I Don’t Understand Why Puff Speaking at Howard University’s Graduation Is A Thing.

P. DIDDYSo Sean “Puff/Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Diddy” Combs, possibly Howard University’s most famous dropout has been summoned to speak at their commencement exercise in May. This has apparently ruffled some feathers. And by some I mean way less than a lot. But enough to garner debate and discussion as if it were a thing so let’s pretend its a thing. Assuming its a thing, I honestly cannot understand for the life of me why anybody would have a problem with this.

This can’t be because he’s a college dropout. Should Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (RIP) be the commencement speaker I’d wager that not one single person would bat an eye. All those men have changed the course of human history. Maybe it’s because they’re the kind of college dropouts we can get behind? Me no know. Puff changed the course of history as well. He helped turn hip-hop into the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today, for better or worse. Fight me.

It can’t be because he’s not successful enough. Puffy is chasin’ that billion dollar net worth like his life depends on it. He has managed to successfully run Bad Boy Records and turn it into an empire while jacking holding the publishing rights to various artists you know and love (See Badu, Erykah). While he has definitely tanked more careers than he’s managed to usher into longevity, his business sense has fostered the careers of everybody from Usher to Outkast to Mary J. Blige to Jodeci to Biggie to Faith, etc. You see where I’m going. While very few people signed to him survived Bad Boy in tact, he put everybody in a position to win. And win they did for a while. Puff’s worth has been over $500 million for quite some time. That’s not because folks are handing him things, its because he’s been ridin’ around and gettin’ it…coincidentally a mantra that I’d wager 90 percent of HBCU students invest and believe in. HBCU students like the ones he will address in May.

It can’t be because he’s not inspirational. Love him or hate him, the man’s life story hasn’t been an easy one. He scrapped to get where he is and it isn’t like you wouldn’t listen to Puff give advice on how to make it in America. Hell, we seem to like to listen to Jay-Z and they pretty much have the same story. The only difference is Puff was cuttin’ the checks WAY earlier than Jay was. Hell, Puff’s most famous lyric might be, “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.” Undoubtedly ghost-written, but important nonetheless. Gangstarr has an album called The Ownerz…Puff IS one. I remember telling my father I wanted to be an NBA player before I stopped growing and he told me not to play for a team, own a team. Real n*gga talkin’. Shut the f*ck up ho.

Quick aside, I went to Howard’s graduation a few years back. Current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was the keynote speaker. I can’t tell you a damn thing he said. Hell, I had to look it up to find out who the speaker was. There’s no point to other than graduation speakers are largely forgettable unless its a President or Oprah. I’m pretty sure David Satcher spoke at my graduation. I only remember this because he went to Morehouse, not because I can remember a single thing that he said. Graduation speakers are largely just pomp and circumstance.

So perhaps the issue is because people are attaching some type of unnecessay status to both Howard (I love HU and all, but let’s not pretend that HU is some beacon of Blackness and who speaks there determines some sort of status in the world community…plus, Morehouse had Obama last year…we won) and what it means to be a commencement speaker.

To me, and I’m the end all be all authority on this subject considering how many leatherbound books I have in my home, the commencement speaker really should be somebody with a grand message. To that end, you could probably find a homeless person who could deliver a great message that would change your life. I really do mean that. What you need is somebody to inspire you through the struggle as you cross the threshold from idealism into the grand abyss of “why didn’t I stay for another year”. Ultimately we all want a celebrity – like a real one – and only a few schools actually are able to pull that off. I’m fairly certain that if Tougaloo College could pull Puff they’d be happy as hell. Hell, they’d be happy with Chef Roble. The top shelf HBCUs and most of the top tier universities are obviously able to do this. It’s an honor to speak at these places so I’m sure they don’t take it lightly. I wouldn’t. In fact, it is my goal at some point to give a commencement address. It’s on my bucket list. I don’t even care if it’s DeVry or Capella (does that still exist?).

So this has to come down to he didn’t graduate so he shouldn’t be speaking at a graduation. Which is just stupid. Puff is a successful business man. Nobody would ever argue this. Puff won at life, like Zuckerberg and Gates and Jobs and any number of other people who didn’t need to finish college to make the leap.

I’ve seen quite a few articles talking about this (and by this I solely mean Puff speaking at HU) and they’ve been met with some interesting “why Puff” rhetoric in the comments though nobody could actually come up with a good reason. Short of his club shootout NOT GUILTY verdict and that promoter issue he had in the early 90s where some kids ended up dead because of overbooking, Puff has managed to fly mostly above the fray. So either folks just think that Puff, a business man who likely respects the hell out of the fact that the school that would be his alma-mater (though they’re giving him an honory doctorate), will get up there and say “take that take that…you’re nobody ’til somebody kills you” and then spit his verse from “All About The Benjamins” (which actually would make for a compelling speech), or we REALLY think that giving such a high honor to a rapper is crossing the line.

Actually let me amend that last paragraph, the worst thing Puff has done and he didn’t even know it is place Stevie J on the Hitmen (spawned some of the best songs to ever come out of Bad Boy) which would eventually lead to Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta. If that’s your argument, then you got me.

Are there seemingly more conventional choices? Sure. But would they be better? Who knows. Maybe Puff gets out there and blows everybody’s mind. Maybe he doesn’t. But anybody claiming he doesn’t deserve that kind of shot is sadly mistaken. Anybody.

I’m sure Puff doesn’t care about detractors in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I’m sure he’s listening to track 2 off of No Way Out counting money and scratching his balls with a golden scepter. Coincidentally produced by Stevie J. That man made hits.

What you need to do is check your distribution, his songs bump in Houston like Scarface produced them.

Victory.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka PUFF FOR PRESIDENT aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

I Think Mimi Really Just Wanted To *CENSORED* On Camera, B

If you are a person who both has a Twitter account and are in any way plugged into Black Twitter then your day was full of the most hilarious ridiculousness of the Mimi vs Nikko (and I call a versus because there are shower rods involved, that almost makes it a competition) sex tape that “leaked” via, well, whoever it leaked via.

Hi. I'm Mimi. This is going to go bad quickly.

Hi. I’m Mimi. This is going to go bad quickly.

But let’s start at the beginning. The supertrailer, a 4 minute and 35 second teaser, for season 3 of VH1′s Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta hit the internet recently, followed by news reports from TMZ that the sex tape being discussed by Mimi and Nikko (Mimi had the nerve to sound concerned at one point like, “I have a daughter”) and then Mimi and Stevie J, had been procured by Vivid Entertainment. For those not in the know, Vivid has had a pretty good run in the past few years of cornering the pr0n tape markert, though I felt they slowed down a bit since sex tapes kind of became like a 40 degree day. Basically, nobody cares anymore. Anyway, Vivid was the conduit under which most tapes were released to the public. Vivid would pay a handsome sum for it and then let the dogs out. Proverbially speaking, of course.

Anyway, within what seems like hours, stills and a trailer of the tape’s best moments had hit the Tweets.

Now one thing we all know is that the Internet has no chill. But before we get to that, let’s talk for a minute about two people in particular: Mona Scott-Young and Mimi Faust.

Mona Scott-Young might actually be the devil. I’m almost convinced she has made it her singular purpose to be the producer of any and all content that places ninjas in the worst light possible. Folks still have to show up to be filmed, but for all the non-sense we talk about Tyler Perry at least he’s attempting to be positive. He may fail miserably. In fact, Tyler Perry is Julian from Wheel of Fortune, he is squandered opportunity at its apex. But Tyler Perry is making money attempting to do something positive.

Again. Attempting.

Mona gives zero f*cks. I can’t even be mad because I watch the trainwrecks. She’s an opportunist and I’m apparently here for it.

I am the problem.

photo 1 (1)Which brings us to Mimi. Oh, Mimi. We all wanted this woman to win. We wanted her to rid herself of Stevie J and move on happily. As much as she annoyed me – though to be fair, they all annoy me – Mimi was the one with some sense. But she just couldn’t not make bad choices. And it seems she hit the bad choice (but big payoff?) lottery. Now, I’m only calling her tape a bad choice because when you see folks who seem to have some sense, you want them to be able to win the old fashioned way. Plus she’s like 45. She shouldn’t have to resort to this type of stuff in her life at this point. I mean she has a maid service!!!! But somehow, her interesting looking boyfriend who once gave her a fake Rolex and who she cursed out managed to get back into her good graces and panties and they decided to pr0n it out for the cameras in order to profit in some form or other.

Which is odd because they’re kind of already on a reality show which seems like the ceiling for relatively non-talented individuals who are connected to people who have been somebody’s in a past life. But these folks chase the fame because well, what else do they have going. But be careful what you chase.

Which brings us back to the Internets. Which have no chill. Maaaaan listen. Between Kid Cudi’s terrible decision to wear a crop-top sweater while performing at Coachella…

Quick break in the action: N*ggas is wearing capes, skirts, and crop tops now? These might not be the last days, but something is foul in the state of Denmark. Out damn spot!

I’m assuming that Mimi thought a sex tape might bring some positive notoriety. Basically, she may have thought this would Kim K her life. Except…Mimi is an old hasbeen who is only famous because of this show. And her fame is limited to a certain segment of the world community: the shadows. So I don’t really know what the point is. However, what’s done is done. And once you sow…the grim reaper shows up.

The Internets is the grim reaper. The slander. The shade. The lack of f*cks. It’s Disneyland for n*gga technology. And the Internets have not disappointed. A few leaked stills and then we were off.

We’ve got this pic:

Kind of looks like what Mimi was doing.

Kind of looks like what Mimi was doing.

Then this one:

What happens when you try the Mimi special at home.

What happens when you try the Mimi special at home.

Then this picture because slander:

Stevie always finds a way to win.

Stevie always finds a way to win.

Then the worst one of all, folks really have no chill, b. A shoutout to their kid:

Ouch.

Ouch.

I don’t know why these folks set themselves up. Mostly because I don’t know what is to be gained when you’ve already maxed out your status. And we are a brutal bunch. And by we, I mean anybody with the chance at making fun of somebody else with little to no repercussions. Basically, people online. Mimi isn’t going to make it to cultural icon. But she will get meme’d the f*ck out. She already has been.

See here:

photo 4

Ya know, I wonder if celebrities feelings get hurt by this stuff. They can always fall back on “but I’m rich” but they all aren’t. And they have feelings too. I get my feelings hurt sometimes. And it hurts when people boo.

In terms of Mimi, she won’t even make it to community icon. Now, granted, there will be those folks who say that she’s a grown woman, which is true. She has the right do what she wants to. She can make all the tapes and sell them to all the world. But she’s not a pr0n star and from what I can tell that’s not her goal in life. Also, why go this route now? There really is nothing to win. Which means she probably just really wanted to f*ck for the camera’s, b.

Sure I’m talking about it right now and so is Twitter, but fame like this is short-lived. A footnote on the colon of Black History. It doesn’t matter beyond its immediacy the day we all see it (and it’s leaked which means this won’t matter by Thursday). Grown women can do what they want, but she always portrayed herself as being above the rest of these women who engage in the sex for money industry. Well the formal one. And yet here we are.

So I come to you, humbly, curious about what does one who has reached their zenith stand to gain. Why put yourself before the Internet firing squad for what really amounts to attention that doesn’t translate into even bitcoins? At least the Internet got fun out of it. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t better for it. But nobody wins.

Nobody.

And Mimi actually lost.

Reality.

-VSB P aka MR. MY TAPE AIN’T GONE VIRAL (NO STD) aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Lessons Learned Through Childhood Memories

I don't know why I picked this picture either.

I don’t know why I picked this picture either.

I’m a big fan of the days when we talk about ourselves. While I enjoy the back and forth of deep discussions (yesterday’s about education actually was a good one) I do enjoy learning more about the folks who venture here and leave their footprints on VSB lore.

That was deep. #deep

With that being said, I’d like to tell you all a story. What we’re about to do right here is go back. For the most part, I grew up in Germany…Frankfurt to be exact. While in middle school I was apart of an organization called Club Beyond. It was a religious based organization where we basically did Bible study but also took trips and did these huge outings. It was a huge church group through the school run by two people who I will never ever forget. Well thru this organization I was able to travel to Italy, Belgium, and Holland. There was a trip to Spain that my sisters went on but I didn’t make for some odd reason.

Shucks, it was through this organization that I met a young lady in 8th grade that I’ve yet to forget. I still have the letters we exchanged back when folks wrote letters and sent them to one another. That was a big deal back in the day in Germany…meeting somebody in another city (she lived in Landstuhl where the huge hospital was) and exchanging letters. Point is, this organization was lots of fun and through it I learned a lot, saw a lot, and met a lot of people.

Let’s switch gears for a second. Back in the day (when I was young I’m not a kid anymore but some days I sit and wish I was a kid again) (do you know writing that made me venture to Spotify to beef up my “Straight West Coastin” playlist…if you’re on Spotify, follow a player) I was that dude when it came to early procurement of music. Growing up overseas we got everything mad late, if at all. We relied on folks who either went back to the States for vacation or got sent back home because they got in trouble to come back and bring tastes of what was happening. That’s how we kept up with the times. New folks would shuffle in and out and bring the latest styles of their hometown. Anyway, for two reasons I always managed to get music mad early: 1) my older sister had a friend whose boyfriend STAYED getting the newest stuff from the States and he’d always give her tapes which I’d steal and record then place back into her room. This is actually how I got into hip-hop. Classic cliche tale of jacking music and falling in love with the artform. Consequently, nearly all the music came from the West Coast. I guess homeboy was from Cali. 2) I had a homeboy who because he knew I liked music would always make me these tapes he’d get from his cousins back in Atlanta with all the newest music. We were fast friends. Years later, and without having had any contact in between times, in Atlanta I’d end up dating his ex-girlfriend who would end up cheating on me with him. Pretty sure I gave him a ride to Lenox right after he smashed my girl.

Yes, you read that right.

Anyway, like I said, many of these tapes had West Coast music. And thus brings our tale back to its starting point.

On one particular trip with Club Beyond we were heading to Amsterdam. I can’t for the life of me remember why. I’m sure we had a blast though. Anyway, on this trip, I’m listening to one of my tapes and it has AMG’s “B*tch Betta Have My Money” on it. I was listening to with one of my boys via a set of headphones where he had one earbud and I had the other. I’m sure everybody’s heard this song. It’s one of the most ridiculous songs ever. Not because of its content necessarily but because of just HOW profane it is. This song is also how I got into DJ Quik as a producer and he is still one of my favorite producers ever.

Well me and my friend (lightskinneded cat named Jermaine*)had the brilliant idea to figure out just HOW profane this song was. On a church trip. On a bus full of 12-and 13-year-olds. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I mean, for that age group listening to something like this was all taboo. Well, it spread like wildfire through the bus what we were doing. I don’t know why exactly, it wasn’t like we were the only people listening to music this questionable…but I also knew the words and was keeping track. I want to say we eclipsed the 150 mark before we got in trouble. As in, sh*t taken, parents alerted (which was a big deal back then seeing as everything was long distance). Now, we got in trouble because my boy was very proud of our endeavor and kept trying to be loud enough to be heard by other kids who were trying to find out what the two badarse kids were doing. And I wasn’t even remotely a badarse. I was an encylopedia reader.

I stopped hanging with that dude after we got back. Why? Because he’s a snitch. He sold me out.

What’s the point of this here story? Well I just used 900 words to tell you three things:

1. AMG’s “B*tch Betta Have My Money” is one of my favorite songs; and

2. Never trust lightskinneded ninjas on church buses with curse words and your earbuds; and

3. Always do your dirt by your lonely.

Aren’t you happy you read all this trying to figure out the point just to get to a point that I could have said at the very beginning? But didn’t you learn more about me? Of course you did. Happy Friday.

So since it’s Friday, why don’t we all share life lessons we learned during our youth! Some of you all have interesting stories. Break ‘em down. What’s an interesting or unique lesson you learned during your childhood?

Talk to me.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. 1000 WORDS aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

The “Mastermind” Has No Receipts: Why 2014 Is A Bad Year For Rick Ross

(Damon’s latest at Complex on how rappers like Rick Ross struggle with today’s social/cultural climate)

Much of rap music exists in a state of believably unbelievable hyperbole. A paradox where we (rap fans) require for rappers to be “real” before we allow them to lie to us. We know rappers like Jeezy don’t sell drugs anymore. (Well, we hope they don’t.) We also know they’re prone to exaggerate about the drugs they did sell. But as long as there is some inkling of proof that, at one time in their life, they did sell drugs, we allow them to rap to us about selling drugs now. And these raps tend to be increasingly implausible lies. Rick Ross’ success despite his pre-rap career may seem to contradict this paradox, but it doesn’t. His lies are so big, so outrageous that proof ceases to matter. When you buy an island, no one asks to see a receipt.

And this is why 2014 might be the worst year to be a rapper—or more specifically, a rapper like Rick Ross.

It’s been over a decade since Jay-Z asked if we listened to his music or just skimmed through it. Although he was speaking about a personal matter, that line reflected a feeling rappers and rap fans have had for years when defending rap music. Those critical of it weren’t really paying attention to it. They were just listening to the hook and not the message; the cuss words and not the content or the creativity.

But now…well…let me say this.

I heard Mastermind in full last week, and I thought of using the bank account quote when first thinking about this article. But, although I remembered the quote, I didn’t know it word for word, so I googled the album and found a link that gave me the lyrics of each song.

Mastermind had not been released yet.

It’s a bit unnerving how easily we negotiate the weirdness of the act I just described. The access the immediacy of the Internet gives us is so ingrained in us that something like finding the complete lyrics of an album that hasn’t been released yet doesn’t sound strange until you make a point to say how strange it us. We live in an era where everything—even things that technically don’t exist yet—can be found, proven, debunked, scrutinized, and assessed immediately. You don’t have to wait for an album’s release to hear it. You don’t have to wait for Rap City or your local radio station’s daily countdown to listen to the music you don’t happen to own. You don’t have to rely on OHHLA to find a (somewhat) accurate lyrical transcript.

In theory, this cultural development should have boded well for rap music. After all, if people were able to listen to lyrics more critically, the craft would be appreciated more. But what actually ended up happening was that this availability allows both people familiar with rap music and people not that familiar with rap music to see how ridiculous some rap lyrics tend to be. Especially when read out of context on a monitor. And, since everyone can create content now, everyone can also be a critic. Instead of having to call in to a radio station or organize a long-to-develop protest, those upset or disturbed by the content can give the rest of the world immediate access to their thoughts.

This dynamic has been especially jarring to rappers like Ross—artists who’ve made careers out of progressively nihilistic music and haven’t proven to be socially palatable and/or savvy enough to take advantage of the change. The same ridiculously oblivious and ridiculously obvious hyperbole that got him signed by Reebok in 2012 got him dropped by Reebok in 2013.

If Rick Ross drops an awkward throwaway lyric about a murdered Black teen in 2001—or even 2005—it’s likely forgotten about by the next song. Maybe someone at Fox News or The National Review would mention it, but that type of coverage would do nothing but make rap fans circle the wagons around him.

Today, though, it’s a story. And since it’s a story, he’s asked to explain himself. The man who never needed a receipt is now forced to produce copies of them. And, surprising no one, he can’t seem to find them.

(Read the rest at Complex)

“Lookin’ Ass N*gga” And The Hypocrisy Of The Male Rebuttal Song

(Damon’s latest at Complex on why songs like “No Pigeons” and Cassidy’s “Lookin Ass Bitches” — “male rebuttals” to songs made by popular female artists — are hypocritical)

In early 1999, the Sporty Thievz were just another unfortunately named Flex mixtape concubine no one gave a damn about, and a “pigeon” was just the word we’d given to the world’s most arrogant shitter. Then, TLC released “No Scrubs”—the now iconic “diss” track that strangely encouraged dangerous driving habits (hollering out the passenger side is much, much safer than hollering while driving)—and this made some men very upset.

The Sporty Theives rode this male outrage wave with “No Pigeons”, a popular rebuttal that was more clever in theory than reality. The song’s (lack of) quality didn’t matter to us, though. We (the men of hip-hop America) finally had a male champion. Someone who’d let women know who the fuck we were and, more importantly, who the fuck they were. Someone to fight the girlpower. Someone to carry the torch and deliver us from Chili.

It happened again when Destiny’s Child released both “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Soldier.” And when Khia released “My Neck, My Back.” And pretty much any other time a female artist-created track that was even remotely critical of men became popular. Only, as the aughts continued, the rebuttal song started to give way to the thinkpiece, the Facebook thread, the blog post, and the meme. Now, with the barriers to creative entry being so low, we (men) didn’t have to rely on the Sporty Thievz to speak for us. We could do it ourselves.

Still, as Cassidy’s “Lookin Ass Bitches”—a reply to Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin Ass Nigga”—proves, the male rebuttal song isn’t extinct. But it should be.

Cassidy is a talented rapper whose career-making take down of Freeway is one of the three or four best things on the entire internet. He’s also a rapper whose entire catalog is filled with references to broke bitches, fake bitches, poor bitches, stank bitches, skank bitches, stripper bitches, bus stop bitches, pregnant bitches, and bitch-ass bitches. This in itself is (unfortunately) not uncommon. A list of popular rappers with catalogs full of misogynistic lyrics would take a couple light years to complete. But, this further proves the redundancy of including lyrics such as…

“A fuck in the club bathroom to get a bottle ass bitches”

…and…

“Going out with they girlfriend’s shoes ass bitches”

…and…

“Red bottoms on, livin’ in the projects bitches”

…in a rebuttal song, as each could have easily been cherry-picked from, I don’t know, 80% of the songs Cassidy’s created in the last decade. It’s Cassidy just doing what he’s always done. And, this is all the male rebuttal song is. An uber-sensitive rapper using a woman’s song as an excuse to do what he’s already done a thousand times before.

Basically, it’s an exercise in a particular brand of butthurtness that’s even worse than the typical butthurtness: A hypocritical butthurtness. It operates from the premise that these bitches and hoes are “winning.” And, since these bitches and hoes are winning, we need someone to stand up for men to put those bitches and hoes in their places.

This premise conveniently ignores the fact that the last two decades of rap music has been filled with song after song after song after song after song after song of lyrics and concepts insulting and disrespecting women. These are not veiled or implied disses, either. The consistency of these types of lyrics is only rivaled by how bold and unambiguous they tend to be. Songs like “No Scrubs” and “Lookin Ass Niggas” are singular raindrops in an ocean full of “Big Pimpin”s and “Tip Drill”s and “Pop That”s and “Bitches Ain’t Shit”s.

(Read the rest at Complex)