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Archive for November 2008


Can female rappers make a comeback?

In the early days of hip-hop, female emcees rocked the mic with their male counterparts. Roxanne Shante, The Real Roxanne, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah were just some of the few fem-cees who managed to hang with the boys and also flip their own styles. Then in the 90’s female rap splintered off, creating two separate but distinct factions. On the one hand, there were the Foxy Brown’s and Lil’ Kim’s of the world, who expressed more sexuality in their rhymes than most had been used to and then there was Lauryn Hill who paired hip-hop and R&B like a fine white wine and seared salmon. But then, like a scene out of a bad Sci-Fi channel movie, all of the fem-cees disappeared.

Recently, famed underground lyricist Jean Grae posted her verses for sale on Craigslist. For $800, Jean Grae would spit a hot 16 on a beat CD, tape, MP3 or what ever form of media you’d like to have her rap on. Foxy Brown, who was supposed to be welcomed back into the rap game after serving a bid, reportedly missed her show date and effectively canned her own career. It’s been more than five years since Foxy dropped her last album and in that time a lot about rap music and the music biz have changed significantly. Competition not only surrounds artists on release day, but blogs and fan sites can make, break or resurrect careers.

Given these facts, does it make sense for the female wordsmiths of yesteryear to keep on spitting? We all saw what happened to Amil. One day she was there, the next day there’s rumors that she’s flipping burgers at Burger King. According to the Internet, Lauryn Hill is stark raving mad and her live shows vary from her channeling spirits to slaughtered versions of her own songs. Of course, all these things have to be taken with a grain of salt, because the blogging media loves to throw salt wherever it can. After all, that’s part of the fun.

But just as the fem-cee world splintered off into two parts with Lil’Kim, Foxy and Lauryn, it’s split again, this time creating a new section of artists like Kid Sister, M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj. While some of these artists, particularly Kid Sister and M.I.A. skew more to the hipster side of things, Nicki Minaj, is resurrecting that style of hardcore fem-cee rap that has made artists from the mid-90’s so popular. Even though these rappers are relatively untested, it’s going to be interesting to see whether or not they can make it at a time where the female rap voice is so quiet.


The trailer for the Christopher Wallace a.k.a. Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G. biopic, “Notorious” just hit the Internets. By all accounts, it looks interesting. Interesting in the way that when you saw The Dark Knight over the summer, they showed the trailer for Christian Bale’s other soon to be hit franchise “Terminator Salvation,” and rather than featuring robots doing amazing robot things, it was just some grainy and scratch footage of some power lines and the sound of people yelling.

The point is that when it comes to making a movie about one of hip-hop’s most revered figures, everything needs to be as tight as Biggie’s flow. Hip-hop films often times get clowned for coming out half assed, full of plot holes, and relying on one or two big name stars to carry the film. Anyone who had the patience to sit through Belly 2 (the film that had nothing to do with the original Belly) starring The Game knows what I’m talking about.

In the case of the “Notorious” flick, there is the possibility of the film being the best representation of the late, great rapper’s life which will not only captivate audiences who are already familiar with his work and make his rhymes the soundtrack their day, but also open it up to people who think Biggie was just a rapper who died. Or it could just plain suck. This is why the trailer for the flick makes me so skeptical. There are more photos in the trailer than actual clips from the flick, which any kid with a decent amount of time on a computer can figure out.

Does that mean this film will be Biggie’s story told in clip art? If it is, I may have to wait for it to hit the bootleg circuit to see it. I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume there’s real acting in the film, despite the fact that it’s Gravy who’s taking on the role of B.I.G. Sure more rappers are actors by trade, (CB4 told that story well) but in the case of Gravy, when few people are familiar with your work as a rapper they may actually think that you’re a good actor.

Who knows, maybe Gravy will score some major Hollywood points and land a guest spot on an episode of Law and Order, the way Ludacris and Anthony Anderson did. Not that Anthony Anderson is a rapper or anything, but if he wanted to, he could probably have a hit single.

The biggest upside for the “Notorious” flick is that it opens the gates for other rapper based movies to hit theaters. Just off the top, there could be films about the life and times of Tupac, Big L, Soulja Slim…. you get the picture.

Ultimately, let’s hope that this flick is actually good and pays proper homage to Big Poppa. Going by the trailer, it looks like they’ve taken their cues at doing better than 50 Cent attempting what he couldn’t pull off in his own flick. Plus, I can’t imagine that there will be any room for a sequel (although Puffy could probably figure out an angle) so this is the one shot deal for Notorious to be truly glorious.

First Ice-T, then Ludacris and now Nelly. No, I’m not talking about rappers who have beef with the cops or the media. I’m talking about rappers popping up on prime time television dramas. Last week, Nelly made an appearance on the network drama CSI New York. And while you’d think that Cornell just showed up to help the series get a ratings boost for its season premiere, it’s been reported that the St. Lunatic will be making regular appearances on the series. I smell a trend, and a bad one at that. Don’t tell me that this is going to go the way of rappers with clothing lines and energy drinks. Last thing I want to see is Lil’ Wayne being called in as a forensics expert on the next episode of Cold Case.

See what happens when you cancel Rap City? Rappers have to resort to prime time dramas.

This has to be some sort of hip-hop conspiracy. There’s no way that it’s a good idea for any rapper to end up on a cop-drama show. It’s a complete lose/lose situation. If they’re on the cop side like Ice-T on Law & Order: SVU, they’re automatically labeled a snitch and thrown in the same circles as Officer Rawse and who in the hip-hop world wants that association? Then if they’re on the criminal side, people are going to argue that they’re just perpetuating the stereotype that all rappers are violent and that they can only play criminals. And the third, most limited situation is that the said rapper just makes a cameo (like 50 Cent did in that one episode of The Simpsons). That’s probably the most fatal mistake that they can make as giving a brief cameo appearance, fans will tune into a show that they never watch to see their favorite artist, only to be disappointed that they made a :30 cameo.

And if rappers are going to be infiltrating your favorite prime time shows, then what’s to stop them from invading daytime? Trust me, the last thing I want to do is wake up, turn on the TV and see that Webbie has replaced Maury Povich on his own show. Next time one of those 150lbs babies waddles across the stage, he may just spell out their entire names.

In any event, I can see that this trend isn’t going anywhere soon. But given the fact that there are so many crime dramas that can feature rappers without looking like the coach from 106th & Park, I’m willing to bet fifty cents that Dancing with the Stars will be the next stop for your favorite emcees. Which if you think about it isn’t a bad place for them to end up. Given the amount of music video experience, even the most hardcore rappers can two-step on cue and if you add one more step, you’ve pretty much got a routine. Plus, it’s not like anyone’s checking out that show to watch the talent.

Can you have a number one album without stirring up controversy?

All you rappers take note: if you want a number one album, you may want to get busted trying to buy some illegal firearms. Just kidding, but not really.

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last two weeks or too preoccupied with when Common’s going to drop his long awaited album, you’d probably know that T.I. is living up to his alter-ego and is the KING of the charts, after moving close to 600,000 units of his album Paper Trail.

Of course it goes with out saying that T-I-P’s record was highly anticipated due to the fact that right before he started working on the record, he was looking at some serious jail time because of his run in with the law, who caught him trying to arm a small army with some serious weapons. But, it all actually worked for T.I. Kinda like it worked out for 50 getting shot nine times and Kanye West almost buying the farm after he got into that car accident that made him look like the fourth friend for Alvin & the Chipmunks.

See the pattern here? Three of the biggest selling rap artists in the world all had to overcome getting shot, not knowing how to drive, or trying to build a small militia to ensure that their records sold well.

Of course, you’re probably thinking “What about Lil’ Wayne?” Weezy F. Baby didn’t have to overcome that many steps – but he did convince enough people that the Carter 3 was going to be his last album, simply because they thought he was going to kick the bucket because of the lean he drinks. Think of it like the same way painters make way more for their art after they’re dead.

Could these be the new marketing plans to ensure that rappers will successfully chart at the coveted number one spot? If so, then Jay may have to build a space ship. There probably isn’t a rap album that’s been more anticipated than that record, so it’s clearly easy to say that there’s going to need to be some sort of “event” to build the album. Then again, we’re talking about Jay-Z here and the last thing he ever needs is any hype to promote an album.

What do you guys think? Do rappers need to do a massive “event” before their albums drop or can they just sail on their skills?

When R&B singers start beefing, things can only go downhill.

Rappers, you guys better start watching out. Seems like the R&B contingent may be stepping into your territory. On Big Boy’s radio show, Ne-Yo recently threw some shots at Young Berg and Chris Brown. With regards to Berg, Ne-Yo agreed that dude needs a three-finger face slap, and with Brown, he said that dude has some personal hygiene problems.

Whoa. Those sound like fighting words! Not to mention, Chris Brown is doing commercials for Wrigley’s gum. At least his breath isn’t kicking, right? I mean, don’t you get some sort of life supply of gum for doing an endorsement?

The last guy who threw down for the R&B team was R.Kelly and we all know how that played out. Not well, not well at all. In fact, it didn’t play out so well that Jay-Z had Kelly pretty much booted from his tour. And to think, R. Kelly is one of the gangster-est R&B singers to ever croon on a mic.

However, with this Ne-Yo situation, it opens up the floodgates for other R&B singers to be chucking shots at the competition. This is one of those situations where things could get ugly and rappers are going to have to clean up the mess.

Imagine that.

With Ne-Yo taking not one but two shots at the competition, the whole natural order of urban music has been turned upside down. R&B singers are generally the level headed members of the music community, generally staying out of the beef that your everyday, run of the mill hip-hoppers love to get into. What’s going to happen is everyone from Trey Songz to The-Dream are going to be calling out their chart companions. With any luck, they’re going to have a sing off, which will not only provide some amazing radio songs, but also some great blog fodder.

But is this what we’ve come to? R&B singers picking fights with other R&B singers? If anything, this puts rappers into an awkward position as they need to pick the right side. Most rappers need at least one R&B track on their album if they’re going to sell any songs to the radio and if they side with the wrong singer they may end up on the wrong side of the playlist – as in not being played at all.

Of course, there’s one way to smooth all of this out, and it deals with the other guy that Ne-Yo called out; Young Berg.

For a guy whose songs most people can’t remember, Berg’s been called out for everything from the type of woman that he likes, to getting his chain stolen every other day like he’s trapped on Groundhog’s Day. Berg should go on the offensive and not only clap back at Ne-Yo, but also any other R&B singers out there, unless he wants to incur the upcoming R&B wrath that’s brewing.

beyonce-knowlesDid Beyonce take her latest video cues from Internet?

Last week, Beyonce debuted not one, but two new videos for her upcoming album. As with most things that Beyonce does, expectations were high. Very high! Around the time that the videos and songs were released, they were met with the usual praise and props. The video in particular that turned most heads was “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” In the video, Beyonce who’s dressed in a leotard dances around with two of her sexiest dancers, and pretty much is alright with the world.

That is until, another more hilarious, video hits the Internet depicting pretty much the exact same dance moves that Beyonce and her pals feature in “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).”

This new, old video entitled “Mexican Breakfast” by Gwen Verdon became an internet sensation when it was set to DJ Unk’s track “Walk It Out.” Of course, gossip sites, and haters are claiming that ‘Bey-Z’ pretty much stole the whole choreography from the video. Generally, I’d be right there throwing stones at the glass houses with which I live in, but then something occurred to me?

What if the whole jack move is 100% intentional?

I mean, this is Beyonce we’re talking about. If she released a record of spoken word set to the sound of ducks quacking, she’d probably sell over a million copies in her first week. So who’s to say that she wouldn’t take her dance cues from a hokey video on Youtube?

Perhaps the same can be said for “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).” Think about it like this. Beyonce probably has one of the most insane travelling/touring schedules of anyone short of a presidential candidate and given the fact that Youtube is like the third most visited site on the Internet, she probably saw “Mexican Breakfast” and thought it would be a good video to spoof. I mean, it’s not like she went out and actually covered the song.

If you really think about it, it’s not that much different than the any rapper making a video that spoofs Scarface, Goodfellas or any of the other mob movies they love to sample.

If anything, Beyonce deserves some sort of viral video award for popularizing the “Mexican Breakfast” dance. Let’s start the petition signing now!

pacmanAdam “Pacman” Jones, no relation to this Pacman, has been reinstated by the NFL and will return to the field as soon as the Dec. 7th game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jerry Jones, Cowboys owner and GM, “”I think he’s done what he was asked to do,” Jones said, “and as anybody that understands the kinds of things that you deal with to get better, it’s probably going to be an ongoing thing. I do know that he does have a good sense of where he is, and we could benefit from that.”

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November 2008
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