Friday, July 29, 2005

What Im listening to....

Today I made my own mix CD. Its a sampling of a wide variety of music so I will share my lil playlist that I made.

I started it out with two classics....Guy's "Groove Me" and Al B Sure!'s "Off On Your Own Girl". Those are straight up New Jack Swing R&B classics; reminds me of when I started Howard U in 1988.

The next song is Ohh Baby Baby from Lil Rob. Im still trying to feel out this whole cholo rap thing, but this is so bottom of the barrel. I like it when cats rap to oldies, and that is what cholo rap is, Mexicans rapping to oldies. But talk about no skills; this cat talks over the beat. No flow here.

Speaking of oldies, I put in the classic "People Make the World Go Round" by The Temprees. I've heard the Westside Connection version of it (Gangstas Make The World Go Round) and the Washington DC go-go version, but this is a straight up classic.

Next came the gangsta group from Flint Michigan, The Dayton Family. Talk about hardcore, these brothers are really hardcore. They did this song with Kurupt called Calico, and it is hot! Its got an ill chorus, and they talk like some gangstas, nothing held back. It'll be felt in the Midwest and the West, maybe.

After that, I put on this new rap group Psalm One. They are hardcore female rappers who do straight up hip hop. Its the total opposite of Lil Kim or Foxy Brown. Not taking away from those groups, but this song, "Dubblewood Pipe" is some straight up head nod type stuff.

Then I put on for just curiousity Jack Kerouac's song "Come Rain or Shine". I expected it to be some abstract beat poet spoken word type stuff. It stunk. Sounded like he was trying to rock this Frank Sinatra imitation. Patrimoine is a rap in French and though I don't understand the lyrics I was feeling the 70s like beat and this is hot probably in Africa.

The best song I had on my mix was Airplane by Thaione Davis. This had the hottest beat, the best rhymes, it was meaningful straight up underground hip hop, the type the radio stopped playing like ten years ago, but it doesn't sound old, it sounds light years beyond the crap the radio plays now.

I put some old to new gangsta rap on here, I had the Game's "We Are the Hustlaz" and NWA's "Always Into Something". The Game's song was good, it is the stuff that is put out by some cats in the bay who put the Game on before he met Dre. It had a good beat, and Game is Game before the hype and beefs.

I didn't really like "Baby" by Razah ft Jewelz or Nate Dogg's "Bad Girls" because the songs are half-azzed. Beat is alright but these songs I skipped most of the day.

The last song was "Battlefield" by 7L and Esoteric. Really good underground stuff, but this song wasn't their best.

Pretty good mix for a Friday! Music came from Emusic,Itunes and Digital Junkees.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Two Gottis go down

The Inc. Finally Dries, Irv Gotti and Co. "Move On" From Def Jam
Irv Gotti
Yesterday, The Inc. moved from its 9th Ave office, symbolizing the end of a business partnership between the label and Def Jam. The Inc. was first asked to leave the Def Jam's offices following 2003's raid because other tenants in the building felt unsafe. They first briefly moved to another NYC office before settling into 440 9th Avenue; while Def Jam continued paying their rent.

Peter Gotti
Gotti Brother Gets 25 More Years for Plot

The older brother of notorious mob boss John Gotti was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison for ordering a failed hit on a Mafia turncoat as revenge for devastating testimony against his brother.

Kiddies...Whether you are a criminal or wanna be a criminal, crime does not pay!
Payola-The Dirty Industry Practice-That's Ruining Hip Hop
by Davey D

“Payola is as old as radio. The legalities have also changed most
recently allowing legal loopholes. Legal loopholes created playola the
creation of corporate america to cash in legally.

For decades decision makers were individuals in each marketplace. Payola
comes in the way of cash,trips, appliances, drugs, sex and anything of
value for today's marketplace.

Payola is as American as prostitution. Radio programmers and Dj's hands
are shaped like cups. Everyone expects something since it is not coming
in your paycheck.

GM's don't ask questions while there PD's make the annual trip to
Brazil. Payola's the lapdance that everyone wants at work or in the
comfort at home.”
-Paul Porter-IndustryEars-

Shady Industry Practices to Disguise Payola
What you read above is what longtime radio programmer and industry insider Paul Porter who used to work for Emmis and has programmed for BET and radio One has to say about the dirty illegal practice we call payola that goes on in the industry. For many, payola has completely ruined the music biz and in particular Hip Hop.

Before anyone can seriously talk about how to tone down the amount of sex, violence and misogyny heard on the public airwaves or how get more conscious music on rotation on your favorite radio station, you have to first deal with payola. This is the seedy practice employed by most major record labels and commercial radio station that determine what gets on the air and what doesn’t. It’s amazing how time after time, I’ll go to conferences and community settings where passionate individuals will tell the audience in order to change the music they hear they have to call the station and request a new song or write the program director or something along those lines. Unfortunately, such erroneous advice is indication that they don’t fully understand the business and they are ignoring the big white elephant in the living room-Payola

Back in the days payola used to be done via the envelop full of money that was slipped under the table in the dark of night to a shiesty program director or deejay. That’s what led to some love shown for particular artists. As the government began to crack down, the methodology behind the practice became slicker.

So now payola shows up in the form of concerts like Summer Jam, Winter Ball, Halloween Boo Bash etc where your favorite artists shows up and perform for free or very little money in exchange for prime time airplay, new radio station street team vans and jackets, commercials buys and ‘free trips to Hawaii or Cancun for an album release party. The other favorite ploy is the record label shopping spree where cats get hit off with lots of free gear and elaborate shopping trips via the label’s credit card. We also can’t forget the strippers and friendly girls who show up at your hotel room during industry conventions. All this is done under the guise of entertainment but with the main goal of securing airplay

The other practice is for program directors and other shady individuals to use independent promoters who act as go betweens for the artist and radio stations. These indie promoters over the years have literally carved up the country amongst themselves. If you look at a map of the indie territories it would remind you of an old colonization map. In fact things are set in such a way that nothing goes down on the major airwaves unless these powerful indie promoters approve. Now, over the past year several radio conglomerates have publicly stated that they are severing all ties from indie promoters to avoid the appearance of any wrongdoings but that hasn’t stopped the practice of payola.

KRS-One, Funkmaster Flex and 40Gs
What radio has done is find new ways to do their dirt. For example, nowadays you have situations where individuals at the stations have set up ‘fake’ consulting or record promotional companies or even record pools that can help the big record companies get commercial airplay. Some of these companies are actually owned by the program directors or key jocks at the station who will get a hefty fee and then kick it back to their bosses. This was a practice that KRS-One went on record to complain about with Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex.

A few years ago KRS took a job at Warner Brothers where he became a label executive. He told Lee Bailey’s EUR Report that he had given one of Funkmaster Flex’s companies 40 thousand dollars with the understanding that he would play some of the artist on the label. This of course never happened. If memory serves me correctly think KRS noted that he only got one spin. Two or three years ago, Nas shed a bit more insight to this practice by Flex when he alluded to it during his infamous outburst on rival station Power 105 after Hot 97 denied him permission to do a performance dissing Jay-Z at their annual Summer Jam concert. Soon afterwards an open letter began circulating around the industry accusing Flex’s company Franchise Marketing and his Big Dawg Record Pool of being shields for ongoing payola practices.

While folks may be tempted to immediately zoom onto Flex and get mad at him, we can not simply make him the fall guy. We can not overlook the fact that he could not operate such any of his companies which clearly blurred the lines and created conflict of interest scenarios without the support or ‘blind eye turned’ by Hot 97’s [Emmis Broadcasting] executives such as then program directors Tracey Chlorety and Steve Smith who proceeded her and is now an executive at Clear Channel. At the time there were a couple of publications that were supposed to look into KRS’s assertions and the payola accusations including The Source Magazine, but those stories were mysteriously killed while the pay for play allegations still exist.

Around the time Flex was catching heat, another shady payola practice came to light. We’ll call it the ‘Let me do a remix for your artist’ ploy. Here a popular mixshow deejay will offer to do a remix of a particular artist or song. A large amount of money is paid for that deejay’s production services which soon lead to increased airplay. Here’s the catch- rarely do you hear the remix being played. The way people have covered their asses is to release a limited edition of these various ‘regional’ remixes from around the country or these remixes might show up on limited edition remix records that are available only to commercial Djs.

Radio Station Programmers Owning Record Labels
Where this really came to light was the scenario involving the Assistant Program Director of LA’s number one music station Power 106 named Damon ‘Damizza’ Young. He took things a step further by starting his own record label Baby Ree which featured his artist/producer Shady Sheist. Shiest who relatively unknown at the time was able to get lots of love in the form of guest appearances from A-List artists who many industry insiders suspect was done in return for airplay on the giant Emmis Broadcast station.

In addition to all this, there were lots of stories floating around the industry alleging that Damizza abused his position by insisting on being allowed to rap or produce tracks for many of the artists the station played. Eventually this story was broke by LA Times writer Chuck Phillips who did a comparison with the amount of airplay Shady Shiest was receiving at Power 106 and the number of units he actually sold. Shiest who did not sell well, left a lot of folks including Phillips , asking hard questions as to why he was getting so much love. How was Shady Sheist able to get primetime airplay while other more qualified artists were left outside with little or no access. Eventually it was revealed that Emmis Broadcasting which owns Power 106 was also financially connected to the record label.

Executives at Emmis tried to flip the script by saying that the FCC said it was ok for them to do what they were doing as long as Damizza wasn’t in the room making decisions about Shady Shiest being played. Of course, people who have been in the industry for a while knew better and clearly understood this was a case of the company protecting its point person who collected monies under the guise of production in exchange for airplay. In any case Damizza is no longer at Power 106, but this does not mean there aren’t other hustles going on of a similar nature going on at other stations.

With the latest crack downs earlier this week on payola lead by NY attorney general Elliott Spitzer, a lot of industry folks are likely to lay low and find other ways in which to get pay for play. Look for a lot of movement in the areas of satellite and Internet radio as major stations will began to make major investments in those entities and try and sow things up. In those arenas payola is not illegal.

The other thing to watch for is to see if the FCC which is now officially calling for an payola investigations or attorney generals like Spitzer will start going after folks on tax evasion charges. After all, while its one thing to do pay for play, it’s another thing to receive gifts above 400 dollars and not declare it in tax returns. The word sponsorship is often tossed around as a way to cover one’s butt on that tip, but not everyone has their paper work in order…Look for the industry to start lobbying lawmakers really hard to get them to turn the other way.

Why You keep Hearing the Same 10 Songs

While that goes on, we need to keep in mind a couple of things. First, the reason why you keep hearing the same 10 songs is because the airtime has been brought and paid for. If you look at a clock and note that radio rotation is based upon a 60 minute clock then you can understand what this means. Every minute on a clock is expensive real estate in which nothing can be wasted.

That means these stations are either running commercial spots or they are playing songs which ultimately will lead to a money making end.

This means what you hear on the air is either in support of a particular marketing campaign sparked off by a major record company, or it’s being done to return one of the aforementioned ‘sponsorship/payola’ practices which are referred to as favors. Generally speaking the commodity used to determine to value of the favor are the number of spins on the airwaves. So let’s use the following scenario to make this more understandable. Let’s say you have a record label called Label X. A rep from that label will come to a commercial station to communicate the specifics behind their upcoming artist campaign. On the label’s roster they may have 10 acts but for the spring quarter the label’s priority is the new album by their start artist Rapper X.

The station sits back and tells the label. Hey we need a new van for our street team and we have our upcoming Summer Explosion concert. Can you help us out? The label will offer to purchase a new van, get it wrapped with the station’s logo. They will put the record company’s logo on the side of the van.

Next Label X will offer up their star artist to appear exclusively in the market for the station’s Summer Explosion concert. This means no other station and promoter can do a concert with that artists no matter what. It doesn’t matter if they offer the artist a ton of money or even had a prior commitment. The label and the station will shut things down to ensure that the only way a person in that market can see or hear from the star artist is to listen to that one commercial station.

Even if the artist chooses to do otherwise he will either be in violation of his contract or find that his project and the marketing campaign behind it is no longer a priority. In some extreme cases the artist might find himself under physical threat.

So in exchange for all this, the station promises Label X 100 spins a week. This translates to roughly every hour and half that artist’s record will be played. Now on average you can only play maybe 10-12 records an hour. If they don’t have a lot of commercials on a particular station you might be bale to get away with 13. In other words a station is giving up 48- 52 minutes of music an hour.

Now let’s go back to the promise made by the station to the label. A 100 spins a week means a crucial piece of audio real estate has been purchased. Similar scenarios with other labels repeat themselves over the week. One Label agrees to provide the station with 20 thousand dollars of X-Mas Wish money. Another label offers to fly a listener to the Grammys. Another Label offers to redecorate your house and have a private concert with a particular artist. When all is said and done, the label has agreed to 7 or 8 favors in exchange for 100 spins a week. This translates to us the listener hearing those same 10 songs over and over again with very little room for variety.

This means that we no longer have a public affairs show on the air or at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning. It means there is little room for local or independent artists. When you look at the clock and do the math, it’s literally impossible for a station to stray beyond the boundaries of their promises. To do so could cost big time money or favors. The Label and artist are also bound. This means unless that station is involved your favorite artiste is not going to show up at your community event or do a benefit concert for your school or in some cases even do an interview. If you wanna hear or see that artist, the big corporate radio giant that cut the deal with the record label is the only place to get your supply.

How Payola Devaules Artists and Hip Hop

Hopefully this gives you a general understanding of how things work. The other thing to keep in mind is that as this pay for play scenario becomes more pervasive to the point that there is no wiggle room to nurture and grow records, it ultimately devalues the artists work.

By that I mean, lets say I show up at a party with Hallie Berry who I paid a million dollars to hang out with me for the evening. Can you ever really take me seriously if I said I was a brother who had a good rap and lots of charm to win over the ladies once you know I pay for their company?

In other words is a particular artist song really good or am I just liking it because I keep hearing what is essentially a 4 minute commercial that has been brought and paid for by the label. I have artist who sometimes come up to me explaining how dope their new song is and then they will try to back it up by saying, their record is so dope that the station is playing it. Knowing that some sort of economic favor went into the airing of that song,one can no longer believe the hype. Is the record good? Or was the money to get the record on the airwaves good?

There used to be time that if a record was dope and a station in Chicago or Detroit or NY rocked it, it would mean something to folks in other markets and the record would get added on with a DJ announcing this is the bomb in Detroit or Chi-Town and he’s now bringing it to Houston or Atlanta. Them days are over. The only thing that will determine airplay is the money or expensive favors. The listeners are only privy to a one sided conversation that has been predetermined by the label and the station.

Until we deal with that aspect, very little will change. In fact it will only get worse…The biggest irony to all this was pointed out by long time music advocate and activist Lee Ballinger of Rock and Rap Confidential. He shrewdly noted that the music industry has been going after the general public by taking people to court for downloading music. The words immoral and stealing have been used to describe illegal downloaders. How ironic that those who have been entrusted with a public license to run our airwaves have been extremely dishonest when it comes to this payola situation. And many of the labels which have raised a stink about downloading are immoral and have violated the law themselves. The reason why folks are losing money is not because of illegal downloading. Its because it costs too damn much to illegally pay a station to play a crappy record..

Nuff said.. we out for now..

From Davy D's Political Palace site.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Stuff to check out

I like this site Abandoned Nation:

“I always said that we was either gonna be the illest rap team or the illest gang, bottom mutha’fucking line,” Saigon remembers from his early vision of Abandoned Nation. It was around 1997, in a Correctional Facility in Upstate, NY, when the Nation first started to take shape. Passing through notorious jails like Napanoch, Fishkill, Coxsackie, Comstock and others, Saigon and his team each earned their own rep’s for getting busy. In and out of the box, fighting, cutting, stabbing or whatever it took to get by, everyone held it down individually. But when they finally came together they found they all had the same problem: they were alone. They had each been “abandoned”—by family, friends or society as a whole. As time went on, they grew to depend on each other and soon became like a family. And thus, Abandoned Nation was born. At first it was Saigon, Omega, Omnipotent, B.I.C., Lucky Childz 16, Naquan and others.....

I heard about this DVD, The Life of Rayful Edmond - Rise and Fall Vol. 1 (2005). It's about this drug kingpin from here in DC who was running the streets at around the same time I came to Howard University in Washington DC back in 1988. I'm going to try to pick it up at some of these sneaker stores at this mall. It's be cool if I could find a bootleg, but I will take it upon myself to support a young black filmaker.

I brought the first Latino men's magazine Fuego Magazine,and its kinda tight. Check it out!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Chicano rap

Check out: Chicano Rap Magazine
Check out: Homiez Music

As a music buyer I am real experimental. I buy and download tons of stuff that is just new; I get tired of listening to or talking about the same ol stuff.

Lately, I've taken an interest in Chicano rap. This subculture of rap goes right back to the roots of gangsta rap. I can see why people say it sucks, after all its all cliches and images, there's no real lyricism, and it can be downright moronic! However, this San Diego, California based subgenre has its finer points.

However, it is vastly ignored in most rap magazines. Murder Dog kinda touches on it, matter of fact they promote a little of it. BET, MTV? Forget it. It's also a double negative in the Raza really because most Hispanics like salsa music; they can't be bothered with rap; its too "black" for most of them. With only white teens being the primary audience for such a medium who don't know Spanish, it will take a lot of time for this art to get its props.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Is Bush the Anti-Christ?
Laughing at a bunch of white folks

When I read the book Blackface by Nelson George I learn about the black film trend of the 90s which brought to screens many intelligent, insightful black movies. This began in the late 80s and continued into the mid 90s. In 2005, that movement is totally dead. Black movies in the movie theater are totally nonexistent.

How it got that way can be attributed to many factors. Personally, I think the bottom line is the dollar. I ask myself, whatever happened to movies like the ones Spike Lee made, the ones Eddie Murphy made, even the middle class urban flicks like the movie The Brothers and Two Can Play That Game.

Now black movies have been totally focused in on the youth. Ice Cube is a notable exception, but can't any other black actors get a break? I guess my complaints can go on and on, so with no alternative, I decided instead of seeing black movies, I will do the next best thing; go to a movie like The Wedding Crashers, and laungh at a bunch of white folks.

Now, this movie is the whitest movie I have seen in a long time. I don't look at movies and factor in race, but with this one? Oh yeah, its white. Very, very white. Funniest thing about this movie is that the only black character is a butler (of course!) But the characters are so white they are funny.

There are so many white stereotypes in the movie, and if you can make the distinction between left and right politically, you see in the movie who is right wing and who is left wing, it can really be seen in that way!Funny, funny white people.

And the main characters are just whiter than white too. You got this one guy who looks like Rod Stewart. He's shown as a guy who can bag alot of broads. I really couldn't understand what kind of person he was trying to portray. Was he a surfer dude? A pretty boy? Or just a guy who looks like Rod Stewart who can get a lot of chicks? Rod Stewart is cool....I guess.

And the other guy, he's the tall, no BS taking, sarcastic pretty boy. He had sideburns. Im like thinking, what's his deal? Is he trying to be Andrew Dice Clay? Or is he trying to be Elvis? Elvis is cool....I guess.

Plot is'nt worth talking about, heck, this whole movie ain't worth talking about, but if you're black and you gotta put up with a bunch of white people all day, and they get on your nerves, check out the Wedding Crashers. Not only is it a funny white movie, but its also about an hour longer than it should be. So you might want to be a 40 ounce and some corner store chicken wings and rice to the movie theater and make a night of it. If you don't like it, fall asleep, you won't miss much.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ain't it funny?

On the same day:

Poll suggests drop in Bush's personal credibility

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed the percentage of Americans who believe Bush is "honest and straightforward" fell to 41 percent from 50 percent in January, while those who say they doubt his veracity climbed to 45 percent from 36 percent.

Now that's a suprise.LOL.

Support for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries

"There's declining support for terrorism in the Muslim countries and support for Osama bin Laden is declining. There's also less support for suicide bombings," said Pew Center director Andrew Kohut.

LOL...."less support for suicide bombings"...I'd be willing to be bet that there was very little support to begin with...but they make it seem like the support was so overwhelming.

Funny how these stories are back to back on the Yahoo!page. I take surveys with a grain of salt, but right about now I'm sick of both of them. But that's just me.

Check out this funny movie.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Week in Review

Hustle and Flow opening this week.Check out the trailer.

This week was an interesting one, what with the Terror attacks and the media response to them. I am a firm believer that the media is corporate driven; its not slanted towards any one particular view, it for them is all about money. Thing is, what their power is the ability to prioritize stories and issues. Now, most Americans know about and are concerned about the London terror bombings. A co-worker of mine who doesn't follow politics knew about this, and it was mentioned in the church service I went to this weekend. However, how many people know about this train bombing which happened in Turkey before July 4th?

You may say, well, CNN covered it! However, it seemed that this story didn't get any play, whereas with the London train bombing it was round the clock news, increased security, and just more public awareness. Needless to say, my co-worker was suprised that the Turkish train bombing happened. Another thing about that incident was that it was done by Kurdish rebels, an ally of America in Iraq! Whereas the bombers in London were part of something more sinister. Equally telling is the neglect over a story of Iraqi police shooting into a crowd of protestors. Doing a Google Search of this story which happened on the same day as the London bombings, you find out that most of the sources are foreign! Check it out!

But, aside from that, I found a cool site where they have a focus on all the latest hip hop beefs,the Splashcru Beef Radar. The good thing about this site is that it is so hard to catch up with all these beefs, so this will help you keep track.

Check out: Site Institute

One thing I am torn on is the whole radical Islamic groups using the net. I really think that it is high time for them to just tell the American people what it is they want. As it is, the American public is already hostile to them. I really think when it comes to "claiming responsibility for this or that", they need to stop. I am getting tired of news reports of this or that group "claiming responsibility" on an "Islamic website", its ridiculous. The media hypes up the use of these websites, but I've seen instances where the most trifling ones are shut down; the ones which advocate straight up violence have been shut down. Has the media reported the shutdown of radical jihadist websites? Never!

I think that the internet hostile media hypes these websites just to portray the internet as a chaotic, out of control medium. The net is competition for the media, and so they hype up the "claims of responsibility" on internet websites, and though it is real, it works to their advantage. Plus, it makes for a targeting of political dissension in all its forms, and puts the net in a bad light. Maybe websites which are critical of the U.S. are being shut down because they are being lumped in with these jihadist sites. I have a real issue with that, because I don't want to see the internet be made into something under strict control.

Check out:Black Electorate Hip Hop Fridays:The Sins of the God MC By Hadji Williams

Check out:The three part series:Rhythmn and BS

These two articles are good because they are critical of hip hop and the music industry. I remember when I was younger the whole advent of "smooth R&B", and how it was played in between hip hop on the station back in Connecticut. In the mid 80s, when R&B was on its way down (like for example, Kool and the Gang; the 80s version of the band was far different from the 70s version), hip hop was on its way up. As for the whole concept of the "God MC", I am more or less perplexed by five realities in hip hop today: hip hop is being controlled by the major record companies, it is brought by a mostly white suburban audience, it still only represents one aspect of the black experience in AmeriKKKa, nobody buys political rap, and nobody buys Christian rap. I accept it, but when people criticize it, it comes right back to those points for me.

I was kinda interested in checking out "Confessions of a Video Vixen" by Karrine Steffans AKA "Superhead". I read her article in XXL, and it was an eye opener how Kool G Rap (her ex-boyfriend who allegedly beat her) treated her. I was suprised that XXL did the article, considering how much respect G Rap has in the hip hop world. Im not really a big 50 Cent fan, but I have to admit his video game looks pretty cool.

Thanks to Tracy for correcting me on the producer of Rize. It was actually David LaChappelle, not David Chappelle. My bad.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


See: The Rize Movie website

With all the hype I saw about the "Lords of Dogtown", a reality flick which is about the exploits of some young white kids which leads up to a skateboard competition, I never heard about this other reality flick/documentary, Rize. What I thought it was going to be was some "Dirty South" hype flick; the fast paced commercials were pretty unclear about the actual movie.

I wasn't sure if I would be feeling a documentary; after all, this time last year Fahrenheit 911 got me all upset. But, because of timing and the fact that I didn't want to be all in the movies for three hours watching Batman or Star Wars, I wanted to take in something quick.

Rize is about a hip hop dancing subculture in the crime ridden streets of Los Angeles. Not since the "hood flicks" (Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, Baby Boy) has there been such a focus on the "ghettos" of LA and the youths that live there. From the beginning this dance style is not tied to the "Breakin'" movies of the 80s, its bigger than that. Rather, it is something that is rooted in the Watts Riots of the 60s and the LA Uprising of '92. Out of the riots of '92 would come this new style of dance that would touch the generation, most of whom were infants in 1992.

The leader of this dance movement is a brother named Tommy the Clown. Tommy the Clown is an ex-drug dealer who decides to turn to dancing to better his life. He also hired himself out as a clown, and he mixes hip hop dance with clown routines to create a new art form. He's like the Afrika Bambatta of the LA dance movement. The dance is called Krumpin by one of the dance crews in the movie; and depending on who is doing it because different people have different styles, its a rowdy mix of breakdancing, stripdancing, cheerleader precision routines topped off with a lot of booty shaking. I think some of the booty shaking of these young kids forced two white ladies out of the theater, since they left and never came back. The practioners of the dance are 5-20, and I have to admit it was a bit unsettling seeing a 9 year old dance like a stripper. But all the dancers compete with equal intensity; and in that respect its a free for all.

As much as the movie leads up to the dance contest between two factions, the Clowns (who paint their faces, dress and work the clown theme into their dance routines)and the Krumpers (an off shot of the clowns who are a lot more militant and want to change the game), the movie delves into the streets of Los Angeles, showing how grim reality hits as hard as the dances they practice. Tommy the Clown, the brother who is well liked in the hood, finds out his house has been broken into. He bursts into tears, and you see how after a major show this just hits him so hard.Also, one of the dancers, a young 12-15 year old girl, is shot and killed by gangbangers in a case of mistaken identity.

This was a great hip hop documentary, and I would put it right up there with Wild Style and Style Wars in terms of following that tradition of showing this culture, its origins, and putting it right there where it began. I still think that the 9 year old dancing like a stripper should've been left on the cutting room floor. Even worse was the reaction of other kids to that. That aspect I could've done without. They do balance that out by showing some of the kids dancing in church, showing that despite the moral numbness of these kids at times, there is still hope for them. These kids are capable of doing great things with their talents.

Though it will probably flash through the theaters and be on DVD in a month and a half (I'll buy it!)to recoup the money that it will lose (David Chapelle took a big chance on this one!), this movie is good for those who enjoy learning about the hip hop cultures in other cities, because every city has a unique way of expressing itself. With that in mind, DC now needs something better than "Good to Go" for it's go-go scene.

Friday, July 01, 2005

RIP Luther Vandross

see: ALL HIP HOP:Luther Vandross Passes

Check out the Luther Vandross site.