock's Good Hair flick.

To start off, Chris announces that he'll be heading to the place where most important decisions in black America are made--Atlanta, for a hair show. Seemingly, the extremes that happen during the show parallel what folks (mainly women) do with their hair.

The film took a few interesting theme turns. At one point, it looked like Chris would be to the black hair care industry what Michael Moore was to the health care/insurance industry in Sicko. For instance, the fact folks are putting highly toxic chemicals in their hair to get the desired straight look was driven home when Chris met up with a chemist who did a demonstration with sodium hydroxide, which is found in most relaxers, and a soda can. SPOILER ALERT: After four hours, sodium hydroxide had eaten up the can. To be fair, though, relaxers aren't straight NaOH, but the point is clear: That isht is potent and it might be in people's best interests if they lay off what several interviewees called "creme crack".

Another point of controversy is the fact that few black people actually control the production, or sales, of products on the market. Big, white owned companies and "Asians" run the show. Well, I was surprised that ANY black companies were producing hair products on a sizable scale. So props to those folks still in business for themselves.

The best part for me, though, was when Chris went to India to see the point of origin for a lot of the human hair on the weave market. Most hair was collected at Hindu ceremonies where women have their head shaved. The temples where the the shaving happens then sell the hair to outfits who clean and prep it for delivery to brokers, ultimately for delivery in salons. Apparently, these temples rank second to the Vatican in terms of religious outfits pulling in dough.

The biggest take-away point was what hair represented to the Indian women who shaved it off as compared to the black women who eventually had it weaved into their heads. Basically, the Indian women shave their heads as a way to show devotion by giving up an integral part of their ego/beauty. On the other hand, the hair is then used to boost the ego/beauty of the women who purchase it. The women in the temple were willing to part with their hair but the ones in Harlem and Atlanta seemed to be willing to do anything, come hell or high water, to get some weave. Are there some missplaced values at work?

I guess my question is how big of an issue is hair still? Are people forever bound to an idea of what other folks think about their hair (even though a lot of the hair hysteria seems to be more self-perpetuated than actual)?

P.S.-- Ice T closed out the film with what should be used as a frame of reference for anybody in a relationship where hair has been or could be an issue. I'm not going to try to recreate it because I'd do it a disservice. Just check out the film at the matinee.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flashback Friday

If you missed it, Roxanne Shante got herself in a little trouble recently.

On one of those "Where Are They Now" shows on VH1, I remember her being interviewed and stating she'd earned her PhD from Cornell, all paid for by a provision built into an old recording contract she had.

I'm skeptical by nature, so when I heard her story, I said, "Ok. That's cool. But something tells me she doesn't know what PhD stands for."

Well, my hunch was within reason. Slate did some digging last month after the Daily News ran a piece about her (TDN has since put a huge disclaimer on it). In short, the story she'd been shopping around for years was false. This week, Roxanne fessed up a bit. Yay for her attempt at redemption.

My tolerance for folks who pull isht like this is basically zero. If you're gonna lie, make it a lie that can't be found out by doing a dissertation author search on a library web site.

Enough of the rant, though. Let's focus on what made Roxanne Shante famous.

I honestly love how they shot this video in front of what looks to be her parents' basement wet bar. It seriously looks like they only had enough money to buy the VHS tape put in the camera. But just think, if Roxanne had YouTube in her day, she'd probably get about 500,000 views for this clip, which is likely more plays than she ever got on the '80s hip-hop video show circuit.

But now she's looking like Lil' Mama after this year's VMAs. An attempt to get attention turned into a giant FAIL.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gil Scott Heron

Music from a time when soul music was VERY black.

And house heads will appreciate the many samples made from this song.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This One Was Special

Slow Jam Unemployment.

A Disturbing Question

This excellent web video leads to a very disturbing question..

What the hell race is Soledad O'Brien? I thought she did Black In America? She's doing Latino in America too?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wyatt and Slim Thug

From the Daily Show, and Friend of The Message Wyatt Cenac.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Slim Thug Feels the Recession
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

Diddy on Twitter

Everyday, about twelve times a day, Puffy is on Twitter saying this is the greatest song ever.

Monday, October 12, 2009

This Is Infuriating

ODST is a 10 hour game. And it's not hard.

it could have been like the above.

It's not.

they better send out a free expansion ASAP...or fuck Bungie.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Why Democrats Matter much as they annoy me with their inability to come together over things America elected them to do.

They are the ONLY party who would do something like this.

That's brilliant and necessary. Can you imagine Norm Coleman doing this? Only if the case involved a corporation that had been wronged in some way.

Franken is acting with the same unclouded sense of right and wrong that he put in his book which I read and loved. I hope he stays effective and on the straight and narrow. Further, he has a huge advantage other elected officials don't. He drank, drugged and partied in NY for over a decade...presumably that's out of his system so he can focus on the people's business. We'll see.

To be honest, while I decry Democrats ability to walk lock-step on crucial issues, I used to decry the Republicans inability to do ANYTHING but toe the line. I'm a little hypocritical.

Still and all...there's a difference between toeing the line and doing what you were elected to do. Inasmuch as walking lock-step leads to doing the American people's business, the Democrats are mostly filled with Fail. Inasmuch as they continue to try and curry favor with those who only want their downfall, the Democrats are filled with Fail. Inasmuch as they seem incapable of making firm and know the story.

But, those losers always seem to get my vote.

I guess I'd rather have mostly incompetent losers than extremely efficient and productive evil.


ps - not to ruin my POV with pettiness, but who's the hottie behind Al? Someone in DC know who that is?

Flashback Friday

This week I was introduced to a new phrase--"Yacht Rock".

I was reminded of how much I loved listening to "Sailing" as a youngin'.

Also, I've started listening to my Hall & Oates' "Greatest Hits" album more often. Yeah, this track wasn't their most popular but you should recognize the hook.

While I'm at it, though, I'd like to propose another musical grouping, "Cocaine and Speedboats Jazz Funk". If only there was an actual video for this Eddie Henderson classic. If there was, I'm sure there'd be a dude on a boat in South Florida playing his trumpet with a gang of women around him...and a bunch of blow. In lieu of actual footage, close your eyes, listen to the track and let your mind go ape isht.

Any other ideas for tracks in my new genre?

Obama Chia

I thought this was a parody, but apparently it was TOTALLY real.

The fact this was real makes it truly hilarious.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Classic Jay

Damn, this is the Jay-Z I used to love. For real.

Not available on anything but an old Mister Cee mixtape that I bought on a trip to New York back in the mid-90s. Apparently I ain't the only one who copped it. Sounds like J-Luv did too.

Amy Holmes - DEMOTED

Saw this on Gawker:

Amy Holmes Leaves CNN for

I'm Hating

This is bullshit.

THE DUDE ABOVE is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model photographer.


that's what he gets PAID to go to work and do.

every goddamn day.

I hate his guts.

Michelle Obama's Story

Here's a video clip of that research that traces Michelle Obama's lineage from the White House back to a young slave girl in South Carolina. A slave girl who bore several children, some of them mulatto by someone in the owning family.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Amazing story.

To think that her Great Great Grandfather was born a slave, but by the 1900s, he owned his own carpentry business and his own house.

And this same Great Great Grandfather dies fourteen years before one his progeny moves into the White House. Incredibly emotional journey.

And the pictures of Michelle's mother - Michelle is simply mini-her. This is a must watch.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hot Video

This video was shot using a type of camera we are using in our short movie.

Besides that, its also a hot video and (is it just me) but the song is kind of catchy. An over-active bassline will get me everytime.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


OKAY...this is cute but I don't understand it.

who speaks Jamaican?


Monday, October 5, 2009



who wants some?

SNL Digital Short

They can be hit-or-miss, but to me, this one was a hit.

Don't really like the end. Felt a little tacked on because someone told them they needed an ending. But the rest was great.

Friday, October 2, 2009

R.I.P. Mr. Magic

A lot of people didn't know who he was until BIG name-dropped him in Juicy.

But I knew who he was through all my New York friends. That was when center radio stations (WBLS, KDAY, KMEL) were legendary.

Is there any commercial radio station today that has the level of respect these stations demanded back then.

It's because of the first hip hop radio DJS (and Mr. Magic is the first of the first - "Rap Attack") that hip hop is a world-wide phenomenon and not a late 70s/early 80s New York fad.



This is the funniest thing I've seen all month.

Michael Vick Fails To Inspire Team With 'Great' Dogfighting Story

Chris Rock on Polanski


"He made good movies, THIRTY YEARS AGO. Even Johnnie Cochran don't have the nerve to go, 'Well, did you see O.J. play against New England?'"

Flashback Friday

After the Jane Child post a few months ago and, more recently, the Mayer Hawthorne one, I've been thinking about artists defying your traditional race-music paradigm. I'll probably be posting some of those videos in the future.

In the meantime, here's one of those tracks I've liked from almost the first time I heard it.

Tara Kemp's career, to date, has only produced a single album but it had two big singles, "Piece of My Heart" and this one.

This song reminds me that pre-Britney Spears/Backstreet Boys dance pop wasn't that bad. I don't know what happen to the quality of producers between the early '90s and the end of that decade but it's almost like they got abducted or banished to some remote island. Something happened, though. Either that or I'm just a big snob in thinking I know what "good" music is.

But honestly, what would you rather listen to, Tara's first big hit or Britney's?

You know the right answer.

(Diallo Update: Would this song qualify with what you're talking about?

A Big Bowl Of Awesome For Your Friday

Dead Fantasy Preview

never grow up, kids.