It's My Beat

(Beta Max)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Proper Post later today but in the meantime this Queen/50 Cent Mix (I refuse to use the word mash up since it's just a white word for something that already existed and but to be fair The Silence Xperiment who is responsible for this labels these remixes not mash ups) Anyway the best songs imo are: This Is How We Bite The Dust, If I Cant Be A Champion, Under Pressure All The Time, Old Fashioned Outta Control Lover & Bohemian Wanksta

Dear Mr. Leach

My name is Moya Bailey and I am a graduate student at Emory University. More importantly, I am black woman. As such, I am very concerned with the state of the music and videos your company produces.

This isn’t a message of hate or even anger; it’s a message of exasperation. I’m out of ideas on how to reach you and your clients, how to let you all know that a lot of the stuff you're making is toxic, that it is literally killing black women and girls in this country and around the world.

These images and lyrics, that suggest that black women are only hypersexual objects for male enjoyment are broadcast globally and are the primary images and representations of African-American women that people see. It reinforces stereotypes that white Europeans had about black women since we were “discovered” on the shores of Africa.

But you know this and it hasn’t deterred you because it’s a profitable industry. You all seem to say that “sex sells” and the ends justify the means if it means you get paid. I just wonder if at some point you’ll be rich enough to stop and think about what this says to the world about black women and black people. Black men are portrayed as violent, brutal, equally hypersexual, and materialistic. Doesn’t this bother you?

As I said before I’m not sure what to do but I’m offering up a plea for some kind of parity in terms of what is being said on the radio and played on MTV. It makes it seem as though black musicians can’t rhyme about anything other than sex, money, and violence. I’m tired of trying to defend hip hop when it becomes indefensible. I’m tired of hearing music that assaults my very humanity. I’m tired of hearing girls complain about being assaulted in clubs, or by boyfriends, or guys they know or don’t know, of being called a bitch and a ho, of being cursed out because I didn’t want to give someone a number, of trying to reason with record companies and artists and convince them their actions impact the daily lives of black women in this country and abroad.

I feel like I’m talking to a wall here but I’m not going to give up on your humanity and I hope that will remind you of mine. Couldn’t you put a black rapper on that raps about studying, or sunshine, or food, or something else equally random but not so destructive?

I feel like I'm rambling now so I’ll take my leave of you. Please do something to promote a more balanced (if not positive) perception of black women in this country. You have that power. Use it.


Moya Bailey

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Born into flames

It's so crazy how things come full circle so quickly. No sooner had I pondered when did Rapture come out? that my partner in rhyme had posted that info. This film features a blondie esque rhyme that really got me thinking about the revolutionary roots of hip hop. also had me questioning whether Palahniuk is a biter.

Joan has said that we need to loosen our death grip on the music. we should trust that there will be something else. i think she's right. at the same time we can't let rap go out like this. People need to be called out and so this is me, calling some people out.

Sumner M. Redstone
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036
(212) 258-6000

Bryan Leach, Vice President of A&R — urban
label: TVT Records
address: 23 E 4th St, 3rd Floor
city: New York City
state: New York
zip code: 10003
phone: 212-979-6410
fax: 212-979-6489

Friday, November 18, 2005

Train of Thought

Sha Rock Can't Be Stopped

*"Funk You Up" MP3*
Bonus: It's My Beat patron saint Jean Greasy with "My Crew"

So I was thinking how I, we, don't want to replicate the gender inequity in hip hop in our blog by centering male artists even in our critique of them. Then I was thinking about what hip hop songs by female hip hop artists resonated with me in the past few months. Then I was thinking barely any female hip hop artists have put out any major label albums in the past year. Then I was like I wonder if Jean Grae's music is on iTunes. Then I saw that The Bootleg of the Bootleg, Attack of the Attacking Things and This Week are on there. Yay! (There was a time Fat Beats and Sandbox Automatic were vitually the only places you could find her stuff.) Then I saw that she also has music featured on an iTunes essential compilation entitled "First Ladies of Hip Hop." Okay! Then I read this rubbish (from the liner notes):
The Basics:

A quarter-century ago, when Debbie Harry slipped some slithery rhymes over the landmark new wave of Blondie's "Rapture" she did more than introduce rap to rock She knocked down the door to the boys club of hip-hop, allowing some of the most revolutionary MC's in the game to have their voices heard.
"Rapture", a single from the 1980 Blondie album Autoamerican, featured an elementary rap by Debbie Harry who along with bandmate and partner Chris Stein, members of the downtown art scene, were introduced to the nascent culture of hip hop courtesy of tourguides Fab Five Freddy and Jean Michel Basquiat. This same year Sugar Hill Presents The Sequence, an album by female rap trio The Sequence, was released and feautured the hip hop classic "Funk You Up" recently revisited by Erykah Badu with help from Queen Latifah, Bahamadia, and original The Sequence member, Angie Stone, on Worldwide Underground's "Love of My Life Worldwide." The Sequence does not appear on the "First Ladies of Hip Hop" iTunes essential compilation. The Sequence are not mentioned in the above cited iTunes liner notes. Neither are Sha Rock of the Funky 4 + 1 or Pebblee Poo (from whom Master P. bit his trademark "Make 'Em Say Unh") artists who had been putting it down prior to 1980. This essential list makes sure to include female hip hop collabs with white pop artists: Eve's "Let Me Blow Your Mind" with Gwen "appropriator" Stefani and Ms. Jade's "Ching Ching" with hip hop's favorite Canadian, Nelly Furtado. Countless female showstoppers; women of color who were steeped in the revolutionary culture and artform of hip hop put it down before Debbie Harry and will be putting it down when Debbie or Gwen and their ilk decide to pilfer equally 'exotic' musical styles. "I could go on and on; the full has never been told." And maybe I should, we should, or else iTunes, with their inaccurate and ludicrous decision to begin the liner note of their essential mix of women in hip hop with Debbie Harry, will tell the story for us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"The Vivid Ass Appeal Of It"

*Rock Star MP3*

Jim Jones should add Pharrell to his list of rappers eyed queer. On a recent MTV special Kanye cited Skateboard P as his chief style icon before similarly lauding his groomer Ibn Jasper and manager Don P. as the best dressed dudes in Chicago when he was banging out "5 beats a day for three summers." Now, Kanye inferred, as shots of his "stuntastic" self, the dapper Don and understated Ibn flashed across the screen, they make a enviable trio. "If I wasn't me" he said allowing a broad smile to stretch his chipmunk cheeks, "I would want to hang out with us."

Pharrell rhymed something similar but less democratic on his 2002 single, "Rock Star":
You can't be me
I'm a Rock Star
I'm rhyming on the top of a cop car
I'm a rebel and my .44 pops far
Perpetual "It boy" Pharrell sums up the ethos of the hip hop moment. We can't be Pharrell. We're posers pining for absurdly fresh dookie chains and cloaking our awkward bodies in Bapesta's and Evisu's* two seasons too late when the kid from Virginia Beach has already found something more more exclusive, more expensive, and more Japanese to flaunt in videos directed by Paul Hunter. So what do we do? Parade through Fulton Street and Fox Hills malls in gaudy CZ laden costume jewelry and True Religion knockoffs? Hole up in our cramped apartments salivating at celebrities and their televised yellow brick lives? Work/hustle to our hearts arrest for paper and belonging? I don't know. Nor I am prepared to respond MB's provocative questions although I understand their answers are central to our persistence:
"How do we help people see that 50 is more likely going to get them dead than rich? And how do we show that life without wealth is just as or more so fulfilling?"

"I know people think we should save the music but I think we need to save the people. How do we do that?"
I could go out on a limb, here, like Cosby and Tucker or Butts before, and attempt to unloosen the nooses encircling our necks, attempt to stop us from swinging cariactured dicks and sassy rubbernecks with bruising language. An invitingly facile and cathartic approach painfully proven unproductive. It may be all that we see and, in this hip hop moment, refused to resist, but it is not all that we are and I will not speak it into existence. If we are to uplift our spectacular blackness now drowning in awful stereotype we must speak the balance into existence. And then listen.

*Spaceship MP3*

Kanye West dropped another gem, a diamond no less, on the MTV special. Reclined with his hands clasped behind his head, if my memory serves me correctly, the self conscious producer/rapper championed using people, harnessing other people's energy and talents for his own artistic product. So Kanye uses us to power his "Spaceship." Self-interest prohibits West from labelling this misuse but if I was to make the determination I would consider the integrity of his art, it's socially conscious index, and some responses too abstract to name. Most importantly, I would consider it's reciprocal value, in other words, what Kanye or Pharrell's music has done for me lately and what if anything it will do ten years from now? Hip hop should enrich, not just soundtrack, our lives. It should be a booie not dead weight.
You don't succeed cause you hesitate
You think we're fly
But we levitate
Just be yourself
When I first heard this I cringed. Now I smile. It's a double edged stanza. Pharrell clowns and inspires in the span of a few bars cutting his encouragement with a reassertion of his unparallelled originality. That's leverage. That's fuel for a career. That diplomatic differentiation: "You can't be me I'm Rock Star" but you can "just be yourself." How comforting.

Pharrell and dem are right about one thing: no one ever really dies but we can invoke the death of murder music, that strange mutated fruit, that bitter crop that institutionalizes 'less than' in our brains and bodies. We can sow something more satisfying. We can make it better.

*For the record, I was up on Evisu in 2000. For all of you who are posing, not that their is anything wrong with that, Evisu is having a sample sale this week in NYC. I of course have moved on to something more exclusive, more expensive, and more Japanese. ; )

I rhyme like a girl!

Freestyle Union Cipher Workshop for
Female MC’s and Hip-Hop Poets
with Toni Blackman

October 18th
6:30-8:30 (out of room by 9pm)
New School University Campus/The Lang Student Center is located at
55 West 13th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues on the north side
of the street. Multipurpose Room, Ground Floor.

Toni Blackman’s participant-centered vibe-session creates a space for every
MC, every style, and every voice. Build your skills, vibe with other female
hip-hop heads and let your voice be a part of the movement to elevate
hip-hop music and culture. Historically, there’s been only one female per
crew, but we in the cipher believe that our collective power is what is
needed to make a real
difference in the numbers.

Ladies, don’t sit by the wayside complaining about the lack of females in
the game get in the game and get open....

Great musicians practice and go to jam sessions. Great athletes
train. Tight MC’s have to put in the work to become tight MC’s...

Female voices will be heard, but fellas are welcome to watch the
women work. Guys, come out and support! You don't need to be an MC
to come.

No RSVP needed to attend.
For more info, please call the Institute for Urban Education at
Or visit our website at

By Subway
The Lang Student Center is accessible by a variety of subway lines.
You may take:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q, W or L trains to 14th Street and Union
Square. Walk south to 13th Street, then west (turn right) to 55
West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues).
The A, B, C, E, F, V and S trains to West 4th Street. Walk north
along 6th Avenue to 13th Street. Walk east (turn right) on 13th
Street to 55 West 13th Street.
The 1, 9, 2 or 3 trains to 14th Street. Walk east to 6th Avenue and
take a right. Walk to 13th Street and turn left to 55 West 13th
The PATH train from New Jersey stops at 9th Street and 6th Avenue.
Walk north to 13th Street, then east (turn right).

Freestyle Union and The Institute for Urban Education
(Eugene Lang College/New School) are proud Co-sponsors.

****************Mark your calendars for 10/18/, and 11/15
6:15-9:15pm (including set up and clean up). Same Location.


Freestyle Union (FU) for Female MC’s: I RHYME LIKE A GIRL is a project
developed by Toni Blackman. The FU Cipher Workshop began 10 years ago in
Washington, DC and has been the breeding ground for some of most highly
skilled rap lyricists. FU philosophies have been spread all over the world
through Toni’s travel as an ambassador of hip-hop music and culture.
Daughters of the Cipher was Toni’s first exploration into having a cipher
just for female MC’s in the late 1990’s, but 3 years ago with the help of a
Soros Fellowship she was able to re-launch the vision. The Cipher currently
runs without funding, but through our monthly gatherings, strategic planning
sessions and our female hip-hop summit in 2006 we are confident that we will
attract the funding needed to continue expanding the work. We will work in
partnership with a variety of efforts lead by women in hip-hop both in the
New York area and around the world. This is an exciting to be a woman, to
be a hip-hop be a part of the women in hip-hop movement.

Toni Blackman
Dream with your eyes wide open...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Where's your money?

*"Where's Your Money?" MP3*

So phoenix said we should take a listen to this. Ah Busta! Why?! We know you're paid. We know you make more than most of us will make in a lifetime. Do we need all of you (Diddy, Busta, 50, TI, etc.) reminding us? Children on the chorus, frosty references, along with chinchilla and ODB resurrected from the grave to mock window shoppers some more.

phoenix also talked about a conversation she'd had with two Kenyans about the way this hip-hop thing gets translated in other parts of the world. She said that it's more than a music, it's a lifestyle. East/west coast rivalry ain't got nothing on urban/rural Kenyans rivalry. The indigenous culture isn't valued by either culture and the hip hop lifestyle is what's to be emulated. Cars with rims, mouths with grills, the shoes, etc. Are all being consumed and our boy 50 is the one that they model themselves after.

Oh what a world!! What can we do? Letters aren't gonna fix this and neither is a boycott? let's think! I know people think we should save the music but I think we need to save the people. How do we do that?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

So pissed off . . .

*"Window Shopper" MP3*

I can't stand 50 Cent! I know I clowned on this girl that wants me to protest him but sis has a point. 50 and this Get Rich Or Die Tryin' shit is outrageous! I think I have to do something. Your boy 50 also said that he felt Kanye was out of line to say Bush doesn't care about black people. I guess he's worried that if Kanye keeps talking like that his shucking and jivin' days of saying the same things over the same beat will come to an end. Get a new beat! Get a new flow! Say something new! Why are you gonna clown on "Window Shoppers" when they are the ones that buy your album?

"The top feels so much better than the bottom"

*"Hate It Or Love It" MP3*

Or so adlibs 50 Cent on "Window Shopper", the second single from the soundtrack to his biopic, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. I wouldn't know. In comparison, I live a pathetically humble existence. I don't know what it feels like to lay up in Monaco's L'Hôtel Hermitage . I stayed in a modest but clean Parisian hotel during my first Gallic sojourn in the early nineties and in quaint latin quarter accomodations on my last visit in 2001. When I converted my mother's hard earned cash into francs, I spent them at Zara and Mango not Louis Vuitton and Christian Louboutin. I don't know anything about Gulfstream IV travel. I have always flown coach except when a well connected friend of my mother charmed a booking agent on my behalf or my former summer internship employer Goldman Sachs footed the bill or when, providentially, my flight was overbooked and the airline was obligated to bump my black ass up. I satiate my obsession for designer duds at Off Fifth and Last Call or high end outlet mall Woodbury Commons. During undergraduate glory days when my pockets benefited from a full academic scholarship and generous parental subsidies, I regularly swiped the debit card for items at Jeffrey's or Saks at Atlanta's Phipps Plaza but alas those days are over and I'm little more than a window shopper in department stores looking at shit I can't buy.

There is something sinister about corporate culture's canonization of a bully. 50 Cent makes listeners like me feel bad about themselves and that lack is what drives their consumption. Consumption of not only his music and his products but all global goods and services. In turn a global few, mostly white, male and western, live lovely while the masses barely subsist. On "Hate It or Love It", a supposedly feel good track by 50's friend turned foe The Game, 50 rhymes, "From the beginning to the end losers lose, winners win. This is real, we ain't gonna pretend," positioning his Darwinistic outlook as fact. A part of me was outraged even as I nodded in assent. Life is more sob stories than tales of rags to riches and in those rare cases that men or women of meager backgrounds 'make it', it is more often by assimilation and exploitation than revolution. That is the American Dream as broadcast to every contintent, as originated in transatlantic slavery. Pimp hard, pimp harder.

There are two ways to listen to 50, oppositionally and aspirationally. To do the latter one must become a loser. Literally. But really it's ok. We must remember it's a game that we don't want to play. This makes us vulnerable where 50 is Bulletproof, hyper material, virtually immortal and numb. But it grants us freedom. Nobody told us the road would be easy.