TDJ’s film “The Field Trip” hits Youtube to celebrate it’s anniversary!

For my second treat (no tricks), I give you the full version of my homegirl, the infamous TDJ‘s short film, The Field Trip. 2 years ago, she released this and it entered a dozen different film festivals – even earning her a write-up in a few magazines. Today she commemorates the accomplishment by releasing it to the world via youtube as a nice Halloween offering. Check it out and see the talent that I’ve been seeing for years!!

 

New Redhead album – “The Schemata”!!!!!

I got 2 treats for you kiddies in the spirit (he he, get it?) of Halloween. The first being the long awaited album from the kid Redhead, The Schemata. A pretty much autobiographical project, Redhead takes us on a ride thru his journey from birth to the now, in always entertaining and introspective fashion. He even features one of my songs from my upcoming album that’s been remixed! Dopeness!

Click on the image of the cover to download and listen 

or

For mobile users, click on this link http://www.box.net/shared/ky7o1k6ub4xmm387a47o

In the meantime, to whet your appetite further, here’s the second trailer for the album.

Talking ALL THAT YaYa!!

And she is all that

Say what you say, but I didn’t like models until I saw her. I used to get in sooo much trouble for being just a bit too happy when my ex used to turn to America’s Next Top Model and YaYa DaCosta popped on the screen.  Although I didn’t believe that the semi-bourgie, multi-lingual intellectual show off was really from the same hometown as me, I gave her a pass for claiming Harlem before the explosion of everyone else doing it.

But something must be said for a woman who walks with guile in both worlds. And she does so in almost every aspect. If the gritty but glitzy streets of Harlem could have taken her to an Ivy League education at Brown University, to a career in both the world of fashion modeling and acting, then her props are due. And to think, all of this from a reality show! In the season that launched her, Toccara and Eva Pigford(Marcille), it’s clear that runner-up doesn’t quite mean loser. In fact, Yaya has seen more success than all of her season cast-mates and most other winners of the show. 

Something you should know about me, is that I LOVE natural chics! For some reason, I have always had an affinity for their look – from the meticulously curled twists to the freedom of their hair pronouncing itself  and their knack for combining earthy accessories with high fashion (Plus their bedrooms and bathrooms always smell really good). And though ms. DaCosta is a fashion model who is expected to use her chameleon like abilities to appear versatile and flexible in her look, her personal style has always leaned more towards the Afro-centric side. And it was a fresh look to see a representation of smart Black woman like that on a show about superficiality and appearance. 

It wasn’t until I dated a model that I understood how both can exist in one woman. I appreciated what she symbolized more. She’s been one of my prototypes of a dream woman ever since. Besides her brains, stomping grounds and being born in the best year ever (1982 for you late bloomers), she also has a crazy body from years of dancing that she keeps in tact as you can see. She’s just slim enough to be a model, but just filled out enough in the right places to not be your typical model (she’s also short and doesn’t meet runway model standards – a point that was made repeatedly during the show, but fine with me!). Her eyes are the kind I like; Almond shaped, slender but strong with lots of personality. Her smile is bangin‘ And of course she can dress!

A far cry from the chic who used to get called out on her facial blemishes, she’s something like a young Angela Bassett…Who makes alot of Black men’s list as another kind of prototype. I’ll say that’s good company…

I’ll also say

Yaya DaCosta,

You

are and always have been

My New Crush!!

16 Reasons Why I’m The Greatest Rapper You Never Heard! Or 16 Reasons Why I’m Better Than The Last 3 Freshman Classes!!

16. I’m relatively handsome

We can all attest that looks don’t matter half as much as the industry would have you believe. IF they matter at all. The success of some of the biggest rappers in the last 2 decades has hinged more on their personas and characters than their sex appeal. Rappers tend to find their niche and make you like the story that they create with their image. Being a physical specimen to be gawked at only works if you’re aiming to pigeonhole yourself and attract a limited demographic. But it never hurts to be a bit easy on the eyes. If you can spit, and attract the opposite sex to the point where you can be taken seriously when you make records about relations, it always increases how far you can reach. And as subjective as this matter may be, it’s not up for debate that I’m unattractive or have any weird or distracting features. At most, I look like a regular ol’ nigga. At Best, I’m a fly dude.

15. I’m From A Cool Place

Harlem is an ambiguous territory to hail from. It’s famous, legendary and an epicenter of trends. Yet and still, it’s produced a very short list of successful rappers. It’s a 2 way street for a rapper hailing from this hometown. I won’t necessarily be putting it on the map, but with a huge gap left between Doug E. Fresh‘s era and  Mase and Diddy’s run, to the space left since Dipset held the crown, there’s room for someone to return it to glory and take it further than it’s ever been.

14. I Can Freestyle

Tho it may not hold much weight anymore, Ask anyone about how they’ve come to know me, and they’ll mention this quality. Not mixtape freestyling. No, I mean off the top of the head, stream of consciousness. It makes for good in person spontaneous entertainment and display of ability. It also shows dexterity and demonstrates quick wit and ability to think sharp. One of my most famous YouTube videos is one where I’m freestyling over Lil Wayne‘s “Prom Queen” instrumental. It’s what got me last contract.

13. I’m Self-Sufficient

I have many affiliations, yet when you see me on stage, it’s just me. No hypeman. I may invite a bunch of my musician friends each time (as pointed out by my homegirl TDJ), but it’s still a one man operation. Since 2006 I’ve been the motor behind every aspect of my career from the sequencing of my projects, to the design of my sites. I haven’t had the luxury of having some immaculate team of pros executing my ideas for me, so I hire professional individuals to get the jobs done that I can’t and I always have a collaborative hand in the planning and final product. All this means is that I don’t wait on anyone, make excuses for myself or lean on anything. Everything you see is a reflection of my creativity. Now this may be a headache for some A&R somewhere who’s still working off of the idea that artists need to be handheld and told what to do every step of the way, but for a company looking to have less overhead and expedite their profit by banking on an all-encompassing artist…There you have it…

12. I’ve Grinded

Piggy-backing off of that last point, I’ve been pursuing this long enough to know what works and what doesn’t. Both for me as a rapper and for other artists. I’ve studied this game. I’ve been a songwriter and sat in the offices with some of the heads behind some of the biggest projects. Falling and failing have given me the advantage of seeing where my appeal and approach can be strengthened, so there’s less weak spots now. I’ve hit the angles, put in the elbow grease and leg work, so I have a story to tell. It may be one of trial and error, but It’s a story nonetheless. This is no dollar and a dream.

11. I’m A Student Of The Game

I didn’t just pick up a pen and decide that I wanted to rap because it was cool to do it. I started out as a child, formed a little rap group around the time of the ABC and Kriss Kross boom and made up 10 bar raps in my head all the time. In high school, I listened to underground radio strictly for years. In college, I loved the club stuff. I’ve read the books, been a fan, been a schemer, been desperate, been jaded. But I still love the music at the end of the day. I change with the times, while staying close to the roots that got me involved and interested. All this has brought me to sense of well roundedness where I don’t lean too far to any side because I understand why each one exists and I see room for the middle. These are the elements that I’m among and which have influenced me.

10. I Have A Story

Tho it can’t be summed up in a one nuclear sentence by me. Maybe a publicist can do that. It’s undeniably there. Being from a place like Harlem and being raised in the 1980’s should already color the landscape for any listener wondering how I became the product that I am. I almost defy every stereotype there is about what is equated with my region. College educated, no drugs or alcohol, no criminal record, no fashion trends. But balance that with being a dropout, with drug dealing and using parents and a street-based belief in self preservation…Not to mention a long rap history of winning awards, honors and being the first unsigned rapper to grace the legendary booth on BET‘s RapCity. There’s plenty of story there…Just put it together.

9. I’m Not Region Specific

Some say you should have your city on your back first, but there’s millions of rappers who go elsewhere and blow before they really make it national. Again, this is another old industry standard which has been shattered. I always believe that a person should rep their area and never forget where they came from, but the point of being an artist is to reach as many people as possible. Too many rappers, and especially New York rappers, have a tendency to rap in ways that only could be relatable to people in their locality.  Because I’ve lived in Georgia and D.C. and Iam indeed a student of the game, I’ve been exposed to all kinds of sounds and patterns of speech. Most importantly, I’ve gotten to experience why certain things resonate with certain people in certain places, and what things are generally universal across the board. Without sounding contrived, this has soaked into my sound. I’m not your typical New York rapper, rapping about New York shit or using flows only New Yorkers would appreciate.

8. I’m Not Stuck In An Era, Movement or Niche Market

Yeah. I’m not trying to bring the golden era back, neither in rap nor fashion. I’d rather sound like the sum of my influences that have given birth to something new than sound like one big homage to them. I don’t want to bring back the spirit of any particular rapper and I certainly wouldn’t limit myself to having a gimmick or angle that would pigeonhole me like the whole horror-core meets hipster schtick, or the stupid weed-rap clicks, not even emo-rap. I can’t be associated with a wave. I’m not for the moment. I have no limits and no bounds. The old industry standard says that you MUST pick a route. I say that wall was broken a long time ago and that myth debunked with artists like Kanye who prove that there are rappers who can be real rappers but not be defined by one kind of subject matter or one kind of beat or guest appearance. As long as you don’t spread yourself too thin and look out of your box trying to do a little of everything like Wyclef, you can be an expansive M.C. that can’t be defined in one category. Not even Jay can be considered one kind of rap at this point.

7.  I Got a Good Voice

GURU said it in ’94. “It’s mostly the voice”. Mine sits somewhere in the best place possible. Flexible and not too light, not too deep. Once again, in the middle. Some gravelly voiced rappers sound made for hardcore anthems, but out of place on smoother records. Some whispery or buttery rappers couldn’t pull of attempts over harder beats. I don’t have either. Just a nice New York tone with southern twangs that pop up here and there. I emphasize words and here and there, and color my speech. So it’s never that flat, lifeless thing that Diddy does. But I’m also not yelling like Meek Mill or Papoose. There’s a natural melodiousness and sometimes it comes out in my cadence. As noted on my second mixtape, I’m not a singer…But I can hold a note…

6. I Actually Talk About Something

Picture that. For all of these neo movements, nobody’s really talking about anything directly. The rise of emo rap has given birth to a bunch of rappers who have no qualms about whining about themselves and their fame. The stresses of these mostly suburban cats is so immense that they have to smoke weed everyday and build superficial relationships with women. Cry me a river. On the other side of that coin, you got a bunch of other heads that think they’re talking about something because they sprinkle in some words like “Free” and “fuck the government”. I’m willing to make that the WHOLE song. AND make it just as catchy as the most ignorant song out. Remember when Dead Prez came out with “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop”, or “Jesus Walks” by Kanye?? Those songs were getting played at parties and clubs and no one stopped the record and said, ‘hey! you can’t play that cause it’s conscious’. Without coming off as a conscious rapper or beating listeners over the head with preachy content, I dare to be the guy who has as many songs about real life as I have about fly life. In my time I’ve rapped about everything from the color Black to the month of October to teenage pregnancy to suicide to over-drinking, to street life to comparing life to one big party. And I don’t mean making mention of it, no I mean whole songs dedicated to each topic. And I stay on topic. With swag!

5. I Got Flows

So many people still don’t quite understand this concept. Alot of this has to do with the fact that there are interchangeable words that get tossed around. This is also known as pattern or delivery.  The tricky thing is that delivery also has to do with vocal inflection. Luda‘s flows are only as good as the animation in his voice when he lands on certain words. But most importantly, these things are so important because you only notice them when a rapper gets stuck in a flow. Detractors of 2Pac’s number 1 critique of him is that he raps the same way and uses the same pattern on every song. Is that true? No. But he’s done it enough throughout his career that it can be a valid point. he’s known by it. Being known by a particular flow can make a name for a rapper, but it can also be their undoing. It can limit their appeal and make them the subject of easy ridicule. It’s been noted that Jadakiss‘ refusal to evolve his flow has stunted his own mass appeal. He always raps the same. Fab was in danger of this before he stepped it up years ago. Most New York and southern rappers have trouble with this after amassing enough regional fame. There’s a comfort level there. I don’t have a definite pattern. And while no one has really truly invented a new flow probably since the days of Bone, what we all are now are products of the greatest flows ever! If we haven’t absorbed those and implemented them into our repertoire in ways that sound refreshing, then what’s the point?? I rap slow, I rap fast. I use compounds, I use sing-song cadences. I rhymes lines inside of lines. I take big pauses sometimes. Timing is the crucial element to using flows. I never want anyone to listen to more than 3 tracks of mine and say I rap the same way for a whole project.  I don’t even keep one pattern all the way thru one song. And I don’t want to make slight changes where it’s not noticeable, nor do I want to make dramatic changes where it sounds like I’m doing too much and going out of my range. You may not realize it til after you think about it, but you appreciate that fact about me. I made a whole track about using other people’s flows. Just to show that I understand why It’s important. It’s  over 7 minutes long, and the only reason why people listen until the end, is because the switch in flows keeps their attention.

4. I Know How To Make Songs

Which brings me to this point. What good is being the nicest rapper with all these wordy and ridiculous bars if you can’t condense them into a song format that  makes people want to listen?!  Any true fan of yours is going to try to vouch for you. But not enough people will reinforce that sentiment if you just don’t have the knack or make the music to show and prove. I use Saigon as an example of this once again. People love him. But not enough. Just Blaze is considered one of the best producers ever. You have him at your disposal and STILL couldn’t deliver songs that stuck with anyone. Song construction is the biggest test that I throw at any rapper. What good are all of your mixtape freestyles or viral cyphers if you sound wack in 16 bar format? The even bigger challenge is making a song with mass appeal. Do you know what kind of beats get reactions from people? What instruments go well together and what sounds cheesy? Do you pay attention to PEOPLE enough to know what THEY like as opposed to giving them what you THINK they’ll like?? Or having your head so far up your ass that you think they’re just going to gravitate to you with your self-indulgent abstract shit?? There’s a crowd for everything. And anyone can get a group of followers and supporters who like them even to tolerate that. Even Charles Hamilton has devoted stans. But does that translate to sold out shows or longevity? probably not. I guess the question becomes, how far do you want to go in rap?? See, someone like me cares about what girls like as much as I care about what the niggas on my corner like, and any corner in the world at that, as much as I care about what my family can respond to. So I make my music with that in mind, following music theory methods which have been tried and true. Taking cues from successful songs in rap’s history. Taking cues from artists who got respect for killing mixtapes and battles as well as radio. I tell stories that are linear, I make memorable hooks, I don’t use abstract shit that can isolate a whole cluster of people.

3. I know The Difference Between Punchlines With Similes And Metaphors And Other Rhetorical Devices…And I Use Them!

I’m a product of lots of special english courses. I know what hyperbole and alliteration are. I make good use of such things and place them where they need to go. I use metaphors as metaphors. Sometimes my whole song is a metaphor. I know similies and I make sure they’re not lazy ones (i.e. “rush like Limbaugh” – wack!). Ever since I learned the importance of using punchlines as a teenager after getting demolished in a battle, I’ve built up my strength with them. A rap song doesn’t really feel good without these clever things. Wit is respected by every rap crowd, in every locale. I use it all the time. I put punchlines in my deeper songs, I put them in my songs about girls, and I kill them in my braggadocious rhymes! I use every instrument of wordplay in the arsenal. My favorite is the double entendre. The phonetic homophone-based ones can be tricky, but again, timing makes everything right. Now put that together with the fact that I use different flows and make catchy songs. It’s not an easy feat.

2. I’m Charismatic And Compelling

None of the above things that I mentioned are worth a damn if this isn’t in place. Perhaps this arises from coming from a cool place, having a story and being  student of the game, but I have character. Not a character. But character. And it comes out in my songs. Without this, my club songs would not come off as believable. My stories wouldn’t grip anyone and make them want to listen to the end to hear the climax. My boasts would seem empty. You wouldn’t take my girl songs seriously if you think I don’t get girls. Some of this is very subjective, but for the most part, My voice is not full of pain like some rappers, but there’s a charm and sincerity that comes with how I say things. I’m also honest to a fault. I don’t make any reservations about sharing my highs and lows, lamenting on my mistakes and failures, or poking fun at my shortcomings. I don’t rap about anything that someone can comeback to me and say I haven’t or wouldn’t do. Sure, there’s plenty of exaggeration in Hip-Hop, but I don’t go overboard or glorify, or lie. I’m me all day in my recordings. I can sleep comfortably knowing I gave the world my truth. The way my projects are sequenced and all of the means I’ve executed to get my point across should have you feeling like I’m a pretty cool and interesting dude afterwards. Basically, listening to my rap should make you at least somewhat intrigued to meet me in person. If you don’t care about a rapper as you listen, then they haven’t made you care from their music. Anybody can rap, it’s the soul and the passion of the person rapping that make you want to go back again and again to hear what they have to say.

1. I’m A Dope Performer

Last and certainly not least, since we’re talking about wanting to see an artist in person, A performance is one of the greatest ways to do so. it’s the final frontier for anyone who wants to do this for real. A true performer gives you a great look at their personality during a performance. You hear them talk, see their facial expressions. See their crew and supporters and how much they rely on them. As someone who’s so used to doing most things alone, and being involved in every aspect, you can be sure that I polly with the people behind the music at a show and get my arrangements right. I don’t mob the stage with my crew, I don’t stand in one place, I also don’t say corny things like “Make noise”. Yet what I do is take into account what kinds of crowds I’m performing for, I survey them, get a feel, and always try to get them involved. I make small talk with them, I joke, I get them interacting in my call and response hooks in ways that may relate to them. I walk off stage with the mic. I act out my words. I wear eye-catching stuff based on the song I’m performing. I freestyle. I ‘ve performed with bands and with djs. I’m comfortable with both. I have breath control and you can hear every word I say, even when I rap fast. And most importantly, I know how to hold the fuckin mic properly!

The reason why you like wack rappers…

Most of the rappers you like are not especially nice, nor talented. You don’t think enough about it because you’re too busy listening to the music in the moment. Really now, who told you that it was no longer cool to listen to Ja Rule if you didn’t have too much of an issue bumping his stuff back in 2001?? His music didn’t necessarily change dramatically for you to stop. What did change however, was the tide of popular opinion and acceptance. Is Nas“One Mic” really deep? Or does it just sound like it’s supposed to be? Can you tell me any real point that he was making in that song between talking about a trifling baby mother, a ‘fiend dropping his Heineken’, and ‘cups of virgin blood mixed with 151’?? Or do you just soak it up passively, embracing the idea that because it’s Nas and he’s been labeled the street’s prophetic disciple that it must be poetic genius? What made you stop thinking that Canibus is one of the best rappers alive? And do you really like Young Jeezy? Or do you just like his character, his rep and the beats he raps over? And why isn’t he as popular as he used to be? It’s not like he ever stopped making thug motivation trap music.

Popular vote and co-signs can do amazing things for artists. One Michael Jackson tribute on BET and a couple of tears and overnight, your most shunned industry pariah and tarnished golden boy is allowed the comeback of a lifetime, complete with guest appearances on and from every major urban artist, and he’s also allowed to rap, curse, make gang references and not have anyone bat an eyelash.

I say all of this to say that Hip-Hop music and culture have become so microwavable that the standards are less defined by the talent and success capabilities of its newer artists, but more by how much they are exposed. Think about the last new rapper who you started liking. Chances are that more than likely, after hearing their name or seeing them pop up more and more on sites you trust, you decided to look them up – probably on YouTube, and then discovered their catalogue and maybe saw a video where you felt as tho you related to their perceived steez, or you were intrigued by it. But of course, that person may or may not be nicer or more star-worthy than joe-shmoe rapper whose video may appear on the right hand side of that Youtube screen under the title “related videos”. But you wouldn’t ever get to know that right? Because you’re not going to click on that rapper’s link are you? You didn’t hear anyone co-signing or mentioning them. You didn’t see any famous features. Their video might even be way better quality.

The point is that, in a world where every Black male wants to be a rapper more than they want to be anything else, you only like the new rappers that are out now because someone told you it was okay to like them. Honestly, if you saw Machine Gun Kelly on Youtube without any of this blog love or Bad Boy co-signing, wouldn’t you laugh? Despite his rap skills, the awkward White-boy gesturing and try-hard delivery seems amateur. Everybody CAN rap nowadays. Are Big K.R.I.T. or Stalley really killing it with half-conscious, half-pot head lyrics and styles that have been done a long time ago?? Or are you just pleased to see new blood coming out of Mississippi and Cleveland? Do you really like the way that Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa put words together? Or are you just weed-fiends and you just like that they make music that you don’t have to think too much about when you’re smoking, and you get hyped when they name a new strand in their raps?? Mac Miller? Really??!

Years ago, in 2007, I was taking the time out to browse the Myspace pages of some of the folk who consistently supported my music and my page. I thought I should take a minute to leave something on the wall of this one young lesbian Crip chic in Texas who always showed me love since I hadn’t hit her up in a while. As I wrote my message, I thought it was interesting that this usually hardcore girl had this smooth sounding hypnotic yet bouncy rap song playing in the background by a rapper who didn’t sound decidedly southern but almost like me. I went to her music player to see who it was and clicked on the link page. It led me to a very flashy yet professional page where I saw the banner for a song called “Replacement Girl” by a rapper from Toronto named Drake. I thought that was a cool name because I would always use it as an alias when I was younger. I liked the song so much that I decided to visit his page periodically to see when there was new music posted. I showed his video for the single to anyone who I thought would be interested and figured that the fact that it featured Trey Songz would peak their interest. The response was always solid, but not one of further inquiry. I listened and began to love every song he put up all throughout 2008. I thought he was the freshest breath of air in rap in a long time. I asked a girl who I used to correspond with  and trade music talk with on Myspace from Canada about him and she told me that she’s heard of him, but he doesn’t really get played out there. She said he’s “cool”. How much do you want to bet that she knows all the words to his singles now?? When he decided to put out a full r&b song I noticed that he had started a blog and began to gain some traction by having higher profile collaborations. He quickly went from doing songs with the likes of Little Brother and rhyming over Dilla samples to having a slew of collabs with Wayne and others. He wasn’t a blog darling, but the buzz was building. In the beginning of 2009, I downloaded his mixtape So Far Gone and burned it to a CD so I could ride around with it in my car. Although it received 100’s of thousands of downloads as soon as it dropped, it was a gradual climb to notoriety. I rode around with that CD from winter to summer and would play it anytime anyone was around. My friends would ask me ‘is that that kid from Canada?’ . My ex used to laugh when I played “Best I Ever Had”. Then, in the middle of that summer while I was at a fashion show with her, I heard the dj play what to me was track 8 on my CD. That’s when I realized that this was going to be a hit single. Sure enough, every girl I knew who 2 months ago had no clue what a Drake was, was now putting their hands up and reciting the words to this song as if it were their personal anthem. What I did was take a chance and discover an artist that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. No one suggested him. I didn’t necessarily trust this young girl’s music judgement, nor did she personally tell me anything about this rapper. I listened and checked for him despite the fact that no one around me or none of the trusted media networks that I frequented knew about him. I just based this off of listening. I didn’t need to wait for Drake to get signed to Young Money to like his music. This is what no one does anymore. And it’s not really the audience’s fault. There’s just too many fuckin rappers! When there’s a rapper every second, no one has the time nor patience to sort thru and stumble upon them, let alone support them when they can’t even talk to someone else about them because they’re unheard of.

This is the reality of the hip-hop audience. Now of course, you have to have some ounce of skill to last past the initial co-signs. Someone like Saigon squandered his because he didn’t deliver any memorable songs with appeal. Drake of course, is a rare exception because he’s actually multi-talented and great at crafting radio-ready songs. He is also killing us currently with repetitive subject matter and patterns and an image that is getting more emo-meets-luxury rap by the minute (but of course that’s forgiven because the popular tide hasn’t become one that is tired of this yet – though history says we should be). Yet and still, it doesn’t take much. Especially not at blog level. The majority of the rappers that you see flooding the hip-hop blogs have yet to make a song with any mass appeal and their rise is usually based on how creative their videos or mixtape covers are and how much the editor thinks they remind them of a rapper from the nineties. 85% of the rappers who are popular blog stars couldn’t put on a show without losing their breath every 10 seconds or make a song that could play at a party to save their lives. It’s based on a counter-culture model that allows nerdy rap fans to champion anti-heroes who do the opposite of what they probably should do to make money as a music artist. On the flip side, most of the rappers who are signed and receiving radio play couldn’t rap a decent 16 that garnered a reaction or contained any rewind-worthy lines on their best day. Is this the measure of talent now? Either or??

It’s been proven that the best artists and those with longevity are those who can bring the best of both worlds.

I’m scared to death and disheartened to think that the only difference between me and the rappers that you have now become fans of is that I’m not plastered all over the web, or that no big dj, journalist or better known rapper has told you to like me. These are the things that allow you to go download my 16 track mixtape and have it next to your Jay-Z album in the playlist as opposed to seeing my download link and ignoring it. No rapper out now is better than me on any particular ground or by any particular measure. As a matter of fact, I’m a better rapper than almost everyone out now and I’ll explain why…

The Industry just got smaller. Labels are Disappearing. Jive, Arista & J records join that list

What makes this ironic, is that I was just at a meeting 2 weeks ago with an A&R in the grand offices of Jive records (which I always thought was a telling name for a label).

As I looked around the hallowed walls of the offices in the Sony entertainment building, although this was my 5th time in this building, and 4th time in this position, I realized then more than ever, just how small this business is.

Across the floor was RCA stuff, upstairs was Columbia, and all throughout the place was J records and RocNation paraphernalia .

Last week Sony announced that it was dissolving all of their subdivisions (with the exception of the RocNation merger) and concentrating all of their efforts into the RCA brand and the Columbia umbrella. This means that Sony music properties who are worth keeping will be housed under one or the other. So all of those Arista artists like Usher and all of those Jive artists like Britney Spears will move to RCA records most likely, and the Jennifer Hudsons’ and Alicia Keys‘ will find their homes on Columbia. For a look at the story from the words of the execs in charge of this move, click here…http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/rca-execs-confirm-jive-arista-245392

I mean, getting rid of 2 Clive Davis labels and letting go of this many jobs is a humongous deal! A definite signifier of both how much the digital takeover has affected and weakened the industry, as well as how small the circle of money is among those who hold the power. This means the record labels are fighting not to become obsolete, and are really just closer extensions of their distributors, who have only ever really been just 3 main names. Right now, it’s looking like Universal, Sony and Warner. Look them up and see how many labels still exist under each.

This comes on the heels of me having this wack meeting which I mentioned, and watching plenty of disheartening moments on last night’s BET Hip-Hop awards. Which leads me to my next post….

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners make waves for Liberia & liberation!

How did I let last week go by without posting anything about this wondrous and beautiful event?

3 women were bestowed with the prestigious honor of the Nobel Peace Prize this month, 2 of them being from my mother’s home country of Liberia, and the third being a Muslim woman from the east with the full support of her husband. History…

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first female president of Liberia who brought the country back to life after decades of corruption and civil war shares the honor with her fellow country woman and more radical activist, Leymah Gbowee, as well as Tawakkul Karman – an activist in Yemen. For more information on this year’s winners, check the official link here…http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2011/press.html

This marks a groundbreaking moment in the prize’s existence, recognizing an under-represented group both gender wise and culturally. Sirleaf and Gbowee become the 2nd and 3rd African women to receive the award ever.

Big ups to Liberia!!

Could you do without the Columbus Day Holiday off??

 

 

 

A Picture’s worth a thousand words…

http://www.reconsidercolumbusday.org/

The 25 Greatest Cartoons Ever!!

Since it is a Saturday morning, It’s only right that I conclude my cartoon list trilogy and present to you my list of my favorite and in my humble opinion, the 25 greatest cartoon series that any 80’s babies should love and agree with!!!

We’ll start with

25. Bionic 6 

I was tempted to place this on my list of forgotten cartoons because I’m convinced that only the kids on my drug-ridden block in Harlem during the 80’s knew about this. Yet I’ve heard enough rumbles of recognition from others when I mentioned it in later life for me to give it a shot here. It’s a classic superhero family story. A couple comprised of 2 scientists adopt a bunch of kids (including a Black son and an Asian son), and bring their own along with them on high tech missions of hero-dom to save the world using their own developed bionic enhancements, giving each one their own power – from telepathy to speed and strength. It was like The Incredibles meet the X-Men. Plus the toys were made of real iron parts. Dopeness. 

24. Bobby’s World 

Before it was found out that Howie Mandel was an Obsessive-Compulsive germa-phobe, he was still collecting checks doing stand-up and voice-overs for lovable characters. One of his most memorable was his semi-autobiographical creation of Bobby, a tot who became lost in the world of his imagination and the antics of his immense family surrounding him. It was life from a child’s view before the Rugrats sensation. I learned about Minnesota accents from this cartoon. Love how other people always mispronounced his last name. “It’s Gen-er-ic”. 

23. Marshall Bravestarr 

Native American culture boost 101 in full effect. Here’s something you don’t see anymore. This made up for the horrible stereotype created by Apache Chief on Superfriends in the 70’s and gave the world a real Native American Superhero who embodied both a nod to the supernatural culture and the modern culture of American-Indians. A sheriff who is on a mission to fight evil and discover his true history finds himself endowed with mystic powers that allow him to call on the spirits of different animals to get him out of situations and save the day. Add in some Dope animation and a cool cast of supporting characters and you have a winner. For those of you that remember…

22. Fat Albert 

I don’t have to say much. In an era of poor Black depictions and limited visibility for African-American characters on cartoons and television in general (a tradition that unfortunately continues to this day), Bill Cosby and his creative and comedic genius managed to turn those depictions into life lessons and memorable icons. This too is semi-autobiographical and based on Bill’s own crew from his youth. It’s still not clear why they were hanging in a Junkyard, but they truly tackled some relevant issues and slipped a lot of timely slang and jargon in there. I’m glad they re-ran this in the 80’s. Black kids needed this.

21. 2 Stupid Dogs 

I Love this. Without being too slapstick, a la Looney Toones, this cartoon capitalizes on being so stupid you have to laugh. The things these dogs try to get into…And the fact that one is so hype and the other is so sedate to the point of slow is a great contrast. Now add in the fact that in between sketches, there’s episodes of Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole and their clever and cute spy missions…Coolness. 

20. Darkwing Duck 

Disney doing superhero as only they can, the homage to Gotham-esque characters and cleverly named birds like Drake Mallard and SteelBeak went over so well that no one raised on the Disney afternoon line-up can forget it. As a matter of fact, this cartoon is what anchored the line-up and made it a definite fixture in afterschool cartoon watching. It was the stronger than Gummi Bears, and not as serious as Aladdin. And come on, how cool was it that they used 2 of our favorite characters from Ducktales? Launchpad Mc Quack and Giiiizzzmo Duck!! It was like a cooler spin-off.

19. C.O.P.S. 

I dare you to see if you remember this. Then I dare you to see if you remember the rollcall at the end of every episode and name every character’s name (if not, I included it in the clip below). This was the Dopest propaganda I’ve ever seen in a cartoon. Making police officers look cooler than they could ever be in real life, this special precint  featured one super cop with one specialty in each unit, from riot, to highway to k-9. And there were equally specified villains, from a mafioso esque crime syndicate leader named Big Boss (who literally ruled with an iron fist), to an evil scientist, a testosterone-fueled chic named Misdemeanor and a sexy Black catburgular named Nightshade, all on his payroll. Oh, did I mention that the chief of police was a Black cyborg named Bulletproof?? Everything about this cartoon was ill. 

18. Dexter’s Lab 

A pre-pubescent kid from a quaint, suburban nuclear family who just happens to have an Eastern European accent and is a boy genius bent on taking over the world (or at least getting world recognition for his genius). Can we say “Stewie” much? Guess what Seth Mcfarlane was watchin in the 90’s…Of course, his inventions and designs from his secret lab below his bedroom never led to such domination, and were usually fueled by young boy motivations like winning 1st place at school. They were also usually foiled by his annoying ballerina and girly-girly older sister Dee-Dee, who always effortlessly got past his security measures. The theme song is crazy too.

17. Spectacular Spider-Man 

Named after one of the actual comic book titles, I knew this take on an animated Spider-Man would be closer to the source material. It was a pure Marvel property and followed lots of the original plots and kept Peter Parker truer to form as a high school kid struggling to balance regular teen stress and an overwhelming rogues gallery of super-villains. With great power…As the best depiction of Spidey ever, I’m really not sure why this got canceled and never seemed to quite finish it’s second season tho.

16. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 

Speaking of teens, there’s nothing I can say about this phenomenon that anyone who grew up in the late 80’s and 90’s doesn’t know. It was impossible to not like this show if you were between the ages of 4  to 12. It appealed in a way that I still don’t how. But I guess the title itself is a clue to what the draw is. 3 things kids instantly love; Teen protagonists, Mutants – check!, Ninjas – check! The creators took a gamble with the turtle thing, but with 3 winning elements already in play, they could have been sloths and it would have worked. It’s etched in our minds probably more than any other cartoon from merchandise to movies. We all know the original theme song word for word and even the later revamps of the cartoon gave it a second and third life among younger generations. Turtle Power!

15. Pinky & The Brain 

Warner Bros. and Steven Spielberg‘s Amblin entertainment at its finest, this duo was so popular from their Animaniacs series, that they earned their own show. It made its way onto pseudo primetime slots as well as saturday mornings because of its intelligent humor, but child-accessability. It’s the model that most kids’ animated films follow nowadays; keep the characters silly and lovable for the children, but slip in some adult references and historical allusions to keep the grown-ups awake. And the fact that these 2 lab rats were affected in 2 different ways from experiments, making one a mad genius and one just…mad, was a great study in character juxtaposition. The catch phrases are unforgettable. “What are we going to do tonight Brain?”

14. Superman Adventures 

Another Warner property, no one has done comic book adaptations in cartoons better than what they did with the D.C. characters. Taking on the most famous and iconic Superhero of all time was a challenge. But They did it in a way that brought honor to the legacy they started with the Batman franchise. This was the best look at Superman, giving him layers and not seeming like a one-dimensional boyscout. It showed more of his history, his inner conflicts and just how bad the villains and threats he has to deal with are. You can’t be the most powerful superhero ever and not have the worst bad guys ever. Case in point, Lex Luthor – the worst villain of all time. Not because of powers, but because of his mind.

13. The Real Ghostbusters 

The best animated take on a movie ever, this was my favorite cartoon for a whole year as a kid. Couldn’t tell me nothing! The way each ghostbuster was characterized was perfect, from nerdy to sarcastic to steadfast, even the secretary had personality! I love that they had to add “the real” in the name because there was some wack knock-off with an ape, but kids knew the deal. For a cartoon, it actually succeeded in creating pretty scary scenarios and atmospheres. And OMG, the ghosts and ghouls on there were creepy as hell! Peep this scene with the Boogeyman. It puts horror films to shame. Imagine being 5 years old watching that!

12. X-Men 

What can I say about this? The only comic-book cartoon that I know for sure that 80’s babies of both sexes remember with the same affinity and excitement. Although it angered me as a kid because I was old enough to be really familiar with the comics, and the show took liberties with changing important facts, there is something TRULY special and epic about the X-Men that makes so many of us appreciate them. I was just glad that they included Jubilee, Gambit, Rogue and Storm. Even my Mom loves them because of this cartoon. And it had the best theme music ever. Take notes, cartoons – no corny words! 

11. Garfield & Friends 

A sarcastic cat made famous from national newspaper comic strips, who just wants to chill, loves pasta and makes condescending comments about dogs?? Love it. I This is the best humor-based cartoon cat ever! – I said it. Damn Heathcliff, Top Cat, Sylvester and errrybody else! Even the U.S. Acres cartoon in between was enjoyable with colorful characters. “I hope you bring lots of spaghetti!” 

10. Talespin 

Now tell me Disney wasn’t ahead of it’s time. The Disney afternoon was a brilliant way for the studio to reuse and re-introduce some of it’s non-staple characters like Chip and Dale, Uncle Scrooge  and the like, but none was more clever than their rehash of The Jungle Book‘s (my favorite Disney movie) Baloo as an out of work pilot, looking to retire. This cartoon was the first one to set a serious tone for the Disney afternoon line-up and dealt with things like corporate greed, feminism, robber Barrons and debt, featuring an orphan, a bar, and a single mother who takes over Baloo’s business when it gets foreclosed and he loses ownership of his beloved plane. Full of clever Disney style names for places and characters, and a catchy theme song, this is a gem.

9. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo 

Way better than the 80’s attempt to revive the Flintstones cast as kids, this remake of the classic Scooby-Doo shows was a winner! Of all the re-runs of those shows that were prevalent in the 80’s , this 90’s version was actually the one that made my generation familiar with the gang. It was 90’s chic with a 50’s spin reminiscent of diners and sock-hops. The music was so good. Even the background stuff. It really highlighted each kid’s quirkiness by poking fun at it’s older incarnations and emphasized the crime-solving aspect. I used to love when they unmasked the bad guy and recapped the clues. It was interactive but  won us over because it was cute. Plus, it made Thelma the coolest character this time. “Like Zoiks!” 

8. Tazmania 

If Pinky & The Brain is the best Warner humor-based cartoon, this is definitely my favorite. Besides the Roadrunner & Coyote characters and Speedy Gonzalez (forgive me) Taz is THE ONLY Looney Toones character that I ever liked. The idea to put him in his own show that showed him in a family setting was great! It’s only better because his whole family is articulate and smart and amazingly calm. Especially his dad, who reminds me of my dad. To watch Taz interact with his family as he has an incoherent meltdown every 5 minutes is hilarious. The supporting cast of a dozen or so characters is also a nice touch, each with their own agenda revolving around his world. A great play on Australian wildlife with a tongue-in-cheek theme song. “Blah Blah Blah, yakkity-smackety” 

7. Gargoyles 

At The peak of the Disney Afternoon, Gargoyles signified of changing of the guard. Disney gave the creators of this show creative license. I’m not sure if they were trying to compete with the more intense and ever-growing superhero market, but they took that and went really far with this one. The only show on the line-up to feature completely original characters detached from the rest of the Disney universe, this cartoon was dark, deep, multi-layered and full of references and nods to the 17th century. Shakespeare and Camelot inspirations as well as mentions of Illuminati and adult tones made this sooo not for kids. But it worked for a time…There were some minds at work here.

6. PowerPuff Girls 

On a brighter (and I do mean brighter) note; sugar, spice and everything nice, and a little something X-tra make the perfect recipe for this adorable trio of butt-kicking girls. This was the 3rd effort from the creator of Johnny Bravo and Dexter’s Lab and it won me over because I needed some sunshine in my life. It incorporated girly fluff and superhero cliches with adult-friendly satirical elements. A really cute show. I liked it so much that I wanted to see the movie in theatres when it came out. I settled for on-demand.

5. Thundercats 

I don’t know about the remake that has recently premiered, but this original is one of my top 5 favorite cartoons as you can see. The plot points were mature, the characters are all unique, and one of the characters is my favorite animal – a tiger! The villains and threats weren’t one note either. They really had some issues. And the origin story is epic and gripping. I set out on a goal as a kid to collect all of the action figures, but I failed. Maybe it’s not too late. “Give me sight beyond sight!”

4. Batman – The Animated Series 

Never has there been a cartoon that made its own world and sucked its viewers in like this. We didn’t really know what era this show was supposed to be, didn’t know where exactly Gotham was, but all we knew is that Batman had a lot on his plate and was pretty messed up himself. This was like Oscar-worthy writing, direction and acting in cartoon form. These episodes dealt with psychology, sociology and criminology on so many levels. It gave us all the framework for how we view Batman to this day and is the reason why we appreciate Christopher Nolan‘s films so much. It’s iconic!

3. The Avengers – Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! 

The only ensemble superhero show that could give Justice League a run for it’s money, This is Marvel’s first all around well executed cartoon series. Featuring all of the best characters from the universe that are NOT X-Men or Spider-Man, this cartoon balances the excitement of a saturday morning kids’ cartoon with the maturity and adult tone of the D.C. cartoons (finally) and introduces us to the best heroes and villains, including Thor, Hydra, The Kree and how cool that the Black Panther – a genius hero from a High-tech African city is one of the main members? Hope this one lasts for a while.

2. Justice League 

The ONLY reason why this cartoon is not number 3 is because once it turned into Justice League Unlimited it got even more awesome and took things to levels no other cartoon has. If only X-Men could have taken a cue from this show, they’d know how to fit in all of their members while still maintaining a sense of stability. The animation was top-notch. Building off of where the Batman and Superman animated series left off, this cartoon featuring all of the big D.C. superheroes from Wonder Woman to (a Black) Green Lantern, was amazing. The story-lines were pretty heavy and came off like a super hero soap opera, complete with plotlines of  love triangles, powerlessness and the government conspiring to kill them! Fascinating to the end.

1. Avatar – The Last Airbender 

This is the reason why I did not support James Cameron history-making Blockbuster. This is the greatest cartoon ever made. Period. Go watch season one and you’ll be hooked. I love that it’s anime without being anime – because anime sucks if you’re not Japanese! I love that it’s not culture specific. I love that it plays off  of universal laws, cultural differences, elements, spirituality, martial arts, militarism and colonization as well as adolescence and family ties. And there’s so much more. The best!

Clair Huxtable is teaching a college class, and it’s all thanks to Denzel Washington!!

So besides finding out that the official trailer for the Avengers movie is premiering next week, this is the most exciting news I’ve seen this month!

How crazy would it be to be shuffling between periods as a student to get to your acting class only to have it taught by America’s favorite mom and every Black man’s prototype for a wife??! 

The prestigious and regal Phylicia Rashad has been the coolest thing since sliced bread for decades. Although she’s etched in our minds as the quick-witted, sharp-tongued and flawless lawyer extraordinaire, Mrs. Huxtable, she also caught a second wind when she returned to her theatre roots and started racking up stage accolades and awards. She’ll be teaching a course at Fordham University this school year titled “Creating A Character”. I’m already trying to figure out how to moonlight between colleges and sign up for this class. (For the full story, check out these links http://www.fordham.edu/campus_resources/enewsroom/inside_fordham/october_3_2011/news/denzel_washington_en_80202.asp

http://www.playbill.com/news/article/155233-Denzel-Washington-Bestows-Over-2-Million-to-Fordham-University-Phylicia-Rashad-Joins-Faculty  )

Of course, this is all possible from the generous and Dope donation made by Fordham alum Denzel Washington. Mr. Washington granted his alma mater 2.25 million to the theatre department. This also comes with the gesture of a 250,000 dollar endowment for a scholarship bearing his name. The new chair developed by his donation also bears his name as the Denzel Washington chair in theatre, with Rashad as the first chair.

This is indeed a great day for Black folk, Black academia and Black celebrity all at the same time. In seldom recognized moments of philanthropy and forward mobility like this, I’m in admiration that 2 of our brightest and biggest are at the forefront. “Black Excellence” indeed.

And as far as Ms. Rashad, she’s proof that Bison still rep at other people’s schools.

HU!! U Know!!!!!