Me Too, Kanye. Me Too.

Yay. Another hit song from somebody I won’t remember tomorrow. Hooray.

While I think that Kanye straddles the line between petulant child and idiot savant a bit too often, dude is definitely a brilliant artist. I won’t call him a musician because as of yet I’m not sure he can play anything other than a drum machine. But what makes him so brilliant as an artist is his vision. In fact, that’s what separates him from nearly every other artist out there in hip-hop, in my opinion. Kanye has figured out how best to tow the line between capturing the cultural zeitgeist, finding an innovative way to promote it, and dropping music that somehow manages to sound completely unique and niche but intended for mass consumption at the same damn time. That is a rare talent.

To take it a step further, the only thing separating Nas from Jay-Z is Kanye West. Kanye has enabled Jay to extend his run at the top much longer than it likely would have lasted. He’s allowed Jay to venture into musical waters he’d otherwise never venture without somebody like ‘Ye there to create it. I don’t know this for fact, but Jay’s taken a hell of a lot more chances with his music since Kanye showed up.

Vision. I get it. It’s allowed the man to focus on the experience of music moreso than just the sound of it. You don’t just get an album. You get the visuals, you get the package. Hell, even the simple cover art for every single they’ve dropped since the G.O.O.D. Friday’s experiment of 2010 was ahead of its time. No need for anything too crazy. It’s all about the experience. Which is why I understand why artists like Kanye and Andre 3000, get so bored with, well, everything.

“…I’m just underwhelmed in general…” ~ Kanye West, Cruel Summer promo video

“…I’m tangled in my chord, eh, bored…” ~ Andre 3000, “Mighty O”, Idlewild Soundtrack

I get it. I don’t think there’s been a time where I’ve personally been this underwhelmed by music that I hear. And to be honest, some of that output includes the music coming from the Grammy family too. I even find Cruel Summer to be underwhelming. Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of “Mercy” (outside of saying Lamborghini mercy because its just fun to say) or “New God Flow” when they dropped. “Clique” is perfect. Period. But I’ve listened to the album a few times and have yet to want to listen to it again.

I wonder if I’m just suffering from art overload and malaise. I consume an insane amount of music and create my own. The more I hear the less enthused I get by current musical output. It’s like the 9th Wonder Production Returns theory all over – the more you get of it the less good it all is. And it’s not to say that I don’t enjoy some of it. There are definite pop smashes that I enjoy in the moment. But I forget them shortly after they fade from public consiousness like that Cobra Starship song I loved so much featuring Saba. Or anything by Carly Rae Jepsen. But I won’t remember those songs in two weeks if I don’t listen to the radio.

It doesn’t translate solely to music either. Many things that once excited me have managed to create a sense of boredom. From reading blogs that used to rocky my socks that now bore the absolute living f*ck out of me to fashion, because believe it or not, I like fashion. Which could just mean that I’m getting old. Or maybe I’m just getting crotchety. Of course, I still manage to get excited for some things in the music world. While I wasn’t holding my breath for Cruel Summer, I know I will be for a new Kanye West album. Or even a Jay album. I would be for an Outkast album but I guess Big Boi would too. I’m waiting for Kendrick Lamar to drop and am truly excited about that, but, that’s about it.

Even while waiting for those projects, there will be lesser known items that will come into my purview and make me smile again. You know, it just hit me as I was writing this. Because I feel like I’ve grown up along with nearly every great movement in hip-hop, I got to sit live and direct for a lot of music that absolutely made me and everybody else appreciative for its existence. And that’s what I feel is missing now. That’s what creates the underwhelming feeling. The innovation is missing. Nobody is making anything, that I’ve heard, that truly makes me appreciative of the artistry that goes into it. People either aren’t taking chances or don’t know how to take chances. Sure, there’s dope music that is safe, so to speak, but it doesn’t resonate after you’ve heard it the first time.

There are no more Madvillainys.

So when I do hear something that resonates I’m happy as hell and I truly feel lucky to have heard it or been apart of it. And that doesn’t happen often enough anymore. I’m not going to say the music lost all of its integrity, I just don’t feel much of it in my soul. For instance, the last bit of music that truly hit me in my gut, was a little known outfit out of Chicago, called Milo & Otis, composed of a vocalist/poet/etc and a composer/producer, with an album called The Joy. I would recommend you give it a listen. Instantly, I was hooked. Instantly. It’s the only thing I’ve listened to since I got it. And I’m appreciative of that. Something that makes me want to hit repeat.

I think that’s what Kanye was getting at with his underwhelmed comment. Which is why he is winning. He is making music that folks will play on repeat because it resonates and achieves the goal of being compelling. He’s trying to make himself give a f*ck. Could be the Gemini in us (pause?) that gets bored easily but that’s what I’m looking for too. The reason to listen again.

I’m tired of being underwhelmed, but I do at least believe that more quality is on the way from somewhere. Whether it’s the Milo & Otis’s (for me) or the Kanye’s of the world, I know there’s talent out there. I just have to do my work to find it. Maybe it isn’ the destination, but the journey.

Maybe I like clichés.

Maybe I’m just bored.

Again.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. EATING SOUP WITH A FORK aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

We’d like to do our first shoutouts to folks who have contributed money to our ongoing efforts to create a TV pilot based on VSB! Thanks so much for your donations and support! You’ll be hearing from our lawyers mothers…eh…we love you! Thanks for sleepwalking to the following folks:

Karmella Haynes
Kimberly Sewell
Alexis Gomez
Sally Rainey
Tracy Cox
Yolanda Allen
Denise Gayle
Simona Noce
Marcus Williams
Mecca R. Shakoor

 

 

The 10 Times It’s Perfectly Acceptable To Say “Bitch”

Earlier this week, the world’s greatest and most important recording artist went on a stream of consciousness tweeting spree about “bitch” and its numerous connotations. Although he drew no ultimate conclusion about his basic premise — Is the word “bitch” acceptable? — the short and largely rhetorical conversation touched on a topic that will never not be relevant to people who enjoy language, all language, and the myriad ways to incorporate it.

Personally, I think that, under certain conditions, bitch is perfectly acceptable. Like nigger/nigga and any other politically charged word, the word itself isn’t inherently wrong, and the rightness or wrongness of its use is completely dependent on context, speaker, and audience.

When exactly is it perfectly acceptable to say bitch? Glad you asked…

When speaking ironically

Example: “Hey man. What’s going on?”

“Just sitting here at my cubicle, filing expense reports, preparing for this staff meeting, mackin’ bitches. You know, the usual.”

“Cool”

When your entire wedding party, including your unborn daughter, has been murdered by a group of ethnically diverse and impossibly attractive world-class female assassins

Although you might not be as adept at tracking each of them down and murdering them as Beatrix Kiddo was, if something like this happens to you, I really can’t begrudge you the right to refer to your would be assassins as bitches. Plus, “I’m going to straight-up murk those bitches” just rolls off the tongue much better than “I’m going to straight-up murk that group of ethnically diverse and impossibly attractive world-class female assassins.”

When asserting dominance over an inanimate object

Examples: “You probably should put a jacket on. It’s getting chilly”

“Don’t worry about it. The approaching cold front is totally my bitch”

or

“What did you have for breakfast this morning?”

“Dude, I made those pop tarts my bitch!”

When alone in the car and repeating the lyrics to any rap made before 2003 by any rap artist hailing from somewhere west of the Mississippi river or south of the Mason-Dixon line

There are too many songs to possibly list that could qualify, but for the most bang for your buck, listen to “Bitch Ass Niggaz” just so you can recite the first couple bars of Hitman’s aggressively homoerotic verse.

When addressing a female dog

And by “a female dog” I mean an asshole cat who’s attempting to eat the shoe off of your foot because the shoe is gray and his dumb ass thinks it’s a giant mouse with a white swoosh on its abdomen”

When paying someone a compliment

Example: “Man, those new foamposites you’re rockin are pretty bitchin”

“Thanks, dog. I didn’t think anyone would notice”

“I always notice, man.”

“Always?”

“Always”

When derisively commenting on something done by a professional athlete

Example: “Kobe’s making his bitch face again”

“Why is Kobe always bitchin to the refs? F*cking bitch!”

“Ugh. I want to root for the Lakers this year cause I love Steve Nash, but I can’t because Kobe is such a bitch”

“There goes Hobe Bitch-ass Bitchyant playing hero ball again. F*cking bitch!”

When talking to actual, real life bitches

Because it can be very difficult to determine exactly what makes someone a bitch — and because most people properly and fairly given the bitch designation will still reject and scoff at said designation — it’s still probably not wise to refer to properly deemed bitches as bitches. You’d be morally, logically, and linguistically correct, but you still might get shanked.

If you’re a hipster, a liberal academic, or a person who shops at Trader Joe’s

Why? Well, if you’re one of these things, you can’t possibly be sexist, racist, xenophobic, or homophobic and nothing you can possibly say could be offensive to anyone in any context because you deeply understand how words can injure and insult and you’d never intend to do that to anyone

When someone owes you money

Doesn’t matter if it’s a priest, a bank, or your girlfriend’s great uncle. If someone owes you money, and has gone a suitable period of time without returning said money — and, for argument’s sake, “suitable period of time” is determined by a complex matrix dependent on how long it’s been, how much you’re owed, and how broke you currently are — it’s perfectly okay to mutter “That bitch better have my money” to yourself if on the way to see them.

Anyway, people of VSB.com, do you think “bitch” is ever acceptable? If not, why not? If so, are there any other situations where using it is appropriate?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Don’t forget to listen to The Blaqout Show tonight at 8pm. Panama will be discussing things that men don’t understand about women on his segment, CP Time! Listen to the squad of Beny, Angel, Malik, Prepster Punk Squad Gangsta Click, Komplex as they wax philosophical on all things waxy. www.blis.fm from 8-10pm EST!!!

It’s Over Now: Things You Should Give Up At Age 30

Life's a b*tch and then you die.

While meandering through the wonderful world of Twitter the other day, I happened upon a conversation with world the world-famous @areefuhstanklin and @basseyworld about fashion tips for men with no fashion taste. Admittedly, a lot of men do indeed lack a fashion sense all their own. Most of the under 25-crowd dresses like 106 & Park (does this show still come on? I actually don’t know) rejects while a lot of the 25-34 crowd has one go to club (and life) outfit: the button up shirt and blazer that Usher and Kanye West made so popular…

…in 2004.

Yes. Confessions AND The College Dropout came out nearly six years ago. Yes. You just might be old.

Thing is, it was inferred that men over age 30 shouldn’t be wearing Timberland’s anymore. And I’m assuming we’re talking the construction boot “butters”. And that is patently wrong. If you’re from the Northeast, Tims are go to shoes for doing any and everything. They’re all purpose like a motherf*cker. While they’re not as comfortable as their popularity might indicate, fact is, for most of us, they’re the non-tennis shoe, non-dress shoe of choice.

So what I’m saying is that @basseyworld was wrong. However, there are certain things that one should give up once you hit age 30. Here’s a list for those that either don’t know, don’t show, or just don’t care about being a menace to South Central (or South Los Angeles now) while drinking their juice in the hood while watching the boring ass Oscars where Zoe Saldana looks like she’s trying to become PETA’s public enemy number one.

1. Aspirations, hopes and dreams of fame and fortune if you’ve been toiling away for 10 years and you’re still only famous in your building

Look, I’m all for the belief that if you see it, you can achieve…except it’s a total lie. T-Boz’s acting job in Belly teaches us that failure is a very real option. Nas’s acting for that matter, too. More than likely, the comments section will be filled with people saying “dreams of being a rapper” and it’s true. You should not start rapping after age 27. Period. It’s tacky and I feel sorry for your mother.

2. Camouflage clothing items

Unless you are specifically called away to a combat zone by the Secretary of Defense, you look like a damn fool. Camo is generally a bad fashion statement anyway, unless you are a Que and also wear purple and gold boots – a combo that is ONLY okay if you’re a Que, kind of like pink and green – but there comes a point where there just is no good reason to put on camo. I’d wager that when rappers stop wearing is that point (like now) but I’ll give you until 30.

3. Cheap colognes and oils from the subway/Metro man

Step your grown person sh*t up and pay for a real fragrance. If you want to smell homeless, then okay, but generally cheap sh*t smells like cheap sh*t.  Go to a real counter and somebody who charges you sales tax.

4. Music that includes odd associations with something called a Wacka Flocka Flame

Wacka’s associations go all over the place from Gucci to Shawty LO to people with worse names. Basically, I’m saying that upon reaching age 30, you should give up on any music from Atlanta that doesn’t involve somebody who worked with the Dungeon Family. Word.Life.

5. Outfits that intentionally include sweat pants

Sweatpants, while all purpose, are really not going to get you too far in life. At a certain point – and yes DC, I’m looking at you – sweat pants should be used for just that, sh*t that makes you sweat. I’ve seen way too many old ass men running around in overpriced designer sweatsuits thinking that looked good. It.did.not.

6. The apostrophes in your name

You know, if you ghetto and all.

7. Dreams of f*ckin’ an R&B b*tch

Biggie dead. Your dream should be too.

That’ll do, pig.

So what else should folks be giving up when they turn 30?

Explore. Explain.

D’extra Wiley.

(Wow. Mo’Nique won!)

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL, HE A 3

ole’ faithful: the people, places, and things that never disappoint us

PACERS CLIPPERS

between the economy, the cleveland cavaliers, and the blueprint 3¹, 2009 has largely been an anti-climatic year full of disappointments and epic fails.

despite this, there remains a number of things we can always rely on to come through in the clutch, a bevy of perpetually dependable people, places, and things that never, ever disappoint, and that always perform exactly how we expect them to.

here’s six

ron artest breaking news

between its hair, its haymakers, and its halftime hennessy, “ron artest breaking news” is the literal embodiment of the gift that keeps on giving. i’ve never been disappointed or unentertained after clicking on a headline with its name in it, and “ron artest breaking news” seems intent on keeping it that way forever

the support of sistas

seriously, if you’re a black man with even an inkling of, sh*t, anything, the list of things you can do to make sistas stop supporting you is shorter than kiefer sutherland.

soup with crackers

go ahead and laugh, but name another food more reliable than a bowl of soup with crackers. in my travels i’ve tasted f*cked up versions of pretty much every previously assumed unf*ckupable foods imaginable. i even once had someone bake me some sugar cookies that somehow ended up tasting like smoked salmon. soup with crackers, on the other hand, always comes through, always makes you smile, and, strangely, always makes you think about professional wrestling²

hoes

regardless of where, when, why, how, who, and what, you can always count on hoes to find unique ways to partake in some form of productive hotivity. you may call them many things (“hobby-horse” is my favorite), but “a disappointment” is never one of them³

the barbershop

*just a few of the things i received during last thursday’s weekly visit to east liberty kutz*

a fresh shape-up. a conversation with a crackhead about paul pierce. a slice from ventos pizzeria. two business cards, including one from a female barber i strongly suspect to be a lesbian pimp. stock tips. a convincing theory about the real reason bill cowher left the steelers in 2006 (apparently he got a sista knocked up. she got an abortion, but his wife still told him “we’re leaving pittsburgh or i’m leaving you”). a flyer for a party at a bar that burned down two days later. change for a 20.

the three-five minute early morning quickie

f*ck folgers, this has been and will always be the best part of waking up

anyway, we always have a ton to say about what’s making us itch or grinding our gears, but i’m curious: what else can we name that never, ever disappoints?

¹to be honest, once you realize that the blueprint 3 is just jay-z doing his best impression of a kanye album, its actually not that bad
²maybe this is just me
³unless, of course, she’s your daughter

—the champ

Get Like We: The Biggest And Most Popular Trends in the Black Community in the last 20 years.

gregoden

Over the course of history, Black people have been quite the trendsetters.  We’re both followers and leaders at the exact same time.  For instance, there was the whole slavery problem where so many folks tried to be like their homies who they saw get on the Amistad party boats, only to never return from whence they came.

But then came the amazing trend that had to have been started by the parents of one Harriet Tubman (née Altamina Ross) who decided that they would be uber-creative with her name, which is a trend that lives on in hoods across America as every one of us knows at least one person with three capital letters in their first name.  Some of us even  know people with more than one apostrophe.

Some of us even know a person named N”DBiane’.  (Okay, I don’t personally know her, but I saw her name in the graduation program for Douglass High School (Atlanta,  GA) class off 2007 – Panama)

Fact is, Black America has seen its fair share of amazingly omnipresent trends.  Today, The Champ and I will discuss some of the biggest nationwide trends in Black America.  Get like us.

Panama’s Trendwatch

1)  Sprewells/Spinners – Though more people know them as spinners than Sprewells, the guy who choked out PJ Carlesimo is the reason for accidents galore over at least a 2 year span.  I can’t be the only person who hit the brakes prematurely as I was driving thru a green light because the idiot with the spinners looked like he was still moving into my path.  This trend was so big, K-Mart was even selling knock-off plastic spinners which made their way onto Mexican (no Gem) cars from San Diego to Maine.  Except it seems that most Mexicans were on the economy package and only bought 3.  Odd.

2)  L.A. Gang Culture – Boyz In Tha Hood and Menace II Society sparked a gang surge like none other in the early 90s.  I myself joined two gangs.  From Dickies to ’64s to the amazing sound of Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg in suburbs across America, Black America’s fascination with all things LA sparked possibly one of the riveting HBO documentaries ever:  Banging in Little Rock.  Every major southern and midwestern city saw gang violence escalate like never before.  And jheri curls.  Which much like spinners, caused more accidents than it was worth.

3)  Throwbacks/Retro Culture/Skinny Jeans - At one point, people were wearing jersey’s of people and teams that never actually existed.  I should know, I am the proud owner of at least 20 jersey’s, at least 10 of which are for teams Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew or the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have never heard of.  But nothing was/is worse than the skinny jean, overly colorful 80s retro vibe permeating Black America right now.  Gumbies, thick rope chains, jeans that outline your wheezer – all were bad ideas in teh 80s so they’re even worse now that we have a reference point of the 80s to remind us how bad we all looked.  Thankfully Jay killed throwbacks, though that unfortunately led to…

4)  Grown-and-sexxy – Jay says button ups, so Kanye throws on a sport jacket over his button up, with some tennis shoes and the next thing you know, metrosexuals everywhere where rocking the Kanye special.  Only problem is, striped button ups are pretty hideous by nature so the jacket didnt help at all.  But since nobody really knew what grown-and-sexxy meant, and since most of us don’t have daddies, we figured Kanye and Jay-Z were as good a role model as any.

5) Sagging – We’re black.  We like jail.  Amen.

trends the champ’s noticed and sh*t

1) the iverson effect

while jay-z, michael jordan, tupac, obama, and mr. marcus have each influenced in our community in some way, there’s no one who has altered as many lives as allen iverson, a man responsible for spear-heading two separate trends

a) the ceaser/even steven ***if you remember, fifteen years ago the fade was still the default go-to haircut for the majority of young black men. now, the fade is reserved for preachers, men from los angelos, mike tomlin, virgins, rapists, and retards. this mass eschewing of the fade begin when a.i. started rocking the ceaser his sophomore year at georgetown***

b) the ubiquitous tats ***while there has always been a certain segment of the population with multiple tattoos, people without multiple predicate felonies (basically, people like me) didn’t really start rocking them until after iverson’s second year in philly. now, you’re likely to see both bloods and black nuns rocking “thug life” tats on their necks and wrists

2. the frohawk

while kanye, kanye’s shag, and a few other ambiguously heterosexual contemporary male artists usually get the credit for this, the recent mohawk trend can be traced back to eva pigford on america’s next top model, proving once and for all that straight young black males have a strange tendency to pick and follow the gayest fashion trends possible.

3. the late 80′s-early 90′s black pride boom

i dont know if it was public enemy’s popularity, the airing of “a different world”, or a chemical reaction created by the last remains of jheri curl juice. whatever the cause, black america experienced an extremely sudden and extremely strange boom in black pride for a three year span, with 1990 serving as it’s apex.  sudden because it seemed to come and go with the same quickness, and strange because it wasn’t uncommon to see a person walking through the hood with some kinte cloth nikes and two giant african medallions over an all white polo jumpsuit. with that being said, my hbcu alliance hampton university short set and matching X hat was kind of hot.

4. knockoff fashion

anyone doubting the thundergoat’s popularity just needs to remember how much of an influence the “timberland boots” she rocked in her and jay-z’s horrible me and my girlfriend video influenced us. for a four year span, you couldn’t leave the crib without tripping over a bootlegged lime green manolo boot heel. when you combine that with the burberry knock off trend (which snowballed into louis, gucci, fendi, and every other high end label that pittsburgh strippers are likely to name their kids after) she also started in that same f*cking video, you have concrete proof that beyonce’s the brain to our human borg.

i’m sure we’re leaving a few out. people of vsb.com, are there any other transcendent trends that we missed?

—panama jackson and the champ