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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Best neighborhood nicknames

Have to help cover the Bodega while we are understaffed so my posts this week will be short
Was listening to the new Common and Kanye joint "Southside" and had a brain fart.
I thoroughly believe in the mythology of Hip-Hop. A big part of any mythology are places.
We have no shortage of mythical locations. Here are the best names (IMHO) in no particular order. (I may have done this before - I am getting old)
  1. The Wild Hundreds (my fav)
  2. Boogie Down Bronx
  3. Money Earnin' Mount Vernon
  4. Money Savin' New Haven
  5. Cop Killa Queens
  6. The Yay Area
  7. The Bouley Fran Lou
  8. Chocolate City
  9. The Big Easy
  10. The D
  11. Do or Die Bed Stuy
  12. Iraq (Lefrak City, Queens - thanks NORE)
  13. QBC
  14. The LBC
  15. Southside (Jamaica, Queens and Chicago)
  16. The Yard

I am sure there are plenty of ill names from around the world I'm missing.

Please add on

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Friday, February 23, 2007

RIP Dennis Johnson

Daycare is closed today so I'm on the job
But can't leave without saying a blessing for Dennis "DJ" Johnson.

I hate the Celtics but got to give respect where respect is due.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thursday Randomness

Some randomness as I am short on time today:
Great words and phrases we have added to our lexicon thanks to the great poets Havoc and Prodigy the M-O-B-B
  • Dun
  • Claptized
  • Shook
  • QBC
  • I break bread, ribs, $100 bills...
  • You don't think I live the pop life now? cuz you can get popped right now!
  • pull gats like a basshead pulls on stems
  • What's the drilly with that though
  • "Hennesey" jerseys (not a phrase but I had to put it in there)
  • Fakin jax

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Vulture Capitalists

hey I have a new label I'm starting would love to sit down with you and talk about it...

We are working on bringing in some outside resources to help spur the growth of the Bodega. It is a learning process that is definitely helping me sharpen my sword. It is also opening up my eyes to different perspectives on this fine business we are all in.

A couple weeks ago I went to seminar on entrepreneurship sponsored by alma mater, UVa. One of the leaders was a guy who specialized in acquisitions and turnarounds. The other was a former venture capitalist (VC). The VC cat ran a session on fundraising which was really why I was there although I learned so much more.

The VC was trying to show us how the other side of the table looks at our situation. As the discussion rolled on I realized that the VC could have been Jimmy Iovine or Barry Weiss. And the audience could have been a room full of artists. Most record labels are fundamentally venture capitalists and artists are entrepreneurs with little or no funding.

Looking at the industry with these eyes will prevent a lot of heartache on the artists' part and may actually help the old guard extend their life for a few years.

The lesson from this session was make sure you know who you are approaching for money. There is a big difference between friends and family, angel investors and vc's. Depending on your needs and goals is who you pick.

Friends and family will give you the best terms. VC's don't give a f&#k, they want their return. And in exchange they may want seats on the board, final say and the all important exit strategy (flipping your company or breaking it up). They are not investing because they like you they are investing so they can make their return.

Just check out these points from my notes and tell me if this sounds familiar:
· VC’s will invest in a business just so another fund doesn’t snap it up
· Out of several thousand business plans they see a year they invest in less than one hundred
· This cat only invested in businesses where he could get a 10x return in five years or less
· He urged entrepreneurs to ask the fund managers what deals they had done in the past year because many VC firms have no track records. “They are living off of one lucky deal."
· Don’t take funding from a VC who has been around for 8 years. Most funds have a 10 year life span. The cat who does your deal could be out the door by the time your product comes to market.

Had my head spinning.

I don’t want to beat you guys in the head about this but the other professor also made some interesting points. He specialized in buying failing or underperforming businesses. He trimmed the fat, repositioned the company, fired some people and turned a profit. (Reminded me of Koch. BTW, 50’s graveyard comment is completely relative. I think Koch has a great business model. One person’s graveyard is another’s sanctuary.)

We were talking about how do you assign value to your company and distribute equity. How much equity does money buy? How much equity does sweat buy? Know-how? Connections? Etc. The professor stood up and said “100% of the money buys 100% of the equity. All negations begin there. I value the sweat but don’t talk to me about getting 51% without some money.”

I think this is another great lesson for artists. Walking into a negotiation with a label, manager, or distributor without a monetary investment weakens your position. You can’t get a lion share of the profit without taking the lion share of the risk. And anyone who gives you such a deal may not be the best person to be in business with. Having a minority stake in Def Jam Enterprises is better than a majority share of Death Row. Who the money comes from is just as important as how much.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Caught Up

Got a lot of ideas in my head and not enough time to blog:

-Tim Hardaway and good old ignorance and homophobia
- The Jerry Springer effect and the 50/Cam'ron beef.
-Dirty ass NYC
-The Festival

Why not pontificate about Timmy Hardaway, the 'T" in Run TMC.
Old school Golden State fans stand up.
I always found it interesting that Black people can be so homophobic.
Now many will argue but I believe that you are born gay just as you are born what we call Black, white, or Asian. It is who you are. And here is where I see the similarities:
-Both groups try to cover who they are to fit in with the mainstream.
-Both groups have been/are denied basic civil rights because of who they are.
The ban against gay marriage sound like the same debate about race mixing.
The government never has a problem taking your taxes or sending you to war but somehow water fountains and marriage are deal breakers.
-Both suffer from negative stereotypes - "Don't get your gayness on me" - Jermaine O'Neil.
I love the idea that somehow a proximity to a gay man can make a straight cat switch sides, as it were. The negative stereotypes for Black folk are far too long to list.
-Both benefit from stereotypes. Gay dudes have a good fashion sense.
Going to white schools the idea that I was extra nice at basketball got me picked early. Nice boost to the ego.
-Both get sh*tted on by white males and then wind up picking on each other.
One of my early mentors was a gay brother named Emjay. And it sounds cliche but when I hear homophobic statements I feel like they are dissing a man very much responsible for my success. ('Hey, some of my best friends are gay). Prior to meeting him I may have been closer to Tim than I would care to admit. I can't front. But he took me under his wing and taught me the ropes. Taught me that the business is all about relationships and reputation. As long as you do business honorably you will always be effective.
Without him I may not have lasted past the $50/week internship.
The bottom line is that we like to believe that these labels -gay, straight, Jewish, Muslim, black, white - give us some insight on the character of the individual. They simply don't.
I am a Black businessmen who has been screwed over by as many as Black people as white people. A snake is a snake in any color.
From my experience I have seen as many Christians interested in pimping Black folk as Jews. That stereotype jut doesn't hold water.
John Amechi is wack because he was an underachieving overpaid big man. If he had as many women as Wilt it wouldn't change that fact.
And if Jordan had 10 boyfriends I will still give him the ball at the end of the game so he could bust a jumper to win title #6.
Unfortunately Tim will be remembered for his bigotry and hatred and not for the UTEP 2 step. Sucks for him.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sports Report

-Games like last night against the Lakers are the reason I still love the Knicks. And the 'oop from Jamal to Curry is why you play ball.

Isiah has done better with virtually same squad Larry Brown had. We need to cut him some slack

-I am not ready to take Marty Schottenheimer's side in this Chargers issue. That GM is no idiot. He knows you don't fire a 14-2 coach without 1) a good reason and 2) a damn good back up plan. And you have to think that maybe the real key to the success were the assistants (see the New England Patriots, no Super Bowl appearances or wins since Romeo and Weiss left). Once they got plucked maybe Marty lost his weight in the organization. The Chargers may have fell off with or without Marty.

But if they don't go farther than the 1st round this year that GM is screwed.

-Please stop talking about Lance Armstrong in the same breath as Michael and Tiger. The dude rode in one race per year. How many rings would Shaq have if you could rest for 90% of the year.

-How happy are you that Duke is struggling?


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Media Notes

" tell me more about this Hip-Hop Survivor idea"

Some Random Thoughts after watching too much TV and reading too much E!Online

- is it me or does Mary J seem to be bouncing back from something every album? From 'My Life' to this joint. I thought 'No More Drama' was two records ago

-Anyone watch Rome? We love it at the crib.
Not sure why they change the actor playing Octavian..
Brutus is gonna get his. Punk.
Antony is still the man

-that show 'I'm from Rolling Stone' could be interesting.
Tell that Asian bird to take those silly fronts out. And stop belching.
Feel sorry for the girl who did the Jay interview

-'The White Rapper Show'
Now I love Prince Paul so it's hard for me to dis one of his projects but every time I see that show why do I get visions of Pierre Delacroix and Mantan Lupan?
I don't think VH1 gets the joke.

-I remember when I used to watch the Grammy's. And being that it is the highest award for my business you would think I would care. But in reality that world is not where we make our money. Sort of, but not really.

There is really a middle class music industry being created. Bigger than silly blogs like this but not MTV.com. ]
Bigger than a living room label, but not Interscope. Like Koch.

Which coincidentally gives a lot of weight to Cam's point. Koch is way more than a graveyard fro old artists. They are more than a viable player.

And if Jim Jones can sell the same numbers on Koch as Banks on Interscope, The Capo wins by a landslide. His margins are easily three times Banks.
But what about the upfront money...hmmm. Be interesting to see whose net profit is bigger. There is no way Koch can compete with Interscope on the front end.

I would even say over 80% of the Urban acts signed to majors would make more money at the end of the day on Koch. I mean, on those majors there is a high probability your record will not come out. And on an Interscope you have to compete for attention with THE biggest players in the game. Better be platinum.

On Koch you can do 100,000. Be a top priority. Get a decent royalty check and hit the road.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Cease and Sekkle

Let's take a step back and let's really appreciate how silly and disturbing the new beef between Curtis and Cameron.

This some real high school sh*t.
As captivated as we all are by this, I have to ask why?
Why do we even care?
And much to my chagrin I am ensnared by some soap opera type magnetic attraction.
That 50 video is downright disturbing. That's a lot of guns, brother. And a lot of overt threats should something happen to Cam.
I hope he has a license for all those joints because if I was an ATF agent I would be on I-95 on my way to Connecticut right now.
That scene from the Koch offices are not good for racial stereotypes. You have Alan Grumblatt looking like some sort of evil Jewish caricature out of Hit Men. He smiles as two Black entertainers from economically depressed parts of New York declare war on each other.
I hope this beef doesn't reach its logical end. Let's just get a good chortle and wait for Russell to negotiate a truce.

The 50 joint is kinda hot.
Best line: 'Cameron, you better learn how to talk to me' or something like that
The Cam joint is funny.
Best line: 'Cuuuuuurtissss'
Also thought 50's song was interesting in that he took special care not to diss Jimmy or Juelz. People hate members of Dip Set but rarely the whole crew.
I, myself, try to hold on to my appreciation for Juelz in the midst of these horrible records.
Same with Killa.

Oh yeah you can find links to all this stuff at the Bodega


Friday, February 09, 2007

Up on the balcony

I coach a youth lacrosse team here in Brooklyn and on Wednesdays I run a clinic at the Dodge Y on Atlantic Ave. I love working with the kids and having a kid myself (2 years tomorrow!) I am very sensitive to keeping the program positive.

The kids range in age from 6 to 14. So I am part time babysitter, part time coach, part time mentor. A strange thing happened this Wed that really got my wheels turning. One of my six year olds is very sensitive. He gets pissed when he can't get a drill, drops a ball, or when another kid gets praise over him. Great kid but I have to be extra delicate with him.

So this past Wed we were scrimmaging and my little guy gets hit in the mouth. No real harm at all. The kid's mom is watching from the balcony above and after he gets hit he looks up and sees his mom reading a book. Boom! The tears come and he crumbles into a ball. Looks up again and now Mom is watching. Then he becomes hysterical. I ignore the hysterics, give him a pat on the back and get him back in the game. I give Mom a look and she knows we are all good.

Later that day one I'm working with one of my best players. Ridiculous athlete. 10 years old banging with 14 year olds. And doing damage. His pops is watching from the same balcony. We are working on his shot. Shoot low and shoot hard. He rips his shot and literally knocks the goal over. (this kid is gonna be an All American) He immediately looks up to the balcony. Dad gives him a nod and a wry smile graces my future All American's face.

As I do my part to be a good father to Miles I realize I am still looking up to the balcony. I want, I need to do right in a way that will make my parents proud. Whether it's my Mom looking down from the big balcony in the sky or making my pops in North Carolina proud. I hope that every time Miles looks up he will see me smiling and also realize I won't be running down to the gym. But I'll be there.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

2 Years Old

This weekend is my boy's second birthday on Saurday. Going to see my main man Elmo live at MSG.

On a bitter sweet note, it's also the day our man Dilla left.

Let's celebrate either way!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl ramblings

" remeber when I used to coach the Colts. Neither do I. Damn you Tony Dungy!
Well, I'm off to play golf withmy son who also doesn't know when to shut up. Denny Green too. Would you like to be our 4th?"
  1. I like the K-Fed commercial. And the way people are dogging him he is turning into the ill underdog
  2. Sexy Rexy does it again
  3. Tony Dungy schooled Lovie
  4. Colts won running the footbal. Who would have thunk it?
  5. Prince killed it
  6. The Piano man sucked
  7. why were they all in that Chicago DB's eye during the national anthem
  8. Thank God for Jet Blue. didn't miss much pre-game thanks to DirectTV
  9. I won the office pool! hooray (whatever)
  10. GTA inspired Coke commercial was dope
  11. Go Daddy commercial had the broad from The Real World in it!?
  12. All in all they were weak, Not like the old days
  13. How does Edgerrin James feel today?
  14. And John Gruden?
  15. and Jim Mora Sr.? (playoffs!?)
  16. and Denny Green - every time they talked about how calm Tony and Lovie are I felt like they were snickering at Denny "Then crown their asses" Green
  17. and Eli?

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Friday, February 02, 2007

I wish

I wish we had this account. That marketing company got more free pub than I could ever ask for.


and oh yeah we love this guy

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Reagan is the prez but...

"okay I admit I have no idea who Shirley Chisolm is"
Sorry I missed my post on Thursday. I was busy sitting on a runway at JFK as the professionally bereft airline industry turned an hour flight into an all day journey.
Woke up happy about the sonogram. Can't wait for my little girl to arrive.
Woke up pissed about Joe Biden. His ignorant and insulting comment was followed by an appearance on Jon Stewart where he called Obama a phenomenon. Any educated Black person has heard Biden's comments. It wasn't broadcast on MSNBC (CNN is over. It's all about Chris Matthews and Keith Oberman) it probably sounded like this "oh, you are so articulate" "So well spoken"
The idea that a Ivy League educated Black senator who is articulate is a phenomenon is insulting to the nth degree. Don't sugarcoat it. Don't spin your way out of it.
That comments insults me, my son's godmother, Jesse, Martin, Medgar Evers, Emmit Till, Julian Bond, my Moms and my pops, my brothers everyone person (Black, white, Jew, gentile, Hindu and atheist) who has ever struggled against chattel slavery and Jim Crow.
Phenomenon! Kiss my ass. People have died to pave the way for Obama. Families have been broken. Parents have worked 3 jobs. kids have had to endure hardship no child should ever have to.
This is evolution you out of touch noblemen.
Wake up. the world where rich, white. men make all the decisions is ending. You better learn to deal with all of us. And by us, I mean everyone you have kept out of the game since you stole this land.

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