Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Race and the Safe Hollywood Bet"

Progress for African-Americans in Hollywood?

"With the stakes high, many studio executives worry that films that focus on African-American themes risk being too narrow in their appeal to justify the investment. Hollywood has nonetheless shown a willingness in recent years to bank more heavily on African-American actors and themes....

But Hollywood’s open-mindedness only goes so far. Studio executives remain hugely skeptical that moviegoers are impartial to race. “The bottom line is that the major studios want assurances that film projects have the potential to attract a significant white audience,” said Joe Pichirallo, a veteran producer whose latest film, “The Secret Life of Bees,” opened Friday."

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reeves: review

Check out this rap timeline, courtesy Jeff Chang and Mother Jones.

And go here for incisive critiques and updates on hip-hop activism, from Jeff Chang.

More music and video for Reeves, "Somebody Scream!"

DMX, "Get At Me Dog."

DMX, "Who We Be."

Eminem, "My Name Is."

Eminem, "White America"

Eminem, "Mosh."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More music/video for Reeves, "Somebody Scream!"

Notorious B.I.G., "Big Poppa."

Notorious B.I.G., "Hypnotize." Biggie goes Bond.

Jay-Z, "Hard Knock Life."

Jay-Z, "Big Pimpin'" (sample: Abdel-Halim Hafez).


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Music and vids for Chapter 8, Reeves, "Somebody Scream!"

(I guess we can credit Pac for popularizing this ugly style innovation?)

Tupac Shakur's "I Don't Give a Fuck," from 2pacalypse Now, 1991. Unlike much of his later work, the song is strongly anti-racist and critical of police violence.

I Just Dont Give A Fuck - 2 Pac

"Brenda's Got a Baby," from 2pacalypse Now, the poignant story of a 12-year girl who becomes pregnant, in which Tupac expresses tremendous sympathy for his subject.

Brendas Got a Baby - 2Pac

"Keep Ya Head Up," from Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. (1993), where Tupac expresses his support for stron sistas.

Keep Ya Head Up - 2 Pac

Video for "I Get Around," from Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.. Fun and games, poolside.

"I Get Around"--the sound is better here than on the vid above.

I Get Around - 2Pac

"Holler If Ya Hear Me," from Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.. Thug Life.

Holler If Ya Hear Me - 2Pac

"Dear Mama," from Me Against the World (1995). A heartfelt account of Pac's relationship with his mother.

Dear Mama - 2pac

"So Many Tears," from Me Against the World. Pondering mortality.

So Many Tears - 2Pac

"Skandalouz," from All Eyez on Me (1996). New levels of thug misogyny?

Skandalouz - 2 Pac/Nate Dogg

"California Love," from All Eyez on Me (1996). Hedonism, materialism, in Southern Cali. Gone are the urban blues and the resistance to police repression.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Music for Chapter 7, Marcus Reeves' "Somebody Scream!"

"Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," from Dr. Dre's The Chronic (1992), which introduces the world to Snoop Doggy Dogg. And g-funk.

"Let Me Ride," from The Chronic. Cali car culture, g-funk stylee. The video ends with footage of George Clinton's band Parliament, whose "Mothership Connection" and "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot" are extensively sampled in the song.

"Gin and Juice," from Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle (1993), which gave a boost to Tanqueray and Seagram's sales.

"Who Am I? (What's My Name?)" from Doggystyle. You listen and you think, could g-funk ever have been possible if it weren't for George Clinton?

"For All My Niggaz & Bitches," from Doggystyle, "which turned venomous words for blacks and black women into badges of honor for all (including whites) to claim and wear proudly" (Reeves, 148).

Reeves doesn't mention it, but one of the best g-funk songs ever is Warren G's "Regulate" (1994).

And, "Cop Killer," from Ice-T's side project, thrash metal band Body Count (1992). This caused a major uproar, and prompted major labels to drop a number of hardcore acts. Eventually Ice-T agreed to take the song off the album Body Count. It's basically a punk "revenge fantasy." Listen to it here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Music and video for Chapter 5, Reeves, "Somebody Scream!"

The first local LA sensation, DJ Toddy Tee, with "Batterram."

Ice-T, with his first hit, "6 'N the Morning." (The video is nothing special, but at least you can listen to the song.)

The inspiration, the original rap gangsta, Schooly D, with "Signifying Rapper" (1988), off Smoke Some Kill.

NWA, "Straight Outta Compton" (title track from the 1989 album).

N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton by hushhush112

NWA, "Fuck the Police" (Straight Outta Compton).


NWA, "Gangsta Gangsta" (Straight Outta Compton).

The first defector from NWA, Ice Cube. "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)," from 1991's Amerikkka's Most Wanted. (Chuck D, and Hank and Keith Schocklee are co-writers with Cube, and Chuck makes a cameo.)

The Rodney King beating, March 3, 1991.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Music for Chapter 4 of Reeves, "Somebody Scream!"

The first single, "Public Enemy No. 1"

"Bring the Noise," from It Takes a Nation of Millions.

"Night of the Living Baseheads," the video, from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988).

"Don't Believe the Hype," from It Takes a Nation of Millions.

"Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos," the video, from It Takes a Nation of Millions.

"Fight the Power," from Fear of a Black Planet (1989).

"Fight the Power," the video, directed by Spike Lee.

Hank Schocklee of Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad comments on the current state of rap music

From an interview in Dazed Digital:

The pop culture business is monitored all the way round. Look at hip hop – it’s not saying anything any more. Hip hop used to be the voice of people. Who are the stars and what are they really talking about? I’m quite sure Lil Wayne is just as much of a rebel as he wants to be. He’s a rebel in every other aspect of his life – why is he not on record? Jay Z is a big icon, but at the same time, why are his records so safe? There are so many artists I could mention. In their real lives, there’ll be drugs involved, shootings and gun-running and all type of stuff, but the one thing they do manage is to make a safe record. Why don’t we hold up the artists that are talking about something real but got a clean background? If that doesn’t show the music industry is monitored, what does?

These days, Hank is way into dubstep, as you can hear from this mix put together by the Bomb Squad.

A tip of the tarbush to wayne&wax for turning me onto this.