The REAL Malik Speaks on “The Game” via premiere party

There I was.

Our former columnist and favorite renaissance woman, TDJ brought me out with her when she was in my neck of the woods. The event was a viewing party for the premiere of the wildly popular dramedy, The Game on the BET network. What else could bring a bunch of New York transplants out in the beginning of what was poised to be the next snow storm of 2011 so far??

Not only was the venue the newly opened competition to my day job, but I found myself amongst a bunch of the so-called taste-makers and socialites of the new urban professional scene. Most ironically, I found myself exchanging light conversation with one of the very people who appear crossed out in the banner at the top of my blog, from the cast of the short-lived BET reality series, Harlem Heights (a show full of a cast consisting of only 1 true Harlemite – hence them being crossed out in my banner).

This type of scene, which usually makes me throw up in my mouth a little, was refreshingly cool and calm. I don’t know if rolling with TDJ has some kind of magic or something, but the last few events that I’ve been to with her have all had a down to Earth vibe to them with folks who would otherwise be pretentious or uppity, being very warm and friendly. It didn’t hurt that I was practically surrounded by women and I got to chill with one of my favorite writers, The Jaded New Yorker. There were a few random dudes threatening to steal my mojo, but here in particular, everyone came for a common accord, to watch The Game on multiple flat screens at the same time and share unified reactions and responses to the newness of things.

Even the guys paid attention. I’m assuming that since it was a taste-maker event full of the “Harlem Elite”, that these random dudes are writers or in the entertainment business somehow…I don’t know…I don’t concern myself with what men do on average. But the unison in the room was felt every time the commercial break was over and the show came back on as ‘shushes’ spread across the floor prompting everyone to be quiet and focus. And focus we did…

Our hostess for the evening, the vivacious Eb the Celeb captured footage and conducted interviews throughout the night and put it together in this clip. You can get a feel for what I was feeling here…

Oh yeah, and I guess the show wasn’t bad either. Just really don’t like when dudes have my name. There’s never been a cool guy named Malik on television. I HATE this character! Glad he gets all the flyest girls on the show tho…That ain’t too far from the truth!

Who Killed The Female Rapper?: A Love Story…

As I watched the BET special, My Mic Sounds Nice –  The Truth About Women in Hip-Hop,

I realized that along with my homegirl, Starrene Rhett, I have become somewhat of an advocate for the female emcee in this modest blog-world. Upon a quick review of this site and it’s stats, I see that my most popular posts have been the ones in my series of Top female rapper lists, ranging from Top failures to Top hopes for the future. I accept that responsibility humbly, something like a masculine feminist, simply because I couldn’t imagine hip-hop without women.

What I do like about this delicately edited and thoughtfully put-together documentary is that it addressed all of the relevant issues that have arisen for the female M.C. Although it flashed past the whole early 90’s era where you might have seen the most diverse cavalcade of estrogen-infused rappers and jumped right into the mid-90’s, it accomplished so much in its one hour time span.

I was surprised and  delighted to see unexpected faces like Eve, Ladybug Mecca (so damn beautiful), Nikki D, Tiye Phoenix and even Rage and Medusa. Despite having to endure my favorite, Mc Lyte‘s twisting lips every time she spoke, and listening to almost every participant damn near eulogize Lauryn Hill, I just kept wishing Foxy, Da Brat, Monie Love and Kim were apart of this as well. It would have felt more complete. And Why the fuck doesn’t Queen Latifah ever Come out for these kinds of things??!

Actually, this topic is so big that each segment really deserved its own half hour. This could be a Planet Earth – like series that goes on and really delves into the details of everything. Female hip-hop enthusiasts, writers, rappers and directors – you listening out there??

I was wondering if Nicki Minaj would come up, and of course she did. Things were approached from the angles that you would expect from a special on this level. Remember, this is a network that has turned its program marketing toward a young pre-teen to late 20’s demographic, so at most, I hope it taught lots of young’ns that there was life before Nicki. It was a very surface investigation that didn’t give us answers or surely didn’t teach hip-hop historians such as myself, but if anything, should have inspired us to do better, or at least find out the whys and hows.

I know from being in this world that there are in fact more female rappers now than ever! And on a super diverse scale. What I haven’t seen, however, is a wealth of appeal.

Let’s put the burden of being a female aside and just take into account the value of appeal and grind for any artist on the come up. Now Iam no guru on this being that I as an artist trying to make it myself haven’t really been able to crack the magic formula to be an overnight smash. But the few strides that I have made thus far in my fledgling career can be attributed to a healthy understanding of and dedication to both. As I pointed out in one of my top female rapper posts, the number one Achilles heel of Female rappers is focusing too much of their energy on one aspect of their artistry or personalities. Sex sells, but there’s only so much you sell yourself before you’re used up. Battling is cool, but after you’ve won all the battles, where’s your deal? Lyrics are dope and all, but where’s your stage presence?

The reason Lauryn is the Holy Grail of female hip-hopdom and her name garners the same reverence from both new and old rappers is because she displayed so many facets of her personality in an honest, vulnerable, casual, confident and believable way, all from the jump. It wasn’t, ‘oh, let me sing on this third project‘. Or ‘let me wear a dress after 10 years’, or ‘let me make a relationship song now after I’ve killed niggas on the block in my 80 prior mixtape appearances’, or ‘let me try to show you I’m lyrical on this acapella YouTube freestyle after all my songs have been bubblegum pop’.

For this reason, we have to bring the fact of being a female back into play. Any new rapper has to present their story and their appeal, and in most cases, being a 1 dimensional rapper doesn’t get you far (Unless of course your character as an artist overshadows your content, or you’re Kid Cudi or one of these new Weed Rappers or Officer Ricky). Now take that and double the responsibility for a woman because not only does she have the obstacle of trying to sway the masses as a new artist, she has to sway the masses to feel her as a woman. And in hip-hop, the masses means men who fuel barbershop debates and hating-ass women who have to feel like there’s something to relate to or identify with in you. That means all you hardcore underground Lesbians better have some helluva charismatic charm!

Now, Starrene stands on the side that insists that the industry is shady and men have been closing doors on females for years, citing a lack of ability to generate sales (see her article here, http://gangstarrgirl.com/2010/08/mics-do-sound-nice-but-some-still-dont-hear-it/#more-1228). She points that most of these big wigs are too lazy to actually Scout for the talent that is flooding the rap scene today, and wouldn’t know where to look if they tried.

I agree.

But I do definitely think that the female rapper herself is more to blame.

If anyone remembers the PreYoung Money Nicki, you know that she was determined to make heads turn and gain reaction because she sought out to keep her name buzzing and play in the same arenas as the boys who are respected. I see the misogyny in hip-hop lyrics daily, but rarely amongst the community of artists. I don’t hear male rap groups or soloists saying ‘nah, she can’t do this because she’s a chic’ If anything, the usual response from men in the game upon hearing a good female rapper is one of excitement, wanting to be the one who puts her on, or seeking to collab.

I used to date a female rapper who was very prominent within the underground circle, even award-winning. But what I noticed is that for all the acclaim that she received and all the notoriety she was gaining for her music on the show circuit, she never took the steps to translate that to any other success in the other crucial areas of being buzzworthy. Videos were nil, Press coverage was scarce, and pursuit of a radio or dj connect was not in the works. This is something that I see far too often with women in the game. I can’t – and you can’t either, name 1 female who is a prominent mainstay on any blogsite or hip-hop media site the same way as alot of these dudes. There is no female Curren$y. No female Joell Ortiz.

Now, as much love as someone like this chic got or someone who most everyone loves, like a Jean Grae gets respect across the board, I find it hard to believe that this is the doing of evil men in power so much as it is a lack of push. I think some semblance of complacency sets in when female artists reach a certain level of status in the underground world. They may not feel the urgency of getting features and having weekly tracks posted. This is evidenced by such big breaks you see between female-helmed releases.

Another thing is that It may be easier for women to feel like their rap lives are separate from their private lives. This is delicate territory because I cannot truly know the mechanics of being a woman, but in my experience, I have heard most women who rap draw the line more distinctly than men. This could play a role in how much what they deem as real life gets in the way of their grind. Life changes, finances, travel, romantic and familial situations can all deter one young lady. Or even something less tangible but just as real such as age and security can unravel someone and make them withdraw a bit. As women advance thru life, they become more concerned with their stability and future. A man is more inclined to engage in at-risk behavior well into his late 30’s, including continuing to live as a starving artist. Most women ain’t having that! Even the raptress I was dating would have moments where she questioned hanging it up and pursuing other passions out of fear of time. Take our favorite, Jean, for example…. What rap journalist wouldn’t scramble to claim first dibs on her exclusives a few years ago if she was the kind of artist to consistently drop new music? At one point, she had us in the palm of her hands, waiting for her to give us the closest thing to balance in a female rapper since Ms. Hill. But what did she do? She played us! She fake-retired, got moody, got old and not bubbling under anymore. Now the only ones checking for her to blow are her prior fans. There was a point in time where Nina B was a frequent name on hip hop sites with new videos and mixtapes and collabs every month, but now it seems even she has fallen back a bit.

So something must be said for the amount of women in this biz not understanding what works and neglecting to marry as many elements together in a way that will gather the largest build-up. As was said in the special, I just hope somebody comes along after the airing of this and gets it right so a new spark can be ignited. I have my predictions. And lets not count Nicki out as a spearhead.

On another note, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to hip you all to this brilliant post that was put up by one of my blogger homies, Ms. Smarty P. Jones, courtesy of her blog, Smarty’s World http://smartysworld.com/2010/09/01/hip-hop/

She does a clever run down of female M.C.ing based on the show’s main subjects.

Until next time people, I’ll be bumping my Da Brat joints and waiting for some kind of Phoenix Saga.

And since we’re talking about ignorance….Ode to UNCUT!!

It all started with One Video. A low budget video from a low budget group of ragtag D.C. area (Or uurrheaaa for my peoples who know what’s up!) rappers who looked like they were well into their 30’s. If you know music like I do then you knew from the second you saw it come on that, A) you were up waaaay too late, B) Obviously these guys were in some kind of time warp or regional haziness thinking that they were actually gonna pop with this and C) This was gonna be some shit!

At first, most of us didn’t know what to make of it. We now knew there may have been something entertaining on television at the UnGodly hour time slot, so it cushioned our insomnia or knack for staying up B.S,ing while we knew we should have been catching sleep and preparing for our next days. And this was usually the video that started each episode off! We knew when that stopped being the first video to play, that this show was taking off and we weren’t the only ones staying up past midnight to see gratuitous booty clapping at a time when the vixens and their inuendo-drenched scenes had just began to get trimmed down on daytime video play.  I even remember seeing Nipples in this video!

It was clear that the programmers at BET network weren’t quite sure what to do with this music video vehicle and time slot. It probably originally started because they just needed somewhere to dump all of the video submissions they were constantly getting from random no-name, independent artists with lower distribution and finances. They probably were receiving plenty of complaints from them for not getting granted equal exposure to that of their counterparts with major industry backing. And I’m sure that on the flipside of that, there were a good amount of complaints from viewers of Rap City who would get angry when their good hour of Hip-Hop video watching (bad enough it had gotten scaled down from 2 hours to 1 at the turn of the century, and been flooded with a handful of corny hosts) was compromised by inbetween moments of WTF? artists. I know I used to get mad when After my dope Camp Lo, Nas or Snoop video went off, some cornball video by M.C. Never -blow-up would come on and take away 3 minutes of my life!!

However it came about, what’s more important is what it became. The growth of UnCut seemed unstoppable. You could feel it building up with each bootleg video clip from every bammafied, non-lyrical, dollar hungry perpetrator calling themselves artists. I have a theory that the wacker a rapper is, the realer they are. I know that that’s a silly notion, but something tells me if you were busy flipping weight and doing drive-bys and stick-ups, that you didn’t really have time to be paying attention in english class to know where to delicately place your metaphors and a,b,b,a patterns lined up with the alliteration and double entendre. So OJ da juiceman…I BELIEVE YOU!!!

These niggas clearly had lots of drug money to sponsor their rap star dreams. Or at least to give them the satisfaction of having their own anthem to hear in the strip club! But popularity is a mutha. The more this show became a safe haven for warm blooded, Hetero-sexual men to bond over and release their visual-cheating tendencies, the more variety came. It went from being a platform for your favorite black lipped, trapper-rapper making booty songs, to being open to anyone with an outrageous enough video. So in come in the nerds and gimmicky rappers (like The Firemen – a trio featuring former DTP affiliate, 4-Ize and Tec, from MTV fame),

the wannabes (like Won-G, a Mystikal-meets -Da Brat M.C. Hammer clone)

and the female rappers (Rasheedah, La Chat).

You know it had reached it’s height, when it became so big that the celebrities and more well known rappers began to make videos to join in the race. And with that, is exactly when we witnessed the Death of UnCut

Guess it was just too big for it’s own good. It grew too fast. It got talked about too widespread. It’s like a member broke the code of a fraternal order. Somebody snitched on the boy’s club and it was no longer an underground meeting of the…uhmm….minds… It was too much once you had dudes’ girlfriends and female friends staying up and tuning in, dying to see what all the fuss was about, only to be disgusted with both us and the videos, but strangely intrigued at the same time. It’s the same way they treat men with Porn. The cool chics wanted to watch it with us because they would get just as much of a kick out of it, but still and all, there was no point of return once the doors had opened that wide.

Not everyone was so amused.

You can thank Nelly, Hip-Hop’s Media darling at the time for the beginning of the end. After the now infamous “Tip Drill” video, people who never even heard of the show started trying to watch to get a glimpse of the controversial Credit card swipe (re-enacted by me in the similarly infamous “Subway bus or Walking” video). It became a fascination, then a conversation, then an outrage. Boycotts ensued, including one that canceled a bone marrow drive at Spellman College that could have potentially helped save Nelly’s sister’s life. The double standard was astounding to me. These conflicted half -a -feminists Black College girls, who I’m sure were just dancing to a Luke song or Ying Yang Twins hit telling them to drop and shake, went from wanting to see a video with their favorite rapper that everyone was talking about, to wanting to see the very program that it was shown on taken off of the air! I guess things were ok when it was just the grimey looking guy from Arkansas putting up a video on there, but when it’s the same guy who was slow dancing with Kelly Rowland in the streets of the suburbs a year before, it was Unacceptable! How dare he go to a strip club and make a video about it with Real Strippers in it!! What blew my mind, was that people seemed to forget that fact – these were Strippers!! Nobody was mad at them for allowing these dudes to exploit them. It was all the rappers and BET‘s fault. I may have joined that bandwagon, had there not been such an obvious attempt made by BET to make sure that it was known that this was ADULT programming at an extremely ADULT time slot. Yeah it sucked that we only had One Major Black network at the time, and this is what these dumb-ass rappers chose to do with their time and craft, but Iam much more worried about and offended by what I hear and see during the daytime and peak hours where the younger folks are the predominant audience. I would only hope radio took as much responsibility as to put songs in content-based time slots, but nooooo! How much money would be lost if we couldn’t hear Nicki Minaj talk about licking other chics on Usher‘s single, or hear Rihanna tell some guy to “Take it” repeatedly, or whatever hot new rapper tell a chic to get drunk, high and bend over on the dancefloor. Your daughters and sons are soooo much safer with 106 & Park right??

Well, that’s how the cookie crumbles… They started moving the show to later times and making it even shorter until it eventually went away without a goodbye. I remember being on campus and seeing a girl who used to be quite promiscuous turn into the ringleader of a petition to get the program banned from BET. This was all due to some kind of spiritual rebirth she had underwent during the previous semester. I couldn’t help but think that it was her and her minions who were responsible for the demise when I saw that it was NEVER going to come back on again.

Make no mistake. This was ignorance at it’s finest. The kind of ignorance that should have never existed in the first place. But what I hated is the reasons surrounding it’s fall. They were steeped in contradiction and ridiculosity! Much like the videos accompanying the songs themselves, which ranged from dark songs about getting money, to silly sex solicitations, to almost-rape themes. It was a sad awakening that was so bad that you couldn’t do anything else but be entertained by the fact that this was not a joke. These fools were serious! The legacy is a lifetime of memories, bad visuals and horribly infectious hooks and taglines that we laughed at so many times that we actually began to like them. Word to Black Jesus!

Now here are a few of mine and your personal favorites!

And The Best song ever!!

R.I.P. Uncut, you had your time