Archive for rap music

Protect Yourself At All Times: The Ray J Edition

Posted in hip hop, Music, niggas, ninjas with tags , , , on September 19, 2011 by theninjaparade

{Here are just a few reflections on the day’s events}

You niggas think I sing songs and run around here and do dances” – Ray J 

 

First off… shoutout to DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne Tha God (and the whole Power 105.1 staff) for keeping a straight face through the entire Ray J phone call.  [But ya’ll slick wrong as hell for playing “One Wish” to lead into the commercial break…we peeped that] Way to keep it professional in the face of patent absurdity.

 

I’m tired of being humble with niggas” – Ray J

 

Secondly…not that Infamous El Jugo doesn’t believe Ray J is a raging egomaniac that actually believes that he can “smack them b!tch ass niggas” on site, it’s just the mental image of Brandy’s brother actually putting his hands on someone that makes us shake our heads and go, “naaaahhh”.

 

I got pink slips on everyone of my whips” – Ray J.

 

Third… all things considered, it’s not out of the scope of reason that Ray J would want to spring on a nigga for cracking jokes; after all, he does roll with the “Money Team” and get designs cut into the side of his head, and who could forget “Boyfriend” off the All I Feel album?? #thugshyt

 

I play piano on that piano every muthafukin day” – Ray J

 

Lastly, as if the egregious name-dropping weren’t enough to raise an eyebrow about the interview he goes on to continue to make threats against Fab.  Granted, Fab has never portrayed himself as a “thug” type of rapper, or given the impression that he’s out here head-butting niggas and whatnot…but you know what, fuck it…this nigga Ray J lyin.

 

 

 

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Why BET is the Sh!t (and always has been): The UnCut Version

Posted in Global Ninja, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2010 by theninjaparade

“A lot of people wanted BET to be everything to everybody. So the educational community wanted us to be an educational channel. In fact, for a long time people would call BET black educational television because they just insisted if you’re going to do anything black, it had to be in education.” – Bob Johnson, Founder of BET, on the challenges of starting an “entertainment’ network for black people.

I love black folks; I love being black. I grew up in a black community, I have a big black family, and was educated at big Historically Black University.  So it would only make sense that I like Black Entertainment Television, right?

Well…I do LOVE BET; unlike so many educated black folk who turn their collective noses up at ANYTHING that captures some of the complexities, struggles, and often true comedy of the black community in the media.  I was watching the BET Awards this year (and following along on Twitter) and I noticed more than one of my smarty-art twitter friends commenting on how they would not be viewing the Awards.  They made comments on how viewing BET is setting black people back; or better yet, how it is “lowering their intelligence”.  [Note: watching a 2 hour awards show lowers one’s intelligence, then they have WAAAAAY more problems then BET and should probably seek professional help.]

I’ve been trying to figure out for years (well, really since I graduated from college) why black folks, usually smarty art types, have such a strong disdain for BET?

Here’s what I came up with:

1) Unfair Images. BET will show images that encompass the good, the bad, and the ugly of the black community, through music videos and film (primarily)…which IS fair.  I’ve noticed, in conversation and through observation, niggas only want to see “the good”.   Nothing wrong with that, but it begs to reason, if BET is truly an entertainment network for black people, why ignore such a large slice of the population?  Add to that, if you frame BET in the context of cable television as a whole (because I’m sure none of ya’ll…even with stolen cable…ONLY have BET) when it comes to major cable networks and broadcast stations…BLACK PEOPLE ARE DEPICTED IN A DISPROPORTIONATELY FAVORABLE LIGHT.  There, I said it.  Doctors (Omar Epps- House), Nurses (Jada Smith & Vanessa Bell-Calloway- HawthoRNe), Detectives (Ice T- Law & Order SVU, Anthony Anderson- Law & Order, S. Epatha Merkerson Law & Order, Lawrence Fishburn- CSI, Omar Miller- CSI Miami….I could go on for hours) Shit, there were TWO black Presidents on the most popular show on tv (24) BEFORE Barack Obama! I can name more in just about every field.  Plus, BET’s programming isn’t that bad…(see point 2)

2) Programming. I wonder, sometimes, if the people who are the most critical of BET even watch it, or do they just parrot the criticisms of their friends? On a typical day on BET you’ll see this (in order): BET Morning Inspiration (cool, some spirituality to start the day), Wendy Williams (ehhh, I don’t care for her, but she has her market), One on One (a show about a successful single dad raising his daughter), The Game (a comedy about the private lives of pro football players…that viewers BEGGED to come back), Everybody Hates Chris (a show about an average black kid, growing up in an average household in the late70’s early 80’s), 106 & Park (a pop music video countdown show geared towards teens), A BET “Star Power” Movie (usually cheesy and ghetto…but something you’ve probably seen before), The Mo’Nique Show (loud, but she does usually have some interesting guests), Specialty Programming (either a reality show featuring some rich black people ex: Baldwin Hills, The Family Crews…or a “behind the scenes” type joint on a celebrity).  QUESTION:  What’s so bad about that?  By the way, minus a rerun of the BET Awards…that’s the programming line-up for TODAY, Friday July 2nd, 2010!

3) Coonery. This is where some smarty art niggas stake their claim.  Apparently, BET is a rest haven for coons, coonery, and anything that is coonish.  However, I have yet to have someone give me a working definition (with concrete examples) of what coonery is.  I’m not talking about some bullshit explanation they pulled off the internet, nope…something real and workable that they can explain to a 5 year old.  Wanna know what I reeeeeeeally think?  I think some of these smarty art niggas aren’t comfortable being black around a whole bunch of white folks.  So anything that resembles typical black humor, music, fashion that may draw a response from someone non-black…makes them nervous.  So their knee-jerk response is to immediately distance themselves. Kinda like a little kid screaming “NOT IT” when it’s time to play tag.  But instead they cry coonery when THEY don’t know how to respond when their white coworkers are laughing tombout “I’m Rick James…BITCH!” at the water cooler.  Last night they was laughing, now it’s a problem because some white folk caught wind of it??  GET THE FCUK OUTTA HERE WITH THAT BULLSHIT.  Some things are just funny.  Doesn’t matter who you are, what race or background you come from, they are just plain funny.

4)Ass Shakin‘.  Ok, so there is a little T&A on BET, but shit…it IS cable.  And it’s not really all that bad. Considering that 95% of the asses are concentrated to music videos that come on for 1 HOUR PER DAY…and the granddaddy of all ass shakin’ shows, BET Uncut, got cancelled a LOOOOOONG time ago; I’m not buying this one.  I guess if you don’t want to see ANY ass shaking, then ok, but keep in mind this is an “entertainment” network.  I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, girls used to shake they asses in the club.  And from some of the Facebook pics is see from club promoters…they still do.  We have to reconcile that BET carries some of the elements of the old school southern juke joint.  There’s some guys in the back doing something they probably aren’t supposed to, there’s some really good music being played, and there are thick women dancing…that’s just how we get down.  I’m no fool though, I understand that there are some black people who can’t relate to walking into a lounge or club and seeing fine sistas dancing and having a good time, the local guys from the neighborhood flashing a lil money, or talented singers and rappers moving the crowd…I get it, I really do.  Thing is, I never really hear any criticism about BET from THOSE black people…I always hear it from niggas that I KNOW used to tear the club up (and probably still do come  Homecoming season…hmph)

5) The BET Awards.  For the last decade, this has been my favorite show on BET.  Because it gives me an affirmation that the black celebrities that i see on tv are just like me and my friends and family.  They do some silly shit…just like us.  The try to stunt with they outfits and think they clean…just like us.  The sing along to their favorite artists…just like us.  And get sauced up and pop bottles in the after-set…just like us.  But alas, the reality that entertainers are people and enjoy the same things that we do equals a set back to the entire civil rights struggle?  Really?  This year’s awards featured celebrities that most of us can probably relate to: The legendary Prince could easily be the super “eccentric” dude that does hair in the beauty shop; Chris Brown could be yo dancin lil cousin who can be a hot-head sometimes; Latifah is your unusually butch auntie’s friend from work; Nia Long is your brother’s fine ex-fiancé that your mama’s still cool with;  and El Debarge is the neighbor crackhead that got his life together and is now singin in the choir…maaaan, we know these people so why do we front like they’re beneath us?

BET is the shit.  Always has been.  The black community is too large and complex for every single subgroup to have their story told, but they do a good job of taking snippets from as many as they can.  It is, and probably will continue to be, a reflecting mirror to black America, seen locally and globally.  It’s an outlet for our music, art, cinema, and humor.   For those that would presume that there needs to be more “educational” substance, their remotes can always find NPR, The History Channel, or A&E…but for those who just want to revel in the joy of being “us”, there will always be BET.

Soulja Boy Tell’em: The Myth of “Real” Hip-Hop

Posted in Music with tags , , on June 14, 2010 by theninjaparade

As a very observant 29.5 year old black man from a black community…I’ve heard just about every classic rap song/album, and seen just about every movement from 1987 through today. Do I collect classic rap albums (or iPod catalog them)? Nope. Do I follow less-than-mainstream to “underground” artists? ehhh…Not really. I pretty much listen to what I like and observe the rest: always have.

You should note that I’m not posting this blog out of sarcasm, but to actually find some answers and generate thought. Over the past 10 years or so, I’ve been in many a debate (mostly in barbershops, often over drinks, usually with people within 5 years of my age) regarding rap music; more specifically hip-hop, and even more pointed “real” hip-hop.

I don’t personally think rap music and hip-hop are synonymous…nor have they ever been. The latter, is a culture, who’s primary mode of communication is rap music: but also consists of art, literature, fashion, dance, and dare I say…a school of thought. But I digress: hip-hop is bigger than rap in my book. However, for the sake of this blog, I’ll presume hip-hop and rap music are interchangeable.

So, after countless confusing and often liquored-up debates I’m led to this conclusion: there is no such thing as “real” hip-hop; if there is, all rap music is “real” hip-hop and some of it is just obviously better than others. [Note: by “better” I mean, more skillfully crafted, more entertaining, more thought provoking, more creative, etc.]

Here’s why:

1- Subjectivity: Let’s get some obvious shit out the way first. Judging music is a matter of opinion and taste. So any concrete “criteria” set up would almost certainly be based on one’s opinion of what he/she thought was important. For example: I like dope production. But not every dope beat makes a classic rap song, or even get’s solid lyrics…it’s just a dope beat. Is there room in real hip-hop for lackluster lyrics, but dope beats? Who knows? I have yet to hear a concise definition of what “real” hip-hop is. Most people just list a bunch of artists/albums that they like, or a particular trend, or a particular era (most commonly late 80’s thru mid 90’s) and roll with that.

2- Underground rappers and niggas who just don’t sell records: I’ve talked to people who swear up and down that by naming a bunch of rappers that nobody but them has heard of that validates the existence of real hip-hop. No it doesn’t, that just means you’re way more into the music than everybody else. That’s cool, but that doesn’t make that underground cats you like “good” or “real”…it just means they probably don’t earn that much (it doesn’t make them less than talented either…everybody has to start somewhere). Now I’m not stupid, I know the terms of a record deal are negotiable and a savvy business-rapper can have a deal where he’s earning a lot of not that many sales. That being said, if you’re really that good…people should be consuming your shit. Even if you’re just getting downloaded a lot, or doing a lot of small venues…somebody has to like your shit and be willing to at least click “download” to hear it. And a lot of downloading is free…so if you can’t get people to listen to your music for FREE, we have to question its quality.

3- Hypocrisy: This ties into point one…but it’s a point that makes people defensive. Most people who I’ve talked to that claim to be hip-hop heads are heavily in favor of some movement/era in rap, and dead-set against another movement/era. That’s cool, but their justification for opposing one almost automatically makes them a hypocrite in supporting another. Example: I know more than a couple cats that believe all “real” hiphop comes from the east coast, specifically New York; and if it ain’t east coast…they won’t fu*k with it. This is usually the same type of cat that will defend a weak album/artist from NY, and ignore dope albums from the south and west coast. Same goes for cats who like lyrics. Ok cool, they have a right to oppose artists like Soulja Boy, Wacka Flacka, etc…problem is, these are the FIRST muthafu*kas on the wedding reception dance floor when the Kid ‘n Play come on. I wanna trip these niggas every time I see ’em dance.

4- Substance vs. Greatness: I’ll presume that an MC that becomes a legend automatically is “real”. If that’s the case, how do we determine who the great MC’s are? A lot of the detractors of newer rap artists complain that, quite simply, they ain’t tombout shit. And, I kind of agree. That being said, since when does not having a message disqualify one from greatness?? Exibit A: The Notorious B.I.G- legend. period. On everybody’s short list of greatest evers, and on many people’s list at the top. Let’s take a look at the substance in his body of work. Big rapped about: rags to riches (initially with dope…then rap), moving weight (after he blew up from rap), homicide, banging heaux (despite is unattractive appearance), tricking money (because he can), suicide (not sure why when it’s so dope to be him), and more heaux and money (and how those can create problems)….hmmmmm. Let’s be honest:: just about every whack rapper raps about the exact same thing as Big, just not as well/creatively. Which kind of makes substance a non-factor…especially when you factor in Jay Z, who picked up the torch of guns, dope, massive amounts of money, and heaux. (…and he’s also a legend).

Let’s re-cap: We’ll never be on the same page as far as what “real” means because it’s so subjective and quite frankly I could’ve ended my blog right there. There’s a bias in favor of less-than-mainstream artists that exists, that doesn’t equal them being real…only harder to find in record stores and on the internet. Everybody’s got their favorite type of rap, and shit they flat out hate…but within their favorite, there’s something, that by their own definition, they should hate…but don’t. And lastly, newer “whack” MC’s get accused of a lack of substance but there are great MC’s who rapped about the same shit and became legends….ummm ok. Bottom line, you just like what you like.

I’m sure there will be plenty of input about this blog, feel free to comment.

~El Jugo

Mixtapes + Shake Weights = World Peace??

Posted in Global Ninja with tags , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by theninjaparade

In the 1960’s, the Soviet Union was introduced to Rock ‘n Roll and R&B music; this caused an uproar with Russian authorities who were weary of “Western” (American) influence. In the 1970’s/80’s an entire multi-million dollar black market in Russia was birthed off of…blue jeans; which were outlawed as the import or production of denim was illegal. Not to mention one pair of jeans cost about a month’s salary. In 1989 McDonald’s broke ground on it’s first restaurant (which was the first fast food restaurant ever in Russia); within weeks, the Berlin Wall fell signifying the ceremonial “end” of communism in the region.

(stay with me)

A lot happened in the decades and decades of Cold War between America and Russia leading up to the fall of communism, there was: the spreading political philosophies to tiny countries that could care less, small military skirmishes in tiny countries that could care less, missile threats, a “space race” (complete with lasers in outer space), a nuclear “arms race”, a full blown war in Vietnam, AND Rocky 4. With all of that hostile action and the use of our biggest baddest military technology, it wasn’t until we bust out our secret weapon, that we were able to bring down the “Evil Empire” with our secret weapon.

Nope, it wasn’t covert spies, it wasn’t laser systems in space, it was tons and tons of American Pop Culture bullsh*t! Yup. While the Presidents and Generals were plotting military moves our culture waged war on Soviet culture and we kicked their communist asses with Michael Jackson, Levi jeans, and Big Macs.

Fastforward 20 years to today: we have a whole new set of hostile nations to deal with. As our leaders work to find ways to make this world a better/safer place for all people…I propose a tried and true method of bringing peace to hostile rigid nations: let’s go back to cultural war.

And now, we aren’t even fighting fair. The technological advances of the last 20 years make our culture even more oppressive (and annoying).

Here’s my battle plan:

US vs. China:
China is the last great stronghold of communism. Without getting too deep, communism is based on the idea that the government owns everything and no one person is richer or poorer than the next person. What better way to defeat their masses and get them <<insert Jodeci soundbite>> fienin’ for all things American, I believe peace will ensue.

What better way to combat communism with good old fashioned American excess?  Our culture is built on wealth and over-consumption and the best method to hit the Chinese with is…Hip Hop Culture. Yup, nothing is says “fu*k you…pay me” like Rap Music. Can you imagine some heavyset bearded Chinese dude tombout he movin’ weight from Hong Kong? Hell Mandarin Chinese (the language of most of China) slick already sounds like autotune.

Why you think the Chinese government is fighting so hard to keep Google out? Because they know: once their 1billion+ citizens get a hold of America’s wealth of internet porn and DJ Drama mixtapes…it’s a wrap.

US vs. Iran:
Iran is an old school theocracy. Again, not to get too deep but they are basically ran by religious clergy who purport to be ran by Allah. In the mean time, they have a formal government to handle affairs of the state. Their president is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You’ve probably seen him on TV: kinda short, bearded cat, always wearing a crisp button up with no tie, real cocky, stay talkin sh*t about America. Yup, that’s him. He’s like the Arab version of George Bush.

Now Iran is NOTORIOUS for oppressing women. So the best strategy to win a war of cultures is to liberate the women. “How do we do that?”, you ask. Simple: Shake Weights and Booty Pops.

You see, there’s currently a fashion war on the streets of Iran. Many of the younger women don’t dress in the traditional chador (which is, ironically,  the ninja-like joint that covers them from head to toe)…they rock long fitted skirts, blazers and decorative head scarves. So we’ve already struck the first blow;  how can we win this thing? Like I said…Shake Weights and Booty Pops. If we can get massive quantities of both products in the hands of Iranian women, I believe that will lead to world peace. I don’t think there’s one blue-blooded Iranian male that wouldn’t love a woman with some toned up arms and a fat ass.

Do you have any other ideas for World Peace? (drop us a line)