Nas and Michael Eric Dyson Hip Hop Conversation at Georgetown
Nas has always been a more low key hip hop artist on the business front but when you look to combining music and academics recently there has been no shortage of what Mr Jones is looking to bring to the people. In this 90 min video professor Michael Eric Dyson and Nasir Jones converse on the impact of Illmatic 20 yrs after it hit the scene as Nas’s debut effort. They also get into the current state of Hip Hop among many more topics.
“I don’t see enough MCs who are brave enough to be honest,” he said during a talk with Michael Eric Dyson, university professor at Georgetown. “There’s a lot of good stuff and a lot of bad in rap.”
“The socially conscious stuff can come off as preachy,” he explained. “ … some people stay away from that. It’s not their bag, but they still have some kind of artistic responsibility to do more than what’s the latest trend.”
The conversation is moderated by Lehigh University’s Professor James Peterson and hosted at the home of the Hoyas, Georgetown University. Get comfy and check it out.
Boondocks Creator Aaron McGruder Speaks of Departure From Series
As preview images continue to hit the Internets for season 4 of the critically acclaimed and equally controversial Boondocks, there as been a cloud over what many have been wishing for over past few years. News came fast that series creator Aaron McGruder was not a creative part of the upcoming 4th season. As soon as word broke of the split many thought this was another example of big bad corporate America stealing a man’s intellectual property and forcing him out on to the street. From the sounds of McGruder’s recent released statement, conditions between the two sides seem to be better than we initially thought.
That would make sense as Aaron prepares a new project Black Jesus that will also have a home on Cartoon Networks Adult Swim block of programming. Here is Aaron McGruder’s statement in its entirety.
“As the world now knows, The Boondocks will be returning for a fourth season, but I will not be returning with it. I’d like to extend my gratitude to Sony and Adult Swim for three great seasons.
I created The Boondocks two decades ago in college, did the daily comic for six years, and was showrunner on the animated series for the first three seasons. The Boondocks pretty much represents my life’s work to this point. Huey, Riley, and Granddad are not just property to me. They are my fictional blood relatives. Nothing is more painful than to leave them behind.
To quote a great white man, “Hollywood is a business”. And to quote another great white man, “Don’t hold grudges”.
What has never been lost on me is the enormous responsibility that came with The Boondocks – particularly the television show and it’s relatively young audience. It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture, and love. Anything less would have been simply unacceptable.
As for me, I’m finally putting a life of controversy and troublemaking behind me with my upcoming Adult Swim show, BLACK JESUS.”
Hump Day seems as good a good as any for some relationship type discussion. First off this isn’t a side chick post if that’s what you’re thinking. This topic was actually requested of me this morning. The question I received was….
“Jason, as best good friend to many women, have you ever had awkward moments with their new guy.”
As a general answer no. I have never had awkward moments. I don’t see any reason to but I have been in simple misunderstandings and situations that’s required me to clarify some things. Other folk sometimes assume things that weren’t the case. It’s really a matter of basic respect and common sense, laced with my own views on relationships. Many people think that the moment you engage a person and get into something with them that every friend you have is just automatically supposed to love this person as you do. I see that as being a little naive and unrealistic. As friends, until you’re shown a reason not to, it’s your role to be respectful that’s all. Liking the person isn’t a requirement and it was to be earned.
As a man I already get the funny reactions from the new guys in the picture with my lady friends, but those that are able to put 1 and 1 together see very quickly I have enough on my plate as to not worry about me. One thing I will say is that I don’t really make it an issue or point to go out of my way to get to know this person. It’s nothing personal I just don’t see it as my job. Things like that happen naturally. You’re dealing with my friend now so if things go good with y’all we’ll cross paths when we’re supposed to and things will be great. Truth be told it’s more so my friend’s position to big up this new person and create that environment of bonding. We’re not kids anymore so truthfully until a relationship really shows its potential of being something long-term and serious, there’s no need for me to invest too much too early.
I had this convo with one of my boy before. He understood it 100% but told me it does sound a bit “cold”. Perhaps it cold but to me it’s more so protective. Feelings, love, we all know what it can do to people. With me being that friend that folk turn to, the truth is that I get told more of the bad things that happen then the good. That’s just how it is, most of that good stuff is told to girl friends, so I’m rarely given reason not to be cautious. I’d rather be cautious now and see things work out well in the end then assume great things now just to see it fall apart. Another thing from my perspective is that I’m that objective male voice that tells not what a person wants to hear but what is needed. When the red flag appears there is no emotion that makes me look past that issue. Often it’s the thing I speak on the 1st time that comes up again and again but feelings won’t let folk walk away from the situation.
I’ve experienced both sides of this position. I’ve seen people link up and over time everyone is cool. Families get created and it’s all love. I’ve seen people link up and basically have to watch a situation walk the fine line of abuse. People sometimes have to go through things themselves to decide what is or isn’t for them. It can get difficult because in the midst of turmoil many a person will side with their current partner vs their friend of many years. Feelings do that sometimes.
My end goal is to see my friends happy. As long as they’re being treated well I’m not really concerned with who it is that provides the happiness. As a friend that is the ultimate “Social” duty of mine.
Is the Next Big Social Media Trend “Anonymous” Communication?
No matter what social network site you prefer to use they all have a commonality that provides a sense of security. You can always see and identify who it is that you are communicating with. From the moment internet activity started taking off in the late 90’s we’ve been creating profiles and pages to properly identify ourselves. The recent boom in Instagram usage speaks to our society’s personal infatuation with images of it self and others. Yet as apparent as that social self focus is there’s another side to all this. What if there was a version of twitter that had no names or titles. What if there was a completely anonymous social network? Well, that may not be as far-fetched as you may think.
Recently a number of secretive apps have been released that provide varying levels of anonymous messaging. You have Confide which is less about anonymity then it is about security, This app lets its users send message that are concealed or creatively encrypted in a manner that prevents sharing or taking screen shots of sensitive content. It even notifies you if someone tries to screen shot your message. Now on the flip side you have app like Whisper and Secret. These are apps serve as something like public diaries or message boards. You upload pics and place your messages over these images. They are then posted to the network for public view. Whisper has no personalized community system whereas Secret does have a system of “friend” following that dictates the content that you have access to. These platforms are great for those with a lot to say but for whatever reason don’t want these statements attributed to them.
There are a number of questionable elements to this type of communication, but morality aside human nature has proven that this is something many people would buy into for a number of reason. Are we giving the masses another to express and vent or are we enabling Internet trolls to be more damage than ever? It will be interesting to see which of these media apps really picks up steam.
The Curious State of the Long Term “Situationship”
Relationships seem to be under constant redefinition. Nothing is as simple as single, dating & married. Today we seem to have an unlimited number of relationship types and it’s not always a bad thing. If there’s one thing that life has taught me is that there are many paths to happiness. With that said, knowing how to navigate that path when engaging others still takes skill. When you’re presented with someone else’s “situationship” how do you respond?
Situationship is a term recently created via the Internets as an overall defining term for relationships with unclear, out of the norm type of conditions. Generally you’re not together but have a number of elements that go beyond just friend status. In this situation I want to ask about the classic “We’ve been off and on for like a decade.” Now, I’m in my 30’s and I’m hearing a lot more of this. People that have been tied to each for extended periods of time from young adulthood. Having no real public title but with a private understanding of “what they do.” Sometimes they are linked by children but that’s not always the case. In my experience they are either together and dating or “friends.” Now have you ever been in a position of trying to approach someone in a situationship like that? Have you ever unknowingly met that other person under the guise that they are just a friend when really the interaction is much more intimate than that and you are the one unaware of whats really going on? Or perhaps you do get full disclosure of who this person is. Do you continue to pursue the man or woman who has kept your eye? Do you feel that if things go well that other person won’t be an issue? Do you fear that everything that happens between you will later be told to this person that already has history in the mix? Do you feel as if there is this dagger over your head and the moment something goes wrong that person will pop back into the scene?
There are tons of “what ifs” in this scenario. People are creatures of habit. If you have been on and off with a person for that long it’s going to take more than a snap of the fingers or some new person to remove them from the picture. This person has seen people come and seen people go and knows the advantageous position they are in. They know the buttons to press that you are still learning. This is truly the “no one is ever single” belief that I often speak to people about.
I’m just thinking out loud but I do wonder how many of you have ever dealt with this?
Big Basketball Ushers in Munch Madness at Duane Reade
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It’s the annual tradition that sends offices into a frenzy as people give in their office pool money and frantically try to fill out their basketball tournament brackets. To the surprise of many, more bets take place over the Madness then over football’s big game so it goes without saying that TV’s nationwide will be showcasing the best of college basketball. Groups of friends will gather with their favorite snacks on deck and I’m no different. Even though neither my alma mater Iona or G-Town made it to the tournament I will still be parked in front of the big screen cheering on great play. Basketball on all levels is a joy to me but there’s something about the college game and tournament set up that you just can’t help but root for. Before that though I need food. Can’t have #DRMunchMadness without the snacks.
I was recently at the my local Duane Reade to get some spring cleaning items. Now it’s time to really go in as the tournament is about to start. I personally have to hand it to the deLISH brand for the variety of items they provide that truly covers you’re entire list of snack needs. Chips, nachos, cookies, candies, chocolate and more. Then to my surprise I saw more items in stock since I was here earlier in the week.
You have deLISH drinking options to wash it all down too. You can pick between waters, flavored beverages and juices. Even if you’re like me and prefer an adult drink while watching the game you can always make use of the fruit juices from deLISH to create your drink. Truthfully Duane Reade has more then 1/2 of my sports viewing essentials are covered. The chips and nachos will go well with the pizza and/or chicken wings that will be served up when the guys get together.
I really like the way Duane Reade approaches sporting events when it comes to merchandising. They lay things out very simply and efficiently in a way that makes sense for what real people are looking for at this time of year. I personally promise that what ever your sports viewing routine is, it can be found at Duane Reade. It’s true one stop shopping that gives us the needed convenience people on the go need.
Aim Straight On Social Media If You Want To Be Listened To
There are so many worthy causes and good intentions that get spoiled by horrible aim and poor social media execution. Yes, the way a message is delivered plays a big part in how it’s received, regardless of if you like it or not. What do I mean? In an age where everyone shoots out their personal views and opinions, often times it’s frustrating when I see folk with truly good views and solid missions not get the support they genuinely deserve. This happens because many people don’t know how to articulate the meat of their position without the extreme, over the top generalizing of the listening population. Messages need to be able to strike at the guilty without the collateral damage of hitting those that may actually be on your side.
Social Media for all its benefits continuously shows how difficult it is for people to agree with each other. You can look at so many of the topics currently being discussed and see how better execution would eliminate so much of the unconstructive chatter. People argue back and forth over IG images of breastfeeding parents and the convo rarely ends up being about the main topic. It’ll be about attention seeking and sexuality, etc,etc…all because the message that was attempted to be sent was done poorly. If you want to engage people about a serious matter that an IG selfie may need some more context to properly make the point since many people who have no issue with public breastfeeding still see exposing this act via social media as a bit of over sharing. And this than clouds the primary issue.
I’ve asked people and spoken to folk about the “Don’t tell me to Smile” campaign. I don’t know anyone that thinks street harassment is good. That seems like a pretty common stance but so many people are delivering that message not as the need to respect the right of a woman to her space and right to decline your advances but as a pure anti social approach to people. Is a smile now an evil thing? Well it depends on how the interaction occurs I guess. We’ve been taught since childhood that projecting a smile is a good thing. If you elect to ice grill the world today you have that right but it’s not a free pass to be disrespectful to a person who hasn’t disrespected you. It’s like assuming a person has ill intentions so you preemptively lash out at them to be safe. It’s resulted in various men I know simply deciding to keep quiet and to themselves to play it safe. That’s not how we should be living.
There are a number of issues I can elaborate on featuring men,women, race, class, etc that miss the mark because we get sucked into the classic divide and blame game. Folk get so busy attacking people instead of attacking problems. I get it. It’s easier to blame than to build. If you see a problem that needs to have attention brought to it then do that. It’s the sledge-hammer vs the scalpel mentality. Anyone can swing a hammer but to cut precisely at the problem area takes way more skill and planning. In truth it’s difficult for many to get out of their feelings far enough to focus on the execution of what they want to see accomplished. There are many things I don’t like but I know if I’m going to make progress towards change I can’t be the ranting raving Black Man no matter how justified it is.
Via social media and technology wr have the tools to make change in this world, but that’s only if we get out of our own way long enough to really address our issues. Let’s slow down, yet a moment before pushing the SEND button to see if what we’re putting out and how we’re communicating truly serves the greater good.
I’m still getting back to my regular routine after having a great time in Austin, Texas for SXSW Interactive. As I’ve spoken to folk about my time last week and what I liked about SXSW I’ve noticed a particular sentiment coming up repeatedly in conversation online and offline. South By SouthWest has gotten “too corporate”. As an event with nearly 30 yrs under it’s belt obviously what we have to today would naturally be a lot different from what was happening in the initial festivals, but lets take a look at what being too corporate really means.
For years people viewed Austin’s music and film festival as a breeding ground for new artists and indie movies. Over the past 10 yrs we’ve seen two major elements enter into the SXSW framework. Those 2 entities are Hip Hop and Social Media/Technology. First you had Hip Hop legends and pioneers trying surprise shows. They’d even perform mashup events with artists of genres. Then one by one the larger main stream artists started popping up using the new SXSW platform for larger unexpected appearances. It’s now at a point were the question is not if Hip Hop’s elite will be there but rather who, when and where. On the technological side SXSW is the birthplace of such social media powerhouses as Twitter and Foursquare. I don’t think anyone is mad at that progression. So what exactly is the issue?
The positions I see people take are against the presence of giant corporations and the artists they book. It’s believed that they kill the indie grassroots vibe and the bigger established stars result in the cost for participation to sky rocket which phases out the smaller up and coming artists. I can get the latter point to a degree, but when the entire city of Austin is your stage can a grinding musical performer but get a stage and attract an audience? It may be in Austin, NY or on the Internets but the reality is artists are always fighting for attention vs other larger acts. There is huge component of SXSW that works off of the understanding that not everyone is purchasing $1000 passes. With that understood there’s a surrounding element that caters to those operating outside of the pricey SXSW mainframe. In short artist still have ample ability to get seen if the people seeking them out are willing to look beyond the official SXSW guide book they get at registration pick up.
The other point of contention that bigger business is somehow a bad thing is very difficult for me to grasp at least during the Interactive half of the festival. The level of networking, business seminars and start up pitch session that these companies facilitated was amazing. The same Samsung that brought Jay-Z & Kanye provided a blogger lounges to keep people like me connected while moving from event to event. Paypal, Esurance, Yahoo and more all created a digital playground that allowed for the perfect blend of business and pleasure. Now if this is a matter of the musical aspect then still I have to pull a couple cards on this. Is it bad that artists that top that Billboard charts are now performing at SXSW? I think that call has to be made not by media, reporters and journalists but by the regular 9-5 working fans. Media who hasn’t had to pay to see Kanye or Drake or Gaga in years is coming from a position of exclusivity that isn’t common to the basic festival attendee. To them the ability to catch so many of their favorite artists in one place is rare thing.
I get it. As people we like to have thing we feel belong solely to us. We like hidden treasures that escape the eye of the mainstream and maintain a level of innocence that we rarely experience. Just let’s not act like growth and corporate involvement is a scarlet A of shame. Its the natural progression of things. You make of it what you want and truthfully if you’re in a position to complain about this you’re most likely already enjoying a level of access most people would die for.
SoFlo Brunch x SXSW – Influence: The New Currency [Video]
I’m not going to lie this was a big thing for me. I began the year with the desire to step out into the realm of public speaking. I’ve been the behind the scenes guy sharing my insights and knowledge with others for years. I’ve done a number of interviews and online show so this is the next natural step. One of my initial attempts to speak at a another conference later this year was denied and it only fueled me to go harder after the goal. When you put that energy out in hard work and belief it will pay dividends.
I closed out my week at SXSW Interactive at the gorgeous Driskill Hotel in Austin speaking to a group about social media, blogging, influence and more. I felt a lot more comfortable dong it then I imagined. I’m looking forward to continuing down this path. Thanks again to Donnet Bruce for putting this all together and giving my opportunity and major thanks to Evita for making that initial connection. Check the video below and please spread this to your people and networks.
I can’t say I’m really a fan of Kid Cudi’s music. Some of its catchy but for the most part he’s not on my personal radar, but I always listen when any member of the Hip Hop community is on a major public platform. Many of us wish for more from our artists then the superficial imagery and questionable social messages that many in the mainstream rotation express. We question the motives of Kanye because he screams at everyone. We question Jay-Z because he’s stance as a business man doesn’t mesh with what we feel he should be doing. We question Beyonce about the sexual tones of her music. On and on the questions go. Well, the other night while on the Arsenio Hall Show, Kid Cudi made one of the most honest comments on Hip Hop that I’ve heard in a long time.
“I think the braggadocio ‘Money, Cash, Hoes’ thing needs to be deaded. I feel like, that’s holding us back as a culture, as black people. It doesn’t advance us in any way, shape, or form. We’ve been doing that same thing for years now. It’s been like, four decades of the same ol’ bullsh-t. Sorry for my language.
And I feel like, if you’re gonna be an artist, there’s a time where you just have to embrace the responsibility and understand the power of music is something so special and to be able to do it in this magnitude where you reach millions of people, it’s like, why not use that for good? Why not tell kids something they can connect with and use in their lives?”
So much of the nonsense these rappers put out today is allowed to slide and we are all in part guilty of allowing it. Many within Hip Hop came up with little and once they make it they then spend the remainder of their careers bragging (or lying) about what they have. On a base entertainment level it works for the drunk in the club crowd but when you take pride in this culture and respect its power to influence people you have to do better. Hip Hop spans the globe and to a point I do agree we are not reaching our too potential as a society. Fortunately the book has not been completely written yet. I can only hope we hear more people expressing views like this. There’s nothing worse than wasted potential.