The world’s worst rave


I’m actually looking forward to seeing this movie even though it’s receiving predictably poor reviews for artsy-fartsy things like, ‘narrative’, and ‘character development’. This will not be Goddard’s Breathless. I know the ‘plot’ is going to be terrible. But considering that I’ve wanted to own a Light Cycle my whole life, not going would be like passing up a chance to meet Halle Berry because she’s a bad conversationalist.  

The end is nigh


4. Wu Tang Clan- Enter The 36 Chambers
They sure like their Kung- Fu movies huh? Wu-Tang is like the Showtime era Lakers, with RZA as the coach and Hall of Famers at every position. In retrospect it’s amazing they could pull off this album with all the talent that needed to be showcased. To paraphrase the late great ODB, there is no father to their style. The album dropped in 1993 and many of the tracks sound like they could have been made last year. The free flowing style of the lyrics on this album made it safe to rap about anything under sun including Voltron. 
Sample Song: C.R.E.A.M

3. Notorious B.I.G – Ready to Die
Is B.I.G the best rapper of all time? Maybe. He was certainly one of the fattest. I kid. Even though he didn’t cover any new ground content wise (selling drugs, stacking paper) lyrically, he was revelation. He was the rap equivalent of Jonathan Franzen, broad themes, easy to recognize characters, told in a simple easy to understand style. Music critics loved him and the street loved him.  By the time Biggie was releasing records, Hip Hop was getting reviewed in the New York Times where he was being praised for things like his “emotional honesty”. And flowery language aside, it’s true, when Biggie raps about it, he doesn’t sound like he’s reading from a ‘how to be gangsta’ script. Of course a few years later he would be gunned down in the coastal feud that consumed this period of hip hop.
Sample Song: The What

2. Gza – Liquid Swords
This album came out and decimated every other Wu Tang solo project before it. The album was recorded in a basement, so it has a distinct low-fi feel that meshes perfectly with the music’s overall mood of cold overcast nights in the wrong part of town. It’s grimy, raw, but put together like a Swiss watch. This album is consistently rated in the top 5 of Hip Hop Albums all time and sometimes I say it’s the best. 

“It has great songs, it’s not an ignorant album, it doesn’t sound dated. If you listen to it and compare it to what’s out now, it’s timeless. Lyrically, it’s not my best work. Not at all. But the chemistry? Production? Overall, I mean, c’mon! RZA’s atmospheric production? Yes. It’s my best album.”—GZA
Sample Song: Cold World

1. Nas-  Illmatic.
In another few years Illmatic is going be the subject of thesis projects, a documentary film, and receive the kind of rarefied treatment accorded to albums like The White Album, The Wall, and The Rebirth of Cool. It’s that good. People are already writing books about it. In just 10 tracks this debut album has no fewer than 8 all time classics, and the other two songs are better than most. Rap is all about rhymes in relation to the rhythm, what they call flow. (Weirdly enough, the word rhythm is derived from Greek rheo meaning “flow”). On Illmatic there is never more than inch of room between his lyrics and the beat. I think it is the best album made in my lifetime.  Interesting note: Pete Rock, DJ Premier (Gang Starr), Q-Tip and Mc Serch from 3rd Bass all had a hand in making the record, so the pedigree was definitely there. 
Sample Song: I really want say the whole album but I’ll just say: NY State of Mind

The Listicle Continues


9. Method Man – Tical
Once Wu Tang burst on the scene with their ensemble album, the question was which member would release the first solo album. Method was the right choice, and since his arrival on the scene has consistently dropped the hottest lyrics on any track he is on. In keeping with the time period, this album is basically a love song to weed, with some 5% Nation talk thrown in for good measure.
I still don’t know why he and Redman make the kind of movies they like to make. Also of note, he used to rock a grille before grilles were cool.
Sample Song: Bring the Pain

8. Ice Cube- Death Certificate
This is a concept album with Cube recording what happens on the street on the first side, and being more aspirational on the second side. This was back in his Nation of Islam days so there are a lot of lyrics that are racially charged and hurt some feelings. The state of Oregon went so far as to ban his picture!  But at same time, Cube was shilling for St. Ides (remember that drink, remember the drama?). Even though this album was “angrier” than AmeriKKKa’s most wanted, it was also a big hit and Ice Cube really was the nigga you love to hate. Now he’s known as the dude from Friday and Are we There Yet? When he made this album he was also at war with NWA, and the song No Vaseline is an all-time great dis record. 
Sample Song: No Vaseline

7. Eric B and Rakim – Paid in Full
There is nothing more to say about this album that hasn’t already been said a million times. Rakim played around with internal rhymes, change of tempo, and syncopation when everyone else was still telling glorified nursery rhymes. Eric B for President indeed. Plus they rocked some of the fattest, stupidest, chains ever
Sample Song: Paid in Full 

6. Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show
This was the first Hip Hop album I ever heard. They are the godfathers of rap. Flavor Flav is a crack-smoking VH1 minstrel now, but as PE’s hype man he brought a levity to Chuck D’s booming bass, and the almost anti-music that Terminator created.  In an era when rap was mostly just party songs, PE flipped the script and was up in America’s face. The whole Sister Soulja thing is a bit regrettable now, but during the Reagan years on the whole, PE was the perfect antidote to all that Gipper bullshit. And then all of a sudden Anthrax played with them, and Axel would front G&R shows with a PE shirt and it really was Morning in America. Any of their albums during this time could have made the list.  

5. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
After Low End Theory, it didn’t matter what Tribe did next, they were Hip Hop Royalty, but they actually topped it, with MM. Phife Dawg is underrated, and drops crispy goodness all over this album, but yeah, Tribe is really all about Q-Tip.  When you think about how good they were it is kind of mystery as to why their solo careers were so mediocre. 
Sample Song: Midnight

The internet apartheid.

Remember in Do the Right Thing when Buggin’ Out asks Sal “how come they ain’t no brothers on the wall?”  Sometimes when I read through the billion and one SF neighborhood blogs I ask myself the same thing. Digital Divide is too cutesy a term, it’s more like an apartheid state. 

Ess Eff is a majority minority city but wouldn’t know it from the blogs who only push stories about the coloreds to the front page when there is a crime involved. The Mission had four murders last year but you would be forgiven for thinking it was a lot more given the shrieking headlines accompanying each one.  It’s not like minorities aren’t represented in political power in this town. They just aren’t represented anywhere else. 

This wouldn’t be an issue if it was just 7×7’s typical bullshit, where they ask a transplanted tech writer to opine about how the POORS won’t let her and wealthy friends “improve” their neighborhoods.  That is to be expected; they are clearly writing for a certain proscribed audience.

 What is odd is that blogs that cover neighborhoods with extremely large minority populations render them invisible. The choice of correspondents for a  “People’s Guide” is  more revealing about the SF internet in-group that all cross-posts to each other, and writes for one another than representative of the PEOPLE. 

Bernalwood asks where are the hipsters, and I’m wondering where are the residents of the housing projects who also live in the hills with you? Read the tenderblog for 20 minutes and come back and give me demographic breakdown of that neighborhood. I don’t think Mission Mission is very mission mission.  Throw in Haighteration and Richmondsf and you start to have a SF internet that is very, very homogenous, and not at all like the neighborhoods they “represent”.  And while these aren’t the only blogs about the City they are the ones with the traffic and the profile. (This isn’t unique to SF either, go check DCist and tell me that the City is 60% black.)

To be clear I don’t think there is any malice or ill will going on. It’s just a bit of a head scratcher. But I guess the answer is to paraphrase Danny Aiello “when you open your own internet, you can put whoever the hell you want on the front page.”   

Speaking Truth to Power


“Let’s check the scoreboard. How many Native Americans were killed by the arrival of the white man through disease and war…how many people have died since the white man arrived due to lung cancer, thanks to the Indian custom of smoking? Who are the real killers here?…Where are our reparations? I’m just saying.” —America’s last true patriot, Rush Limbaugh.

How many MC’s must get dissed…


Using a wily procedural maneuver to tie Republican hands, House Democrats managed to pass, by a vote of 234-188, legislation that will allow the Bush tax cuts benefiting only the wealthiest Americans to expire. (tpm)

On the playground, after you spit some hot fire by raining down threes on suckers, crossing fools up and breaking ankles, and going to the hoop like a BOSS, sometimes when you drop that final bucket (in your lame duck session) you let your hand hang up there so motherf*ckers will recognize.