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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

what kind of car is that?
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Straighten It Out

Pete Rock and CL Smooth
"Mecca and The Soul Brother"

A while ago while in the Dominican Republic a cat asked me if I liked Hip-Hop. After I replied I am more into polka and death metal he started reeling off his favorite groups. You know the usual. I think at that time, Young Jeezy and all those Atlanta cats were just beginning to kill it. So his list was like a “Best Of The South.” I gave him some more progressive suggestions and then hit the bar for my noon cocktail.

Later that day I got to thinking, “If I were to give someone who knew nothing about Hip-Hop as a starting place what groups would I recommend.”
Not Tribe – to truly appreciate them you need to understand what the scene was like before them.
Jay? – His work is too easily misunderstood. Biggie – he only had two albums, he is overrated.
De La? – too complicated to start with.

Then it hit me. Gangstarr, EPMD, or Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Those cats were real hip-hop. No fluff. Beats and rhymes from real dudes. Blue collar Hip-Hop (shout out to Rhymefest). That is where you begin your education. They can show you where Hip-Hop had been and their albums laid out its future. Which brings us to today’s selection.

In no uncertain terms, Pete and CL’s first record, “Mecca and The Soul Brother” is one of the best Hip-Hop records of all time for several reasons.

1- Pete and CL were one of the first children of Hip-Hop to move from fans to producers. When they were signed to Elektra Pete was know as the ‘Boy Wonder.’ He was given that name by Marley Marl while Pete served as Marley’s DJ at WBLS in New York. At the time Pete was the young kid who, through his sheer talent, was able to hook up with the #1 Hip-Hop show in the nation. He was the young kid who was living the dream.

And because of that that first record was crafted with the care and love of two guys who could barely believe they were actually getting the props they always felt they deserved. Sonically, that record is a masterpiece. Each track, each vocal, each mix was crafted with care. I know this first hand as my friend Djinji Brown assistant engineered on most of the record. And the little know group, Blue Black (of the Unspoken Heard) and Brown used the leftover studio time to record several demos. A young Lord Fauntleroy got his first state of a recording studio those nights at Greene Street.

2- On that album Pete took what Ced Gee and Paul C. started with the SP-1200 and took it to another level. Pete treated the SP like the instrument it is. Not a piece of equipment, but an instrument not unlike a piano or guitar. And this is important for Hip-Hop because it represents a moment when we began to take ownership of the technology that created Hip-Hop. Just as Rakim raised the bar on lyrics so did Pete on sampling and producing. On this album Pete plants the flag and states “this SP-1200 is mine and I am going to make it do things its designers never intended.” That is the essence of Hip-Hop.

From the rich layering on ‘Can’t on Front On Me’ to the hard hitting arrangement on “Return of The Mecca” Pete opened musical doors.

3- The combination of Pete and CL alongside the pairing of Guru and Primo around the same time ushered a simple yet powerful era. CL was always disparaged for being carried by Pete but his vocals were the perfect compliment to those beats. And although scores of people have rocked over Pete Rock tracks and some better than CL, I think those records would not be as good without the “Caramel King of the Castle.” His voice was a part of the composition. Not someone talking over a disco beat. CL was a vocalist. CL was the Johnny Hartman to Pete’s John Coltrane. I personally thought he was as good of a lyricist as there was at the time. Even got into fights over it. (long story). But even for those who disagreed CL’s smooth flow cannot be denied. He combined with the non linear rhyme style of Kool Keith with the fluidity of a Slick Rick.

4- “They Reminisce Over You” – a timeless classic. ‘Nuff Said.

Mecca and The Soul Brother was one of the anchors of what is now referred to as the Golden Era of Hip-Hop. A&R’s like Dante Ross at Elektra and Jeff Sledge at Jive were signing quality groups to major labels and getting them significant budgets. Other groups signed to a major around this time w Leaders Of The New School, KMD, Tribe, De La, Brand Nubian. It was a good time for Hip-Hop. Only in the early days of Def Jam and the Rawkus era have we seen such major financial backing for artists of this nature. This was one time when underground heads couldn’t gripe about the game. The game was actually working for us.

I say all this to say maybe my rosy view of this album is colored by my rosy view of Hip-Hop in the early 90’s. The album is great but what is truly historic is the era it represents. And this was part of the soundtrack.

I was going to go track by track, but if you have this album there is no need. You have your favorites. If you don’t have this. Cop it. Sit it with for a while, then holla back at me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

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I nominated my intern for President

Old School review as seen on the Brooklyn Bodega,
reprinted courtesy of his Lordship

Eric B and Rakim
“Paid In Full”
By Lord Fauntleroy

We had an editorial meeting last week about these classic reviews. Which albums are we picking? Why? We decided we wanted to focus on albums that you should have in your collection, but avoid a condescending music snob tone.
I remember when I took a history of jazz class in boarding school one of the few Black girls on campus accused me of being into that ‘white music.’ Sounds even sillier 10 years later. I don’t want that to happen to Hip-Hop. We have to make sure the right story is told.

In that same Jazz class Mr. Ainspac taught us that the first album in your jazz collection should be Miles Davis “Kind Of Blue.” The lesson went that Miles was a genius who represented the past, present, and future of jazz. And “Kind Of Blue” was a one of a kind album that illustrated the pure genius of the raspy voiced man from Kansas City.

In Hip-Hop Rakim is Miles Davis and “Paid In Full” is “Kind of Blue.”

Rakim is on everyone’s top 5 but rarely gets the #1 spot over Tupac or Biggie. Who is better is an arbitrary point better left for the crew to debate while playing Playstation over some intoxicating chemicals. What is not debatable is that Rakim changed the game and this album is what did it. Hip-Hop was different before The R. As the great Luvbug Starski stated in many cases Hip-Hop was still disco and R&B’s awkward child. You thought Puffy and Mases’s shiny suits were bad, go ahead and Google Afrika Bambattaa and the Soulsonic Force. Native American head dresses, Viking helmets and platform shoes.

That all began to change in the summer of ’86 when among other things Eric B and Rakim dropped “Eric B is President.” “I came in the door/ I said it before…” is perhaps the most recognizable opening line in Hip-Hop. The B-side to that first twelve inch was “My Melody” and was equally monumental. There was nowhere you could go in New York that summer without hearing one of the Marley Marl produced songs. (Sort of like today and “Chicken Noodle Soup”).

It took the duo a year to work out a deal with Harlem based Zakia Records and the slightly larger 4th and Broadway Records for distribution. The year lay off had people fiending for the god. Hence the line “It’s been a long time, sorry I left you” from You Know I Got Soul. And with that line Rakim brought the revolution. From “I Ain’t No Joke” where Ra declared “write a rhyme in graffiti and/every show you see me in/ deep concentration because I am no comedian,” the role of the MC changed. Similar to Miles Davis, Rakim was not here to entertain. Not here to smile or dance. Rakim was simply here to let you experience the full weight of his talent. The importance of this change cannot be underestimated. Rakim was about his craft and not about showmanship. His dedication to the art and culture of Hip-Hop inspired millions. As opposed to the sophomoric Fresh Prince Rakim was a pure writer, the MC’s MC.

Rakim was also the first MC to wear his affiliation with the Nation of the Gods and Earths aka the 5 Percent Nation on his sleeve. “Paid In Full” is filled with Supreme Mathematics lessons and the community development aspect of the Nation seemingly drove every lyric. Now the 5 Percent lexicon is so ubiquitous you don’t even realize it.

Before I go too far Paid In Full’s beats cannot be overlooked. The entire album was composed and produced by the legendary Marley Marl who in 1987 was at the top of his game. In the same time frame he was working on Kool G Rap and DJ Polo’s Road To The Riches and was in the middle of the BDP conflict. The two were introduced by Kool G Rap who urged to work with the young kid from Long Island with the hot demo. Marley’s use of James Brown samples also opened the flood gates to producers from Nostrand Ave to Crenshaw Blvd. Additionally this was one of the album’s that introduced the concept of sampling and looping to a large audience. In an interview on Prince Paul’s “Ill Out Show” Juice Crew member Masta Ace remarked that working with Marley during this time was an artistic stretch. People just were not sampling records yet. James Brown and his publishing company should be very thankful.

From “Move The Crowd” to the weak link “Chinese Arithmetic” this must be the cornerstone of any collection. I mean even the artwork is fresh. Dapper Dan Gucci jackets. Fat gold ropes (where do you think Pharell got the idea), tri-level parts in the hair all the way down to the fat money stacks in Eric and Ra’s hands. So fresh.

All hail the god.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ill Out Crew shows Evann the joke is on him

from the Ill Out taping #7

Not sure what happened to the audio. This is right after Nyce took the pic of Evan with Dead in wolf makeup unkowingly behind him

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Ill Out Show taping #7

Mr. Dead came straight from a movie set complete with his big bad wolf makeup.
I am gonna have a recap of the show tomorrow.

Evan the intern had no idea Dead was behind him. He took like 5 pictures like this while me, Newkirk and Nyce cracked the F up

Newkirk and Dead

when Busa Bus and Big Ron walked in we got them too.
Peep Dead in the background.
You should have seen 6'8" Ron run when he saw Dead

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

you know this image?
I met the guy who designed it today.
Milton Glaser
Life is cool
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Monday, September 18, 2006

yeah Chadley Pennington
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Ramblings for busy Monday

- my Jets look good don’t they? Even in the loss

- NYG’s pulled it out. I thought I picked them in the Pig Skin challenge, but upon further review I sold out and picked McNabb. Boo! Creepy foot doctor!

- New Family Guy is wack for the 2nd week in a row

- American Dad should just go away

- Got money on my man Charlie Bizatch tonight. Still don’t get Jacksonville

- And why do they even have a franchise?

- Secret Lupe party in Chi-town tonight. I really hope he has a surprisingly good first week. But it doesn’t look that way if you listen to Ian

- Turned on the ND game and immediately emailed Joey.

- Brooklyn Crescents, sun!

Friday, September 15, 2006

oh, pimpalicious, Ali, pimpalicious!
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"Wearing the 4-5"

So Jay Z has officially ended the retirement we all knew wouldn’t last. I just hope the brother doesn’t end up like Muhammad Ali or to a certain extent like Michael Jordan, an icon he often references. Both of those athletes simply stayed on too long and did serious damage to their legacy. Ali has bounced back and may arguably be as well known now as in his heyday.
Jordan ran the Wizards into the ground as he attempted to reclaim his mojo. Who knows how long it will take for them to bounce back.
Kwame Brown will most likely never be the same.

Jay coming back is not so much like Jordan’s first retirement, but more like his second. If he was able (and we all knew he was not – “when I come back like Jordan wearing the 4-5”) Jay could have left on top of his game with an outstanding album that was praised by both backpackers, hipsters, the literati, and thugs. By continuing the growth of the strongest brand in Hip-Hop, Def Jam, he could have become the first top rate rapper to become a top rate business man. LA Reid is for more successful as an executive than he was as a producer with Babyface and they made some joints. Andre Harrell was marginal at best. Puffy is Puffy. Master P was never acknowledged by the literati for his skills. Admired by the industry, yes. Jermaine Dupri has made hits, wrote hits, and produced hits but again he is not respected for his artistic contributions as much as he is for his money.

Jay could have taken credit for Ne-Yo, Kanye, Rhianna, and Rick Ross. Many would argue, but history would have been kind. Instead I fear he will bear the cross for disappointing sells from Method Man, and The Roots. Field complaints from LL. And they will all rightfully claim he was more focused on his own comeback than their project. Whether that is the case or not it will be difficult to ignore the probability and possibility.
No matter what you say it is hard to compete with the boss as a peer.

And even though I knew it was coming I feel a little stupid for buying into the whole ‘Fade To Black’ marketing campaign. Shouldn’t he issue some sort of apology or something.

I hope this album is not the thread that unravels the sweater.
And this album better be the Ali that came back to win the title, not the one who got clobbered by Trevor Berbick.

We shall see. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"I see my buzz. It will be here on Tuesday"
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Just fishing for content

Was watching ESPN this morning and they had this stupid segment about whether it was time to bench Drew Bledsoe and Jake Plummer after their week 1 losses. What kind of story is that? What a waste of air.

I feel sorry for the coaches who have to sit in these press conferences and actually field these questions.

One bad week and you bench Jake who took you to a 13-3 record last year. Stupidity.

Bench Bledsoe for Tony Roma? If you don’t want to wait and see what Drew does with T.O. you’re an idiot.

And these people are not idiots and I can appreciate that now. They are just fishing for content. When there is no story they have to make one up. And this is the type of stuff that catch’s people’s attention.

I remember when ESPN was claiming there was a locker room revolt when the Pats lost their first game of the season that launched their dynasty. There was no story that week and there is not one now.

So people be careful what you hear because journalists loved to get you riled up for no damn reason.


I also heard Lupe get played on Wendy Williams last night. Funny.
She called him gay for wearing those tight ass jeans, told him come back when he sold some records, pointed out only one person called in to speak to him. It was rough. And she has no problem airing people out. (Eb listens in the car religiously)

And what happened to his buzz? That joint seems to have fizzled out like a diet coke left on the front stoop over night. I hope that revamped record is the truth. Otherwise there will be a great lesson to be learned here. That is another post sweetheart…

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

can't stop now I...I'm on the run

Boogie taking off through OCean Park in Martha's Vineyard. I thought there was sound to it...my bad

Monday, September 11, 2006

from the block party

Miles' new friends

she was loving Boogie's little fake car, but was scared of Roxy

old man was just chillin

you can't see, but he had dog whiskers painted on him
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We in the house like Koreans in Korea

Wanted to write a bout a few things this morning.

- Football, no time to go into the depth that I want. Nice showing Eli. Terrible pass interference call. Jets win
- Block parties are dope, that is pretty much it
- 9/11 recollection, figured there is too much of that already

So what I settled was a quick mention of how happy I am that the new Kweli single doesn’t suck. It is actually pretty good. After ‘Beautiful Struggle’ I was very worried. ‘Listen’ is as dope of a record as he gas put out since ‘Get By.’

On the stroll down the hill ‘K.O.S.” came on the iPizzlino. I said it then and I say it now, that was my favorite song on the Black Star album. Maybe not the best as that is subjective, but my favorite. And from that great song I am adopting the new motto for the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival…

“With so many people focusing on Black poor people’s extermination, we keep it balanced with that knowledge of self, determination”


Friday, September 08, 2006

get out of town or drown
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Katrina Clap (wack song, dope post)

Saw the Spike Lee Katrina documentary on HBO last night. Powerful stuff, for sure.

Several things struck me.

First, Spike is a storyteller not a news man. The piece told a compelling story more than anything. And that story was very similar to 'Fahrenheit 9/11' in that it painted George Bush as the ultimate villain.

For the most part the 'blame' for Katrina was put on the shoulders of Bush, Cheney, Condy, Browny, Skeletor (Chertoff), the governor, and the mayor in varying degrees. There is no doubt these were 1) the people in charge and 2) they all f'd up in mega ways. But the responsibility for the Katrina tragedy is as deep as America itself.
The last 2 acts touched on this nicely via pieces with Wynton Marsalis, Terrance Blanchard, the woman in the airport (she was the illest - 'if I had some I would smoke it, fuck!') and my man Michael Eric Dyson.

In my view Katrina is a direct product of American policy and on a larger scale capitalism itself. The only way this society/economy works is if there are people on top or moving on up while standing on the shoulders of the poor. Katrina exposed that in a very cinematic way. No matter how many warnings you give or how competent the administrators are in place how are you gonna get someone to move 50 miles out of harm’s way when they don’t have enough money to get on a public bus? Moreover, how are you gonna convince that person to leave their neighborhood and head to Baton Rouge or Atlanta when they haven’t ever left their block.

I was lucky enough that my parents exposed me to different places and cultures as a kid. But there were plenty people on my block who never left the Bronx…ever. Maybe they hit Parkchester, City Island, Kip’s Bay, The Village or Southern Blvd, but Philly? DC? Miami? Please! And the number who left the country I could count on my hands. This is because a lot of them were dead fucking broke! They were struggling to pay the rent and keep food on the table. Vacations were not even on the agenda. And for those who had the dough they were scratching and surviving in the shitty NY Public School system where education was second to security.

Many of those cats in the N.O. couldn’t conceive of leaving their house even with flood waters coming down the street. That speaks volumes to one’s psyche. And for those who did want to get out, as one interviewee said they had no Explorer to throw their shit in.

So even if W came down and loaded everyone he could on Air Force 1 a month before the hurricane that would not have been enough to save people from centuries of mentally and spiritually being ground into the dust. But you know that is how we like it. That is how we need it in a Capitalist society. Although we are still far from a full Libertarian government there is still a sense that you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and if you can’t – too bad. You are either lazy or stupid. The government will not save you. Save yourself or drown.

So when I see all this outrage about the slow response to Katrina, I laugh. What the fuck did you expect? Keep it real, they want you gone. They never cared and never will. That’s why your schools suck. Why your food is not as fresh. Why there are so many fast food joints. That’s why they allow the drug supply to infiltrate your ‘hood and not the Quarter. Looking to Bush for help is, to paraphrase Ayi Kwei Armah (as Kweli did on the classic ‘2000 Seasons’), is to expect the destroyers to somehow develop a sense of remorse as they stand and look at their fantastic success.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"I serve the dark lord Sauron"
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Osama is the boogie man

The Iraq situation has gone from bad to worse to almost hopeless.

The Democrats now are claiming they never liked the war even though they laid down like Miles at nap time when Bush and Rummy were pushing it through 5 years ago. Wussies.

The Republicans are in ‘no retreat, no surrender’ mode and refuse to admit the slightest mistakes. Dummies

Immediate pull out makes no sense, but the Dems are gonna ride that sentiment all the way to the polls and may be stupid enough to actually pull out prematurely [snicker]

‘Staying The Course’ will result in more deaths seemingly for 100 Years.

This is why I am an Independent. They are all stupid and only interested in their own power.


Had an interesting convo with Eb on the way back from the Vineyard.

As I move more to the middle of the road on the war I must admit that claiming Bush’s policy has not on some level thwarted another 9/11 level attack is to ignore the facts. We may not like it, but we must admit that his illegal and unconstitutional practices may be working. [anyone hear Santorum on Meet The Press?]

Even though our forces are spread thin across the world you better believe the countries sympathetic to America’s enemies do not want Rummy invading their country. Which he clearly will do, even when it makes no sense.

Now many, including my wife, believe you cannot claim a causal relationship between the Bush policy and no new 9/11’s and to a certain point I agree. But the question then becomes so what has stopped another 9/11? I believe there is no better, more feasible answer than the Bush policies. So Bush may win even if by default. So if Dems win the mid term elections and undo everything Bush has done just because I believe we will be in more danger.

He got us into this mess whether we like it or not. Pulling the plug is simply not an option. I hope our leaders will look at the issue rationally and make the best decision even if it means giving the Bush crew a little bit of credit.

And for the record, I still believe Bin Laden is not real. The reality is no one knows who was behind 9/11. That is why they locked everyone up in secret prisons, and tapped phones. They are after Muslim extremists, militiamen, Serbs, the Timothy McVeighs, and everyone else who hated our guts. In America we cannot swallow a multi pronged threat. There must be a singular person or entity we can blame and demonize. Hitler, Sadaam, Quadafi, Darth Vader (seriously), Slobodan. And now Osama. He represents the new threat. But it is never one person pulling the strings. Global conflicts are complex and involve a staggering number of players.

If Hitler was as bad as they claim, why did we take so long to join the fight? He was on rampage since the early to mid 1930’s.
We did business with Nazi Germany for years, but you never hear about that. All you hear about is how this cat was the Anti Christ.
Why was Sadaam on our payroll once? And Bin Laden.

My man Doug Nyce once schooled me on how there was no way an agrarian Russia was the big specter of USSR. That was the post WWII rule by fear technique we are experiencing right now.

These monsters we claim to be fighting used to be on our side. Explain that shit.

I don’t think Osama does not exist. It’s a big ‘Wag The Dog’ farce.

Haven’t done a political commentary in a minute…

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

sleepin like a ...

take my shades off

view from Gay Head was amazing

ocean park to the right
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vacation is a good thing

Miles and Grandpa Hudson

Roxy knows something is up. while someone else picks her nose

juuuuust chillin'

chillin in my Gilligan hat
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this is my favorite translation and the one I am gonna use for my book

and this is just not nice
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Master Sun

So I have the concept of the book together. I saw a book about The Art Of War and the entrepeneur yesterday in Barnes and Noble.

The book went line by line and interpreted Master Sun's classic into lessons for the entrepeneur.
Nice concept, but tedious and somewhat redundnt. Sticking to each line of the translation makes for rigid reading.

My idea is going to go chapter by chapter and interpret the Art into practical terms for the Hip-Hoptrepeneur. It will include practical examples and commentary from industry vets, artists, and businessmen way smarter than me.

Now how do I go about doing this? No clue, well I have a bit of a clue, but as they say the journey will be half the fun.

Enjoy the pics of the boy and the dog

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Isley Brothers - It's Your Thing

And the brother is headed to jail. After a stroke and kidney cancer. Damn. gotta pay those taxes people and don't cash other people's royalty checks. It's not nice

Friday, September 01, 2006

USA Basketball lost to Greece

and I just saw 'Glory Road'
what a bummer

but seriously that sh&t pisses me off. What is going on?
who is on Greece? Achilles? Agamemnon?

At least Argentina lost.

I am still on vacation, but I am sure my man Joey will have a post.