November 29, 2006

N.Y.P.D. = New York Pricks and Dicks

History is destined to repeat itself. Just ask the families of Timothy Stansbury Jr., Anthony Baez, Patrick Dorismond, Alberta Spruill, Amadou Diallo, Ousmane Zongo, and Sean Bell.

41 shots. 50 shots. No matter the details, the story continues. Unarmed minority males + wrong place + wrong time + cops = one more fatality. YOU do the math. One more news headline. A barrage of violence, an inexplicable death, and subsequent murderous-cops'-paid-vacations all somehow make sense.

Of course, the victims have criminal records. Of course, the focus of the media is upon Bloomberg's use of the phrase "excessive force." Of course, the city's "leaders" have come out of their hiding places to condemn these acts of violence. Of course, race and class have taken temporary hold of the media's attention. All the puzzle pieces fit, right?

As the holiday season draws near, PS3 sales will soon eclipse the newsworthiness of Sean Bell's death. Our history lies forgotten, waiting to inevitably rear its ugly head again. All the puzzle pieces fit, right?

Music is here to remind us that it doesn't have to fit. Music is here to remind us that there are things in the world that do not make sense: What are YOU gonna do about it? Music is here to help us focus. Anger, frustration, and hopelessness can be transformed via the power of music. Anger becomes a catalyst, frustration becomes your fuel, hopelessness becomes a part of your past, all while noddin' your head. Diggin' in the crates is bigger than hip-hop, it's a history lesson.

Music is a galvanizing force, a reminder of the struggle that lies ahead, and, most importantly, a call to action. Live life NOW. Music is here to remind us of where we came from, how we got here, and how far we still need to go. Are YOU listening?

Eff the Popo Mixtape (alternate link 1, alternate link 2)
Men in Blue - Prince Paul and Everlast
Fuck the Police - Jay Dee
I Shot the Sheriff - Bob Marley
American Skin (41 Shots) - Bruce Springsteen
Sound of Da Police - KRS One
I Fought the Law - The Clash
Can't Truss It - Public Enemy
Mr. Policeman - Rick James
Low Class Conspiracy - Quasimoto
Nigg**s vs. the Police - Richard Pryor
Fite Dem Back - Linton Kwesi Johnson
Just a Friendly Game of Baseball - Main Source
Fuck the Police - NWA
Cop Killer - Ice-T/Body Count
Who's Gonna Take the Weight? - Gang Starr
Pigs - Cypress Hill
Who Protects Us from You? - Boogie Down Productions

UPDATE: 50 Shots - Papoose. Peace to Eskay at Nah Right.
Stream six of the above tracks at Dallas Penn DOT COM.

November 27, 2006

The Boys are Back in Town.

While we're contemplating Michael Richards future in comedy and whether his apology was "heartfelt," Trent Lott has slowly squeezed himself back into power. Racist tirades may ruin your Hollywood career. On the contrary, they do wonders for your Washington career. The Republican party voted and made good ol' boy Trent "Strom Thurmond incarnate" Lott Senate Minority Whip.

Let's recall some of Trent Lott's finer moments. At good ol' boys Strom's 100th birthday, Lott famously exclaimed, "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years." A modern day vote for segregation. Must've been a slip of the tongue, a tirade, a nervous breakdown, right?

- In 1981, Lott filed a "friend of the court" brief opposing the IRS's decision to terminate Bob Jones University's tax exempt status because it prohibited interracial dating.

- In 1982, Lott voted against the extension of the Voting Rights Act.

- In 1983, he voted against creating a national holiday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

- He voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1990, a measure that reversed five Supreme Court rulings that would have made it more difficult for people of color to win job discrimination lawsuits.

- In 1992, he spoke to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a successor to the White Citizens' Council of the 1960s, saying "the people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction, and our children will be the beneficiaries."

- In 1994, he voted to terminate federal funding for the King Holiday Commission.

- In 1995, he criticized Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi's lone African-American member of Congress, for seeking FBI documents on the death of civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer.

- In 2001, he was the only U.S. Senator to vote against President George W. Bush's nomination of Roger Gregory, an African-American, to the Fourth U.S Court of Appeals.

Even when they're down, they STILL get their people in the back door. By the way, Lott's 25-24 win was a secret ballot. Supremacy knows how to keep it underground. YOU tell me: what's the difference between white sheets and a secret ballot? Lott puts it best: "We will be a robust minority, a vigorous minority, and, hopefully, a minority that is only in that condition for a couple of years." Damn.

Watch your back. The (good ol') BOYS are back in town.

Staples Singers: The Best of the Staples Singers

November 25, 2006

Jazz Cafes+Dog Walkers+Riots = Chic Urban Real Estate = Your Patriotic Duty

Remember those riots? 19 year old Timothy Thomas was shot. Hours later, the city found a galvanizing force. Violence and a sense of temporary empowerment took over Vine Street. We are HERE and we ain't gonna take it no more. Until the tear gas, riot squads, curfews, and subsequent unrelenting police force presence.

Some people remember it quite differently. Ran Mullins, owner of an advertising studio recalls, “The riots set this neighborhood back a decade.” Set back education? Set back community self-reliance? Set back community investment? Nah, set back the 1990's gentrification. People are entitled to their priorities.

Fast forward to 2006, things are lookin' up in the Nati. If you have money, credit, a $30,000 down payment, a job, and a cosigner for your mortgage. Main Street ain't what it used to be. Peep the evidence:

When there's blood on the street, buy property. After the 2001 riots, 500 of the area's 1200 buildings were left vacant, making them easy pickins' for development and revitalization corporations. So far, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation has completed 28 condos, building 68 more, and just bought 100 condos and 100 vacant lots.

With the real black folks gone or in jail, the Art Academy of Cincinnati decided to spend 13 million dollars to move its campuses to the hot new urban environment. You see, the black folks that are here, are the hip, new types. They have college degrees, love red wine, and listen to TV on the Radio. They speak so well too!

Now that Magic has put a "blackness-seal-of-approval" on Starbucks, TGIF's, theaters, and Washington Mutual Banks, YOUR hood is next. At least the new folks movin' in pick up their bichon frise's shit while walking it.

Tupac: Me Against the World

November 23, 2006

Give THANKS Bitches

All is well with the world. least MY world. I have a full belly. I am quite a bit tipsy. I have a roof over my head. Creditors aren't bustin' down my door. I have a loving family. I have leftovers in the fridge. I got some money in the bank. I got friends who I can count on. I got music when I need it. I can't complain. To put it bluntly, I SHOULDN'T complain.
I've got a lot to be thankful for. Apparently, even turkeys have it better than most Ninth Ward, New Orleans residents. I'll repeat myself. I live in the NYC. We have our ups and downs. However, I am still thankful. While turkeys are getting pardoned, many of our fellow Americans are locked up in NOLA, without a charge, without a public defender, and without evidence.
Let's face it: the only reason turkeys still exist is Thanksgiving and tree-huggin' turkey burger eaters. Evolution dictates that dumb birds will go the way of the dodo. Yet, these birds stay gettin' pardoned, livin' it up MTV cribs style in turkey-mansions in Vermont. All the while, my fellow brothers and sisters stay locked down in the NOLA. Whatever evidence used to put them in jail has also gone the way of the dodo.
While I contemplate the many ways to prepare leftovers for breakfast, my fellow Americans on lockdown in NOLA are getting law students to help them out. The public defenders are gone; the tide swept them away, along with the fingerprints we supposedly had. Miranda is just another name: if you can't afford a lawyer, and the evidence we had to convict you washed away, here's a law student to talk to you. Guantanamo is more than just over there.
Damn. Life is precious. A blessing. Give thanks.
Watch the sunrise. Read a book. Check out that museum you've been meaning to check out. Vote. Read the newspaper. Buy stocks in a company because you believe in 'em. Take public transportation to work. Tell someone you love them. Play your hip-hop LOUD.
Live life. NOW.

November 22, 2006

Beneath the Surface.

I told y'all that history repeats itself. All you gotta do is look. It's right there. Below the surface. The greatest trick supremacy ever pulled, was convincing the world it didn't exist.

It's here. It shows its head once in a while. It makes a couple of headlines, people feign shock, and the world as we know it continues. Don't get it twisted. It's ALWAYS there. We just remember the Mel Gibsons, the Stroms Thurmonds, and the Kramers.
What about the neighbors, the bankers, the grocers, the painters, the doctors? What about YOU?

It's MORE than entertainment. We got a rare glimpse of the inner-psyche of an American white male (yeah, I know, this isn't a fair representation of's my blog.) Are we gonna write this off as one of those"Krazy Kooky Kramer (AKA the KKK) antics? Are we just gonna shrug our shoulders and move on?

It's more than entertainment. Is he hungry or is he a looter? Is he a teenager or is he a thug? Is he an Afro-American or is he an American? Is it urban clothing or a culture? Is it a term of endearment? Can I use THAT word? YOU be the judge. On a personal note, these moments are why the South has got it good: Confederate flags make it easy to spot the enemy. I know where I stand. You think you know where I stand. We go on with our day.

The Bill Withers Model.

History tends to repeat itself. Vietnam and Iraq. Strom Thurmond and Trent Lott. Nazi Germany, Rwanda, and Darfur. Pop culture is not immune to the virus. Minstrel shows are still alive and well.
Hip-hop is especially vulnerable. Anger, race, culture, diamonds, and socioeconomics are all mixed into a batter that should explode. When money talks, people listen. Hip hop is doing fine, just ask Clive Davis and Lyor Cohen.
You can even ask Jay-Z. Hip-hop isn't his life. Hip-hop's his slide-off. His Rihanna. He's not rapping for the street. The streets just don't have that kind of capital. Just ask Budweiser. He knows its bigger than hip-hop.
I know it's marketing. I know it's clothing lines. I know it's a swagger, a lifestyle, a brand name. But don't tell me you don't miss the hunger, the drive, THE MUSIC. Rap is not pop, if you call it that...
Bill Withers didn't need excuses. He didn't need to be called president. He didn't need beer endorsements and he sure as hell didn't need to make up a champagne. He let his music do the talking.
Bill did what he had to do. He took his money, his Grammy's, and his family, and left the spot light. Don't get me wrong, he still collects his royalty fees, but he needs to get his kids through college. He needs to take care of his garden. He needs to read a book or two.
We're left with nothing but Bill's music. And that's completely fine with me. No memories of fake retirements. No failed attempt to irrigate the Africans. No Game-styled hypocrisy. No verses on Fall Out Boys new record. Just Bill. Period.
If he does come back to Carnegie Hall, you KNOW I would be there. Front and center, rain or shine, Ticketmaster or not. It's Bill motherfuckin' Withers. Are YOU gonna be there when Jay flies through your town?
History has a way of repeating itself. Where our ELDERS at?

November 13, 2006

I prefer offensive human beings. They make for better stories.

I am a reader. The problem is, I just don't READ anymore. The grind has got me constantly diverted. I haven't been able to sit down and see the world, from another person's thoughts, for more than ten minutes at a time (this blog ish is made for those on their grind). But, damn, the grind can be coldhearted. People need novels. Baldwin, where you at?

If you are unfamiliar with my man SHERMAN ALEXIE, peep his latest piece of writing NOW. America can be a beautiful place. You just have to know where to look. Where else are you gonna find a coherent piece of writing that can combine the Supersonics, father-son relationships, love, gentrification, hate, Starbucks, and the American dream and still make sense?
We call out America at times. Her economy, her supremacy, her lack of credible leadership, etc, etc. But where else are you gonna find so many stories? In the end, they are all we got. Say what you will about President Bush, you can't argue with the fact that he makes for a great story.

How different is the ghetto from the reservation? Broken traffic lights, hopelessness, schools on the brink of collapse, joblessness, addiction. But somewhere, there is a reason to smile. Somewhere, there is a reason to wake up tomorrow. Somewhere, there is HOPE. You just gotta look for it.

PEEP this excerpt from one of Sherman's stories, "Indian Education:"

Last night I missed two free throws which would have won the game against the best team in the state. The farm town high school I play for is nicknamed the "Indians," and I'm probably the only actual Indian ever to play for a team with such a mascot.

This morning I pick up the sports page and read the headline: INDIANS LOSE AGAIN.

Go ahead and tell me none of this is supposed to hurt me very much.


I walk down the aisle, valedictorian of this farm town high school, and my cap doesn't fit because I've grown my hair longer than it's ever been. Later, I stand as the school board chairman recites my awards, accomplishments, and scholarships.

I try to remain stoic for the photographers as I look toward the future.

Back home on the reservation, my former classmates graduate: a few can't read, one or two are just given attendance diplomas, most look forward to the parties. The bright students
are shaken, frightened, because they don't know what comes next.

They smile for the photographer as they look back toward tradition.

The tribal newspaper runs my photograph and the photograph of my former classmates side by side.


Victor said, "Why should we organize a reservation high school reunion? My graduating class has a reunion every weekend at the Powwow Tavern."
READING IS GANGSTA. READING is keepin it real. Real talk.

November 10, 2006

The Chickens Haven't Hatched.

I'm not gonna sit here and lie to you, my readers. I'm not gonna sit on my high horse and tell you that it didn't feel good to watch the color of Congress change. No, I'm not talkin' about the Black Muslim congressman in Minnesota, of all places. Yes, I gloated. Yes, I enjoyed Bush's new found bipartisanism: "It is our responsibility to put the elections behind us and work together on the great issues facing America."
Oh yeah, and that picture of the Santorum clan was the icing on the cake. Gloating feels good. Not only did he make his little girl cry, he made her wear the same outfit that her doll is wearing. Ain't this the same dude that can't stand burqa's?
Ok. Let's gloat ONE MORE time. Poor girl is hurtin'.
Before we get too excited, let's count our eggs. We have the House by 33 and the Senate by 2. They still have the executive and the judicial branch. By my count, that's barely a tie. They've already invited the enemy over for lunch. What did YOU do today?
Rumsfeld left, but before we knew it, another Bush crony came in the back door. When told that Rumsfeld had left, the above soldier replied, "Who's Rumsfeld?" Damn. What more can I say?
The words "progress" and "new direction" have been thrown around a lot lately. I'm not seeing it. George Washinton's cabinet doesn't look that much different from Bush's. Damn, they even crammed Alphonso Jackson behind Condi.
Bush knows the game. He'll sing us a song or two. He'll change a chord. The melody will will seem more upbeat. But the SONG will remain the same. Are YOU willing to listen? Voting was the easy part. Are you willing to write your own song? Or are we just gonna sit back and play second fiddle?
Even after the Mark Foleys and Ted Haggards, only 2 out of every 5 of us bothered showin' up. Forget about the real issues, education, health care, the war, Katrina, urban disenfranchisement...
They're not going anywhere without a fight. Even when they lose, they'll still try to get the best of you. Here's what THEY think of YOU.

November 07, 2006

Neoliberalism is the NEW Tuskegee

There must be something in THEIR genes, right? They are poor. They are sick. They are uneducated. They get asthma and diabetes like it's a style. They pass these traits on to their kids. Poor folks have issues. And science promises to get to the bottom of long as they get their tenure at their prestigious university.
This won't hurt a bit, I promise.
Doing bad in the name of good is ok, right? NYU scientists gave kids in the South Bronx portable air quality monitors, to carry around for one month. Guess what? “I think it’s an indicator that these kids are being exposed to very high fine-particle concentrations on a fairly regular basis,” said George Thurston, associate professor of environmental medicine at the N.Y.U. School of Medicine. Breaking news: poor kids get asthma at astronomical rates. That's our NIH-sponsored tax dollars at work. That's medicine's "do no harm policy" at work. That's a scientist ensuring that he'll become a tenured professor. That's the advancement of one more career, at the expense of the American poor. Guinea pigs are so passe. Science has moved beyond rats and guinea pigs.
It's no secret that kids in the South Bronx get asthma at rates that eclipse even the third world. It's no secret that the South Bronx is home to expressways, warehouses, trucks, cars, ports, garbage barges, abandoned ships, and CHILDREN. Can YOU make the connection? Do YOU want a career in public health?
It's no secret that asthma is a business. It's no secret that inhalers, ventilators, and Albuterol are more than just medicines. They've become school accessories. The morbidity and mortality of the "urban city dweller" are questions that have become a means to advance your career. Need a master's in public health? Study the effects of poverty on the health of the Negro. Need a PhD? Study the effects of urban living on the city dweller. That diploma will look nice hanging in your Westchester living room.
Real solutions require WORK. Real solutions require policies that change city planning. Real solutions require legislation that invests in people. Real solutions are POSSIBLE. Did YOU vote?
People are dying HERE and NOW. In our backyards. Black men in Philly are dying faster than Black men in Iraq. We don't need another NIH-sponsored study. We don't need another PhD thesis. We don't need another tenured professor. We need a REVOLUTION.

The Choice is YOURS

Who's world is this?
The world is YOURS.

The CHOICE is yours.

November 05, 2006

Money Ain't A Thing

In these days of quick fixes and immediate solutions, even money ain't enough. Camden has become synonymous with American urban blight, crime, poverty, drugs, and destitution. Industry left a long time ago. Leaving shells, squatters, and tenements. Camdenites call 'em homes.
Even cheating doesn't work. Camden schools have become nothing more than extended babysitting. Teachers want to get rid of their kids so badly, they'll rig their proficiency tests. By any means necessary, right? Once this kid gets out of MY school, he'll become YOUR problem. Ikea and Home Depot aren't just stores, they're college-alternatives.
Four years ago, the New Jersey legislature promised Camden 175 million dollars in resuscitation funds. During the interim since the legislation, the aquarium was improved, Rutgers began contruction of a new law school building, and a luxury apartment complex began construction. 121 million dollars spent + 44% poverty rate (highest in nation) + $18,007 median Camden family income. YOU do the math. Don't forget to account for the money that's been skimmed off the top.
Investment in a city, a community, is more than just a lump sum of money. Elliot Sclar, a professor of urban planning at Columbia put it much better: “The hope is that if you drop money, rich people will come and eat quiche there [Camden]....No one has been working on building the basis for good local government.”
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for the day. Teach a man to fish...? Why waste OUR time? We've ALREADY won the election.

November 01, 2006

Biochemical Slang is HIP HOP

NYC is Hip-HOP.

Hip Hop is more than just music. Hip hop is a style. It's your swag. It's an attitude. It's a marketing scheme. It's the clothes you wear. Most importantly, it is YOU and I. Who's gonna change hip hop? YOU and I. Who's gonna make sure Keith Murray, King Sun, Billy Danze, Craig G, C Rayz Walz are remembered and appreciated? YOU and I.

Music is Hip-Hop's side hustle. Hip-Hop's got more important things to tend to. Don't like where it's goin? Who's gonna take the WEIGHT? Who's gonna change the trajectory?

Biochemical Slang and Dallas Penn formin' like VOLTRON. Hip-Hop is a movement. One voice is easily drowned out. Many voices, yelling as one, can't be ignored.
Hip-Hop is appreciating what you have and what was left for you. Use it wisely.
Hip-Hop is speaking your mind. Eloquence and verbosity are an option.

Hip-Hop is YOU.

Hip-Hop is exchanging ideas.

The cypher continues outside the club. Dallas Penn rallies the troops. This is bigger than Hip-Hop.

Hip-Hop is facing adversity.

Hip-Hop is questioning the powers that be.

Hip-Hop is takin' the train home.

Engine, engine number nine
On the New York Transit line,
If MY train goes off the track,