Dan Charnas, author of "The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop"
Erykah Badu has finally given us a new album, only her third full LP of new music in, oh, eleven years.
Now she says she’s learned to use iChat and Garage Band, so she’s got two, maybe three more albums coming this year. “New AmErykah, Pt. 2″ in the Spring. Then her alterego “Lowdown Loretta Brown” in the Fall. And then she’s got her new supergroup with Ahmir & Mike Elizondo, “Edith Funker.”
She may be the world’s biggest tease, that Erykah, but she sure is funny.
It’s the 25th anniversary of the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Writing my review in the Washington Post gave me occasion to really think on the album’s importance, which runs so much deeper than it’s status as the greatest selling album of all time. More than all of that, in 1983, “Thriller” almost singlehandedly achieved the reintegration of American music.
P.S.: If you really want a renewed respect for the Jackson family, just listen to this home demo that Michael, Randy and Janet (yes) put together in 1978, setting out the now famous arrangement of “Workin’ Day And Night.” They are so in the pocket with the percussion, it’s insane.
…and for a non-ignorant analysis, peep Jeff Chang’s blog here.
The first time I saw the Palestinian hip-hop group D.A.M. was in 2005, when they did their first gig in New York.
I went to the West Bank in 2006, and saw some things that I needed to see — the Deheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem, Israeli settler terror in Hebron, the streets of Ramallah, and of course, the Wall, the Wall everywhere. It was a sobering counterpoint to my trip to Israel proper the year before, something that I wrote about in my-yet-to-be-published-Masters-Project-because-I’m-neglecting-
In it, I described my outlook in the years prior to the West Bank trip…
“My politics aligned with standard “liberal Zionism.” I supported a two-state solution and believed that the failure of the peace process lay not with “us” — reasonable Israelis and Jewish-Americans — but with “them” — the unreasonable Yasser Arafat and Palestinian militants, who had been offered 95 percent of what they wanted, yet still resorted to violence.”
After the trip, I summarized my transformation this way:
“If Israel is a democracy, I conclude, it is the democracy of Jim Crow. And if being a Zionist means supporting that, then I am most certainly not a Zionist.”
In other words: If I am a staunch multi-culturalist while in America — meaning that I believe in creating a plural society where people of different ethnicities co-exist on an even playing field — then I must be a multi-culturalist everywhere, and Israel/Palestine can be no exception. Whether that means a one-state or a two-state solution is up for discussion — and frankly, at this point, neither one seems possible despite what our Hypocrite-in-Chief says. (Remember when he slammed Clinton in 2000 for getting too tied up in the peace process? NOW look who wants to leave a legacy.)
All I know is that you can’t solve one refugee problem by creating another one. It was true in 1948, and it’s still true now.
Read the rant here.
After an extended holiday both here and abroad, it’s time to dig into this year’s work:
• As many of you know, I’ll be spending most of my time reporting and writing my book, “The Big Payback: How Hip-Hop Became Global Pop,” coming out on New American Library/Penguin in the Fall of 2009. See y’all in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and Houston soon.
• Other ventures, coming soon.
Wishing power to all of your resolutions.
Read all about it on hiphopmusic.com.
The confluence of genius and psychopathy is all too common in hip-hop, the convergence of genius and altruism all too rare. Few rappers possess what Chuck D. had, try as they might. From today’s Washington Post.
The best of the blog, since 2005.
White People, Get Over Yourselves
A video reaction to candidate Obama's "race speech"
America's Two Destinies
A marination on the legacy of 9-11