REMINISCE | ONE MIC FESTIVAL EDITION | Special Guest DJ Beverly Bond!

rem april (1)This special edition of REMINISCE, recognized as part of the Kennedy Center One Mic Festival line up, is going to be a can’t miss occasion. We’ve got our standard line up of DJ Underdog and Supa Qool DJ Quartermaine, plus special guest DJ Beverly Bond to do a set for us!. Yep, that Beverly Bond, the founder and executive director of Black Girls Rock!, Inc,! She’s curating a concert and panel on hip-hop and feminism at the Kennedy Center earlier on the 5th of April as well and that looks to be filled with superstar speakers and performers, headlined by L-Boogie, Ms. Lauryn Hill herself.

So head there first them come on down to Liv to party for the rest of the night! Hey, you never know who may show up!

REMINISCE

FREE BEFORE 11pm w/RSVP | OPEN BAR 930-1030 | NO DRESS CODE

RSVP: http:///reminiscedc.eventbrite.com 

Liv Nightclub | 2001 11th Street, NW | Washington, DC

930pm-3am

 

On Wondering If You Might Be Too Old — Or Too Smart, Too Responsible, Too Feminist, etc — To Still Love Rap

wu-tang-clan

I took my fiancee’s nephew (“Derek”) to the YMCA to play basketball. He’s 12. On the way to pick him up, I listened to Fabolous’s Soul Mixtape. Usually, when anyone much younger (nephews, nieces, etc) or older (parents, aunts, uncles, etc) gets into the car with me, I’ll listen to the radio. That day, though, I forgot to make the switch. And, as soon Derek got into the car, a very aggressive chorus of “fucks” came through the speakers. Embarrassed, I quickly turned the music down, and we started talking about Kemba Walker and left-handed layups.

I know I’m not the first person to recognize the unique dynamic of being a rap fan. Well, unique in comparison to other popular genres. When my dad would drive me to school and basketball games when I was a child, we’d listen to Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson and Miles Davis and other artists he grew up on. People who grew up on rap—specifically, the ultra vivid and ultra violent rap music from “my” era—will not have that luxury. I can’t image a parent (well, a responsible parent) breaking down “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” the same way my dad broke down “Trouble Man” to me. While not embarrassed (at all) that I’m a fan, part of being a responsible rap fan is acknowledging and understanding that some of the music can be embarrassing if heard around people who don’t happen to be your peers.

Something else recently dawned on me, though. Something that adds another layer to the cognitive dissonance needed to be a fan of a certain type of rap music. The first rap album I owned was LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad.” But, I didn’t become a “hip-hop head” until maybe 1995, when Raekwon and Mobb Deep and Biggie and Big L dominated the airwaves and the homeroom conversations. And, while I know a part of me appreciated and admired their creativity and lyrical dexterity, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this anti-social and nihilistic music most resonated with me when I was a teen—the time when I was the most anti-social and nihilistic. Although I wasn’t outwardly rebellious, the music connected to the latent rebellious spirit I, like most other teens, possessed.

Considering the content found in most popular rap—and most rap I currently listen to—I doubt I’d be a fan if I was first introduced to it as an adult in 2013 instead of a teen in 1993. Maybe I’d appreciate The Roots and other acts with more conspicuous connections to jazz and/or R&B. But, I’d likely find most of the rest to be noisy, vulgar, and embarrassingly misogynistic. Basically, I’d be my dad.

The preceding passage is from “Hey Young World: You Don’t Have to Be a Kid To Fall In Love With Hip-Hop, But It Sure Helps” — a piece I wrote for Complex earlier this week.

Although I made it clear that I’m still very much a fan of some very vulgar and very violent rap music — and I don’t feel bad in anyway about that status — I do sometimes wonder if I should feel bad about itBasically, should I be more bothered by how easily I do the mental gymnastics needed to compartmentalize the music I listen to as just music?

Also, although I can be a bit robotic, I’m not actually a robot. (Surprise, right?) And, because I’m not a robot, I can’t say with 100% certainty that the music I listen to doesn’t have an effect on both my psyche and my personality. Who’s to say that 20 years of listening to violent, vulgar, and misogynistic rap music hasn’t made me a tad more violent, a bit more vulgar, and a little more likely to have negative feelings about women than I would have if I’d never been exposed to it?

(And yes, everything I just said could also be said by someone about TV and movies. But, music tends to be experienced on a more intimate level, and, generally speaking, I think it has more of an effect on you than something on screen does.)

Anyway, am I alone here? Any other long-time hip-hop heads (or just casual fans of rap music) experiencing the same type of ambivalence? Do you ever wonder if you might be too old — or too smart, too educated, too responsible, too feminist, etc — to still love rap as much as you do?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

“Put It In Your Mouth” and Gender Equality In Hip-Hop

This totally happened.

This totally happened.

I’ve always been somewhat baffled by just how “excited” everybody gets when “Put It In your Mouth” comes on in the club. For all intensive purposes, it usually comes on at the point in the night when the party goes from the joint to pajama jammy jam levels. Hell, as far as great unifiers go, the only musical entity bringing together more people is Justin Timberlake.

But there you have it, “Put It In Your Mouth” the oral sex anthem from 1996 is still going strong. And there’s a reason for it. It just might be one of the few hip-hop songs where men and women are equal. Sure there are lots of songs where a man and woman trade bar, but in almost all of them, the woman hoes herself with tremendous aplomb. Think Trina in “Nann N*gga”. She’s talking about smanging five or six best friends etc, which I’m fairly certain isn’t exactly female empowerment. I could be wrong on this as my feminist handbook got run over by either a Beamer, Benz, or Bentley.

Me and my n*ggas trynna get it ya bish.

By the way, I know it’s “all intents and purposes”. Keep calm and rub t*ts if you love Big Poppa.

“Put It In Your Mouth” on the other hand gives the woman equal time to let the man know exactly what he needs to be doing to please her. And the dude, in this case, Akinyele, is listening, taking notes, presumably because he’s going to eaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat her ouuuuuuuuuut.

Let’s switch gears for a second. Hip-hop has an interesting relationship with female empowerment. If I get any of this wrong, feel free to correct me. Purge me, Brother Numsie. I want the knife. Please. But aside from “Ladies First”, Queen Latifah’s first single where she actually looks older than she IS now and “U.N.I.T.Y.” there aren’t too many known songs where women are “taking a stand” and its not sexual. It seems like all female empowerment in hip-hop is of the sexual variety. She’s pulling dude moves by sexing anybody she feels when she feels it. It’s that Ronnie Ho stuff from The Player’s Club. Aggressive, assertive women who play the game like men do. Except while most men enjoy the sexual nature of the lyrics, I don’t know that any dude was every trying to seriously wife Lil Kim or Foxy Brown. Sure we all talked about smashing, but does anybody know a dude who was like, “yo, I’d like to see if I could build something with a chick like Lil Kim?”

I ain’t saying it ain’t possible, I’m just saying that you might not trust a dude who told you had real feelings for Lil Kim.

Now the reasons for this are probably simple. In order to make it in the man’s rap game the women had to appeal to the men. Long gone were the days where songs like “Poor Georgie” and “Paper Thin” were interesting to hear from women rappers. Even women rappers today like your Rhapsody’s don’t get much burn. Part of that is that you seem to have two types of women rappers, sexxy time rappers and women rapping about rapping – which bores the living f*ck out of most people regardless of gender. Go ask Tyrese aka Black Ty.

Back to empowerment. Men seem to be only accepting even decent rapping women like your Nicki Minaj’s – who is definitely a motherf*cking monster – when the oversexualize themselves. Chicks who can spit only seem to get notice if they dress like they stopped at Frederick’s of Hollywood. Obviously men have always viewed the fairer sex through sexual lenses but it seems like many women have not only embraced it but decided that its how they SHOULD be viewed. Odd future. So even if many women spitters are out there ridin’ ’round and gettin’ it in the booth, the truth is, the successful ones are only getting attention by being as lewd-a-crous as possible. Which is interesting since none of us claim to want to support this music.

You gotta believe in something. We all try. The girls try. The boys try. We all try.

Quite simply, I don’t really think of any of these women rappers as doing much to advance any agenda or equality since they’re all just stripping with words basically. And while I definitely support the cause of the video ho and the pole performing artists, I can’t say I really think they’re doing much for gender equality. It always feels lopsided.

Which brings us back to “Put It In Your Mouth”. It doesn’t feel lopsided. Yes, it’s about sex. But it’s about a man and a woman getting equal time and shine for the same reason…making sure the other knows what is about to go down. There’s almost…dare I say respect there? Plus, its one of the few songs that comes on in the club where dudes stop and listen to the woman in front of them singing the words.

Basically, it’s the only hip-hop song (that really comes to mind) where the man and the woman are equals.

A reach? Sure. But hey, you can’t break a few omelets unless you reach for the stars. Sadatay.

Is “Put It In Your Mouth” the only hip-hop song with true gender equality? Are there others?

What the hell is Panama talking about? Does anybody know?

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. I WROTE 900 WORDS ABOUT PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

DC: Thursday, March 21, 2013: Re:Mix Live – The Motown Edition

Remix Live Promo 002

 

For those folks in DC, I’d like to invite you all out to new type of event. On Thursday, March 21st, we’re bringing you an event entitled Re:Mix Live. It’s a new type of producer/DJ showcase that’s not so much just about the performers but about engaging the audience. We’re using this first show to focus on music from Motown. All of the music that will be remixed and recreated uses music from the great Motown catalog. This way, nobody is just sitting around while producers play music you’ve never heard before using samples they’ll never tell you about.

No, at Re:Mix Live, you’ll get to see and hear the art of remixing and sampling done live and in front of you as we pull old songs and turn them into brand new ones on stage…not just instrumentals, but new songs with lyrics, etc. It should be an experience, not just a show. We’re excited to try something new and add it to a landscape of sparse hip-hop shows in DC. But even moreso hip-hop shows that are just for heads. This is going to be for everybody who loves music.

So come on out, Thursday, March 21 and help us try something new hip-hop and music-wise in DC. We’ve got a great lineup of producers and DJs, and hosts that will keep the crowd involved. Peep the flyer for details and see you then!

Re:Mix Live

Thursday,  March 21s at Liv Nightclub (2001 11th St, NW)

$10 21+//$15 under 21

Doors at 7PM, Show at 8PM

What Does Hip-Hop Look Like To You?

A couple of days ago I got a text message from one of my homies from way back. Somebody she knew read the recent profile of Jay-Z by Zadie Smith in the New York Times that read an awful lot like any other profile of Jay-Z talking about being Jay-Z. You know the one, where the interviewer goes into total fanboy mode – no judgement, I’ve never met anybody of Jay’s stature so perhaps I’ll be starstruck too – and their excitement jumps off the page a little too much? Anyway, somebody that the homey knows who wasn’t that up on Jay or much of hip-hop asked her for some hip-hop songs that he should check out.

You know, this is the moment that most fans of hip-hop wait for in life. See, most folks you come across already have an opinion on hip-hop, either good or bad. If they’re upwardly mobile and white, chances are that they view rap as the devil spawn of what happens when Nikki Sixx meets cocaine meets Harlem meets blaxploitation. But every now and then, you come across that person who is open-minded enough to still be willing to form a new opinion. And thus you get the opportunity to introduce this person to the art form you love and help to shape their impression. Basically you get to point them to your own personal version of what hip-hop looks like. You know, not Chief Keef and whatever is going on with the Chicago Public Schools. And no Soulja Boy. And you can take them to a place where people named Lil Reese and Lil Scrappy are more irrelevant than they currently are.

Yes. You get to create a Hip-Hop Utopia and introduce this individual to the good sh*t. So the homey and I went back and forth on songs that she should present to her friend. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of pressure involved here. So I figured, I’d bring the pressure to you all. But first, if I was given the opportunity to represent hip-hop to somebody who was open enough to believe that my version of the genre was the one to believe in, and I could only share ten songs, here are the songs I’d offer up:

1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – T.R.O.Y.

Pretty self-explanatory here, plus it’s my favorite song in hip-hop and one of my favorite songs period. I get to pretend like all hiphop is beautifully produced full of verses about something and nothing AT THE SAME DAMN TIME (and get to use played out statments like that one…which makes no sense because I wouldn’t actually say that…the Ravens put up 41).

2. Geto Boys – Mind Playing Tricks On Me

For one, it samples Isaac Hayes and I just got finished watching the Stax documentary for the umpteenth time. For two, it’s a song about paranoia and it proves that hip-hop can actually discuss mental health issues. Mmhmm. I said it. Obama is fighting for the right for songs like this. Dr. King marched for this song. Plus, it’s just a great hiphop song.

3. Eminem – Lose Yourself

Probably the best song in his catalog and the perfect description of what it feels like to step on stage. Plus, it describes the essence of hip-hop. It’s not a slow burn type of sport, it’s about taking in the moment, rising to the occasion, and leaving no doubt. It’s like Remember The Titans, except not at all.

4. Queen Latifah – Ladies First

Mostly because I actually think King La went off on this joint and Monie Love repped for the ladies quite properly.

5. Nas – One Mic

This song is pure hip-hop from one of the purest representations of hip-hop, you know, when he’s not channeling his Rick Ross aspirations.

6. Notorious B.I.G. – either Juicy or Kick In The Door

“Juicy” is probably the most logical choice because it’s the story every rapper wishes they had. Minus the phone bill being about $2000 flat. Luckily, most people have unlimited plans now. ‘Pac and Big died before that happened though.”Kick In The Door” on the other hand is so perfect to me. I’d marry it if it wasn’t probably already married to “Unbelievable”.

 

7. Outkast  – Bombs Over Baghdad

This isn’t even remotely my favorite song by the group, however, it’s such a dope record that shows how different hip-hop could take it, I’m all in. Oh, and by the way, ATLiens is my favorite ‘Kast album though Aquemini is totally worthy of its praise.

8. Jay – Z – Can’t narrow this down…Reasonable Doubt

I know this is cheating, but I can’t do it. I can’t pick just one.

9. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Thuggish Ruggish Bone

It’s just a dope ass song. Sue me. Worthy of being included for diversity of sound’s sake.

10. Tupac – Keep Ya Head Up

Self explanatory again.

Okay, there are so many songs and artists I didn’t include for various reasons but could easily deserve a spot on this list. However, I will bring it to you, the people…and for those that hate hip-hop, I’m gonna throw you a bone here…list some of the songs you think are the worst representation as evidence of the terribleness. Equal opportunity, plus I’m curious as to what songs folks who hate hip-hop really know and view as proof positive of the negativity within.

So creep with me folks…what does hip-hop really look like to you?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. HIP HOP SAVED MY LIFE aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow night to www.blis.fm/theblaqoutshow from 8-10pm to check out The Blaqout Show as we discuss what’s going on in the world of politics, love, and fashion! Holla if ya hear me!