A response to Dr. Boyce Watkins

I was disheartened by the recent passing of Nathaniel Hale, affectionately called “Nate Dogg”, on March 15, 2011.  The morning after his death I read ‘The Death of Nate Dogg is the End of a Very Dark and Creative Era’ an article by Dr. Boyce Watkins. This article suggests that Nate Dogg’s death was in part due to smoking marijuana. Over the last few years there has been a noticeable push to legalized marijuana, but not because gangsta rappers are smoking it, singing about it and not because minorities are smoking it, the force behind this push is middle class soccer moms and affluent whites that are smoking it. Whites who don’t want to have to hide, or get to it from dealers in an alley somewhere. Whites who see marijuana as a business model and cash crop. If smoking weed is what did Nate Dogg in you had better watch those pilots, teachers, business people, bus drivers and grandma. Nate Dogg’s death was not due to his affinity for the leafy green, but more due to his affinity for Soul Food and lack of exercise, just ask the people who know.

Inner-city Los Angeles of the 80’s and 90’s was the most violent place in America to live, but when VIP records had a studio and he was there fighting for studio time, we were there. When Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg and Warren G formed the group “213”, we were there. When made his debut on Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ album in 1992, we were there. When his distinctive crooning helped Long Beach explode to a national audience, we were there. When he sung “Summertime in the LBC” we were there. When SWAT was called to his baby momma’s house, only to see Nate Dogg running and stumbling across the lawn with his child… while LAPD officers laughed on television, we were there too. When he dropped lines like “Smoke Weed Every Day”, “Indosmoke”, “Are You High Yet?” and “If you smoke like I smoke, then your high, like every day”, we were there. Yes, Nate Dogg’s songs were filled with smoking marijuana. Many of us could see that the end was near for the big homie due to strokes in 2007 and 2008, yet I still couldn’t help feeling some kind of way about his death. Nate Dogg’s hooks stood above all others in the game, his voice was the emotive side of West Coast Hip Hop and he never really got the ‘props’ he deserved.

Dr. Boyce also said “gangster rap is almost never positive, educational, empowered, politically active or otherwise productive”, this statement I see as problematic. When Gansta rap, put inner-city law enforcement on trial, and introduced itself to the word with this line from NWA’s Ice Cube “Fuck the police, coming straight from the underground. A young nigga’s got it bad because I’m brown.” , there was no more educational, empowered, or politically active statement than that. Is there a criminal element to the music? Yes, and that is why some have refused to listen, yet they listen to the Washington elect who happen to be robbing them every day. I respect Dr. Boyce immensely and I agree that “Gansta” rap, after corporations took over, became less the voice of the streets and a shadow of the power it has once demonstrated. Dr. Boyce it all comes down to perspective whether the negativity comes from a lyric or a Senate bill that claims to be for education, but cuts after school programs and school funding. It is true that Nathaniel Hale could have been doing something else, and you can say the same thing to each all the corrupt congressperson. Violence exists in films and books, but I have never seen anyone condemning Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron , Stephen King or Stephanie Meyers. What I see is the masses rewarding Charlie ‘7 gram rock” Sheen’s drug usage with more money and prominence. What I see is network television shows rooting for the Lohans, Kardashians,Spears, Aguileras and Downey jr.’s of the world to get back on top after bad behavior, and I see people of color with similar transgressions being vilified, that is what society is embracing. Perhaps it is the perception that Gangsta rap is bad because it’s predominately Black. Case in point, Eminem is the most violent, misogynistic, homophobic, foul-mouthed gangsta rappers on the planet, but he gets 2 nationally televised commercials during the Superbowl and a ’60 minutes’ prime time special.

Today hip hop has blessed us with studio thugs and paper gangsters who rap about little more than partying, drinking and promiscuity, because the shooting deaths of Tupac and Biggie, showed Americans just how real thug life was. The realism of hip hop has been replaced by profit while underground music never gets heard on the radio. For all it’s relevance social realism and hard truth has a limited audience.  Dr. Boyce, Nate Dogg’s music was many things but it spoke to those of us who knew that “Brenda Had a Baby”  and nodded our heads to “Hail Mary” while quietly wondering if there was a “Gangsta’s Paradise” or if  “Heaven had a Ghetto”. He spoke to those of us who knew “Murder Was the Case” and that “911 is a joke”. His music resonated with many of us who lived at “Tha Crossroads” and knew that “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”. His music became the theme song for the hustlers who knew “That if You Stay Ready” you don’t have to get ready, because sometimes at “Six in the Morning” the police are at your door.  He conversed with the trouble youth who wanted to be “Paid in Full” because he knew all about “C.R.E.A.M” and  “How I Could Just Kill a Man”, when your “Mind is Playin’ Tricks on Me” or when you’re “Insane in the Brain”.  Yes, his music even spoke to those who never wrote a letter to “Stan”,  hit “Rock Bottom”, or ran “8 Mile”s. he spoke to those that heard “The Message” and cried “Gangsta Tears” because they only had “One Mic”.  Nate Dogg knew that “Life is… Too Short” and though he has gone on to “The Next Episode” his impact, his music lives on within those of us who know, because we were there.

Rest In Peace Nate Dogg

 

MG Hardie

In the 80’s Hip Hop needed to co-op rock music with songs like, Run DMC’s “Walk this Way” . In the 90’s Hip-Hop co-oped R & B with albums brilliant albums like, “What’s the 411”. Today it is those genres that need Hip Hop and all of its elements just to survive. Whether it’s rock or pop acts who are rapping but saying that they aren’t, or singers who put the latest hip hop star on a track the impact of Hip Hop has been felt in every genre of music and here are the people most responsible for that, they exist beyond regular rap. This list is not solely based on album sales, or lyrics, one of the mot important criteria for this list is impact. So before you hip hop heads go crazy with the WTF’s, just ask yourself ‘Where would Hip Hop be today if none of these rappers existed?’ If you don’t see your favorite rapper on this list it is most likely because they are one dimensional, have lyrics written by other people or perhaps you are the one that is short-sighted.

 

14. Redman There are very few rappers as skilled as Redman. In term of using braggadocios wit and hard hitting beats, he is the most consistent rapper on this list and most underrated. If you have ever used the pop-culture gesture, “Raise the Roof”, then you owe him.  Redman is an elder statesman with distinctive voice and flow who exploded on to the hip-hop scene in 1992 with Whut? Thee Album. (I Be Dat, Let’s Get Dirty, On Da 99, My Zone, Whatever Man, How High, Whateva man, i’ll be dat, Pick it Up, Da Rockwilder)

 

 

13. Nelly: Is it getting hot in herre? In 2000 he blessed us with the 9x Platinum “Country Grammar” he introduced the nation to Mid West rap, or should I say the Dirty South. Skillfully rapping with unforgettable hooks and an unmistakable mid-west twang. Nelly put the Mid West on the rap map, period. Nelly’s Country Grammar opened the door that Ludacris, T.I. and Lil Wayne have walked through and that’s saying a whole lot. In 2004 the video for “Tip Drill” was released, this was a video full of strippers and naked video vixens, Nelly slid a credit card between a naked ass, after which the the lady started to pop her ass for Nelly. This video sparked controversy from black women’s groups and media, who said “Nelly and other rapper were saying that women were only good for one thing…sex.” This controversy not only led to the banning of the video “Tip Drill”, and other staple raunchy rap videos, but by the end of 2005 hip hop videos were forever changed to reflect a more creative, less overtly sexual tone. This controversy almost ruined Nelly. Nelly is also the only other rapper beside Snoop Dog to have a number #1 hit on the Country Charts. Album- Country Grammar, Nellyville (Dilemma, My Place, Country Grammar, Tip Drill, Hot in Herre 2, and Over & Over)

12. DMX His first major-label album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”, was released in May 1998 and debuted on the #1 on the Billboard 200. It was this album that began the comparisons to Tupac.  In December of 1998 he released “Flesh of My Flesh and Blood of My Blood”, which also debuts #1. DMX was the second rapper to have two albums released the same year debut at #1, the only other rapper was Tupac Shakur. With dark beats and harsh DMX pushed boundaries of imagery and sanity with lyrics on love, rage, God complete with prayers. Albums- It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

11. Nas: With his densely packed flow, he is the best technical rapper of his generation. Nas created a style of rapping that was more conversational, with compound rhymes and words that run into a bar. During a feud with Jay-Z, Nas solidified his stance as rap’s best by releasing a crushing battle track called “Ether.” Though his raps took a more popularized slant in the ‘90s, he has consistently delivered cutting-edge material.  His first album, “Illmatic”, is widely considered the greatest hip-hop debut of all time.  Album: (Illmatic), Songs: (It ain’t hard to tell, If I ruled the world, Ether, One love, Black Girl Lost, Book of Rhymes)

10. Biggie Smalls: A lyrical genius. His song are real life and words add up to something. His skills were untouchable, his flow almost supernatural, and for a fat man his swagger was unmatched. Biggies is credited with changing the game of rap, Biggie was to the East Coast what Tupac was to the West Coast. Biggie released two classic Hip Hop albums “Ready to Die” and “Life After Death” which made him a Hip Hop icon. He changed the way MC’s flow when he blessed “Notorious Thugs” with a verse, using the Bone Thugs style better than they did themselves. He is also one of the great storytellers in Hip Hop, unfortunate he career was cut short with his life. (Hypnotize, Juicy, What’s Beef, Warning, Kick In the Door, Who Shot Ya, Unbelievable)

9. Ice Cube: is an original Member of NWA. He along with Dr. Dre was at the forefront of 90’s gangsta rap era. A gifted storyteller, only his stories usually revolve around illegal acts and retribution. His lyrics were tough and hardcore as he scared Hollywood with his anti-white, misogynist, antisemitic lyrics and Hollywood still gave him movie roles, now that’s gangsta.  He continued to push the gangsta vibe when he created the group, Westside Connection. Westside Connection had two year olds to eighty-two year olds throwing up four fingers with two twisted in the middle. He, Snoop Dog and Too Short are the only mainstream rappers who have used curse words if they were periods and still had hit songs. He manages to stay relevant, but even more than that he has been producing television shows and is a serious actor, who every now and then still finds time to drop a gangsta album. Today his music is considered to conscious to receive radio-play. Whether he is dropping a Hip Hop movie classic like “Friday”, or producing television shows, we’ve beening trying to guess the color of his shoe laces for years. At the eight spot he may still be underrated on  the consciousness of his lyric alone.  Album- Greatest Hits (Go to church, Once Upon a Time in the Projects, You know how we do it, We be clubbin’, It Was A Good Day, Check Yo Self, You Know How We Do It, Bow Down, Why We Thugs,Natural Born Killers)

8. Ludacris: Others claim to be the King of the South, but Luda actually is the King. He popularize the Dirty South, so much that his reach touches each coast. “Word of Mouth” was a classic album regardless of the coastal region. Interesting hooks, unique style, distinctive voice, sexual overtones. A Ludacris themed album is just pure entertainment. Versatile is a word that can’t even describe Ludacris, so lets put uniquely in front of that. Luda opened up the mid western hip hop to the masses. As the market has saturated with sub par commercial rap fair Luda has taken his appeal into movie roles. Albums- Word of Mouf (Move Bitch, Area Codes, Southern Hospitality, What’s your fantasy, Stand up, Act a fool, One More Drink, Money Maker, Last of a dying breed)

7. Kanye West: He is what Tupac would be if he were raised upper middle class. Complete with social issues, political, dis and controversial all in one rap song. His flow is more akin to Spoken Word, while he may not quite be Taalam Acey he does puts it down quite nicely. He gained fame by producing Jay Z’s albums and spitting bars through a wire (while his mouth was wired shut), and then he took Jesus to the top of the hip hop and pop charts. His style is uncommon eclectic to perfection. I have always maintained that Kanye is what Tupac would be if he were middle class in the millennium, but Kanye almost to a fault love to experiment on track production. His album 2007 “Graduation” retired rapper 50 Cent. Kanye was influenced by RZA’s uses of distinctive and intricate string arrangements over his own drum tracks. He uses unique instrumentation to push the limits of creativity with each albums, sometimes he pushes a bit too far…with albums such as Yeezus which is vicious, petulant, abrasive and colossally vain.  Albums- Graduation, 808s & Heartbreak, Late Registration, The College Dropout. His collab album “Watch The Throne” with Jay Z goes even to further show his versatility and passion.

6. Jay Z  He had a hard knock life, but he is arguably the most versatile rapper ever he can flow to any beat, his wordplay is of the highest order and his presence on the mic is unmatched.  Even though he lost a rap battle to rival Nas, the war was won in the end by Jay Z. Hova is proof that if you speak clearly and have skills you can stay local and still be a national hit. His debut album “Reasonable Doubt” heralded his arrival, but he didn’t stop there, he then dropped “The Blueprint” and “The Black Album” both classic albums in their own right. There is one thing the business side of  Jay Z knows is that the audience is not only watching, it is changing, so he filled the, also classic, album “Hard Knock Life” with tons of mainstream appeal and he also shows his daring side in the experimental collaborative album “Watch The Throne” with Kanye West. Even when Jay-Z rest on his laurel with the 2013’s unpredictable “Magna Carta Holy Grail” shows that no matter the age Jay Z is an artistic rebel as well as a family stalwart  (99 Problems, Dope Man, This can’t be life, Brooklyn’s Finest, Hard Knock Life, Regrets)

                                                                                                        

5. Tupac Shakur: He rapped about poverty in America, but more importantly he rapped about how we should stop it. Tupac was rap’s greatest storyteller of all-time. His ability to convey the gangster lifestyle was unmatched. His popularity and notoriety exceeds that of any hip-hop artist. The East Coast, West Coast beef and the eventual shooting deaths of Tupac and Biggie remain rap’s biggest stories. He was the first rapper to enjoy success internationally. He earned movie roles in Above the Rim, Juice and Poetic Justice. Honestly Tupac would have had many more great songs and been higher on this list, if he wasn’t always allowing wack rappers to follow him on tracks and if he hadn’t been murdered. His verses have saved many a song, and are the only reason we listened to them. When it came to telling it like it is, or how we felt no one did it better and Tupac. Power, Spiteful, Passion, Outrageous and Inflammatory, Tupac pondered the afterlife and why, with all of our resources, social ills still persist. He didn’t need the dopest beatmaker, or a corporate machine to produce him to perfection, he just needed a mic and it was ‘Tupac against the World’. Tupac’s voice was and still is the voice of the streets. Albums- Greatest Hits (When Thugz Cry, Only God can judge me, Hail Mary, Brenda’s Got a Baby, Keep Ya Head Up, Life Goes On, Me Against the World, Ambitionz as a Ridah, Letter To My Unborn, I Wonder If Heaven’s Got a Ghetto, Hit ‘Em Up’, Changes, 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted, Blasphemy)

4. Snoop Dog: Snoop has stretched out more vowels and dismantled more of the English language than any rapper hands down. His unique laid back cadence and delivery sets him apart from any other rapper. Snoop along with Warren G and Nate Dogg put Long Beach forever on the map. Snoop has dropped lyrics on Pop, Rock, Country and Reggae tracks and that says a lot for a Gangsta rapper from Long Beach California. After gracing Dr Dre’s “The Chronic” with his confident, laid-back flow, Snoop dropped the most important west coast release in the history of Hip Hop 1993’s “DoggyStyle”.  He helped make Death Row records (a label Tupac was also signed to) a force in the music game.  He has graced many rap albums with incredible 16’s. Snoop is constantly reinventing himself. In 2013 he dropped the reggae album Reincarnated. Reincarnated is a very good album and it is Snoop’s most positive and least commercially successful album to date, indicating that there may be a connection with negativity and hip hopSo much of an icon. in movie roles he typically stars as himself, because he’s the most interesting rapper in the world. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog and Tupac earned the West Coast a level of respect it has since lost. Albums- Doggystyle (Gin and Juice, Drop it like it’s hot, Murder was the case, 2 of Amerikaz most wanted, Ain’t No Fun, Sensual Seduction, Lighters Up, What’s my name)

3. Eminem  His first two albums were instant classics.  His song are about true life experiences but more than that he is a lyrical mastermind. His flow is as faster and his verbiage is more on point than anyone in the game. His ability to cut people down with words is second to none. His albums are not happy, they are not party albums, they are drug addicted, domestic violence laden serious and personal albums that always seems to spark controversy. In an entertainment business that turns largely on race, Em has in many ways transcended that argument, although race has a lot to do with his broader appeal, which is evident by the fact that he has sold more albums than any other rapper. Albums- The Slim ShadyLP, Marshal Mathers LP,  (Remember me, Rock Bottom, Till I collapse, Role Model, The way I am, Stan)

 

2. KRS-1: A philosopher and poet among rappers. He put out five albums under the name Boogie Down Productions (BDP). He pre-dates raps movement towards guns and drugs and instead delivered lyrics with a message, that message was that “You Must Learn”. If the black community had an issue he rapped about it. He spoke to the spirit and the mind of the hip-hop and those that love it. Not afraid to provoke thoughts, or express his opinion he set the standard for New York Hip Hop in the late 80’s. He was crucial in organizing dozens of rappers into the “Stop the Violence Movement”, to help curb the violence in hip hop and black communities. Krs-1 is the chief promoter of Hip Hip culture, he is noted for battling any challenger that tried to stepped to his throne and he is the most respected rapper on this list.. (You Must Learn, Hip Hop Lives, South Bronx, The Bridge is over, Criminal Minded, My Philosophy, Stop the violence,

1.  Tie (Dr. Dre & P. Diddy)

Dr. Dre: What rapper/producer’s name has been uttered more times on albums than his? No ones. And that should tell you all you need to know about his impact on the world of musuc. He entered the big time with the rap group NWA. He introduced the world to Gangsta Rap, D.O.C., Snoop Dog, Eminem, 50 Cent and Music ring-tones. He used multi-layered, melodic synthesizers, slow hypnotic grooves, deep bass, a sine wave keyboard and a liberal sampling of P-funk tunes as he developed G-Funk to power the laid back West Coast vibe of  sex, drugs, violence, gangsterism and promiscuous sex. When you forgot about him, he reminded you. His beats alone have powered more top 10 hits than any other rap producer and his pupils are on this list beneath him. Albums- The Chonic, 2001 (Xxplosive, What’s the difference, Forgot about Dre, Light speed, Let me Ride, Kush)

P. Diddy  The rapper/producer who was the driving force behind Biggie, Mary J. Blige, Usher and a half dozen other rappers and groups. He brought hip hop reality television to the masses. He and protege Mase ended gangsta raps reign with shiny suits. What rapper didn’t want to make is band? He introduced the R & B world to Keysha Cole, while he put a brand new Flava in yo ear. Even with average lyrics Sean, Diddy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy or whatever he is calling himself now-a-days has constantly beats his haters expectations. Name changes, identity crisis, business side, controversy, creativity and unusual collaborations…that is Combs, from Hip Hop from childhood to adulthood all the while his lyrics displayed relationship and religious conflicts. The uniformed masses will no doubt hate it, but Combs is the Portrait of the artist as a young rapper. Albums- No Way Out (Can’t nobody hold me down, I’ll be missing you, Been around the world, Last Night, I need a girl, Hello good morning)

Dr. Dre and P. Diddy have rapped, produced and shepherded Hip Hop from puberty, through gangsta rap and the lean corporate years. Today corporate production only focuses on catchy phrases, hooks and making sure that the music stays more powerful than lyrics. For those who wondered how middle age hip hoppers will fair, just look at these two is the answered because they’ve done it. The one true omission from the top spot is Will Smith, who is without argument the most popular rapper that ever existed, but let’s leave him at the #1 actor spot.

Very worthy of mention: Drake, Slick Rick, Rakim,Kool G Rap, Busta Rhymes, Timberland, T.I.,GZA, L.L. Cool J, E-40, Too Short, Big Daddy Kane, Kirk Franklin, Ice T, Scarface, Raekwon, Heavy D, *Justin Timberlake, 50 cent, Common, Lil Wayne, Nate Dogg, Chuck D, Mos Def, Method Man, Twista,  Lil John, Kool Moe Dee, Ben Haggerty, Ja-Rule, Kurupt, Mystical and Big Pun. Unlike many of todays rappers the rappers on this list can tell you more about themselves, through their music, than I ever could.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/MG-Hardie/277636622262511 (Join the movement)

Dear Nicki Minaj:

I’m supposed to be mad at you.  Because of the whole Barbie thing.  I don’t know if you know this, but Ruth Handler created Barbie for Mattel about 50 years ago. She was based on Lily, a blond European comic strip character with, shall we say, loose morals.  As a doll, Barbie prostituted herself for the multiple outfits, shoes, cars, houses and other accessories that parents would buy for their daughters.

A woman who compares herself to Barbie is a woman who desires to be purchased.  A black woman who compares herself to Barbie is celebrating white standards of beauty in order to be bought.  It’s objectifying, it supports patriarchy, it’s reminiscent of slavery, it’s problematic, and it’s working for you, ma.

Maybe it’s because no one can make the rumors about you hooking up with Weezy and Drake to get signed actually stick.  Maybe it’s because your glam is hotter than anything designed for Barbie. Maybe it’s because even in your blond wigs, you look black unlike Barbie’s first black friend, Christie. Maybe it’s because you got ass Barbie can only dream of.  Maybe it’s because this Barbie business is your business.

Times are hard. The black unemployment rate is 16%. One in seven Americans live in poverty. Gainful employment that pays a living wage is hard to find. You found it by being a Barbie. Congratulations.  The more complex the package, the more there is to talk about, and people are talking about you, Nicki.  We’ve been checking for your album over a year before it dropped.

Today, November 22, 2010, is your holiday.  You’ve got a lipstick collabo with MAC, a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer .organization, a MTV documentary titled My Time Now, the Pink Friday album, and a pending tour.  You are packaging yourself to be sold because that’s how the game is played.  Men sell themselves all the time. When they’re successful we call them Donald Trump. When women do it, we call them dolls, puppets, pawns.  You’re doing it right, but you’re wrong about one thing. Your time isn’t now.  Your time is in the future. This is the beginning.

Turn hip pop on it’s head. Teach black girls how to be entrepreneurs—how to self promote guerilla style. Share as much as you feel comfortable about your childhood, your immigration, the domestic violence between your parents, your sexuality, your life in the industry with all those boys, and your round-the-way-girl attempts to figure these men out.  How do they do that shit?

Barbie is your business. I understand that. Lil Kim understands that too, and that’s why she’s challenging you. I know you didn’t name any names in “Roman’s Revenge.”  It has some clever lines, but Roman and Shady both hate women so I can’t give you any props on that.  Just don’t go starting any mess. Your Sucka Free cover is Kim. She’s your godmother in the game even if she’s not acting like it. Think of giving everyone who comes at you, an opportunity to eat too. Savvy women parlay hateration into product that profits the major player and all the people on her team.

I listened to your interviews, I heard you rhyme, I read about that 360 deal. I know that your time is coming. What’s next? Your own label, your own school for girls, your own non-profit? I know you can do it, Nicki. The question is will you? I’ll only be mad if you stay a Barbie.

P.S.

By the way Lil Kim’s Pink Friday Mixtape is something you don’t want to mess with, really.

Just don’t pose in any more plastic boxes, okay?

http://twitter.com/#!/mghasspoken

Dr. Ebony Utley

The Woman with Ideas

theutleyexperience.com

Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D. is an expert in hip hop, race, and love relationships. Her forthcoming book, The Gangsta’s God: The Quest for Respectability in Hip Hop (Praeger, forthcoming), blends rap, religion, and urban African American history to reveal how a God-sanctioned gangsta identity empowers young black people facing declining economic opportunities.

For decades Oprah Winfrey has done many things to help people whether that help came from the Oprah show’s subject matter, giving her audience members cars or opening up a school. It has been said her 2007 endorsement of Barack Obama is what put him over the top in his bid to become president of the United States of America. First let me be clear, I have no problem with Oprah Winfrey at all. Oprah is an amazing woman who has overcome unbelievable odds to become one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. But what has she done with her power?

In November 2006, male prostitute and masseur Mike Jones said that over the course of three years Evangelical Leader Ted Haggard had paid him to engage in sexual activities and that Haggard had also purchased and used methamphetamine.”I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he’s preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody’s back he’s doing what he’s preached against.” Jones told ABC News. Oprah has said that she puts people on her show to empower them, so I find it surprising that this “Evangelical” leader has appeared on her show multiple times.

The Oprah show is largely positive, but at times it is a show rife with one-sided opinion, half-thoughts, sexual anxiety, victim hood, mis-truths, and dark vision of sexual relationships. Oprah did not want males at her Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, but still there have been at least two sex and abuse scandals involving the school. Her influence is as real as it is legendary, it is often called “Oprah Effect”.  She referred to Barack Obama as “The One”, in a nod to the Neo character in the movie “The Matrix”.  If Oprah says “Grilled Chicken”, then the next day KFC runs out of grilled chicken, instead of promoting the chicken Oprah’s audience would have been better served if she had held the KFC corporation’s feet to the fire about why they are putting meat and beef in the chicken that they sell. If Oprah says “Steer Clear” of beef, then cattlemen lose 11 million dollars. If she says “I love this book”, or “That’s such a handy product”, then those items will be best sellers. Which all of this power it is surprising to still see her fawn over a celebrity, misrepresent facts and give out advice such as, telling a child to take on a bully with tough body language. This advice from Oprah places the ownness on the one kid against the bullies instead of on the school system and the parents where it belongs. What good is having this much vaunted effect when you aren’t using it to help even the most helpless of us.

The Low Down Show

This show had J.L. King, author of On the Down Low, a gay black man revealing the “Down Low” lifestyle to America. The Down Low lifestyle is one in which men have sex with other men but self-identify as heterosexual. On this show it was said that a Down Low black man “Could be anywhere, ’cause we’re everywhere”. That same year Governor James McGreevy, was found to be living this type of lifestyle. Oprah invited his ex-wife on the show to cry and to promote her book. Somehow Oprahs never made the connection that White Males also lead these “down low” double lives, unless the message is that White Males can’t be on the Down Low?

Rappers

Books that are changing everything

Let’s not even talk rappers, okay let’s talk about Ice Cube.”For the movie ‘Barbershop’ she had Cedric the Entertainer and Eve on, but I wasn’t invited. Maybe she’s got a problem with hip-hop. She’s had damn rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show. And if I’m not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?”  Ice Cube has produce and/or starred in three over the movies she has discussed on her show, but he has never been invited on. Ice Cube’s question has never been answered.

When the rapper Ludacris appeared on her show with fellow cast members to promote the 2004 movie CRASH, (a movies about racial and social tensions) Oprah took Ludacris to task for his rap lyrics. “She edited out a lot of my comments while keeping her own in. Of course, it’s her show, but we were doing a show on racial discrimination, and she gave me a hard time as a rapper when I came on there as an actor. Initially, I wasn’t even invited on the show.” says Ludacris. “After the taping, she pulled me into a room and we had a five-minute conversation. The feeling I got was that by having rappers on her show, she feels like she’s empowering in them. So it was like being at someone’s house who doesn’t really want you there.I don’t see why she’ll invite Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle on her show and they speak the same language as I do, but since they do it through comedy, I guess that’s acceptable to her.” This would have been the second time Oprah did not invite Ludacris on her show for a movies that she was discussing.

Oprah has had rappers Diddy and Common on her show, both of whom have used what she calls “Degrading”, or “Bad Lyrics” at sometime or another. In an with D.J. Ed Lover, Oprah said “I’ve been accused of not liking hip-hop and that’s just not true.”  That’s what she said, but it sure does seems like it. Perhaps it is a particular kind of rap that confronts issues that she doesn’t want to tackle, or maybe she only likes East Coast rappers.

Ms. Winfrey has never said an unkind word about Eminem, who has the largest reach of any rapper and is also the most misogynist and violent as well. However, Oprah took the time out to say that Snoop Dog’s lyrics were bad and refused to speak to him on the issue. Kanye West was on the Oprah show, Kanye is known for his thought-provoking lyrics, but maybe she forgot about his songs “Golddigger” and “Workout Plan”. Oprah went on the Gayle King show and said that she likes Jay-Z’s lyrics, either you like the lyrics or your don’t. When anyone else in the media speaks like this it is usually called lying, or being hypocritical, I’m just sayin’. Although her disdain of rappers is well documented, recently, she has even been palling around with Jay-Z, in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects no less. “Jay-Z is my new best friend,” Oprah said. Maybe Ms. Winfrey and her staff are unaware of his violent and misogynist lyrics. Apparently Jay-Z has Ninety-Nine problems, but Oprah ain’t one. Whatever the case may be she gains more credibility with her supporters by not having these blacks on. By the way Jay-Z is said to have a deal with Oprah to have a show on her new network.

In life, there are many bullies and they are not all in school, but everyone is afraid of them just the same. Along with worldwide power, you also have a responsibility to make a positive change. That being said Oprah is right. Some rap lyrics are negative, some rap videos have not set very good examples and some rappers have been exploitative, but there are those in the media who have done the exact same things albeit in a different manner. Oprah like many others in the media, Bill O’Reilly included, are quick to point out the obvious wrongs, and slow to highlight the many things that are right.  Oprah as well as O’Reilly have called for clean, positive music and many rappers and singers have answered that call, but neither Oprah or O’Reilly will promote them on their shows either. The so-called bad rappers have a massive base of promotion, so how does the public know that these positive rappers exist if you don’t give them a platform?

Early on in Oprah’s career she had racist come on her show to express their point of view, but she vowed to no longer have then on and since she has went to great lengths to bring on racial uniters. Why not do the same with music? Why not with men in general and with black men in particular? Why indeed Oprah? Why attack the rappers instead of those own these entertainment companies and the individuals who are actually pushing and distributing this music, you have such a problem with, to our youth? Because it is easier to go after the rappers instead of your friends, that’s why.

Now that Oprah is ending her show, we may be seeing an end to the era of “The Oprah Effect” an era where her words and actions are followed, an era where she has set and ended many trends. OWN is launching in 2011 (The Oprah Winfrey Network is a joint venture with Discovery Communications), so in essence she’s on to the next one. Many will rejoice as she seeks to spreads much of her same power to a new era, let’s just hope that the new era isn’t just as one-sided as the last one, an era where it is alright to marginalize people like me, my sons or yours… message.

Part 1

Part 2

Here we are once again on the issue of race. The incident that forced Shirley Sherrod to resign from the USDA and following apologies has America once again talking about race. Racial Politics has the  NAACP condemning the Black Panther Party and at the same time calling for the Tea Party to not let racist into their organization. The Tea Party is calling the NAACP a racist organization. Sherrod, a government official, who made a speech at the NAACP event was forced to resign  after a video clip was posted on http://biggovernment.com/site a site run by Andrew Brightbart. The NAACP immediately issued a statement saying that “Sherrod’s comments were Shameful”. The video clip contained a part of a speech where Sherrod mentions that prejudice made her think of not helping a White farmer. Media outlets jumped on the blogger’s post and soon it was national headlines and Sherrod was labeled a racist.  The full video  shows that Sherrod’s speech was about overcoming prejudice and helping people. The event was filmed by the NAACP, which for some reason acted like the video came from an outside source. Once the full video of Sherrod’s speech came to the public’s attention, the NAACP released a statement saying that the blogger “bamboozled them”.  The Obama Administration fired Shirley Sherrod on Tuesday, and apologized to her on Wednesday.

Sherrod blames the NAACP, Brightbart blames the Media, The NAACP blames Brightbart, The Obama Administration blames The Media and of course The Media blames Fox News.  Shirley Sherrod says that “The Administration wanted her to pull over to the side of the road and resign”. And that is how it always is with these things, nobody is to blame and everybody is responsible at the same time. We The People don’t want our problems solved, we just want to be able to live our lives without having to think too much, if we wanted the problems fixed we would have elected leaders that do more than just manage our problems. Racism is always in fashion and sadly, it is not in corporate or political America’s best interest for races to get along. If they did they would have deconstructed the lies and myths long ago. America is heading in a dangerous direction.

America is simply afraid of Race, that includes organizations like the NAACP. In their rush to become White Acceptable they allowed someone who wasn’t racist to be labeled racist, by their own fault. The NAACP can’t just use a new slogan and put red, white and blue on it’s website and then shy away from your guiding principles. I know that one of the A‘s in the acronym stands for Advancement, so Ben Jealous where is it? Instead of compromising such a storied organization why bring in new people with fresh perspectives, why not not come up with ideas to stay relevant. The ACT-SO program is great, but why not have a NAACP Entertainment Division or NAACP Record Label and the NAACP can promote actors, actresses, rappers, singers, song writers and others in the field of entertainment who generate positive images of African Americans and other people of color? You need better ideas, and kowtowing shouldn’t be one of them. As for the Tea Party,  since there are racist in every organization, if you are not a racist organization don’t promote racists and by all means don’t let them lead you.

Blacks have national forums on race and many of those forums exclude West Coast Speakers. Gays have meetings that exclude Blacks. Whitetopia’s have sprung up in the mid-west where minorities are welcome to visit, but not welcome to stay. Hollywood continues it’s White Wash of Actors as do our magazines. Racially-coded fair continues to populates our televisions and our radio stations. White rapper Eminem constantly talks about misogyny (in his latest song, Love the way you lie, he talks of tying a women to a bed and then setting the house on fire) and violence, is lauded for being artistry, while Nelly and other black rappers are vilified. The way it is now the Chinese don’t like Vietnamese, the Vietnamese don’t like Koreans, the Puerto Ricans don’t like Mexicans, the Mexicans don’t like Guatemalans, the Japanese don’t like Filipinos, Latinos don’t like other Latinos and Black aren’t very popular with anyone. All the while the police shoot unarmed black men in the street.

Books that are changing everything

Here is the deal both political parties want and need division, that’s how they get paid. Politicians don’t become popular from doing the right thing. Not from being right. If that were the case Dennis Kucinich would be in charge. The Radio, Television and Media were once used to inform the public. However, once it was realized that the constant imagery and bombardment can alter perceptions and attitudes these mediums are now being used to shape public policy, and instead of reporting the NEWS they have been making the NEWS. They can do this because most Americans are too caught up with our fears, or at the very least too busy watching what is going on a Football field or the Jersey Shore.

The facts always  matter. Do Native Americans have a legitimate gripe? Do the Japanese? Do the Blacks? Yeap. When the Klux-Klux-Klan killed Sherrod’s father over a cow that wasn’t even his, who could blame Shirley Sherrod if she was prejudice or even racist, and yet there are many who say “just get over it”. For anyone to try and vilify Birghtbard for airing a video is absurd, he is a blogger that is what he does. We point fingers because we want race to be someone else’s issue, and not ours. Race is a media’s issue, a corporate issue, a political issue and a, Obama administration issue. Our officials will point fingers, drink beers in rose gardens, apologize and offer jobs; while the media changes the subject to leaked war diaries or British Petroleum’s restructing all to give us this false sense that we are dealing with the problem.

The President will bend to the pressure of his administration. He will appoint, select and put people in certain positions who are sensitive to race, but ultimately they will be politicians. Racial Politics, Gender Politics, agendas and strategies  will creep in and yet again, and nothing will really be done. Real conversations on race will not take place. American’s, far longer that the term Politically Correct was coined, haven’t been speaking their minds. The only one saying how they really feel in America today is Mel Gibson and ex-American Idol Judge Simon Cowell.

Some of our leaders have people so whipped up on Socialism and Social programs and how bad they are for this country. When the truth is that 40% of the US economy comes from money right out of our social programs, and you wondered why Canada’s tax rate was so high.  Now take that 40% out of the economy and what happens?  Add another 40% of tax to your paycheck. Our elected officials for years have us believing that the invasion of Afghanistan was necessary. Last year the Afghan people earned an average of $1,000 per year for a total of 10 Billion gross national product. At the same time the United States of America spent $30 Billion dollars to win the hearts and mind of the Afghan people.  Why didn’t we just put the Afghan people on our payroll instead?  I don’t know about you, but if somebody tripled my yearly income I think I would be on their side, or at the very least I would have lost the will to shoot at them. And yet not one will bat an eye when congress passes a massive $60 Billion war funding bill. Spending the money to occupy Vs. actually trying to succeed–think about it. And that is the real problem, we aren’t thinking. We are being told what to think, what opinion to have. There will be multiple conversations, discussions and many articles will be written on this Race issue, but when you ask the wrong question to the wrong people you are going to end up with the wrong answer. As a nation we have to be ready to deal with the answers whether we like them or not.

These national organizations, The Media and the Obama administration should be ashamed of themselves for saying that the responsibility is Brightbart’s. Blogger Media, which is usually one sided and polarized. If the Obama Administration continues to allow “The Media” and “polls” to set public policy we are in big trouble. If the NAACP continues to allow the media and media perception to dictate their philosophy their legacy is in trouble  If the media continues to allow bloggers and unvetted information to appear as news the public at large who depend on them are in big trouble. As a nation we need to get beyond race. That is what Post-Racial was supposed to mean, but it actually means that we can be racist and not have to be so tongue and cheek about it. It means that now we can be overtly racist, or use coded racial remarks and if we get called out on it we can just apologize and all is well. Let’s face it they meant to say it, or they wouldn’t have said it. We need to grow together as a nation, after all you can’t legislate racism away. As evidenced bythe fact that articles like these are only written when something happens.

America we have a serious problem, and a lot of growing up to do.  The entire country needs to go on a national P90X program to get rid of prejudice, violence and unwanted notions. Perhaps, racism is America’s second biggest problem, because the first one is Denial.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_the_United_States

The ACT-SO program

http://biggovernment.com/

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome

http://www.naacp.org/press/entry/naacp-statement-on-the-resignation-of-shirley-sherrod1/

http://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/best_sellers/p90x.do?tnt=P90X_SHAKE_B1&code=P90XDOTCOM

Note: Now the NAACP and Shirley are joining forces to continue the discussion on race.