observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Some of my favorite things

DISCLAIMER: this post was inspired a post I read on O-Dub's blog.

Here are the best things going in Hip-Hop in my expert (fake) opinion

In a chronological, astrological, zoological order:
  1. Jay Dilla
  2. Mike Jones, Slim Thug and that Houston sound
  3. Common
  4. MF Doom

The cats listed above are either a) str8 up dope, b) pushing and expanding the genre, or c) holding it down.

My favorite ignorant rappers:

  1. Cam'ron
  2. Nore
  3. 50
  4. Game
  5. Mike Jones

Real beatmaker who makes hits and stupid money:

  • Just Blaze

Beatmaker who makes hits, stupid money but can sometimes be off:

  • Kanyeezy

effeminate man servant who along with the above has influenced fashion in ways I could have never predicted

  • Farnsworth Bentley

My favorite new ignorant rapper who I hope makes a killer album

  • P Crack Cocaine (Peedi Crack)

New artist I had hoped would have become larger

  • Oh No

Artist I hope will put out a record, even if it's not with us

  • Grap Luva

Wildest dude I have seen on TV in a while

  • Booby Fischer

What I want for Festivus (early)

  • PSP

Friday, March 25, 2005

goodest footest Posted by Hello


First off,

Don’t forget next week Thursday is THE GOOD FOOT.

We will be celebrating the 14TH year Anniversary of WBAI’s Underground Railroad. For those that don’t know WBAI is one of the most respected community stations in the city and the where our friend and yours, DJ Spinna got his start.

Last month was a gas and this is gonna be even better with goodies from Elemental, Halcyon and Prefix Mag. Plus those cheap ass beers.

Onto my latest brilliant (fake) observation.

Ludacris is better than you.
I was listening to “Virgo” this morning while I dropped Roxy off at Doggie Day Care. Ludacris is a capitalist rapper for sure and has done some questionable songs. ‘Area Codes’ is probably just as embarrassing as ‘Bling, Bling.’

However, songs like ‘Saturday’ from “Word Of Mouf” and ‘Potion’ from “The Red Light District” are songs that I challenge the most die hard underground rapper to write.

Now his content definitely leaves much to be desired but the flow and the songwriting are exceptional. I think that Ludacris is a Hip Hop head and a capitalist. (For the record I am more of a socialist with capitalistic tendencies or better yet as Nas says ‘A philosophical gangster with violent priors.’). Next to Jay-Z I believe he has balanced Hip Hop purist principles with the modern day Hip-Hop industry demands.

I wish more independent artists actually spent some time writing songs instead of focusing on how different they are. The reality is that the main difference between the two worlds is violence. Your typical underground artist is not as violent, although that is changing. Many on both categories are on a paper chase, misogynistic, braggadocios and mad at their record label

Listen to those songs and holla back.

And for the record my bracket is Bang—ing! 3 out of 4 last night. Leading the office pool. Picked Louisville last night. All about NC State tonight.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

rzabig Posted by Hello

Sorry I left you

Been meaning to update the old report, but between the hustling and little Miles time is slim. Had a couple of ramblings for you
Looks like Swizz beats is back. He has two legitimate hits in the machine. T.I.’s ‘Bring ‘Em Out’ and the ‘new’ Cassidy joint, ‘I’m a Hustla.’ Not sure if you can consider the Cassidy joint new, but it has done an excellent job in reviving his career.

I think we were ready to write Cassidy off as a one hit wonder. I didn’t like the R Kelly joint at first, but it did grow on me. The wife definitely liked. The ‘Hustla’ song on the other hand I was feeling from the jump. Now I am gonna be honest it wasn’t the lyrics that got me open initially, it was the beat.

As far as T.I. goes, I think Swizz really opened that project up to new audiences. All I knew was ‘Rubberband Man’ and I liked it. ‘Bring ‘Em out’ however plowed through the hole Rubberband opened up.

What is interesting that Swizz seems to be using Jay-Z as his springboard back in the game. Both of these hits use the Jigga man and we have to ask is that what we are drawn to. Sort of like when Erick Sermon decided to jump on Marvin Gaye’s back. Or when Starks starting using Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band.
Anyone hear the RZA on WNYC. Got kind of caught in some contradictory statements, but it is great to hear the Abbot on NPR.
Check out our boy James Blagden’s website. James has been doing our covers for the past couple of years and is trying to get his illustration hustle on.

Friday, March 18, 2005

here are some of the pics of my boy Miles Boogie. The one in the center is how he is most of the time :-)  Posted by Hello

gotta be the syrup Posted by Hello

Vermont, boooooooy!

I just want everyone know I had Vermont in my bracket!

the new larry davis Posted by Hello

Hey Yo Wait A Minute!

So much to talk about. I need to get better about updating the blog, but there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I promised some images of Miles Boogie, but give me another day to finish hooking them up.

So Little Kim is guilty. That trial seemed like a joke from the beginning. She denied knowing the dude in the shooting and then they broke out the ‘Crush On You’ Video and cousin was in it. They say she might do five years. For some reason I don’t see her doing that time.

How long before Brian Nichols, the Atlanta shooter is immortalized in a Hip-Hop song. My leading candidate is Cam’ron. I think they were the 1st to make the Bin Laden reference.

Major League Baseball got ripped a new one today. And they deserved it. You just can’t get that big naturally. I am not one to get on one of these moral high horses, but that type of cheating just isn’t right. You can’t completely stop it, but MLB was way too flagrant. I must say I am glad the heat went to the golden boy, McGuire instead of focusing on the people of color involved like Sosa and Bonds. I couldn’t help but cringe at the racist undertones of the steroid outrage. Today was the 1st day I heard people talk about snatching McGuire’s props as well as Barry’s. I actually don’t agree with that revisionist history position. You can only take away the homers hit while they were proven to be juiced. Not all of them. And if you can’t prove that they were on the juice at a certain point. You gotta leave them alone. Regardless, they have tarnished their image forever no matter what happens.

I think I need to do a piece on how Aftermath has become the hottest imprint in Hip-Hop. After a slooooow start Dre’s Death Row get away is so powerful it makes you forget Death Row. Game, 50, Eminem, G-Unit. Who has more market share?
Remember when Aftermath was the anti gangsta rap label. Remember ‘Been There, Done That’? So much for that. Regardless, I think anyone thought his label would be so wildly successful. Especially after The Firm album (zinger!). And look at Death Row. Oh, how the tide can turn.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee blew my bracket. I haven’t made it past day one in years. Got UAB wrong too, but got Pacific right. My upset for tomorrow is Vermont and ODU. Watch.

So is this 50 album that bad? I gotta listen to it. I keep hearing he gave all the heat to Game. The Game tracks with Just Blaze are banging. And I like the duet with 50 on the radio these days. Other than that I can’t stop listening to Diamond’s first album. That was the truth.

Happy belated St. Patty’s to my Irish brothers.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

taaaaal bitch! Posted by Hello

March Madness

Sorry I have not posted in a couple of days. Not sure what happened to my time. Working too much I suppose. I woke up at 4 am Sunday morning to feed my son and wound up working until 8 am. Some (like my wife) say I am neurotic. perhaps.........

Did you guys see that C-USA championship game. That freshman who missed those free throws broke my heat. Anyone who has played sports probably got the same twinge you get when Jarret Jack turned his ankle in that ACC championship game.

Don't you just hate Duke. But JJ Redick can shoot that ball, boy

Poor Pete Gillen, the Jeff Van Gundy of UVa is out the door. My boys did disappoint, I guess when you lose, the coach has gotta go.

Who do you have winning the NCAA. I haven't seen Illinois so I have to rely more on the ESPN types. Everyone is picking UNC and I like that. That was my 1st choice coning out of boarding school so I still have love in my heart for Chapel Hill.

I love Dicky V

Louisville did get jerked in the seedings

Tomorrow is tax day for corporations. I hate the tax man. But I do like the Grateful Dead.

tomorrow is dedicated to my son Miles Boogie. Gonna throw up some pictures of him for all my friends and fam


Friday, March 11, 2005

this looks like the 'respiration' video Posted by Hello

It's like Butta Baby

  • STREET DATE ALERT - Common "Be (Basement Elevation)" - May 24. Executive produced byKanyeezy. Is there any truth to No ID rocking on this album?

It seems like each time Common comes out he is running with a different team. The 1st two albums it was all Chicago. No ID, Doug Inf, YNOT. I think the only outside production was The Beatnuts on the "Soul By The Pound" remix. On 'Resurrection' (still my favorite) when I think Common was the most comfortable. It was almost like he felt he had nothing to lose. He had a decent buzz when the 1st joint dropped, but it wasn't the smash some had hoped. The Beatnuts remix gave him a shot in the arm.

I would love to talk with someone at Relativity to see what was Common's status before Ressurection was greenlighted. I wouldn't be surprised if they were considering releasing him. It seemed like NO ID and the crew just went back to Chicago and worked like they had nothing to lose. And what they created was genius. It solidified Common as the 'common man's rapper.'

There were so many things on 'Ressurection' that I identified with. A grown man living with your moms, drinking too much, professional uncertainty. I know there are a bunch of 30+ year olds who feel me on this one. 'used to love her' was the record of course. It was the record that turned me around. I thought Common was a Das Efx clone on 'Can I Borrow'. When I heard 'used to love her' I admitted this cat was 'next level.' But the real song was 'Communism' which I heard on the iilscout Spring Fling mixtape (oooh - all my UVa cats - holla!). That and 'Orange Pineapple Juice' were the joints. Then there was the Extra P 'Ressurection' remix - whew!

Then De La got a hold of him, put him on 'The Bizness' and Common was on his way. Now he was rocking with Tip, Badu and the now ubiquitous Questlove. I always wondered what happened to NO ID and the Chicago crew. On "One Day It Will All Make Sense" Common solidified himself along with Kweli and Mos as 2nd generation Native Tongues. But with Quest involved it had a Roots/Philly sound which was definitely Native Tounge but more its own sound.

Questlove then took over for the next two records. "Like Water For Chocolate" and the appropriately titled 'Electric Circus.' Now it was about the Soulquarians with Jay Dee (Dilla) and James Poyser. 'Chocolate' saw Dilla really flex his muscle. He was the designated heir to ATCQ but had a more materialistic edge that seem not to jive. With Common, Dilla found that a kindred Mid-West spirit. 'Time Travellin' and 'Thelonius' set it the f!*&$k off. Although I maitain that 'Chocolate' was Common and Quest's version of Slum Village's 'Fantastic Vol.2" it was still a sonic joy.

'Circus' was an experiment that was not nearly as crazy as most thought. I think this was Common in his most confused state. 'The Light' gave Common a real hit and I think the pressure to follow up got him off track. 'I am Music' and 'Soul Power' was excellent Com, but "Star 69" and 'Jimi' seemed to fit Common like your little brother's Lottos. He still was in tune with me with songs like 'Between Me, You and Liberation.' I had recently lost my mom (the good Beat Rice) and am not ashamed to say I cried walking up Cadman Plaza after Common's verse about his aunt. So I will always defend that album for that stanza alone.

I say all that to say I think 'BE' is Common coming full circle. He is back in Chicago and feeling more comfortable. Having Kanye executive produce the album is interesting if not ironic. Kanye is Common's product literally and figuratively. When you really listen to Kanye, he is a more materialistic, misogynistic, arrogant, less progressive, more conservative, less lyrical Common with the Roc behind him. That is to take nothing away from Kanye. They both have that dichotomy. Black middle class kids who know the hood. Love their momma, but not afraid to pimp and run some hoes. I think that ying and yang is what makes them so successful. There is a good angel and bad angel on all our shoulders. Those two communicate that struggle better than anyone. They even taught that to the God MC, him Jay-Hovah how to communicate that essence better.

(Kanye definitely gave Jay some fashion lessons. Jay seems like the kid from the streets who befriended the bougie Kanye. doesn't that Reebok commercial seem like Kanye wrote it?)

Anyway, I think BE is going to be a monster. Almost as important as Speakerboxx/Love Below in terms of opening up new doors in Hip-Hop. Although I hoped 'Corners' would be better I look forward to BE as much as any record in the past 5 years.

To listen to the album's mentioned click here

Kim, please make the swift chancellor gets a copy.

Here 'sto hoping UVa whoops up on Duke tonight.

"no more public housing" Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

When Biggie Died they came out with Biggie Fries

I have the links and comments all sorted out - sorry

  • How accurate are these websites with MC's lyrics? like the ones for Frank White here
  • The Chris Rock album is dope. You got check it out "smack her with a d&^@k" is all I have to say

I am gonna start a series of posts that I am going to expand into some articles called 'Great Americans in Hip-Hop.' Many would not want to admit but Puffy, Kanye, Russell, Jay-Z are more American than Trent Lott.

My other series is gonna be called 'How Capitalism saved your Socialist, liberal pseudo-intellectual ass, Wes Jackson'

Then I am gonna do a piece called 'Crack-the best thing that ever happened to Hip-Hop'

Next is gonna be 'Shut Up with all your blood clot belly-aching. The problem with Hip-Hop is us. A Message to the unprofessional rapper, big mouth blogger/writer/critic and phony executive'

Then after that is 'Kanye West and Chuck D are smarter than you'

Finally, 'Why I mourned the death of Russell Jones more than Christopher Wallace"

Basically, these are the pieces I want to do and said I was gonna start tonight, but King Miles Boogie had other plans. So like the trailers at the beginning of a Lex Steele movie I figured I would tell you what is in production. That way I can still front like I'm smart while I sort out my time management issues.

And now for a bit of randomness

Peace, You know my steez!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

this is my son, my dog, a fish and Tony Starks. They are all happy The Game and 50 made peace, but sad that Biggie is gone. I will have something more clever to write tomorrow. Posted by Hello

In the Spirit of Ghandi, Thank goodness

Looks like cooler heads are gonna prevail in this silly 50 Cent/Game beef.
Without being hokey I am very happy. On the annversary of BIG's death it's good to see Folks learning from past mistakes

And Happy Birthday to my godson little Carl

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

k os pic Posted by Hello

K-OS Tour Dates

For those not up on K-OS. Catch him on the road. He is on tour with Handsome Boy Modelling School. Check his site

K-OS tour dates with Handsome Boy Modeling School

Sat-Apr-09 Chicago, IL House Of Blues
Sun-Apr-10 Bloomington,IN Bluebird Theater
Mon-Apr-11 Ann Arbor, MI Blind Pig
Tue-Apr-12 Cleveland, OH House of Blues
Fri-Apr-15 Burlington, VT Higher Ground
Sat-Apr-16 Philadelphia, PA TLA
Sun-Apr-17 Washington, DC 930 CLUB
Mon-Apr-18 New Haven, CT Toads Place
Tue-Apr-19 Boston The Paradise 600
Wed-Apr-20 New York, NY Irving Plaza
Sat-Apr-30 Indio, CA Coachella Festival

rocking at The Good Foot Posted by Hello

Thanks for everyone for coming out to The Good Foot last Thursday.
It was good to see so many cats who don’t usually make it out to our events.
Special shout out to Lavar, Taisha, Q and KT.

For all those who didn’t make it mark your calendars – the next one will be on April 7th
Like Emeril we are gonna take it up a notch with some live performances and premium giveaways

On another note, I am taking my long-winded rants to the digital world. Check out my blog, The Swift Chancellor Report. There will be some reviews, op-ed pieces, announcements and all that good stuff.

Also check out our own Ian Steaman’s blog, Notes From A Different Kitchen. He put me on to the blogosphere and his blog is off the hook.

And by this time next week, thanks to Kim and Ian, the official Room Service blog, The Combo Platter (just like the mix CD’s) will be up and running and the entire office will be beating you in the head.

For those who are part of MySpace.com be on the lookout for an invitation to join our group.

Finally, for those who remember the original DJ Bolex – he along with the rest of the crew will be returning to the radio hustle next month with
The Combo Platter Podcast.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jill Scott Posted by Hello

C to the double M-O-N Posted by Hello

Video games

A couple of things for you guys today. There was a lot of talk today about 50 as usual.
More people than makes me comfortable are talking about how they can see 50's various beefs getting super ugly. a la Biggie and Tupac. I hope that someone steps in and averts another tragedy.

Y'all see the demo for 50's new GTA type game? Graphics look ill, but with all the real life beef going on I hope life doesn't imitate art.
On a more global note, a story came out today about that Italian journalist who was rescued from Iraq. While she was being rescued American troops shot at her car claiming that she was about to run through their checkpoint. The troops killed an Italian security guard and wounded the journalist. Well, at the funeral the journalist wilded out and accused the Americans of intentionally busting shots at her! Check out the story on NPR. (NPR is the only truly objective news source in this post Fox news sensationalism of the news industry.) Call me cynical (just don't call me Shirley), but I would not put it past them. You just never know what's going on over there.
Also on NPR I saw a piece on the RZA-rector. Check it out and let me know how it is. I am gonna peep it tonight.

In music news, just heard that Common is jumping on a few dates with Jill Scott. Here are the dates so far:

3/4/2005 8:00PM Show
New York, NY / Radio City Music Hall 1260 Avenue Of The Americas w/ Jill Scott
3/5/2005 8:00PM Show
New York, NY / Radio City Music Hall 1260 Avenue Of The Americas w/ Jill Scott
3/11/2005 10:30PM Show
Washington, DC / Dream
3/18/2005 10:30PM Show
Detroit, MI / Fox Theater w/ Jill Scott
3/19/2005 8:00PM Show
Chicago, IL / Chicago Theater w/ Jill Scott
4/9/2005 7:00PM Show
Pomona, CA / Pomona College « just added 3801 W Temple Ave

Sunday, March 06, 2005

This is embarrassing

This Game and 50 thing is downright embarrassing.

I have a bad feeling this is not going the end very well. People keep hinting that this is a publicity stunt, but I do not think these guys are that savvy. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. These guys seem like two knuckle heads acting out some pseudo macho bullshit.

However, if I am wrong Interscope, James Lopez and Violator are geniuses because even I want to hear "Massacre" and as anyone will tell you I am noooo 50 fan.

Anyone see that special on MTV about his release party? I am easily sucked into most any reality show. And yesterday they got me. He does seem like a cool dude and that show did a lot to make him more like a regular dude. When the neighbor's' children flipped out when they got invited was priceless. Mister Cee's comments were pretty unelightened and inappropriate.

It is funny how people in the industry can be recycled. Anyone who was in New York in the 90's will recall Jessica "Stressica" Rosenbloom. She was 50's party planner for this year's big shindig. But the original Stressica ran Stress Entertainment and with Funkmaster Flex through the biggest Hip-Hop party of the last 10 years at The Tunnel. That Sunday night party was your best chance at getting at Funkmaster Flex who had quickly become the most powerful DJ in the country. When I first came home from UVa every promoter had to make an appearance at The Tunnel to try and curry favor with Flex.

Stressica rode the wave with Flex and was running the NY party scene. I am getting old so I am not sure who is running things these days. I would like to see a reality show with her.

Also cool to note how much Violator has blown up. I remember when Chris Lighty and his brothers - The Violators were road managing and over all 'crew' for the Jungle Brothers and the Native tongue Collective. His cousin, Brian, used to live in the building next to us and I remember when Chris lived there for a month or so. I was way too young to hang out and never really saw him, but supposedly one night he threw a girl out the apartment buck naked. For a prepubescent 12 year old that was about as gangsta as you could get.

And we all remember Chris Lighty looking oh-so Afrocentric in the Jungle Brothers "Done By The Force Of Nature" inside panel. The Violators were that apparent contradiction in The native Tongues that exists in the modern neo Native tongue movement. Their crew preached peace but the Lighty bros would fuck you up. Q-Tip and De La were perceived as the most progressive Hip Hop artists, but they still made songs about groupies and orgies. The public perceived as new versions of Lumumba or MLK but an examination of certain pieces of their material paint a different picture.

Anyway before I get carried away. I hope Chris Lighty and Violator doesn't get physically caught up in this beef.

kool herc never received a royalty check Posted by Hello

back in the day i knew hip-hop would never die Posted by Hello

This is a pic from long time 7H contributor, Frank Franklin II who has shot many of our album covers and press shots. You may recognize his work from the 1st 2 J-Live albums as well as works from Djinji Brown, El Da Sensei and The Unspoken Heard. He is now an AP photographer and was camped out yesterday hawking Martha, Martha, Martha Stewart. check him out

I put this pic of the godfather Kool Herc. That line is taken from Black Thought on "Web" from the latest from The Roots "The Tipping Point"

One thing I would love to start is a Hip-Hop Hal Of Fame and Institute where we could celebrate and archive the works of these founders. I remember hearing about a Hip Hop Hall of Fame up in New Rochelle, NY but I haven't heard anything about in years.

The other pic is from the Wall Of Fame up in Harlem taken by Frank as well during a shoot for Djinji Brown's "Sirround Sound"

Just finished this book by Alex Ogg "The Men Behind Def Jam"

It is a great book that looks at Def Jam and the History of the culture.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

and here we go

First of all, thanks to my man Ian at http://www.differentkitchen.blogspot.com/ for putting up on the blogosphere, properly.

Welcome to the Swift Chancellor report. My name is Wes Jackson and I along with my partner in verse will be providing the verbals for this here blog. We are going to be hitting you with op-ed pieces, reviews, commentary, and various ramblings.

I am the founder and president of Seven Heads Entertainment, Ltd., and Room Service Productions, Inc. Seven Heads was founded in 1995 and has become one of the most respected brands in Hip-Hop. We were instrumental in starting the careers of J-Live, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, The Unspoken Heard and many others. Seven Heads consists of 7H Management, 7H Recordings (progressive hip-hop) and Uncle Junior Records (jazz, funk, soul, and experimental). Check us out at www.sevenheads.com

Room Service was initially a division of Seven Heads called 7H Promotions. In 2002, with the addition of Greg Trani and Doug “Nyce” Nettingham 7H Promotions was spun into Room Service Productions. While 7H Promotions specialized in college radio, Room Service has added new media and consulting to the package. I am proud to say that Room Service is one of the best new media marketing firms in the business. We count Geffen, Jive, Talib Kweli, De La Soul, Nintendo, Converse, Virgin, YoungBloodz Ecko, J Records, Slim Thug Warner Bros, and Common among our client list.
Check http://www.roomserviceinc.net/ for more info.

Mark C. and I also do some writing for http://www.allhiphop.com/. Album reviews and editorials. I am gonna set the blog off with an editorial that ran last week about Jay Z, Damon Dash and the selling of Roc-A-Fella. Check it out and let me know what you think.



I always thought it was interesting that with all of the discussion about Jay-Z taking over the helm at Def Jam, that there was so little talk about how odd it was that J was picked for that post and not Damon Dash. Wasn’t Dame the ‘sword’ of the ROC, the business yin to Jay’s creative yang? Nas’s proclamation on “Ether” that Jay-Z was Biggie to Dame‘s Puffy was hurled as an insult but contained much more than a kernel of truth. Even though he would hate to admit it, Damon Dash is a Hip-Hop executive molded more after Sean Combs than Russell Simmons.

Flamboyant, abrasive, unabashedly capitalistic and more than a touch of repressed artist, made oh so clear by his face time in Roc-A-Fella videos. To Dame’s credit, outside of a few skits his vocal contributions to Roc-A-Fella Records were few and far in between. This may be more attested to the fact that Dame never wore the hat of producer as Puffy did/does.So how is it that when Roc-A-Fella sells its remaining equity to the Def Jam behemoth Dame is not granted the executive post? Was he not interested? Did he resent the sale altogether? Did Jay and/or Biggs force his hand? Was he burnt out? Possibly. I believe that the position was simply not offered to him. By buying the Roc-A-Fella brand and its catalog and keeping the golden goose from jumping ship to Warner Bros with Lyor Cohen, Def Jam got to have its cake and eat it too. What made it sweeter was the ability to separate Biggie from Puffy or Jay from Dame. You get the talent, the inspirational leader, the best MC in the game (retired or not) and you leave the shark behind. Now it is important that I preface this hypothesis with a generous dose of humility. I was not privy to any inside discussions. This is simply my opinion that is wide open to criticism.

There is no doubt that Damon Dash is an effective leader, inspiring entrepreneur and a man whose name will be recorded in the Hip-Hop Archives. He is much more than a one trick pony. Although other Roc artists have not generated sales anywhere near Jay, Freeway, Beanie Siegel, Cam’ron and Kanye have produced excellent and very profitable albums. This is to take nothing away from him as a business or an individual. I write this to make the point that nice guys usually finish first. The tough as nails, in your face leader is disproportionately lauded in Hip-Hop while the quiet leader is too often overlooked.

There have long been rumblings that the powers that be at Def Jam have wanted to separate Jay from Dame. This has as much to do with Def Jam’s corporate greediness as with the victims Dame has left in his wake. His direct management style is highly effective in the short term, but I question its long term survival rate. I like to call people with that management style, “sharks.” They never rest and are always out for the kill. If they do not have fresh blood in their system they feel they are not doing their job. While Dame’s flamboyant nature is modeled after Puff, his shark nature is modeled after former Def Jam ruler and current Warner big dog Lyor Cohen.

It is no secret that Lyor ruled Def Jam with an iron fist. And he got results. I once witnessed one of his mythical tirades in the old Def Jam offices on Varick Street. At the time one of the members of Def Jam’s in house design team, The Drawing Board, was doing some freelance work for our group at the time, The Unspoken Heard. It was about a week away from Christmas, and we were finishing the artwork for their second single. I came by at the end of the day to tweak an image or two. It just so happens that this was also the day of the year end Def Jam staff meeting. After about an hour of Photoshop work an unidentified employee whizzed by the office with an announcement, “Lyor wants everybody in the conference room.” There was brief acknowledgement but no call to action. We continued to make sure my name was spelled on the credits. Ten minutes later, employee #2 pokes a head and in an exasperated breath calls, “Yo, Lyor wants everybody in there now!” and disappears. This was greeted with a decision to wrap up my impromptu design meeting to reconvene after the meeting. About 90 seconds, the six foot Israeli general of Def Jam stepped into the office and boomed, “I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU MOTHERF***ERS TO GET IN THE GOD***N CONFERENCE ROOM!”

Never again in my life have I ever seen grown men move so fast. In ten seconds, the entire Drawing Board office was abandoned. I may have gotten a ‘Peace Wes’ before I was left to my own devices. Honestly, I was so shook that I can’t remember. I was more concerned about being tossed out by security for improperly visiting the kingdom of Lyor. By the time I realized what happen, I was all alone in the office with over six figures of equipment and mock-up of the original Belly artwork as well as the [then] top secret new DMX artwork. If I wasn’t such a righteous individual my wife would have had a much better Christmas that year. Instead I gathered my Rawkus record bag and my Unspoken Heard proofs, and walked to the A Train. There was no security, no receptionist, not a single warm body to let me out. They were giving their rapt attention to their CEO. A lot of people talk about power and respect, but that day I saw more than that from Lyor. I saw fear.

That style, because of its ability to turn immediate and tangible results, was adopted in various ways by many a Def Jam disciple such as Chris Lighty, Dante Ross and Mr. Dash. I believe it was also so wantonly adopted because it is so cinematic. It is how Tony Montana or a Deniro character would run a label, if such a thing were possible. It also mirrors the style of the street pharmaceutical entrepreneur, or penitentiary veteran that is so lauded in Hip Hop culture. Very American. Might makes right.The only problem is that style fails more than it succeeds. It earns much respect, but even more enemies. Every person that is strong armed or disrespected on the way up is just waiting for you to fall off your horse. And by parting ways with Jay it would appear that Dame has fallen off his horse. The other problem with the strong arm mentality is that there are not many Lyor Cohens who can consistently battle and defeat the various enemies and detractors. We will now see if Dame will prosper like Chris Lighty or fall into oblivion like Dave Gosset (Who the hell is that you ask?-exactly. He was Black Sheep and Vanilla Ice’s A&R. He faded away after a poor decision to deride artist demos on a lackluster posse cut on Black Sheep’s second album.)

This is also not a Jay-Z puff piece as I have serious concerns about how well Jay can handle this new responsibility. There is no doubt that he was the heart and soul of Roc-A-Fella and without a doubt the single most important artist in Hip-Hop. Now I am not saying he is the best MC or the richest or anything Vibe or VH1 feels compelled to rank. (For the record KRS-ONE gets my vote as the greatest rapper of all time) Jay Z is simply the most important artist in Hip Hop history for several reasons.

One, his timing. He currently holds the crown. Just as whether you like George W or not he is the most important president in history because he is calling the shots NOW. He has the ability to send us to war, devalue the dollar or not. We have to deal with him respect his power.

Two, unlike any other rapper Jay understands how “the game” truly works. He appreciates moreso than any other artist how commerce, marketing, and diversification must co-exist with more traditional Hip-Hop values such as content, flow and beats. LL was the 1st to openly and successfully court the ladies. Jay does it better. Run DMC were the 1st to get into bed with a footwear company, but there were never a Run DMC designed line of shelltops. Biggie synthesized a non New York (we are usually tempted to say West Coast, but in actuality the NY sound is the adapted anomaly) sensibility with a NY flow, but he was murdered before he could see it through. Jay has perfected it.

Third, financially prudent rappers have made outside investments, but being part of the group that bought the Nets is real American big business. Bob Johnson had to sell his baby, BET, to join that club; Jay just needed to wait for the return on The Blueprint album.

Even though Jay has accomplished all of these things this does not spell success for his tenure as president of Def Jam. Running Def Jam will be quite different than running Roc-A-Fella, if that is in fact what he did at Roc-A-Fella. The budgets are larger. The staff is larger. The roster is larger, and more importantly the artists whose fate he now controls were his peers a short while ago. The politics are more complicated. There are more seasoned and dubious sharks in the water now. And just as Russell needed Rick then Lyor, although in much different capacities, maybe Jay needs Dame. Can Jay be the good cop when there is no bad cop that can even touch his personality and charisma? Can his hands off management style work in this new system. It will be interesting to see. I believe that Jay is a figurehead.

Now I do not mean that in a derogatory way at all. All great leaders are by definition figure heads. Queen Elizabeth doesn’t collect any taxes or bust any shots, but she and the myth of her title is a big part of why Brits pay their taxes and join the military. Def Jam itself is the product of the greatest figure head and inspirational leader Hip Hop has ever seen. The godfather, the archetype for the modern Hip Hop economy is Russell Simmons. As Alex Ogg writes in “The Men behind Def Jam” Russell admits that Def Jam did its best when he delegated authority to the right individuals and allowed them to enact his vision. I believe that Jay’s tenure, for however long it lasts, will be modeled after the Godfather. Jay will not be asked to do much besides be himself. Be the larger than life, jet setting, trendsetting, fly girl on your arm leader that you are now and that Russell is/was. Inspire your roster and your subordinates to the greatness you have achieved on an artistic and financial level. Finance, Human Resources, Tax Compliance, Operations and all that other boring stuff about running a business will be delegated to the appropriate MBA’s, veterans and drones as necessary.

Until that formula is proven successful the question will remain; how important was Dame to the Roc’s success? I believe it is more than the public believes. Partly because the public loves dichotomy. Dame is mean. He screams on Kevin Liles while he gets his haircut. Jay just smiles and gets into the Phantom with Beyonce. The two of them have done much to fortify this image from the “Dead Presidents” video to “Backstage” to their roles in the underrated film State Property. I give Jay a 65-70% chance of success. I believe he will grow tired of the pure executive and will undoubtedly return to the mic or become distracted with other ventures long before this theory can be definitively proven. Dame will achieve moderate success with his new label, and other ventures. His highest chance of success I believe are in his film ventures. At the end of the day they will both prefer the old days to the new ones. Whether they try to bring back the magic of The Roc has a lot to do with money, timing and most importantly egos. Only time and will tell.

Until then let the prognosticators prognosticate