hope is fading fast
[Freshjive Hope Is Fading Fast t shirt | The World’s Got Problems]

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G-Side – So Wonderful feat. Chrystal Carr, G-Mane, and SupaKing

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G-Side – Who’s Hood feat. Yelawolf

G-Side‘s latest effort the Huntsville International project was liberated last week, leaked in its entirety and contained some extremely solid moments for those of us who are still into rap music! Slowmotion Soundz, ST 2 Lettaz and Clova, Block Beattaz, and the various producers and guest artists offer strong, and even exceptional performances.  ST 2 Lettaz and Clova delivered moving verses on “So Wonderful,” “In The Rain,” and “This Is Life.” On “So Wonderful,” ST raps about difficult times, not just the current recession– more specifically, the lack of assistance, the extra huddle, and debt young folks incurred while making their way through college, the double-digit unemployment figures and lack of opportunity in black and brown communities, which predates the current financial crisis. ST also echoes the words of Young Jeezy and P. Dukes (my president is black, but we’re still in the same mess– Obama administration maintaining continuity.  By the way, P. Dukes made my favorite recession rap jam with “Make Me A Way,” and I regret not including it on the podcast.)  Clova is on-point also, with an interesting mix of low-key, sharp darts grounded in realism, at times interrupted with “next-level”-swag-so-advance raps (and oftentimes, he’s incredible with those lines.)

Yelawolf offered a crucial performance on “Who’s Hood,” delivering a dense, rapid-fire verse about Cadillacs, pit-fights, and nightlife in the Bible Belt (he sounds like a young Big Boi or something! last week we heard him channeling Bob Dylan for Juelz Santana.) Other highlights here include the solo track by ST “This Is Life,” which I heard in August when Traps N Trunks unleashed the Huntsville Alabama: Rochet City mixtape/compilation and the defiant and unforgettable “In The Rain” featuring Bentley. “This Is Life” and “In The Rain” are those outstanding rap songs you hear every now and again, and they stay with you– emotionally raw and honest lyrics delivered by a smart, ambitious/hungry rappers.  In the era of free musicsounds now move faster than the speed of contex– we are bombarded with ephemeral songs and disposable mixtapes. G-Side is offering music with lasting quality. The majority of tracks on their previous two album, Starshipz and Rocketz and Sumthin 2 Hate have held up well, withstanding countless listens and every now and then certain sounds warranting repeated listening.  The Huntsville International project has that– freshness, durability, rap music for 2010 and beyond.

g-side

tribe

the five-letter English word tribe. The Western media’s analysis of events in Africa reveals the word as the main obstacle in the way of a meaningful illumination of dynamics in modern Africa. Tribe—with its clearly pejorative connotation of the primitive and the premodern—is contrasted with nation, which connotes a more positive sense of arrival at the modern. Every African community is a tribe, and every African a tribesman. We can see the absurdity of the current usages, where thirty million Yorubas are referred to as a tribe, but four million Danes as a nation. A group of 250,000 Icelanders constitutes a nation, while 10 million Ibos make up a tribe. And yet, what’s commonly described as a tribe, when looked at through objective lenses, fulfills all the criteria of shared history, geography, economic life, language, and culture that are used to define a nation. These critical attributes are clearly social and historical, not biological.

Nonetheless, to the analysts, tribe is like a genetic stamp on every African character, explaining his every utterance and action, particularly vis-à-vis other African communities. Using the same template of Tribe X versus Tribe Y, print and electronic media and even progressive thinkers simply look at the ethnic origins of the leading actors in a conflict and immediately place them in the category of X or Y. So, whatever the crisis, in whatever part of Africa, in whatever time period, the analysts arrive at one explanation: it is all because of the traditional enmity between Tribe X and Tribe Y. It is like looking at John McCain, seeing that he was born in Panama; then looking at Barack Obama, seeing that he was born in Hawaii; and then concluding that their political differences are due to the places of their birth or that their differences are rooted in an assumed traditional enmity between Panamanians and Hawaiians.” – Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

from the current issue Transition magazine

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Thomas Mapfumo

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Thomas Mapfumo & The Acid Band – Hwa-Hwa

In Harare, Zimbabwe (or what at the time was known as Salisbury, Zimbabwe Rhodesia) — sometime in the middle of the 1970s, Thomas Mapfumo stopped playing covers of American rock and soul (music by Elvis Presley, Bobby Darrin, Mick Jagger, etc.) He began singing in shona, and transcribing the sounds of the mbira (chief instrument for traditional Shona music) to the electric guitar. His lyrics became overtly political, in support of the revolutionary movement in the rural parts of the country. The white minority Rhodesians/ruling population, which was brutally suppressing voices of dissent, didn’t catch on due to their lack of understanding of the native language/culture until 1978 when Thomas Mapfumo released the song “Hokoyo,” which means “Watch Out!” in Shona, and Mapfumo was eventually arrested and jailed. “Hokoyo” became a regional hit in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The song “Hwa-Hwa” is from Thomas Mapfumo’s first full-length, also titled Hokoyo! –first time available in the US thanks to Water.

A few years back, Rupture wrote about and posted some Mapfumo tracks, especially digging his 1980s catalog. Thomas Mapfumo made most of his albums in the 1980s and ’90s, releasing politically charged music, criticizing Robert Mugabe’s government for its gross human rights abuse and torture/beating and killing of opposition party candidates and supporters. Mapfumo was exiled from Zimbabwe in the 1990s. He now lives in Oregon, still making music and touring internationally.

wayneandwax gates

[‘wheatpaste mugshot’ from Wayne & Wax’s flickr]

riffing on Lamin’s last post, I feel compelled to quote the most salient, on-point appraisal of the Skipgate affair I’ve seen. From Adam Serwer:

Gates isn’t being invited to the White House because he’s black and Ivy League. Gates is being invited to the White House because Sgt. James Crowley has become the latest totem of burgeoning white resentment against the president, which happens to be a matter so urgent that Obama felt obligated to make a dramatic gesture of reconciliation — lest racial resentment swallow his presidency. . . This is an example of white privilege — and how even a country that elects a black man president still demands that he assuage feelings of white resentment when they grow strong enough. Totems of black resentment, which Gates is not, get called racists and race hustlers. They do not get invited to the White House.

beersummit

As I write, the beers are in the presidential fridge. After their drink, Gates will go back to Harvard, Crowley will return to the force, Obama will stay in the White House. Nothing about law or race, not even the national conversation, will have changed. And Troy Davis will remain on death row. For now the only beer he can expect will be with his last meal. And he will be drinking alone.
READ MORE of Beer and Sympathy by Gary Younge @ The Nation

*

The Gates arrest gave the president ample opportunity to stimulate a broad national discussion about police and community relations and the role of race and ethnicity when these relations become contentious. Such a conversation would have been a politically risky endeavor, no doubt. But discussion would have been far more valuable than a brewski photo-op, which is how the Gates case will likely be remembered.
READ MORE of Obama flunks his “teachable moment” by Mark Anthony Neal @ The Grio

Extra props to MAN and his particularly interesting and essential blog.

mosdef

GETTIN’ BLACK AS I WANT!

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Mos Def – Revelations

“Revelations,” a mellow and extraordinary post-Obama, ridiculously pro-black, one-verse track with shots directed at the CIA, the US Federal Reserve/bankers/money-grubbers, doubters and none-believers, the recession, race, violence, etc. New York has been very hot and sticky lately, and Mos Def‘s latest album The Ecstatic has been in heavy rotation, especially the tracks with themes that are seemingly nonsensical/irrational/unhelpful for the times we are in. Just yesterday, we played two cuts from it on WFMU’s Mudd Up! with DJ Rupture. While we’re talking Mudd Up! radio, here are two more joints Rupture played (on his first and in all likelihood last cumbia-free show)  – another Mos track titled “Wahid”, and a song by “the most unusual star on the planet” (at least, that’s what he, himself claims.) Please check out Dan Hancox 10 Essential Wiley tunes on Fact Magazine, timely reminder of why the tireless genius can’t be stopped.

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Mos Def – Wahid

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Wiley – Eyes of the Lord

playboytre

Due to the recent election, people feel no need to keep pumping their fists. It’s as if they’ve been tricked to believe that the years of hatred has been erased with one achievement. If you’re one of the ones that fell into this trap, stay tuned… for some post-election rap jams/news from Playboy Tre, who last month dropped a brand new street album/mixtape titled Liquor Store Mascot.

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Playboy Tre – Breakin’ News

My partner Tally put me up on Tre’s excellent 2008 mixtape Goodbye America, which noz called a near classic— I think it’s an absolute classic and one of the most criminally slept on street albums of last year. In a sense Liquor Store Mascot feels as if it should have been the precursor to Goodbye America, rather than the other way around.  LSM continues with the same themes, same relentlessness, but it is more dramatic, more nightmarish, and even funnier (Bobby Ray asking “what about HAM Squad? How am I supposed to smoke all these HAMs by myself?” gets me every time.)  The themes here, on the track above and on the mixtape about crime, poverty, race, alcoholism, police brutality and the recent increase in gun sales and gun club membership in the Obama era.

I still haven’t fully wrap my ears around the tape or even this track, “Breakin’ News,” which is dense, and Tre is reflecting on deep, serious problems (like Oscar Grant‘s shooting in the Bay) but his flow is so deceptively disarming with that Georgian accent and Southern drawl, the grand social comments (and criticisms of Obama) like “ain’t nothing change in the streets we walk” or “the president’s black but the neighborhood sad” just breeze through, as if they are of no significance– just a drunk talking shit over beats.

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DJ Drama – People Will Be Heard feat. Ludacris, Willie Da Kid, Busta Rhymes

I don’t like Luda, but he’s alright– I have been saying that for a decade.  Here, Luda warns the government about trampling voices of dissent and encourages said voices to reassert themselves, after the euphoria and noise.  Busta shouts out Obama, empathizes with struggling people, –the starving, the evicted, the unemployed, etc. In the middle, there’s that Willie kid. Why is Barack O’Drama always shouting? We are already listening to our music at very dangerous dBs. Deafness descends upon all of us.  Sounds bleeding out of our earbuds and headphones, in trains and buses, the constant blasts of noise in New York, sound levels at clubs are usually over 120 dBs.  I was at Que Bajo?! for about three hours last night, and my ears are ringing right now.  I was briefly exposed to that wobbly monster Geko was in search of in Colombia.  To conclude this, a whole generation is at risk of premature deafness and the DJ business is loudness.

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Capone-N-Noreaga – Dead Broke

Empty fridgerator and pissy elevators… welcome to Queens? And it’s 1997 all over again! The image of the pissy elevator as a prominent identifying feature in mid to late nineties New York rap is as significant as say the scuffed timbs. I liked Wallabees and Mountain Gear better then.

Recession Rap Jams, mixed with the struggle, alcohol, and the kick!

A few weeks ago, I saw a financial analyst on MSNBC who said that instead of worrying and despairing because the US economy is spiraling downward, Americans should be excited and imaginative, because it is easier to be the winner in an environment where so many people are loosing.  In most of the rap world, it’s forever boom-time and the global economic crisis is nonexistent.  Openly masking human suffering and frailty with good old fashion American hypermasculinity and boasts about one’s net worth has been the approach for radio-friendly rap artists for years, regardless of the current economic malaise.  Even when the world around is crumbling, these artists look beyond, ignoring immediate circumstances and continue to paint pictures of excess. There is no such thing as absurd, excessive balling.

To roughly quote something Hugh Masekela said – if you don’t talk about your people, their plight, injustice, struggle and you’re using their music to get rich and famous, you need your head examine, you will end up in a bad, bad place… well, a lot of people are living in that place already.

After posting that Young Capone track, and listening to the Rick Ross album (which has some surprisingly good and memorable moments) I was compelled to look at the other side of the trap/the majority/what is considered the norm to most rap listeners, or what has larger representation, Hot97 radio-playability (not to say Young Jeezy’s “Circulate” and Cam’rom’s “I Hate My Job” didn’t get played, because they did, but you are more likely to hear flamboyant and splurgy raps and attitude towards the recession.)  But this batch of tracks also features some relatively unknown/regional/up and coming rappers.

So here it is — Recession Proof Wallets for your listening pleasure. It is pretty nauseating.  It slows down in the second half, but really there’s no relief, except for the last track by UGK, adding a degree of levelheadedness and unquestionable swag, everything else here is bloated and unreal, insane and American–  so there, consider yourself warned.

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TRACKLIST:

Zshatwa – Fresh (Intro)
Rich Boy – It’s Over
Rick Ross – Magnificent feat. John Legend
Droop-E & B-Slimm – Think Fast
Young Capone – Dopeboyz (Show Out)
Gucci Mane – I’m The Shit
(((Talking That Money Shit Interlude)))
Fat Joe – Cupecakes feat. Benisour
Ju of D4L – Do It, Do It feat. Shawty Lo
KD – I Know U C Me
The Kid Datona – Lately feat. Amanda diva
Busta Rhymes – Hustlers Anthem ’09 feat. T-Pain
Wale – Penthouse Anthem
Pluck – Sick feat. ST 2 Lettaz (of G-Side) & Jackie Chain
UGK – Purse Come First feat. Big Gipp
(((McLuhan takes us out with An Inventory Of Effects)))

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dead prez – Stimulus Plan

Never mind the global economic crisis, what are your plans to feed your family? Food prices on the streets of Senegal, Malawi, Egypt and other less affluent countries are rising while people are loosing jobs. While all those powerful world leaders are in London trying to settle their differences and tackle the economic crisis in comfortable and safe trappings, away from the protesters and the grime. Here in Brooklyn, USA (while I was getting my shape-up yesterday I saw a man eating a butter-roll/bread and butter and said that was his dinner-~he might have been joking, but in these times, you never know) “our favorite major label, corporate owned black radicals” dead prez is telling you to come up with your own solution, your own fiscal stimuli, and navigate your way out of economic darkness.  From their forthcoming Pulse of the People project, said to be produced entirely by DJ Green Lantern.  Props to Nah Right.

Recession Rap JamsMy grind is my stimulus plan

 
Large Hangars and Fuel Storage/Tonopah Test Range, NV/Distance ~18 miles/10:44 am by Trevor Paglen

Mark Danner is one of the good journalists. His work navigates nearly impenetrable messes of deceit and deception like the 2000 Florida vote recount, the nefarious path to the American war in Afghanistan and Iraq, U.S. Military intervention in Reagen era El Salvador… the list goes on- but I think when you have Susan Sontag call you “one of our best, most ambitious narrative journalists” you’ve pretty much fulfilled your journalistic duty to the world.

One of my biggest fears during the election was that once/if Obama was elected there would be a psychic closure on the Bush years. In a more utilitarian sense, I am afraid that people are so excited about entering a “new era” that they  forget that there is a lot of unfinished business from the last 8 years that needs to be sorted out. Danner’s latest piece, “US Torture: Voices From the Black Sites,” which appeared in the new issue of the New York Review of Books on Monday, is doing some of the heavy lifting. It contains detailed accounts of interrogations of “highvalue detainees” at secret “black site” prisons. An excerpt from the piece – about a tenth of it – appeared on the OpEd page of Sunday’s New York Times. It’s a potent reminder that the clean up process has just begun.

Wayne says PDFs are the new MP3s- so here is a PDF of the whole article as it appeared in the New York Review of Books. This is painful to read, and while for some it might be confirming what they thought they already knew- there’s something deeply moving about reading first hand accounts of the abuse against “our enemies.”

Mark Danner “US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites” PDF (9 pages)

from October, David Harvey‘s notes on the dynamics of the recession. one for the NYC/USA-centric.

A financial Katrina – epic name, stick with him. slides etc. here.

“We have to be prepared to call this a class phenomena. It is robbery of one segment of the population to the benefit of another segment of the population”

Here’s a suitably ephemeral and hard piece of music from Ben Frost. A man based in a country whose economy has recently collapsed. (aside – to see the IMF now step in is a worrying thought for the environment in a country teeming with natural, sellable resources.)

Ben Frost – Stomp

image by PSJM via.