The Freshest In The Northwest Debate

Posted in Comedy, News, Politics, Radio, Random Ish, Videos on July 4th, 2012 by Hyphen

Ah yes, the list that generated enough tweets in the Seattle hip-hop community to trend the other day has reached its conclusion with the release of the #1 video above.  For those unaware, D-Money of Juice Radio put together this project inspired by the MTV “Hottest MC” debate where he asked several media figures in the Seattle/Tacoma area to submit lists of their top 15 “freshest MC’s.”  The panel was comprised of myself, Casey Carter, Sara from Fresh N Def, Sermon from Sermon’s Domain, DJ SupaSam, DJ Swervewon, Josh Rizeberg, and DJ Iceman.  A final slot was reserved for fan votes collected on Juice Radio’s website and you can view the entire list and the accompanying videos here.

We were told to construct the list using specific criteria focusing on solo MC’s (not groups or singers) and their accomplishments within the past year.  The various categories we were instructed to key on ranged from sales/downloads to radio play, from concert draws to media recognition, and every variable you can think of in between.  In the end, even with the criteria, the idea was to make picks based on who we felt were the overall “freshest” in the NW, which is obviously subjective to each individual.  Not surprisingly, we had fairly different lists, and also not surprisingly, it was revealed during the course of our discussion that some of the panel did not follow the criteria or fully understand it.  What’s a hip-hop list without some controversy from the very start (and the inability to do the most basic tasks correctly)?

The format allowed for the panel to bump up artists if we were convinced during our discussion that they had been voted to an incorrect slot.  Personally, I would have preferred the panel to simply fill out their lists accurately from the jump and then we could stick with where someone was voted.  If you’re deemed knowledgeable enough to be on the panel, you should be able to construct a good list and defend your picks without getting swayed during the discussion to vote someone up or down.  That said, when Macklemore was revealed as #3 on the list, I was happy we’d have a chance to vote him to his correct position at #1 because it’s clear that with the criteria we were told to use, nobody has excelled more than him in the past year.  It’s not even debatable in my opinion.

I was disappointed that the list didn’t unanimously have him at #1 to begin with, but I can’t speak for the selections of any other panel member.  All I know is that only 6 of the 15 artists I selected made the final list (though they only revealed the top 10, so I suppose 5 were never going to make it).  Of those, I think the most startling omissions were Geologic (aka Prometheus Brown) and Ish (aka Palaceer Lazaro of Shabazz Palaces).  To conclude a “Freshest In The NW” list without two of our most successful and influential artists, who continue to release great music to widespread critical and consumer acclaim, seems like a travesty.

Regardless, it seems the list accomplished what it set out to do, which was to generate conversation about all the talent we have in the Northwest.  Were there things I would do differently if this were my project?  Absolutely, starting with the fact that I would never do it to begin with.  However, this is Juice Radio’s creation and I enjoyed giving my two cents in the discussion.

That said, I’m troubled by the reactions of many people, mainly because they seem to be attacking the idea that this is some sort of definitive list.  Of course it’s NOT a definitive list!  I thought that would have been common sense, but yet again, for the 24823948239423424th time in my life, I’ve overestimated the intelligence and comprehension levels of the general public (though if I continue to do that, it’s really more my fault than theirs).  Individual lists are fine, but it’s the idea that combining a group of lists, from anyone, somehow transforms these individual opinions to fact that is completely absurd.  I assumed everyone would understand that, but I was wrong.

I hope you enjoyed the debate and the videos, but I’d advise you do yourself a favor and don’t take it too seriously.  Then again, that’s also just my opinion…

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Jay Smooth – How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race (video)

Posted in Comedy, Politics, Random Ish, Videos on November 19th, 2011 by Hyphen

As usual, you should already know what you get with a Jay Smooth commentary.  Please take 10 minutes out of your day and watch this.

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Killer Mike – Burn (video)

Posted in Artists, Music Videos, Politics on June 11th, 2011 by Hyphen

So apparently there was quite the hubbub (greatest word ever?) earlier this week when Lupe was quoted as calling President Obama a terrorist.  While I understand the shock value factor of grabbing that soundbite for the headline, people clearly missed the larger point that US foreign policy could certainly constitute terrorism for many folks in the world.  Killer Mike’s latest, PL3DGE, touches on similar subjects, especially here on “Burn.”  Go head fellas.

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The Daily Show & Soulstice on Common x White House x Faux News

Posted in Artists, Comedy, Politics, Videos on May 14th, 2011 by Hyphen

When Sound Session debuted on KUBE six years ago, we had the pleasure of welcoming Common to the studio as our first guest.  We dedicated the entire show to his music and he regaled us with behind the scenes tales about his favorite songs off each of his classic albums.  Since then, we’ve had him on the show numerous times (remember this listening party?) and run into him at all sorts of events.  Throughout all this interaction, one thing has stood out to me above even the quality of his music: this is one of the nicest “celebrities” I’ve ever met.

Common has a way of talking to you so genuinely that you know he actually cares about what you’re discussing and more importantly, he cares about you.  Honestly, it’s kind of spooky.  Years after first talking about how I coached youth basketball, he asked me out of the blue: “are you still coaching kids?”  He’s just a great dude and an excellent representative of our culture.

This is not to say he’s without flaws, but much like 2Pac, he represents the natural duality that we all share in our morals/ethics and his music always reflects what he believes, even if it’s not popular.  He’s also grown as an artist and person over the years (haven’t we all?), which makes this Fox News pseudo-controversy all the more hysterical.  If you’ve been living under a rock, Jon Stewart can get you up to speed:

Not much more needs to be said (aside from PLEASE DON’T EVER EVEN PRETEND TO RAP, JON), but rapper SoulStice summed up his thoughts nicely in a recent email:

What’s the word?

I think I’m going to need a late pass on this one. I didn’t realize that Common had been invited to perform at the White House until after Sarah Palin had already gotten on the air and poo-pooed the whole thing.

My response to Common performing lyrics as poetry at the White House is probably as predictable as Sarah Palin’s. Yay! For me, this is a form of acknowledgement by those in power that the voice of my generation as expressed through hip hop is recognized not only for its entertainment value but for its social and political relevance. Never mind that this acknowledgement comes from a President that himself struggles for acceptance as part of mainstream America.

When Sarah Palin says that Common’s body of work doesn’t withstand the scrutiny of representing “all that’s good about America,” she does have a point. Common’s third album, “One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)” was a very influential one for me. On “Hungry,” Common raps:

“Downtown interracial lovers hold hands,
I breathe heavy like an old man…”

At the time, I remember reflecting on those lines for a while. Although in 1997 I hadn’t yet dated outside of my race (wasn’t the coolest move to make in my segregation-minded Chicagoland high school), I knew that one of my favorite artists and I felt differently on the subject of interracial relationships. Today, as part of an interracial marriage and father to a multi-ethnic child, my view on the subject is as diametrically opposed as ever to the view expressed on “Hungry.” Hopefully Common’s is too.

So no, Common’s body of work doesn’t withstand the scrutiny of representing “all that’s good about America.” But isn’t that bar too high? I wouldn’t pass that test. For that matter, neither would Palin, Hannity, O’Reilly or any of the right-wing (or otherwise) critics of Obama’s choice to bring Common to the White House. Even removing all of moral blemishes like the “Hungry” line from Common’s catalog, it wouldn’t clear the bar that Palin has set here. As an artist, Common has chosen to shine a light on some of the things that aren’t so good about America like police brutality and racial bias in the prison system. Would it be too much to ask for Palin and others to spend some time reflecting on the hard truths in lyrics like those before rushing to shoot the messenger?

I applaud the White House for hosting Common for a performance. Even with his imperfections, I think he’s done more to uplift America than any of the aforementioned pundits whose self-serving divisiveness does more to harm our social fabric than to strengthen it. On “G.O.D.,” another song from “One Day It’ll All Make Sense,” Common spit another couple of lines that have stuck with me all these years:

“Long as you know it’s a being that’s supreme to you,
and let that show towards others in the things you do”

Words to live by.

peace —

SoulStice

It’s one thing for Faux News to do this to other news stories, but when they go after one of the members of our community, it annoys me to no end. They really shouldn’t speak on things that they have no concept of, but I suppose that’s par for the course throughout media, not just on Fox.

As our generation gets older, it’s up to people like you, me, and SoulStice to continue to bring sanity to these “debates.” We have an obligation to push the discourse in the right direction and away from the silliness.

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Lewis Black ethers Glenn Beck

Posted in Comedy, Politics, Videos on May 12th, 2010 by Hyphen

Granted, this is not difficult, but I’ll never get tired of people calling out Glenn Beck’s idiocy.

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J-Smooth vs. T-Pain

Posted in Politics, Videos on April 17th, 2010 by Hyphen

Slow down J, you’re killin’ em.

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Before The Music Dies (documentary)

Posted in Art, Movies, News, Politics, Radio, Videos on January 13th, 2010 by Hyphen

Warning: too much truth.

If you have the time, I highly recommend you check out this documentary.  As a music lover and a former media studies major, this really does a great job of summing up all our fears about media consolidation.  Shout to Marcus for passing this through in the comments.

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Jay Smooth punks Michael Steele

Posted in Comedy, Politics, Videos on September 9th, 2009 by Hyphen

Another excellent clip from Jay Smooth and yet another example of shockingly hypocritical behavior by a Republican.  This is all a joke right?  I feel like Ashton’s going to hop out any second and tell me that America’s been playing me on Punk’d.  These people are crazy.

Oh, and LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL @ Steele looking like Humpty Hump.  How did I never notice that before!?!?!

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I’m elite…and an elitist…and you should be too

Posted in Comedy, News, Politics on August 20th, 2009 by Hyphen

Thank you Barney.

Bill Maher echoed much of what I’ve been saying for years in a recent blog for the Huffington Post.  Shout to DJ Nphared for sending this over, great stuff.

New Rule: Smart President ≠ Smart Country

New Rule: Just because a country elects a smart president doesn’t make it a smart country. A few weeks ago I was asked by Wolf Blitzer if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn’t put anything past this stupid country. It was amazing – in the minute or so between my calling America stupid and the end of the Cialis commercial, CNN was flooded with furious emails and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!! It’s how they get the blood circulating when the Cialis wears off. Worst of all, Bill O’Reilly refuted my contention that this is a stupid country by calling me a pinhead, which A) proves my point, and B) is really funny coming from a doody-face like him.

Now, the hate mail all seemed to have a running theme: that I may live in a stupid country, but they lived in the greatest country on earth, and that perhaps I should move to another country, like Somalia. Well, the joke’s on them because I happen to have a summer home in Somalia… and no I can’t show you an original copy of my birth certificate because Woody Harrelson spilled bong water on it.

And before I go about demonstrating how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness dragging down our country, let me just say that ignorance has life and death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that states have two senators and more than half can’t name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife’s name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they’re not stupid. They’re interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words “Bush” and “knowledge.”

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%. And don’t even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, “Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?”

And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they’re talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

Which is the way our founding fathers wanted it. James Madison wrote that “pure democracy” doesn’t work because “there is nothing to check… an obnoxious individual.” Then, in the margins, he doodled a picture of Joe the Plumber.

Until we admit there are things we don’t know, we can’t even start asking the questions to find out. Until we admit that America can make a mistake, we can’t stop the next one. A smart guy named Chesterton once said: “My country, right or wrong is a thing no patriot would ever think of saying… It is like saying ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'” To which most Americans would respond: “Are you calling my mother a drunk?”

If you don’t strive to be elite and hold others to the same standard, I’d prefer not to interact with you.  Sorry.  Peep the definition of “elitism” per Wikipedia:

Elitism is the belief or attitude that those individuals who are considered members of the elite—a select group of people with outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes—are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom render them especially fit to govern.

Annnnnnnd, this is a bad thing?  Harder, better, faster, stronger.  Get right or get left.

The #1 problem in this country is our educational system and it’s downright criminal that we let so many people fall through the cracks.  These morons not only hinder our progression in every aspect of society, but they also send me their rap music on a daily basis.  Shots fired.  Just playin…kinda.

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Barack’s funnier than you

Posted in Comedy, Live Performances, Politics, Videos on May 10th, 2009 by Hyphen

Barry was lickin’ shots at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner yesterday.  Yeah, yeah, he has writers obviously, but still, his delivery was great.  How strange is it that our President is cooler than us?

By the way, this >>>>>> the Justin/Samberg “Mother Lovers” skit.

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