Making Connections between Odd Future x Jay Z x Beyonce

In my head I have been trying to make sense of Beyonce, Jay-Z and Odd Future and how audiences have received, accepted and criticized their work.

I have written about Beyonce here and here. Jay-Z here. I add Odd Future because I have yet to see a feminist analysis of them and I am theorizing that there is a connection between how audiences see them and how audiences see Jay and Beyonce.

Jay and Beyonce

Many of my friends get incredibly irritated when I say that I want Beyonce to sing about her husband. To talk about how he likes his eggs. Does he like cheese on them, hot sauce, cracked black pepper, scrambled hard.  I am not interested in how the man likes his eggs per se. I am using it as a way to open up a conversation about how audience desire shapes what artists talk about. I contended that Jay Z does not talk about loving his wife because honestly white and black audiences, and multiracial audiences are not interested in hearing about him talk about her.

“Take em out the Hood, Keep ‘Em Looking Good, But I don’t Fucking Feed ‘Em. – Jay Z, Big Pimpin‘.

In fact in this post Britini Danielle @ Clutch Magazine discusses Wiz Khalifa claiming Amber Rose publicly and the proliferation of the “we don’t Love them ho’s comments on blogs.

I am interested in Black people being rendered as human being in pop culture and in there day to day lives at work, on the train and in the grocery store. Why? I want all people in general and Black folks in particualr to be rendered as human beings. Singing about how your lover likes his or her eggs is incredibly humanizing. Talking about how much you love them is humanizing as well.

Honestly, I prolly wouldn’t care how Jay-Z liked his eggs if Black men and women controlled how their stories were created, told, distributed.

1. If they could greenlight their own films and Hollywood and control how they were distributed.

2. If there wasn’t a need for documentaries exploring the “lack” of women in hip hop.

3. If there was a space for Black women in pop culture who don’t fit the “Long haired thick red bone” aesthetic. Peace to Jennifer Hudson.

Does pop culture have to be humanizing for Black folks? If no, what is at stake if it doesn’t humanize us. If yes, what does that look like?

Odd Future

The first time I heard a DJ spin Tyler’s Yonkers, I was like who the hell is this? The beat sounded bare like early Clipse work. As a blogger, I read about what music bloggers are writing about, often before or whenI listen to the music. In fact conversations tend to percolate in my twitter timeline before writer #Natureofthebeast.

Here is Odd Future at a show performing Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School. @1:42. 109,664 youtube views.

Here is Tyler the Creator’s Yonkers. 14 million + youtube views.

There as been a ton written about Odd Futures popularity on the Black and White blogosphere and with multiracial audiences.

In the Chicago Sun-Times profile by Thomas Conner, Odd Future members contend that,

Odd Future’s lyrics, they maintain, are preposterous artistic expressions rather than reportage or incitement to action.“Nothing is really serious,” Hodgy Beats told the Sun-Times this week from a tour stop in London. “It’s just like all the things in our music. It’s in the atmosphere, it’s in the world, and it’s in our lyrics. … I think it’s funny that people flip out about s— like that.”

In an article titled “Odd Future and the Middle Class White Music Geeks that Love Them” the author writes,

It’s the general consensus of music writers everywhere (almost all of them white) that Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All can do no wrong.  The 11-piece L.A. collective, consisting of singers, rappers, producers, and visual artists between the ages of 16 and 23, has been praised as the next Wu-Tang Clan, the future of rap, the ultimate 21st century hip-hop group, etc., etc.  Their confrontational lyrics and gritty No Wave approach to hip-hop seem to attract more people than they scare off.  However, almost all of this praise has come from middle-class white critics and fans with interests in underground music. A photo of one of Odd Future’s notoriously raucous gigs shows a sharp contrast between the black, teenage group members onstage and the pale, white, twentysomething audience.

What does it mean that the most laudatory voices for Odd Future are White Male “music geeks”?

Should Odd Future be able to make the music that they desire, for largely White audiences given the history of Black images in this country?

Beyonce x Jay Z x Odd Future

Earlier in the post I stated that there is a connection between how audiences see them. However, we can’t really have a conversation about Black people and images without looking at the history of Black images.

Dave Chappell walked away for a reason ya’ll.

So, what is the history of images of Black people in the US? Whitney Peoples in the article “Under Construction: Identifying Foundations of Hip-Hop  Feminism and Exploring Bridges between Black Second-Wave and Hip-Hop Feminism” gives a thorough explanation. She writes,

Much of mainstream rap music has been reduced to a never-ending obsession with monetary gain, appropriation of patriarchal notions of power, material possession, partying, women, and sex, all of which are secured and protected through the hyper masculine threat of violence. Mainstream rap music is most easily commodified because it represents ideas of blackness that are in line with dominant racist and sexist ideologies; it has economic potential only because it works hand-in-hand with long established ideas about the sexual, social, and moral nature of black people.
In other words, the images of black male violence and aggression that dominate mainstream rap music are highly marketable in America because of already existing ideologies of racism that long ago named the black male as supreme aggressor and physical and sexual threat. Similarly, the images of sexually available black women that pervade rap music are marketable because of already existing ideologies that designated black women as hypersexual and morally obtuse.
Peoples is essentially saying that mainstream rap and I would extend that to say Odd Future (they are clearly underground but beloved by “White music geeks”) is popular and earns corporations money because they affirm already existing ideas around black men being homophobic, violent and hypersexual.

Having written this, I am left with a few questions.
Does Odd Future get a pass because “White music geeks” have the power to legitimize rappers with a sizeable fan base who think that rapping about rape, murder and homophobia isn’t really that serious?

Does Beyonce need to write about how her husband likes his eggs?  What does it mean that a middle class woman, who earned $80M in ’07-08 , spent a significant portion of her career writing about men soldiers, men who hustle, etc?


Is it legitimate for Jay to have continued to rap about crackwhen he was a millionaire? Is this selling a fantasy of a certain kind of Blackness to young people of all races? Can the man who wrote about Big Pimpin’ write about his wife?

Crush’s and Being Human

Neens and D.J. Les courtesy of @sixfive

Thursday night, I went to a function.

Boom bap deliciousness, but I hadn’t anticipated it.

I had a big work day, and knew I wanted to chill later,? so I had given
KB a heads up.

Got a text? around @ 6:00 pm saying, “not going to be able to make it tonight.”

I was like word? Okay, thank you for letting me know.

Boom.

So I am out, decompressing, made a new lady friend, Connecticut Minnie.

I get a “Hey” text from KB around 7:30.

I respond. “Hey Love.”

“You get my Voice Mail?

I say, “Nah I don’t check vm’s, plus I am in a no service zone.”

He like, ” Oh two joints going on tonight, Black Milk and L.E.S spinning

I’m trying to go, would like for you to come.”

I’m like. Lawd I am not built for this.

First no, now, “Imma come meet you where you @?”

You know how you don’t wanna wait for somebody, but you
kinda do?

I couldn’t figure out where the LES jawn was, so I text J Boogie
and crew and they was like yeah girl, we here, come through.

He cool with J Boogie so I was like, ummp. How do I freak this?

Time goes by, I wait, Connecticut Minnie look at me,
and says boo, you want a ride? I am not going in but I will drop you.

I want to stay posted. She like YOU BEEN waiting, scoot, let him
swoop you. And I was kinda embarrassed because normally I be wanting time, places and plans LAID out, clean. I’m real particular about that.

But this, ummmp. New ‘ish.

And that is not how THIS works. BUT its awesome, because
I am outside of my comfort zone, learning to do my part
and give the rest to God. Ummmp.

Fearless and Vulnerable, I’m trying at least.

The spot is all boom bappy and good. Like 1992 boom bappy.

30 minutes later. I look up Connecticut Minnie is there, I’m like WHAT, I thought you went home. Yeah, you came.

KB shows up, walks past me, thought he was playing me. Instinct
was to feel tight, but I know better, sorta.

I asked,? he say “Nah, I? ain’t see you.” Well he is near sighted. Luls.

“Glad to you see you made it.”

“Girl I came out here to see you, you think I came to see J Boogie,” lols.

“Of course you did.”

I dance, he don’t dance, but grabbed me.

“Watch you get caught up in my MEAN two step.” Looked at him like he was gone out his skull.

Lying if I wasn’t lightweight caught up in the mean two step, what part of the game is this?

Later that evening @sixfive captured the above flick.

I was kinda shook by how warm the colors are.

@Beautynubian says that I look like pure joy.

In some ways I think she right.

I had no idea how that night would turn out. And it was
lovely. My face shows it. Ummm hmmm.

Here’s to being more human humans in #2010 and letting
go of thangs so you can let OTHER thang’s do what it do.

Here’s to it all not needing time to be planned out down the hour and it being LOVELY anyways.

Letting go of anything in 2010?

Letting anything in in 2010?

Take any awesome smiley pictures lately?

Me & Lauryn Hill: An Evolution

The first time I heard Lauryn Hill, was probably a single from
the Blunted on Reality album and I hated it. At that time
it appeared to be crazy gimmicky.
I didn’t like The Fugees and I didn’t like The Score. The Score took an L
because in many ways, it was accessible, cross over Boom Bap.
Many folks who knew how much I liked rap, and hip hop heads in general
felt that it should get a pass. I was like, eehhhhnnn no. I can also admit
now that I was lightweight hating. She was fly, fresh and a B-girl. It was
perhaps a knee jerk, “There can only be one of us” reaction.
In addition, as a teenager I was heavily influenced by Islam and subsequently,
I felt that Lauryn should?wear more clothes. I know, hard to believe,?
Ms. M.dot actually had something?to say about the clothing of that a?
woman wears. But it was true.
The fact that I used to believe that back in the day goes to the notion
that we don’t become who we are over night.
While I was certainly familiar with feminist politics then, I didn’t have
a historical understanding that would allow me to question WHY it?
was any of my business how scantily clad L was in the first place.
Remember when Dave said on Stakes is High, ” The underground is about
not being exposed, so you better take ya naked ass and put on some clothes”?
Well, In my mind that was directed towards over exposed rappers in general
but could be applied to Lauryn as well. In fact, when De La came to ‘Frisco to?
perform, I asked Dave whether he meant that line for L and he looked at me
and was like, “nah, uhhhh, nah”.
When she came out with Miseducation, I warmed up. From beginning
to end, the album was what she was going through in her life.
Not entirely self destructive, a little heavy handed, and perhaps most?
importantly, really human.?
As I have gotten older my thinking about clothes, presentation
and human beings has changed over time. I now realize that?
not only do I not want?anyone talking about how short or tight my?
skirt is, I have also?come to realize that it is none of my business?
what L wears as well.
I also realize that, and Erykahs recent pregnancy certainly underscores this,
that as Black women, ?many folks feel that they have say so in what
we choose to do with our bodies. I find this intriguing given
the unbelievable pass given to Black men such as Puffy, R.Kelly, Akon given
their relationship and or sexual practices.
Which brings me back to Lauryn.?I miss her. As I think about these?
Hip Hop and feminism study groups?I wonder what her music
would?sound like today.?I wonder what the beats ?would sound
like, who she would be collaborating?with and how much?being
a mom would play into her music.
Recently there were complaints about the fact the neither VH1’s?
Hip Hop Honors and BET’s Hip Hop awards nominated a single
woman.?An anonymous source?said that the reason why
there were fewer women emcees being launched on major labels
their hair and make up costs are expensive.?You and I both know
that this is a lie, as record companies will?invest millions into an?
artist if they believe that the return on investment.?So I am suppose?
to believe hair weaves and mac eye shadow run into?the tens of thousands
for female emcees? Besides grooming costs are irrelevant as?artists are
responsible for paying back?the labels for money?that they spend on an artist.
The fact that there are no women were nominated for BET Awards or for a
Hip Hop Honors award?underscores the significance of seeing Lauryn’s
image?in pop culture. There she was, petite, chocolate brown and
a mane of natural hair. Then and now, we are not allowed to be?
represented like that in pop culture.
That being said, Lauryn if you are out there, we are waiting for you.
To the young woman who sees her self as the next Lauryn Hill, we
are waiting?for you as well.

Me and The RZA Get Busy


Being bitten by the writing bug is interesting. I run into
other Black movers and shakers on Friday or Saturday
evenings and they glaze over when I say I am going
home to write.

Its bugged out because this morning I created a
substantial addition to the “Crack Essays” file.
My eyes opened before the alarm went off at
6:30am this morning. I am not a morning byrd.
I am a grumpy byrd pre-Peerless. So, awaking
on a Saturday before the alarm is monumental.

The other side of the glaze over is the sense of reward I feel
when I sent Filthy a draft and he responds with
“M” this is incredible and I be like. Damn? Word?

All of these things are on my mind when I read about
the RZA and his work ethic. He speaks in an
interview, saying,

People you put your trust in, from women to partners, and then they forsake you. Even the Wu-Tang Clan, when Wu-Tang Clan pulled out of the Rage Against The Machine tour, it broke my heart, because I recorded the Wu-Tang Forever album with democracy. I let everybody do what they wanted to do. The other albums were more like how I wanted it, and it came out better, people say…… When they started backing out, it really hurt me and shit, so I backed out. I feel like I did everything for Wu-Tang. That?s why, when Bobby Digital came out, I started chilling. I started having a good time. But then when they forsake me?and some brothers did, some brothers didn?t?if you have four people who aren?t into it, it?s not going to work. (via Grand Good)

The RZA’s statements struck me for a few reason’s.
One it reminds me
of how every crew has a visionary
and how the visionary has to reconcile
that vision with what the crew seems to be capable of.
It reminds me of how the crews with the greatest
potential fail
to reach it because of infighting.

It reminds me of my new found writing discipline and
how I run into folks and they look at me like an alien-byrd
when I talk about writing on a Friday night.

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There are a serious of Boom Bap tasty treats
floating around these internet’s.

Kate Richardson analyzes the new Roots video by
Rick Cordero through a feminist theory lens.

In an interesting excerpt she writes,

At first it seems as if Cordero might be taking the video in the pleasant hug-a-loser direction, but that sweetness is but an introduction to the birthday girl sitting on the floor and opening each dude’s gift as he stands above her, holding it at his crotch. One guy brought her a sausage! How sweet!

Cordero shoots the sequence in a more or less shot/reverse-shot pattern, but despite this lukewarm attempt at representing the female perspective, the sequence still comes off as uncomfortably misogynistic.

Ivan at HHIR has an video interview up of Mary and Jay.
At about 2:30 in Jay speaks about the package
that distinguishes he and Mary from the thousands of
others that have record deals.

Mary mentioned that she has no problem letting
people see the sad sh-t. On its face, that may seem trite
and a complete cliche. But, think about how many times
a day you don’t tell someone something because you think
they may reject you, or keep it to yourself out of fear.
We feel Mary because she lets it all, for better or for
worse, hang out.

Having spent 3 hours this morning writing about my family
and crack, I will tell you that there is no OTHER more vulnerable
feeling, other than being naked in front of someone for the first time,
than telling the truth because you can’t hold it back any longer.

Jay mentions that what distinguishes him from other cats
is work ethic, god given talent and real life experience.

Say word.

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Doc Zeus has a retrospective of the Pen and Pixel era up.

Man them sh*ts were horrible. But its hip hop just the same.

Like that drunk uncle who is both irritating and embarrassing,
yet still yours.

We used to see these ads in The Source and squint with
the sour lemon head face at how bad they were.


Silk the Shocker, Mercedes, Master P. All bad.

Master P wants to apologize for some sh-t.
Apologize for those album covers blood.

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Why are we scared of hard work?

You encounter any visionaries lately?

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Buckshot /9th Video was Made for This Blog. Sorta.

I just had to feeling that this video was made for this blog.

Buckshot being the epitome of boombap, and all.

Is it me or is Buck getting more mature and starting
to favor Rakim?

No wonder I have always flirted with his grimey @ss when I’ve
seen him.

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New Living Legends. I am so glad these cats are still rapping.
I use to go to their shows as a teenager and try and get my
“hip hop photographer” on.
(via Grand Good)



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Wendy Day has written about how to put out your own music.

Regardless of the reasons, controlling your own project and proving to the world that your music is marketable, while making money, is very attractive. There are many successful examples of self-released artists and labels who have come before: Too Short, No Limit, Cash Money Records, Esham, Slip-N-Slide, E-40, Luke Records, 3-6 Mafia, Big Oomp, Swisha House, Lil Boosie, Webbie, Young Jeezy, and many, many others.

There is a lot of money and prestige in owning your own shit in this industry, provided you have the financing and staff to do it correctly. It isn’t rocket science, so provided you have the proper tools and determination, you can make it happen for yourself. That’s our focus: doing it correctly– meaning profitably.

I like how most of the independents are in the South and the West.

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Some of the most honest sh-t I have read about the music industry
in a long time. From the Blenders 20 Biggest Record Screw Ups of All Times:

#19 The industry kills the single?and begins its own slow demise
In the early ?80s, the music industry began to phase out vinyl singles in favor of cassettes and later, CDs. Then, since it costs the same to manufacture a CD single as a full album, they ditched the format almost altogether. But they forgot that singles were how fans got into the music-buying habit before they had enough money to spend on albums. The end result? Kids who expect music for free. ?Greed to force consumers to buy an album [resulted] in the loss of an entire generation of record consumers,? says Billboard charts expert Joel Whitburn. ?People who could only afford to buy their favorite hit of the week were told it wasn?t available as a single. Instead, they stopped going to record shops and turned their attention to illegally downloading songs.?

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I have been on a Mobb Deep twirl. In fact post break up, I have moved from
Erykah, Mary and Donny Hathaway to………..Mobb Deep.
It’s 4:23am and I am listening
to The Realest from Murder Muzik.
I guess the poetry
is so rugged and dark, its matching my “get my soul
clean” mood. Besides I haven’t listened to them for a while

and it reminds me both of Filthy and of wanting to live in NY as a teenager.

That being said, imagine my surprise to find the Mobb Deep Originals
for the songs Tip produced on The Infamous at From Da Bricks.

Q-Tip?s contributions to Mobb Deep?s seminal sophomore LP are without a shadow of a doubt some of the very best examples of his work behind the boards. Nestled in amongst the dark and grimy soundscapes created almost exclusively by Havoc, The Abstract?s three additions to The Infamous are priceless, aptly providing the listener with moments of melodic respite in the midst of a collection of songs that are otherwise deeply shrouded in the shadows of the Queensbridge housing projects. With ?Give Up The Goods (Just Step)?, ?Temperature?s Rising? and ?Drink Away The Pain (Situations)?, Tip not only provides the LP with a depth that it would otherwise have lacked but also solidifies his status as a producer who was able to effort.

BUGGED OUT.

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Boom Bap Lives.

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