HOT 5: 5 Wishes for Hip Hop in 2010

January is winding down and we here at GrownHeadz realize that everybody else has already published their lists of hopes, dreams and ‘can’t-wait-for’s for 2010. But missing firsties has never stopped us before.
Our Christmas cards routinely arrive around Martin Luther King Day — we buy afrocentric ones to hedge our bets (they’re going out this weekend, mom, promise). So embracing the spirit of procrastination, we proudly present the last post to welcome in the New Year:

Hip Hop Wishlist for 2010

5. Real Death of Auto-Tune
We remember a time, not so long ago, when a rapper would get his boy from the block who can “sang” to do the hook 51390167on his song. Think TJ Swann with the Juice Crew, or the man who took it to the next level, spawning multiple hits and an imitator or two, Nate Dogg. No gimmicks, no hook ups, just one man, one mic and usually, only one note but we aren’t getting into that right now.

With the popularization of Auto-Tune, EVERYBODY is unleashing their inner Al B. Sure (not even close to being a compliment). Enough is enough. We’re not saying we want to see T-Pain’s kids in the poor house or anything, but we’ve been checking our clocks and that trend should be hitting the 15-minute mark any time now.


4. Positive Paradigm Shift
Alright let me get my grownhead, grown up rant on for a second. Can some rapper pos-impactsomewhere please, PUH-leeeze have a huge street/radio hit talking about something positive? Better yet, can two or three artists have big street/radio hits on some non-gangsta, non-clubbin, non-materialistic subject matter?
It doesn’t have to be an anthem, just be something we can really feel. Let it blow big enough that the labels and powers that be run out and try to find more rappers like that. And that the artists have good lawyers.


3. Adult Hip Hop Radio Stationold school
All the kids who used to bump Run-DMC, the Fatboys and Whodini and now have kids of their own, stand up.
Alright, sit your big ass down, but I made my point: Us grownheads are all growed up now and in a prime demographic that advertisers like. Once some smart radio jock figures this out and spins hip hop from 1984 to 1996 exclusively, they will rule the adult urban market in their city.


2. Dope Female MC Catches Fire
We’re not asking for much, just for a female emcee to bust above ground who’s so brolic she’s undeniable. You know, like the first time you heard Em and thought, femceedamn, whiteboy can flow. It’s been a long time since a dope female had a hit.
Back in ’92, there were actually enough female emcees to have their own concert festival. You may recall ‘Sisters In The Name of Rap,’ hosted by Dee Barnes and featuring Yo-yo, Lyte, Latifah, Salt N Pepa, Roxanne Shante, and about 20 other lesser-known rappers. Our own Resident Alien won a copy from Black Beat. But now? They can’t get enough ladies together onstage to give away a Grammy. The culture is suffering from the lack of female perspectives, and young girls need lyrical champions, too.


1. Strong MC from the Freshman Class
B.O.B, Kid Cudi, Asher Roth, Wale, Drake, Jay Electronica. Throughout 2009, this was the shortlist circulating on the freshman classinterwebs for the Next Big Thing: the few, the proud, the fresh who would carry hip hop into a new age.
Several of the gents, like Asher and Cudi, dropped B- projects; the albums were decent, but their success rested mainly on one hot song. Wale and B.O.B. promise more brilliance than they actually deliver, and half of Drake’s appeal is just from being so out of left field. C’mon, ‘Degrassi Jr. High?’ Only Jay Electronica hits that heart, despite no major release.
We understand that it’s hard to live up to the hype, but when talking about game changers, WE think names like Rakim, Snoop Dog, Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy. Things weren’t the same once they dropped, and their songs became classics.
The new cats got a few nice songs, but we can’t really picture a 20th anniversary release of “Day and Night.” But I guess we shouldn’t judge too harshly. On the strength of their first releases, we might have misgauged PE, BDP and the Fugees’ skills, too. Keep hope alive.

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ALBUM of the WEEK: Surreal & The Sound Providers – True Indeed

surreal-sps-true indeedSurreal is the rapper, The Sound Providers, well they supply the sound (they’re the producers silly). The Sound Providers hail from Cali while Surreal is from FLA. The came together and BAM! While not a review we will say that this is definately some laid back hip hop to chill to.

Don’t forget, these are not the complete songs—just 90-second clips so you can get a feel for the music. If you like what you hear, go out and buy the CD. Quality hip hop grows when we support the artists


MusicPlaylist
Music Playlist at MixPod.com

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Jerry Craft Got Issues

Jerry Craft Has Issues! Black Comic Strips Do, Too

Black Panther, Luke Cage, Falcon, Black Lightning and Black Goliath are in studio at a talk show taping. Though seated, sweaty faces, fidgeting fingers and shaky knees betray their nervousness. Why? Because they’re appearing on a segment called ‘Confronting the Black Superheroes of My Youth,’ and cartoonist Jerry Craft is cutting them no slack.

He slams them on wack origins (ex-convict), pathetic abilities (faster than a jungle cat!), corny outfits (a helmet with an afro wig on top? really?) and excessive chest exposure, then sums up his real beef: They didn’t have any real powers, so young black kids wouldn’t think, even through their comic books, that they could grow up to wield any power either.

As the flash animation on www.mamasboyz.com says, Jerry Craft has got issues, but he’s working them out with a pen and a pad.
Craft is more well-known for Mama’s Boyz, a family-oriented comic strip that follows the lives of single mom Pauline Porter and her two sons, Yusuf and Tyrell.
In a graphic novel world of compromised heroes and fiends, Mama’s Boyz can look deceptively soft. Characters have semi-colon eyes, sport high-top fades, and the humor is never as caustic or biting as, say, Boondocks.

mamboyz-jerry

Jerry Craft says that’s all according to plan. The gentle-voiced 46-year-old, who has two young sons of his own, believes it takes more balls to try to help kids do the right thing than shock jaded Gen Xers.
“Of all of the black strips, Boondocks is definitely more political and hard-hitting and more, uhm, you know, there’s a lot of cursing, and that tends to sell because it’s what’s expected of us,” Craft explained. “Whereas the family-type style of what I do would really take someone bold enough to say let’s see if we can break some ground and have something with a moral connection catch on.”

But the Porters aren’t the Cosbys: sometimes money is tight and Pauline worries about  male role models for her sons. Craft is portraying a family that wasn’t dealt perfect cards, but is functional and successful anyway, and he feels that’s more important than reflecting his own two-parent background.  
“When I was coming up, most of my friends were being raised by a mother or grandmother. I was one of the few of my friends who had both parents living at home,” said the native New Yorker. “Pretty much, the dads were nonexistent, so I wanted to do a comic strip that paid homage to these strong moms who were raising these kids, as bad as me and some of my friends were.”

Jerry’s first book, Mama’s Boyz: As American as Sweet Potato Pie, came out in ‘97. He tried to follow the Fat Albert school of comedy, where there’s a lesson in the humor without beating kids over the head with it.
Craft spoofs Where’s Waldo on the book’s back cover, with Yusuf asking readers, “Can you tell how many people are watching me and my brother Tyrell as we try to shop?” The sketch is filled with undercover officers peeking over counters and around doors. The title? Where’s Security. It’s indicative of Craft’s work: a seven-year-old would just count the number of guards and laugh, but a 12-year-old might start making connections between their own profiling encounters.

Continue reading Jerry Craft Got Issues

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The Hip Hop Purist: Yes, I Do Occasionally Sleep

count bass-d

Don’t you hate it when you have slept?

My boy Neil told me I should check out Count Bass D.  For some strange reason, my brain associated that name with an 808 bass artist from the 90s.  I ignored Neil’s request but he made me a copy of one of his cds anyway.  That cd has been collecting dust until recently.

So while driving and fumbling for something different to listen to, I stumble across “Dwight Spitz” by the Count.  I grudgingly give it a chance with my finger close by the eject button in case I hear anything sounding like Magic Mike.  I was delightfully suprised at what came out of the speakers.

Simple (I am not talking Lil Wayne simple – I mean they are simply delivered – unlike a Busdriver) rhymes over interesting beats – and I must focus on the beats.  I really enjoy his sound.  There is one track (“Take Control”) that I simply cannot shake.  I have played it ad nauseum but I promise I will play it again as soon as I get in my car.  I have no idea what it is all about – is he playing with my mind or controlling it?

dwight spitzThen there is the track with Edan.  The subject matter reminds me of “Do this my way” by Gift of Gab and Lyrics Born.  It is playful yet it vocalizes some profound stuff (accidentally or purposefully?).

“I gave away my riches but I still remained a rich man”

That sounds like something Jesus might have said prior to mentioning camels walking through the eyes of needles.

Anyway, I slept.  This album came out a long time ago.  I slept hard.  I will purchase this album and others from Count Bass D and I think you should do the same thing.

Thanks Neil.

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