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Thursday, February 26, 2009

More old hip-hop commercials

Dr. Dre's St. Ides commercial

St. Ides radio spot featuring the Wu

Bobby Brown Budweiser commercial

New Edition Coke commercial

Ice Cube for St. Ides

Kriss Kross commercial

Snoop and Lee iaccoca for Chrysler

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

what is swag?

This one phrase has been killing me since people have started saying it. Everyone has "swag" now, you even have "swagger rappers" and "swagger jackers", yet I don't have a clear idea of what you all find swagger is. See to me there aren't but two or three people who have what I would consider swagger.

That's the first man who comes to mind. I mean Puff isn't a rapper, he's a sort of entertainer, true business man, and has an arrogant ass attitude, but the guy gets some kind of results. See to me, swagger is a combination of all of that with an addition of a fashion sense and Puff is the only guy I can feel comfortable saying he's a fly s.o.b. and not feel like I dropped my balls off somewhere. Other than Puffy, Jay and Will Smith both have swagger that is unparalleled. Will Smith has the swagger that all black men aspire too, except for Barack Obama who has the ultimate "swag".

The problem is that everyone thinks they have "swagger" now. But just because you have some sort of sense of fashion, doesn't mean you have swagger.

These guys don't have swagger. They may dress in a way that is fashionable but that ain't "swag". Let me stop because swag has to be something that a woman came up with anyway. Most women are superficial (come on let me have it), but in that regard they put a large emphasis on the way a person is dressed or looks in public and less on their actual substance. They don't like rappers or actors because they're nice, they like their style or muscles and have some sort of ideas of some sensual experience with said celebrity. Look at the people who claim to have this swagger, all people who women run behind talking about their Louie V scarves and their retro shoes with 12 colors. Your clothes are not the thing that creates your swagger.

This dude doesn't have swag. He's just an asshole. Being an arrogant jerk doesn't create swag in an of itself. Their is a certain modicum of respect that you have to give in order to be considered a man of respect. You have to have respect to have "swag".

This guy doesn't have swagger, he's just on drugs. He has real problems if you look at the tattoos on his face, his need to keep trying to dress weird because he is high. But that isn't swagger. The true swagger cannot be defined and the majority of these guys are not leaders who define a new level of confidence and being.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hip-Hop Marketing

Rappers and hip-hop celebrities today are huge cash cows. They hawk everything from pre-paid credit cards to soda, shoes, and snacks. For a long time however marketers didn't believe in the power of the urban pitchman. The first prominent pitchman was MC Hammer, just look at this old pepsi commercial:

Lol @ "Proper".

Here is Hammer hawking chicken:

and who can forget hammer endorsing BK's.

Man those were the days. Hammer was at least endorsing mainstream products that everyone could use without damaging themselves too much. The same couldn't be said for the mid-90's when St. Ides jumped onto the gangster rap train and through artists like Dr. Dre and Biggie into their ads. This just stereotyped the black male in the ghetto mentality even more by promoting malt liquor sales.

Today, the advertising and endorsements are much more high profile and integrated into the characters of the artists themselves. From Puffy's Sean John clothing line and Unfaithful cologne, to the endorsements of premium vodkas by Puffy, Damon Dash, and Jermaine Dupri. It contrasts the earlier commercials as these men all have ownership or distribution stakes in the product. Even Queen Latufah has gone on to be one of the main spokespeople for both Jenny Craig and Revlon cosmetics. Hip-hop has gone a lone way and should be celebrated for showing longevity and the ability to adapt to the changing times

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Finding My Lane

Now I have been perusing other hip-hop blogs recently to check out the competition and to share love when it is deserving. Most of the blogs I have seen have'nt seen as much original commentary and/or ideas that I would like.

Seeing that and looking at some of my opinions/criticisms of hip-hop culture and music would leave people to see me as some sort of new-age hipster or overtly conscious type of guy. Now when I look at this crowd I see people like Tabi Bonney (buy Tabi Bonney's new album "Dope" by clicking here) and Charles Hamilton. I don't fit in with these guys and find them terribly overrated as lyricists. Their style is their style and though I personally don't feel it, I'm not going to knock it, though I feel that it(being their style) is their main attribute. I like "Driving down the block" and "The Delivery Man" however I don't think I could listen to these guys for an entire album.

I'm not a thug nor gangster either, so Wayne, Rick Ross and Jeezy et. al. bore me. The coke rap and excessive talk of ballin and toting guns annoys me. In hip-hop we should be so past that. N.W.A. did it, Biggie did it, The Wu did it, he Lox did it, 8Ball and MJG did it, why do we still need artists to come out and talk about the same things without giving us any insight to their inner turmoil?

So I'm stuck in the middle. I try to listen to a good mix of artists. To me, guys like Common, Talib Kweli and Outkast are the best of the more moderate conscious rappers. Meaning they are able to entertain without dragging me into boredom trying to maintain some strict "hip-hop" vision from the 80's. On the other hand, Jay-Z, Ludacris, and T.I., are some of the artists who blend a street savvy, with lyrics and hot production with an attempt to speak on broader terms than just how cool it is in the hood.

Sometimes it seems as if there are only two or three lanes and that you can't switch back and forth to follow different artists comfortably, especially when you don't continue into the rest of the sub-genre or blend in with a particular fan base.I hope I'm not the only one who feels this way and I look forward to discussing it with you further as we blog together.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Award Shows

It's funny, I wrote this post before the grammys and I know people are salivating over the "sweagger like us" performance because of the people who were in the performance and the lack of standards that perceive today's hip-hop fans have. But on tot he post.

What happened to award shows? they used to be so hot, now they are afterthoughts. The last "BET" awards were hot garbage. The production values are so low that it is amazing. The Rick Ross performance was sickening as was the Lil wayne. Kanye did the best as is expected. Just look at MTV award shows. They are both viacom owned entities yet BET's product gets the leftovers and bad interns. You see not one blooper at the MTV video awards, music awards, or movie awards and they do three shows and never get tired. Yet BET can't do it once? I refused to watch the BET hip-hop awards which is basically the new Source awards. Ozone awards? I know elementary school students who could do a better job at producing a show. that garbage looks like it's in a gymnasium on the old videocassette camcorders. Not to mention the person running the show must be high and tipsy as well as the artists.

The "white" shows aren't as bad but way more boring. The grammy's and AMA's are nowhere near as interesting as they used to be. Sure Justin Timberlake could get everybody moving but he is no Prince, MJ, Whitney, or Eric Clapton for that matter.

Why did the black stars abandon Soul Train? Even though the show should have changed it's format doesn't mean we had to abandon the awards. That used to be what everyone showed up for. A couple of years ago they couldn't even get Jennifer Hudson directly after Dreamgirls and now it doesn't even exist. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for abandoning that institution. Looking at BET they could have acquired the rights to the name and called their awards show the Soul Train awards on BET. Look at the equity in that name. We allowed one of our hallowed institutions to die out once again. Look at the Apollo. Forget American Idol, if you could win Showtime at the Apollo you could do anything. Now we have nothing to show for it. Look at all of the artists who passed through those hallowed halls, He-yo, Jasmine's a damn shame we let things die without a fight.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I am not alone...

Now sometimes when it comes to certain feelings about today's hip-hop I feel alone. I mean the young generation is taking over, fine. I feel bad because I wasn't able to pass down hip-hop history to anyone but my sister yet and she doesn't like most of the older stuff I force her to listen to. I can't wait until my son is old enough for me to really show him how this all got started.

However, a few people make me feel like I am on the right track. Bad part is because they are all my age people younger than us aren't going to listen. My man Avery and I discuss Wayne all the time and how people really feel like he is extra nice or something. However, it doesn't come close to what Charlamagne the God has said about Weezy, and this was almost 2 years ago now. Here is a link to a blog where his comments were reposted. I didn't want to put them up again myself, but for real, this shit made me proud to be an American again even more than Obama being President. This one editorial shows that regular people haven't lost their minds, common sense, nor been fooled by the bevy of nonsense forced upon us every day. kudos.

Charlamagne tha God says "fuck Lil Wayne"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Speaking of female rappers

Here goes this chick again. I didn't know she was from the DC area cause I don't follow video hoes like that, but she is terrible. Following in the footsteps of Salt N pepa and Queen Latifah she is not. Once again I see someone making a mockery of hip-hop all for the love of money. Why can't she just get to the porn career and get it over with. Angie baby, no one wnats you to open ya mouth unless they're putting something in it.

Where did the women go?

Yooooooo, huge revelation here, not many women are doing it big in rap right now. I can't name anyone out who is a woman who actually raps. The last one with a single was who, Trina? That shit was lame for real. Just three years ago we had some promising new women with Shawnna, Remy, Jackie-O, and Jean Grae all getting a buzz. Then what happened? they have all basically disappeared except for Jean who luckily was never mainstreamed so she still has her own fanbase. We also had Rah Digga still around, Eve(watch the Tambourine video-Swizz killed this one!), and Lil Kim had yet to go to jail. Eve was probably my favorite out of the recent female rappers.

Now let me tell you why, Eve never tried to be a dude. She had a short hair cut yeah, but she always appealed to women like her, who were experiencing her struggle. It worked unlike a Remy and Shawnna who tried to show how hard they were and only turned to sex as a last resort and it never felt natural. They had bad direction in my opinion. Lil' Kim was a natural as a sexpot and so was Trina, but we all knew that all women weren't like that. Just before them we had Da Brat and Missy who weren't sex symbols but fit in with what they were doing. Eve was the best mix of all these things.

Women have long had a great history and influence and I know mush has been written about it, but I gotta give my slant on it. It's crazy that Murder Inc, had two and couldn't get either one out,poor Vita and Charli Baltimore, and what about the Lady of Rage who is now managed by Katt Williams (thats a wtf moment for you)

Look since Roxanne Shante and Queen Latifah women have been able to prove themselves until lately. They did it by courting each other and not trying to be greedy and get men to buy their cd's. Salt-N-Pepa never really made a song that dudes should ever be caught singing so labels today need to learn from it. (Watch the Express Yourself Video here)At the same time they supported femininity yet demanded respect, (you had to know I was going to link to UNITY right here)

The point is I love women and I miss them being important figures and not just sidekicks or video hoes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hip-hop and Health, can Nore make a difference?

One of the biggest issues in the urban community is health. Especially amongst us black folks in the hood. Diabetes runs rampant as well as hypertension and other miscellaneous diseases. We are overweight, and unhealthy. Looking at things, can hip-hop make a difference? Can we be influenced by artists to take our bodies more seriously? I recently blogged about the loss of Big Pun due to his weight gain, and looking at the pictures below you can see the drastic change.

We have always loved our larger than life hip-hop stars, Heavy D, Biggie, and of course Pun. Most of the times we are eating whatever we happen to come by without worrying about calories and it's potential benefit to our bodies. Now, Nore is going vegan, I'm not about to go that far, however I have been reading labels more, looking at things like the amount of sugar,sodium, and fiber. A well rounded diet is best the experts say.

As you can see Nore is making a true effort to change his diet and get himself together. It's funny he was on twitter talking about he ordered some tofu while he was in Germany from the chinese food spot. So i have to give the man respect for stepping up.

The third piece of evidence that we need to get our bodies straight are the swole up guys who make the ladies swoon. 50 cent comes to mind, looking all beefed up like member of the WWE's Cryme Tyme in his promo pics. You know the groupies all go crazy for Busta's "guns". Ladies, you're not off the hook either. You've seen Ciara and Keri Hilson looking tight. I don't expect everyone to go out and get a six-pack (that ain't my steez for one) but we do have to look at our longevity and potential to lve long fulfilling lives. You can buy the six-pack like Janet or some titties like Lil' Kim, but they don't look as good as the naturals which you can keep looking good by some simple working out.

Now, my wife is going to read this and look at me sideways, but yes I am working on getting healthy and as soona s I get this knee fixed I might actually try to find a bike on Craigslist to go and ride, but we all can pick little things every day to improve our lives.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Memorial For Big Pun

Now I feel bad. We always remember Biggie and Pac as hip-hop icons. It always seems like we miss out on and forget about Big Pun. I know Pac always gets thug love and the rumors of his imminent return from faking his death as well as the many verses he recorded to keep him in our thoughts. As for Biggie, well he just had a movie and there is always Puffy to remind us of B.I.G. .But who holds it down for the "Latin King" of hip-hop? Not Fat joe who continues to lose all relevance and lyrical ability with every waking breath. It's a shame because Pun blessed us with a classic first album that was true hip-hop yet had enough commercial splash to drive platinum sales.

Dog this song got so many radio spins that I thought I was going to throw up. It had to be getting played every fourth song on the radio. I skipped it on the album for like two years. But Pun had way more bangers on the album, with a lyrical ability that was basically unparalleled in his ability to flip vocabulary, metaphors, and similes with some ill gun talk. The second album wasn't as complete most likely because of his untimely passing. The man who seemed like the heir apparent to Pun, Cuban Link, then was dropped by Joe and Remy who Pun introduced to the world had her own set of issues with the TS leader.

Just watch that video and tell me dude wasn't one the of the hottest rappers ever. And Joe was spitting so much hotter because Pun was pushing him. One of the hottest set of verses in hip hop history:

[Big Punisher]
Ready for war Joe, how you wanna blow they spot
I know these dirty cops that'll get us in if we murder some wop
Hop in your Hummer, the Punisher's ready; meet me at Beatles'
with Noodles, we'll do this dude while he's slurpin spaghetti
Everybody kiss the fuckin floor, Joey Crack, buck em all
If they move, Noodles shoot that fuckin whore
Dead in the middle of Little Italy little did we know
that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddily

[Fat Joe]
It'll be a cold day in hell the day I'll take an L
Make no mistake for real I wouldn't hesitate to kill
I'm still the Fat One that you love to hate, catch you at your mother's wake
Smack you then I wack you with my snub trey-eight

[Big Punisher]
I rub your face off the Earth and curse your family children
like Amityville drill the nerves in your cavity fillin
Insanity's building up pavillion in my civilian
The cannon be the anarchy that humanity's dealing
A villain without remorse, who's willing to out your boss
Forever and take all the cheddar like child support

[Big Punisher]
Fuck the po-lice, I squeeze first, make em eat dirt
Take em feet first through the morgue, then launch em in the T-bird
The street's cursed, the first amendment's culturally biased
Supposed to supply us with rights, tonight I hold my rosary
tight as I can, I'm one man against the world, just me and my girl
Black Pearl Athena my sena who keeps it real
You know the deal, we steal from the rich and keep it
Peep it it's no secret, watch me and Joe go back and forth and freak it

[Fat Joe]
Creep with me, as I cruise in my Beemer
All the kids in the ghetto call me Don Cartagena
Kickin ass as I blast off heat, and
you never see me talk to police, so
you should know that I really don't care
Pull you by the hair, slit your throat, and I'll leave you right there
So beware it's rare that niggaz want beef, Big Pun speak
and let these motherfuckers know how we run the streets

[Big Punisher]
Fuck peace, I run the streets deep with no compassion, Puerto Ricans
known for slashin catchin niggaz while they sleepin, no relaxin
Keep your eyes open, sharp reflexes
Three techses in the Jeep Lexus just in case police ask us
Street professors, Terror Squad, ghetto scholars
Fill the clips off, inflicts the fear of God when the metal hollers
Better acknowledge or get knocked down until I'm locked and shot down
Heather B couldn't make me put my Glock Down
Tell me that ain't fire. Try that shit Weezy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just when you were cool with new beef...

You have Etta James throwing shots at Barack Obama and Beyonce, along with a willing crowd. I wonder who the hell was egging her on. Then some dude who was in a cheesy Lady luck video decides to snake ambush her and drop his own Youtube video getting on her. But the thing that tops it off comes from the mouth of Ne-yo.

Now I don't really care about the fighting and all the other "homo" nonsense between Jim Jones and his obsession with anything revolving or remotely associated with Jay-Z. The biggest annoyance is when this dude says that Jim Jones takes out his cellphone to record him calling the other man all sorts of names and saying he is going to put it up on youtube, worldstar, realrap, etc. This is one of the biggest problems in this era of new media. You have grown ass men starting shit to purposely be able to put it online. You know, the stuff that girls did to each other in middle and high school, yeah we've stooped to that level now.

It is so crazy that everyone is so publicity happy that they are willing to do anything at any time to get some exposure. I understand the adage that all publicity is supposed to be good but it's overkill. You have "gangsters" who have never been in any legal trouble fighting inside the "louie Vuitton" store. That doesn't sound suspect to anyone but me? When will we as consumers and fans of hip-hop culture start telling these people that we are tired of this nonsense. They cannot act like assholes in public and just throw tantrums like spoiled toddlers. You claim you're a man be a damn man.

Rhymefest doesn't like Charles Hamilton?

Why is Charles Hamilton the becoming the hipster version of Young Berg? No one is punching him...yet anyway. What is up with the beef now? I know it's been a way to promote yourself for years but right now it's just getting downright crazy. It must be the recession or something. We got Rick Ross and 50 Cent (my money is on 50), you got Charles Hamilton and Soulja Boy which is laughable, Joe Budden and Saigon, Joe Budden and Ransom, DJ Vlad and everyone he videotapes, and I'm pretty sure that someone has beef with Jim Jones.

The problem right now is that it's no real passion behind most of the dissing. Like I posted before no one is really putting any time or thought into it. They're rushing to get these records out on Worldstarhiphop within 6 hours of the previous posting. It's a shame because real beefs used to be something worth looking forward to.

Check out Rhymefest's shot at Charles:

let's think about a rap battle we would actually like to see. I would say 50 and Wayne, or Luda and Wayne would be funny i think cause Luda would rip that dude.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Letter to B.I.G.

Now this has to be the best Jadakiss song ever. I mean of all the songs and raps he has ever done. It shows what he can do when he is focused on something and actually making an attempt. I cannot understand who would put Jada in their top 5 off of what he has done but if he can ever manage to put out more material like this he could actually get to be there. Until then I guess its more raps about mountains of coke.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My new favorite Hip-hop personality is....

Charlamagne tha God. Now here is a guy who has been producing for a minute. I remember a profile of him in Blaze magazine years back when we had three hip-hop magazines. You may or may not have seen my link to his post about Lil' Wayne,(read it here) but I agree with the way he writes, thinks, and speaks so far at least. So my eyes and ears perked up when I saw that he had called in to Shade 45 to speak with Mims.

That right there is "ether" of the highest caliber. He stated his points clearly and concisely while both showing some positives with Mims but highlighting what he feels are some serious shortcomings. I'm hoping he gets to call in next time that Plies gets on the air.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jazmine Sullivan rocks

Look three songs and videos in and she has had a different feel on each one. I thought the album was cool but I have been told it is still a lot of the same type of generic r and b. However, I like this video and I have liked all three of her videos. Looks like a solid career so far.

Where did the Gritty go?

Back in 1994 there were many different hip-hop acts. Nas and Jay-z were hitting the scene as hustlers with ambition. Jay especially captured the mob mentality. Biggie and Craig Mack had ushered in Bad Boy with harsh lyrics and rawness smoothed over by Puffy's business savvy. Then you still had artists who didn't really fit one mold like Naughty by Nature. Hip-hop was at a cross-roads with one type or flavor of rap music was exploding with the likes of Onyx, Mobb Deep, and especially DMX. They exemplified the hunger and gritty style that was exploding and bursting from the seams of NY rap.

Following behind the activist lyrics of Public Enemy and on the heels of the angry gangster rap of NWA, Mobb Deep and Onyx both represented the anger and raw emotion of the black community. The music of this time was so popular that it sold and gave rise to the "bling-bling" era of rap in the latter half of the decade. Tupac would be seen as most as the leader of the generation of artists because of his outspoken nature and ability to articulate his music in interviews as well. More direct and to the point was an artist like DMX who was unapologetic in his rawness.

It was his look and and persona as a grimey street cat who was willing to do anything to survive that paints X as the poster child for the short lived grimey era over a polished artist and thespian like Tupac. DMX is, was and always will be official and the benchmark when it comes to realness and street cred. Just listen to Stop Being Greedy and tell me you didn't feel his anger at those who have the ability to make money or "eat" as the metaphor goes and refuses to share. Look at his tattoo of Boomer on his back, listen to his interviews, everything about him screams "real".

But enough with the DMX biography. It's all about the style. For the most part Mobb Deep was able to talk about jackin people without glorifying the actual acts. The same thing with Onyx, you never got the idea that they were being grimey but for a lack of options. Today, many of the acts that echo the sentiment, or talk about the streets are doing it just to get in. You just couldn't help believing these artists. Even their clothes said "real". Unlike today's "thugs" who are prepackaged swinging their designer louie rags, you knew DMX was way more likely to ever rob you than be caught dead with silk robes and chinese slippers on.

At the crossroads today, the foundation is being laid for a return to the gritty. Right now, thrift store shopping throwback hipsters becoming more popular courtesy of Kanye West, and a severe recession, the stage is set for the next DMX, or maybe even the old one.


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