Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lyrics in Hip - Hop

I love hip hop. I love everything about it. I love the production; I love the swagger. But the thing that most interests me is the lyricism. I love the idea that words can not only be used to voice a concept, but that that voice can be so engaging and compelling.

I don't mean to geek out over fancy vocabulary, but I really do enjoy hearing clever lyrics. Which is why I find it a little annoying when all the Top 40 Rap songs can only do as good as being catchy. Now while catchy is fine for selling records and even for battle raps and freestyles, I just don't want to be stuck with a one - trick pony when I turn on the radio. Maybe that's just me; maybe I think too hard and just can't enjoy a nice song. But that's how I feel.

I like stuff I have to rewind to really get. My brain needs to work. Nas and Lupe are good for that. Underground's great for finding real mind-frackers.

I still like Weezy though.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Black Hendrix

I've been listening to the three Jimi Hendrix Experience albums lately and am currently reading Midnight Lightning, a book about Hendrix and his place in Black American music, and I've noticed something that seems messed up to me: Jimi Hendrix played a lot of music that could be considered early funk, and even has straight - up blues songs on record. Yet I've never heard his music on any Black radio stations. Obviously, I don't expect to hear "Purple Haze" on V103, but if he's not on straight rock stations, then he isn't heard on the air. Yet "Red House" would fit perfectly on a blues playlist.

I hope it's just me. I hope that I'm just not listening to the radio at the right time. But it's not just radio. Hendrix isn't usually seen as a great Black icon within the community. Then again, in Febuary you only hear King, Shabazz, Parks, so I shouldn't be to surprise that Hendrix is left out if Huey P. Newton's or Stokely Carmicheal aren't top tier Black folk. I'd just like to think that we could see Jimi Hendrix as being one of us rather than an outside playing "white" music.

But maybe that was the point. If I had never checked out that book, I would have only thought of him as a great guitar player. Maybe it's not so much that we don't see him as Black, it's that we see him as a musician first. I'd like to think that. That sounds right.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I'm getting too fucking fat.

I was never very skinny, but lately I've been packing on the pounds like food's going out of style.

And I'm spending more, too.

I've got too much damn money in my account and I'm being reckless with it. I buy on impulse too often for the money to not really be mine. As far as finances, I'm failing miserably.

Perhaps worst of all, I'm missing classes. For the three years I've been in college, I've prided myself on having an overall good attendance record. Maybe I'm asking too much of myself in a college setting, but I feel I need to be at every class, and I need to be there as early as possible. I set very high goals for myself, and I can't afford to become complacent.

I guess it's an old problem I'm facing. Everyone who gets into a comfort zone loses what got them there in the first place. George St. Pierre lost his title because he was comfortable being the champ. The same thing happened to Tyson. Apolo on Battlestar Galactica got fat and lazy when they found New Caprica. When you're used to the top, you settle there, and you make it that much easier for someone with fire in their eyes to knock you off.

But keeping that killer instict is hard when no one can touch you. Anderson Silva's dominated the best Dana White has thrown at him. How can he still be as dangerous when he's beaten Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, and a bunch of other top - tier fighters? Trying to keep the fact that you've got a target on you when you're on top in the front of your mind is hard when everyone keeps telling you you can't be stopped. You have to motivate yourself. You have to be dedicated to getting up early, working hard, and being on time for even the smallest engagement.

I need to motivate myself better. I hear the alarm go off at 6, but I wait 'til 8 or even 10 to get out of bed. Am I sleeping on gold clouds? Can I afford to not be the best and/or the most dedicated? Am I really that great I can't lose my money, or develope diabetes, or get kicked out of school? How dare I be comfortable! I need to be in the library, in the practice room on my horn, and running 'til I can't feel my MOTHAFUCKIN' LEGS!!!! I can motivate myself out of bed by remembering the words I'm writing now.

The worst place you can be is in a comfort zone, because men are willing to kill you to be in you place.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

All That Jazz

I like jazz.

Yes, I realize that that statement really doesn't tell you anything.

I like jazz, but not the Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, swingin' standards stuff. I'm not saying it's not good, but I prefer an odder sound when it comes to jazz. I have Birth of the Cool, but I listen to Bitches Brew more often.
I guess I'm more anti - establishment when it comes to music. I like having to seek out hidden treasures, digging in crates for that snatch of gold. I try to avoid a lot of the mainstream music out there unless it's actually good.

But as I look for great music not heard on the Top 40 stations, I end up going to stuff that other people claim to be great. So does that make me lazy, or do I value others' opinion over my own? Then again, I like certain records that some critics don't like. I guess there was a point to this, but I've lost it.

I need to learn focus.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Life Is But A Dream

I've been staying up 'til 5 in the morning lately. It's caused me to miss classes. I'm not complaining or looking for sympathy; that's just what's been happenin'.

Dreams are funny. When we're sleep, weird abstract ideas pop in our heads. When we're awake, dreams are goals we set that are either marginally feasible or highly improbable. The American Dream comes 2 mind.
I can't stand this fucking fairytale. I mean, the concept seems so innocent; a country allows anyone to be rich if they're creative and determine enough. You can have a big house, a beautiful spouce, well - behaved kids, a white picket fence, the works. The perfect life. Paradise on Earth.

Sounds good, doesn't it. And it's mostly true, too. You can get it if you really want. But there are strings. That white fence has to be planted in deep dirt. Your hands have to get dirty. But not too dirty. You have to keep up appearences, make yourself look completely clean. But don't be honest. No one rich likes an honest John coming in to their den of theives. If your good, keep a low profile so the rest of the elite can feel better about themselves.
It helps if you're the right type, too. Not too dark; not to feminate. They don't call it "The Boys Club" for nothing. And the boys are all old and pale. But if you manage to get in even with those disadvantages against you, congratulations; your kids won't have a problem getting in at all if you keep the green growing, and I don't mean grass. Or do I? No one said anything about the cash being squeaky clean.

Now that I think about it, I'm glad I'm not that wealthy. True, I have some change in my pocket, but I can't really buy anything; it's not even really my money.

If you're poor, you're hungry; if you're rich, you're fat. You're lazy when you're rich; you work when you got jack. But being a bum's not cool. If you think that, you're a fool. Y you think everyone tells u 2 stay in school?

Refund checks.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hip Hop Classic

I've been listening to a lot of old-school hip-hop lately. I love the fact that back in the '80s and early '90s, a hip-hop artists was judged on lyrical content and not by how many units they sold.

That isn't to say that gangsta rap killed lyricism or anything. Gangsta rap had its start with Boogie Down Production's Criminal Minded - and that was during the Queensbridge/South Bronx beef in, like, '86! Lyricism is proven to exist alongside hardcore lyrics. A well-crafted description of a homicide is cool to listen too - and I don't care if you flippin' hate gangsta rap, you're going to be hypnotized by the way someone like Rakim or Nas or Pastor Troy details murder.

Lyricism died down with hip-hop going mainstream. Simple sells. Well. "Crank Dat": DUMBEST FUCKING LYRICS EEEEEVVVVVVVVVVVAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR! But it sold. Soulja Boy knows his audience. Catchy hooks, dancing, and pseudo-gangsta lyrics will get play in the clubs, school dances, and radio. Sappy/Sensual rap + females = big sales. Hip-hop is just the latest in a line of music genres who have seemingly lost their edge with commercialization. That's just the way the music business works; the song will sell more if its simple, danceable, and a little controversial.

Now that I've got my rant out the way, I want to show my appreciation to old-school hip-hop. Old-school to me means anything before 2005, my senior year in high school. I know that's not a very big timespan, but that's also a defining point in time. Anyway, stuff like The Slim Shady LP, Get Rich Or Die Trying, Stillmatic, The Blueprint, and Through Yo' Hood Up define my early life. And keep in mind that I haven't touched on Paid In Full, Straight Outta Compton, The Chronic, Face Off (Pastor Troy's Album), We Can't Be Stopped, or even Raising Hell. Whether talking production - wise or lyrically - speaking, these albums shaped every cafeteria emcee and wanna-be thug in middle and high school. Yelling "YYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!" was still acceptable. I'm Serious bumped caddys and fords. And we still were a little unknown down south besides Outkast. I don't know; I just miss how back when I was a high school freshman no one was talking about how the south killed hip-hop.

I started this blog early in the morning. It's now almost 8PM. I've gotten distracted. Time to listen to Radio and MM...Food.