The Hip Hop Purist: The Devil and Ms. Monae

“The dichotomy in me knew something was fishy.” – Saafir
 
I recently went to a Tribe Called Quest show in Atlanta. It was wonderful.
 
They performed all of their popular songs and then some. Jarobi even came on stage. Of course, Jarobi was supposed to be there. But someone else was not.
 
At the end of their set, Q-Tip announced the foreigner. I became a xenophobe, hoping for a Trouble T-Roy moment when Puffy grabbed the mic and said “Wassup, New York”. Boos were automatic. So were obscene finger gestures. I even participated in the fun, myself.
 
Puff, as hip hop’s Antichrist, has more than one reason to be hated (besides cheesecake delivery). He is the sole reason I check for the 7 Daggers of Megiddo on ebay. But this ain’t about him. It’s about his motives.
 
I recently had the pleasure of listening to ArchAndroid for the first time. This album snuck up on me completely accidentally. I heard good things about it so I decided to give it a listen via illegal download.
 
I bought Badu’s first album when it came out based on the strength of her first single. She was sneaking 5%-er mythology into mainstreamer-isms. I thought that this might be the thing that would change the R&B genre into something listenable. I bought the album and noticed it was replete with love songs and immediately gave it away. Lauryn Hill did something similar to me. I really want a female MC to be in my top 10 list. Medusa is the closest thing, but she just does not have enough material.
 
So in steps Janelle Monae. “Dance or Die” has her flowing her ass off over a fast, pop-y beat. I was impressed. I was even more impressed when I read the lyrics.
 
Then I noticed she had some videos. “Tightrope” seemed to have the most Youtube hits, so I gave it a try, still expecting the worst. Sometimes I love being wrong. The video was dope. I think I get the concept. The mental institution is symbolic of the mind. She starts off in her room and then sneaks into a hallway. She (Janelle) is symbolic of a thought. She is met by more thoughts (her dancers) and they start having a good time. Not sure about the minions dressed up as the grim reaper with mirrors for faces. They seem to be symbolic of convention or pragmatism.

Lyrically, she touches on the balance of emotions. Life is full of highs and lows. You have to know that either is on the horizon at all times. So don’t get too caught up in either the highs or the lows — thus the balance of tipping on a tightrope. She even shows that you can escape your mental state and go other places you have never seen before.
 
“I learned to relax in my room and escape from New York and return through the womb of the world as a thought.” – Rakim
 
She danced right through the wall of the institution and into the wilderness while gazing with what seemed to be awe. The mirror-faced minions followed her though and guided her back to her room in the institution.
 
Even if I am completely wrong about my interpretation of the video, it still provokes thought and discussion. Try to get that from Nicky Manaj (am I hating?).
 
So after I watched that video a number of times, I clicked on the next one. At first glance, it seemed much shallower than the previous one. It is one take of her singing “Cold War” with different camera angles focusing on her face. But she seems to go through a range of emotions during the take. There is one point where she even starts crying, although she tries valiantly to hold it back. When she says “I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me,” I completely felt her. I, too, was taught that there had to be something wrong with me through elementary, middle school and high school. I met up with a bunch of other weirdos in college, though. But those memories do hit hard and they hit randomly and they evoke an emotional response. She forced me to deal with those emotions while showing her own. Again, I was impressed.
 
I have not fully digested ArchAndroid yet. I really want to buy the album but I am torn. I want to show this talented young person that I respect her voice and her imagination. But I do not want to put one red cent in the pocket of the Antichrist.
 
Why would Puff sign her? Is he trying to add some sort of legitimacy to his legacy by promoting someone with actual talent? Naw, he is the Antichrist, and he has no soul. Right? Or could he be trying to prove a point? He signs a person with originality and imagination and throws his marketing machine behind her just to get a mediocre return on investment (on purpose, maybe) to show that the marketplace has no urge to be moved by thought.
 
I have read on some sites that the record sales have been pretty bleak. Janelle is a superstar. She is a role model for young women. She shows them that they can still be beautiful without being scantily clad. Having an imagination is a virtue! Having independent thought is not a crime! Fuck convention! Be the person you are supposed to be.
 
She should be selling out arenas. I checked her tour dates and she is merely opening up for other groups in small venues.
 
When I get my paycheck Friday, I will ask the Hip Hop Gods to forgive me in a moment of weakness. As a crusader constantly compelled to seek justice, I will spend my hard earned money to buy a copy of ArchAndroid, giving Diddy more power to destroy the art form I hold so close to my heart. Hell, I may even buy 2 copies.

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Somebody Needs To Tell Democrats: Get a Tea Party

Somebody Needs to Tell…..

Democrats: Let’s start our own Tea Party.  Bill Maher might be right. After the whole debt ceiling debacle, where a bunch of jus’ crazy as hell sum-bitches on the right were willing to let the US economy fly off the cliff to prove a point, it’s time to fight fire with fire. 

The left needs its own group of nutjobs repping hard for reparations, getting gangsta for green energy, shit-kicking crazy for social security and foaming at the mouth for free healthcare. 

We gotta take the Sean Connery approach from “The Untouchables” and stop bringing knives to these gun fights.

Republicans: Retire “LYNCHING” as a metaphor. If you don’t like a policy or person, stop saying they need to be lynched. It is almost never (and by almost we mean 99.99998% of the time) going to be perceived as a good thing.  Even if you’re “lynching” a white guy,

Still not laughing.

 

most figure it wouldn’t take much for you to start stringing up the usual suspects—historically speaking. 

Besides, we’re bound together in this bloody American history, and it’s strange that such a subject of pain for one side could be such a blithe rhetorical construct for the other. Wanna hear how funny it is to us? Replace “lynch” with “rape.” And then go use these “harmless” metaphors at a rape clinic. Ha, ha hell.

From now until the end of Obama’s 2nd term (yeah, we’re claiming it), lose the “L” word.

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Yo Jeff! The Hip Hop Dating Coach – If Speed Is What You Need

Level the Playing Field with Speed Dating

Speed dating is the bomb, and if you don’t believe me give me a minute and I will explain myself.

Now, I got married in 2001. Speed dating was only created in 1998 so it’s safe to say that it wasn’t that popular when I was searching for dates. But ever since I was invited to speak at a speed dating event in 2006, the concept has grown on me.

Speed Dating was created in 1998 by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo to help Jewish singles find other Jewish singles. Since its creation, speed dating has blossomed into a popular activity for all types of Americans. Speed dating events are held at business conferences and networking programs. They are also coordinated at comic book conventions and other programs with niche tastes.

In 2010, I hosted Miami’s first Gay Speed Dating event, which was sponsored by Empower U. We held the speed dating to allow gay men an opportunity to meet outside of the sexually charged nightclub environment.

The hottest thing about event-based Speed Dating is that it evens out the odds. What I mean by that is at your basic convention, like say the Congressional Black Caucus, there are always a lot of singles. These singles crowd the hotel bars and do their best to mix and mingle without ruining their political futures. This risk, combined with the normal pressure of approaching someone you are interested in, practically prevents good people from connecting. The only people who end up making connections are the gold diggers and players who are well-versed at picking up people. Convention-based speed dating events allow you to meet people you normally wouldn’t meet.

When I coordinate speed dating programs, I use my book 20 Soul Questions for a Better Relationship as a conversational tool. Even though I wrote it (along with my wife) as a premarital resource book, it makes an even better speed dating book. It’s full of all types of questions that help people learn more about one another, and in a speed dating environment it gets participants past the basic questions.

Questions like “What do you do for a living” and “What happened in your last relationship” are boring after a few rounds of speed dating. While the basic questions are important, participants often fail to think of other questions during their 5-minute opening. Just like first dates, speed dates are better when you plan for them. To help prepare you for your next speed dating event, I have put together a list of some simple things to keep in mind.

Yo Jeff’s Tips on Speed Dating

1. Don’t hold back.
Speed dates are the easiest form of rejection to take, because they are quick. In a speed dating event, each person makes notes on the people they are interested in. So you won’t find out you got dissed until after the program is over. Since you won’t get dissed to your face, have no fear of being yourself. I say go for the gusto; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

2. Take it seriously.
Even though speed dating seems simple and not as flashy as scooping someone up on the dance floor nor as suave as copping somebody a drink, it is the most efficient way of meeting someone you don’t know anything about. Not even the smoothest player or sexiest chick can meet five to six different people and have a conversation with them in an hour. I always tell people not to make fun of speed dating programs, because they are no joke.

3. Be daring.
This is a good chance to go on a date with the type of person you wouldn’t normally date. Even at the most niche gatherings, there will be people present who would never meet otherwise. I say embrace the nature of the event and release all your normal visual prejudices. Don’t be afraid to talk to somebody who doesn’t look like your type. Speed dating is a chance for people to let their inside character show.

4. Rehearse!
Speed dates are a lot like first dates, so practice how you will explain yourself. Rehearse your answers to the questions you would ask of your dates. Practice your answers so they will be clear and concise.

5. Enjoy the moment.
Finally, have fun. First impressions are not always the only impressions. If you feel you got better after a few rounds of speed dating, don’t get too upset. Even if you liked a person you met in the first round but you were nervous and feel you messed up your answers, chances are they were nervous as well. The world is full of nice people, so sign up for another speed date and you won’t be as nervous.

As always, I hope my suggestions help and motivate you to attend a speed dating event. Post your comments and email your questions to Coachyojeff@gmail.com. Peace out! Yo Jeff.

Jeff Carroll aka Yo Jeff is THE hip Hop dating. Jeff is dedicated to stopping the games in dating. Yo Jeff gives advice on how to avoid playas and gold diggers and strategies for successful dating. Reach him at coachyojeff@gmail.com

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Audio Session: Tragedy Khadafi and ProbCause (singles)

Now they aren’t recording together its just two different singles silly

First up is Tragedy Khadafi.  Juice Crew member and Hip-Hop icon, Tragedy Khadafi is set to release a new mixtape on September 20th, 2011.  Thug Matrix 3 features Killa Sha with production by: AraabMUZIK, Shroom, Audible Doctor, Now & Laterz, and Ayatollah. Here is the first single Ill-Luminous Flow

Next we have ProbCause. ProbCause can jump from dubstep- to glitch hop- to R&B than back to a classic boom bap gritty rap sound. Well that according to their media pack. Check this song from their mixtape “Stir Fry” The song is The Recipe


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Hot 5: Issues With the Wire

Recently here at Grownheadz HQ, we have been taking a look back at one of the greatest TV shows ever made. Which one, you say?  Wait for it…wait for it…The Wire. 

While we’re hardcore, boxset owning fans of the crime drama that ran on HBO from 2002 to 2008 and chronicled much more than crime in Baltimore, we wanted to see how it has held up over time. And while our love for the Barksdales, Bunk and Bunny Colvin is unabated, upon review we have found some chinks in The Wire’s armor.  The writers got a whole lot right, but here are a couple of holes that sure could have used filling.

Weak Female Characters
The Wire had some women we loved, like Det. Kima Griggs (Sonja Sohn), Avon’s sister Brianna, and a character we totally forgot about until we watched Season 5 again, Council President Nerese Campbell.  There were also some women we loved to hate, like Webay’s wifey and momma to Namond, De’Londa.

These were strong characters, but they weren’t given much nuance or backstory.  We got all sorts details about the male characters’ off-duty lives and their private motivations or demons, but the very few female characters got short shrift. We did see some of Kima’s home life at the start of the series, but from Season 3 onward, she was strictly in the background.  Watching the last three seasons, you could almost forget that, at least initially, she had been a major player and Daniel’s No. 2.

McNulty: Good Cop, Bad Attitude
We all know a Jimmy McNulty—or maybe not. This self-destructive drunk and womanizer’s only redeeming quality was the fact that he was “reeeal po-lice.” Smart yet stupid, he put the case (every case) above his personal and professional life in an admirable show of determination. Right?  Wellll, a closer review reveals less than admirable qualities.

Throughout the series, characters regularly compromised, picked their battles, made deals with the devil or whatever you want to call it in order to achieve their greater goals, but McNulty was Above All That.  If you weren’t willing to go all in and piss off your superiors and sacrifice your career for the case, you were a sellout.  You weren’t trying hard enough.  McNulty was a wrecking ball to his own life and everyone’s lives around him, and a few solved cases and smart one-liners can’t fix that.

Black Bosses and Respect.
Apparently, the show’s white writers never had  an African American supervisor.  We were tripping on how McNulty would come storming into Lt. Daniel’s office (his boss), talking loud and telling him off about the case. 

Heeeeeeelll to the naw. We as a people just don’t operate like that. You can be upset, you can be unhappy, you can have legit grievances on the job, but you better DAMN sure watch your tone of voice.  Daniels had spent years on the force, and probably put up with more than a few holdover racist cops while he was coming up.  At this point in his career he wouldn’t go for any ol’ white boy talking crazy to him, ESPECIALLY one he outranked.  A REAL black boss would squash all that ish real quick.

Wack-Ass Hip Hop
With so much drama in the hood, The Wire had immediate hip hop credibility. Iconic characters like Omar and Snoop seeped into our consciousness, and the show got shout-outs on a few albums. There should’ve been more: Wire-themed mixtapes, soundtracks with all-star casts… There was that much love.  So why did the show’s hip hop suck so badly?

Seriously, we haven’t heard such sub-par hip hop since mid-80s cop action movies. Given the different incarnations of the theme song, it’s obvious that the writers and producers had a handle on the Alt-Blues-Rock connection, but they definitely could have benefited from a rap consultant.

Too Few Happy Endings
We really appreciate all the realism on the show and the “life ain’t fair” ethos that it portrayed.  But come on guys, it’s still a TV show. Can we get some Hollywood endings, pleeeease? In five seasons, viewers only get two: Namond getting into Bunny Colvin’s place, and Bubs getting off heroin. Lester getting the young ex-stripper as his girl wasn’t bad either. 

But when you weigh that against all the people who died (Bodie, Omar, Wallace, Stringer, numerous others), had sad endings (Dukie on drugs, Randy in a group home, Gus getting demoted to the copy desk), or didn’t get what they deserved (The Greeks, Marlo, Clay Davis’s rotten azz, Rawls), it just didn’t equal out. The Wire was entertaining, but they sure knew how to bring a guy or girl down.

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Grownhead Check: 134 – 140

(It’s cool to kick it about PE and Mantronix, but if you’re going to claim the title of grownhead, we’ve gotta make sure you’re really down. Therefore, you truly are a grownhead IF….

134) … having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.
135) … your car insurance goes down and your car payments go up.
136) … “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang was one of the hot new songs when you first heard it at a school dance
137) … you wished could go to the nightclub Natalie’s owned by Gladys Knight on New York Undercover
138) … you made time on your schedule to watch Sister, Sister
139) … after you got all growed up with a good job and money you went out and bought an Adidas sweat suit (like Run-DMC) cause you never had one when you were a kid.
140) … your kids used your old clothes as a costume (and those said clothes used to be yo BEST flygear from back in the day)

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Hip Hop Affirmations: Are You Flexible?

Mona Lisa can I get a date on Friday
and if you’re busy, I wouldn’t mind taking Saturday.”
 ~Fugees
Nappy Heads (Mona Lisa)

 


Affirmation of the Day: I am flexible and not deterred by temporary delays

Live from The Netherlands it’s your hip hop affirmation for the day.  If only getting here was a easy as sending you this message.  My patience was definitely tested yesterday as I was supposed to fly out of Boston at 5 p.m. but had a delay due to maintenance issues.  After the third announcement of another extension in how long it would take for the plane to be ready we were offered the option to jump on another flight leaving at 10:55 p.m. that would have a stop in Paris before heading to Amsterdam.  I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I told you I wasn’t a little bummed.  It took me a moment to snap out of it and look at it as an opportunity to visit Paris’ airport.  I did use a lifeline and called a friend who listened to my situation and responded, “Oh, you just get more time to work on your master plan.” Oh yeah, that’s right; even the ambassador can use a boost every now and again.  I am definitely not above it.

Question of the Day: What’s the last situation where you really did not have any control but were still staying rigid?

Action of the Day: Choose another perspective in a difficult moment.

Run the Point from where you are, with what you have!

Your Ambassador,

Mike Bruny

Mike Bruny is a certified professional life coach and author, helping ambitious professionals gain clarity for life/career decisions. Reach him at bruny@hiphopaffirmations.com. His book “Move the Crowd: 30 Days of Hip Hop Affirmations to Change Your Life.” is availible at www.Amazon.com. http://hiphopaffirmations.com/move-the-crowd

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