A Few Thoughts on Nas, dream hampton, Ghost Writing & Hip Hop Losing its Integrity

The controversy around writer dream hampton (she spells her name in lower case) sending out a tweet where she asserted rappers Stic.man of dead prez and Jay Electronica were ‘ghost writers‘ for Nas is interesting on several levels. First, a lot of folks saw the tweet or heard about it and immediately jumped up to defend the Queensbridge emcee claiming that him having a ghostwriter is an assault to the ‘integrity of Hip Hop’ and that dream is somehow a bad journalist who should be tossed under a bus. I’ll let folks marinate on that for moment..

For those who aren’t up on what happened, here’s the tweet that dream sent out a few days ago…People went ape shyt over this..

“I think Jay writes what he believes. Nas’ “Nigger” album was largely written by Stic of dead prez and Jay Electronica @JusAire…”@dreamhampton

I found the angry reaction curious because what Dream tweeted wasn’t uncommon knowledge. Back when Nas was working on the Untitled album, there was lots of banter, speculation and hope that because he was working with dead prez, they might pen some tracks for him..Many felt such a move would give Nas sharper and harder hitting political content in his songs.

Ain’t nothing wrong with that when you consider over the years we’ve seen percussionist Duke Bootee do this for Grandmaster Flash & Mele-Mel with the landmark song The Message. We recently saw  Bay Area rapper Paris do this for Chuck D of Public Enemy on the album  ‘Rebirth of a Nation‘. No one would ever deny Chuck or Mel’s writing abilities or political prowess…In the case of Nas and Sticman, whether what resulted was co-writing, producing where hooks, ideas and a few bars were provided, scoring of tracks to model for Nas or ghostwriting in the technical sense where full songs were penned minus public credit, none of that seemed shocking, out of the ordinary or a bad thing. There’s a long tradition from  Billy Holiday’s Strange Fruit penned by Abel Meeropol to Stevie Wonder penning songs for Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & even Michael Jackson to Ice Cube and DOC penning songs for Eazy E and NWA to Prince penning songs for everyone from Chaka Khan to Sheila E to Rhymefest penning Jesus Walks for Kanye West.. Hip Hop and music in general has not lost its integrity because of it.

Over the years, I been in enough recording sessions with artists big and small to see first hand how the process plays out..People share ideas, verses get traded, shifted around, reassigned, some are written and then rewritten, some are imposed etc.. How things get publicly credited and monies divided up in the end is one aspect..but for the most part, the end game has been to put out the absolute best product. The bottom line is no matter what folks like to believe, not everything recorded is written by the one spitting verses. That applies to folks who some might consider the very best and it applies to some who are relatively unknown.

We see similar process in beat production. Not everyone who is deemed ‘the producer‘ works the drum machine and craft the melodies. By now its common knowledge that revered producer Dr Dre is not in the studio coming up with every single drum track, it doesn’t mean he’s not capable nor would anyone deny is skill as a producer?

On a side note, we also know that over the years everyone from Eminem to Jay-Z have penned raps for Dre.. Have we stopped liking him because it or do we give him dap for doing great records and using the best talent around him..

When you’re making records and you have money invested, in particular major label money, it becomes a team effort. It’s very collaborative where lots of folks have a hand in it. I don’t think the recording process as I’ve seen/ experienced takes away from the writing prowess of an artist, especially someone of the stature of Nas. If anything, one getting co-writers etc is a smart move especially if you’re trying to bring fresh perspectives or push boundaries musically or subject wise.

With all that being said, at the end of the day both Jay Electronica and Stic.man have denied ghostwriting for Nas and unless we were there in the studio with them, we’ll have to take their word for it… Sticman has been particularly humble in terms of expressing his long time admiration for Nas and further explains their recording process in a recent Vibe Magazine interview.

From where I sit, I think folks instead of getting upset at the possibility that they ghostwrote for Nas, they should’ve seen such a move as monumental.  Stic and Jay working with Nas, that’s a powerful team. People are acting like these guys are some Johnny-come-lately slouches or some no-name rookies to scoff at..They are not.. They are top shelf artists. If someone like Stic is penning songs, whether it’s for Nas or the guy down the street, its worth a listen especially if it’s on the political tip. Very few do it better.

dream hampton

With respect to dream hampton sending out a tweet which was directed to someone whether right or wrong is not an indictment on journalism-its a tweet. Yes it came from popular person who is a journalist, but a quick look at Dream’s twitter time line, will quickly reveal everything she tweets is not a news story. Far from it.. She shares many opinions, debates folks,  shares speculations and gets snarky at times.. Who hasn’t on twitter? It’s barbershop/ beauty shop talk..Media types should not be mining twitter for news stories unless they tend to do due diligence, put things in context and journalistically follow-up.

dream’s penning of Jay-Z‘s Decoded, her brilliant columns and insightful articles over the past 15 years covering everything from rape to Too Short and sexism to her film on Black August all go out the window over a tweet?? Really?

If folks are really concerned about the Hip Hop journalism and faulty information being passed along to the masses, before going at dream hampton how about we go after those multi-million dollar corporate radio giants that run commercial sponsored gossip/ entertainment reports on the daily. Seems like I’ve heard more foul stuff said about Nas and his failed marriage to singer Kelis and his child support payments on those outlets then I ever seen Dream tweet or write. How many of those stories were accurate?  Was Nas really a dead beat dad? How many ran to the bank on those stories without checking to see if it was true or not?  Was Hip Hop’s integrity destroyed over those claims or only when it was asserted that Nas may have had some stellar artists pen songs for him?

The harsh and sometimes threatening response to dream was over the top and to be quite honest, cowardly. Was this really because she suggested Nas had ghost writers or because she was a woman? I didn’t see a whole lot of folks getting froggy a few years back when Suge Knight made unsavory remarks about Nas appearing on the song Thug Mansion on 2Pac’s album.. Where was all the ‘you’re a bitch’ and ‘you’re groupie’ rhetoric then?  Are we silent when it folks making remarks who are not afraid to talk greasy and mix it up physically with those who are opposed?

Seems like it was just a few short weeks ago when many were coming down on Nas for defending actress Gwyneth Paltrow and giving her a pass tweeting the N word.. Quite a few folks went in on Nas after he claimed Paltrow was a ‘real nigger’, some accused him of falling off and selling out. Some said they’d never listen to a Nas album again..Where was all the tough talk in response to those critiques? This is not to say that folks can’t get at dream hampton and express disappointment or disagreement over her remarks..She is not above criticism. I’m simply suggesting that all of us can come at things a different way.. We can be passionate without threatening, vicious and over-the-top demeaning on the misogynist tip.

For those who feel passionate about Nas and feel he needs to get more shine, here’s something to consider..I checked the recent issues of Billboard, their August 25th Rap Charts and their August 25th Top 50 R&B/ Hip Hop Charts, and you know what was missing?  A song from Nas. The man just put out a brilliant album and thus far it seems to be shunned for a whole lot of mediocre stuff..

We should be upset more radio stations aren’t rocking cuts off Nas’ new album Good Life

Outside of Hot 97 in New York and a handful of station here there, most stations according to their playlist ain’t rocking Nas at all..Many feel Nas is a stellar lyricist who helps raise consciousness, so how is that Nas is news worthy enough to be gossiped about when his marriage fails and he’s deemed a dead beat dad, but now worthy enough to be played on some of those same outlets? That’s where people’s anger should be directed..

Let’s not make excuses for these public airwaves to not have songs like Nas’ Daughters being heard 8-10 times a day. We should be angry that young impressionable minds that tune in, are not being exposed to a song that gives encouragement for men to step up and be present for their kids. Why can’t these outlets show any love for the incredible joint he recently did with Knaan called ‘Nothing to Lose? Was there no songs off the dope album ‘Good Life’ to expose to the masses?

If folks are gonna ride for Nas, ride for him on some real impactful stuff..Like I said earlier, sure folks can call out dream for being wrong, but how about calling those folks out who really influence and shape minds? If we concerned about the integrity of Hip Hop, get mad and shut those outlets down.. Call those owners and program directors who talk to millions of people at every given moment to do right by Hip Hop if that’s really the issue..Lets’ push to make sure Nas is performing at the next Grammy or BET Award vs someone who has a fraction of his talent.. There’s simply no comparison between dream hampton’s tweet and the powerful forces at work day in and day out systematically undermine Nas and Hip Hop. Let’s get mad at that..

Something to Ponder..

Davey D

Big Daddy Kane.. Setting It Off & Still Getting the Job Done (Breakdown FM Intv)

Got a chance to build with Hip Hop legend Big Daddy Kane who is on his way to San Francisco this weekend to perform at Yoshi’s Jazz Club.You have to marvel at a guy who’s been putting in work since 1986, when Kane first hit the scene as a member of the Juice Crew and still manages to keep himself and his music relevant 26 years later…

In our interview we talked about his longevity in Hip Hop.. Kane explained it was always his intention to stand the test of time. He noted he never approached his music or any of his performances in a lackluster way. It was always about leaving a lasting impression and having folks one day wanting to mimic everything from his rhyme flow to his overall steeze.

I asked Kane why he never took his music career into acting the same way many of his peers had. Kane was often dubbed the leading man of rap aka Dark Gable, a play upon the famed actor Clark Gable. He also was dubbed Blackanova a play upon Casanova. Kane said he was open to doing more acting, he just hadn’t been offered good roles. At the same time he noted he hadn’t pursued things as hard as he could. Nowadays he’s open and wants to step into the acting arena and really give things a try..Thus far kane has appeared in movies like; Posse, Meteor Man, Dead Heist, Brown Sugar and Gunmen.

In terms of music, Kane explained, that he’s been working with singer Showtyme, who we know for the work he does w/ Pharoah Monch.. They have assembled alive band are currently working on an album. Kane didn’t say when it would drop, but noted they were putting down the finishing touches.

We also talked about the art of freestyling vs writing a good song. Kane explained that a true emcee takes time to create pictures and those pictures get perfected when you write. There’s no getting around it. He noted that the term freestyling initially meant to rap without form, meaning that you may touch upon a variety of subjects in song. he explained that song like Raw was him freestyling. The term ‘coming off the dome’ meant spitting rhymes on the spot. He said its a good when doing a show and you forget a lyric and have to change up for a few bars, but ultimately an emcee takes time to craft vivid pictures. Coming off the dome doesn’t allow that with any sort of regularity

We concluded our interview by talking about Kane’s favorite song.. He went into detail explaining why Set It Off was his best work. He noted he was trying to mimic James Brown‘s sex machine..

Kane will be appearing at Yoshi’s in SF this Saturday August 11th … for more info click this link

http://www.yoshis.com/sanfrancisco/jazzclub/artist/show/2771

Listen to the Breakdown FM Intv w/ Big Daddy Kane

 

Breakdown FM: Episode 79.. Wherever We Go the Beat Will Follow

Click the link below to listen to this week’s Breakdown FM show..

Chuck D

Rolled up in the studio the other day at All Day Play and caught the homie DJ D-Sharp who was killing it on the turntables rocking joints off the new Public Enemy album, ‘Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps‘ .I was set to do a Fear of House Music Planet pt2 this week, but after hearing the PE joints..I had to go back to the Hip Hop roots and follow suit.. So I went and snatched the songs off Itunes and opened up my set with one  of my favorite PE songs a remake of their classic Shut Em Down (the Functionist mix). If you haven’t heard it, its off the Revolverlution album and has a nice futuristic vibe..

Next we came with a song off the new PE album called WTF which talks about the Occupy Movement.. Its pretty cool, Chuck is on fire with lots to say about the important issues Occupy raised up..  Later on we go into a killer track called Get Up Stand featuring Brother Ali.. This joint is smoking and yes, for those who tuned in.. D-Sharp had just ripped it 15 minutes earlier, but so what.. Good music is good music..plus sharp gave his blessings.. LOL

After rocking around a few more joints we jump into the house set.. It wasn’t the one I had planned to do, but its a good one.. We went digging in the crates and brought out some joints like Black Science Orchestra – City Of Brotherly Love and J.U. Ice – It’s Just A Groove  along w/ Tech Nine – Slam Jam  which all served as good transition records from Hip Hop into House..From there it was all fun under the sun.. as we went from deep to Hip House to Todd terry and uptempo break beats.. Next week we’ll try and do Fear of House Music Planet pt2.. But like I said we couldnt sit back and not get a piece of the PE action.. D-Sharp set off..  On a side note for those who are interested.. DJ Malachi who comes on before D-Sharp honored a listener request and did a a nice hour long Hip House Set.. You can download that episode HERE Luv Luv Radio: Episode 118

Anyway enjoy this week’s set..

Breakdown FM Episode 79 Playlist

1:00pm

01-Public Enemy – Shut Em Down [The Functionist Version]
02-Public Enemy – WTF?
03-MC Shan – The Bridge (nomadic rmx)
04-Pep Love – What’s Relief?
05-DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff
06-Public Enemy – Get Up Stand Up (feat. Brother Ali)
07-Schoolly D – Saturday Night
08-Fort Minor – Fort Minor-Feel Like Home-(Malcolm rmx )
09-Ice Cube – Summer Vacation
10-Orgone – Duck and Cover
11-Ice Cube – Cave B—
12-Todd Terry-Made By the Man
13-Think Tank – A Knife And A Fork
14-Black Science Orchestra – City Of Brotherly Love
15-Tech Nine – Slam Jam (club)
16-J.U. Ice – It’s Just A Groove (Freestyle Club Mix)
17-Joe Smooth- No More Words
18-Casanova’s Revenge- Here We Go (R U Ready)
19-7th Movement – Odyssey

2:00pm

20-Kenny Bobien – You Gave Me Love (Unreleased Mix)
21-Liquid- Time To Get Up (Liquid House Mix)
22-Deep Solution – Made For You (Mettle Deep Mix)
23-Ron Carroll – Nothing But Funk
24-Paul Johnson – Precious Lord (Doo Doo Wap)
25-Cultural Vibe Feat Glenn Sweety G Toby – Afro Jaz
26-Cultural Vibe – Mind Games ( CLUB VOCAL )
27-D-Train – Must Be the Music
28-Clubland – Hold On (Tighter To Love) (To Die For Mix) 1991
29- Bones Breaks- Dance to the Music
30-Todd Terry – Shadows Dawn
31-Ambassadors of Funk – My Minds Made Up-124
32-Kraze- The Party-122
33-Wonderland Avenue – White Horse (Original mix)
34-Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force – Planet Rock _ Ultimix
35-The Back Room -The Definition Of A Track
36-Marshall Jefferson – House Music Anthem (Dub Your Body Mix)
37-Ultra ft. Roy Ayers – Dangerous Vibes (Nelson’s Nasty Dub
38-The Bongolian – Heya (Soluna Song)
39-Afrika Bambaataa-No Dope Fiends on the Dance Floor
40-Orgone – Sandstorm
41-Paul Humphrey – Cool Aid
42-Marvin Holmes & The Uptights – Oomph
43-Gold Coast – Better Vibes
44-New Order – Blue Monday (wicked)

3:00pm

44-Join Three – Movin On
45-Phoney Fables – Spring is in the air
46-Van Bellen – Let Me Take You
47-Bones Breaks – Shafted Off
48-BonesBreaks- Bacardi 151 Beats-
49-James Brown – Blow Your Head
50-Jimmy Castor – Just Begun
51-Steve Winwood and Traffic – I’m A Man
52-Soul Entertainer-Respect
53-The Wiseguys-Cowboy 78 -
54-Mohawks – Funky Funky

Breakdown FM.. Fear of a House Music Planet

Here’s a nice lil mix we did the other day on All day Play FM.. we dusted off some of the old house joints and had some fun.. Please enjoy.. Click the link below to listen or download the ADP/ Breakdown FM House Music Mix

http://www.alldayplay.fm/episodes/episode-78-fear-a-house-planet

Playlist

01-Donna Summers… MacArthur Park Siute
02-Jamie Principal  Your Love (Frankie Knuckles Presents Director’s Cut)
03-Black Science Orchestra - New Jersey Deep
04-Joe Smooth Promise Land
05-KC Flight-Summer Madness
06-Liz Torres-Can’t Get Enough
07-Hashim-Chateau Vie (Castle Life)
08-Butch Quick – Higher (Club Mix) (
09-House of Venus – Dish And Tell
10-Green Velvet – Preacherman
11-Salsa D (Brian Tappert Edit)
12-Sade-Slave Song
13-Kay Gee’s – Tango Hustle
14-Earth People – Dance (Beats) Classic House
15-Barbara Tucker – I Get Lifted (The Bar Dub)
16-Adonis-No Way Back (Vocal)
17-Ira Levi-Free Your Mind (club mix)
18-Todd Terry – Walk out the Door
19-Eskimos And Egypt – Fall From Grace
20-Jamie Principal-Baby Wants to Ride-
21-Sound Factory – Take Me To The Top (Original Mix)
22-Marshall Jefferson-Revolution (Mike Monday Goodman remix)
23-Planet Soul -Set U Free
24-Global Deejays feat. Rozalla – Everybody’s free-
25-Pace Setters-Push On Jesse Jackson
26-Orbit-The Beat Goes On
27-Jamie Principal-Bad Boys
28-Join Three – Movin On
29-Global Deejays-San Francisco
30-MC Shy D-Shake It (wicked mix)

A Few Thoughts on Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on Healthcare-We Need to Score Again!

As the dust settles around what many considered to be a surprise Supreme Court ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, folks are gonna have to seriously refocus and start thinking outside the box.. If there’s one thing the last few years should’ve made clear,  is corporate tyrants, far right zealots and media lap dog pundits eager to make a name for themselves or score political points vs telling the truth, do not sleep.

Again let me repeat.. Those who are on the so-called ‘losing side‘ of this issue will not be taking this lying down.. They are already hard at work drawing up plans and contingency plans to not only knock healthcare reform permanently off the map, but also trying to see what laws they can put in place that will keep the majority forever hemmed up at the mercy of the Medical Industrial complex.

What was handed down today was a ruling that gave folks a bit of breathing room. Hopefully folks are gonna use that time to catch their breath and come up with bold new visions for tomorrow…

The Supreme Court decided the fate of over 30 million people today in their historic ruling on HCR

Let’s refocus on what has thus far taken place.. Key word REFOCUS.. The Affordable Care Act was big compromise from jump street. Many of the facets including the public option were wiped off the table.  At this point in time we should be pushing to have Universal Healthcare. We should be focusing our attention and efforts that are underway in states like Vermont and here in California to make sure Healthcare is truly universal..

We should refocus and remember what’s been the big obstacle for all of us having access to healthcare in the first place..Can you say INSURANCE COMPANIES.. It doesn’t matter what today’s ruling said. At the end of the day most of us are still gonna have to deal with an insidious insurance industry that has made record profits over the years and will spend endless time and resources finding ways to get out of giving us adequate Healthcare.

If they have to increase their lobbying efforts to win over lawmakers both in Washington or at home, they will do so.. If they need to spend a few dollars buttering up ‘community leaders’ to push their agenda, they will do so.. If they have to bombard the airwaves with commercial touting how dope they are.. they’ll do it.. If they have to run their own candidates they’ll do that as well. Rest assured they’ll be trying to find ways to raise rates like Bruce Bodaken CEO of Anthem Blue Cross did a couple of years ago here in Cali when they jumped them up 30-39%.. That should be a stress we should once and for all eradicate

With each step they take you should be asking yourself, why is this industry so hellbent on having their way versus making sure the flood gates are open so each and every one of us can get healthcare? What’s really going on with these companies should be what were asking? How can we remove them from the equation?, should be our second question.

All of us need to be about the business of refocusing our attention on healthcare Being a Human Right.  I’m gonna repeat that.. Healthcare is a Human Right not a Business. It should not be only for the rich and powerful…Common sense should tell us all that my untreated ailments can become tomorrow’s untreatable disease or plague impacting you whether you have health insurance or not.. There is sadly  a small 1% but vocal and wealthy creed among us who vehemently believe we should be thinning the herd. They believe it’s a good thing if those who are seriously sick, just die off.. Unless their name is God, Allah, Jehovah or Jesus Christ that should not be allowed to happen. Our fight for Healthcare should not end until anyone of us no matter what our station in life can get treated if sick…

And don’t get me wrong.. If there are free market types that have the money to boot and wanna go out and get some high-priced ‘Golden coverage’, I say let ‘em.. Spend your hard-earned money as you see fit.. What gets me, why those same individuals are so determined to cripple and handcuff everyone else in the process. There’s seems to be a mean spirit embraced by some that says its only good if they can have while the rest can’t.. Again our mantra should be Healthcare is a Human Right.. It is not exclusive..

We should be thinking outside the box.. Business as usual has made our healthcare a system one big expensive mess. Treatment is expensive, going to med school is expensive..  How about we push to make medical schools free or seriously inexpensive? No one coming out of medical school should be owing 100-200 thousand dollars thus forcing them to work for a large conglomerate that can pay them a salary and those hefty loans. Wouldn’t it be great if folks who have genuine love and concern for the community and wanna give back via their knowledge and skill set be allowed to do so without a concern about paying back a school loan that’ll take a lifetime?

We should have an array of affordable medical schools with an agreement that folks graduating from there give some of their time and knowledge to the community..In short we should make a societal investment in doctors and medical researchers the same way these huge medical corporations are doing.. Historically some of the best medical care in our communities occurred when we had loving and committed individuals who worked alongside organizations like the Black Panther Party to provide Free Health Clinics. In many countries you find incredible Healthcare coming from institutions like the church where they work alongside doctors.. Let’s make medical school affordable and let’s make sure all of us at an early age start getting good information that will help us take care of ourselves for the long haul vs always being dependent on doctors and a medical industry that is in constant ‘sell’ mode, attempting to make us consummate pill consumers

Speaking of which, lets push to remove these huge profits and competition over patents for medicine and cures. Far too often we are finding ourselves being sold something versus getting educated or treatment that will heal us and make our visits to the doctor infrequent occurrences. Thanks to all this medical marketing, today we now have folks rolling up into doctors offices demanding to have the new pill they just saw being hawked while watching their favorite TV show. Many are insistent on having these pills even if they aren’t sick..

We should be expanding ways that we can all can start taking care of an aging baby boomer population who are our parents and grandparents from the 1960s..No one should have to face the daunting task of paying $2000 and 3000 to send an aging parent to a nursing home.. We should be making sure that substance abuse, mental illness, stress caused by poverty or living in a crime ridden neighborhood are all things we can be treated for readily..

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” -MLK

I could go on and on with suggestions.. This is not a one size fits all scenario.. What I’m basically saying is that today’s Supreme Court ruling gives us all an opportunity to step up our game and become stakeholders in our collective Healthcare.. I’ve been to Washington many a days covering HCR including when they had the Supreme Court hearings. Everyone I spoke to who heard the concerns that people had in terms of it not going far enough, repeatedly said, that what passed two years ago was just the beginning.. They said over time it would get better and more things would be added. If that’s the case all of us should be pushing to be at the table and working to permanently remove any and all debates around whether we should have Healthcare reform. It was a sad state of affairs that we were even in that dreadful space. As Martin Luther King once famously said “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.

Today was not a touch down.. We gained some good yardage.. Somebody missed a block, perhaps it was Justice Roberts who shocked everyone by breaking with his conservative counterparts and issuing the decisive vote to uphold ACA.. In any case the end zone is still before us..When Healthcare is Seen as a Human Right for All, then and only then can we spike the ball and do a celebratory dance.

written by Davey D

We’ll leave you with this song on healthcare that was done by Bay Area rapper Paris. he recorded it during the height of the debates around passing the Affordable Care Act.. What was crazy was some of the footage shown was from a rally here in Danville which is in the Bay Area.. Some guy was chanting F– The Poor. The crowd shown there cheered along..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1R9IKKe0SE

HKR Intv w/ Invincible… Holding it Down in Detroit & Being Part of a Queendom

It’s always a pleasure to chop it up with one of our favorite emcees who hails from the Motorcity, Detroit, Michigan.. Invincible is not only someone who will hurt your feelings on the mic, with her wicked flows and willingness to speak truth to power, but she’ll hurt you on the activism tip..

Invincible is more likely to be found at a youth center or on the block working with youth throughout Detroit, make sense of an increasing repressive world.. Her solution is figure out ways to be self-sufficient. While she and others clearly understand the importance of holding folks in power accountable, she’s also crystal clear that those with means and resources, don’t particularly care about the folks they oppress, hence, folks have got to make sure they find ways to survive, with or without their help..

In our interview Invincible breaks down a lot of the innovative ways folks in her city are problem solving systemic issues. She talks about Michigan’s policy of having emergency corporate managers, appointed by the Governor who usurp the power of elected officials and how folks are making things happen in spite of the limitations. She talks about the response youth in her city had when they got suspended for walking out of school to protest sub par education. They started freedom schools and held classes outside the school.. She talked about the media work and new curriculum folks are embracing as well as the Food Justice Movement which in full steam in Detroit..

Lastly we talked about her music, and true to form, Invincible is on some next level ‘ish , as she’s building a Music Box and redefining how music and art is to be distributed..

Invincible will be in town this Saturday for an annual event called Queendom which will also include local female emcees and deejays like DJ Zita, Aima The Dreamer, Persia and a host of others..

http://vivalahiphop.com/2012/05/13/queendom-fly-ladies-reppin-the-4-elements-of-hip-hop/

You can peep our interview w/ Invincible below

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ6qMU7JbBY

In the Wake of Recent Fed Raids in Oakland-There’s Lots to Reflect About this 4-20

Here in Northern Cali when the date 4:20 rolls around (no pun intended), many stick their chest out with pride and they celebrate. For one, Northern Cali is supposed to be home to some of the best strains of weed (cannabis ) on the planet.. I can’t personally attest to this, because I’ve never smoked in my life, but judging from the enthusiasm and constant visits on and off tour by artists from other parts of the country, I have no doubt about the assertions.

second, In recent years 4:20 has taken on heightened importance because California has been a state leading the way to legalizing weed. Here in Oakland, this has been ground zero. It’s home to numerous cannabis clubs which work in partnership with the city. There’s a world-renowned University called Oaksterdam where folks learn how to grow and cultivate…

The conversation in Northern Cali, Oakland in particular has long moved from, how high one can get, to serious discussions about the economy, agriculture and agribusiness, the failed war on drugs, the prison industrial complex, the healthcare system and healthcare practices and how the legalization of weed can impact these aforementioned areas. The conversation has turned away from ‘where to buy’ and ‘where to sell’ to studying farming, irrigation and growing techniques and the pros and cons of creating new strains of the cannabis plant. In short weed was not just some of seedy, back alley ‘gateway’ drug as some would like to suggest, instead its the center piece for a burgeoning industry and very serious culture movement attached to it..

During the recent economic downturn, California was hit hard and everyone from local mayors to our governors began to look at marijuana as a major cash crop that could uplift this economy on a variety of levels. From tourism to consumption, the taxes generated by marijuana have been impressive and that’s only with the engines toward legalization going a quarter of its speed. In Oakland we saw partnerships form with the city and local cannabis clubs. We even saw unions emerge around this as well. For example, people working at Oaksterdam were part of a union…

In recent months Oakland has been growing.. There’s new energy in the city, a renaissance of sorts. Lots of new people, new restaurants, a new spirit that landed the city as one of the top 5 destination places in the world according to the NY Times. Oaksterdam, not just the university but the legions of shops near and around Oakland’s new thriving uptown district was no doubt a key attraction as well. With all this in mind, one can imagine the shock and extreme anger and disappointment when DEA and US Marshalls showed up un announced on April 3 2012 to shut down Oaksterdam..

The initial word was the Feds were just targeting just Oaksterdam and the clubs it owned, but no one was buying that.. It sent shock waves throughout the Bay and the state and for the most part seemed like a cheap dog and pony show from the Obama administration to score some political points in other parts of the country where weed is seen as some sort of Holy evil. Many figured Obama could afford to make high-profile moves on California clubs and not lose too much sleep because the state is solidly blue and will remain so come the 2012 election.

His recent trip to Columbia where he re-emphasized that he doesn’t think legalization is the way to go while many heads of state in South America including Mexico think otherwise, hasn’t been encouraging. If the Obama administration continues the crackdowns on medical marijuana spots, many fear its a signal that he’s set to revamped the War on Drugs. Casual users will have to return to the streets and purchase product, there will now be fights and skirmishes to control lucrative drug turf and law enforcement is set to gear up and have payday by establishing task forces, hiring additional manpower and expanding prisons..In short there seems to be some serious economic incentives at play to keep weed ‘illegal’. Lots of big money players in the pipeline.

If weed does somehow finally go legal, there’s concern that this current setback is designed to allow time for those giant corps in agri-business sectors to reposition themselves to be the main beneficiaries. I can see a company like Monsanto suddenly becoming a major player who then turns around stifle growth by patenting weed seeds?

There’s a lot to think about this 4:20. Like I said earlier,  it used to mean big celebration, but nowadays all eyes are peeled looking out for the feds, their next raid and all the political, social and economic agenda they have in store.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a80DrhDPIKU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUR6srN8oHI

Here’s an interview we did with B-Real from Cypress Hill not too long ago where he talks about the importance of 4:20

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHINI4Sa6s0

The Occupy Movement: Decolonize Your Mind

The Occupy Movement is growing by leaps and bounds.. We wanna remind everyone the importance of Decolonizing your mind… Enjoy these excerpts from various demonstrations throughout the Bay Area including Occupy Oakland and Occupy Cal…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avD_pLH2z64

HKR: Jean Grae Speaks Her Mind to Davey D ….Cake or Death

One of my favorite emcees is the one and only Jean Grae. Witty, smart and deftly skilled on the mic, she’s one of the few folks in Hip Hop I hadn’t interviewed even though we’ve run into each other on a number of occasions. Finally when she touched down in Oakland to a do a show at the New Parrish, last summer (2011)  we got a chance to chop it up. During our interview we covered a variety of topics ranging from how she got her name to the highlights of her career to her roots in South Africa to her process for writing songs and executing her artistic vision…We also talked about the upcoming release of her album ‘Cake or Death’ In short we did Jean Grae 101…

Also we gotta give Jean props for doing a great show and being gracious after I spilled the drink she brought me all over her…

Click the link below to peep the Hard Knock Radio Interview w/ Jean Grae

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9gE4ybCp_c

You can also peep this interview on youtube… Davey D Interviews Jean Grae

 

Why is the Black Press (NNPA) selling out to AT&T & Consolidation?

The other day I spoke about how the current political climate is no longer about Dems vs Repubs. Instead its really about the rich and Wanna be Rich vs the working class and poor. I deliberately use the word ‘wanna be rich‘ because that’s the weak link and where most of the damage is done.

Corporate heads are small in number less than (10%) yet control anywhere from 80-90% of the wealth. The average CEO in the US makes 319-475 for every dollar earned by his/her workforce. In places like Japan, home to the world’s second largest economy the ratio is 11-1. In Germany its 12-1. You can peep those figures HERE.

What these CEOs have done is invested in large media companies and PR firms where they do two things, lay out attack after attack on the American workforce, in particular unions. The line has been to blame workers receiving pensions and health benefits for the collapse of the economy vs uber rich CEOs outsourcing their jobs to impoverished countries and hiding their money in offshore tax shelters.

These CEOs then entice charismatic and highly visible figures or organizations receiving funding aka ‘Wannabe Rich’ who wish to court favor to be the average John Doe ‘talking head‘ for their anti-worker/ pro corporate policies. They help create fictional boogey men against the working poor which is then propagandized all over the airwaves. We seen this happen over the issue of Net Neutrality, the bashing of unions and now with the proposed merger of telcom giant AT&T and T-Mobile.

In the AT&T deal we have the Black press (NNPA) of all people along with the National Urban League supporting the consolidation of a major industry most of us have to use in some form or fashion.. I find it ironic that a group of media folks who have seen first hand the sickening impact consolidation has both on the media industry and our community at large would team up and support a major consolidator.

Thank God our friends at the Black Agenda Report go in on these corporate lackeys and breakdown the lunacy of them supporting consolidation..We salute BAR for a job well done. Thanks for holding the line and not selling out the community for three pieces of silver.

-Davey D-

What’s the mission of the black press? To hear Walter Smith, CEO of the NY Beacon and NNPA Budget Chairman, it’s to rep their advertisers, and increase their “corporate visibility.” What happened to informing the pubic, to defending the interests of black communities, to telling the truth without fear or favor? Last week we denounced NNPA’s craven endorsement of AT&T’s buyout of T-Mobile, which will concentrate three-quarters of the US cell phone market in the hands of two massive and massively predatory corporations. They answered.

NNPA Defends Endorsement of Predatory AT&T -T-Mobile Merger. And We Answer

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Bruce Dixon

Last week I excoriated the NNPA, the National Newspaper Publishers Association for its instantaneous and craven endorsement of AT&T’s proposal to buy out T-Mobile. The proposed merger would give two companies, AT&T and Verizon, three quarters of the U.S. cell phone market. I listed nine reasons why the Justice Department and FCC and Congress should reject the merger, and especially why black and brown civic and leadership organizations ought to oppose it.

Since then, the National Urban League, the NAACP, both heavily dependent on AT&T and Verizon for charitable donations, rushed to endorse the merger. And Walter Smith, CEO of the New York Beacon and NNPA Budget Chairman took the time to write and take issue with us. We thank him for his letter, which you can find here, and take this opportunity to answer it.

Dear Mr. Smith,

Walter Smith NNPA

Thank you for taking the time to write us here at Black Agenda Report. In my article last week I listed nine reasons why the AT&T merger was bad economics, bad public policy and especially disastrous for black and poor communities. Regrettably your response addressed none of those points.

You began by preaching that “…Mergers, acquisitions, re-organizations, etc is the corporate building blocks of the US economy.…” That’s nonsense.

Any reputable economist, and by that I mean any economist who predicted the crash and bailout of 2008 will tell you that there is a real economy in which things are built and services rendered, and there is a parasitic “economy” in which rents and interest payments are extracted, corporate welfare is handed out, and public assets are privatized. Corporate mergers are obviously parasitic. As I pointed out last week, corporate mergers produce no new assets, they eliminate jobs and raise prices. They are anti-competitive, bad for customer service and a disincentive to innovation.

This is not a small thing. It’s such a fundamental misstatement of economic fact that it calls into question your willingness and/or your ability to tell the truth to your readers. And make no mistake, Mr. Smith, the will and the ability of the black press to tell the truth without fear or favor is what this is all about.

Your letter continued to say

NNPA has a long standing relationship with AT&T and it has become more significant with the relationship our present Chairman has with the hierarchy of the corporation…

The Black Press of America, represented by NNPA is not a WATCHDOG, it is a communicator. We report the news and record black history. Publishers editorialize about issues that affect the communities they serve.

“NNPA has a partnership with AT&T that has yielded benefits for the black community in ways you cannot see nor imagine. Black newspaper publishers hire local community photographers, writers, distributors, office personnel,and local printers. Our revenue for these jobs comes from our advertising revenues. Where does much of these revenues come from? You guessed it, AT&T and Verizon.”

Sadly, I could not have said it better. Your vision of the black press is that of “communicator” on behalf of those corporations who give you advertising revenue, which you use to pay a handful of contractors and staff.

This is a profoundly different mission for the black press, for journalism in general, than the framers of the Constitution had in mind. Journalism was the only industry that got its own constitutional amendment precisely because democracy depended on journalists faithfully and fearlessly informing the public.

Frederick Douglass

You have radically departed also from the mission of the black press of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Frederick Douglass preached and organized tirelessly, first against slavery, then for Reconstruction, and finally against lynching and Jim Crow. Ida B. Wells carried this legacy on into the twentieth century. The mission of the black press in those days was first to allow us to speak with and to hear our own voices, not those our masters appointed to speak for or to us, and secondly to defend black interests by fearlessly exposing injustice of all kinds. The black press of those days was truly a weapon of mass discussion. But no longer, as your letter points out:

No the Black Press ain’t what it used to be. Its a new day for the Black Press under New leadership with an experienced entrepreneur who has the business acumen to negotiate a financial partnership with corporate America and does not sell out one Black person in doing so.

If you want to fight the merger, by all means do so. However the black press does not need your input nor approval on the position we take be it political or financial. The Black Press is still operating under the same creed as it did in 1827, “We wish to plead our own cause, Too long have others spoken for us.

Your position on the AT&T merger is indeed selling out millions of black people. Pretty much everybody who pays a cell phone bill will pay a higher one thanks to this merger. Thousands of jobs, many held by black people, will disappear. The tens of billions AT&T might have spent extending wireless and broadband service to poor, black, brown and rural communities will go instead to buy out its competition.

If your job, Brother Smith, is to report the news, then you should report news, not be the sock puppet for your advertisers. If your mission is to “record black history,” you get a choice there too. You can write that history from the viewpoint of ordinary black families, or you can write it from the viewpoint of your corporate advertisers and donors.

The New York Beacon, where you are CEO is about as good as black newspapers get these days. Most offer far less non-advertising, non-entertainment copy. Many are entirely composed of ads, PR handouts from local governments, corporations and other institutions, wire service copy from Reuters, AP, and sometimes NNPA, and entertainment fluff.

How many NNPA newspapers have bothered to educate the public on the fact that text messaging, because it rides on the otherwise empty communication packets between phones and network servers, costs cell phone providers literally nothing, though they have regularly raised prices on this service? Not a one. How many NNPA newspapers have explained to audiences that the artificial broadband scarcities of the digital divide are a basic and permanent feature of telecom company business models from Comcast to Verizon to AT&T, and even reaching back into era of analog telephone service?

One of the reasons that Americans, including black ones, are the best entertained and least informed people on earth is your abandonment of the core mission of journalism, lack of interest in an informed public, the very reason for the existence of journalism.

Your letter concludes thusly:

As a result of Chairman Bakewell’s tenure with NNPA, we have increased our visibility in corporate America, have increased revenues to the association, have increased advertising revenues to our member publishers, have regained credibility with the readership, and have increased membership in the organization. Have you done as much for Black Agenda Report?”

Evidently Mr. Smith, you have confused your own business model with the public good of our black communities.

The telecom industry spreads a lot of charitable contributions and advertising revenue around. It rains cash upon utilizes legacy African Americans like the NAACP, the Urban League and your NNPA, and funds wholly astroturf outfits like ADE, the Alliance for Digital Equality. It uses you, and them, to hurl false and spurious accusations of white racism against national media reform organizations like Free Press who advocate network neutrality and the extension of broadband to black, brown and poor communities.

Black Agenda Report is doing what you should be doing, Mr. Smith. We are commited to educating the public on the facts, not increasing our corporate visibility and raking in the maximum ad revenue. We are committed to gathering 50,000 signatures of black people, and all people on a petition to stop this ill-advised merger, and presenting that petition to the FCC, to the Congressional Black Caucus, to the National Conference of Black State Legislators, to the White House and the Justice Department later this year demanding that this predatory, anti-competitive merger be halted.

We invite all who read this to help prove you wrong by signing the petition themselves, and forwarding it to as many of your friends, neighbors, co-workers and associates as possible. You may also want to forward this article from last week, which outlines nine reasons why the merger is a very bad idea.

Respectfully,

As I said last week, Ida B. Wells, the champion of the black press in the early 20th century, is rolling in her grave. If she were alive today we both know what side she’d be on.

Respectfully,

Bruce A. Dixon

managing editor, Black Agenda Report

bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com