As you probably know from my writing, my broadcasting, and certainly from my long-standing relationship with Public Enemy, education and information has always been critical to me. I don’t think that education or information, themselves, liberate. However, I firmly believe that they are the basis of freedom.
That’s why I’m extremely excited to produce and host GrindXDesign, an eight-week tutorial that starts about a week from today, on Wednesday, August 15th. I trust that you will be a part of it.
I’ve been working with my team on this for a while. A large part of that time had to do with me just understanding the concept. Brilliantly executed by social media strategist Lena West, it consists of creating a technology format through which hip-hop industry leaders can connect with, and teach, groups of committed, driven individuals who need the information those luminaries share.
That is what I hope to create for artists, through knowledge. The business of music is an amazing, fearsome world. It has produced some of humanity’s most powerful art. But, for many, it has also functioned as a cesspool of exploitation, usually those who merely wanted to get on stage, as fast as possible, and sing, dance, or rap.
That has got to end. As my friend and mentor Chuck D has often noted, even the term music business is over 60% the word “business.” That is, it’s mostly business.
Hip-hop artists may suffer most from the lack of this information. If we’re going to save hip-hop, that, too, has to change. If hip-hop is going to be preserved as a cultural and social system—if such a thing is possible—people who are concerned about its survival are going to have to commit to performing strong acts.
That is the definition of leading by example. We need more of it in our culture, one built by many, many hands. I’ve put mine in, and, if God gives me life and strength, this is only the beginning.
I’ve officially opened registration at GrindXDesign.com. Grab your seat. Take no prisoners.
The majority of all human output is of average quality, or trash. A small amount of it is excellent. What we remember most, though, is what excited us, and moved us.
So, like René suggests, was hip-hop in the past—the Pre-Wax Era, the Pioneer Era, the Golden Era, the Gangsta Era, the Baller Era—better? Or is it that you just really remember the parts you liked? Or is it that you just don’t like what you’re hearing because you liked what you heard? Or do you like what’s coming out nowadays more?
One of the hardest aspects to understand about any phenomenon is why it is the way it is.
Take, for example, the United States. It’s commonly held that this is a country which values individualism. As opposed to celebrating the person who dutifully does what his family or community says and wants, as some cultures do, we hail the white guy—it’s typically a white guy, right—who “bucks the trend,” “goes against the grain,” takes the path less chosen,” “innovates.”
The Iconoclast. The Rebel. In some societies, these are figures of outrage. But, here, they are seen as absolutely, quintessentially American.
Here’s a question for travelers in our security-minded era: Should the TSA put Pop Rocks, above—the fizzy, crumbly, kids candy from the ’70s—on its air travel prohibited items list?
I ask because it’s long been known what happens to the human digestive system when you swallow Pop Rocks, then mix it with Coca-Cola, a drink available on every commercial flight: Your stomach explodes!
The effect on the individual is, obviously, catastrophic. As for the craft’s airframe, well, suppose this were to happen while flying over the Pacific, right?
Heh, heh. Of course, it’s nonsense, the idea that these two substances, when combined, detonate. It’s a 30-year-old, urban myth. But, as every parent knows, kids have lots of questions about how our bodies are affected by all kinds of phenomena, and why we work as we do.
Andrea and Julia Ditkoff sure did. For example, they wanted to know:
Why do you get a headache when you eat ice cream too quickly?
What’s that small, dewdrop-shaped thing in the back of your throat?
In fact, they came up with all the interrogatives Dr. Ditkoff uses in her text. She thought her daughters’ inquiries were, indeed, provocative, but commonplace. Other children, and other adults, would want to hear the answers, also.
They will: Dr. Ditkoff is the guest today on a repeat edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, June 18, at 2 pm ET.
You can listen to this thoughtful writer / physician’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
That’s the title of this YouTube, above, and I’m not even going to try and top it with a clever pun. (Thanks to Erica K. of The Feminista Files for forwarding it, though.)
In the short, tykes recreate legendary moments from Brian De Palma’s 1983 classic, including the bloody shootout climax and demise of Tony Montana. (As you can see, above, a mound of popcorn makes a life-sized stand-in for Scarface’s desktop supply of coke, and the tiny actor has channeled the narco-mogul’s contemptuous sneer perfectly. Also, here, the word fudge repeatedly replaces a shorter, punchier expletive.)
From where the hell did this piece of genius, albeit evil genius, come?
So-called “ghetto parties,” like the one depicted above, were only one of the topics Racialicious‘ Carmen Van Kerckhove, writer Jason Tanz (Other People’s Property), and I addressed when we met a few years ago to discuss “White People and Hip-Hop.” (Since you’re wondering, my favorite detail is the “TUPAC LIVES” tattoo on the bicep of the red-scarfed brunette, middle row.) Arguably, the types of interactions white people have with the culture are far more varied.
More, the question became, how should we see these contacts when people have them? What do they mean for the culture of hip-hop? How do they affect, or describe, the larger issue of race?
I didn’t necessarily expect it would be, but the piece, for me, turned out to be a major moment, and touchstone, in my work attempting to clarify these critical subjects. (It was podcasted on Addicted To Race, Racialicious‘ internet series, in 2007.)
However, after doing so once, before, a couple of years ago, I’ve decided to re-air this talk with Carmen Van Kerckhove and Jason Tanz. They’re guests, today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 12, at 2 pm ET.
You can hear their ideas, and my own, by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
instructor Tom McFadden has created a series of rap videos to explain concepts such as gene regulation and evolution. His latest video, entitled “Oxidate It Or Love It” explains how metabolism works while paying homage to “Hate It Or Love It” by 50 Cent/The Game and “On To The Next One” by Jay-Z.