We recently sat down with longtime music critic and author Nelson George to talk about his new movie Brooklyn Boheme.This is a film that focuses on what many deemed a major Black Artist renaissance in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn during the late 80s and throughout the 90s and on into the early part of the millennium.
During our interview, not only did we talk about the movie, but we had an engaging exchange on the state of Hip Hop and Black music in general… To this day one of the dopest books I’ve ever read is Death of Rhythm and Blues and so we definitely built on some of the points he raised there… Enjoy the convo which recently aired on Free Speech TV
It’s that time of year again where we look back, remember and reflect on what went down this past year- 2010.. For me, there was so much making it hard to put it all in one essay. But I figured, lemme try and reflect a bit at atime..So here ya go..
Here’s ‘12 Oh Snap, You Remember That Beef ? for 2010.. Some were funny, Some not so funny.. Some we just shouldn’t forget. And just so folks know, because I know y’all are gonna ask, I didn’t include Oscar Grant vs Police, Shirley Sherrod vs the NAACP or the BP Oil Spill. Those will be for my year end write up. I wanna go in on those topics in a different way..Also I forgot to include the conflict Bishop Eddie Long had with 4 young men in his church who accused him of sexual misconduct. I’ll include in my end of year write up as well.. In the mean time enjoy-Enjoy
12–Trae the Truth vs the Boxx. This was an under-reported beef which could’ve and should’ve had far-reaching implications. At the core of this beef was a nagging question: ‘What happens when a radio station not only decides to ban your music because of a disagreement, but fires it’s deejays and bans other artists who even associate with the artist? thats banned?
This is what happened with one of Houston’s most popular artists Trae the Truth. Earlier this year, he had an argument with an on air personality where she clowned him on air. He clowned her back in a mixtape and the next thing you know he was banned.
Trae although not happy could deal with it until the station started insisting to local promoters and other artists that Trae not be included on their bills and songs. Any one caught supporting Trae would be banned from the The Boxx. Several of the the Box’s deejays including popular host , Brandi Garcia were fired for supporting Trae or playing his records at nightclubs.
Such punitive actions prompted Trae to sue the radio station, which in turn set off all sorts of debates about the responsibility of those who control the public airwaves.
11–Scarface vs VHI Hip Hop Honors.. I don’t know if this was a beef in the traditional sense with lots of animosity, but neverthless it was one that got a lot of people talking in 2010.
Hip Hop legend Scarface decided to address VH1 about their Hip Hop Honors show and how they were going about honoring Southern artists-which was this year’s theme.
Scarface who was to be honored, shocked everyone when he returned his invitation> he got major props from fans when he penned an open letter detailing the reasons for his decision. He felt it was important to stand up for a region that is often overlooked and clowned. He wanted long term changes not just honors at an awards show. He penned the following words for Ozone Magazine
I was nominated [to be honored at the Dirty South Hip Hop Honors] but I declined to accept because I don’t wanna be classified as just “Dirty South.” I’m Hip Hop, man. I’m not going because I feel slighted. Even though it was a nice gesture, I feel like it’s just a pacifier. They’re like, “Let’s give these niggas down there a pacifier so they can stop feeling left out. We’ll make Luke and all these niggas down there look funny,” you know? “Let’s put a plate of fried chicken and some watermelon and let’s just do some nigga-ass shit.” (laughs) Quote, end quote. “Some nigga-ass shit.” Fried chicken and watermelon. “Shit, the faster we get this over with, the better.”
10–Al Sharpton vs Tavis Smiley: In 2010, many of us were waiting for boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to mix it up. That didn’t happen but we go the next best thing.. two Civil Rights leaders, Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley going at on the airwaves.. Now in my opinion it wasn’t over trivial stuff although some tried to make it so..
It was a spirited debate over how President Obama was handling issues important to the African American community. Tavis felt the President has not been on the case the way he should.. Al Sharpton who had just visited the White House along with other Civil Rights leaders, took issue with the way Tavis was coming at him..
He felt Tavis was grand standing and trying to act like his annual State of Black Union Roundtable was the be all end all..This played out on the air and generated tons of debate..
Many got sidetracked by the pairs respective personalities as folks weighed in on what they liked or didn’t like about both men. On the flip side, many vigorously debated the hard questions about Obama and whether or not he’s been responsive to Black America.Check out the story and the audio archives HERE-Tavis vs Sharpton
Eventually Tavis held his roundtable in Chicago under the name ‘We Count’. Minister Farrakhan showed up and drop serious gems about President Obama and how we should view his presidency. He went in on whether or not African-Americans should publicly be criticizing him.. I think its worth a listen.. Check it out HERE-Minister Farrakhan Speaks on Obama
Related to all this, are the videos put out by two of Tavis running buddies, Professors Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson. Throughout 2010 both went in on Obama.. Cornel got at Obama for not addressing the poor during his state of the Union address..Apparently President Obama didn’t appreciate Dr West’s critique and stepped to Cornel about that.. Dyson got at Obama for waffling on important issue.. He suggested that he be more like Bush and stop bowing down to his enemies.
Actor Sean Penn went in on Wyclef said he's been MIA for the past 6 months
09–Sean Penn vs Wyclef Jean:..Actor Sean Penn is never one to pull punches and he most definitely lived up to his rep during a CNN Interview when asked about his thoughts on singer Wyclef Jean running for President of Haiti.
Penn went in on Clef and basically said that his campaign was fanciful and that while it excited many of his fans in the United States, there was little excitement on the ground in Haiti because Wyclef had been missing in action for the past few months.. Penn said he feared that Wyclef would be used and become a shield for corporate interests and policies that have resulted in Haiti’s extreme economic hardships which were exasperated in the wake of Haiti’s devastating Earthquake where over 100 thousand people perished You can peep Penn’s comments HERE..-Sean Penn Goes In on Wyclef
Many of Wyclef’s supporters who saw this newscast and immediately accused Penn of being the ultimate Hater. Many were still reeling and circling the wagons after see Wyclef endure what many felt were unfair attacks on his YELE Charity.
If folks recall shortly after the earthquake Wyclef set up a charity where you could donate by texting to a number. Your donation would be added to your cell phone bill. As money came rolling in there were all sorts of unflattering stories that surfaced that came accused Wyclef of shoddy book-keeping.
He was accused of keeping the money after he did a couple of events and it wasn’t long before the criticisms levied at him took on nasty racial tones. Many took offense as they saw Wyclef tirelessly working on relief efforts and they came to his aid especially after held a tearful press conference defending his charity.
Others nodded their head in agreement with Penn because they knew what time it really was politically speaking in the embattled nation . Many knew about Wyclef’s political leanings including the fact that him and his Uncle, Ambassador Raymond Joseph supported harsh policies championed by former President Bill Clinton which included the suppression and banning of Haiti’s largest political party the Lavalas and the harsh removal (overthrow) of democratically elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide..
What was really crazy about this situation was Wyclef’s cousin and fellow Fugee member Pras came out and endorsed Wyclef’s rival.. a popular musician named Sweet Mickey. He explains why he was not supporting his famous cousin HERE-Pras Says No to Wyclef Run for President
08- John Mayer’s Racist Remarks.. At the start of the year everyone loved John Mayer. He was a fufunky white dude embraced by many in the hood especially after he did some skits on the Dave Chappelle show. He hung out with iconic musicians like Questlove and pretty much was seen as ‘that guy’. There were quite a few sistas who felt like if given a chance they would get at him.. Everything was cool until Mayer did an interview for Playboy Magazine and said the following;
“I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick. …I always thought Holly Robinson Peete was gorgeous. Every white dude loved Hilary from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And Kerry Washington. She’s super hot and she’s also white-girl crazy. Kerry Washington would break your heart like a white girl. Just all of a sudden she’d be like, ‘Yeah, I sucked his dick. Whatever.'”
Folks were stunned when they read these other remarks:
Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full
This was all said in addition to him bragging about his sexual exploits with exes like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Anniston. People did not hold back and went in on Mayer and let him have it.. Among them was author Adam Mansbach who penned an widely read article reminding us that Mayer was no different from Senator Harry Reid who earlier this year attributed President Obama’s success to him not ot having a Negro Dialect.
He reminded us that Mayer was no different from former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, radio host Don Imus, comedian Michael Richards and baseball player John Rocker along with a host of others who crossed the line and made over the top racially charged remarks. You can peep Mansbach’s column HERE-“And the Hood Pass..
As the firestorm erupted Mayer soon found himself twittering apologies trying to clean things up. He even stopped a concert to let folks know how wrong he was.. Not sure if Mayer got his ‘hood pass back.’
07–Solar vs the World… The untimely death of Hip Hop legend Guru was sad enough. The beloved emcee had touched us all and his passing earlier this year left us all wanting to come together and collectively mourn. Unfortunately that was disrupted by Guru’s producer/partner Solar whose actions and words left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.
Many were disheartened when a farewell letter Solar produced depicted Guru as someone on his death-bed who was bitter and vengeful. The letter stated that Solar would handle all his affairs control his business dealings. The letter also stated that his former deejay and partner DJ Premier should not be associated with him at all..
Folks were skeptical about the authenticity of the letter and felt like Solar was out-of-pocket and being manipulative. Many accused him of isolating Guru from his family and was using his death as a way to uplift himself. Whatever speculation folks had about Solar was bolstered by this disturbing video from Guru’s nephew Justin.
Sadly Guru’s death was marred by chant s and rally cries of ‘F–k Solar’. There was even a website set up http://www.fucksolar.com/ which professes to be documenting Solar’s downfall for Guru. The controversy surrounding Solar overshadowed the accomplishments of Keith ‘Guru’ Elam
06–Helen Thomas vs Israel... She was considered the Dean of the White House Press Corps. 90 year old Helen Thomas was legendary. She sat in the front row and always asked sharp, pointed questions to more presidents than any other reporter. She was beloved by all the Presidents she took on until a video surfaced of her criticizing Israel..
What happened was Thomas was leaving the White House after a celebration for Jewish Heritage Day when a reporter caught up with her and asked her thoughts about Israel.
The feisty Thomas without hesitation said, They (Israel) needed to get the Hell out of Palestine’. She continued by saying the Jews that were there were occupiers and they need to go back home to Poland, Germany and America.
Now many of us weren’t clear if Thomas was referring to the settlements or she was talking in general. There was no opportunity to debate or ask. The reaction to her remarks were swift and punishing.
Within a day of her remarks, she was dropped by her agent. Her invitation to keynote at a university was rescinded. Her book project was dropped. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer condemned her. President Obama moon walked away from her and Thomas suddenly retired/ fired from the Hearst Corporation. She was labeled an anti-Semite and her 57 years of reporting was forgotten about as she was quickly nicknamed Ms Hezzbollah and Ms Harmas. Thomas later apologized for upsetting folks but stuck by her remarks in interviews done after the incident. She said it was true Israel was a bully and was occupier and that any sort of criticism of the country was like touching the 3rd rail.
05–Texas vs the US History… Leave it to the state of Texas to stir things up in such a way that the rest of the country gets impacted. Case in point, while most people ignored the election of folks to the Texas State Board of Education, a group of right-wing nuts got themselves on there and decided it was time to change things up. They started by proposing to remove important Black and Brown figures like Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez and replace them with folks like conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the late Jerry Falwell. They removed words like slavery and replaced it with a nice sounding name like Atlantic Triangular Trade. In short Texas decided to white wash history.
Sadly what many people failed to realize was that because Texas is such a large state, the changes it put in text books would impact 90% of the country because publishers would print books based on the huge amount Texas purchases. Related to this Texas Text Book controversy was Arizona passing a law to get rid of ethnic studies and teachers with accents. Yep this all went down in 2010
04- Epic Bearded Man vs Coolio (When keeping it real goes Wrong) … There was a crazy fight that took place earlier this year on Oakland’s famed AC Transit bus that caught the imagination of folks all over the country.. A senior citizen (Epic Bearded Man) 67 yrs old got into an exchange of words with a much younger man sporting braids (he was dubbed Coolio). The argument stemmed from the Epic Bearded Man asking about a shoe shine and Coolio Man not appreciating the racial dynamics to the questions.. Words were exchanged. Epic Bearded man got up to leave.. but that wasn’t enough for Coolio who was being egged on a young woman filming the confrontation. Bearded man warned Coolio he was one white boy not mess and walked to the front of the bus and sat down in the senior citizen section. Coolio didn’t head the warning.. He went up to the front of the bus took a swing ..the rest is history.
Coolio did not know Epic Man is also known as Vietnam Tom was said to be former special forces guy who served in Nam who is known for clocking fools including the police.His sister says he wasn’t in Nam.. Whatever the case Tom can fight..He’s no joke and put fools on notice.
After this incident went viral there was all sorts of follow-up interviews Also the young lady who filmed the clip and was seen stealing Tom’s wallet, got hacked and harassed for months … You can peep them here Drama on AC Transit , Interviews with the Combatants
03-Dr Laura vs N**gers: There’s not a whole lot one can write about this incident.. All you have to do is listen to the phone call and shake your head in utter astonishment.. Dr Laura reminded us just how backwards things can be at times in this country.. Her use of the N word 11 times was bad enough. What took it over the top was how dismissive she was to her troubled caller along with her overall analysis about race. Dr Laura basically told her caller there was no more racism because Obama was in office. Y’all remember this call heard around the world?
Kind of in the same vein is Texas lawmaker Debbie Riddle who sort of looks like Dr Laura. Whereas Dr Laura went in on Black folks, lawmaker Riddle went in on Brown folks accusing them of having ‘anchor babies‘ and ‘terror babies‘.. Read about it HERE
Anchor babies are undocumented parents who have kids in the US so they can be citizens. Terror Babies are parents who have kids in the US take them back home, train them to be terrorists and then send them back to the US where they can supposedly enter legally and blow up stuff. Her assertions were so outrageous until you discovered that she is hard at work in the Texas legislature trying to pass 6 bills addressing these issues. She actually camped out in front of the capital to be first on the floor to get at these bills the day after the midterm elections
02–Arizona vs Brown Folks (SB 1070) This is an epic battle that is still being waged. Its one that all of us should be paying attention to because it shows what can happen when you get a few racist, backwards thinking people with a pen elected to office.
Arizona Lawmaker and White Supremacist supporter Russell Pearce sponsored the immigration bill
Sadly SB 1070 falls in line with Arizona’s sordid history of intolerance. Folks may recall this was the state that vigorously fought to NOT celebrate Martin Luther King‘s holiday. Only after a boycott pushed by singer Stevie Wonder which caused the state millions did they back off..
The passage of SB 1070 set off a slew of protests, boycotts and a number of songs and PSAs from prominent artists like Zack de La Roca, Talib Kweli, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Cypress Hill, Johnny 5, Pittbull, Toki Wright, Public Enemy and a number of Arizona based artists called Az Artists Unite. Many artists committed to boycotting the state in an effort called Sound Strike. The battle still wages shout out to all who have stood up.
Since we’re on the racism White Supremacist tip, we can’t mention the hostility around SB 1070 and not talk about the drama around the Mosque at Ground Zero. As 9-11 drew close we saw innocent cab drivers stabbed in the throat, we saw Mosque get vandalized, we saw sitting Senators and Congressmen insist that American citizens who practice a religion remove themselves from an area that was populated with fast food joints and strip clubs.. We saw a Christian Pastor named Terry Jones threaten to burn Holy Qurans.
Islamaphobia is something else when it raises its ugly head and we should never forget how it’s close cousins to the racial intolerance displayed around undocumented immigrants. This video says it all
01–Jimmy McMillan and Landlords Everywhere: We figured we end our year in beefs with one that everyone can relate to..NY Gubenatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan showed up at debate to remind folks what the real issue was in the middle of the worst recession in decades.. He repeated over and over.. he said The Rent is Too Damn High..McMillans words resonated with renters everywhere. Did rents get lowered as a result of this rallying cry? Not yet, but it sure feels good to say at the end of the month when handing in that rent check..
Although this is humorous this touched a nerve because it speaks to troubling underlying issues. Many of us had houses foreclosed on. Many could not get housing because of recently ruined credit. In some areas we saw rents skyrocket to the point of being more than mortgages for houses.. Hello San Francisco?? We’ll leave you with this video
Bonus Beef:Chris Brown vs RazB: We had already completed our year end beef story and it was up and running when we got this strange tweet from former B2K member Raz B.. It read as follows..
Im just sittin here Thinking how can n@@as like @ebenet (Eric Benet) & @ChrisBrown disrespect women as Intelligent as @HalleBerry11 @Rihanna
Everyone reading this collectively said ‘Ooohhh’ and it was on.. Singer Chris Brown quickly retorted with a series of disses which referenced Raz B admission that he was molested as a young member of B2k.. Chris used homophobic terms terms like butt-plugged and homo-thug.. He also talked about the irrelevancy of Raz B’s career.
Raz B returned fire and questioned Chris Brown’s sexuality with retorts like;
@Chrisbrown Do you hit your boyfriend @andre_merritt like you do your women?
These sorts of disses went on throughout the day resulting in Chris Brown looking like the bad guy even though he didn’t initiate the fight. Many have noted Raz B as the one who is constantly seeking attention and by going after the embattled Chris Brown, who tweeted insults long after the initial outburst from Raz B.
Whatever attention Raz wanted, he succeeded in getting it. Ideally Chris should’ve ignored him… By responding, he not only made the national news (this was reported on Early Today )..He also brought into question his use of slurs offensive to gays. He also came across as one who was insensitive to victims of molestation.
Ideally it would’ve been good if the pair ended their beef and turned their venom to people like Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson who yesterday suggested that Eagles QB Michael Vick should’ve been executed.
Perhaps they could’ve went after racist Tea Party members or smashed on corrupt cops like the one who killed Oscar Grant. Better yet.. they could’ve made plans to do a song together and set an example for young fans on how brothas can work together. After all yesterday was the 4th day ofKwanzaa with the principle of the day being Ujamaa which means co-operative economics..
Imagine if the pair came together to raise money for those in need? Instead they raised money for comedians, gossip columnists and TV and radio shows who reported on their exploits. The beef between Chris Brown and Raz B was a fine example of ‘Negro Entertainment’.
Growing up in Cleveland, I can remember being in that back room with all the children, late night, playing cards, watching TV, and getting into the regular mischief that kids whose parents couldn’t afford a babysitter would get into while the adults got their groove on the front room in the mist of zigzags, album covers, and strong drinks. I remember the first time I heard Teena Marie, I was on one of my “sneak and peeks” to see how adults get their party on, and remember hearing “Fire and Desire,” red light on, smoke in the air, and some dude slow dancing with my momma.
As a child I had always had a musical ear because on the weekend my mother was like a real DJ and soul food chef. What I instantly remember about Teena Marie is that she had such a sweet, unique and distinct voice. Songs like “Lovergirl,” “I’m Just a Sucker For Your Love,” and “Square Biz” are those songs you just know, enjoy, and sing along automatically. I also would remiss if I didn’t mention she also displayed some really fresh rhymes on “Square Biz” as well, and in 1981 was played right next to “Rappers Delight,” “Planet Rock,” and Run-DMC. Teena Marie was in every parent’s record collection, and a part of the beginning consciousness of Hip Hop.
Today, The Fugee’s should get back together because of this loss. It was their interpolation of Teena Marie’s “Oh-La-La-La” over Salaam Remi’s production, which was the jump off point, and the first single off The Score, The Fugee’s most important and last album together. “We used be number 10-Now we permanent 1,” the first line from Wyclef on this seminal record, is a classic. Right now, you can go to any club in the world, and at 1 am, at the height of the party, you can drop “Fu-Gee-La,” and you might as well call the fire marshall and just stand back and watch the magic. If you really want to tear the roof off, drop “Square Biz” afterwards and you’ll witness how classic songs can make someone who has left us in the physical become eternal.
As we mourn and reflect on our iconic musical artists who make their transitions out of this world, let’s give thanks for Lady T, her musical legacy, and her vast and impressive catalog.