Some Random and Not So RandomThings I Remember from 2012

Davey-D-brown-frameAt the end of each year all of us have things we can and should reflect upon. We assess all that has happened and make promises to build upon successes, shed bad habits and bad energy and create better tomorrows..

In looking back at 2012 I would say it was a turbulent, very contentious years..It seemed like everything that went down was in your face and folks were pulling out all the stops to literally body you.. From voter suppression tactics to stand your ground laws to a war on women where sitting law makers  not only stated but tried to pass legislation that reflected a twisted belief that some rapes are legitimate while others are actually blessings… Yes, I’m looking at you Gov Mike Huckabee, Todd Akin and Richard Murdock.. Oh yeah I’m looking at you as well Congressman Paul Ryan..

In 2012 billionaires went all out to make life miserable if you weren’t in their circle, it just seemed like the pressure never let up.

And while 2012 was challenging, there were some shining moments, where folks fought back and triumphed. It showed up in the form of Biko Baker and League of Young Voters doing their historic Ignite Tour around Voter Education or Bakari Kitwana of Rap Sessions who gathered up scholars, activists and artists and did a similar tour.

It showed up in the form of Javier Gonzalez and the Soundstrike which put a serious dent in SB 1070 laws in Arizona. It showed up in the form of Jasiri X, Paradise Gray and One Hood who never let up providing a sound track for many of the struggles folks were undertaking in 2012.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZvkFdDli3U

It showed up in the form of Barbara Arwine of the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights and political activist Angela Woodson out of Ohio who were on the front lines dealing with Voter Suppression.. You can check them out HERE.. It showed up in the form of folks who stood on voting lines for 6, 7 and 8 hours to cast their ballot while oppressive forces were doing their best to get them to leave and not partake at all.

Favianna Rodriguez

Favianna Rodriguez

It showed up in the form of artists Favianna Rodriguez and activists like the Dreamers who were part of the big Undocubus Tour where folks toured the country and challenged the systemic deportations. They put in mad work and at the end of the day had both political parties and the staunchest of enemies changing their tune about immigration.. Now everyone wants to find a way to get comprehensive immigration reform on the books.

It showed in the form of Rebel Diaz and their Bronx based collective who traveled the country, spoke truth to power and showed the true meaning and power of cooperative economics. The fact that they own their own building/ community center in the middle of the South Bronx is testament to their hard word.

It showed up in the form of graf writers Refa 1 who brought us AeroSoul 3 where he gathered pioneering Black and Brown graf artists to Oakland to not only share their crafts but to talk about ways to raise consciousness and why it was important to connect the dots between Khemet and Aztlan..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWJCK6rep74

Gabby speaksIt showed in the form of Serena Williams and Gabby Douglass taking Gold Medals in the London Olympics and dealing with horrific negative feedback because of how they danced or wore their hair..The disrespect that gymnastic champ Gabby Douglass endured over her hair was outlandish, but she handled it with class and dignity and kept it moving. Her 90 million dollar endorsement deal from Wheaties was also nice..

It showed in the form of Jill Stein and Cheri Hunkula who stayed the course and push valiantly the virtues and un-compromised positions of a 3rd party (the Greens). It was more than just them being in a 3rd party.. It was watching them put their principles to practice…I would encourage folks to peep the interview we did with them at the democratic National Convention

It showed up in the form of brave folks from the Occupy Movement to Medea Benjamin and Code Pink activists who shun strong light on the Drone Warfare that were are currently engaged in.. It showed up in the form of 30 thousand people who marched against the Stop and Frisk Practices in New York City.. Y’all remember the Silent March?

Elon James White

Elon James White

It showed up in the form of folks taking their time to create innovative broadcasts as way to fight the stranglehold of corporate media..Elon James white‘s daily This Week In Blackness is one example.. Weyland Southon and author Adam Mansbach‘s weekly Father Figure show which airs on KPFA is another.

We be remissed not to shout out Skyyhook Radio which has been innovative, woman owned and runs 24/7..and Chuck D‘s Cant Stop Won’t Stop Hip Hop Show and Occupy the Hood’s radio show. We also have scholar Marc Anthony Neal‘s Left of Black TV show along with Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford‘s Black Agenda Radio.

On the mainstream front we had Melissa Harris Perry‘s show on MSNBC and Roland Martin‘s Washington Watch on TVone .  We also had Marc Lamont Hill and Alyonna on Huffington Post Live. That’s just to name a few of the many.

It showed up in the form of folks who endured 16 mass shootings, from Colorado to Oakland to Newtown and still managed to push forward, keep their humanity and fight to bring about a better way and a brighter tomorrow…I could go on and on..Here’s a few more things that stood out in 2012…

BrotherAli-Flag-1Album of the Year… It was a toss up between Nas‘ ‘Life is Good‘, Kendrick LamarGood Kid Maad CityKiller MikeRAP MusicPublic EnemyMost of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps‘  and  Brother AliMourning in America and Dreaming in Color

winner: Brother Ali...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKHsGh-y8d8

Song of the Year…There were too many joints to name that moved me in 2012 everyone from Nas to Asap Rocky to E-40 to Melina Jones had bangers. depending on my mood, dictated what I was rocking with.. 3 Songs seemed to keep me in step all years… Public Enemy w/ Brother AliStand UpKiller MikeAnywhere But Here‘ and Rebel DiazRevolution

winner: Rebel Diaz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byL3o3VMUKk

don-corneliusThe Death of Soul Train Host and Founder Don Cornelius...He was one of many people we lost in 2012 including the seemingly immortal Dick Clark and Mike Wallace from 60 Minutes. All of us grew up on those 3 gentlemen. Even though we knew they were aging we never thought they’d pass.

In the case of Don Cornelius it was troubling because he committed suicide. I don’t think we ever really sat down and dealt with what that really was about..We just kinda swept it under the rug…8 months later we were all forced to confront it again with the sudden passing of former Jungle Brother, music mogul and founder of Violator Entertainment Chris Lighty. His passing shook us  and made many of us reflect on mental health which is sadly a taboo subject in many of our circles.

One of the things that stood out for me around the time of Lighty’s passing was this powerful essay by Hip Hop activist Rosa Clemente titled Depression, Hip Hop and the Death of Chris Lighty

With respect to Don we paid tribute with a great interview from Chuck D of Public Enemy  who reminded us of his greatness. You peep that HERE

paul mooney, Dick Gregory davey DComedians Dick Gregory and Paul Mooney Link Up…Earlier this year I started doing a weekly spot OLM News w/ Davey D on Free Speech TV... I interviewed lots of folks but the highlight was when I got comedian Paul Mooney who is a frequent guest on my daily radio show and comedian Dick Gregory who is also no stranger to my outlet on the air at the same time.

According to them it was the first time it had ever happened and it wasn’t totally planned. They just happened to be in town at the same time. I was scheduled to do separate interviews with them.. Mooney was running a late, Gregory needed to move his time up and boom magic happened. Out of this landmark show the two set up a successful tour together.. Enjoy the conversation below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noSgVmr-PaY

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin set things off in a big way during 2012.. It was one of many deaths that would come to Black folks at the hands of the police.. From Rekia Boyd to Ramarley Graham to Alan Bluford to Jordan Davis, the list of folks who fell victim to police terrorism was long.. It was enough to prompt an explosive report from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in early July that documented all the the Black people who had been killed by police. Initially it worked out to every 40 hours a Black person died at the hands of the police…  After it was updated it came down to Every 36 Hours..You can read that report HERE.

The most tragic thing about this report was it was embraced all over the world except at home including amongst our own Black intelligentsia who seemed hell-bent on keeping a lid on this so as not to disrupt a contentious presidential election that may have impacted Barack Obama..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKaJoEyYXyI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcmUAG210oM

I don’t think she and her legacy was ever fully appreciated.. Already we are seeing and hearing younger generation attribute her signature song At last to Beyoncé who sung it at President Obama’s Inauguration ..We were thankful Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X and producers Agent of Change had a tribute song for here called Etta and ran down her amazing legacy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpGApCcn0yI

Atlanta based rap star Killer Mike was a high point for 2012..I feel he as an artist and his album were totally underplayed. What stood out for me with Killer Mike was how he went in on President Reagan and completely took a part the revisionist image that had been carefully crafted for him over the years…You can check out our insightful interview HERE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPyjJ1MMUzQ

Tooshort-225Bay Area rapper Too Short got into some hot water in 2012 when he was complimented by rap star 2 Chainz who called him a father figure.. Short took that compliment to another level at the urging of XXL editor Vanessa Satten by penning what was supposed to be a satirical advice column for kids. His advice included telling little boys how to take it to the hole and force sex upon ‘little girls’.. needless to say this caused a lot of outrage..

A coalition of women within the Hip Hop industry formed the 44% Coalition to bring attention to the alarming statistic that shows 44% of the women who are sexually assaulted are under 18. The women called for the firing of Satten and a boycott of Too Short..  As the debate heated up Too Short reached out and had an impassioned conversation with coalition member and writer dream hampton about misogyny… You can read that interview HERE.

From there Too Short agreed to be apart of a well attended town hall meeting at Oakland City Hall… Unfortunately while Short was well received by the audience, local media outlets never bothered to stay for the talk and instead ran unflattering hit pieces that had very little to do with the intense conversation that took place that evening. You can read about that HERE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAl_6HJmvJg

Jimmy Castor who gave us the b-boy anthem ‘It’s Just begun‘ along with fun funk songs like Troglodytes (Cave Man) and  Bertha Butt Boogie..Although him and his band The Castor Bunch were funk legends, they were also cornerstones to Hip Hop.. many a bboy move was done to his signature song…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWl01JD-CtQ

Chuck-Brown-Blue2Chuck Brown..The Godfather of Go Go Music Passes 

We were sorry to see so many music and entertainment outlets overlook him when he passed as well as in their end of year tributes. Chuck was a giant among giants. His musicianship was exceptional. The GoGo sound was essential in continuing DC’s long music legacy as well as helping shape Hip Hop’s evolution. Here’s our tribute to him who always kept it 100% and in the pocket. Looking Back, Remembering Chuck Brown and the Go Go Sound He Pioneered

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQwQvMZYpsc

lupefiascosource-225

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3m3t_PxiUI

We Lost MCA from the legendary group Beastie Boys after he endured along battle with cancer…We paid tribute to him and had an insightful interview w/ author Dan Charnas of the Big Payback about MCA’s legacy

Here’s our tribute mix to him courtesy of DJ Sloepoke out of LA who did him true justice

We lost the iconic Whitney Houston in 2012 Her funeral which was viewed by folks all over the world was moving and much needed considering all the drama surrounding her death. It was something to behold..

We lost actor Michael Clark Duncan.. His passing caught many of us off guard, because we had no idea he was sick until we got word he had a heart attack and his finance former Reality TV star Omarrosa helped revive him.. We didn’t hear anything more for what seemed like a few weeks and then we got word the popular actor had passed at age 52.

We lost George Jefferson (actor Sherman Hemsley) We lost Moesha star Yvette Wilson. We also lost music legend Donna Summer

Drake-225“Woke up this morning and got hit w/ this foolishness from the bottle thrower named Drake.. He’s just told the Jewish press he’s the ‘first person to successfully rap and sing’ I was ike WTF? This is why Hip Hop history should be required b4 putting out a record.. Can we start with Angie Stone of Sequence.. she raps and sings better.. Maybe Drake forgot 8x Grammy winner Lauryn Hill? Cee-Lo, Mos Def, hell Black Thought kills it in both genres? Did dude forget Queen Latifah, Force MDs, Devin the Dude? Hell, Teena Marie, Blondie and Tom Tom Club blow Drake out the water doing both.. First time I heard singing and rapping was in 78-79 when GMF and the Furious 4 came to Bx Science and harmonized routines.. Later I heard Crash Crew and of course we had Cold Crush who killed it everytime on the singing/ rap tip y’all remember this from back in the days?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCTjA9zapLc&feature=related.. Damn Drake even ja Rule and 50 Cent kill u on the sing rap tip..LOL

kreayshawn fail

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Feature: Rapsody’s Idea of Beautiful

rapsody_BGIRLIn this era of Hip-Hop, where the Hip-Hop blogosphere is brimming with articles about the shit that Chief Keef does or does not like, videos of DMX’s surprisingly accurate covers of Christmas carols, and analysis of the twitter beef between 50 Cent and French Montana, it seems almost refreshing when an artist emerges with no other motive than to make good music. No ulterior motives, no gimmicks, just good Hip-Hop.

I think that Phonte might have said it best on the Little Brother song Not Enough, rapping “When we’re on stage, the people they all front / dope beats, dope rhymes, what more do y’all want?” Sadly, it seems that the answer to this question is ‘lots.’ With the rare exceptions of dudes like Kendrick Lamar, Big Krit, or Joey Bada$$, the masses rarely seem to give people a chance until there’s a video of them on WorldStar snatching someone’s chain, or unless they have some other gimmick to attach their brand to. Juxtaposed against this subculture of ironic appreciation, the rise of rapper Rapsody, a contemporary to these aforementioned artists, seems particularly interesting.

Similar to Little Brother, Rapsody, whose love for Hip-Hop culture is anything but ironic, is a North Carolina native whose career and sound have been heavily shaped by legendary producer 9th Wonder. This love of the culture is apparent just one minute into her album The Idea of Beautiful. “I care about ‘em too much to not say nothin” Rapsody says on the song “Motivation,” an undertone of urgency in her voice. Beginning with a beautifully honest spoken word piece, the song’s lush soundscape sets the tone for the rest of the album.

True to the 9th Wonder influence, the album is filled with soulful, boom-bap beats; a callback to better times yet somehow still wholly modern. When I spoke to Rapsody on the phone earlier today, she explained “I grew up heavily influenced by that 90s era and a lot of that was boom-bap. I was a big fan of people like Mos Def, The Fugees, Little Brother, and that whole sound.  I like a wide range of beats, but the soulful beats really, really do something for me. They inspire me more.

You can’t beat the soul.” When examining Rapsody’s lyrical content, these influences become rather apparent. Drawing on the lyrical dexterity of a dude like Mos Def, she often raps with the sincerity of a Big Pooh, incorporating an undercurrent of consciousness similar to that of Lauryn Hill’s. Rapsody is no slouch on the mic.

https://soundcloud.com/jamlaarmy/rapsody-nonfiction-ft-raheem

Despite being a beast lyrically, she explained to me that she’s always looking to grow and improve, stating that “Any and everybody I’m around, I try to learn something. And I try to grab and ask questions.” This is true whether she’s working in the studio with 9th Wonder, recording songs with Kendrick Lamar, or rocking the stage with Mac Miller as the opening act on his tour. When I suggested to her that perhaps these other artists are learning from her too, she humbly laughed off the idea and simply said “I hope so.”

This sense of humility is greatly evident in even the shortest of conversations with Rapsody and it is something that makes its way into her music. Overwhelmingly, this helps make the message that Rapsody is trying to convey much more poignant. Heartfelt songs like “Precious Wings,” for example, are so intimate that it is almost like Rapsody is giving a listener a peek into her personal diary. Completely comfortable being herself on the microphone, it’s remarkable how Rapsody has been able to find such a unique voice so early in her career when other artists have had to struggle for years to find a similar level of truth. She discussed the importance of this in my interview with her.

When I asked her if she’s ever felt pressure to try and keep up with some of the other incredible emcees 9th Wonder has worked with, she said “I definitely felt that pressure at first because, I mean, it’s 9th Wonder and you want to do the best you can. But now, I realized that I have to be comfortable in my own skin and I have to occupy my own lane.” She further discussed this idea when I asked her about what she does to differentiate herself from all the other music out there. She said “it’s a branding thing, to be honest. You kind of have to be patient enough to let your brand grow and reach the masses. Especially as a new artist, you might not get a lot of clicks on your music at first but if you really focus on branding yourself the right way and making good music, that’s the basis of it.” If this is indeed the case, Rapsody is definitely on the right path.

Having the right team surrounding her seems to help the process too. Whether it’s the incredibly dope group Kooley High, with whom Rapsody got her start, or the people surrounding her on her record label Jamla, it seems that all of the creative energies around Rapsody help to make her a better artist. When I asked her about her creative process, for example, she explained that “It’s always different. Some days, me and 9th might have had a conversation the day before where he told me to talk about a particular thing. Or, sometimes something in the beat will bring a certain emotion out. It might even be subconscious and I’ll just start writing.” It is this sense of closeness between her and her collaborators that probably helps to explain the cohesiveness of her album and how every song blends seamlessly into the next. There’s definitely something to say about keeping it in the family.

And now comes the part that everyone is waiting for; the gender part of the article. Because it would be impossible to acknowledge the fact that Rapsody is a woman in Hip-Hop without devoting a significant amount of thought and analysis to it. Of course, this is said in an effort to be satirical. During our interview, I asked Rapsody what she thought about this hyper-emphasis on gender in Hip-Hop and she had this to say; “I definitely think it puts us in a box. And that’s why I hate doing female panels. It’s okay to have a panel with all females on it. But then what happens is that all the questions become about being a female emcee. It’s just so limiting and it puts you in a box and it separates you so much. That’s what I hate about it and why I hate the term ‘female emcee.’ It’s used to separate you from everybody else. It’s just like ‘white rapper’ or ‘backpacker.’ It’s just another term used to separate and divide.” The thoughtfulness of this answer was something that struck me greatly. A wise answer from a rapper who is wise beyond her years, and miles ahead of her peers.

If inertia is any indication, Rapsody’s career trajectory seems to be indicating a future filled with many more successes to come. If you are still unfamiliar with her music, I suggest you make yourself aware immediately.

Check out Rapsody on Twitter.

source:  http://boi-1da.net/2012/12/19/artist-profile-rapsody/