Rappers & Actors: The Rick Ross Dilemma

Rick Ross’ beef with rap’s Lex Luthor 50 Cent last year when it was revealed that the rotund southern MC had once had a job as a correctional officer for 2 years in the early 90’s.  He has been mocked as “Officer Ricky” and of course had his credibility questioned as a result.  What made matters worse was Ross’ denial of the whole thing before it was revealed, but still remains a very prominent artist.  50 even went so far as to bring Ross’ baby mama on camera and have her talk sh*t about him…yeah, cuz she would have no incentive to speak poorly of him.  Womp.

Anyway, this is an old beef, but it got me thinking about street cred and hip-hop.  Is Ross really the first to lie on record or to embellish his own past for music’s sake?  We all know that the answer is no.  Ross’ handling of his own situation was of course poorly thought out, but let’s be real…Ross does his damn thing.  Am I gonna just stop listening to his stuff because he used to be a corrections officer?  [FYI: anybody can tell you that C.O.s are probably responsible for most of the drugs in our prison system, so being a C.O. doesn’t necessarily mean he was a complete square or even that he wasn’t a career criminal at some point…but why even argue this?] 

People who are honestly vigilant about making sure the rappers they listen to have done everything they said remind me of people who think the WWF isn’t scripted.  If every rapper did everything they said that they do, half of them would be dead (probably due to AIDs or gunplay) and the other half in prison.  I mean seriously…why would a rapper whose face can be seen all over the web and on TV be involved in cocaine-traficking, especially after having made his first million?  Stop it.  This is entertainment. 

The fact that Ross’ career is still afloat despite all the hate and ridicule is proof that people other than me feel the same way: rap is entertainment…f*ck a rap sheet or a professional resume.  Nas was always considered an observer and not a participator in criminal activities in his native Queensbridge, but his strength and the reason people listened to what he said was that the dude painted a beautiful picture in his lyrics while talking about things he had seen or experienced through others.   The way other rappers rap, you would think each had moved a ton of coke apiece…sooo how many kingpings can there really be in NYC?  Aren’t there some gangs and various mobs to deal with?  I think MC casualties would be a lot more frequent if any of these dudes were really doing as much as or anything at all they say they are.  Just enjoy the music.  Damn.  {walks off like that annoying mofo from the Everest College commercial}

“Super High” by Rick Ross f/ Ne-Yo (I usually hate R&B artists on rap joints, but this one rides) off the upcoming Teflon Don.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=TjKx-HNS-a8&feature=related

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Beyonce Is Not The First Black Entertainer To Drop It Like It’s Hot

 

Hatin’ is an American pastime.  The term is definitely overused, but my definition of it is being vocal about something or someone that (a) you have the option to not deal with on any level and (b) that you don’t really have a valid reason for hating on.  I’ve had people argue before that they dislike Beyonce because of the fact that she shows skin and dances and performs provocatively.  So yet again, I must take it upon myself to pull some cards…

Again, we come to a place where people are taking issue with the wrong things.  While somebody like Britney “Daisy Duke” Spears is free to run buck-ass wild through LA hopped up on coke, Marlboro Reds and Red Bull in her real life (granted with her fair share of ridicule, although her fans refuse to wake up and say “look, I’m not paying for tickets to your concert til you get custody of your damn kids”), Beyonce gets blasted for being provocative on-stage.  But is that not entertainment?  Does Beyonce not draw a bold-ass line between herself as an entertainer (i.e. the Sasha Fierce alter ego) and as a person?  Sure, she might have an inflection in her speaking voice that makes you think her family might get all of their cotton on an employee discount (cotton balls, Q-tips, cotton candy…word to The Chris Rock Show), but Beyonce behaves herself and represents herself well in public, harkening (yeah I said harkening…my ghetto pass is still intact, so go to hell) back to the days when celebs kept their business private and cut loose when it was time to perform.  I would much rather a future daughter draw from Beyonce that there is a time and place for everything (i.e. at the Grammys, not at Magic City) than to draw from other celebrities that it’s OK to act a ass in Us Weekly, on TMZ, Twitter, Safeway, Burger King, gas stations, and everywhere else.  There is a huge difference between performing for the stage or screen and performing for the streets.  One entertains people and gets you paid while the other just makes you a public ho.

The father of Janelle Monae's whole steez

I’ve even heard some go so far as to bring up artists like Janelle Monae and Jill Scott, stating that they don’t need to show skin to sell records.  In either case, I don’t think anybody wants to see that.  I love Jill Scott, but I think her type of music speaks to a different audience; I don’t wanna hear Jill in the club, but you tell me the club doesn’t really get poppin’ when a Beyonce joint comes on and I’ll call you a damn liar.  Jill makes contemplative and romantic music, not music to dance to necessarily.  As far as Janelle Monae, who I’m not really a fan of (not hatin’…just seems pretentious and preachy to me…just not for me), I don’t think anybody’s clamoring for her to put her gams on display, so she can use the same hairstylist as Mary McLeod Bethune and dress like Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly all she wants.  The point is, different artists will do different things based on the image they are projecting in conjunction with the music they make. 

Josephine Baker

So since people are condemning Beyonce for brown-flesh-peddling, can they also throw Josephine Baker into that mix?  Lola Falana?  Dorothy Dandridge?  All of these women have been touted as important musicians in Black entertainment history and all sang, danced, p-popped on a handstand and showed a whole lotta skin.  I don’t see the difference…especially since Beyonce probably gets a lot of influence from these legendary entertainers.  I suggest people do the knowledge before acting like Beyonce is the first Black woman to put an African undercarriage on display for all of mainstream America to see.

The fact is, no matter how undeniably talented and successful a person is, there is always going to be someone out there that will find something to be mad at.  To find fault with the idea that sex sells is to find fault with human nature since the beginning of time.  The question is whether the artist using their body is using it tastefully and artistically, which I think Beyonce is.  While you won’t find her whole catalog in my iPod, that “Video Phone” beat knocked…go to hell.  Check out this Rick Ross remix to it and tell me it ain’t…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAEy9PrLyWs

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Hip-Hop: Alive & Well

Hip-Hop Is Alive (oil & canvas) by Andrea Casey @ www.andreacasey.com...sick piece!

Despite what these screw-faced, so-called hip-hop “purists” will try to tell whoever will listen, hip-hop has never died.  To me, saying hip-hop is dead based on what you see on the radio and TV is preposterous.  Hip-hop didn’t start there, so why would you expect to find it there today.  Sure, Yo! MTV Raps was the business back in the day and made history, but it’s a new day and that show is no longer on the air.  Too many hip-hop heads are so deeply ensconced in what hip-hop used to be, that they’re not willing to break out of that shell and do the legwork to find what’s being made today that appeals to them.  Part of the problem is that too many fans separate the business from the art.  Sure, the two can coincide every now and then, but for the most part in today’s game, artists (with the coercion of their major labels) are putting out what the buying audience wants to hear.  I emphasize “buying” because if you’re like me, you’re quick on the download.  Others are quick to cop a bootleg.  The problem is that lyrical prowess and diverse content doesn’t necessarily move units in all cases, so as a record label, it doesn’t make sense fiscally to back a project that may not sell to the masses.  As in politics, the majority is usually ill-informed and doesn’t always go beyond the surface.

That being said, I believe there’s a place for everything in hip-hop.  I like Talib Kweli, but I don’t necessarily want to throw that on while getting ready to step out to the club.  I like Mos Def, but when I feel like puttin’ a Timberland in somebody’s ass, that isn’t what I like to hear.  I enjoy Gucci Mane and Rick Ross, but that isn’t the move when I’m in chill-mode or if I’m feeling contemplative.  I’m also open to all types of hip-hop, regardless of subgenre or region…I mean how many people would put A Tribe Called Quest and UGK next to one another on their list of favorite hio-hop groups?  Understandably, being musically adaptable isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but to say an artist “isn’t hip-hop” because they talk about wood wheels and syrup is silly…it just ain’t for you.  Hip-hop is organic in that it reflects on where it originates from.  NWA made the west coast a factor not by emulating anything that was going on in NYC at the time, but by going totally against the grain, which opened the door for other regions to shine by just doing them instead of trying to look and sound like New York MCs.

My philosophy is that when I listen to hip-hop tracks, I look for the positive and note the negative as it appears…I don’t go into it arms crossed waiting to hear some bullsh*t…approaching it that way, you’re bound to find something to hate.  Listening to the radio for “real” hip-hop is like walking into the food court at the mall looking for good Mexican food.  Hip-hop lives online nowadays, so I would suggest doing some blog-crawling, because good music isn’t gonna just fall into your lap.  Check out 2dopeboyz.com, which I use.  They cater to all different types of hip-hop and provide downloads of songs as well as full mixtapes, not to mention exclusive interviews, trailers, and videos.  They also update daily, ensuring that you can find something new there every day.  I could wrap this up by saying we all need to work together and speak up to change hip-hop, but I don’t think anything needs changing.  Hip-hop’s evolved and grown to cater to a larger demographic.  Those that are still yearning for the olden days of hip-hop are thinking about a time when the audience for hip-hop was only so big and not as diverse as it is today. 

Below, I posted a few vids that prove that hip-hop is still alive today in multiple forms.  Hip-hop knows no location, dialect, or one definitive style and I feel like that’s a beautiful thing.  Enjoy…

Murs collaborates with Kurupt & the soon-to-be-legendary 9th Wonder for an LA anthem that I can’t stop playing on my iPod.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29k85TGrjW4

This is “Up” by Braille (surprisingly a Christian MC), an artist I was only recently put on to and downloaded this track on a whim.  His album Weapon Aid just recently dropped.  Shout out to 2dopeboyz.com for always keepin’ me up on the newest & freshest.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBKe7_4bBDM

“BossCo2” by Blu, a personal favorite of mine from the West.  If you ain’t familiar, get with the program.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQS47kNDWno

Hip-hop lives down south too…it just sounds different, ya dig?  Check out up-and-coming Carter from Houston, TX. 

 

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