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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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The Struggles Foreign Artists Face in the US, & How to Overcome Them


Ten Secrets for Making a Show a Success Despite a Low Turnout


What Happens to an Artist When Their Record Label Folds

Nelly Furtado Is Making Me Sad
Friday, June 30, 2006

It’s disappointing when an artist you respect releases a song that’s far below your standards for them, and in some cases is probably far below their own standards for themselves. It’s even sadder when the entire country embraces that song like it’s something special. Currently falling into the category of “your music used to mean something but now it’s disposable so American music fans love you” is Nelly Furtado. When “Promiscuous” first hit it annoyed me because I know she’s capable of far better, and now that it has propelled her latest album, Loose, to number one the Billboard charts a depressing trend continues; dumbing down your music, selling out, and being a whore will make you famous.

As soon as “Promiscuous” debuted on radio I was disappointed with the turn Ms. Furtado’s career was taking. The song has a bangin Timbaland beat (he only makes bangers), but the lyrics are nothing short of awful. Yeah, two people flirting with each other, each looking for a one night stand, not exactly ground breaking material. Before she went and got promiscuous, however, she had something to say. Her first single ever, “I’m Like A Bird,” included the lyric “I don’t know where my soul is, I don’t know where my home is,” and then she hit everyone with some more food for thought with her second album Folklore.

Folklore’s lead single, and please remember this was the album right before Loose, was “Powerless,” a song about Furtado and her culture. Let’s take a look at some sample lyrics from “Powerless.”

Paint my face in your magazines
Make it look whiter than it seems
Paint me over with your dreams
Shove away my ethnicity

Cuz this life is too short to live it just for you
But when you feel so powerless, what are you gonna do

And compare them with her current hit single “Promiscuous.”

Promiscuous boy
You already know
That I’m all yours
What you waiting for?

Roses are red
Some diamonds are blue
Chivalry is dead
But you're still kinda cute

Is it any wonder that I’m disappointed in the music buying public? The second set of lyrics is a monster hit while the first set didn’t sell at all. Are we really that dumb, or are we simply that disinclined to use our brains? I understand not everyone wants to be bombarded with thought all the time, but we used to want something more out of our music than simply a dance-able tune we could dispose of in a few months. This is indicative of our culture right now, though, here today gone tomorrow. In 2006 the concept of substance and lasting power is one that isn’t necessarily foreign, but is simply uncared for. Nobody cares if what they’re listening to, what they’re watching or what they’re doing, has an substance to it.

Nelly Furtado is an unfortunate scapegoat in this discussion, but a worthy one none the less. Her last two lead singles illustrate everything that’s wrong with the listening public today. Substance over a funky beat, or fluff over club banger? People have made their choice and now I’m afraid a potentially great artist will have her creativity stifled by it. Eventually she’ll say to herself, “why should I try to make deep songs that matter when all I have to do is act like a whore and sell 200,000 copies in my first week?” Because your deep stuff matters, that’s why! I hope you know that Ms. Furtado and I hope somewhere you have a notebook full of dope songs just waiting to be sung that are more like your previous efforts because “Promiscuous” ranks as a powerless tune while “Powerless” was something relevant.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 9:47 AM   12 comments
Net Usage – Where Are You Going?
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This weekend I lost something that wasn’t even mine. After six months of enjoying the benefits of an unsecured wi-fi connection the people who had it moved out of my building, leaving me back on dial up. After only a few days I’ve already noticed something fairly major, my time spent online has gone down drastically. Many would assume that with everything taking longer I’d actually be spending more time online, but the fact of the matter is I’m now skipping all the frivolous online things that aren’t really necessary and going straight to the meat of what I’m looking to do. In realizing this I was made to ask myself the question, how well have I been spending my time online?

As a freelance writer clearly I need the internet. Almost all of my work is submitted via email. Some of the web surfing I had been doing, however, was simply unnecessary. If it isn’t my myspace page, a celebrity news site, and yes for me celebrity gossip is considered news because I work in entertainment, sports news site, hard news site, or quality blog, there really isn’t much of a point in me going to a site when I’m on dial up. Yes, having hobbies is great, but they shouldn’t be taking up the bulk of my online time. So I’ll check my fantasy teams, read about what happened on RAW, and perhaps check The Onion, but do I really need to do more than that? When I was on wi-fi I spent far too much time on sites that weren’t furthering my career, now I’m much more focused because I want to get on, do what I need to do, and get off. Who wants to waste time when wasting time takes so long?

Yesterday I also made my life easier by signing up for the email lists for a few sites that I would like to frequent, but keep forgetting to. The email list is the quickest way to reduce online time. You can read the headlines in your inbox and then decide if you need to go to the site to find out more. This is also something I feel a lot more people in Hip-Hop need to start doing, signing up for some real news sites. From the comments I’ve received regarding my recent posts it’s clear that the majority of the readers are only taking the time to look at Hip-Hop publications and sites. We will never go further if we don’t educate ourselves. Of course the corporate man will have something on you if you refuse to get on his level. This was something I was speaking with a friend about last week and also applies to the idea of net usage.

What sites was I going to? Were the majority of the sites helping me gain knowledge? This is a question we all must ask ourselves, especially all the young entrepreneurs out there, myself included. If you have a limited amount of time to spend on the net you spend it more usefully. Eventually I will get high speed back, but I plan on changing the way I use it. The internet shouldn’t be all about enjoyment, the majority of the time we spend on it, and by we I mean people of my generation and my place in the business world, should be spent finding ways to network and learning what’s really going on in the worlds we work in. The Hip-Hop world is a lot bigger than just the sites that supposedly cover it. I posted up a link to an AdWeek article in the comments section of the Jay-Z Shuns Cristal post that broke down how little an impact Jay’s boycott will be having. When I first said the boycott would have no impact because his fan base couldn’t afford the drink multiple message boards killed me, but now AdWeek has the stats to back up my assertion. How many other Hip-Hoppers are going out there and finding their information from such sources? I’m here to tell you the time to step it up is now.

As my slow dial up connection plods along I am quick to see that the internet, for all its glory, is like a sea of billboards. Some are pretty, some are colorful, few are useful, and the ones that are will stick around for a while. Once we stop spending the majority of our time looking at the billboards that only feature things that are pretty and colorful we can get to something that may have some substance for us. Remember substance? There’s a lot of good food on the net for our brains, the problem is we’re too busy eyeing the cake and candy to go get the real nourishment. Much like food, with the internet we need to find the good stuff, feed off of it, and try to avoid the harmful snacks that may seem enjoyable but are really only making us slow and listless.

There is no rule that says learning stops when school is over, there are only people who stop learning when they get out of school.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:33 AM   0 comments
Artist Of The Week – Hired Gun
Monday, June 26, 2006

A hired gun. A third party. Both ideas go against the norms of American society. Maybe that’s what makes them so appropriate for this week’s Artist Of The Week. Hired Gun formed his first band at the age of 15 and been making music ever since. The list of artists he’s worked with includes Breez Evahflowin, Fatlip, The Demigodz and Wordsworth and right now he’s making noise with his current group, 3rd Party. 3rd Party has released two albums, Pressed for Time, and their 2006 release Separation of Powers. Hired Gun is an educated Hip-Hop head who's never gone about things in the traditional way.

Adam Bernard: You're a member of the group 3rd Party. With a name like that do you envision yourselves as some kind of alternative to the other forms of rap?
Hired Gun: Truth be told, it’s a play on words. It has many connotations and meanings. We came together because of our diverse styles and how they blended together, so we offer an alternative to the status quo, much like a 3rd Party. We all, by nature, are socially aware, political and conscious beings who in our own ways have put thought to action, again a 3rd Party. Obviously we form a triad and we rock, it just hit us in a lot of ways. I wouldn't say we're an alternative to other forms of rap, though, what we are is a representation of diverse skills and styles. Alternative to some degree implies that we're outside of Hip-Hop, but we're more a part of it then many cats getting shine right now.

Adam Bernard: Your own name is also very interesting. In what ways are you a hired gun?
Hired Gun: This continues to get me in trouble, ha. My name reflects the experiences of me being called upon to rock where others couldn't or never thought possible. It really describes my mentality. It reflects the standpoint that you call on someone outside the bounds to get a job done. Someone multi-skilled, faceted and who’s generally called upon to do a job others can't or won't. As an emcee, because of my background and the somewhat fragmented Hip-Hop environment I had, I was forced to improvise. My first group didn't consist of two turntables and a mic, it was an upright bass, guitar and drums. As I moved on to college, and found a family and crew in the traditional sense, I became a part of the electronic music culture, specifically hardcore techno and house. I got involved in dancing and later began emceeing over drum n bass. For a brief period I fronted an all electronic hardcore noise group named Dead Sector. Also when I was in upstate NY around 96-99 I became a part of a drum n bass outfit that I still rep for, Black Opz which consists of the Prayin Mantis and MC Aero. In all these instances it was me rhyming to rhythms, breakbeats, synths, live music, arhythmic, atonal. In a lot of places they had never seen a brother before performing rhymes over some of this stuff and in some places they had just never seen a brother (laughs). Growing up in the part of New Jersey I did, I was used to that.

Adam Bernard: 3rd Party consists of a Mexican, a black man and a Jewish guy. How'd that happen?
Hired Gun: We are the united colors of Benetton (laughs). It actually happened by accident, it wasn't intentional. Honestly, I think it’s something that is very unique and just more of a reflection of how diverse Hip-Hop has become. The funny thing is despite our cultural heritages being different we had many similarities growing up, like how we were raised, the environments we were raised in. It’s just another aspect of our group that reflects our uniqueness. It’s been a strength, one that we still haven't fully manifested. You get multiple perspectives that are so layered just from a song we do! Even if it isn't always up front, we bring those differences of culture in our postures, our mannerisms, our styles, our own personal rhythms. I firmly believe that our different heritages, but shared experiences, are the reasons why we've been blessed to be at the point we are together.

Adam Bernard: Your group also has some fairly intense lyrics, tell me what you feel is important that you get across in your music.
Hired Gun: Me personally? The truth as I see it, the experiences that I've lived, and the questions that I want answered. My goal is to share what I know, and begin conversations, spark thought. I loved Gangstarr because albums like Daily Operation, and Hard To Earn made me think. KRS ONE, he gave me things to chew on. The list goes on, Brand Nubian, Brother J, De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, they exposed me to worlds and ideas I didn't know about. I want to follow in those veins, showing people that black men all do not fit in a box, dismantling those stereotypes and exposing the racism that still exists. That's my main aims. As a group I think 3rd Party is groove music, but it’s music that will make you think at the same time. It’s become so clichéd at this point but we do have that native tongue type of vibe. You're going to nod your head, you're going to listen to the words and not get too lost in the message or the meaning, but you're going to walk away with a good feeling and a little understanding. That's good music in my opinion.

Adam Bernard: What do you feel you can do as a Hip-Hop artist to influence the causes you believe in?
Hired Gun: Open the lines of communication. It’s funny an older gentleman that I just recently met told me, "If you can touch ten peoples lives that have listened to your music you've done something." I'm a griot, my role is to relay the history, heritage and goings on of the day. One of my pseudonyms to Hired Gun is HG, which is the chemical symbol for Mercury. Mercury is also the roman god who was a messenger and purveyor of the arts. I hope my influence is that people hear my music and they question the world around them. I deliver and relay information in a medium that you can absorb, is organic, and you can feel. I think that is the power any true artist has, to be the catalyst for change. That is something amazing.

Websites: freeradicalzmusic.com, saywordentertainment.com & koncepshun.org

MySpace Pages: myspace.com/frequencyactivism, myspace.com/mistamayday & myspace.com/espemcess

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:32 AM   2 comments
Congratulations, You’ve Been Brainwashed
Friday, June 23, 2006

As I stood at SOBs on Wednesday night with my friend Dyalekt at Hot97’s Who’s Next live music series we both realized something, almost everyone in the place had been brainwashed. We were among a crowd of music consumer zombies that couldn’t handle the idea of seeing and hearing artists that they didn’t already know and hadn’t been told they like yet. Commercial radio and MTV have become so prevalent in our lives that the vast majority of the country is tuning out anything they don’t know or haven’t been told is hot.

I thought about this for a while. What’s happened to the music consumer in America? We all know the main reason certain artists get millions in sales is that they not only have the best marketing campaigns, but also the most rotation on major radio and MTV. Trusted radio personalities tell us that a particular artist is hot, or a particular song is “the jam” and we being the zombies that we are turn it up and even if we don’t like it at first it gets engrained into our brains via an obscene amount airplay until we feel we have no other choice but to like it. There is no other way to explain many of the songs that have become hits over the years (Laffy Taffy anyone?).

With the way the set up is now up and coming artists stand little chance without the endorsement of MTV or a major radio personality. Artists can’t simply put out a great record and expect people to gravitate towards it, this was proved at the Hot97 event earlier in the week. There was a halfway decent crowd at the club, but each artist that went on stage and performed found it impossible to elicit any kind of reaction from the audience. The crowd stood there just looking at the artists with an expression on their faces that screamed “who are you? We haven’t been told what we think about you yet.” Rather than listen to these artists perform and potentially get into the groove of something new all these supposed music fans could do was wonder who the artists were and what they were doing there. Hey geniuses, they were there to perform songs for you! It’s what they did and some of them, most notably Elan, did it well.

No one wants to be a trendsetter in 2006. No one wants to be told they’re crazy for their choice in music. When it comes to our musical tastes we have become a nation of followers rather than tastemakers and although our consumer dollar still has an impact we have essentially given that impact and that power right back into the hands of the giant corporations that churn out cookie cutter, here today gone tomorrow, artists that leave no lasting impression on our lives. Listen to a major commercial radio station today. I know that’s rough homework, but give it a go. Do you feel any of the songs you’re hearing are timeless? Do you feel any will be played even a year from now? Nope, they’re not and they won’t.

If we as consumers and fans of music start finding our own way in this sea of artists and discover who we really like we can take the power back and create a nation of informed music fans once again. There’s nothing wrong with turning on an independent radio station, or surfing the web for new music. There are a lot of artists and bands out there and there’s no way your tastes should be limited to what you’re told you like. If you see a $5 or a $10 show near you this weekend I implore you to look up the band on the web, check out their music and if it interests you at all go see them and give them a shot. Just because someone on MTV or your favorite radio station hasn't co-signed on them doesn't mean you won't like them. And even if the band you see never gets airplay on major radio stations it doesn’t matter and it certainly doesn’t make them any less talented. All it really does is make them your little secret, something that makes you your own personal radio programmer because now you’re telling you what’s hot and what you like. Novel idea, don’t you think?

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:36 AM   1 comments
Racism vs. Bigotry
Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I caused more than a bit of controversy last week when I wrote about my thoughts on Jay-Z’s boycott of Cristal and his accusation that because Frédéric Rouzaud, their CEO, implied he didn’t want to be associated with Hip-Hop he was a racist. The fact of the matter is Jay made a very poor choice of words. Rouzaud not wanting to be associated with Hip-Hop, or at least being hesitant about it, was not racism, it was, potentially (and please note I am saying potentially as this is not an indictment of Rouzaud), bigotry.

I’ve had a few people say there’s no difference, or that I’m nitpicking, but in truth there is a big difference. Racism deals with superiority, it’s the idea that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. At no point did Rouzard say he felt he was better than any race, all he said was that he was uneasy with the way his product was associated with Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop does not equal black, in 2006 everyone knows this. Eminem is one of the top selling MC’s of the past decade, and that’s something that’s global.

When a CEO sees his product being used in a way he doesn’t like, for instance in the Big Pimpin video where Dame Dash is pouring it on bikini clad girls while Jay brags that his prowess with women is so good he can “fuck ‘em, love ‘em, leave ‘em,” he’s probably not going to be thrilled and if he feels the need to say something he should be allowed to. HOWEVER, if that statement is a blanket statement like Rouzaud’s can be construed to be they run the risk of being labeled a bigot.

Bigotry and racism seem to be confused a lot. All racism is bigotry but not all bigotry is racism. A bigot is one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. Bigotry is everywhere, some might even say there are factions of Hip-Hop that are very bigoted towards each other, i.e. the underground vs. the mainstream. The idea that someone, including a CEO of a major company, would make a negative blanket statement about an entire group of people is an act of bigotry.

So why does this all matter? Well, every time the race card is pulled when it’s inappropriate the very word racism becomes less powerful, and racism is a word and an idea that should not be thrown around lightly. Racism is fire hoses, separate schools and sitting in the back of the bus. Bigotry is when someone refuses to listen to your idea because they don’t want to hear anything that differs from their own opinion. Racism can enslave a people, bigotry only makes the bigot in question dumber. The bigot states “I don’t like that,” while the racist says “I’m better than that.”

Nine times out of ten when someone says something is racist they mean bigot. This has led to a weakening of the word racism and people who a number of years ago would have jumped at the idea of racism now just sigh and ignore whatever is going on. Jay-Z did a great disservice to those who actually are being victimized by racism by his marginalizing of the word. Jay also, by his use of the word, helped to separate people even further.

The use of the word racism instantly divides. I recently compared it to the Tower of Babel which is the Biblical story where the people are trying to build a building that can reach up to Heaven but God gives everyone different languages so they cannot complete the task. With anything in life where something is being built calling out racism is like throwing that wrench in development that sets everything back and potentially destroys what was being built. As I’ve seen on numerous message boards Jay’s use of the word racist has divided Hip-Hop fans and made many bigoted towards each other, whereas if he had said the correct word, bigot, he would have united more than he would have divided.

There’s no doubt that the images being displayed of Hip-Hop that Cristal’s people saw on TV were negative ones, the images themselves divide even Hip-Hop fans, but one thing is for sure, the vast majority of Hip-Hop fans know that the images shown on TV aren’t the only images of Hip-Hop out there. Any bigotry toward Hip-Hop based solely on those images is understandable, but remember it’s just that, bigotry. This is not a race issue. Some people like to equate Hip-Hop with blackness like it’s some kind of long math equation, like if someone says they hate Hip-Hop they must hate black people and that makes them a racist. Completely untrue. If someone says they hate Hip-Hop it means they hate Hip-Hop and it may make them a bigot, but it certainly doesn’t make them a racist.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:40 AM   32 comments
Artist Of The Week - C.O.N.C.E.P.T.
Monday, June 19, 2006

As one of the founding members of Brooklyn, NY’s MINDSpray crew, which now has nine MC’s in all, C.O.N.C.E.P.T. has worked with a myriad of artists. From Def Jux all-stars like Aesop Rock, Cage, Mr. Lif and EL-P to members of Stronghold they’ve all shared stages with C.O.N.C.E.P.T. A dual citizen, C.O.N.C.E.P.T., who was born in America but raised in Toronto, enjoys the massive amount of travel that comes with being an MC. He’s rocked stages up and down the east coast of the U.S., including his monthly stage time at Style Factory at The Knitting Factory in NYC, and even Canada, most notably being on MTV Canada. The MINDSpray compilation Shot In The Dark was released in 2004 and this year he and LEFTist, the other founding member of MINDSpray, are readying the release of their album, Intervention. The duo just finished recording the mix-CD that will act as a preview for the album. All in all C.O.N.C.E.P.T. is a man who’s working hard to make quality Hip-Hop music and with his visionary ideas it only seemed logical to make him this week’s Artist Of The Week.

Adam Bernard: You and LEFTist started the MINDSpray crew, which has now grown to nine MC’s. What was the original goal when you started MINDSpray?
C.O.N.C.E.P.T.: We wanted to have a venue to build and network with the community and tap into the most original MC’s in NYC. I was finding that most emcees were developing their craft in spots where only one type of genre of Hip-Hop was well received, catering their style to an audience that are only used to seeing and feeling the same old same old. We also wanted guys who were really dope to have a forum to showcase their work and have a show to promote for. Nobody was booking us even for free shows so we booked ourselves, and anyone else who was cool, to get our names on flyers circulating throughout the city.

Adam Bernard: Now that the crew is nine MCs how do you make sure each member stands out both on songs and during performances?
C.O.N.C.E.P.T.: I let everyone in MINDSpray do what they do. We came together because we all work hard and whoever is being really committed and getting down with projects will shine.

Adam Bernard: Mindspray has become an ethnic melting pot of MC’s, almost a Hip-Hop UN. What kind of impact do you feel being so multi-cultural can have on an audience and Hip-Hop in general?
C.O.N.C.E.P.T.: It’s not about color, religion, or culture. People get down with MINDSpray solely based on skills and commitment. If you liked the original trail blazing music you got down with MINDSpray, it just so happens that we all come from different backgrounds. The impact is that we came together through music and we show the strength of unity. We show that positivity can unite all cultures.

Adam Bernard: With a name like C.O.N.C.E.P.T it can be assumed you have some pretty interesting lyrics. What are some of C.O.N.C.E.P.T.’s concepts?
C.O.N.C.E.P.T.: Each placement for each word and thought in my lyrics is a concept. Every initiative starts with a concept, and then you follow through and make it reality. There can’t be MINDSpray with out a C.O.N.C.E.P.T. Socialism is very coherent in my work and one of my concepts is free education and free health for all, then let’s see what would happen with a lot of problems with in the world. Nobody should starve but nobody should get a free ride.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what’s up with all the periods in your name?
C.O.N.C.E.P.T.: My pseudonym is an acronym.

Creative
On point
Noble
Concentration
Exceptional
Penmanship
Tradition

These words best describe how I view my craft. The name is a concept within itself.

Official Website: MINDSprayhiphop.com

MySpace Page: myspace.com/concept

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:59 AM   0 comments
Jay-Z Shuns Cristal
Friday, June 16, 2006

Have you ever found a story where there were so many things wrong with it you just didn’t know where to start? That’s the way I feel with the news, if you can call it that, that Jay-Z is boycotting Cristal. At first it seems like something we should all just say “OK, fine, whatever” to, but when one takes a closer look at the Def Jam President’s comments they’ll quickly see how out of touch he is with both Hip-Hop and his audience.

The CEO of Cristal, Frédéric Rouzaud, was recently asked by The Economist if he felt the association of Cristal with Hip-Hop could hurt his brand. His replied "that's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business." In the article The Economist used the phrase "unwelcome attention" as a subhead, a phrase that Jay-Z apparently thought was a quote.

Hearing that the brand he had be advertising for free of charge for over half a decade wasn’t into Hip-Hop Jay pulled the race card. In a statement released by Jay he said, "It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frédéric Rouzaud, views the Hip-Hop culture as 'unwelcome attention.' I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including the 40/40 Club, nor in my personal life." Oh Jay, there are just so many problems with this statement.

First off, just because a company might not want to be associated with their product being poured onto barely clothed women in music videos and being mentioned along side rhymes involving misogyny and illegal drug use does not make them a racist. In fact, just because a company doesn’t want to be associated with Hip-Hop doesn’t make them a racist, and you of all people should know this since you’ve worked with Hip-Hop geniuses Eminem and Rick Rubin. If someone dislikes Hip-Hop they dislike them, along with the vast majority of your fans, who also happen to be white. Pulling the race card when it shouldn’t have been pulled is the least of Jay’s offenses, however.

With the statement he made Jay makes it apparent that he has lost all touch with reality. Jay, you may rhyme about the streets (occasionally) but clearly you haven’t been in them recently, or even in a middle class neighborhood, because nobody other than the top .05% drinks Cristal because nobody else can afford it! You’re boycotting a product that people aren’t buying and not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. All this does is show us how separated you really are from your fan base. Courvoisier sales went up because of Busta's “Pass The Courvoisier” because people could afford it. No one is buying Cristal in the club other than other super rich celebrities like you.

I understand why Jay feels slighted in this situation, he’s essentially been an unpaid spokesperson for Cristal since the late 90’s. Unfortunately for Jay this is completely his own fault. Before he ever spit a lyric about the beverage he should have done some research, called the company, seen if they could create a partnership of some kind. Jay, you threw a line about Cristal in your song “I Just Wanna Love U” in 2000 where you claim to be a hustler in the hook, but how can you go that long doing product mentions without calling the company to see about working together? Is that really being a hustler, or were you just being hustled? To me it seems strange you wouldn’t speak with the company since in the very same song you were paid to mention Motorola pagers.

Of course there’s the much bigger underlying problem that we also have to deal with, the fact that Cristal, no matter how many rappers mention it, has nothing to do with Hip-Hop. Cristal is a high end product and Hip-Hop has NOTHING to do with high end products. If Hip-Hop were born of the rich I would say this Jay-Z beef is legitimate, but it wasn't. Watch Style Wars again, none of those graffers are popping a bottle of champagne after throwing a burner up. Remember, that's Hip-Hop. You do remember what Hip-Hop is right, Jay? A rapper getting into a beef with a champagne company that never asked him to advertise for them is just nonsense. Your impact has nothing to do with the products you have written yourself as an unpaid spokesman for.

Jay, you’re the President over at Def Jam, so why don’t you focus on doing something for Hip-Hop. Make sure another Red and Meth album comes out, make sure artists don't get short chagned by their contracts, but please don’t fight battles with companies that sell products none of your fan base can relate to and that have nothing to do with Hip-Hop, and please, don’t pull the race card when you know some of Hip-Hop biggest stars span the racial gamut. All you’re doing is looking foolish in the eyes of those of us who really love Hip-Hop. If you really feel your influence is big enough to make an impact take a stand against something that matters, like the problems with our school system, because THAT actually affects your fan base. Jay-Z boycotting a pricey champagne company is unimportant, but Jay-Z funding an after school program, now that would have an impact.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 9:25 AM   56 comments
A Deviouz Return
Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It’s been 18 long months since the public has heard from Mongo Maddness and the Deviouz Dollarz crew. Deviouz Dollarz is a collection of artists from Bridgeport, Connecticut that Mongo has headed up for a number of years, unfortunately, as he points out, “I went on a little vacation.” Err, make that a state mandated vacation. Mongo had to spend a little time away due to a marijuana charge, but even while incarcerated he still managed to get press.

The Connecticut Post, a large daily newspaper based out of Bridgeport, did a feature on the Free Mongo mix-CD that was released shortly after Mongo was sent up. The budding Hip-Hop mogul remembers “people were in like yo, you read the paper? You guys are up in there. And I’m like nah because you know locked up the papers come late and it gets all wrinkled and messed up so you can barely read it anyways.” The clip eventually found its way to Mongo, who quickly found ways of getting it out to the right people.

The article was an indicator that Mongo was on the right path, but the crew would quickly go their separate ways after its publication. “I guess we had too many chiefs, not enough Indians,” he says with a knowing smile, the kind that says yeah, I know what happened and yeah it’s been taken care of. “People got big headed,” he continued, “they heard a song on the radio and they saw the articles.” Unkut, a member of the Deviouz Dollarz crew and Mongo’s right hand man, is quick to point out “nobody was listening to me. I was the one Indian that remained an Indian, but I was doing a lot of chief footwork.” Mongo remembers “Unkut wrote me and said listen, they’re not listening to me, I’m leavin, I’ll come back when you come home.” This brought about a thought that had never occurred to Mongo before. “To tell you the truth,” he says, humbled at the idea, “I didn’t realize how important I was until I left.” Unkut stayed true to his word as the second Mongo was released the two were back in business.

Despite being in jail Mongo stayed remarkably focused on his work. He notes that being incarcerated gave him “a lot of time to think,” adding “I really didn’t take that as a punishment, I actually took that as a blessing. I networked with a lot of people.” How one networks in prison is an interesting question, but according to Mongo “they kept hearing the songs on the radio so they knew I was for real. I also snuck a couple CDs up in there.”

Now that Mongo’s out it’s time for him to rebuild what once was. “The foundation is still there,” he explains “it’s just the rest of it fell off. The foundation never really fell.” The foundation right now includes Mongo, Unkut, and a team of artists that are featured on the upcoming Free Mongo Vol. 2 mix-CD. Unkut remembers “for the longest we were trying to get it organized but there were a lot of people in our face and in our way. Mongo had to cut his dreads off so we could see the snakes that were in the grass.”

Mongo’s locks were donated to cancer patients, an outward sign of his compassion. This compassion was again shown when some of his former colleagues approached him recently. “A couple people,” he notes “they messed up, but when I came home they came to me, told me they messed up and apologized. They came at me like a man so I respect them more than somebody else saying they don’t want to see me like this.”

Many people do want to see Mongo and it should come as no surprise that he’s making the most of it. Unkut explains that as a crew they have one major goal right now, “to make sure we don’t just stay local,” and he’s doing plenty to make sure this goal is achieved. Unkut went to school at Virginia State University and The Art Institute of Philadelphia and he makes sure his work is heard on those streets as well as his own.

Up next for Mongo, Unkut, and the rest of the Deviouz Dollarz crew is the release of Unkut’s solo album and the completion of Connecticut Welcomes You, The Official Connecticut DVD. One thing’s for sure, an 18 month stint in jail isn’t about to stop Mongo Maddness. “I’m always gonna shine,” he says with a laugh, “I use baby oil!”

posted by Adam Bernard @ 9:01 AM   0 comments
Artist Of The Week – Ope (O-Asiatic)
Monday, June 12, 2006

Influenced by artists such as Public Enemy's Bomb Squad and NWA's Dr. Dre, Ope, also known as O-Asiatic, started doing production work in 1990. Six years later he started his own company, Ope Entertainment, to further his career. Since then he has worked with numerous artists, some of whom he's gotten airplay for on New York's Hot97. Ope's own work includes the 2001 release GET SHORTy! which was bootlegged overseas and used in the independent film Kingston High. In 2003, after rapper Substantial asked Ope to manage him, Ope turned Ope Entertainment into an artist mangement company and merged it with Substantial's company to form Unlimited Vinyl Ink (UVInk)/ Ope Entertainment. The company is home to Ope, Substantial, Insanate and Fresh Daily, among others. Oh yeah, and when he's not busy with his own company he's working up at 1515 Broadway at a little place called MTV. I met Ope a handful of years ago at a Boo Yaa Tribe album listening party, and today is your opportunity to get to know this rising star.

Adam Bernard: MC, producer, co-CEO of UVInk / Ope Entertainment, you wear so many hats, what are the most rewarding aspects of each position?
Ope: The most rewarding part of being an MC is when people really get what you’re spitting and they genuinely relate and appreciate it, which is a rarity these days. As a producer, it’s when you see how far your music can really go when the MC's believe in your tracks and take them to the heights. As a Manager it's when you seal a deal for your artists that contribute to the bigger picture of where they want to go, and if you're one of my artists you need to have big plans. As co-CEO the rewards are when the company grows, when we get to have increased sales, show dates, exposure for the label, and the fact that we don't rely on anyone for every step of the music making process just short of distribution (We need that!! Holla!)

Adam Bernard: I know for a fact your music has been bootlegged overseas, Lithuania I think, and one of the artists you work with, Substantial, is big in Japan. How are you getting all this overseas love and what does it mean to you as an artist?
Ope: Yeah, GET SHORTy! was bootlegged in Lithuania and they even went as far as emailing me asking for the song credits because when they did it it wasn't officially out yet. The crazy thing is they didn't see anything wrong with that. Substantial worked very hard and went through a lot the first time out in Japan. I'm very happy that he outsold Jay-Z and Ja Rule at the big music retailers when his debut CD dropped in 2000. He just got back from a promo tour a few weeks ago to kind of get a feel for what the market is now so we can emulate that success. I'm hoping to get him some MTV Japan love this time, as well. Our overseas success is happening because we have decent connects over there and the music is something they enjoy. Most cats take years to get the relationships we have in Europe and Japan, hell, even in America.

Adam Bernard: So what do you feel the next step is for you as an artist, and UVInk / Ope Ent as a label?
Ope: My next step is to get a lot more track placements this year and next. There are a lot of independent artists I want to work with and I'm beginning to reach out to see how it goes down. I have a few tracks contributed to our own projects coming out this year. I also have an instrumental CD I'm hoping to release later this year with a few big names in Hip-Hop holding down a couple of songs that will have vocals on them. For the label on a whole the operative word is "growth."

Adam Bernard: As both an artist and a label owner what kind of responsibilities do you see being neglected by artists today that maybe think "my label will do that for me”?
Ope: I still see today as often as I did back in the day too many artists (and their over-hyped labels) neglect their business. I've personally seen some of the deals that these labels sign. These cats are out here signing deals with terms in their contracts where the other party never has to pay them (What!), and they’re doing it just because they are hot on the net so they rush to put music out. That's bullshit! I got kids, shit is real out here! I'm very happy that all of the core members of UVInk are about their business and creativity as artists.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what qualities do you look for in an artist? What makes you think an MC is going to be a star?
Ope: I look for the following things in an artist I'd like to work with or sign:

* The belief in themselves to eventually be the best overall music biz professional they can be.

* A person that doesn't have a bunch of hype and no substance as a person.

* An artist that knows, or wants to gain knowledge of, the Music Business and not just spit lyrics and go back to the block.

* An emcee that is not the best out there. The ones that think they are the best have no incentive to get better so after a while they suck (bad, too). An artist that is till striving for something is always focused. It’s a beautiful thing man, and it's very rare out here. I'm actually not looking for stars, I'm looking for people that want success, not artists that like to be hyped online but don't have enough dough to feed themselves or their peeps. I'm still hustling, I'm not where I want be as a music business professional. Just wait till I get there. Oh damn, UVizzle beotches!!!

MySpace Pages: myspace.com/ghettocrymusicinc, myspace.com/substantial, myspace.com/freshdotdaily

Other Websites: www.weirdosoul.com

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:34 AM   0 comments
Hip-Hop Doppelgangers
Friday, June 09, 2006

Something that used to always bug me back in the day was when people would say all rap music sounds alike. When I was growing up this couldn’t have been further from the truth and my friends and I had lists of artists we could reel off at a second’s notice whenever someone came to us with this half-assed assessment of our favorite musical genre. A Tribe Called Quest sounded nothing like Boot Camp Clik, which sounded nothing like Dr. Dre, who sounded nothing like The Fresh Prince, who sounded nothing like Busta Rhymes. The list went on and on. The idea that all rap music sounded alike was simply an untrue statement, unfortunately it may have been prophecy.

I receive a lot of CD’s in the mail for work thanks to being on a myriad of press lists. Over the past two days I’ve received somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 full length albums and do you know what, they sound remarkably alike. I hate to say it but creativity is quickly dying and mediocrity is the new gold standard in rap music. After listening to more albums than the vast majority of folks I’m finding it easier and easier to break down how an album is going to sound simply based on the label they’re on. Let’s start with the mainstream artists.

Every mainstream artist has one song on their album that they’ve created to be the lead single. This is the song they feel is the most commercially viable and can get them the most potential crossover airplay. It’s no longer just about the Hip-Hop heads of the world, it’s about that top 40 airplay. Each mainstream album also features the two follow up singles, the second single being an up-tempo song similar to the lead single and the third being a slower song that shows a cliché “other side” of the artist. After that the rest of the album is a crapshoot because the assumption is people have already bought it because of the singles.

The content of mainstream albums doesn’t range very much. No matter if the artist is a pop success or someone who considers themselves certified gangsta, they’ll have the following songs on their album. There’s the booty shaking club hits, the songs about life on the street, at least one “heartfelt” slower song, some odes to women, and some odes to substances deemed worthy of abusing (alcohol, weed, etc.). The production for these tracks varies just as little as the topic matter. Every mainstream artist busts their butt to grab the same exact producers everybody else has. Not only is continuity ruined by this because there are so many varying sounds, but those varying sounds are the same ones that are on everyone else’s albums. Anyone remember Outkast’s ATLiens? One of the reasons the album was so dope was because Organized Noize did all the production. There was continuity there.

Last, but not least, the mainstream rap album seems to require an artist work with someone from every part of the country so as to try to boost nationwide sales. No longer content with building within their own community, the mainstream artist feels the need to do a cliché east coast, west coast, down south, and Midwest track on every single album. I’m not sure who this is fooling, but I highly doubt people are purchasing an entire album based on an artist working with one person from their city.

This brings us to the underground rap albums, which have become just as bad in terms of creativity and uniqueness over the years. The underground rap artist is not concerned with mainstream radio airplay, but they are concerned with talking about not being concerned with radio airplay. The topic matter of the typical underground album includes this, along with numerous songs about how the artist has more skills then anyone else on earth, how it sucks that no one knows their name, how the industry is fake, and how if things were all about real Hip-Hop they’d be selling tons of records.

Underground albums also include the token battle song. It seems every underground MC has a long list of battles they’ve won, whether it was something big like Scribble Jam or something as small as “that battle outside of the Subway on my block,” every artist likes to tout having a rep as being a dope battle MC and if they’ve ever won anything in their career you’ll hear about it ad nauseam on their record.

Production on underground albums has also become very cliché and typical over the years. For the most part you’re going to get something that makes an attempt to sound like A Tribe Call Quest but falls unbelievably short. Even underground artists who attempt to go mainstream have this issue. Little Brother anyone? (Yeah, I said it, the album was garbage)

Occasionally an album will come along that will surprise us and end up universally hailed as something great. Just recently the Cee-Lo Green / Danger Mouse project, Gnarls Barkley, was released to massive critical praise. The album is fantastic but when one listens to it, or any other album that’s been lauded on that level, they’ll realize it probably wasn’t that difficult to create. Everyone should be creating albums like Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere, they should just be doing it in their own way. Rather than attempting to recreate what’s already been done, artists need to search inside themselves and find what’s unique about them as individuals and as artists. If the answer is nothing then they shouldn’t be artists. If it’s not in you to be creative, to do something different, then don’t clutter up the stores, the airwaves, and my desk with some typical drivel that sounds just like ten other CD’s that also arrived today.

Until creativity is brought back to the forefront the old stereotype about rap music, which was never true when it was originally said, will creep closer and closer to being the truth, because right now the vast majority of rap music really does sound alike.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 9:34 AM   1 comments
The Black Belt Test
Wednesday, June 07, 2006

We all have different types of challenges in life that we go through, some involuntary, some voluntary. This past Sunday I dove into one of those voluntary challenges when I tested for second degree black belt. Let me preface all this by saying I’ve been studying martial arts for twenty years now and in my adult years I feel my material has become a lot more complete, that I have a better understanding of Kempo as a whole. With this in mind I woke up at an ungodly hour, especially for a Sunday, hopped in a car, and was in a Hartford gymnasium at 8:30AM ready to test my skills.

Something told me that my constant training at my gym was also going to be of help on this day as I’m used to pushing myself extremely hard so handling what others throw at me, no matter how crazy it may be, was something I felt I was ready for. This was going to be a four and a half hour physically demanding test, but I wasn’t as worried as some of my peers. Praise the Lord for all the treadmill work I’ve been doing because it has helped my stamina immensely.

We started off by breaking off into small groups of about a dozen. The people testing for black were in their own groups while those of us testing for second degree black or higher (like me) were in groups of their own. There were only three of our higher ranking groups and unfortunately I would find mine had a guy in it who felt this test was his audition for the UFC, or Hollywood, or some big break in some way. The first time I worked with him he hit me in the groin, which was adequately protected with an athletic supporter, but his reaction told me everything I needed to know about him. He said “you’re wearing a cup right?” And when I said yes he replied “oh then it’s OK then.” Uhh, no, no it’s not, you just hit me in the groin, that’s some terrible control. Within two hours nobody was willing to work with the groin striker.

The vast majority of the test for my group took place outside in a field. It had rained heavily the night before so the field was soaking wet and the first time we had to fall for a technique we landed with noticeable splats. Our gis soaked through within ten minutes, we knew this was going to be a long day. It was on the sopping wet field, however, that I had my first bit of payback on the groin striker. We were working on a concept, grappling from the position of the person who was just taken down in a technique. This was something I’d worked on in class so I was somewhat confident in my abilities, apparently more confident that some of the others I was testing with. While lying on the ground I grabbed my opponents hand, threw my legs in the air aiming for opposite sides of his neck, and attempted one of the craziest armbars ever. I was only halfway successful with the attempt, but it received a terrific reaction from the rest of the people I was testing with, including a very audible “DAMN” from another student.

After numerous high ranking proctors took us outside for different parts of our test we all landed back inside at the four hour mark. Tired and beaten down, we were told to get our gear ready because it was time to spar. To say our moves were slightly sloppy at this point would be an understatement. That being said I don’t think the proctors cared particularly at this juncture of the test, they were helping to usher in the friends and family who came to see everyone earn their new ranks.

For the sparring we formed a line within our group and two people would spar. The person who scored the first point would stay up to spar while the loser would go to the end of the line. This was rapid fire sparring and some of us realized losing was better than winning because it gave us time to breathe. Oh I said some because the groin striker treated the sparring at the four hour mark like his life was depending on each fight. I give him slight credit for having that kind of drive, but then I take it right away from him for not having enough self-control. The highlight of the sparring for me came when I had to fight him. I got into my regular stance, but when the proctor raised his hand to start the fight I took one step back to fight lefty (“I’m awkward I box lefty” – Jay-Z). The look on dude’s face was priceless, it was completely “WTF?” Two powerful right hand jabs later I had set him up nicely for a left-handed body shot, which scored quickly. I think the proctor was pretty impressed with this, and regardless of whether he was or not, I was!

Four and half hours after the whole process started we were awarded our next ranks. So I’m now a second degree black belt. What does this mean? This means I still have a lot of learning to do, actually more learning than ever. My goals now include relearning everything I already know but now learning it as a second degree black belt, and figuring out everything being a second degree black belt entails. It not just about the material, it’s about the rank and what it means within the system and my own dojo. It’s also about staying humble and approachable. So all in all the higher the rank the more one has to learn. Of course, with the new rank I’m also the most ass kicking writer in the entertainment industry, but something tells me I shouldn’t make that the headline on my resume.

posted by Adam Bernard @ 9:35 AM   1 comments
Artist Of The Week - Rack-Lo
Monday, June 05, 2006

A few weeks ago I bumped into Rack-Lo at the Boot Camp Clik listening party in NYC. It had been years since I last interviewed Rack and as it turns out he’s up to even more now than he was back then. He has an album w/ Thirstin Howl III, Lo Down & Dirty, due out this summer, a concert DVD, Skill or be Skilled, on the way which will feature footage from Norway, London, Amsterdam, Miami, Ohio, NYC, San Francisco and Boston, he’s hosting his own internet radio show and he has a line of t-shirts and custom sneakers on the way. Rack also has two books ready to be released, one being his autobiography and the other is a coffee table photo book on Brooklyn’s “Lo” fashion movement. Rack, a founding member of the Lo Life movement, is one of the busiest men in the biz, and he’s this week’s artist of the week.

Adam Bernard: First off, for those who don’t know, tell everyone a bit about the Low Lifes.
Rack-Lo: The Lo-Lifes are the most talked about and most known Brooklyn fashion icons that really put the Polo label on the map as far as the streets are concerned. We are the dudes who taught all these other frauds how to do this for real. We built a fashion institution and culture that America still can’t shake to this very day and it’s only gaining more momentum. Yeah, it started out as a Polo thing, but it’s so much deeper than that, we stand for so much more and we have so much to contribute to the culture of Hip-Hop. The Lo-Lifes started out in Brooklyn New York, but now we are all over the world. What we created is Hip-Hop. It was ground breaking. It was innovative and well thought out. It’s a movement that has attracted the attention of some of the greatest Hip-Hop legends that have ever lived. We started a revolution and it really worked.

Adam Bernard: You’ve been involved in NYC’s Hip-Hop scene for well over a decade, what changes have you seen in it and how have those changes altered your perception of the game?
Rack-Lo: First is that NYC commercial Hip-Hop is at an all time low. Why? Because NYC rappers are being a bunch of followers, they’re not being original. A lot of NYC artists are not raising the bar on anything. I think a lot of people are lacking from a creative stand point. Another thing is that NYC artists do not support each other. Everybody wants to be the king and that has divided the city in a bad way. Also, a lot of the artists and record labels aren’t really producing Hip-Hop classics. You know why? Because everything they do is driven by money. They have lost the respect for the culture and have forgotten what Kool Herc, Afica Bambatta, Grand Master Flash and all the rest of the founders started and their reasons. They didn’t create Hip-Hop so artists can beef with each other and kill each other. No! They didn’t create Hip-Hop for NYC DJ’s not to break new NYC talent. No! They didn’t create this culture so all of these corporations can own it. No! They didn’t create Hip-Hop so the Hip-Hop police can follow people and have them under surveillance. And there’s a lot of other stuff going on in Hip-Hop in general that’s giving this entire culture a bad look. For instance, people done turned this music business into the streets. Pretty much everything that takes place on the streets is going on in the music business and that is so backwards. The gangs, the killings, the drugs, the snitching, jail and all those things that we try to break free from are waiting for us if we decide to pursue music careers and that’s because the power has been handed down to the wrong people, it’s been handed to people who have no clue of what Hip-Hop means and they don’t care about where it’s going, but mainly they really don’t realize and understand the impact it’s having on the people. Man, this music is powerful. You can either empower a person or destroy a person with the words you speak, so to me that’s powerful and I would like my music to inspire people in a positive way. I would hate for my music to influence some one to do something harmful to themselves or another. I ain’t down with that and I don’t sponsor or endorse that nonsense. I want to see this culture prevail and keep growing and expanding.

Adam Bernard: Now that you’ve broken down the current Hip-Hop scene, where do you feel the Low Life’s fit into it?
Rack-Lo: The Lo-Lifes have lived through every era of Hip- Hop so we fit in all the elements, the MCing, fashion, break dancing, graffiti, and DJing. We don’t take this game lightly, we do this for real. This is not an overnight success we are grinding. We’ve been doing our thing independently for a minute, so we have learned and mastered so much that we are pretty much self-sufficient. We are involved every step of the way on each product or release. So right now we are playing hard ball, but I appreciate it all.

Adam Bernard: You and your crew have an identity based on your real lives, ya’ll boosted clothing. How do you feel having a real identity versus having a label mandated and manufactured one affected your career?
Rack-Lo: Yeah, we were stick up kids, we boosted clothes, we jacked cars, we had beefs, we did jail time, we had collections of chicks and all that crazy street shit, but that was then, that’s the foundation. Our entire movement is built on street life, but we are corporate thinking individuals and one thing I truly want to do is bridge that gap. I’m taking this movement from the streets to corporate suites. Feel me! So yeah, our identity is a real identity. Like in the streets if you know Rack-Lo, and how I live my life, you know what I rep, and all of that is expressed in my music. So once you put my history and street credibility and match that with my music, it’s all the truth. My music is a reflection on my lifestyle. Having a record label or whoever place a label or identity on you is totally a violation.

Adam Bernard: Finally, the Low Life’s is a large crew, how does Rack-Lo stand out as an individual within the crew?
Rack-Lo: First and foremost I stand out because I’m a founder, I helped build this entire phenomenon, I’m a catalyst for Lo-Lifes, the birth of Lo-Lifes. As far as my music goes, I’m in a class by myself. I stand out, I mean my style, my word play, my aura, my swagger, my business mind and how I just go about making things happen. I’m more than just music, I can pretty much do it all.

MySpace Page: http://myspace.com/racklo

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:32 AM   0 comments
Hip-Hop vs. Oprah
Friday, June 02, 2006

This week Ice Cube has joined the short list of rappers who have publicly blasted Oprah Winfrey for not having Hip-Hop artists on her show, or, in the case of Ludacris, having them on and then reportedly treating them poorly. Let me just say I’m not a huge fan of Oprah’s interviewing style, I think she takes the spotlight away from her guests a lot of the time and puts it on herself. That being said I do respect the way she’s built her empire. It’s clear why someone would want to be on her show, all she has to do is recommend a book and it becomes an instant best seller, but do rappers really think Oprah can work the same magic for them?

Oprah is a 52 year old woman who has a show that caters to middle aged women. None of that, not her age and not her audience, has anything to do with the Hip-Hop world. Ice Cube asking why he’s not on Oprah would be like Dr. Phil wondering why he can’t get on Rap City, the audiences just aren’t right. 50 Cent realizes this and was quoted as saying “I think she caters to older white women. Oprah's audience is my audience's parents, so I could care less about Oprah or her show." This isn’t so much a barb thrown Oprah’s way, but a simple fact. What’s gone horribly wrong for Oprah is that because of comments like 50’s she’s now trying to show she’s down with Hip-Hop.

Recently Oprah made an appearance on NYC's Power105, the top rated Hip-Hop radio station in the city, to speak with Ed Lover on the topic. She said she liked some Hip-Hop and then proceeded to reel of names of artists that retired years ago (Jay-Z), songs that haven’t been popular for years (In Da Club) and even gave Mary J Blige a mention, who’s a friend of Oprah’s but has nothing to do with Hip-Hop. Oprah is a mother figure to a lot of people out there and her appearance on Power105 was akin to your parents showing up at your prom and doing dances that are five years old in an effort to try to seem hip. Oprah doesn’t need to do that.

The fact of the matter is if Oprah doesn’t like Hip-Hop and doesn’t want rap artists as guests so what? It doesn’t matter. Hip-Hop has survived for over 30 years without sitting on Oprah’s couch, why is there a sudden need to be on it now (other than Cube releasing an album next week)? Oprah has had Eve on her show, a female rapper, so I can see why some male rappers might be upset, but seriously, are you looking to sell to her audience?

I think the main problem here is Hip-Hop has always been a culture that has survived and thrived despite the masses. Hip-Hop was born without radio stations, without TV shows, without major magazine coverage and now that Hip-Hop has all of those things and is of the masses some members of the Hip-Hop community feel the need to assimilate with everything popular. Well this is one place where the door is still closed. Oprah has built her show the way she wants it and she being who she is she’s earned the right to do whatever she wants with it. If she doesn’t want rappers on she doesn’t have to have them on, but at the same time she shouldn’t be going on Power105 talking about how she likes Hip-Hop. The radio appearance will only add more pressure from rappers who have now heard she likes Hip-Hop so there will be more of an expectation of her to have rappers on her show.

Oprah, you do you. Ice Cube, you do you do. Stay in your lanes and enjoy your successes. The fact of the matter is Oprah doesn’t need Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop doesn’t need Oprah.

P.S. – Maaaan I hope this doesn’t destroy my chances of being on her show.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 9:47 AM   2 comments
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