Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cognitive Surplus: Did TV Kill the Book?


WARNING:::This is a LONG POST. It's still pretty accessible. I put a lot of thought into it. I hope you enjoy.

I think about information a lot.
Every since last December I have been fascinated by notion of
using data for social purposes. I have envisioned maps of Oakland,
Detroit and Philly that display the sites where people were murdered,
the number of high school drop outs, teachers salaries, the mayors
salary and the city's budget. I am not sure what the exact goal of such
a map may be, and having a goal for it may not be the point. However,
I do know that looking at all these things together constitutes a
new way of viewing our urban centers. With 20 school age
children killed in Chicago this school year, we can use all of the new
tools we can get.

I was reminded of my urban wiki map idea when I read a
post titled, We Need Wikipedia for Data by Bret Taylor. I
immediately thought, we need an urban data wiki. It would be
a kind of urban xray.

Mel Blake touches on this a bit when he discusses the
cognitive surplus (the time that we have when we aren’t
watching TV) and how we are in the midst of a shift in
terms of how we use our time. He mentions how a Professor
in Brazil, Vasco Furtado, is making a Wiki Map of crime.
Blake calls it social software. He goes on to speak about how
we are shifting from being a society who passively consumes
to one who expects to interact, share, produce AND consume.

Because I think of information a lot, I am often pondering how
we use and evaluate information and how information compels
us to act. It has becomes clear that the ability to map complex multilayered
information so that both laymen/women and the well connected can
understand it, speaks to the power of information. JP of Confused
of Calcutta
recently posted on how information is power and that
it is bound to be shared and attempts to stop it are futile. He writes,

Once we had oral language, we had information. Much of it was passed from generation to generation without fear or favour. Then, somewhere along the line, people figured out that hoarding information gave them some form of power. And out of that came caste systems and class systems. And a few wars.

It was all about power. Not value.

When we moved from oral to written language, we still had information. But now we could store some of it, and share some of it. But people figured out, if only there was a way to control who could read and write, then the power would remain.

Along came the printing press. Same story. If only there was a way to control who could print and distribute, the power would remain.

Jonathan Franzen has also influenced this essay. I recently finished reading
his book How to Be Alone. In the essay “The Reader in Exile” he speaks about
the demise of reading and the rise of television watching. Franzen states,

"For every reader who dies today, a viewer is born, and we seem to
be witnessing, here in the anxious mid-ninties, the final tipping of the
The fact that both Franzen and Blake are wrestling with the same issue
which is what are we doing with our free time (reading books, searching
internet, blogging or watching sitcoms) and what does that say about
our culture? Think about it, how many times a week do we blame our
children’s behavior, poor grades or illiteracy on too much television
watching. When Mel mentioned that we watch 200 BILLION hours of
television in the US alone I thought, what an amazing piece of data,
how can we map it?

Back to Jonathan Franzen. The basic thesis of his essay is that the
book culture is dying and screen culture is growing. I did not want
to read those words. As a writer it’s both terrifying and depressing
to see that your audience is shrinking. The reasonable and immediate
thought is that if fewer people are reading
, then my work will become
worthless. I thought, maybe I should be making videos instead.
As a writer you already feel resentment when your work isn’t
well received, but for your audience to be shrinking as well,
leads to another level of angst. For instance, as a blogger you
want lots of comments and links and to spur discussions.
Some times it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. The question then
becomes, do we write to be well received or do we write because
we can't help it?

Television is an easy target for criticism. Simply critiquing the
rise of computers and the demise of books is reactionary .

What we have to have is a vision. This vision will require us to
think about what kind of world we want to live in, be it analog,
digital, screen based or book based.

In many ways, blogging symbolizes the book world meeting up with the
computer world which is one of the reasons why its so difficult.
I have noticed on my blog that I am more comfortable wrestling
with the material than I am with promoting it after it has been
written. What I have learned is that if I want feedback, I have to
promote, interact, and do some general web 2.0 behavior.

Promoting is apart of sustaining. I work everyday at getting better at it.

One part of getting better at is listening and reading other thinkers.
I like aerial thinkers in general such as are Umair and Mel Blake
and JP. Ariel thinkers can synthesize various strands of thoughts
in a way that allows large groups to understand multlayerd material.
They my be doing so for the purposes of helping corporations
understand social media, or they may do so for the same reason
I blog, because they like it.

Reading their work is affirming because I am frequently told
that I am all over the place. Readers tell me, “, you are
doing too much” or “you need to focus” or "slow down".
However, when I read the aerial thinkers, I have to take notes
and reread their posts to keep up with them. It's affirming. I
agree that sometimes I do need to focus more on the exact point
I want folks to take away from the post. Whereas in other
instances, I am working on synthesizing various strands that,
ON ITS FACE may appear to be unrelated but upon a closer
look are connected in subtle, nuanced and powerful ways.
This is what makes the ability to organize and
present compelling data so powerful.

As a Black woman with survivors guilt, as a scholarship kid who
writes crack stories, I see it as my moral and spiritual obligation to
figure out how to leverage this information. Any suggestions?

Special note: I wrote this listening to Jay Z’s Lucifer on repeat.

Additional Reading
Death of the Sitcom Frees Up 2,000 Wikipedia's worth of
Cognitive Capacity

Gin Television and Social Surplus, the video

But the Goons Stay Frozen


via Grand Good

AG's verse on this 'ish is nasty. When was the last time you
heard a verse and you
put your hand over your mouth because
you couldn't believe what you were hearing? Thats how I felt
when I watched this video. AG rhymes,

Tight with production/ the crates overflowing
We always keep it humble/ but the goons stay frozen.
AG sounds dumb hungry. It's, dare I say it, refreshing?

I think O.C. and AG, are on that thorough, I'm going
to play my position "Boot Camp" steez. It works.

I mean. I envisioned myself listening to this track,
riding on the freeway in that Lemon Yellow '68 of
my dreams.

I would would put MY cold hard cash
down to see these cats in a show.

Yes indeed.


via GG

The intercuts between LoLife and Ralph Lauren is egregious.
Someone, either the director or the editor HAS a razor sharp
of humor.
"Yo, we wanted to get these n*ggas, he had on
some Lo, I ain't see, I was like yo".
Oh. It's like sad, and funny and funny. I felt uncomfortable
enjoying it. Like listening to some Ol' D B, around older
Black folks and White folks.
"We the reason why they wearing his shit.
Because nobody was wearing that shit until
lolifes put that sh-t on"
Man. That statement is so loaded.
Its like "Tommy Hilfiger don't want Black people
wearing his stuff" all over again.


Speaking of Boot Camp and Buck.
Here is the new video for the 9th & Buck Project.


Excuse me while I go ponder how Jeremiah Wright
reminds me of Hip Hop......

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thank You Hillary, for Having a Spine


The personal is political.

When I was a teenager, I introduced Marian Wright Edelman at
a conference. She is an Advocate with a capital A, and i
t was an honor.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Edelman gave

Hillary her first job out of college and Hillary turned around
and fiddled while Bill signed the welfare "reform" bill that
has singled handedly insured the poverty of an entire
generation of children. Peter Goodman writes in The Times,

Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of Children’s Defense Fund, an activist group that had given Mrs. Clinton her first job, blasted the Clintons as betraying the poor, opening a rift that Mrs. Clinton called “sad and painful.” Mrs. Edelman’s husband, Peter, quit his administration post.
Pete Edelman, Marians husband, resigned as Bill's assistant
secretary of Health and Human services in protest against
Clinton's Welfare reform.
If there is no national controversy about welfare reform, we paid an awfully high price,” said Peter Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University who has known Mrs. Clinton since her college days, and who quit his post as assistant secretary of social services at the Department of Health and Human Services in protest after Mr. Clinton signed the measure.

“They don’t acknowledge the number of people who were hurt,” Mr. Edelman said. “It’s just not in their lens. It was predictably bad public policy.”
This single handedly is one of the most horrible aspects
of his presidential career.

How can a person call themselves progressive when
they stood
on the backs of poor children?

I will ask again.

How can a person call themselves progressive when
they stood
on the backs of poor children?
In many ways, Mrs. Clinton has sought to moderate her liberal image since leaving the White House. But on welfare, she has faced the opposite problem: accusations from some liberals that she sold out their principles for a politically calculated centrism.

In the interview, conducted last month, Mrs. Clinton said she had followed through on her promise to address what she viewed as shortcomings in the welfare law after being elected to the Senate in 2000. She said she had pressed for legislation that would have increased financing for child care for poor mothers by up to $11 billion, seeking to expand food stamps, and allowing welfare recipients to draw cash aid while attending school.

Those provisions were blocked by the Republican leadership.

The question was, did she want to be an advocate,
or did she want to
be president?

Many welfare advocates dispute Mrs. Clinton’s characterization. Since entering the Senate, they say, she has shown a predilection for compromise at the expense of the poor.

When the overhaul bill came up for reauthorization, Sandra Chapin, a former welfare recipient affiliated with a coalition called Welfare Made a Difference, lobbied Congress to allow more women to attend college while they received aid. Mrs. Clinton “wouldn’t have anything to do with it,” Ms. Chapin said.

Ms. Chapin, now program director of the Consumer Federation of California, posted an e-mail message to a discussion board in February accusing Mrs. Clinton of having “had a hand in devaluing motherwork in this country, and no doubt sending thousands of children and their families deeper into poverty.”

Do you know HOW MANY families would be positively
impacted by allowing
parents to receive Public Assistance
while they are enrolled in school?

We don't know if we want mothers to go to school or go
to work. The bottom line is that the need support
if they are going to do either.

Have you ever thought about how with public
assistance mommas
its, "your lazy, go to work, you
aren't supporting your family". However, with middle class
and affluent mommas its, "stay home, your kid is failing in
school because you work too much outside the home".

How about support for all families?

How about this factoid?
The number of poor single mothers, who are neither
receiving public assistance or
are currently working
had surged to 30% by 2005.

In the years that followed, the number of those on welfare rolls plummeted by more than 60 percent. A study last year by the Congressional Budget Office found that from 1991 to 2005, poor families with children saw their inflation-adjusted incomes climb by 35 percent, as employment climbed.

In recent years, however, low-skilled women have struggled. The percentage of poor single mothers neither working nor drawing cash assistance surged from under 20 percent before the welfare overhaul to more than 30 percent in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service. During the same period, the number of children in poverty rose to 12.8 million from 11.6 million, according to census data.

From 11.6 million to 12.8 million, thank you Hillary, for having a spine.

At least Lady Bird Johnson lobbied for the creation of head start.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Black People Are Afraid of Their Children: Sean Bell Reflections


Dude was selling these shirts in Harlem after Sean got murdered.

Black people are afraid of their children and have
been since The Beginning
of the Crack Era.

Pre-crack, Black communities, historically had
an it takes a village attitude towards child rearing.

Black parents had no problem checking a child
who was caught acting out. In fact, a kid could be
reprimanded by their parent and then be taken
home and punished/ whupped again.

As children we knew that even if our "parents"
weren't around,
other parents were around, so
we better act right.

Pre-crack, 12 year old Takeem mouthing off to the
owner of the local corner store would be
checked by another parent, then brought
home and punished again by his own parents.

Post-crack the 13 year old Takeem COULD possibly
have a 9mm, so there was a huge risk for a community
parent to chastise him for mouthing off to an elder.

Post-crack, the parent could get shot for saying something to
the Takeem.

What does this have to do with Sean Bell? Everything.

I began thinking about how our fear of our children undermines
our ability to both parent them and create less violent communities.
This morning when I was talking to Filthy about the Sean Bell
case, he was lamenting the fact that so many organizers
were going to be reactionary, yet again.

He was lamenting attending another angry rally.

He was lamenting the fact that these organizations
would again be putting their organization's
interests ahead of todays mission: social justice.

He mentioned that he was tired of folks talking
about demanding justice and that it was time to
create justice.

One form of creating justice was police accountability
and community policing. This is where Takeem comes in.

If we are scared of our children, how can we police our

We know who is hustling, who is thieving, who has the
"reduced priced goods", who sells gats, who moves bodies.
We don't talk to the police when they try and investigate
because of our history with the police. Its our code.
WE have to live in our neighborhoods. (Presuming
that you live in the hood).

Am I arguing that community policing could have prevented
the Sean Bell murder? No. What I do think is that
community policing and accountability is proactive
and demanding justice from police officers
when they have demonstrated repeatedly that social
justice is completly reactive.

Creating Justice is internally driven, demanding it is
externally driven. When change happens from within
its transformative, lasting and sustainable. Externally,
not so much.

What would happen if we took our communities into our
hands and began policing them ourselves while
simultaneously holding the formal police
accountable for their actions.

Everything, with regard to our children is our fault.
Their successes are ours, their failures are ours.

When will we stop being scared of them?

How and when will we work towards having neighborhoods
where we aren't scared of kids with guns?

When will we stop being afraid of our children and the police?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rising Up, The Best Song of '08. (so far)


I just finished reading Robert McKees book Story yesterday.

The major take away is that when people sit down for a movie,
they don't want necessarily want a happy ending, they
want to be emotionally satiated.

Man listen. Thats how I felt when I saw the new Roots video.

First of all. The hook. "Yesterday I Saw a B-Girl Crying". Man,
for every moment in the last twenty four hours where I felt, pity,
pressure, anger, rejection, that song
just made it moot. It was like a
facial and a good sermon. Feel me?

Second. The Drums. They sound like Elvin Jones meets Go Go.
That break beat is like water splashed into hot Friday night fish
You can hear how much of visionary ?uesto is on this one.
You know how when you listen to a Doom song, and you hear and
appreciate the individual elements that went into the composition.
Thats what this song reminds me of. Its melodic, boom bappy and catchy.

Third. Chrisette Michelle. I want her to win.
She is beautiful.
She is atypical of what the music industry says is An
acceptable Black woman. In the video, she is in her element.

Shining. This video and song is evidence that a win
and happen.

Fourth. Rik Cordero is a beast. The color saturation,
the jam session feel, the tight shots all come together
to make us feel like we are in the room with The Roots & Crew.

If there is ANYONE with an mp3, please send it. I will stream it
if I have too. Seriously.

Call jet blue. Get me to bk'lyn.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Of N*ggas, Mice and Men: NYOIL vs. Nas


NYOIL Video Courtesy of Rafi/Oh Word

Have you ever thought about why the word n*gga ignites
an unbelieveable amount of controversy? (no randy kennedy).

It ranks right up there with OJ and Bill Clinton.

The word n*gga is complicated because our relationship
to this country is complicated.

Think about it, who else, other than African Americans
can say that they are this countries oldest residents
BUT most recent citizens?

Our relationship to this country is complicated
so our relationship to our language, the words
in our language, will be complicated as well.

Think about it. Folks love to say that Black people are
lazy, but if we
were, why were you brought here to work
for free?

I began thinking about these issues while reading
Robbie's piece on NYOIL's song What up MY
, and Nas's song You Can Be a N-gger Too.

There is a major issue and a minor issue going on here.
The major issue is whether Nas has the right to take poetic
license with the word N*gga. This tension has always been
apparent in art. *Richard Wright thought Zora was too
n*ggerish (I couldn't resist yall) and many folks think that the
Holocaust should not be made fun of, while others think that
its a perfectly accepable form of entertainment (The Producers
anyone?). NYOIL speaks at Unkut about Nas, the song,
and N*ggas in general
. He writes,

Does he realize that when Robert Schwartz decides to stop being a nigger all he has to do is change his look. maybe trade in the bapes and backpack put on a suit and he’s right and exact. When Robert Yung decides he’s no longer a nigga he can be whatever an person of Asian decent can be in the country stereo types not withstanding. When Robert Rodriguez decides to stop being a nigger he can become a proud man of Latin descent. However for Robert Jenkins who’s grandparents where NIGGERS, blown over by fire hoses and beat within an inch of their lives, when the term meant what it will
always mean despite his attempts to make it a term of endearment
I don't agree with all of it because it fails to grasp the nuances
of our history here. HOWEVER, its nice to see cats trying to
struggle with material publicly. Its almost like a piece
of '89 stopped by and said hi.

The first question is whether Nas is biting NYOIL?
The second is who made the better song?

Based on the comments section, the conclusion is that
based on both the hook and the beat the songs are
substantially similar, but Nas's is better.

The responses are interesting in that they range from
"NYOIL is just a mad rapper", "Nas is just going to make
another mediocre album", "NYOIL is right, Nas has been
everything that these records labels have wanted him to
to be" to "Nas is just being playful with linguistics" and
"Why didn't nobody trip when Old DB came out with N-gga
Please". (My response to the last one was, Ol D B wore his
ignorance like a badge. Big Baby Jesus. Come on Ock?
We weren't surprised or conflicted over him naming an album
N*gga Please. It was par for the course).

The most poignant moment in the post is when NYOIL asks
Nas "When is he going to stop being a N*gga and start being a

I would take it one step further and ask when will all of us
will stop being a man, woman, n*gga, Black, White, Mexican,
Asian, and start being a, capital H, Human.

*In particular, a number of those that were associated with her in the growth and influence of the Harlem Renaissance were critical of her later writings, on the basis that they did not agree with or further the position of the overall movement. One particular criticism, much noted, came from Richard Wright in his review of Their Eyes Were Watching God.
". . . The sensory sweep of her novel carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she knows how to satisfy. She exploits that phase of Negro life which is "quaint," the phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the "superior" race." [9].

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is Blogging Journalism?


~~~>Post Length - Long, but tolerable

Rafi of Oh Word just posted on the lack of Journalism
in Hip Hop Journalism.
He goes on to critique several
Hip Hop blogs, one of which is The Smoking Section.

Full disclosure I am cool with both Gotty of The Smoking
Section and Rafi.

has never claimed that TSS was a home to HH journalism.

In fact ,old boy is quite pragmatic in terms of keeping, hip hop,
journalism and page views all in perspective.

For instance, when Gotty and I recently discussed my
Saul/KRS Sell Out post, we agreed that even though
Primo was on the Smirnoff sponsored track with KRS,
it wouldn't be proper for me to bring Primo into the
critique because he never held himself out to be a
Righteous dude.

I jokily mentioned to Gotty how he would probably accept cigarette ads
and then I caught myself, acknowledging that the name of the site IS
The Smoking Section. Duh.

When I mentioned this Primo clause to Filthy he reminded me
that Primo was always gully friendly, as he has worked with everyone
from Freddie Fox to MOP to NAS. You don't GET more street then
M.O.P. It ain't gonna happen.

f you read Rafi's post, it isn't personal attack on any
blogger. It is about the lack of investigation in Hip Hop
Journalism in general as he cites the fact that The Smoking
Gun has broken two major hip hop related pieces in the last month.

I would push Rafi a step further to critique the erosion of
investigative journalism and investigative anything over the
last 20 years.
His post reminded me of two things.

First a piece by Nick Davies on the rise of
Public Relations
and the erosion of investigate
journalism around the world.
Nick uses the Iraq War
as a test case. He measures the erosion by the fact
that newspaper journalist's are expected to accomplish
as much as they did 20 years ago in a fraction of the time,
which of course raises issues of sustainability.

You crunch all those numbers for all these companies and you come up with something that is really important – essentially, your average Fleet Street reporter now is filling three times as much space as he or she was 20 years ago. Turn that round, look at it from the reporter’s point of view: we only have one third of the time to do our job. That’s terribly important.
He also speaks on the PR machine as it relates to the war. He writes,
While we’ve been losing our jobs, somebody else has been getting more and more jobs. Which is the PR industry. There was an invisible moment at some point in the last decade when the number of PR people in this country finally exceeded the number of journalists.

When I started on local papers, if you wanted to write a story about a hospital you phoned the hospital you talked to the hospital manager or a doctor. Now you deal with a PR. Across the public sector – and across the private sector. All corporations now defend themselves. And charities and even terrorist groups! Everybody has PR people.

Whereas you should have a system where journalists, working honestly and independently, make what used to be called news judgments and say this story is important, this angle needs to be expressed, this research needs to be done....

And it isn’t just about press releases. It’s about deeply manipulative behaviour. So for example, PR companies work very assiduously to set up front groups. These are phony grass-roots groups. There are so many phony grass-roots groups in the US that they have a nice little term for them, they call them Astroturf, because they’re not real grass.

A classic example of an Astroturf group is the Iraqi National Congress, the INC. The INC didn’t just emerge out of nowhere, it was invented and created by a man called John Rendon..."
Nick's comments on the PR game hit me particularly in the spine
because I
have been considering launching a full blown PR
hustle. I figured, I have written bios, I understand music, marketing
and the law,
I can work on getting in contact with artists, so why
not? Well, Nick's
words have me thinking about how, if this is a
choice I make, which SIDE of the force I am going to be on.
That is the realness.

The second thing it reminded me of was of a few posts from the
tech bloggers world about the lack of original thought in the
blogosphere. Doc Searl, of The Linux Journal, lays out
why orginal thought is difficult. He writes,
  1. Writing original thought-provoking blog content is a challenge. It takes time, thought and effort. The problem, however, is many bloggers are often short of time, which means it is difficult to come up with insightful thoughts...
  2. Many bloggers just want to be part of the conversation before it moves on. You see a hot story and you’re keen to jump in but not willing to simply leave a comment on someone else’s blog...
  3. Writing original content often provides a low return on investment. Let’s face it, traffic is what drives many bloggers, which explains why checking your stats on a regular basis is a key part of blogging...
The title of this MADE ME feel good because, if anything, THERE
is ALWAYS original thought here at Model Minority. Sometimes
too much thought according to some......

I found it affirming because it appears that formal journalist,
hip hop bloggers and tech bloggers seem to be asking themselves
the same question, which is how do we classify the material that
we are writing?

Speaking of investigative journalism, the war and
did you see this? The Pentagon's Hidden Hand?
Its more like The Matrix
meets 1984 courtesy of your
tax dollars.

I just came across a Times article on the tension
between sports teams and sport bloggers. I think
I am on to something here.

Last month Mr. Cuban sought to ban bloggers from the Mavericks’ locker room, but the National Basketball Association intervened, ruling that bloggers from credentialed news organizations must be admitted.

Mr. Cuban then decided to let in any blogger — “someone on Blogspot who has been posting for a couple weeks, kids blogging for their middle school Web site or those that work for big companies.”

Tension over sports blogging is one of the strains between sports franchises, leagues and reporters to have emerged during the digital age.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Me and The RZA Get Busy


Being bitten by the writing bug is interesting. I run into
other Black movers and shakers on Friday or Saturday
evenings and they glaze over when I say I am going
home to write.

Its bugged out because this morning I created a
substantial addition to the "Crack Essays" file.
My eyes opened before the alarm went off at
6:30am this morning. I am not a morning byrd.
I am a grumpy byrd pre-Peerless. So, awaking
on a Saturday before the alarm is monumental.

The other side of the glaze over is the sense of reward I feel
when I sent Filthy a draft and he responds with
"M" this is incredible and I be like. Damn? Word?

All of these things are on my mind when I read about
the RZA and his work ethic. He speaks in an
interview, saying,

People you put your trust in, from women to partners, and then they forsake you. Even the Wu-Tang Clan, when Wu-Tang Clan pulled out of the Rage Against The Machine tour, it broke my heart, because I recorded the Wu-Tang Forever album with democracy. I let everybody do what they wanted to do. The other albums were more like how I wanted it, and it came out better, people say...... When they started backing out, it really hurt me and shit, so I backed out. I feel like I did everything for Wu-Tang. ... That’s why, when Bobby Digital came out, I started chilling. I started having a good time. But then when they forsake me—and some brothers did, some brothers didn’t—if you have four people who aren’t into it, it’s not going to work. (via Grand Good)
The RZA's statements struck me for a few reason's.
One it reminds me
of how every crew has a visionary
and how the visionary has to reconcile
that vision with what the crew seems to be capable of.
It reminds me of how the crews with the greatest
potential fail
to reach it because of infighting.

It reminds me of my new found writing discipline and
how I run into folks and they look at me like an alien-byrd
when I talk about writing on a Friday night.


There are a serious of Boom Bap tasty treats
floating around these internet's.

Kate Richardson analyzes the new Roots video by
Rick Cordero through a feminist theory lens.

In an interesting excerpt she writes,

At first it seems as if Cordero might be taking the video in the pleasant hug-a-loser direction, but that sweetness is but an introduction to the birthday girl sitting on the floor and opening each dude's gift as he stands above her, holding it at his crotch. One guy brought her a sausage! How sweet!

Cordero shoots the sequence in a more or less shot/reverse-shot pattern, but despite this lukewarm attempt at representing the female perspective, the sequence still comes off as uncomfortably misogynistic.
Ivan at HHIR has an video interview up of Mary and Jay.
At about 2:30 in Jay speaks about the package
that distinguishes he and Mary from the thousands of
others that have record deals.

Mary mentioned that she has no problem letting
people see the sad sh-t. On its face, that may seem trite
and a complete cliche. But, think about how many times
a day you don't tell someone something because you think
they may reject you, or keep it to yourself out of fear.
We feel Mary because she lets it all, for better or for
worse, hang out.

Having spent 3 hours this morning writing about my family
and crack, I will tell you that there is no OTHER more vulnerable
feeling, other than being naked in front of someone for the first time,
than telling the truth because you can't hold it back any longer.

Jay mentions that what distinguishes him from other cats
is work ethic, god given talent and real life experience.

Say word.


Doc Zeus has a retrospective of the Pen and Pixel era up.

Man them sh*ts were horrible. But its hip hop just the same.

Like that drunk uncle who is both irritating and embarrassing,
yet still yours.

We used to see these ads in The Source and squint with
the sour lemon head face at how bad they were.

Silk the Shocker, Mercedes, Master P. All bad.

Master P wants to apologize for some sh-t.
Apologize for those album covers blood.


Why are we scared of hard work?

You encounter any visionaries lately?


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New York, Wealth and Taxes: A Teaching Moment


Why does Warren Buffet, the #1 ranked man on Forbes Richest
list pay 17%
in taxes on his income whereas his receptionist pays
about 30% of her income.

Good question?

The answer? Wages are taxed differently than investments.

If you are earning $10-20K/month in income from
stocks,rental income and other investments,
which is being taxed at 15%, you may not
be that pressed that your $2,500/month salary
being taxed at 30%.

But, if you are earning $9.72/hour at Macy's and
being taxed at 30% that is a whole other ball game.
The article goes on to address the discrepancy saying,

One might wonder how Mr. Buffett gets away with a tax rate of only 17.7 percent, while a typical millionaire is paying so much more. Most likely, part of the answer is that Mr. Buffett’s income is made up largely of dividends and capital gains, which are taxed at only 15 percent. By contrast, many other top earners pay the maximum ordinary income tax rate of 35 percent on their salaries, bonuses and business income.
There was a piece in the New York Times on how 1% of the
earned 30% of the adjusted gross income.
(The AGI is
used in the calculation of an individual's incometax liability income and
wages, interest income,dividend income, income from certain retirement accounts,
capital gains, alimony received, rental income, royalty income, farm income, unemployment
compensation, and certain
other kinds of income).
The top 1 percent of New York City tax filers now receive more than a third of the city’s adjusted gross income, according to an analysis released today that looked in part at tax returns. That means for every dollar earned by the top fifth, only 11.5 cents is earned by the bottom fifth. This is the biggest gap in all the states, and like those in the rest of the country, it has been growing for the last 20 years. (Though the disparity is growing fastest in Connecticut, as an article noted today.) The top 1 percent of New York City tax filers, 32,000 tax returns representing 82,000 New York City residents, received 37 percent of the city’s adjusted gross income — which includes wages, business income and capital gains, among other earnings. They earned 20 percent of wages, 59 percent of dividends and interest, 70 percent of business income and 86 percent of capital gains.
When you have extreme concentrated wealth and extreme
concentrated poverty within
20 miles of each other, this is
bound to happen without strategically implemented
policies on wages, housing and education.
What surprised
me was that the comment section indicated a lack of
understanding of Capitalism?
  • 5.

    I think it has less to do with income inequality than a substantial number of extremely wealthy individuals that for whatever reason decide to make new york their home.

    — Posted by David

  • 29.

    So why don’t poor people just move somewhere else?

    — Posted by Ben

Then, of course there was a redeeming moment with this comment:
  • 14.

    It would be enlighting if the 1% with 37 % of AGI
    what percentage of the tax revenue they paid
    I bet not more than 10%

  • — Posted by joez

Learn what your tax bracket is here.

What this chart doesn't indicate is that different types of income are taxed at different rates. Why do we call them taxes anyways?

What if we called taxes dues instead
? Would they better reflect
what they were? Would they be easier to pay?
Yes, this is a little sneaky. Some conservatives may even call it Orwellian, and they ought to know. But the word “dues” also plays into the psychology of group identity, and that can work to the benefit of conservatives and liberals alike. Consider that “tax” comes from the Latin for “appraise” with punitive overtones of “censure” or “fault,” as if wage-earners have done something wrong by their labors. “Dues,” in contrast, is rooted in social obligation and duty.

So this will be an uphill struggle. But we need language to remind us that this is our government, and that we thrive because of the schools and transit systems and 10,000 other services that exist only because we have joined together. Instead of denouncing taxes, politicians would do better to appeal to the patriotic corners of our hearts that warm to phrases like “we the people.” “Taxation” is a throwback to the time when kings picked our pockets. “Paying my dues,” a phrase popularized in the jazz music world, is language by which we can stand together as Americans.
I like it. Without taxes we have no cities, I like cities so I accept taxes.

Speaking of taxes and wage earners I found this great comment on
the subprime bailout from an article on the need for the regulation
of global financial markets.
  • 5.

    The Wall Street titans want free market profits and
    socialized losses
    . Huge compensation has been paid in
    recent years on “profits” from phony mark-to-market prices
    of derivatives. These idiots need to be reigned in before they
    destroy everything.

  • — Posted by T.F.

Do, do, do, do, do, thats the Audio Daily Double/
n*ggas need to fall off just to save me the trouble yo.
~Doom, Doomsday



You pay taxes this year?

You already spent that rebate, hunh?
And it ain't even mailed yet. LAME.

Why don't people understand the wage/investment
tax distinction?

Guess its my/our job to teach, hunh?


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Choose Ya'Self


Catfish, check.
Macaroni and cheese, check.
Sautéed teriyaki broccoli, check.

Last week it was sesame ginger salmon,

buttery asparagus and roasted garlic potatoes.

Flavorful right?
Today I was cooking and I thought to myself
you know what, Imma' marry me. I know it's weird.
But we are a little familiar with each other around
here, especially after last weeks post.
You know howErykah sings,
I choose me?
In a way, I think thats what those meals remind me of.

I ran into some homies today, they have a brunch crew.
One of them, Melodia, was like, you going? I was like,

nah, got some blackened catfish and mac and
cheese to tend to.

She then mentioned that "The Boys" some other
brunch cats, might show up to my kitceh if they learned
that catfish and mac and cheese are on the menu. I

thought to myself, unless a dude is trying to
change my income tax filing
status, he best not
show up when I'm burning in the kitchen.

She noticed that I seemed serious. She asked what
it was about. I responded saying that the
cooking is
a sign of being high functioning.
She nodded, in agreement.

I learned something about myself last week.
With a mix of snacks and a full stomach, I can produce
some workable work.

Strawberry's. Scones. Peerless coffee.

Last week. I wrote something everyday.
I don't know if I can sustain it. I try not to worry about

Speaking of cooking, Filthy is off visiting his
family and I miss him.

Last night we had one of those conversations where he
reflected on how it feels to have his work respected by
his family, how it feels to see that he would like to have
a conversation with his yet to be born son similar to
the one that he had with his dad yesterday

He mentioned how Manning Marable criticized Malcolm for
leaving his family in Queens
to go Detroit and
deliver the Ballot or the Bullet,
the day after he,
Betty and the girls were bombed out of their family home,

He mentioned how being committed to progress and change
is often seen as being secondary to "the movement".

My thinking has awlays been "what more progressive
thing can you do than sustain your family?"

I was impressed, but I was mum.

A man chooses, when and where he commits, to whom
and for how long. I just listened.

Speaking of commitments, SJ's birthday was yesterday.
Just like that. I missed him. Not like I wanted to call or
anything but he was my homie. Feel me? And its a wrap.
I couldn't help but think about how he was willing to wait
until this weekend to see me. It would have been the first
visit since Christmas. Looking back, that willingness to
wait was indicative of an end that I had yet to accept it.
Ain't hindsight some sh-t?

Last week's writing hustle was type impressive and it
has carried into the weekend. I woke up Monday through
Thursday last week, and wrote at least 30 minutes before
the gig.

I got to the spot a night, I wrote. I remember reading that someone
encountered Jay Elec with the same outfit they saw him
wearing a few days ago, they inferred that Jay hadn't been to sleep.

I am not at that point, yet. But I do know that my schedule,
for the last several days has had writing at the center piece.
It feels like every morning has a deliberate purpose.

However, last night, I couldn't get anything out. It irked me.
Conversation with Filthy was on my bird a bit. I took a shower.
Still nothing.

So I just started looking for old Nas songs. I know that a good mix
will loosen it the writing up. I Discovered a fly joint with
Nas and Mobb Deep "Live N*gga Rap". Its dark and creepy,
just like how I like my Mobb music to be. I have added some
Slum Village
which makes me think about Jay Dee and how
we have to do what we need because we don't know when
a day will be the last. "UBlack Maybe", "Driving me Wild"
and "Start the Show" by Common to the mix.

I got a page and a half in. E-mailed to Filthy for critique.

Went to sleep.


How do you deal with people dropping by?

Hindsight show you anything lately?

Discipline requires you to constantly be willing
exit from conversations and invitations to
return to your
Have you done so recently?

How did it turn out?


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Did Saul Williams and KRS Drink the Kool Aid?


As artist we all think about taking the gig that
would pay some bills, but f-ck with our
ability to sleep at night.

This is what I thought of when I hear Saul
Williams say,

"Saul isn't making a Nike Commercial
Nike is Making a Saul Commercial"
Say word?

This isn't a conflict that is foreign to me.
I think about writing erotic Negro fiction approximately
once a day to pay bills. Are you kidding me? Those
books are so what the street wants**. You
show me a subway train at rush hour I will
show you 5 black women reading "Around
the Way Girl Part IV".

According to this excerpt from Grand Good,
KRS's standard for selling out is whether he
changes himself for the corporation:

KRS-ONE: Today, artists like myself or Chuck D or Talib Kweli hold a degree of credibility that’s attracting companies like Red Bull, Cadillac, or Nike. Executives at these companies are our fans. And they are really sick of the state of music. So what they’ve done is spend $250,000 of their own money, in the case of Nike, to create a song with Kanye West, Nas, Rakim, and KRS ONE. We don’t rap about the shoes because they don’t want us talking about that. They just want us to create a song they can play on their website. Authenticity is the new business model and these companies need a product that’s not destroyed by an artist’s shady image.
What is interesting about both of their statements is that
both reflect a lack of understanding about corporations and

First, capitalism, by its very nature co-opts anything
that attempts to subvert it. Meaning, IF you come at it,
it is going to figure out how to make money off
of you. Beastie, right?

Second, a companies only constituents are its
shareholders, and its shareholders alone. Every financial
move made is at furtherance of improving corporate share

F-ck what 'chu heard.

I gasped at hearing Saul say,
" Mc Donalds is making veggie burgers/
Walmart is going green"
I have watch him from afar as he has toiled,
made art, published books, cd's and just did him.
I have always admired his chutzpah.

To me, he was a renegade rebel who said f-ck it.

Now, "Nike is making a Saul commercial".

If you change for cake, so be it. But acting like you
are doing it because a multinational corporation is bending
to your will is an insult to us, the fans.

A corporation may bend its will towards it's
to is its investors, and sometimes they have no
say so ie, exorbitant CEO pay.

Think about Saul and KRS's response in contrast
to the Clipse or any D'boys resolve.
"I need to make this money so I can eat"
"I'm just trying to feed my daughter" ~Biggie
Atleast they are honest enough acknowledge the capitalist
motives behind their behavior and not ATTEMPT to purport
that they are "helping the culture".

Corporations don't care about our music, how n*ggerish
we are or where an emcees next meal is coming from.
Corporations ONLY care about their bottom line.
Both links via Grandgood.

**has started trying to write said fiction.


TC has a fly assed review of the new AZ over @ TSS.

Let’s talk about underdogs for a second. Like the secondary candidates for a job position or the small college vying for respect in the NCAA tournament with just as much heart to compete with their rivals that dominate the popular vote. It’s always an uphill battle when the odds are against you and you’re always having to show n’ prove. For nearly a decade and a half, lyrical connoisseur Anthony Cruz a.k.a. AZ, has carried the tag of the overlooked MC without merit - even after touching platinum with the failed supergroup The Firm and his own debut album Doe Or Die.


Spike Jonez actually makes me feel less weird.
That, my dear Watson, is a feat. Peep his Gap commerical below.
via the Hundreds


WDYU has I LOVE the 90's going hawrd.
Camp Lo's
after the jump.
Camp Lo is like protoypical B-list
group that knocks.
Beatnuts Alkaholics Lost
Are there more.....


Saul and corporations.
All in the same post.

Life es bueno.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

F-ck Them Critics Jay, We Still Believe


When I saw the reaction at Parlour stating that Jay
needed an intervention after his show in
NYC last week
I was like "What kinda facts are those?"
According to that logic, when Jay Electronica f*cks
up a show, he needs an Erykah intervention. So, what

if his show was brilliant? Should they then get married?

How about we let the man hone his craft?

After I read that post I reminded Rafi of OH Word of the Living

with Baduizm post (by Sasha) that made my @ss itch.

Here is how the conversation went down.
me: dude. Jay and E.

Rafi: lol
i'm on my way out the door
3:11 PM me: k.
Rafi: the jay electronica saga is funny
me: hahaha
I always think about the post you did on
Baduizm...'bout to tie it back to the Vixens
Rafi: unless he literally appeared at the gates
to Jerusalem and welcomed us all to the
promised land
me: hahaha
Rafi: unless he did that how would he have
lived up to the hype?
me: I know.



A couple of weeks ago, Madlib asked Kevin Nottingham to remove
the sample set posted on his blog. Ivan @ HHIR speaks on the
issue saying,
Our ol' pal Kevin Nottingham of This Is Hip Hop hit me up today regarding a message he received by none other than Madlib. The message was written in response to Kevin's recent release of his (totally awesome) 'Madvillain - Madvillainy' sample set. Simply put: Madlib wanted the set to be taken down from Kev's site, download link and all. Kevin politely obliged.

Now here's the question and matter at hand (which Kevin asked his readers as well): Is the act of compiling samples used on albums harmful to Hip-Hop? Our (Kev and I) reasoning and motivation is, quite simply, that we're just trying to learn about the artform (of sampling in particular) and spread it forth for everyone who shares our interests in this great music, culture and lifestyle we call Hip-Hop. Personally, I get a rush seeking out samples from some of my favorite emcees. But Madlib's response to this was the following: "Pages like this on the internet are no help at all to people like Doom, Madlib, and those that work with them."

Essentially, Kevin and I are simply collecting the information and music, and compiling them into one enveloped and enjoyable package for y'all to dig in to and have fun with.
Here is the thing. While Ivan and crew has good intentions,
does have point. Dooms, Libs and Count Bass D's
music are sample intense.
Label awareness of their usage
of said samples could severely impact their ability
music without having to pay for egregious sample clearances.

This is an issue that has been present in Hip Hop since
the Biz
Markie affair. I would like to make another distinction
for Ivan. There is a difference between
between downloading
searching out, finding and downloading a couple of original
songs that serve as the source material for our favorite
hip hip songs. It is something completely different to
have site to go to where the entire sample set.

A substantial barrier has been removed.

The entire DNA of the album has been revealed and them
in the crates cats hate that sh-t.

While the action of posting was done out of
artists are sensitive people who don't like
folks knowing
what goes into the albums secret sauce.

Ahhhhh, the hairy issues of sample clearances.

Madlib may argue that posting the sample sets increases the
likelihood of sample related lawsuits. My question is doesn't the
risk of lawsuit come with the territory? That that is something
risk that he takes just by putting out the music?

Feel like I am back in Copyright.



Who is in the right here? Madlib? Ivan?

Why these cats hella pressed with Jay? Can
he live? Show me a loudmouth critic and I will show
you a bitter artist.


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