May 5, 2012

NY Post Racist Rant at Jay-Z

Though I am totally feeding into the hype on this article, I wanted to address the pure idiotic behavior used in both the write-up and reader responses to this NY Post article.

I addressed the new look of the Nets last week with an actual Graphic Design critique and comparison of the logo and new "digs" provided by Jay-Z for the new team home in Brooklyn. While I pointed out the more hipster, Brooklyn approach, at no point did a critique of the new logo devolve into an attack on Jay-Z or Hip Hop in general.

Somehow, the goons at NY Post (looking at you Jack Mirkinson) turned their "opinion" of the new logo and branding of the Nets into a race issue, attributing the new black & white color scheme to an "urban" look and therefore worthy of racist and misogynist terms for the entire Nets staff. The article is quoted below is all of its ignorance:

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home -- why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way! 

Some of the "only a white person would think of this" stuff said in this article attributes every rap cliche to the new logo and team colors. If not designed by Jay-Z, the logo would surely not have gotten as much scrutiny and birthed racist rants about the intent. Did anybody attack the lame Gap logo rebrand a few years ago to stupid, racist, or violence-related designers? No! Did people attack Pepsi for its umpteenth rebrand with racist jabs? No! What about the lame NBC Universal rebrand? Race or gender issues? No! Designed for a corporation by a whitey or group of whitey's...fine! Designed by a Hip Hopper for a corporation...racist! You decide.

Check the examples below:

The only reason the logo conversation turned into a race attack was that ignorant, jealous white folks can't handle the fact that anyone of "urban" background (aka the Hip Hop generation) can compete on a franchise level as a business owner. To insist that "Guns and Bitches" is the only value that a Hip Hop Mogul is or should be able to use for anything they work on is simply ridiculous.

Again, this entire fuss was stirred up because of the new team colors and logo. Is it worth it? Will the guy be fired for it? As a follow up, Mushnick tried to say his words were "mischaracterized" or taken out of context. News flash dumbski! Racist rants are RACIST rants no matter your intent! Attacking Jay-Z for his design choices as some sort of secret "gangsta" agenda shows how uninformed, uneducated and uncultured you really are. Just sayin'!

Rap Radio is Dying a Slow Death

Emmis Communications announced that ESPN Radio is the NEW OWNER of New York's 98.7 FM, and they are expected to STOP broadcasting urban music - and instead broadcast ONLY Sports Radio.
Emmis also entered into a transaction to sell the intellectual property rights of Kiss FM, the current format Emmis programs on 98.7FM, to MAGIC JOHNSON, who is in the process of acquiring New York radio stations WBLS-FM and WLIB-AM.
While this may not be earth-shattering news to most folks, the closing or "re-purposing" of another radio format that played modern rap music is another dent in the already limited airwaves for fans of rap music.
Though I admit that I don't and cannot listen to song after song of Young Money assembly line artists or any of the rap slash techno-house music generation on the radio, I do not wish it would "die off" necessarily. What I do wish, is that WE as a listening public had more choices for hip-hop music of a broader spectrum. 
Old school lunch hour or an occasional Biggie song does not give proper due to artists of historical importance in hip-hop. The Rolling Stones, Beatles, and most any rock band with a hit song from the 60's to now can be heard somewhere on the radio at any given "Alternative rock" station or "80's-90's station" on the air. However, the chances that you might here even a radio-edit of Smif n Wessun, Wu-Tang Clan, Goodie Mob (old version), Organized Konfusion or any seminal groups from the Golden Era of hip-hop or earlier is slim to non-existent. 
Perhaps the fan base for the older tunes is indifferent to the music, but even if we wanted modern "underground" stations that played 9th Wonder, Zion I, and others, we don't have that choice unless we listen to subscription-based or college radio and endure cost or lo-fi static and weak signals.
If Magic Johnson can buy up radio stations and undoubtedly hustle his own gospel format, of which he owns a music label, and pad his pockets, why can't any of the so-called pioneers of rap do the same for the fans and peers. Diddy may have his own TV channel but it will only be filled with Ciroc ads, Sean Jean ads, Bad Boy Records compilation ads, or any other self-gratifying marketing that he plans out and will surely avoid any semblance of music appreciation unless it features himself. Great for him, but for anyone dreaming of a day when the music we grew up on will ever be heard by anyone other than ourselves and our out-dated CD collection, the chances are slim.
The reason I enjoy sampling old soul and hip-hop is to both honor the past and give a nod to my own influences. If introducing folks to music they may not have heard before is a result of that effort, than I am glad to be a part of the experience. If we as a culture don't try to keep the past alive through education and re-introduction (for hip-hop anyway), up and coming MC's and artists will only know Young Money as a benchmark and model everything after that....which is sad to say the least.

May 3, 2012

Album Review: OC and Apollo Brown - Trophies

As long as I have been following the career moves of Apollo Brown, I have yet to be let down by any project he releases. From instrumental projects to full-length, collaborative albums with established and lesser known MC's, Apollo Brown always lays a good foundation for beats on all of his projects. 

With the collaboration with OC, I was surprised but excited to hear both all-new tracks and to see how OC could sound over the new songs. I have checked OC's work in the last few years but had yet to feel "wowed" by the sounds or lyrics for along time, but I was ready to hear something new. Borrowing some instrumentals from previous beat-tape albums but using mostly all-new tracks, OC and Apollo Brown bring their A game on this album.

OC sounds "fresh" over these new beats and the sound is a consistent mix of boom-bap samples, hard drums, and thoughtful lyrics. Stand out tracks for me are "The Pursuit", "Anotha One", "We The People", "The First 48, "Just Walk" and "Options. Something about the production makes it feel like a soundtrack to a movie like Rocky or at least a soundtrack to slap people to. 

Overall, the album makes me glad to see Golden Era MC's still making quality work and working with up-and-coming producers to bridge the gap for folks who grew up on the "Time's Up" OC and wanted to hear more. If you have never heard of OC, this is a good (re)introduction and the album gives you plenty of brain food to feed off to counteract any Young Money saturation on the current airwaves. 

Listen Up!

For lack of a rating system, I will give this album 4.5 stars/mics/ out of 5. This is according to MY system, which may not align with yours, but if I listen to an album more than a few times a week and still want to hear it again, it gets my stamp of approval.

May 2, 2012

Ruby Ibarra: Rappers You Should Know About

The Known Unknown: Rappers You Should Know About - Part 1

So, I have decided to start a weekly (or as often as possible) post of some lesser known Hip Hop groups or Rappers that deserve the attention of the public at large. Many of these acts I am hoping to work with in the future, but most of them just make quality music and I wanted to take time to shine a light on them for various reasons.

The first post is for the Hip Hop artist from San Lorenzo (CA) named Ruby Ibarra. I came across some videos of her free-styling and some of her rapping solo and was impressed with her flow, her content and her charisma. She was recently featured on a compilation by with her song "Game Up" (posted below). Quality lyrics, bilingual, and dope skills all around. Hoping for big things from her. Check it out!

If that doesn't convince you, listen to her kill the "Mad Izm" instrumental below!

Apr 30, 2012

New Brooklyn Nets Logo

So, after much anticipation by the BK sports crowd, Jay-Z unveiled the new logo for the BK Nets. While it is not mind-blowing, it does seem to to be aimed at the hipster market. In fact, if you check out the logos on Hipster Branding tumblr page, it looks remarkably like it was based off of a few of the ironic ads on the site.

I'm sure with time people will get used to it in a "throwback" type of way, but it will undoubtedly be ridiculed for months, especially since Jay-Z "created" it and has now added Graphic Designer to his many interests.

Check the new logo out above, then check out Hipster Branding (samples below) and you tell me.

Me thinks me smell a hipster! Just sayin'.


Graffiti: Fun or Dumb?

Came across this cornball video from the 70's addressing Graffiti. Check out this video to see how people judge writers and insist on the "ugly" paintings of inner cities. It is funny to see how far things have come from then to now in terms of style, but the uppity assessment of anything in a public setting is ugly and done by "uneducated" inner-city kids AKA minorities. Notice all of the vanilla faces in this report. Feel free to remix this and repost it in the "mod" style.

Grand Kombo - Spanish Rap

I wanted to take this post to shine some light on some friends of mine who have been crazy productive with music in the talented Midwest (Wisconsin). Grand Kombo is a spanish rap group comprised of Da Ricanstrukta and NV1 of Lucha Libre fame. This is a separate endeavor more focused on the Spanish element of hip-hop. This is a new video to support the upcoming EP and a good intro as to what type of vibe they are on. If you don't speak Spanish, you can still appreciate the quality sounds and scratch outro.

Check out more from Da Ricanstrukta on Bandcamp.