Sam's Blog

Five Lucky Winners take home $50,000 in Higher Education Funding
courtesy of Mississippi Rapper!

May 24, 2004

Highly acclaimed Mississippi hip-hop artist David Banner has officially
announced the five recipients of his “Crank It Up” Scholarship Award
worth a total of $50,000 in educational funding. Ryan Larkum of West
Hartford, Connecticut; Matthew Foote of Ashburn, Virginia; Eric Harris of
Branchville, South Carolina; Karen Dunlap of Oviedo, Florida; and
Patrick Godfrey of Hendersonville, North Carolina, a US soldier stationed in
Iraq, are each recipients of $10,000 in scholarship monies.

In December of 2003, Banner revealed that with the release of his
widely revered MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water album, he would be randomly
placing five game pieces within the first 300,000 copies to be sold. Each
of those game pieces are worth $10,000 in scholarship capital to be
used toward any post-high school education including undergraduate
college, graduate school, community college, and trade or vocational schools.
In the event that any of the winners are unable or choose not to
indulge in furthering his or her education for whatever reasons, Banner has
stipulated that the monies be transferred to someone of the winner’s
choosing who will.

As a college- educated artist who attended Southern University in
Louisiana, New Orleans, Banner has always had a passion for mixing the arts
and education. Banner explains why he chose to launch such a
commendable contest, "I struggled to get my undergrad and then my Masters Degree
and now that I've made it I am blessed with the ability to give back,"
Throughout the rise of his music career which officially took off in
the spring of 2003 with the release of his major label debut Mississippi:
The Album, Banner has consistently promoted the importance of education
while providing ear pleasing gifts to popular culture. The gold-selling
CD spawned the hits “Like A Pimp,” featuring fellow southern MC Lil’
Flip, and the socially conscious “Cadillac on 22’s.” That album was soon
followed by Mississippi: The Chopped & Screwed Album and subsequently
MTA2: Baptized in Dirty Water.

I interviewed Talib Kweli over the weekend. A great interview and a nice guy. Here's what he said about his former home, Rawkus Records.

Did you read that Village Voice article about Rawkus?
No, I was wanting to read it though.

What is your assessment of what happened with Rawkus?
My assessment is pretty much in the devil itself. Did I get interviewed for that?

No, I don't remember reading any...
You know, I support Jarret and Ryan. I think that they're good people and they supported my career when no one else did. I think that they got a little overzealous and made some bad business moves by not understanding the company that they created. I walk a fine line with this because I'm still friends with these guys. Sometimes they get a little salty when they read press and hear me saying shit about Rawkus. But a lot of the things going wrong, a lot of these glaring, obvious problems were things that I spoke with them about while they were happening...But all the stuff the people say about them being malicious and this and that, when you're ignorant to what you're doing and you're making moves not based on the right information it seems like you're trying to be mean and malicious, but I don't think that's what it's about with them at all. I just think that they weren't quiet sure which moves to make, and it ended up costing them...They definitely lost their focus, and they'll admit that. Those kids that bought every Rawkus release, they wanted to have those kids and then some. And that's the point where they lost their focus a little bit.
He Said Whut?

Although I'm really happy that I'm not the only one noticing the contradiction in the Republicans calling for secular democracies throughout the Middle East while pushing for closer chuch/state ties here at home, I do feel kinda dirty being on the same side as Pat Buchanan -- even if the conclusions that we draw from that contradiction couldn't be more different. In an editorial published today, Mullah Pat not only declares that "This may be the Neocon's war, this is not our war" but seems to align himself with the terrorists - commenting that "conservative Americans have more in common with devout Muslims than with liberal democrats." (And this was the guy who garnered a large slice of Florida's jewish vote in the 2000 election?) He says that there is a "religious war" taking place in AmeriKKKa and that we are a "society that accepts the killing of a third of its babies as women's 'emancipation, that considers homosexual marraige to be social progress, that hands out contraceptions to 13-year-old girls."

Power and Submission

Context provided by Steve Winn of the SF Chronicle.
Hip Hop

Leading crunkster Lil' Jon is in the lab with Rick Rubin and Korn creating "crunk rock." I'll wait to hear this before passing judgment, but Korn is never a good option.

More importantly, Jon is also teaming up with Timberland for a track he calls monumental.


Yeah, Harpers may be pure, ideologue propaganda, but it's our propaganda. So show some support! I eagerly await their weekly mail out. You can subscribe to it (for free!) right here. Here's a little taste:

"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apologized for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and said that there are "many more photographs and indeed some videos" of American soldiers engaging in "blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman" behavior; Rumsfeld took "full responsibility" for the abuse but still refused to resign. "It's going to get a good deal more terrible, I'm afraid." Specialist Sabrina Harman, who faces court martial because of her role in the torture, said in an email that she never even saw a copy of the Geneva Conventions until recently. "I read the entire thing," she said, "highlighting everything the prison is in violation of. There's a lot." Harman said her job was to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation. American soldiers allegedly put a harness on an elderly Iraqi woman and rode her like a donkey. New charges included rape, murder, and child molestation. "The system works," Rumsfeld told the Senate."

Found on Smoking Gun...don't know what there is to say about this.
Weekly Roundup

Rachel Swan’s review of Cornel West Spoken Word CD
"It doesn't take the world's most astute hip-hop listener to interpret the gold chains donned by most Bling Age rappers as ensigns of a market-driven economy. Professor Cornel West dubs these adornments "the paraphernalia of suffering" -- commodities that show how rap's preoccupation with the good life has become a "truncated version of the American dream." As West indicates, current hip-hop moguls aren't really gangstering their way into greatness -- they're merely being seduced by a system that's always maligned them."

O-Dub’s better-late-than-never take on Lyrics Born CD
“I discovered the world of Parliament-Funkadelic in my 20s, moving backward from the many hip-hop samples grifted off various albums that bore George Clinton’s signature. P-Funk’s appeal wasn’t just the sweet-molasses funk that oozed from the grooves, but the playful creativity that went into albums like The Electric Spanking of War Babies or The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein. Aside from the comic-book gatefolds that sometimes accompanied these LPs, it was clear that Clinton conceived of funk as more than just bass lines to move waistlines. He seemed enamored of P-Funk’s elasticity — in the squishy, chewy music itself, as well as in its ability to move minds and behinds with equal urgency. Those same qualities jump out from the Bay Area’s Lyrics Born.”

Philip nails Wiley
"It's a shame that Wiley didn't just hire Dizzee to tackle the vocals here, because Wiley's inventive, futuristic productions, which forge tinny, lo-fi keyboards into an anorexic version of crunk, are consistently undercut by his rapping. It's not his measured flow that's the problem, it's his lyrics: When he's not dismissing legions of haters, he's spitting unsubtle choruses that sound like the imperative statements of straight-edge posi-core."

Elizabeth Berry tackles Ghostface
It might have just been the lights, but it looked like the cat in the Willie Esco sweat suit had saltwater in his eyes. He partook in the "All That I Got Is You" sing-along that rapper Ghostface (né Killah) led from the Roseland stage. Lighters flickered, then came the eye moistener: "Seven o'clock, pluckin' roaches out the cereal box/Some shared the same spoon, watchin' Saturday cartoons." Minutes earlier, Mr. Esco had been seething at DJ Kay Slay's y'all-wanna-party-like-we-do set. But when Ghostface sauntered on, all was forgiven. He's one of the few who can provoke live tears from guys with tattooed ones.

Nate Patrin -- who is on fire right now -- reviews RJD2
"The new RJD2 On the surface, Spoke is a big sloppy love letter to the heady days of polyester-age funk-pop and all the bands that made it possible--Babe Ruth, Mandrill, Pacific Gas and Electric. The L.A.-to-Rio Latin funk dance cut "Since '76" builds a plausible illusion of old-school Tropicalia before the tweeting Moog riffs and jaunty horn hooks fold in on themselves, imploding, dropping out and backspinning furiously for the next go-round...But while the album's breakbeat pedigree is unsurprisingly solid, RJ's stabs at rock riffs and power chords draw more blood than an Alice Cooper stage show. The title track is a fearsome bastard, reconstructing the exploded remains of a Raw Power Stooges outtake with the solder Alan Parsons used to fix his circuit boards.

Joe Warminsky’s excellent piece on Madvillain
"Unlike many of the world’s sample-crazy indie acts—say, RJD2 or the Avalanches—Madvillain isn’t out to create any sort of cognitive dissonance. You may have heard some of this stuff, but very little of it will trigger even a fleeting aha! moment. Instead, it’s all about that ghost-culture vibe. “Slip like Freudian/Your first and last step to playin’ yourself like an accordion,” Doom rhymes on “Accordion.” On the surface, it’s a warning to battle-rap wannabes, but it also serves notice to the casual listener: The following album will constantly flicker at the edge of your consciousness."

In a bit of blatant self-aggrandizing, here’s my piece on De La Soul
"Updating Stetsasonic's jazz-cum-hip hop template with Prince Paul's intricately constructed sampledelia, 1989's Three Feet High and Rising significantly broadened the horizons of hip hop -- and all sample-based music, for that matter; perhaps even more important, the group's quirky sense of humor and pacifist preoccupations made the music safe for the college set. Sure, Prince Paul's musical aesthetic was shattered when the Turtles sued him for copyright violation and forever changed the course of hip hop, and De La's vision of hippies and hip-hoppers congealing never happened (even the group rejected much of the loopy idealism on its classic sophomore LP, De La Soul Is Dead), but for a few wonderful years, this trio was the future.”
Art Shit
I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly visual person, but dating Nirmala and working at Future Primitive Sound has opened my eyes to a lot of great art. As part of my education, I’m devoting a little space every week (hopefully) to an artist I'm feeling.

This weeks artists is Yoshitomo Nara . Yoshitomo Nara is a prolific Japanese pop artist. His paintings and sculptures of children and dogs provide a soft and enigmatic take on pop art and dig into the post-modern sub-conscious for all those repressed memories of childhood anxiety, sadness and spite. His subjects are mischievous and innocent, sweet and sour.

Right now, you might not think that Ghost just dropped a classic, but you will. Trust me.

This is a great resource for Kanye West fans. Spotted on hip hop logic.

I think that not only should Rumsfield resign immediately for the systematic abuse and cover-up of the prison abuse scandal, but those directly involved should be tried as war criminals.
Sign the petition asking for Rumsfield’s resignation.

Not trying to belittle a horrible situation...but don't you think that those Iraq torture pictures -- with the mugging/gleeful soldiers juxtaposed against the stipped/suffering Iraqs -- had a post-ironic/hipster quality? And that picture with the female guard pulling the Iraq soldier on a leash looked like it could've been an L7 cover. Really, the entire thing could've been a spread in Vice magazine,and maybe it will be.

No Comment.


For all the people who've come here after googling "girls in the Freak-a-Leek video" or some variation of that: I have no idea, but I'd like to know. Holla back if you find out.

Okay…so my mom was in town last weekend from the East Coast. We had a great time despite the fact she talked me into going to City Church. I’m not religious - and I won’t open that can of worms - but after listening to the church band’s soft, acoustic melodies that included tweeish vocals and unobtrusive piano/cello soloing, it struck me that Belle and Sebastian are like the uber-church band.

One more reason to watch Adult Swim on the Cartoon channel.
I found this interesting, turn-of-the-century letter regarding the compatibility of patriotism and poverty on Keith Harris’s blog .

To keep it all on a hip hop tip, here are my ten favorite songs of the moment (and I mean the moment):

10. Affirmative Action -- Madlib Remix
9. Freak-A-Leak – Petey Pablo
8. If – Talib, Ken Star, Ashura
7. Game Over Remix – Lil Flip
6. We Pop Remix – RZA, E-40
5. The entire new RJD2 Album
4. Strange Ways – Madvillain
3. NY Streetz – Saigon
2. Entire Ghostface album
1. Rubberband Man – T. I.

Earlier in the day, after a lengthy post on the Fela exhibit at Yerba Buena, contentious SFStation art "critic" Nirmala attempted to usurp my tribute to noble humanist and afro beat champion Fela Kuti by citing Fela’s “notorious sexism.” Nirmala said in the comments section that it was “surprising that (Fela) clung so stringently to patriarchy, which his mother associated with the oppressive regime.” She went on to say, “his sexism and insistence on having 28 wives does seem like a cultural vestige.” I retorted that it was unfair to chastise him using a western vantage point. She strongly retorted, “the quality of a woman's life in the united states doesn't even compare to her quality of life in a totalitarian regime like Nigeria.” Hobbled by defeat, I went to lunch with my head hung low, until… I opened today’s Chronicle to find an interesting article from Gbemi Olujobi . A member of the International Women's Media Foundation, Gbemi had this to say:

"Fela lived in a patriarchal society that glorifies maleness and worships manhood; where a woman is nothing without a man; where a woman must be married to be considered a real woman. Such a society actively encourages women to give up everything for the "fulfillment'' of male affection, defines a woman by her marital status and questions, in the most cruel way, her essence as a woman if she is not married.

So in his own, perhaps warped, way Fela, through his prolific sexuality, was merely alleviating what he saw as the woe of this horde of unmarried women who flocked around him. Once a woman became one of Fela's girls, as his dancers were called, it was certain that no other man would touch her. She was considered a prostitute. So what was the way out for these hapless females? How were they to get the fulfillment of male affection and the respectability of marriage?

Fela sought to give them sexual fulfillment and gratification by bedding as many of them as he could, every day. He sought to give them the respectability only marriage could confer upon them, in this society that insists that marriage is the ultimate, by marrying all 27 of them. He married all of them on the same day so that they would all be equal. In that way, there would be no senior or first wife to lord it over everyone else.

He may have spent and worn himself out to prove this point. He may have made himself controversial and even hated. He may have died from proving this point, of AIDS, but he succeeded in a way. After the marriage ceremony, the girls ceased to be called prostitutes. Instead, everyone started referring to them as Fela's Queens."

Gbemi also offered this insightful nugget:

"I grew up knowing Fela as omo iya aje' (son of a witch). He was said to have been his mother's favorite son. Many myths were spun around their famous relationship. It was said that Funmilayo had magical powers, which she used to make Fela invisible whenever the police came for him, which was quite often because of his posture as a social critic and his open use of marijuana. So invariably, as the legend had it, the police could only find Fela if his mother was not around to work her magic.

And on occasions when these officers found him, the legend said, Funmilayo would use her magical powers to remove Fela's hide and replace it with the hide of another person, so that when the policemen thought they were thrashing Fela, it was in fact another person who was taking the beating. You needed an explanation, really, of how anyone could take the many beatings that Fela took from law enforcement officers. It had to be something supernatural. So this story stuck easily.

Funmilayo eventually died for the love of her son. During an army raid on Fela's Kalakuta Republic, as he dubbed his abode, Funmilayo, then 78 years old, was thrown from a second-story window. She died soon after from the injuries she sustained. To this day, the sound of Fela crooning "dem kill my mama, dem kill my mama, dem kill my mama (they killed my mother)" still makes my eyes moist. "

Glad to see my boy Jonathan Zwickel big-upping DJ Zeph on Pitchfork. Nice job, Jonathan.

Saturday was fun. I went to the Fela Kuti exhibit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with feminist attack dog Nirmala and new friend/emerging artist Sasha Vladimirsky. The exhibit was a'ight; although individual pieces were great, I thought as a whole it didn't really capture Fela's spirit or his art. Perhaps that's impossible for a gallery exhibit to do though.

The pieces that struck me the most were the less traditional ones: there was a steel and wooden sculpture of a woman wrapped in barbed wire with AIDS plastered across her face and, occasionally, she would open her legs to you. There was also a tall table with 28 traditional African dolls with their heads cut off, each doll being representative of one of Fela's wives (obviously). The piece on Fela’s mother was also very interesting, and Nirmala was quick to point out how odd Fela’s chauvinism was considering his mother’s status as a famous African feminist. I told her not to apply her values to different cultures, and she may have mumbled something about me being condescending, so we moved on…My favorite part of the exhibit – predictably– was the music station. It provided a great overview of Afro-beat and Highlife music as well as the various genres that they influenced and were influenced by. The instillation was curated in part by Philip Sherburne and SFJ , so you know it’s gonna be hot.

This is the painting of Fela’s mother. I forget the artist.

For those of you not familiar with San Francisco, Yerba Buena is a downtown (South of Market) arts center that opens up into this 2 acre pavilion that is connected to the Sony Metreon shopping complex and offers one of the few green spots in the area. I wouldn’t call it beautiful –except in context of its surroundings – but it was an incredible day so we decided to chill there for a bit with my boy Cesar and watch Transmission Mission , a performance art piece that involved four different remote broadcast transmitted through and manipulated by the boom boxes and small clock radios of audience members/ participants. Great concept, but a horrid sound that sent us looking for alcohol.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a place to drink outside in the SOMA area so the four of us packed into Sasha’s small truck and went to Fritz in Hayes Valley. Fritz is a wonderful little spot with these incredibly succulent and thick Belgium fries that they serve with gourmet condiments like Thai Chilli Ketchup (which is way too fucking hot, even for me). Fritz also has a large back patio where you can both drink and smoke (a rarity in SF).

At Fritz, we drank beer after beer after beer, smoked a pack of cigarettes between three people and openly passed a pipe around (not a rarity in SF). By the end of our three hour stay, our table was nothing but empty bottles and cigarette butts and you could see Fritz’s staff shooting us the evil eye. But fuck it, our own eyes were too glassy to care and I was having a great time talking with Sasha – who immigrated from Russia after the fall of communism and was explaining to me how Gorbachev was initially a ploy by the hardline communist to give off the appearance of change without any real transformation. But, as Sasha explained, the taste of freedom was like blood for sharks and soon the communist regime collapsed. As duplicitous and manipulative as the Bush administration is, we can only hope that something similar will happen here.

Sasha also turned me onto Tokyo artist Takashi Murakami , who Sasha assisted at one point. Murakami is a pop artist in the tradition of Andy Warhol – although he seems to fuse his art with more bougie culture (he designed purses for louie vuitton, where Cesar works coincidentally). Sasha helped put together the below sculpture, which is a life-size anime character meticulously constructed. If you can’t tell, she’s jumping rope with milk that is shooting out of her enormous breast.

Afterwards, we stumbled back to my crib and drank and smoked more. I was supposed to go to the Quannum show that night, but after drinking all day and partying the preceding three nights, I was too exhausted to even think about it. I did miss out on what was supposed to be the house party of the year that was thrown by Ian and Carlo from Compression crew , but I’m sure that there will be other parties on other days.
Music, Politics, etc...

11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 /



Selected Published Features :

  • Quannum Retrospective
  • Fake Hip Hop Beef
  • Immortal Technique
  • DJ Spooky Rebirth of a Nation
  • Balance
  • Merry Christmas Beeeyoth
  • Shock G
  • ATL indie Hip Hop
  • Peanut Butter Wolf
  • Subtle
  • Sage Francis
  • Charizma
  • Andrew Schoultz
  • Crown City Rockers
  • Jin
  • RJD2
  • Perceptionists
  • Dizzee Rascal
  • Brand Nubian
  • JT the Bigga Figga
  • Streets
  • Talib Kweli
  • Awol One
  • Okay Player
  • Madvillain
  • Q-Bert
  • Eyedea and Abilities
  • Stark Reality
  • Mixtape
  • Okayplayer
  • Mr. Lif
  • Atmosphere
  • Atmosphere II
  • Northern State
  • El P
  • Reviews and Concert Notices:

  • Zion I True and Livin'
  • Game West Coast Resurrection
  • 4/20 Celebration
  • The Perceptionists -- Black Dialouge
  • BEANIE SIGEL B. Coming
  • 50 Cent Massacre
  • Hanger 18
  • DJ Spooky Drums of Death
  • Pigeon John
  • Dalek Absence
  • Lyrics Born
  • GEto Boys The Foundation
  • Buck 65, This Right Here is Buck 65
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
  • The Game Documentary
  • Messy Marv Bandannas, Tattoos & Tongue Rings
  • Emanon The Waiting Room
  • MF Doom Live from Planet X
  • 75 Degrees The Last Great Hip Hop Album
  • Snoop R&G
  • Doug E. Fresh
  • J-Live
  • Awol One
  • Aesop Rock Fast Cars
  • Opio Triangulation Station
  • Federation The Album
  • Oh No
  • John Legend - Get Lifted
  • ODB Osirusa
  • Last Poets
  • Jeff Chang
  • FPS Soundsession
  • Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif and Shapeshifters
  • Handsome Boy Modeling School -- White People
  • MF Doom
  • Mos Def - The New Danger
  • Atmosphere Headshots
  • DJ Krush
  • Kool Keith
  • Nas Streets' Disciple
  • Kanye West Concert Notice
  • AlphaZeta
  • Biggie Ready to Die Revisited
  • Lloyd Banks Hunger For More
  • Chromeo Concert Notice
  • The Roots Tipping Point
  • The Big Payback
  • Consequence (please note that my editor added the Dylan reference)
  • X-Men Revolutions
  • Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip Hop 1979-1983
  • Beastie Boys To the 5 Boroughs
  • Ghostface concert notice
  • Plantlife
  • De La Soul concert notice
  • Quannum concert notice
  • Murs/9th Wonder
  • Aceyalone
  • Pete Rock Concert Notice
  • David Banner
  • Ugly Duckling
  • Ty/a>
  • Yukmouth
  • Murs -- End of the Beginning
  • Jaylib -- Champion
  • 50 Cent
  • Caural – Stars on My Ceiling
  • Foreign Legion -- Playtight
  • Wildchild – Secondary Protocol
  • The Coup – Party Music
  • DJ Spinna – Here to There
  • Soul Position -- Unlimited
  • Jean Grae – Attack of the Attacking Things
  • El-P -- Fantastic Damage (first review I ever wrote)
  • Boom Bip – Seed to Sun
  • Boom Box 200 - The Worst CD Ever
  • Nas - God's Son
  • Articles that aren't viewable on the Web

    Too many to mention.

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