Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What up peoples.

Right now, I'm feeling pretty good. Anyone that's been in touch with me for the past 4 or 5 years know that I was unhappy & miserable with my job. But luckily, 2007 has been a blessed year for me. For those that peeped my Apparatus rhyme, & wondered what happened to Part 1. Well it was still being processed in my head cause I still can't believe it. The Apparatus in this case was not a microphone, BUT a magazine concept I created for my job.

Recently, my responsibilities at my job took a turn for the better, because after years of being stuck doing the same tired redundant ads & doing more production work than creative work, I was getting more frustrated. And what was sicker, the artists that were the least creative, was doing more creative & career-growing things, while I felt like the token Black guy to run to when they wanted to know "how to do this in Photoshop", "how to do that in Illustrator", "what's a good font for that?" I was there to teach them, while letting my creative juices evaporate in the steam my boiling temper was creating.

After new management, especially from someone who has seen my contributions first hand in the past 6 years, I'm finally getting a chance to be heard. Right now, I'm assistant managing the magazines our paper are currently running. Great from a creative side, but annoying from a moral perspective, especially as a Black person. Especially on one of the spreads I built about a city in GA called Fort Valley. I chose to do it with pure excitement, cause that was where I went to college. This was a 112 y/o Historical Black University. Now as I read the article to get an idea what to put.... all they talked about was a Packaging Company that specialized in can peaches. WHAT? Now I'm pissed, but then I maintained & remember the establishment I work for. The same establishment that during Hurricane Katrina, after such travesty, they focused a lot of attention on picturing Black victims as looters, while whites were there struggling to survive. I was disgusted then, I didn't even trust the Red Cross there, instead I gave to the churches that were helping victims, cause I assumed Middle GA RED CROSS WOULD BE AS BIAS AS THE REST OF MIDDLE GA.

This leads me to "The Apparatus", my manager wanted us to think of some good ideas for her to present to the board for new concepts & ideas to generate more business to the newspaper. Currently, our marketing dept. is predominately middle-aged white women with no marketing experience. So everything they cater to is for them.... middle-aged white women.. which eliminates the buying power of men, minorities, & the youth. 2 other guys & I came up with a magazine catered to men (although I ended up doing most of the work, with little help from one, & none from the other.) But if that comes into play, they getting off their asses. But the Apparatus was 100% my idea, where I wanted to create an urban magazine that is going to cater to the urban-communities, which is predominately Blacks in this area.

On my premises, I just got real with them & didn't give a damn who I offended. But the place I worked has never been urban friendly, but more conservative. Honestly, I don't expect it to be what I want it to be. But I want to at least let the first one something I'm so proud of, I can put into my portfolio I said, "I created this, cause I wanted to give a voice to people like me." Which was why I called it the Apparatus, which in hip hop has always been a microphone. But here, it's the magazine.

Back to why I think it won't be the way I want it to be.. B/c the same middle-aged white women that knows absolutely nothing about urban or Black culture would probably to managing it. And probably instead of addressing black issues, they'd want to make it like the other lame magazines we have, but have Black people on it. Instead of race issues, Black History facts or police brutality issues, they'd want to put chitlins & collard green recipes on something. or maybe get risque & wanna showcase who has more bling, bling. lol. Either way, before it takes off, I want to get members of the MGBJA (Mid. GA Black Journalist Association) in our Editorial Dept. involved.

In addition, I've been wanting to join the 100 Black Men organization in my area. I finally got a contact number, but I've been too preoccupied to finally call him up. But if I can get in with them, I can advertise their contributions & help in their contributions. A win/win situation for me. And if I could, showcase some great blogs (of course, I'd have to do some editing, to show we don't cuss all the time.. lol. But I know how it is, in the heat of a debate.) BUt I don't just want to showcase Blacks, cause there are other ethnic groups (including whites) that go through things in the urban community as well, so I'd definitely welcome such diversity. Bottom line, I want to give a voice to those that don't get to be heard. cause as long as the ppl involved in the problems in our system are mute, the more it'll persist.

But I'm not putting all of my eggs in this basket, cause like I said. This is a corporate business I'm in. And to be honest, I'm using this opportunity to not only get our voices heard, but to prep myself in starting my own magazine, which I won't have to edit. I can be me all day everyday. I almost kept this idea from my job, but I thought about Ted Demme (R.I.P.) that started Yo! MTV Raps. Before that program, MJ, (like I said in previous blog) was the ONLY Black artist MTV played & they showed other black musicians, especially rap artists no love. But Ted Demme changed all that, all because of his love for hip hop. MTV might've played a part in exploiting Black artists later, but it didn't start off that way & wasn't meant to be that way. If anything, I think BET is doing more damage than MTV at the moment. But if not for MTV Raps, we probably wouldn't have "The Source magazines," "Rap City" & all these other programs, past & present, that cater to hip hop whether good or bad. I can't forsee the future, but I can do what I can while I'm here to try to make things better.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What is Real Hip Hop?

What's real hip hop?

Somebody tell me, cause nowadays, it's hard to tell.

Salt-n-Pepa were once accused of not being real hip hop. But in an article back in 94, who's to say if they were real or not. They were women being women on the mic & not playing the gangsta bitch or tomboy role that a lot of women fell into. And to have sistas doing the same thing later (e.g. Eve & Missy) but be considered hip hop, when S-N-P were labeled R&B. And not just women. Big Daddy Kane caught a lot of backlash when he started making his songs more R&B. But Jay Z does it & considered Hip hop royalty. So again, what's real hip hop?

I used to be accused of having a backpacker mentality b/c I chose conscious & or lyrical emcees over most gangsta rappers (except Cube & Ice T). However, I still kept a collection of LL, Heavy D, Kid 'n Play. I even had Hammer's 2nd cassette, & I don't apologize for it. Cause then, it was all hip hop to me. But because I preferred songs that entertained my mind & chose not to follow the norm (in the South at the time) I was considered hip hop & I felt like an outkast before Andre & Big Boi changed the game. Even though the South had it's own brand of hip hop, it was considered bass music, or booty or sometimes just "rap.", but not considered real hip hop, b/c it was more bass driven & less lyrical. But so was Afrikka Bambaattaa & many of the early artists.

So again, what's real hip hop?

After Master P came on & pushed his music into the mainstream, everybody & their mama were calling themselves hip hop. I used to be bitter about trying to get noticed in the game, but then turn around a lot whack bamas that couldn't spit nice, if Nas wrote it for them. But these cats selling records? I was "hip hop" & country before it was trendy or cool. Yeah, I was hating, but was it justified at the time? Especially with what I considered hip hop was becoming more of a get rich quick scheme for ninjas w/ crime records & a keyboard, while true artists had to either go underground or another route.

Now I ask what is real hip hop?

But on the flip side, a lot of Southern emcees have been attacked by those who consider themselves "real" hip hop fans... but question. If Dem Franchise Boyz is less hip hop, b/c either they're not lyrical, or b/c they're more catered more to the club than the coffee shops or Black summits. But if that's the case, wouldn't that make Afrikka Bambaattaa not hip hop?

I'm not a fan of Dem Franchise Boyz, D4L, LIL Jon & plenty other Southern rappers oversaturating the game with monotomy. But is it fair to blame the South for the negative in Hip hop when instead of others trying to bring something different, their following suit (e.g. Fat Joe & MIMS (both from NY) & E-40 (West Coast)). In fact the only new cat in the industry I've felt last year was Lupe Fiasco, while the rest have been underground artists that if I name, you'll probably be saying ... "who? huhh?" And as far as Southern emcees, I love Luda, Outkast, T.I., & Little Brother. The bottom line is, I don't hate any emcee for they do, (if they're being themselves....). Cause the truth is, there's enough pie for everyone, but who wants to keep eating the same flavor? I'm not anti-mainstream, I'm pro-diversity. Cause truth is, I'd rather hear some Lil' Jon & some "Throw Some D's" at a club instead of "Runaway Love" or "Hip Hop Is Dead.".

But Is one less hip hop than the other? And Who's to say?

I remember what real hip hop used to be for me. It used to be dope rhymes & dope beats. Even if you weren't the best lyricist, the music did something to you. It made you want to embrace the culture. And NO!! You didn't have to learn it in a book or a reality show, b/c you were so hypnotized, you let your ears do your research, not your eyes. Now I went through that gimmick phase of Cross Colours, parachute pants, fake thick rope, high top fade, The X-hat. Even to set myself apart from others as a wannabe emcee, I used to put a thin paint brush in my ear matching whatever gear I had. lol. But regardless, the music came first!! Not the image.



The thing that's effed up about hip hop is that, it's become so popular that anything affiliated with Black (e.g. R&B, Soul or Reggae) is being considered hip hop. Black culture & hip hop are not the same. My mom is NOT hip hop. My sister, who's the same age as me, is NOT hip hop. Hip hop is inspired by Black culture, but not vice versa. It's not one of the same, just like all Blacks are not ghetto. But should non-ghetto breds be forbidden from rhyming although they're nice? Are they exempt from being considered real hip hop? What about Eminem because he's white, when this cat can probably name drop more hip hop influences than 95% of the new black rappers today who just jumping on a bandwagon with no legitament love for the culture? It pisses me off when rappers say they're not rappers, but a hustler. If this was 15 years ago, their career woulda been done as soon as they made that comment.

But does that make them less hip hop?

Now here's another thing that ponders me...... when did R&B artists started become classified as "hip hop?" I love my girl, Mary J. Blige. She's my absolute favorite female artist of my lifetime. She is the queen of Hip Hop Soul. But to me, She's Soul first, with hip hop influences. She uses a lot of hip hop influences yes. But Tribe, GangStarr & Dig. Planets were influenced by jazz. But you wouldn't see them getting acknowledge as Jazz artists. Not even The Roots, & they play their own instruments. Black Sheep was influenced by Rock. Dr. Dre & EPMD by Funk, Outkast & Snoop by 70's Funk & Soul. Geto Boys the Blues. But you'll never see them acknowledged as their influences. Hip Hop was built off other music, & now it's returning the favor by influencing other genres. But being hip hop influence, doesn't make it Hip Hop period.

So why when it comes to women in hip hop, a Mary J. or Beyonce would be acknowledged before a Roxanne Shante? And not just women, but why on Hip Hop countdown shows, I see as many R&B artists as rappers. I thought this was about hip hop? does anyone know that CL Smooth is back with a new album? No. But everybody know Justin Timberlake got a new video that sounds exactly like "Cry Me A River", but not as good. But it's hip hop according to media, because Timberland produced it. ok.

To me, that's not hip hop... much less real hip hop. But that's my opinion.

So is real Hip Hop dead? It's dead to the public. It's dead on the radio. But it's NOT dead, especially when there are underground cats & independent labels circulating. It's not dead as long as the few that's keeping it real still breath.

(A guide to Hip Hop's Underground Railroad coming soon....)

But my question for the day, what is real hip hop to you?