Ice T Set to Help Launch a New Reality TV Show Called ‘Life After Prison’

IceTcop-225Rapper turned actor Ice T is continuing to make moves from actor to producer/ executive producer for film projects.  Last year his film Art of Rap received rave reviews and helped lay ground work for Ice T to take on other projects.

This time around he’s embarking on doing a reality show with a social justice tip called ‘Life After Prison‘. Ice T explains that a good friend of his, a former gang member and ex-felon  named John Boy Watts approached him about doing a TV show that focuses on helping those who come out of prison get back on their feet and stay out of jail.

John Boy who is the star of the show is shown presiding over 6 ex-felons who live in a house where their efforts to stick to the straight and narrow are chronicled. John Boy is shown dispensing wisdom and guidance. Ice T agreed to be one of the executive producers noting thatprison impacts everyone directly and indirectly and that we should not ignore the plight of those locked up. He said everyone deserves a second chance..

From the trailer it looks like a Big Brother Reality type show which is likely to raise eyebrows. After all, the jury is still out as to just how effective these types of shows can be in addressing complex issues. The fear is they tend to oversimplify complex and systemic issues and boil it down to individual exploits.

Currently there is a lot of talk about the prison industry, its short comings and outright mistreatment of inmates. This has been heightened by scholars like Michele Alexander and book the New Jim Crow and most recently Attorney General Eric Holder who is pushing to lessen mandatory minimum sentences.

There are also array of campaigns ranging from changing the sentencing guidelines and profit motive around mass incarceration and private prisons to  the California prison hunger strike which has just entered its 7th week. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these pressing issues are addressed within the scope of this new TV show. If not,  hopefully they address the fact that there severe shortage of resources to help returning inmates to get back on their feet and stay out of jail.

In any case Prison Reform is a major issue and hopefully this Reality TV show doesn’t obscure the reality of folks on the ground fighting to change things. With the United States leading the world in the number of people incarcerated, our human rights record for the treatment of prisoners under fire and more than half our prisoners on lock down for non violent offenses, we can’t afford to have issues around prison over simplified to the point we lose focus even as this show successfully shows folks a path to success.

The early buzz on Life After Prison is that its good and surely needed.

Below is a trailer to the upcoming show..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV3kslv-aHM

 

Hiero’s ‘Gun Fever’ Adds to Hip Hop’s Long Debate on Gun Control

Hiero Says No to GunsWas peeping this recent video from Hiero directed by Casual who recently did a song and video addressing gun violence in their native Oakland..The song added to the nationwide highly controversial debate about gun control.

“We are not promoting guns or violence,” explains Tajai (Hieroglyphics / Souls Of Mischief), “but simply expressing our thoughts on the issue and encouraging further dialogue.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3WOy4MTc2I

Adding to the conversation is Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion who teamed up with Drake and his daughter Cori B to give their take on gun violence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqo9gPxT6A8

In watching those two video,  I got to thinking about how divided folks within Hip Hop have been on this topic over the years. While its probably safe to say, when asked very few would advocate violence, but there have been quite a few artists ranging from  Ice T to Spice 1 who have said absolutely ‘No’ to retiring their guns..While rap peers like Pharaoh Monch and Nas have given voice to the harms of hot led flying through our community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GwIbyp4xBU

Of course we had last year’s famous twitter debate between NRA member Killer Mike and Boston emcee Akrobatik. This is the fullexchange which was captured by the good folks over at The Rap Up.

Killer Mike debate

Killer Mike debate pt 2.

Killer Mike Debate pt3

Killer Mike debate pt4

Killer Mike debate pt5

That debate reminds of the ones that jumped off back in the days when Ice Cube’s old group, Da Lench Mob, made it clear that the AK-47 was essential for us to get our freedom… How many of y’all remember this video and these searing lyrics?

An AK talks but bullshit runs
I wish I had time to count all my guns
‘Cause a nigga is runnin’ out of funds
But H.Rap says “Freedom got a strap!”
[I wish I was in dixie Ak Ak
Then shit wouldn't have been bad in the sixties
No way No way]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9YVOzwXyfA

We also have long time gun enthusiast Bay Area rapper E-A-Ski who came on my radio show and got into a heated debate with gun control folks..He like Killer Mike who came on the scene years after, has long argued against banning guns. He did this popular song back in the days called ‘Blast if I Have To

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11pJxHbo1FA

 

 

Art of Rap Opens this Weekend… Reclaim Your Humanity & Go See It..

This weekend Something from Nothing The Art of Rap opens in theaters this weekend and as I noted in my earlier review it is absolutely deserving of an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. It’s compelling, witty and much-needed in terms of refocusing us on what Hip Hop and rap in particular is really about. Ice T who made the film really did his thing..

Earlier this week Chuck D of Public Enemy who is featured in this documentary alerted us to an excellent article On Blackness, Humanity and the Art of Rap that his wife Dr Gaye Theresa Johnson had penned for the Huffington Post. She absolutely nails it and I urge everyone to read it.. She kicks things off:

Blackness — in style and sensibility — has been one of the most admired, most reviled, most circulated, and least credited set of characteristics in the history of commodification. And there can be no better example of this than hip hop. When rap music first gained mainstream traction in the late seventies, its artists were dismissed and disrespected by politicians, pundits, and the music business itself. But by the late eighties, the same corporate bodies who had previously shunned it were making millions of dollars selling it. By 1990, label executives had created a “gangsta formula,” a business hook that repackaged rap’s depictions of black urban realities into a titillating buffet of hypermasculinity and glorified violence, relegating women artists to the margins and creating a new outlet of expression for what became its largest consumer demographic: young white men.

She also notes…

The Art of Rap writes humanity back into rap music in a moment when black people are more popular than ever in mainstream society, but in some incredibly damaging ways. We’ve mistaken the proliferation of black images in the media for the notion that there is some kind of equality of positive representation of black humanity.

peep the entire article HERE

Dr Gaye Theresa Johnson connects Blackness & Humanity to the Art of Rap

In reading Dr Gaye’s article and reflecting on the film, it wasn’t lost on me how the this weekend’s box office  opening was downplayed as we were met with lots of noise about the opening of the movie Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise, Jay-Z opening his new 40/ 40 Club in the new Barclay Center and the ugly fight between singers Chris Brown and Drake. If you live in NYC the police killing of a young black women in Brooklyn who they say was in a stolen car has also dominated the headlines.

Don’t get me wrong, at this point in time, one shouldn’t expect the mainstream media to do right by us. The pedalling of corporate interests including sensationalized stories of Black pathology, death and violence, all big money-makers in America, will be highlighted before stories depicting our true selves. There will always be fierce resistance to acknowledging and embracing our humanity.

Ice T holding it down on the Jimmy Fallon Show

With that being said, the way to combat that is to take note and do as Ice T did, reaffirm who we truly our on our own terms and our own dime and do what Hip Hop momentarily forgot to do which is build its own institutions. In talking with Ice T the other day, he said it was important to uplift the culture and give something back. He also noted the importance of constantly hustling and not shying away from the grind. Hence even if this movie is not the main priority for some big wig media power broker, its gonna shine, because we make the moves to make it happen.

To help promote this film we seen Ice leverage his celebrity status to show up on outlets like Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show and Wendy Williams to name a few..

As for the rest of us, change comes when we revolutionize our thinking, readjust our values and take those first steps to shedding the dictates of out of control, consumerist corporate agendas. In other words ‘they’ are gonna stick to their game plan, will we stick to ours?

In supporting this movie we can stick to ‘our’ game plan by passing along the link below which lists the theaters where Art of Rap is showing in your city .http://bit.ly/NDe3XD

You can stick to the game plan by by talking this movie up the way we talk up beefs and petty gossip.  Lastly lwe can stick to our game plan by getting back in the habit of digging and seeking out new music and new artists vs waiting for them to show up via our radio or some other commercial outlet.. It used to be a time corporations chased the streets to try and discover what was new and hip. Today we chase the corporations who in turn sell us repackaged goods.. Let’s flip the script on that.. Enjoy the weekend and the Art of Rap

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h46tzQ7cZV0

If You Luv Hip Hop, Ice T’s New Movie ‘The Art of Rap’ is a Must See

One of the dopest films out or soon to be out at a theater near you is the Something from Nothing the Art of Rap, put together by Ice-T... Yes, there have been a number of documentaries put out over the years that have focused on emceeing, but this one really hits home for a few reasons..

First, the stories are being told by those who do it..This is important, because far too often the nuanced  and subtle perspectives by the practitioners are often left out or overshadowed by everyone else when documentaries are made. We get to really see how folks are thinking and feel where they’re coming from. There’s no middle-man, expert, punditry interpretation.. You walk away really understanding how and why Hip Hop and in particular rap is an American art form given to the world..

The second thing, is we got to hear from many of the pioneers and see them execute their craft without the feeling like they were being rushed off or their interviews cut short to make room for artists or big names who are well-known today in 2012.

Common holds it down in the film ‘Art of Rap’

It was good to hear good solid interviews with pioneering and iconic figures who still have it like Grandmaster Caz, Mele-Mel, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Nas, Chuck D, Q-Tip and Doug E Fresh to name a few.  They were nicely balanced out with folks like Kanye West who got busy in this film, along with artists like  Immortal Technique, Eminem, Bun B and Common to name a few..

On a side note the Grandmaster Caz spit the illest rhyme out of everyone in the entire film..I had to get that in , because a couple of my buddies thought Kanye took the cake. A couple thought Eminem came hard while others felt WC made his presence felt.. That’s the good thing about this film.. we’re all gonna come out debating who repped.. So I’m just gonna keep it real with ya since its my blog.. Grandmaster Caz killed it.. case closed!..

It was good seeing Ice T do the interviews because he pulls things out of his peers that many film makers probably couldn’t.. It was good to see him in the role of journalist, fan and participant as he ripped a few flows to remind cats, he still has flavor. It was good to see the camaraderie and mutual respect and admiration which often led humorous exchanges..

The only shortcomings to this movie is it should’ve been longer.. I think 4 or 5 hours would’ve been great.. LOL Seriously Ice will have to make additional parts to this, because as dope as this flick is, there are many angles that weren’t fully covered.. There’s no way to fit everyone and everything into a film like that..especially since Ice allows folks to talk and show off their skillz.. He wasn’t cutting and editing just to fit everyone in..

Other critiques?? Pick a city, any city around the country, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Oakland, Cleveland, Boston.. Pick a city and I guarantee at every showing, there will be someone pointing out that the Art of Rap didn’t include their favorite rapper or the person they perceive to be the sharpest spitter from their part of town..There’s gonna be cats saying there wasn’t enough midwest, not enough South, no Bay Area etc etc.. That’s gonna happen and even with that critique the film is still dope..It might drop down to a 9.5 as opposed to a 10..

There will be folks from different generations who feel like more could’ve been added. Yes there will be a few who say the film should’ve included more pioneers, more cats from the 80s, more cats from the 90s and millennium cats. Some will want more underground, others will want it to be more mainstream.. That’s gonna happen… and even with that, as I noted earlier still this is a Must See film

It was good to see Salt in the Art of Rap

Personally I think Ice could’ve added a few more sistas in the mix.. It was good to see Salt, It was great to see Lyte.. I wanted to see Yo Yo, Medusa, Invincible and Jean Grae.. and while they weren’t in the film, it’s still dope.

The good news is Ice filmed hours upon hours of material and I’m almost certain we’ll see additional parts where our personal favorites are included.. As I said this is not a forced documentary. It flowed really well and had a very authentic feel and is an important, essential addition in the Story of Hip Hop..

Major Props to Ice T.. I fully expect this documentary to be nominated for an Oscar.. It’s that damn good.

-Davey D-

Below is the official video for the Art of Rap.. Smooth tha Hustla brings heat..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rykWQSWrWL0

 

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day Hip Hop Style..This is How We Do!

When I wanna celebrate St Patrick’s Day I only do it with our Favorite Irish Hip Hop group House of Pain… How many of y’all remember these two classics? And just to keep things gulley i decided to toss in some classic footage from that St Patrick’s Day classic starring Ice T called Leprechauns in the Hood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-6HpC0Hssk

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX0qvCEcTWw

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Patrolmen Benevolent Association Prez Lashes Out At Ice-T; Rapper Replies To Arrest w/ a Video

With the police holding rallies for killer cops Johannes Mehserle, others suing the estate of Sean Bell and now police pushing to pass laws making it a felony to video tape them, it’ll be interesting to see how far they push things with Ice T…Will they let it be or try to flex and make the high profile rapper/actor an example via a boycott or something like that..In anycase I’d rather have Ice T beefing with the police over a perceived wrong rather than Soulja Boy  We’ll keep you posted..

-Davey D-

 

 (AllHipHop News) The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association lashed out at rapper/actor Ice-T, after the rapper was arrested near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, for allegedly driving with a suspended license. 

Ice-T, who plays detective Fin Tutuola on Law & Order: SVU, voiced his displeasure with the arrest on Twitter. 

The rapper posted the arresting officers name and badge number, before labeling him a “punk b**ch rookie cop.” 

“[Ice-T] may play a police officer on TV, but his disdain for law enforcement is well-documented,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said. “Real police officers enforce real laws that exist to keep everyone safe, even a disrespectful, former rap performer-turned-actor, whether he likes it or not.” 

Ice-T famously beefed with police officers nation wide after his rock band “Body Count” released the controversial song “Cop Killer.” 

“I’ve got absolutely NO problems with cops in general,” Ice-T tweeted today. “Just some people are a**holes. They don’t have to be cops. A suska [sic] is a sucka.” 

Ice-T is attempting to turn the whole fiasco into a positive learning experience. 

“The whole s**t was a joke. But it showed me how eager some people are to see me in handcuffs,” Ice-T tweeted. “Good wake up call 4 me.” 

via AllHipHop.com Daily News

Below is Ice T on video on U-Stream explaining his arrest

http://www.key103.co.uk/Article.asp?id=1891590&spid=25281

Click HERE to See video

Here’s a link to the full hour long video http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8518499

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Breakdown FM w/ Davey D-All Day Play #8: There Goes the Neighborhood

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As we kick off our 3 day weekend  and with so many people snowed in, we decided to put some funk in your trunk with this week’s show.. We took it back to the old school and came with some vintage joints that’ll have you really appreciating this thing we call Hip Hop…Highlights include the Public Enemy. When you listen beyond their most well known hits you realize Chuck D and company have a pretty deep catalogue of songs.. Almost all of them address some sort of issue.. I think they are underestimated..

Had to dig deeper and pull out something from the late Pumpkin. he was Hip Hop’s first official drummer and of course we had DJ Cheese and his landmark cut ‘King Cut’

We kick things off with a special back to Africa remix I did featuring Malcolm X and music from the late J-Dilla..

Its all butter folks.. please enjoy

http://www.alldayplay.fm/episodes/breakdown-fm-w-davey-d-there-goes-the-neighborhood

Breakdown FM w/ Davey D on All day Play#8

There Goes the Neighborhood

01-J-Dilla ‘J-Dilla Meets Malcolm X’-(DaveyD remix)

02-Dr Dre w/ Ice Cube ‘Natural Born Killa’

03-Public Enemy ‘Assault Mix’

04-Public Enemy ‘House of Rising Son’

05-Public Enemy ‘How to Kill a Radio Consultant’

06-DJ Punisher ‘The Cutting Edge’

07-DJ Pumpkin ‘King of the Beat’

08-DJ Cheese ‘King Cut’

09-Bobby Jimmy ‘We Like Ugly Women’

10-Digital Underground ‘DooWhatchalike’

11-MC Lyte ‘10% Diss’

12-Lost Boyz ‘Music Makes me High’

13-Ice Cube ‘The Mack’

14-Outkast ‘Players Ball’

15-Ice T ‘Colors’

16-‘Dr Dre w/ Snoop Dogg ‘Next Episode’

17-Marley Marl w/ MC Shan ‘The Bridge’

18-Ice T  ‘6 In the Morning’

19-Eric & Rakim ‘ The Ghetto’

20-Conscious Daughters ‘Something to Ride To’  ‘(Davey D Screwball remix)’

21-Snoop Dogg ‘Gin & Juice’

22-Mystical ‘Shake Your Ass’

23-Black Sheep ‘The Choice Is Yours’

24-Grandmaster Flash ‘Girls Like the Way he Spins’

25-Donald D ‘FBI’

26-Whodini ‘Friends’

27-Dogg Pound ‘Lets Play House’

28-Kool Moe Dee ‘Go see the Doctor’

29-The Doc ‘ It’s Funky’

30- MC Lyte ‘Cappucino’

31-Craig Mack ‘Get Down’

32-Heavy D ‘Black Coffee’

33-Mobb Deep ‘Shining’

34-Gang Starr ‘Words I Manifest’

35-KRS-One ‘Outta Here’

36-Kool G Rap ‘Road to the Riches’

37-Brand Nubians ‘To the Right’

38-Schooly D ‘Megamix’

39-Ice Cube ‘Megamix’

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BlackHistoryFacts: Every Place Has a Story to Tell-Early LA Hip Hop

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Rich Cason & Formula V

When it comes to Hip Hop every city has its own pioneers and their own unique special history.. Some of it was influenced by what was going on in New York, a lot of it was homegrown and came to light once things started to bubble up from NY in the early 80s.. In other words, in places like LA and the Bay Area there was already a thriving street dance scene where people were tutting, popping and roboting which had nothing to do with New York..  Funk and later Uptempo dance records  were the gems that galvanized people..

Below are some of the first records I recall hearing out of LA back in the early days of LA rap, which I should add was different from the Bay which has its own unique history.. What I liked about LA’s history was many of the artists started off as DJs..  People like Arabian Prince, DJ Unknown, Egyptian Lover, Chris The Glove Taylor, Tony G, Joe Cooley , Julio G, Uncle Jamms Army etc..

In the video below you see Chris the Glove who produced the cut Wreckless and featured Ice T is shown in this 1983 video along with Egyptian Lover demonstrating deejaying..

A lot of the music in LA’s early Hip Hop days was classified as electrofunk and is often associated with the sound Afrika Bambaataa established with his song Planet Rock. However, when speaking with the eraly DJs from LA, they say they were already into that sound way before hearing Planet Rock. Egyptian Lover explained that he was influenced by early Prince and Kraftwerk.. and that he had been deejaying in a crew since the mid 70s.. Folks in LA will recall how Egypt who was part of Uncle Jamms Army used to do huge parties at the LA Coliseum where they would work 4 turn tables at a time which was pretty major back at that time..

Here’s an interview we did with Egypt where he breaks all this down

http://odeo.com/episodes/25600751-An-Interview-w-West-Coast-Pioneer-Egyptian-Lover

Uncle Jamms Army  ‘Naughty Boy’

Other pioneering figures  had already been playing in bands and were producers.. Rich Cason is a one such pioneer. You can’t talk about LA Hip Hop without proppin him up.. He’s a key foundation… The first records I heard from LA that I associated with Hip Hop was Killer Groove by Formula V, Gigiolo Rapp and Bad Times by Captain Rapp were all produced by Cason. His legacy goes way back to the  60s. In fact his group Formula V had been putting out records since 1973.

Killer Groove by Formula V w/ producer Rich Cason

Captain Rapp Bad Times..

Captain Rapp Gigolo Rapp

Arabian Prince

Arabian Prince who was an original member of NWA is another pioneering figure in LA Hip Hop who was deejaying in a crew since the 70s.  He started out as a DJ and later went on to produce. He’s unique in the sense that he was a pioneering figure in Hip Hop’s electro-funk movement as well as pioneering figure in Hip Hop’s gangsta rap movement. A quick look at his track record will show you that he produced landmark tracks for everyone ranging from JJ Fad to Bobby Jimmy and the Critters as well as NWA.  Here’s an interview he did with him. http://odeo.com/episodes/25600777-Interview-w-Original-NWA-Arabian-Prince

Tons of things have been written about the World Class Wrecking Crew which was home to Dr Dre… They had a bunch of hit songs and Dre helped elevate the deejay game before he went on to start producing..

Wrecking Crew w/ Dr Dre Surgery

 Here are some other early cuts I recall from back in the days..Now please keep in mind this is just a taste of a city that is steeped with stories.. No, we haven’t touched on the dance scene and influence. We haven’t talked about KDAY and the Mixmasters which go back to ’83 and 84.. We haven’t touched on the Good Life or any of that..  This is just a sample.. A great place to go to get some good info on early west coast is my folks from germany who run www.westcoastpioneers.com

LA Dream Team ‘Rockberry’

Ice T 6 in the Morning..

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3 Classic Songs from the early days of LA Hip Hop

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3 Classic Songs from the early days of LA Hip Hop

This was a classic meeting of the Hip Hop minds so to speak as Afrika Islamwho had recently moved to Los Angeles teamed up with Ice T and showed that Hip Hop was beyond the confines of New York… They formed a group called the Zulu Kings which included Mele-Mel who now adorned the title Grandmaster since he and Flash were no longer cool and  Bronx Style Bob. They did a song called ‘The Beach’ which celebrated the lifestyle of LA. I remember first hearing this on my way home from San Francisco on KDAY 1580 out of LA. Back in the days the nation’s only 24/7 rap station had an AM signal which at night would bounced 400 miles up the coast-from LA to the Bay. It was one of the first times I had heard a collab with east and west coast artists.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JWj1D0H8rs

Below is another classic cut that help put early LA Hip Hop into a larger spotlight. Its the classic joint from Ice T called 6 in the Morning that I first heard back in ’85-’86  Back in those days LA was ruled by police Chief Darryl Gateswho pretty much let of LAPD do what they want which was crack heads and be the most abusive force in the country. I think Ice captured the moment..He brought to light life on the ghetto streets of LA which up to that time was only slightly glimpsed through TV cop dramas like Starsky and Hutch. Many like to credit this song with setting off the ‘Gangsta rap genre.

The one thing that was a bit bothersome and it only became so as I got older and bit more educated was Ice describing how he and his boys  they beat some woman down. It wasn’t something I paid close attention to back in the days.. But its pretty jarring now. Hopefully all of us have grown to not see that as a cool thing even if its in a dope song..

PS please forgive this wack swagbucks ideo.. apparently Warner brothers owns the copyright and won’t let it show on Youtube.. Maybe one day these record companies will learn..

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd68e0cI6eA

Where Ice T gave us a pretty indepth description of of LAPD, Toddy Tee dug deeper with a song that actually made national news. It was called Batter Ram and it reffrenced the reinforced army tank that LAPD had purchased to knock over crack houses.  Than LA police chief Darryl Gates said it was needed, many thought the tank was not only over the top, but also in violation of people’s civil rights. There were a couple of occassions where the tank was used on the wrong houses..  This is arguably one of the first ‘political/social commentary songs  coming out of LA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm1Li2Wbqo4

Return to Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner

Ice T is a pioneering figure in LA Hip Hop who is credited with setting off the gangsta rap genre and creating a bridge between the two coasts.

Ice T is a pioneering figure in LA Hip Hop who is credited with setting off the gangsta rap genre and creating a bridge between the two coasts.

Is Hip Hop’s Audience Really 80% White?

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Is Hip Hop’s Audience Really 80% White?

By Davey D

original article-July 15, 2006

daveyd-raider2In recent days a debate has ensued on my website daveyd.com, around one of Hip Hop’s biggest myths. It started in 1991 when Newsweek Magazine did a cover story on Gangsta Rap and in their article they put out an un-researched statistic that said 80% of Hip Hop’s audience is white and that its reflected in record sales. That stat has been bantered about ever since as an undisputable stone cold fact.

Adding to this myth was a conversation that took place at the Gavin Convention in San Francisco around the same time when Ice T during a panel discussion stated that anything above his average 750 thousand record sales was attributed to white kids.

But is this really true? Granted if one goes to a Mos Def show or even a Wu-Tang concert you will see a majority white audience in many cities, but does that translate to that 80% white audience? How does an all white Wu-Tang show in Northern Cali compare to a sold out predominantly Black T.I. or Yung Joc show in Atlanta or in Oakland? How does that compare to a sold out predominantly Latino Psycho Realm or Sick Symphony show in East LA?

Back in 91 when this 80% first surfaced, there was no study or methodology that that kept track of race when it came to album sales. About the closest one could come was by estimating based upon record stores in a particular area, but that would yield far from accurate results. To start in many areas, folks from different ethnic backgrounds would frequent stores that were in sections of a city dominated by one race. For example, if you came to Berkeley in Northern Cali,  you found three main record stores up near the UC campus in an area that was statistically majority white. Folks from all over including predominantly Black South Berkeley and majority Black Oakland shopped at those stores. How were statistics based on purchases by race kept?

The truth of the matter is that this 80% white Hip Hop fan myth has long been a nice marketing tool used by media corporations to justify ad revenues for Top 40 radio stations. Here’s a little background on this.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, many rap artists complained how the urban (Black) radio stations did not play rap except on the weekends and even then it was only in the mix late at night. Chuck D highlighted this concern in his song ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’. He goes into further detail about this lack of support by Black urban programmers in a song called ‘How to Kill a Radio Consultant’.

According to Black radio programmers they avoided playing rap, because it was affecting their advertising. In spite of Hip Hop’s cross over success with groups like Run DMC and the ‘positive, vibe that existed within rap at that time-(it was the Golden Era), many companies associated Hip Hop with violence done by Black people. Hence a Black radio station playing Hip Hop was likely to have difficult time getting money.

The Showdown Between Urban & Top 40 Radio Over Hip Hop

Around this time several prominent Top 40 radio stations were starting to aggressively play Hip Hop. Most notably was KMEL in San Francisco which became very successful and quickly moved into the number one spot over its urban competition KSOL which had been number one for years.

This sparked a lot of controversy and resulted in a big face off in 1992 at the Gavin Convention in San Francisco between Black urban programmers and white Top 40 stations that were starting to play Hip Hop. The packed panel discussion was hosted by Lee Michaels an African American editor at Gavin who interestingly had laid down the groundwork and started Top 40 giant KMEL which went on to win Best Rap Station in the country 5 years in a row. He posed the question as to weather or not Top 40 stations should be playing Rap or were they exploiting it?

The argument put forth by Black programmers was that they were playing the music but not getting both the ad dollars and promotions benefits from record companies. They talked about how the industry had a dirty secret which two sets of rules and budgets, one for Black urban stations which were small and one for Top 40 stations which in some cases were 3 to 4 times bigger. These budget disparities were also reflected in the Black music departments of and the Crossover and Pop music departments of the record labels

They went on to talk about how major labels would come to town and show support to these urban stations by giving them a bunch of tapes and later CDs for giveaway to the audience while across town these new pop stations playing rap were given huge prizes like tickets and all expense paid flyaways to music awards and album release parties.

Black programmers contended that they were responsible for breaking a lot of the urban music into the market place only to see their cross town Top 40 rivals reap the benefits.

The biggest point of contention was that these Top 40 stations were being allowed to keep their Top40/ CHR classification in popular industry trades like Gavin, Billboard and R&R which kept them in a higher budget class. 

Hence Top 40 stations could walk into an ad agency and even though their playlist was 90% identical to their urban counterparts they could walk away with a higher ad rate even if they were not number one in the marketplace. Plus they wouldn’t have any negative stigma attached to them for playing rap. A white Top 40 station playing rap weighed differently in the minds of ad buyers compared to a Black station playing rap.

The top 40 programmers countered by saying that many of the urban stations were missing the boat by not playing rap. I remember it being said that the urban stations were not staying close to the streets and paying attention to what was going on with their own kids who no longer wanted to hear slow jamz and sappy R&B songs.

They also insisted that they keep their Top 40 classification. What they emphasized was that Hip Hop was the new Top 40 and that was what was being reflected in the playlists was what the mainstream (white audience) now wanted to hear. The compromise to this particular point was the creation of a new classification called Churban which meant Crossover-urban. However it got applied to the Top 40 stations playing rap and not to the urban stations so in many people’s mind they were still seen as Top 40 crossover entities

They also pointed out that like their urban counterparts their sales departments had a difficult time convincing ad buyers to purchase time on a station playing rap. One of the Top 40 programmers pointed out that this was a competitive field no matter how you sliced it and that it was up to the urban programmers not only to put together a strong programming team, but to also have a strong sales team as well that could successful convince skeptical advertiser to purchase air time.

What wasn’t stated and this is where this 80% myth comes in, is the fact that the Top 40 stations had this Newsweek quote along with their CHR status that they could present to ad buyers. Essentially they were able to say, ‘yes we’re playing Public Enemy, NWA and 2 Live Crew’ which we (KMEL) was doing at that time, ‘but this is what the mainstream (white audience wants). Look at this Newsweek article. It’s proof positive that 80% of the people who like this aggressive music are the main ones purchasing it. I recall specifically seeing sales kits with that page and quote highlighted.

The bottom line whether we like it or not is that many advertisers have a hierarchy of who they want as consumers. It may be as follows depending on the product; White males between 18-34, White males 25-54, White women 25-34. Women of color 25-34, white teens etc. Last on the list is often time Black males. The pervasive belief is that white males have the most disposable income and can afford to purchase expensive appliances, cars and computers.

Women are desirable because they not only have income of their own, but usually influence the purchasing in households if they are married.

Black men, especially young males are seen in many instances as unwelcome. We all got a glimpse of this several weeks ago with the Cristal debacle where their spokesperson dissed Hip Hop artists for supporting them. He said all the mentions by artists like Jay-Z and P-Diddy was ‘unwelcome attention’. Author and former ad agency executive Hadji Williams in his book ‘Don’t Knock the Hustle’ underscores a lot of what I’ve written and goes into greater depth about all this in his book.

So it’s with all this in mind that we can better understand how and why this 80% myth was sold over and over again.  It was if people’s lives depended on it or in this case, people’s livelihoods depended upon it.

Now the real question was weather or not Top 40 stations KMEL and later stations like Hot 97 in New York and Power 106 in Los Angeles which followed suit a couple of years later really had large white listening audiences.

Asians, White Folks, Arbitron and Hip Hop

Well as I mentioned earlier one of the first and more successful Top 40 stations to embrace rap was KMEL who’s sale staff definitely flipped that Newsweek quote their advantage. They had another thing to help them out, and that was Arbitron Ratings to show large white listener-ship.

If I remember correctly we were boosting a number one rating with half our audience being white.  However, you wouldn’t have known that from the large numbers of people of color who would show up at our events. You never saw like 50% of our crowds being white. It was always explained that many of our white listeners weren’t our ‘active’ P1 listeners who would enthusiastically show up at station functions. I later learned something different.

What wasn’t really publicly known or even taken into account was how Asians were classified when it came to radio ratings. They were always counted as white people. You see in the Bay Area where KMEL is based there is a huge Asian/Pacific Islander population. In San Francisco more then 50% of the population is Asian with Chinese followed by Filipino being the largest ethnic groups.  Outside of their respective countries, the largest concentration of Filipinos, Tongans and Cambodians live in the Bay Area. There’s a sizeable Vietnamese, Korean Samoan and Laotian populations. Many of the people within these Asian groups have grown up and listen primarily to urban music.  Many of the younger people went from listening to Latin Freestyle to Hip Hop as stations like KMEL evolved.

I recall when the Arbitron people came to our station to talk about ratings and this fact about Asians being counted as whites was made clear one of our Asian deejays damn near hit the roof and went off. She wanted to know why Asians did not have their own category and she said she found it offensive that they would put an entire population down as whites. She noted that it played into the model minority myth that was impacting a lot of Asian communities and it also added to this pervasive perception of them being an invisible group of people.

The Arbitron rep said he understood the concerns and acknowledged that although the Asian population was growing, it would be a while before they would count Asians as a separate group away from whites. Nevertheless the large amount of ‘white listeners’ enjoyed by Top 40 urban leaning stations in California was touted to advertisers and helped rake in a substantial amount of ad dollars. It was later estimated that the actual percentage of white listeners was more like 20% when we subtracted the Asian count, but we never really knew for certain.

But lets suppose for the moment many of these Top 40 Hip Hop radio stations have large white audiences as asserted with the 80% myth, why is that we rarely hear many of the artists being played in regular rotation that we know for fact have a large white audience?

When was the last time we heard Living Legends, Del, Sage Francis, Atmosphere etc etc? We might hear an Eminem song, but hardly a Mos Def, Public Enemy or even Talib Kweli. The aforementioned artists seem to always have packed houses at their shows. Some of those groups do pretty well in record sales as independent artists, but dont hear them now and we didnt in the past-why is that? Shouldnt they be getting airplay to satisfy the tastes of this 80% white audience?

Who is Hip Hop’s Biggest Ethnic Supporter?

So now that we understand how and why the 80% myth came about lets look at the results of an actual study that was done.In January 2003 Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Push organization held their 6th Annual Wall Street project conference.  In the past Jackson had not put together panels focusing on the entertainment industry and its impact on Wall Street, but that year he did. He put together is memorable standing room only panel which included some very distinguished guests including; former Vibe Magazine CEO Keith Clinkscales of Vanguarde Media, Carol H Williams of Carol H Williams Advertising, Thomas Burrell of Burrell Communications, Samuel Chisholm of the Chisholm Group, James L Winston of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters and Daisy Exposito-Ulla of the Bravo Group

The Bravo Group is part of the powerful Young and Rubicam company is considered the third largest multicultural agency in the US. The panel discussion talked about market share and leveraging dollars. During the discussion Daisy Exposito Ulla was making her remarks and while it wasn’t the main focus she mentioned that her company had done a study and come to find that the Latinos are the biggest purchasers of Rap music. They buy more rap music than both African Americans and whites.

Because this wasn’t a Hip Hop specific panel her remarks were made in the context of talking about some other issues, what she was not met with any big gasp from the audience or anything like that. But for me I took special note as she continued her presentation, because it basically coincided with the push in broadcast media to target Latinos as a primary audience. http://www.daveyd.com/articlelainsupport.html

Yes, Hip Hop is large and everybody enjoys it. And yes, a large part of that audience are white folks. But 80%? No way.  Unfortunately white Hip Hop fans were used to validate to skittish advertisers and even venue owners that Hip Hop is safe and non threatening. To me its no different and just as bad as those programmers and industry experts who hawk Black gangsterism and stereotypes and make it appear as if its a vital part of Black culture and a true representation of Hip Hop.

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