Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Illecism - Disregard All Turbulence (ft. Yae)


Illecism - Disregard All Turbulence (ft. Yae)

This time of year is especially rough. As a student, the impending weight of final exams, papers and other buffoonery is turning you into a hunchback, while the winter weather is enough to turn a sunny day into a disaster. That said, music is always a cure. This new Illecism track landed in my inbox and not only woke me up from a day-long funk, but is serving as a great vibed-out study song from henceforth. I suppose blogging and schoolwork should never cross paths, but at some points they're destined to collide. When they do, find yourself some tunes to ease the tension. This track did the trick for me, and hopefully can be of some use to you as well. Check out this cut from Illy's 'Molotov' mixtape...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear WikiLeaks


via TechCrunch:
A lot of people, including many governments, have problems with WikiLeaks, the site dedicated to publishing sensitive and often classified documents. (Read more background on the controversial organization). The site is currently under a distributed denial of service attack, according to a Tweet from the WikiLeaks account. The site seems to be withstanding the attack so far. It is up right now.

The DDOS attack comes just as WikiLeaks is preparing to release another set of U.S. government documents—this time diplomatic cables which may prove so embarrassing that the State Department decided to warn foreign governments ahead of their release.

'People shouldn't fear their government; the government should fear their people'

That was the crowning quote from the institutional thriller V for Vendetta, in which a civilian uprising started by the release of supposed classified government information. In the real world, however, there is a lack of fervor for calling BS on the things that the government doesn't want to tell us. That was until you came about WikiLeaks. From the moment you came out with a set of government documents detailing the failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan military offenses, it's been an uphill battle to keep you afloat. I say that not because you're losing the battle. As a matter of fact, by releasing these documents and allowing the media, and more importantly the people, to see what the government really is up to, you're making good on the idea that the government should be transparent as possible.

I say you're fighting an uphill battle because there is such a thin line between releasing useful information and information that might be detrimental to our safety. In this day and age, homeland security is ironically synonymous with secrecy, even while terrorism continues to run rampant. We're in an age of constant security checks and less privacy at the expense of that security. WikiLeaks, I'm not going to lie. As enticing as the idea of knowing exactly what the government is up to is, that information in the wrong hands is a terrorist attack waiting to happen. As much as the 'embarrassing information' might be juicy and give liberal folks like myself fodder to trash the government, your leaks are a threat. Yes, the government should come clean with the people, but some things just shouldn't be public knowledge. WikiLeaks, I appreciate your truth seeking, as well as the fact that you keep the leakers anonymous. God help those leakers if they ever get outed. I see a lifetime of waterboarding and Guantanamo Bay-style torture in that case.

Moving along, WikiLeaks, your site doesn't deserve to be shut down or blocked. There is always going to be such a thing as freedom of speech, and that right should always be respected. The government has no right to intervene in your operations no matter how much they think you will have (or already have) sullied its name. That said, it's up to you guys to show some discretion. If you're handing out complete blueprints to the White House, maybe that's not the best thing. But logs of war and conferences determining our fate abroad are fair game, in my opinion. The government can't be mad at that. If they really were concerned about the effects of some of your leaks, they wouldn't do the classifying in the first place. I guess it all goes back to whom should fear who. If you're putting the country in a compromised position, the government should fear you. If the government is going to slam the books on you, then vice versa. Just make sure your sources are reliable and won't be too upset if the entire military descends on their house in a terrorism sting...

Blue's Clues: Remixed

Everyone knows the song to Blue's Clues by heart, or very well should. Blue's Clues was the first kid's show made for slow kids. I say that because they made the clues so obvious that only a blind kid wouldn't be able to get it. That said, it's always been a mystery as to what happened to Steve and his little brother (blank). The show said that Steve went to college, but those of us who read the news know he got mixed up in something a little more adult than that. Even so, these people found a way to explain it, with hilarious results. This is the Christopher Nolan version of Blue's Clues. Taking cues from movies such as Inception and the new Batman series, this remix of Blue's Clues is not for the faint of heart, yet keeps in line with the course of one episode. Enjoy it, and be on the lookout for more blue paw prints...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Lil' Kim

Rap beef is pretty much played out... There, I said it. At this point in hip-hop, most rap beefs aren't based on anything other than hot air, hearsay and rappers' vanity. Back in the day, there seemed to be some substance behind the conflicts in hip-hop, whether it was turf wars, gang-related, or actual name calling. Nowadays, if you say the wrong word on wax or make reference to someone's past (coughcoughMCHammercoughcough), a diss track is coming your way. Such is the case with your latest offering Kimberly. Now, Kim, not to diminish your place in hip-hop, because you do have a half-decent legacy, but you know good and well that your 'beef' with Nicki Minaj is little more than a desperate attempt at regaining the spotlight.

Kim, when is the last time you put out a track? I can't name one, much less remember the last time I heard your name called out loud in reference to anything related to a song. You've gotten more press on MTO in the past year than on any hip-hop blog or hip-hop show. For God's sake, you were on Dancing With the Stars, the rest haven for has-beens looking for a way back into the limelight. By that virtue, your entry into this beef is completely ill-placed. It's as if you saw Nicki Minaj's celebrity growing each day, and decided that you were the only plastic surgery-enhanced, weird hair-colored, overt sexual lyric-spitting MC that should be considered. You know what that is? That's the definition of a hater. I despise that word, but you've got to call a spade a spade sometimes.

First of all, Nicki Minaj said little, if anything directly correlating to you on 'Roman's Revenge'. That you took it as such means you're a little salty over something completely imagined. Why are you mad? Second of all, how are you going to call out Nicki for 'biting' when your whole stee-lo was bitten. Biggie wrote your entire catalog up until 'La Bella Mafia', and even after that, every popular song you had was biting some other song. If it wasn't 'The Jump Off' using The Lost Boyz' entire chorus, it was 'Lighters Up' taking Junior Gong's flow from 'Welcome to Jamrock'. Kim, you're the last person who should be talking about originality. Sure, you started the whole explicit lyrics from a female MC trend, but as you've gotten older and more and more grotesque (anyone who thinks Kim looks good has vision problems), that ploy has gotten older and older. Not to mention, I damn sure would rather watch Nicki Minaj rap than you. All those voices and different flows? C'mon son... Nicki is entertaining, and you know it. The woman might be as vapid as a tube of hot air on wax, but she sounds cool doing it.

Let's face it, Kim. Your era is DONE. You and Foxy Brown had your time in the limelight then essentially fell into obscurity for Lord knows why. That both of you are coming at Nicki now is sad. You two are old dogs trying to learn new tricks and failing terribly, while Nicki says the truth: When you pop up on a Billboard track, then she should respond. Until then, you should just go pump more silicon into yourself and see if you can re-work more of Biggie's raps to sound like you. That'll get you more shine than trying to push your way back into the scene with a diss track. 50 originated that, and look where he's at. It damn sure won't work for you, especially with a weak diss track like that...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Merry Kicksmas

Okay, so it's not even Black Friday, but we all know that in this consumerized (I love making words up) age, the Holidays come earlier every year, even if they fall on the same day. That said, it's time for the cornucopia of commercials, deals, fliers and other regalia that remind us to go shopping and screw our credit scores even more. Even with the ills of the holiday season, there are some memorable spots showing up. This particular one is by the good people at Foot Locker. The Christmas season brings a host of new sneaker releases for our feet mouths to water at. We might not always be able to come up with the means to purchase them, so resorting to other methods is always a fresh thing. The 'Reindeer Hostage Plan' is something that I damn sure wish I'd thought of, especially when I got a look at Santa's face at the end. Check out the commercial and start hatching your own plots for Christmas domination...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Neighborhood Newsletter (11/22)


New Surgery Drops Blood Pressure 30%

World Health Organization: 1 Billion Can't Afford Healthcare

Antimatter Trapped For the First Time

17.4 Million U.S. Families Went Hungry in 2009

Chinese woman sent to labor camp for retweeting

Quidditch World Cup held in New York

Four in ten say marriage is becoming obsolete

Man Wrongly Told He'd Die Soon Blows Life Savings

The 5 Most Profitable Pharmaceutical Drugs: They Never Cure You

Extragalactic Exoplanet Found Hiding Out in Milky Way

Stalley - Hercules


Stalley - Hercules

Has anyone else heard 'Midwest music, with a New York mentality'? Unless you're hip to Stalley, then you probably have no idea what in tarnation that means. Fortunately, Dear Whoever's got you covered. The Cleveland MC is set to release a new LP entitled 'Lincoln Way Nights (Intelligent Trunk Music)' under Dame Dash's DD172 imprint, who are the creative geniuses behind Curren$y's success as of late. His people dropped this track off in my inbox and I haven't been able to stop playing it. Hercules' replay value is as its namesake, Herculean. It's a very relaxing song with nice snares, and a horn riff and pianos in the background. Stalley does the deed lyrically, as well, specializing in the 'real life' rhymes that resonate with the everyman. Don't take my word for it, though. Check out 'Hercules'...

Skewby - Break You Off


Skewby - Break You Off

I'll admit it... This track really caught my eye because the gorgeous Keri Hilson was on the cover art (sue me... I'd marry her tomorrow). That doesn't mean the track is lame though. Skewby has slowly been putting together a nice catalog of songs, in anticipation of his new LP 'More or Less' slated to drop in the coming weeks (hopefully). This time around, the Memphis native drops lines dealing with the hardships of having a significant other while being in the music industry. He waxes prophetic about having to leave his woman for weeks on end, the infidelity issues and the separation anxiety that go with stardom. It's a nice little love song for you lovebirds out there. Check it out and be on the lookout for 'More or Less'...

Amanda Diva - Manchild (Music Video)

Amanda Diva is one talented lady, but I had no idea, aside from a guest spot with 'The Kid Daytona, that she had such a soulful way about her. Regardless, I was driven to post this up simply because the story being depicted in the video is something all of my peers can relate to. During this period of pre-adulthood/post-adolescence, most of us are trying desperately to find our way in a world where there aren't lines drawn to direct us after a while. Some are good at finding their own path and becoming successful, while others languish for what seems like an eternity. The result is this constant tension, this battle, not only of the sexes, but of the ages. We're constantly told to 'grow up', sometimes with no good examples of what a grownup is, hence the term 'Manchild'. Amanda Diva's Ski Beatz-produced ballad about a guy who is physically a man, but mentally a child resonates for both sexes. It's also a welcome reminder of what life holds with no aspirations. Shouts to TSS for the heads up, and I'll definitely be looking for Amanda Diva's LP, 'Technicolor Lover'...

Dear Warren Buffett

I BANGS with this white man...

via ABC News:
In an exclusive interview on "This Week," Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, told Christiane Amanpour that the rich should be paying more taxes and that the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy should be left to expire at the end of December.

"If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further," Buffett said. "But I think that people at the high end -- people like myself -- should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it."

The full Buffett interview will air on a special Thanksgiving edition of "This Week" focused on The Giving Pledge, a major philanthropic effort spearheaded by Buffet, and Bill and Melinda Gates. The billionaire brushed aside Republican arguments that letting tax cuts expire for the wealthy would hurt economic growth.

"They say you have to keep those tax cuts, even on the very wealthy, because that is what energizes business and capitalism," anchor Amanpour said.

"The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on," Buffett explained.

It's ironic that sometimes the most well-off people in the world can be the most well-intentioned and well-read. When we think of wealth, we have a tendency to couple it with ignorance and selfishness, regardless of whether the person displays those traits outwardly. Wealth usually is coupled with those things as a subconscious way to keep that wealth, rather than say, donate it to those less fortunate. Such is the story of your case, Mr. Buffett. For the past decade the 'World's Richest Person' contest has been a two person race between you and Bill Gates, with your wallet weighing in a little heavier over the past few years. That said, you aren't like most billionaires, whose concerns only detail how they're getting their next buck, and who they have to run over to get it.

In a harrowing show of grace, you, Bill Gates and a number of other of the nation's wealthiest have pledged to give away a tremendous amount of your money to charity, which is commendable. Yet, that isn't even your most gracious act. With your platform and fame, you've spoken out against our 'bi-partisan' government and the GOP's plan to preserve the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, a group you're a part of. Not only does your stand make all the sense in the world, it's probably the most honest assertion that a rich man has made in the past decade.

Warren, you're the richest man in the world. By default, you have to know a thing or two about money, how it's made, how its spent and where it's going. We'd have to be pretty stupid not to heed whatever warning you give about the nation's finances. That you essentially endorsed Obama's agenda to end those tax cuts is indicative of your financial prowess. To the contrary, only a truly dumb financial mind could endorse the tax cuts and be certain that they are the best route for the country. The tax cuts enabled the rich to get richer while the rest of the country languished in unemployment and lack of cash. Even better is the fact that you said the rich have 'had it better than ever'. Forget hearing it from the horse's mouth! You are the horse!

Warren, I think the best part about you speaking out is that you are in such a high and powerful position. For every bullsh*tting Republican and Tea Partier spitting out that malarkey (a favorite word of mine) about tax cuts for the rich helping the economy, you can be there to tell them different, AS a rich person. I wish more of the nation's wealthy were as honest about political economy as you were. Not only would the country not be in an almost insurmountable debt, we probably wouldn't even have to deal with a Tea Party or Sarah Palin or any of this balderdash we call 'bipartisanship' today. Oh, to dream...

P.S.: Yes, I know that if things happened your way, that you'd still have a substantial amount of money in your pocket. I think if the government stopped accepting money, you'd still have money. The point is that you're not so blinded by cash that you can't take an objective stance on the nation's financial health. That has to be worth more than a bullsh*t pledge by the GOP...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kendrick Lamar - Look Out for Detox


Kendrick Lamar - Look Out for Detox

On behalf of my insatiable need to be right all the time, because I'm a blog curator, I'd like to apologize to Kendrick Lamar for sleeping on him. Fresh off a Dr. Dre cosign, Kendrick dropped this freestyle, with the audio of Dre cosigning him at the beginning (just in case you didn't believe him). The beat knocks hard, but when it comes right down to it, Kendrick Lamar steals the show with one of the best rapid-fire flows I've heard in a while. Even crazier is the fact that he purposefully rhymes off beat about rhyming offbeat. Dre cosign or not, this verse is unbelievably good. Kendrick says he will be releasing new music in December, so I'll definitely have my ears open this time around. Check him out if you're not already a fan...

Freestyle Friday (11/19)

Okay, so I didn't have a Freestyle Friday last week. Sue me. This week we've got three dope freestyle verses to whet your palates with. The first one is by Diggy Simmons who's fresh off a mixtape release and a huge commercial deal with AT&T. He takes a stab at Mobb Deep's 'Shook Ones' with some impressive results. Diggy has a very unique flow and does a good job fitting a lot into one bar. Illiterate heads might have a problem. The second verse is by none other than Al-Quaeda Jada, who's got a new mixtape called 'I Love You' in the works and decided to release his verse on Mysonne's 'Tape Rock' as a solo freestyle. Jada always seems to do well on uptempo beats and this is no different. The Yonkers representer spits pure heat rocks and takes shots at some of the fakers out there. The third one is from XV over J. Cole's 'Blow Up'. Though I hate when rappers freestyle over tracks that aren't even a week old, Vizzy did his thing on it. The only caveat with him is that he doesn't have the easiest flow to follow. XV is notorious for having drawn out metaphors and the such, so proceed with caution. Check out all three freestyles and keep it locked to Dear Whoever...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear J. Cole (re: Friday Night Lights)


DOWNLOAD: J. Cole - Friday Night Lights


I've said it numerous times, and I'll say it again: Basketball and hip-hop are closer akin than most would like to believe. Both are team sports (check this post, if you're unsure as to what that means), both require intense practice and tutelage, and both are very unforgiving. Most players only get one chance, and most of those players either thrive or don't get a second chance.

J. Cole, this is your third mixtape. By industry standards, and for how famous you are at this juncture, that is about 2 mixtapes more than most make in their lives. The first one was 'The Come Up', or the work leading up to the game. The second one was 'The Warm Up' or the practice right before the game, and the subsequent introduction to fans of a wider variety. Now that it's your third mixtape, those 'Friday Night Lights', or more aptly put, the limelight is on you and is waiting for your performance. Keeping in line with the athletic motif, it's obvious to see why you will be an All-Star in hip-hop for years to come. This mixtape is as complete of a game as one will find today, with an array of different facets of your game for admirers and opposing players to marvel at. From thought provoking tracks, to love songs, to songs for the ladies, to pure beat-knockers, to those 'damn I can relate' songs, there's something for everyone in this work.

One of the things that impressed me so much with FNL is that you were able to seamlessly integrate the features you did into the mixtape. Your first two mixtapes only had 2 features on them altogether. This third one had not only your imprint-mate Omen and your Roc Nation kin Wale (on 'You Got It'), but Drake on the bedtime ballad 'In the Morning'. I point to this namely because you held your own on a track that could have been a massacre for you. Cole, I won't lie. Your style of rap doesn't lend itself to being soft, even though feelings are a great part of your lyrics. That said, Drake is the king of emotions in hip-hop today. That you could go bar for bar with him on a song about the fairer sex and your erotic escapades with them is nothing short of practice gone perfect.

Another part of FNL that made the work so memorable was how honest it was. The best works of music are an accurate portrait of the artist's internal and external reality at that point in time. That means the artist's understanding of what's going on around him and how he and those around him are affected by those goings on. Albums like Illmatic, Ready to Die, and Lifestyles ov da Poor and Dangerous (to name a few) are instant snapshots of what their respective makers were going through at that time. Hip-hop is a barometer for the masses, which is why most great works aren't recognized until well after they happen. Your work on FNL is no different, although you deal a lot more in the ruminations of a college graduate/rapper, rather than a drug dealer/rapper. Tracks such as 'Home for the Holidays' talk about the trivialities of coming home from a semester at school to the ills of the ghetto, while 'Too Deep For the Intro' delves into the troublesome standard that black women adhere to.

Cole, your penchant for telling stories is well seasoned and well-worn in this mixtape, as well. Where other rappers simply describe situations, you inscribe your understanding into the listener's mind without flinching. While you have interesting discourse as to the conundrums that plague the black community, you never hesitate to say 'niggas', just as a reminder that while you are from that environment, you are not of that environment. That's especially evident on songs like '2Face' and 'See World'. It's eerie to see such a dichotomy in hip-hop, especially considering the juncture that a great like Jay-Z is at, commenting on the state of black America, all while embracing that he is a part of that reality. Not to liken you to Jay-Z (we don't need to add fire to that Jay/Nas - Cole/Drake argument), but you seem comfortable dealing with a range of topics and being able to expound on them without it getting corny.

Finally, the best part of FNL is how well-delivered your verses are. Delivery is something that few rappers can master, and you're well on your way to that. The 'Back to the Topic Freestyle' was a perfect example of that, with how easily those multi-syllabic lines seemed to roll off your tongue. In terms of breath control, enunciation and syncopation, there was little lacking on that song or on the mixtape. It's a testament to the perfectionist in you, and those skeptical fans who thought you could come harder... I remember on 'The Warm Up' when you re-did your freestyle to 'Dead Presidents' for that same reason. 'Friday Night Lights' is the equivalent of dunking on that fan with 2 seconds left and the game on the line. You practiced your craft, and are now in a position to display your talents on a wider scale. There's nothing more organic than that, in basketball, hip-hop or life, for that matter. That we're seeing your maturation on wax is a beautiful thing, and something very warm and fuzzy as we prepare to enter your 'Cole World'...

Neighborhood Newsletter (11/16)


Man Streams Suicide to Web as Chat Room Eggs Him On

Robot Probes Mexican Ruins

London's Student Protest Turns Violent

Chocolate May Be 'Like Caviar' In Near Future

Rep. Rangel Is Found to Have Violated House Ethics Rules

2010's Hot Boy Baby Name Trend

Let's Finally Shrink the 'Military Industrial Complex'

White House Plans Internet Privacy Watchdog

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear Hip-Hop Collectives

via Billboard.com
Another "Jay" has been added to the Roc Nation roster. It was announced yesterday (Nov. 12) that New Orleans rapper Jay Electronica signed with Jay-Z's personal imprint, joining acts J. Cole and Willow Smith at the recently formed label. And to celebrate, Jay-Z threw a lavish party at New York club The Box that neither Jay E, nor anyone else in attendance, would soon forget.

The event -- which kicked off at about 10:15pm and drew head-turning guests like Beyonce and Omarion -- was a three-ring circus that included sexy burlesque dancers, an aerial gymnast, a Russian hula-hoop master and a girl whose "talent" was having men shoot arrows at balloons that were strategically positioned over her privates. But despite all the eye candy, the Jays still managed to steal the show.

Jay-Z, decked out in a sharp black suit, took the stage and told his guests about his "goal to reintroduce magic back into hip-hop, the love, the wizardry." With that, Jay introduced "Mr. Jay Electronica, the official Roc Nation signee" to the thunderous applause of the audience.
I'm going to go out on a limb in saying this, but it's always been true: Hip-hop is a team sport. From it's inception, rappers have been getting down with crews as a way to not only gain an opportunity in hip-hop, but for a chance to stay relevant and rake in that cash. Crews like the The Sugar Hill Gang, The Furious Five, Juice Crew, Run DMC and N.W.A. and others began the trend of group dominance, but it wasn't until the mid-90s, when hip-hop started becoming corporate, that rappers began finding strength in numbers.

Groups like Death Row, Bad Boy, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Leaders of the New School, based around record labels, showed that a good team could dominate the airwaves better than any one person. Posse cuts were rampant, with tracks like 'Bring Da Ruckus' and'Scenario' giving listeners a maelstrom of flows, lyrics and ideas from different rappers to sink their ears into. The Bad Boy Family, with its huge stable of artists like Biggie, The LOX, Faith Evans, Ma$e, Criag Mack, 112 and others made it so that if you weren't down with a specific team, you weren't getting any play. Towards the end of the 90's teams like Ruff Ryders solidified that tenet, going platinum on behalf of Yonkers. Even the early 2000s saw teams thrive, with the Diplomats, Cash Money and G-Unit dominating the re-emerging mixtape circuit.

Enter 2010, and we are having another resurgence of groups. The middle of this past decade was lukewarm in terms of hip-hop's reach, and for good reason. Headliners were the name of the game, as solo artists looked to regain some of the posture that being in groups had taken away. Ironically, a handful of those solo artists are nowhere to be found, while groups are coming back. Take a look at the most popular songs of the past year or so. $50 says that they came from a Roc-a-fella, Cash Money/Young Money, GOOD Music, 1017 Brick Squad or Slaughterhouse Artist.

Lil' Wayne started it. By signing Nicki Minaj, Drake and a host of other up-and-comers, it made the market a little bit harder to break into. The Young Money label has thrived ever since. Even if their group releases have been sub-par, the solo releases under that imprint have come out to tremendous publicity and accolade. The same can be said about Kanye West's GOOD Music imprint. Before the summer was over, most people couldn't name an artist on that team besides Ye, Common and Big Sean. A few months later, with the signings of Pusha T and Cyhi the Prynce, Ye has put together a formidable starting 5. Even Ye's big homie Jay-Z has taken part in hip-hop's arms race, signing J. Cole, Wale and now Jay Electronica. Today, success in hip-hop is just as much about who you're rapping with as it is what you're rapping about. By being part of a team, you give yourself more access to resources such as producers, studios, features and better promotion. Just ask artists who are unaffiliated how many units they honestly see themselves pushing and it will become clear.

This team-building in hip-hop doesn't come without it's caveats. First of all, it's evident that among these teams, there is always a star player. For Young Money it's Wayne, for GOOD Music it's Kanye and for Roc Nation it is Jay-Z. These designations open the group up to a power struggle, especially when the student can be, or is, better than the teacher. When it comes to label dynamics, no matter how talented one is, the bigger name always gets the press. J. Cole, Wale and Jay Electronica, while they will get a good deal of the spotlight, will always be under Jay-Z. Drake and Nicki Minaj will always be Lil' Wayne's younger siblings (ironic, considering his status and Baby's 'son'). Pusha T will now be considered Kanye's protege, even if he's been in the game longer. What happens if the subordinates are unhappy with that position, a la Juelz Santana circa 2006? Will it be a situation where their musical career is siphoned off to the highest bidder, or will they just have to find their own way out from Big Brother's watch?

The hip-hop arms race is clearly a result of labels being hesitant to take chances on one person. Artists are quick to latch on to a 'movement' in the hopes that it will take them to another level of success. The problem is, how to balance one's individual aspiration with the success of the team. Every team in hip-hop history has broken up because of egos and money, and nothing more. How do artists know whether they are in it for the right reasons? Better yet, if they aren't, how can they work together? Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, Young Buck and Beanie Sigel are all examples of artists who were excommunicated because their wishes outreached that of the group. Will the groups of today be destined for that same fate?

My final concern with you, oh great hip-hop collective is whether this era of collaboration will last. As much as I have my questions, there is no question as to whether hip-hop music has thrived because of it. One look at the success of Kanye's GOOD Fridays is enough proof. Ye brought together artist upon artist upon artist to make some of the biggest records of the past year. Will that be the formula for success in the near future? Whatever the case, it seems like the hip-hop collective is back and will be for a while. As commemoration for the hip-hop collectives of the past, check out some of my favorite posse cuts in hip-hop history (not in chronological order):

John's Phone (The Anti-Smartphone)


When was the last time you used your phone for nothing more than calling someone? My guess is never, especially considering I can't remember the last time I haven't been doing a bajillion and one things at the same time on my phone. Mobile phones have become somewhat of a brain-sucker over the past 10 years, turning people into zombies for 4-inch screens, texting and apps. What would happen if we just reverted back to the simple concept of a telephone on a mobile phone?

Well the good people over at Dutch design firm John Doe are doing just that, releasing a device called John's Phone, which is a mobile phone with... just a phone. No texting, no apps, no games, no cool sounds. Just a phone. If you're wondering where all of the contacts go, then simply flip John's Phone around to reveal a handy, dandy NOTEBOOK. There's also a slide-out keyboard pen to write addresses, phone numbers and notes in said notebook. In terms of a display, the only visible one is a slim band at the top of the phone designating whether the phone is on or not, the batter life and who is calling you. Finally, John's Phone uses SIM cards, so you can interchange between carriers. All in all, for the minimalist, this is probably a savior. If you're like the rest of us, then John's Phone will be nothing more than a nice gift or conversation starter. At the same time, it's fun to think about what life would be like without these data-rich bricks we carry around with us. Check out a video of John's Phone in action...

The Best Beards in Basketball

During my random sessions of internet surfing, I stumbled upon the above video for the second time. Baron Davis' 'Boom's Beard' product was a serious reminder that facial hair can work miracles not only in the NBA, but in real life. Being a baby-faced individual, my next thought was... If I could have any beard in the NBA who's would it be? Who's follicles would be burly enough to boost one's game on and off the court? Today, Dear Whoever examines the best beards in basketball, and the players underneath the scruff.

LeBron James
How could we start this list without the King? Bron Bron has been the reigning best player in basketball, and coincidentally the best beard in basketball, which is as burly (pause) as he is. King James' facial follicles take on a life of their own at times, as does his game.

DeShawn Stevenson and Drew Gooden
Speaking of LeBron, his arch-nemesis DeShawn Stevenson has since departed from the Washington Wizards team that became Public Enemy #1 in Cleveland. Ironically, his best friend in the league, Drew Gooden was on that team. The two ballers decided to have a 'beard battle', where the first person to shave lost. Stevenson won, but his Wizards were trounced by Gooden's squad, the Cavaliers, and Bron Bron. I guess not being able to feel one's face, as Stevenson likes, doesn't give an advantage...

Rip Hamilton
People wonder why Rip Hamilton's motor never stops running on the court, and why he's almost impossible to keep up with. My explanation: the beard. In the traditional Philly beard mold, Rip has had the scruffy man look going on 6 seasons. After breaking his nose and being forced to wear a protective mask, Rip kept the mask and the beard that accompanied it. Now the three of them are inseparable., much like Rip from the Pistons...

Deron Williams
If there was ever an extremely precise point guard in the NBA, it would be Deron Williams. The man can stop on a dime and drop a few dimes on the hardwood too. It's no surprise that D-Will's beard looks like it was laser-etched and filled in using the most vibrant of hair dyes. D-Will's beard looks so perfect, it almost looks fake...

Honorable Mention: Rasheed Wallace
Sheed needs to be in some kind of hall of fame for being a trailblazer in basketball hairstyles. Not only did he make the random and inexplicable bald spot a trend, he made being ridiculously scruffy a fashion statement, starting with that beard of his. Nothing says 'technical foul' like a beard that looks like a pair of scissors hasn't touched them in years. Here's to you, Sheed, and your beard...

Dear Diets


via CNN:
Before I can tell you why I am making such a grandiose claim, I need to ask you to participate in a small experiment. Make a list of 10 people you have known or known of for a long time. They can be family members, friends, or public figures -- say, Hillary Clinton and Oprah. Now note next to each if their weight has changed significantly during the time you have known them, as far as you can tell.

For instance, Hillary Clinton was always on the slender side, and although Oprah changed her weight quite drastically over the years, she is about the same shape now as she was a decade or two ago. Indeed, you will probably find that about eight out of 10 people on your list seem to weigh about the same as they did years ago. As one observer put it, some are greyhounds and some are bulldogs.

How can I tell? Because studies show that, despite all the public health campaigns, diet books, diet doctors and diet pills; despite millions of Americans spending inordinate amounts of psychological energy fussing about their body mass; whatever weight they take off, they put on again. Not all people, but about eight out of 10, according to a report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Since the dawn of time, a sign of wealth was being fat. Back in medieval days being a hefty citizen meant you had the means to sustain yourself well over the standard of the day. It meant you could afford to eat above your means. Now, that's neither here nor there, but it goes to show how society has changed over the years. Now, along with being unhealthy and linked to numerous ailments, being fat isn't as popular. Americans feed (figuratively) on diet plans, diet pills, diet foods and are always looking for some form of you, diets. Your craze gave our portly peers the hope that, if they ate enough Lean Cuisine, they would somehow fit into their prom dress or only have to buy one seat on the airplane. Your promises of thinner waistlines have thinned wallets, and between Hydroxycut and the Atkins diet, I don't know which is worse. And to boot, apparently you don't work, and have people back where they started.

I know the above information is only one statistic, but it's something to think about. Maybe the key to health isn't what we eat, but how we eat, how much, and how often. Americans don't know the word moderation when it comes to food. Americans eat food like this and this, and then wonder why their eyes and feet haven't seen each other in years, and why quadruple bypass or death are their options. Dieting, you provided somewhat of a 'quick-fix' solution for the burgeoning obesity epidemic by allowing Americans to think they could get rid of weight as easily as they got it. Of course, we know now that you stop working the minute we stop eating a certain way, but it was nice for some people to think they had that much control over their weight. I suppose now it's time for you join up with exercise so that people can actually lose weight, and start teaching their children healthy living. Maybe I'm just a bit overbearing, considering that I'm on the skinny side. But that's better than fooling myself into thinking that eating brussel sprouts for breakfast and lunch will help decrease belly fat...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dear Rick Ross (re: Bugatti Boyz)

Quick!! Without thinking, who was the last solo artist to go platinum with Diddy and his Bad Boy Records? If you said Biggie, try again. If you said Ma$e, you're still wrong. What about Black Rob, Cassie (*uncontrollable laughter*), Mario Winans or Carl Thomas? Still wrong. If you answered none other than Atlanta's own Yung Joc, then (*bells and whistles*) you are correct. Ironically, none of these artists, including the ones that cam after Joc are in any state of popularity in hip-hop. As you look down the roster of artists that Bad Boy has taken on, it's hard to find anyone sans Biggie, Faith Evans, Ma$e and 112 (all of whom were in the same era) who were able to levy their success to anything not Diddy-related.

The Complete Bad Boy Graveyard Family (and their last known wherabouts):
- The Notorious BIG (deceased)
- The LOX (removed from Bad Boy; now called D-Block to moderate success and have since reconciled with Diddy)
- Craig Mack (unknown)
- G-Dep (somewhere sucking a crackpipe)
- Ma$e (deciding between church and state)
- Shyne (now an orthodox Jew)
- Elephant Man (deported to Jamaica)
- Cheri Denis (unknown)
- Faith Evans (at a Weight Watchers near you)
- Mario Winans (I don't want to know)
- Da Band (defunct; now a punchline)
- 8-Ball and MJG (making music under different label imprint)
- Cassie (on MediaTakeout's first page)
- Boyz in Da Hood (defunct; Jeezy saw the light before it was too late)
- Gorilla Zoe (still on Bad Boy; buzz still is non-existant)
- Danity Kane (defunct; Dawn: now Dirty Money, Aubrey: now lesbian)
- Day 26 (defunct)
- Red Cafe (still on Bad Boy; album still pending)
- Dirty Money (now Diddy-Dirty Money; appear as backup singers on "Last Train to Paris")
- Janelle Monae (recently signed to Bad Boy; 1st album on label released)

Now, that list is by no means exhaustive. I state this fact to illustrate one point, and one alone: Signing up to work with Diddy is the equivalent of putting a (very close) expiration date on your career. Every artist that isn't dead, doing music on their own, or in another facet of show business is now a page in hip-hop obscurity. That said, Ricky Rozay, you look like you will be the first artist EVER to break the Biggie-Bad Boy Curse.

Ross, it's no secret that your larger-than-life persona is a complete fabrication. We've known this fact since 50 Cent went on one of his trademark offensives. Even so, you've been able to counteract these lies with what would be a very good career in hip-hop, by most standards. Four albums, a hefty amount of street anthems, and a number of legal run-ins after your 'Port of Miami' debut has had your pockets looking as obese as you are. With the way hip-hop is becoming more and more minimalist on an underground level, it's refreshing to see that you're thriving economically (or so you would like us to believe). That said, this new 'Bugatti Boys' initiative with Diddy looks like you're going to be doing a lot of the writing footwork, regardless of the fact that Diddy's name will be all over it.

When you first began working with Diddy, the parallels between yourself and Biggie were undeniable from a physical standpoint: two fat SOBs who can rap really well about being drug pushers, street violence and lavish lifestyles. On the surface it's almost as if Diddy struck the lotto twice. However, when looking more closely at you, Ross, it's easy to see why Diddy needs you more than you need him.

Diddy had nothing before he had the Notorious BIG, and even Biggie he had to push into stardom. Biggie never wanted to be a crossover hit. When looking at the albums he was alive for (not the ones Diddy muffed up), the Notorious BIG can be split into two personas: the older, Don Dada-esque Mafioso persona on songs like 'Warning' and 'One More Chance (Remix)' and the younger, gritty, damn near sadistic, Biggie on tracks like 'Gimme the Loot'. Diddy had to convince Big numerous times that the latter of those two was not conducive to selling, even if hardcore hip-hop fans supported the effort. In your case, Ross, you already have the backing of most hip-hoppers, who, even though they throw salt on your name because of the C.O. situation, acknowledge your prowess and presence on the mic. As your career has grown so has your well-constructed 'Bawse' persona. You didn't need Diddy to cultivate your radio-friendly side because you already were on the radio.

The endeavor you're embarking on with Diddy should be nothing more than a fun activity to pass the time between your next album. Any other affiliation with the artist formerly known as Puffy should be strictly personal, not professional (you saw what happened to Cassie). Additionally, it's clear that at this point in his musical career, Diddy is looking for nothing more than a crutch with which to promote himself. To work with P. Diddy, all you have to do is be hot at that moment and remotely marketable. You, Ricky, fit that standard perfectly, and Diddy has hooked you in.

What separates you from all of the artists I listed above is the fact that you already have an established career. Perhaps it's not as illustrious, or impervious to criticism as is Puffy's, but you certainly can put a case together for being in a better position than he. Whether its the extremely tight Miami circle of DJ Khaled, Trina and company, or any other affiliations you have, you can fall back without fear of losing your buzz. Not Diddy. Sean Combs is a spotlight hog
SIDENOTE:This letter is no judgment on Diddy as a person. Although some of his business practices are on the unethical side, his prowess for finding opportunity is ridiculous. Ross just happens to be next on that list.
who sadly, needs to be featured with someone else to be recognized in hip-hop. In all seriousness, when was the last time you saw a song that just had Diddy? No features, no 'and the Family'... Just Diddy? The fact that you're going to make music 'with' him is proof in and of itself. You'll be fine afterward, though. As long as you don't make Bugatti Boyz more than a passing fancy, you should remain the Bawse, and not another Bad Boy Family member that never makes it to the reunion...

P.S.: Clearly Jay Electronica's signing to Roc Nation didn't rub Diddy the wrong way. Just shows how quick he is to associate with someone when they're hot.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y - Huey Newton

Clearly highed up, even with the arrest...

Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y - Huey Newton

Well, if it isn't the dynamic duo of dubs, Curren$y and Wiz Khalifa. While Spitta is busy prepping his sequel to the wildy-successful Pilot Talk, Wiz is fresh off an arrest for possession of his favorite plant. That said, it seemed like the two were due for some more hi-jinks in the studio, considering it's been over a year since their collaborative mixtape 'How Fly'. This sample (50 e-points to whoever can name it) sounds like a sunny day and the hazy rhymes from Wiz and Curren$y do what they're meant to: entrance the listener with their tales of highed-up vindication and success. Hopefully, the two get back in the studio for more work in the near future. JETS!!!

J. Cole - Before I'm Gone


J. Cole - Before I'm Gone

Okay, so every one knows that Jermaine is releasing a new mixtape entitled 'Friday Night Lights' in preparation for his debut album, 'Cole World'. He's been a bit cautious with the leaks and premature tracks hitting the net, but dropped a snippet of this track earlier last week. Now he let the full song loose, and upon my first listen, I fell in love with it. Cole has a penchant for story-telling that you don't see in most of his peers. Also, he's very good at harmonizing with his beats, in the least Drake-esque way possible. J. Cole has a lot riding on this release, so I would not be surprised to see another classic mixtape coming from the Fayetteville product, especially since he's still rolling with the high school athlete motif for his titles. Check out the loosie and get ready for 'Friday Night Lights', which drops this Friday...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Super Lupe Fiasco - Super Lupe Rap


Super Lupe Fiasco - Super Lupe Rap

Lupe Fiasco went on a Twitter rant (what else is new?) after seeing Soulja Boy say this:
“I don’t want to be super-Lupe-Fiasco-lyrical and n***** don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about,”
Honestly, it doesn't matter what the hell Soulja Boy says because he's pretty stupid when it comes down to it. Lu clearly took offense to the comment and decided to accompany said Twitter rant with a track making light of Deandre's idiocy. The track is nothing short of 6 minutes of lyricism that deserves nothing less than a bunch of rewinds. Lu goes off on a sub-par beat, stuffing it full of wordplay, metaphors and punchlines, and it's hard to debate that he's one of the best rappers out right now. Taking up the persona of Super Lupe Fiasco, Super Lupe Rap is only a tidbit of what we hope will be on 'Friend of the People' and 'L.A.S.E.R.S.'. PLEASE check the track out and remember what real lyricism sounds like, especially since you'll be rewinding it so many times...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Neighborhood Newsletter (11/8)


How to Winterize Your Body to Stay Fit and Healthy in the Cold Months Ahead

Shanghai Signs Deal for $3.6B Disney Park

Bacon-Flavored Soda Sizzles Onto Shelves

Americans Want Forgiving World, But Won't Forgive

How to call in sick without jeopardizing your job

Inflation Begins Creeping Into Food Prices

The Dawn of the Social Consumer

Fiscal Responsibility And Runaway Military Spending Are Not Compatible

Dear Cleveland Cavalier Fans

Keeping in line with a penchant for trying to be a little less negative and a little more positive with my letters, I almost didn't write this. Then I realized the purpose of writing these letters isn't to be nice or to get people on my side. It's to display a valid argument and (hopefully) show people why that argument is valid. That said, I came upon this video amidst my random internet binges, and automatically burst out in a fit of good old-fashioned (and apparently healthy) belly laughs.

Really, Cleveland fans?? This is what you guys have resorted to as some ridiculous ploy to feel better about what transpired over the summer in the LeBron-athon? That's pitiful. Yes, LeBron could have gone about his move down south in a more tactful manner. Yes, basketball's coup of the century left your team decimated with a raggedy bunch of Robins. Yes, LeBron's commercial thumbed it's nose at all of the hate spewed towards the City of Rock. Even so, it's a new season!!! You guys have new uniforms, new coaches, and a few new players on the roster. Let me repeat: THIS IS A NEW SEASON! LeBron is long gone and looks like a kid in a candy store taking the court with Wade, Bosh and company. He's moved on, as should you. And it's funny that your team hasn't even played Miami yet. I'm thinking the score differential might be up there in the 40s, if not more. You guys should know better than anyone that an angry LeBron is a scary LeBron...

I understand the ailing of a city who's 3 sports teams don't even amount to LeBron's billfold. I understand how betrayed you felt in July. But, there has to be a point at which you decide that this is a new beginning. Videos like this will only enhance the curse that LeBron's shadow is casting on your city, and serve to make your city all the more bitter, and unhappy. No, Cleveland, you shouldn't forget what happened. However, does it really help to keep flinging trash at LeBron's name at this point? Making hateful videos isn't going to bring the man back, or make your team any less boring on paper (I see not one All-Star on that roster). As a matter of fact, rather than making hating videos and being upset, maybe you guys should be trying to train up another crop of LeBrons. Yeah, that's it... Start pushing your kids into basketball, so that maybe one day, one of them can leave the city's basketball team in shambles bring a championship to Cleveland...

Lost in Sofa by Daisuke Motogi Architecture


Have you ever lost something in the sofa? Take a second and think about all of the things you've lost to the couch. Now, have you lost something in the sofa on purpose? Few people can really answer positively to the second one, much less think of a time when losing something in a couch has been convenient... Until now. The good folks at Denzeen put me on to a new design of a couch that literally eats everything. The design features a bunch of upholstered cubes that can fit things into the grooves. Honestly, I wouldn't mind an entire living room of furniture like this, though this particular prototype is a one of one. Check out some more pictures...




Friday, November 5, 2010

Dear Four Loko

People would definitely pass on Four Loko if it made you look like that...

via The Chicago Tribune:
Four Loko, the high-octane alcoholic beverage favored on college campuses, is again under fire.

Michigan announced Thursday that it is banning alcoholic caffeinated drinks like Four Loko, which is produced by Chicago-based Phusion Projects and has been singled out for criticism by health experts. A day earlier, members of Chicago's City Council proposed their own ban on energy drinks that contain alcohol.

The Michigan action, passed by the state's Liquor Control Commission on a 2-1 vote, identified 55 products for its ban. The commission's decision followed recent reports of students in Washington and New Jersey being hospitalized after drinking Four Loko. Manufacturers will have 30 days to pull the banned products.

If there's one thing I've learned during college it's that drinking should be its own department, with its own courses, and degree. The amount of alcohol consumed on any given college campus weekly could flood a stadium, drowning sorrows and a plethora of aspirations and memories with it. That said, the main barrier for most college kids and their desired inebriation is that stingy age requirement. Kids have been finding ways to acquire alcohol for generations, whether it be fake ID, older friends helping them, bootlegging or dipping into their parents' stashes. Until this past year, that was it. Now we've got you, Four Loko, with your fruity, wine cooler-esque flavors, your unusually high alcohol levels and your abnormally low price.

Four Loko, you burst onto the scene before the summer, with most people mistaking you for cans of their favorite iced tea. Now, months later, college campuses and parent groups are calling for your head due to the overwhelming amount of kids winding up in the hospital or dead after knocking back a few too many of you. That said, you shouldn't be blamed for their demise, even though you were in their hands. There are a few reasons why I believe you ARE NOT guilty, and why people should check their habits before they blame you for anything:

1) Drinking alcohol is COMPLETELY voluntary. People use peer pressure as a scapegoat for everything, yet when it comes down to it, no one is drinking you with a gun pointed at them. No one is being forced to down 23.5 ounces of your blackout-inducing elixer. At the end of the day, a person who deems himself responsible and old enough to drink one of you should have to deal with your consequences. In the same way as drinking you is voluntary, so are the headaches, nausea, memory loss and health benefits that come with you.

2) You taste DISGUSTING. Yes, I have tried you, and no I will never put my lips to a can of you again (Gin and tonics are my drink of choice anyway). It's funny that nature's way of telling you not to ingest something is by having it taste like the broad side of an outhouse. You would think that young adults could master that idea. But no. They continue to guzzle you, unaware of the damage they are doing to their livers, but all the more inebriated.

3) You keep people awake. The silver lining for most drinkers is that after a night of pounding back Jager Bombs or guzzling from the tap, they can take solace in the fact that alcohol is a depressant. They will undoubtedly fall out either due to fatigue or because of the alcohol in their system. Not with you, Four Loko. You make it so that no matter how much one drinks, they will never fall asleep. Your inhuman levels of caffeine, combined with the alcohol, makes one all the more drunk but no more tired. That leads to to the inevitable: blackout drunkenness.

Four Loko, those are three things that people should know about you before drinking, but don't for some reason. It's a sad day and age where people are unable to control their urges to drink, so much so that they endanger their lives. It's even sadder when people can't fess up to there being a problem with their own habits, rather than blaming everything on the inception of a product to the market. Yes, you are the next of kin to poison, Four Loko. Yes, drinking you probably takes 8 hours off one's life. But at the same time, shouldn't people know that before they pop the top? The balance between personal and external responsibility is something that is being lost every day, with your effigy at the forefront. Sadly, that balance will never be righted as long as you're on the streets...

Freestyle Friday (11/5)

Hey people, it's Friday which means Dear Whoever is posting freestyles for your listening pleasure. Today we've got Lupe Fiasco up first, dropping some freestyle bars while on Tony Touch's radio show. Lupe doesn't go too hard. He seems a little laid back, if not tired, but manages to piece together a half-decent verse. The second freestyle is by the homie Diggy Simmons over the beat "Rising to the Top". It's an interesting cipher for two reasons: 1) the random, but well-intentioned, Uncle Murda cosign, and 2) the instrumental, which is well before Diggy's time. Even in lieu of #2, Diggy does the beat justice. Check out both freestyles and keep it locked to Dear Whoever...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

araabMUZIK Promo Visuals

Musical talent has so many different avenues that what can be considered talent by most is nothing more than a party trick for others. I'm hoping that no one will think the latter after watching araabMUZIK's promotional videos. The man has been producing beats for Cam'ron, Dip Set and the rest of their affiliates for the past few years, so he's no stranger to a little bit of fame. At the same time, I've yet to see a man use a synthesizer as masterfully as he does. Whereas most people think in words or numbers, it's almost as if araabMUZIK thinks in music. Take a look at how much of a blur his hands are over the boards. I really hope araabMUZIK gets a chance to showcase his talents on a wider scale with more artists, but with performances like these, it's hard to see him being a secret for much longer...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Neighborhood Newsletter (8/2)

If Steve Jobs gets his way...

The Price of Condoms to Rise

10-Year-Old Gives Birth

Cure for Common Cold May Finally Be Upon Us

What if Lloyd Banks, Fabolous & Juelz Santana Made a Super Group?

Facebook Knows When You'll Break Up

When Student Loans Come Due: A 7-Step Plan for Recent College Grads

Ten Lies You’ll Hear Before Pursuing Your Dream

Teen Suspended for Bringing Horse to School

Man Died After Caffeine Overdose

If You’re Not Rich In America, You Are F*cked

Hot 97 Freestyle - Kanye West & Pusha T


Hot 97 Freestyle - Kanye West & Pusha T

Honestly, I would've waited until Freestyle Friday to post this, but this freestyle was 2dope. I suppose due to tenure, Funkmaster Flex's show has become the new stepping stone into relevance for hip-hop nowadays. Today, Flex offered the airwaves to Kanye West, and (essentially) hip-hop's million-dollar man, Pusha T. After a quick chat session, Pusha and Ye spit two VICIOUS writtens, that had the trio cracking up mid-line. Though I'm a bit disappointed at how many of the G.O.O.D. Friday tracks ended up on the album, Ye's definitely going all out to push it. And Pusha... (psshhhh) No words. Just check the freestyle...

Aloe Blacc - The Dark End of the Street


Aloe Blacc - The Dark End of the Street

I didn't write a review for Aloe Blacc's 'Good Things' because I received it early, and by the time it did come out, I was listened out. That said, Blacc's debut album was beyond masterful and thus far into the year is the best R&B work I've heard. His infectious ode to being broke 'I Need a Dollar' is everyone's favorite song, yet we haven't heard much more from the California swooner since the album dropped. Today, that changed with Aloe dropping this tune fresh off a European tour. The track features the band 'The Grand Scheme' switching the midtempo lighthearted background music to a funk-a-mafied riff worthy of a George Clinton cosign. The highlight of the song, though, is Aloe Blacc's raspy, soulful lyrics about hidden and forbidden love, and the toll it takes on a relationship. Honestly, I don't know too many cats in R&B that can mess with Blacc on vocals or content. If you like soul music, this man needs to be on your radar...

Dear Non-Voters

Exercise your rights, people...

This is America... The land of the free and the home of the brave. I'll repeat that. The land of the FREE. No, that doesn't mean that we can engage in every and all types of hedonistic behavior or do as we please simply because it suits us. It means that as Americans, we have certain freedoms, or unalienable (look it up) rights that we are privy to, given our legal status (career criminals, you can stop reading here). One such right is that of voting. The American political system is built on a tenet of democracy. Loosely defined, a democracy is a form of government that derives its powers from the people, either directly or indirectly. Ours is an indirect democracy, in which we elect officials to positions in which they can adequately represent our views and desires on a wide scale. As a nation, every year we get a new chance to put people in office on Election Day, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Now, to the point at hand. Every year, around late September, political parties and campaigners bombard us with commercials, fliers and other garb for the purposes of us, the voters, placing their names or their causes on our ballots. And every year, we hear pundits tell us to vote. In 2008, the world watched as our nation elected Barack Obama, with a record turnout of voters and political activism. Now, all I ask is, where did all of that fervor go? Around the water coolers you hear people being a little shaky as to whether they will exercise their right to vote. People give reasons such as, but not limited to:

- 'I don't know about the issues.'
- 'I'm not registered.'
- 'I don't know the candidates.'
- 'I don't have time.'
- 'Does it really matter this year?'
- 'My vote doesn't make a difference.'
- 'I don't know where to vote.'
- 'It's Election Day?'

Come on, people. Not to be a political party pooper, but we've got to vote. It shouldn't be an afterthought. This sh*t matters!!! What goes on during these elections affects you, directly and indirectly. Your student loans, your legal status, your taxes, your benefits, that parking ticket you don't want to pay, your mom and dad's retirement status, EVERYTHING can be changed by voting. The thing that makes me upset about our country is how tenacious we are about politics in times of turmoil, yet how lackadaisical we are when it seems as if the dust has settled.
NEWSFLASH: We're still in a recession! Our country has no money and no jobs! Our environment is crumbling around us!
You can't complain about our country's issues if you don't vote... Point blank. Midterm elections are just important as presidential elections, in that you're picking the people who surround the President. You're voting for candidates in Congress that would support issues important to you and probably be able to further those initiatives. Why would you put a beautiful candle on a cake made of manure? Why would you want to start a job and not finish it? No, I'm not a certified political pundit, but I know for damn sure that there is worth in a vote. And by not voting, you might as well not have the right. So, please, do yourself and the country a favor and exercise your right. In this information age, it's pretty easy to figure out what a candidate's all about. Rather than visit MTO, take some time out to know the issues, find a polling place and just vote! Seriously. People died for universal suffrage in this nation. Don't die thinking your vote could have changed something. Just pull the lever and be on your way...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dear MC Hammer

You know how you know you're getting old? When you see performers, artists and actors from your earlier days making fools of themselves today, and wonder 'where did it all go wrong?' Today is such a day for you MC Hammer. Now, I don't particularly understand what your gripe with Jigga is. What he said in that line from Kanye's 'So Appalled' was completely true, and you know it.
“Hammer went broke, so you know I’m more focused/I lost 30 mil’, so I spent another 30/’Cause unlike Hammer, 30 million can’t hurt me,
No, it's not nice to kick a man when he's down, nor is it in good taste to discuss another man's money. But come on, Hammer. You know that at least one point in the past 15 years you've said to yourself: 'Where did all that motherf*ckin' money go?' And thanks to modern accounting and banking, you now know exactly where you went wrong in your monetary decisions. It's great that you've put that era behind you and begun to seek new things in your life.

That said, Hammer, making diss videos towards Jay isn't going to cure your hungry pockets. It's all well and good that you're making an attempt to resurrect your career, but you've showed up late to an entire revolution of technology and social media. Times have changed, Hammer. Diss tracks are like assholes now. Everyone puts them out as feeble attempts to gain notoriety, in the 50 Cent mold. And sadly, Hammer, you're no different. Diss track aside, the fact that you put out a music video to go with it is beyond laughable. Seriously, man. Who dances for a diss track? Didn't we leave that alone in the 80s (well before you were popping onto the scene)? Also, what did the little boardroom meeting have to do with anything? You know the last time you had a corporate meeting that meant anything, it was your contract release meeting. Add to that, the song sucks. I know it. You know it. The American people know it.

Hammer, this isn't the way to get your celebrity back. You do know that Jay-Z won't even regale this with a response? If anything he'll toss another (singular) bar at you and probably have the internets going nuts with laughter. No, Hammer, it's not that your musical contributions have been forgotten. It's just that you're choosing to take on a titan of hip-hop, when you've clearly been downgraded to a mere mortal. Why not take the Rev Run route and get a reality TV show or something? I'm sure it'll have more shelf life and profit coming out of it than this sorry video...