Friday, February 29, 2008
I'll be honest, I had never really heard of Pharoahe Monch until about the year 1999 or 2000. I had heard "Simon Says," but it didn't really get enough play on the music video stations I was watching to learn it. Then came "Oh No!" with Mos Def and Nate Dogg. I loved the video, there was nothing to it, which let me focus on the rapping. And it was so awesome. But I had no real sense of how good all of it was, especially this Pharoahe/Pharoah Munch or whatever. And for a long time, that was the extent of my collection of songs by Monch. Once I got to college, a good friend of mine who was way more knowledgable about rap (and sort of got me started in listening to it more intensely) once played for me "Drop Bombs" off Stress: the Extinction Agenda. It was only an interlude, but the vague reference to the Vietnam War sort of caught me. Then he played "Official" and "Rape." After "Rape," my mind was blown. Besides Nas's "I Gave You Power" and a handful of other songs, I had never heard a concept so well fleshed out. That's not to say I wasn't creeped out a bit, because I certainly was, but I had to hand it to Pharoahe, he had gall. Later that year, doing my first radio show by myself, I ran out of songs to play on my playlist and looked in the library for something. I found the first Organized Konfusion album (but didn't realize Pharoahe was in the group, somehow) and popped in "Fudge Pudge." I took the CD back with me and listened to it a bit, but I still didn't really pay much attention.
Then, this past summer while I was in Seattle, Pharoahe's second album, Desire, was released. I read a review by Noz, and had downloaded "What It Is" and was loving it even though it was painfully short. I went back to that first OK album and just listened to it over and over. I found more to like from both Prince Po and Monch the more I listened. Then I was able to download Internal Affairs. I just could not stop listening to the way the man not only put words together that looked cool when read, but said things in a way totally sold the image or thought he wanted to convey. Early in the school year, I finally got Stress, and I simply could not stop. Every verse is different, yet somehow a unique style manages to to creep through. Because he never assumed one personality, unlike other MCs, listening to Pharoahe I saw him change from someone threatening to kidnap and decapitate you to a guy simply concerned with how things sound together to being reflective. There's just too much to the man. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION HIS TRENDSETTING, LOOK AT WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE TABLE.
But seriously, this guy is extra nice. Sometimes it's scary to realize he was 19 when he did "Prisoners of War." And while some rappers got tired of bitches and switches and hos and wanted to talk about time traveling, Pharoahe (and Prince Po) simply did it. It's really a shame he only has two solo albums, and more of a shame that the rap climate is such that there is constant turnover to the point that now even OutKast seem outdated on Gangsta Grillz: The Album.
In other news, Lil Boosie is apparently a rising star. And Weezy had a "positively historic" concert in Newark last week. No comment.
Friday, February 22, 2008
This takes me back to a couple years ago when I was at the Duke lacrosse camp and my brother was at UNC's b-ball camp. Such a stupid, stupid song, but so funny.
The Phoenix has a column about hip hop's relation to the rest of mainstream America. It makes some good points, but I sometimes wonder how much hip hop has become apart of most people's idea of music that is representative of this time. Yes, a lot of people like OutKast (and by that I mean "Hey Ya!" for the most part), but even the biggest rappers like Jay-Z don't have that same hold over an entire generation that acts in other genres have. Even a American Idol album is more of an event than any rapper that has been around for any sizable amount of time. I can't wrap my head around why this is, though if you read Hip Hop Matters you'd have reason to believe Soundscan is responsible for the bastardization of rap. Here's something to consider:
All three of these albums are out of print, and these are the obvious examples. I think you'd be hard pressed to find well-recieved albums from different genres that are out of print. I haven't checked that, so I don't know how strongly I want to stand by it, but I doubt Bobby Byrd's singles can't be found anywhere. No respect, I swear.
The Phoenix column is also notable for referencing a sequel to Bring It On.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I would like to make it clear that I am not necessarily endorsing this man. After seeing Angela Davis speak, you'd be skeptical of anyone with power, too. I just find it amazing/bizarre that he enjoyed (and publicly admitted to enjoying) "American Gangster." Could this be due to its "concept album" status? The real test would be to ask Mr. Oprah, Obama, and Eric B. how he feels about "I Gotta Dollar." However, I've also read somewhere that he might be a fan of Public Enemy and "Success" is his favorite song on AG. Who knows.
Happy belated Valentine's Day. I hope you celebrated like Raekwon, who told the NY Daily News:
It's a special day. It's a day to understand the person who means the most to you. I'm the type of dude who may be in a helicopter over the city having sex.Hopefully, WSRN's computer will be working this week, so we can have podcasts and webcast to our adoring fanbase. If not, I may just record the shows in the studio and put them on DC++ for Patrick and myself.
And in honor of Black History Month, I'll leave you with Sister Souljah's riveting words. We're at war, that's what she told you.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
We are back. It's Valentine's Day on Thursday, so it will be fun to say the least. The webcast is down right now, so you'll have to literally tune in to listen. The podcast may not go up for this one, which is a shame. Blame the management.
Friday, February 8, 2008
This picture is a little over a year old, but I just found it last night and find it hilarious. I think Luda's shirt speaks for itself, but when paired with Young Baracka Obama Taking Office, I can't help but be tickled. This also seems like a giant slap in the face to Oprah, who loves BHO but ridiculed Luva Luva on her show after "Crash" came out. I think it's pretty obvious from his expression that Ludacris is thinking the exact same thing.
I've been sick this week (103.3 degrees, to be exact), so I haven't been in the mood to write anything, so hopefully this will spark me to get some work done. After reading a lot of reviews about the "Juno" soundtrack, which range from favorable to not so kind, I started to realize that in the small world of independent film, there are very few movies that feature hip hop (or really anything that is not "indie rock") as the bulk of the soundtrack. This isn't so surprising, since a lot of rap acts aren't held in universal esteem throughout our generation and the music is still relatively young compared to other genres. There's also the problem that a lot of rappers today use the first-person in their lyrics, as well as mention their names, so it's a bit hard to set some sort of mood when you hear "First Family!!!" in the background. But, I guess "Entourage" has been able to accomplish this to some extent, but a) they only use the most recent songs and b) those songs are really only used for a party setting. If Marky Mark is the executive producer, I don't understand why he can't bring a bit more versatility to the show's soundtrack when it comes to hip hop. He did feature Saigon, I know... but he's lame, and he's a publicity hound. Sorry. There have been good hip hop soundtracks (though for bad movies), but there has yet to be the day when a compilation of all types of rap is the defining characteristic of an independent film that's a critical hit. Honestly, I am not even sure that is possible, given a probable cultural disconnect between someone like Richard Roeper and, well, me. It just strikes me as odd that this hasn't happened yet.
Supposedly, Kanye is performing Sunday. But who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?