Diddy and Lil’ Kim Reunite for One Historic Night; Hip-Hop Icons Back Together Again for “Last Night” Remix; Track Marks Lil’ Kim’s Return to Music After Prison StintApril 28, 2007 at 2:00 am | Posted in Hip Hop News/Press Releases | Leave a comment
Diddy’s critically acclaimed Bad Boy CD, “PRESS PLAY,” has spawned its third hit single, “Last Night,” featuring R&B songstress Keyshia Cole. “The success of ‘Last Night’ has truly been a blessing,” says Diddy. “And you know I had to do a remix.”With that said, Diddy reached out to someone who could turn up the heat, none other than multi-platinum rapper and style icon, Lil’ Kim. After several years of putting their artist/producer relationship on ice, Diddy and the sexy queen of rap have reunited to make music history once again.
“We’ve always had amazing chemistry together,” says Lil’ Kim. “It was a great feeling to pick back up where we left off years ago and do it again.” The release of “Last Night” (remix) marks Lil’ Kim’s return to music following her stint in a Philadelphia prison, from which she was released in July 2006.
“It feels great to be working with Lil’ Kim again after all these years,” muses Diddy.
Never one to stop a good thing, Diddy reached out to several other big names in music to create additional remixes. Game, Busta, Rich Boy, Noreaga, and Bad Boy South/Block Enterprises Yung Joc all lent their personal flair to the record.
“I appreciate all of the people who have constantly supported the album and also appeared on the remixes,” says the rap mogul. “And a special ‘thank you’ to Keyshia Cole for blessing this track with her beautiful vocals.”
“PRESS PLAY” is the hip-hop impresario’s first solo collection in five years. The CD made a stunning debut atop the Billboard 200, marking Diddy’s return to the #1 spot after nine years. The CD has already spawned two huge hit singles — “Come To Me,” featuring Nicole Scherzinger from The Pussycat Dolls, and “Tell Me,” featuring Christina Aguilera. Diddy recently completed a sold-out European tour with Snoop Dogg.
Lil’ Kim has been spending the past year working on a book, titled “Price of Loyalty,” which is expected to be released later this year; preparing for the launch of her clothing line, 24-7-Star; as well as helping those in need through ongoing programs via her non-profit organization, Lil’ Kim Cares.
New breaking rap star and New Orleans native Baby Boy Da Prince won the 19th annual Big Easy Entertainment Awards for “Best Rap/Hip Hop Artist” at this week’s awards ceremony in his hometown. Baby Boy Da Prince beat out Lil Wayne and Lil Boosie in this category. Baby Boy Da Prince witnessed firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, losing his home and all of his belongings in the wake of the travesty. He went on to live in a FEMA trailer where he wrote his entire album. His hot first single, “The Way I Live,” was rated one of the top 10 downloads in both Spin and Blender magazines. It reached Top 10 at Rhythmic Radio and has sold more than 500 thousand ringtones (Top 10 on Billboard’s Hot RingMasters chart) “The Way I Live” is the #2 selling ringtone on Universal Music Group (2nd to Akon) and is certified gold. In addition to this, “The Way I live” is one of the top 10 hip hop songs on Itunes for the past 5 weeks (currently #6) and the video has been viewed over 2 million times on Youtube.
Across The Water is a testament to the revival of New Orleans and the people who live there. Baby Boy Da Prince named his CD Across the Water for two reasons: 1) When Hurricane Katrina hit he swam across the water to save himself and 2) Most rappers in New Orleans come from the East Bank across the Mississippi River, Baby Boy comes from the West Bank.
The top 5 artist on Myspace (8 million + total plays), Baby Boy Da Prince, recently shot a new video for his second single, “Naw Meen” which features and was produced by Mannie Fresh. He is currently doing spot dates across the country with Jeezy and he just filmed a performance for Nick Cannon’s “Wild ‘N Out.”
Celebrating its 5th year, the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival will take place August 8-11, 2007. As always, this film festival continues to honor and support aspiring African American filmmakers and their achievements.
Only 7 miles off the Massachusetts coastline, the location and rich history of the island provides the perfect place for the premiere African American festival. This four day event will highlight “The Future Of African American Filmmakers And The Issues We Continue To Face.” Festival goers can expect to walk away with a valuable experience that they will never forget. What makes this festival so exceptional is that it caters to an upscale, mature audience who truly appreciates quality entertainment and fine cinema. Festival goers will have the opportunity to visit the art expo, participate in actor workshops and attend discussions with filmmakers that will delve into the best ways to get started in this extremely competitive industry. Additionally, they can attend the Directors Chat, Q&A sessions and a host of other activities that promise to be thought provoking yet entertaining.
Not only is Martha’s Vineyard the host of the premiere African American film festival, but there are wonderful sightseeing opportunities that attendees can take advantage of as well. From the Gay Head Cliffs, that provide a beautiful view of the western horizon to Cottage City, known for its gingerbread houses, the island offers a “getaway in the midst of a getaway”. MVAAFF showcased over 30 films last year and will showcase even more this year. In addition to screening newly discovered films, attendees can enjoy the history of the Island’s African Diaspora experience, which has contributed significantly to the overall stability of the island.
Attendees can obtain all information by visiting the festival’s website: http://www.mvaaff.com/
About the Festival Founders Stephanie T. Rance has been in the forefront of the entertainment industry for over ten years. She started her career at EMI Records in the A&R Department working with such acts as Frank Sinatra, Prince, Jon Secada and Arrested Development. Rance later enjoyed a successful stint at Code magazine where she oversaw all the marketing and event aspects of the magazine. Once Code folded, Rance started her own events/pr company called Crescendo Entertainment, whose clients have included Martell Cognac, HBO, Biz Markie and a host of others.
Floyd A. B. Rance III has been on the front lines of several award winning feature films, music videos, commercials and episodic television. He recently produced and directed several commercials through his company, Run and Shoot Filmworks, Inc. for clients such as Foot Action, Spalding, Reebok, Nike and NBC Sports.
In its fourth season, BET’s COLLEGE HILL franchise has again made network history, outperforming its previous week’s record-setting ratings performance. Last week, COLLEGE HILL 4 Episode Eight became the most-watched original series telecast in BET History with a 1.7 rating. Tuesday night, COLLEGE HILL 4’s Episode Nine broke that record by a margin of 8% with its premiere of a 1.84 rating, averaging 2.2 million viewers, 1.8 million households according to Nielsen Media Research. Additionally, COLLEGE HILL 4’s Episode Nine premiere was up an impressive 96% (.94 rating vs. 1.84 rating) over last year’s episode nine premiere. Produced by Edmonds Entertainment and BET, COLLEGE HILL 4 is currently Cable’s #1 returning Original Series of 2007 among Black households (7.4 Blk US Rtg).
Ratings for the fourth season of COLLEGE HILL started off strong with the special one-hour premiere earning an impressive 1.4 BET coverage rating during the 10 p.m. ET/PT debut hour on Tuesday, March 6 and Episode Three garnering a 1.42 BET coverage rating on Tuesday, March 13, according to Nielsen Media Research. Since then the weekly numbers have increased dramatically, with this week’s episode up 29% from the season’s average of 1.43 and making history as the #1 April telecast in BET History.
In Episode Nine of COLLEGE HILL 4, the after-effects of the stiletto conflict were still felt throughout the cast as Vanessa was ultimately asked to leave their luxe Virgin Island digs. Viewers can watch as the drama unfolds every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT on BET.
Listen to the interview on Hard Knock Radio on this stream here..We will have the Breakdown FM podcast later on today..http://www.kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=19554
(Interview starts 7:25 minutes into stream)
Be Warned Snitching Is Big Business
by Davey DThis past Sunday night
Harlem based rap star Cam’ron appeared on the news investigative show 60 Minutes to talk about the ‘Stop Snitching‘ ethos that exists throughout inner city communities. He definitely came off looking bad as he allowed reporter Anderson Cooper to ask him a number of set up questions including; whether or not Killa Cam was a millionaire and whether or not he drove a Lamborghini.A smirking Cam admitted ‘yes’ to both questions. He then went on to admitting how he would not turn in a serial killer even if he lived next door. Cam said he would move but not turn the killer in. Armed with this information and a few excerpts about Busta Rhymes‘ refusal to cooperate with police in the aftermath of allegedly witnessing his good friend and bodyguard Isreal Ramirez being killed earlier this year, Hip Hop came off looking pretty bad. Absent from this interview with
Cam was a historical or political analysis behind the ‘Stop Snitching’ ethos.We didn’t get a run down about how informants/ snitches in the form of ‘house niggas’ were the ones who doomed numerous slave revolts including the one lead by Nat Turner. We didn’t hear about government programs like Cointel-pro where Civil Rights and Black liberation fighters and organizations ranging from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X and from the Black Panthers on down to SNCC (Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee) were brought down and undermined thanks to snitches (government informants).
Cooper and the 60 Minutes crew interviewed NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and somehow forgot to ask him about the ‘No Snitching’ ethos that exists within the police department. We didn’t hear about the infamous Blue Wall of silence. Nor did we hear about the unsavory practices used by police to get confessions and flip informants. Torture, Blackmail and other manipulations are commonplace. Also we didn’t hear about the No Snitching ethos that seems to be practiced by our very secretive Vice President Dick Cheney and Presidential aid Karl Rove. We can talk about the lack of snitching around important issues like the War in Iraq, the firing of Federal Judges. Hell let’s look at 9-11. Also we shouldn’t forget how Cheney went into Stop Snitching mode after he shot his homeboy in the face. The Cheney bunch are the epitome of ‘Stop Snitching’ . They hold that position much harder then Cam’ron or any other rapper. And yeah try getting too deep into some of these guy’s illegal business and you might wind up missing like anyone else.During the 60 Minutes interview we heard conversation about how big corporations profit off of rappers like Cam rapping about people to ‘Stop Snitching’. They mention his
Cam’s record label Asylum but they never named the executives. They never mentioned the label being founded by David Geffen who is Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s biggest supporter. Nor did they mention it currently being headed by former Def Jam CEO and now Warner Music Group head Lyor Cohen.The relevance here is that anyone who works in the music industry knows there’s a serious ‘No Snitching’ policy especially when it comes to talking about how records get on the air. Yes we all know about payola but few of us know who the key players are and how they interact with the music industry. Just as some of those details were about to come out, we saw these big corporations settle. Hence when we have rappers talking about Stop Snitching it’s important to know the entire backdrop. When Killa Cam gets on TV and talks about he’s a millionaire who drives a couple of Lamborghinis, its important to know he’s in the company and may have even gotten encouragement from some very powerful men who are ‘Stop Snitching’ practitioners that write him million dollar checks and probably drive Lamorghinis themselves. The difference between them and
Cam is that they refused to show up on 60 Minutes and offer comment. They probably consider it snitching to go on national TV and even admit to the practice. Maybe they should’ve given Cam the memo.
The other glaring manipulation was when Cooper and 60 Minutes talked about Lil Kim having a reality Show after she was convicted of perjury. She got praised for ‘not snitching’. The Lil Kim show nettted BET one of its highest ratings in history.
Like Cam talk of Lil Kim’s show was done in such a way as to make Hip Hop look not only bad but also as the sole culprit of this practice. Cooper and 60 Minutes castigated BET (Black Entertainment Television) for putting on the show but somehow stop short of mentioning Viacom as being the parent company or Sumner Redstone being its head. They made it sound like BET was all by itself, when in fact it was part of bigger machine that not only profited handsomely from the Lil Kim Reality show, but from what I was told had people outside of BET helping make this show popular.
Lastly Cooper and 60 Minutes didn’t talk about how snitching via government informants is a multi-billion dollar a year UNREGULATED industry for law enforcement. Lots of money and resources are spent keeping ’snitches’ on payroll. We also didn’t hear about the fact that within the African American community an estimated 1 out 12 people are used as police informants (snitches). Hence this argument about the police not having people willing to come forward is a bit misleading.
In this interview, we sat down with KC Carter who heads up Hip Hop Against Police Violence out in East Texas. We met up at a ‘Stop Snitching’ Conference in Atlanta last month that was put on by the ACLU. We had in attendance more than 100 people which included Hip Hop artists, professors, lawyers and police officers. We had victims of aggressive police and FBI stings which were set up by questionable informants. In this interview we spoke about was the high percentage of people who are routinely railroaded through the courts via snitches and the types of illegal tactics used to get confessions.We also talked about how informants are used to indict large numbers of people in small out of the way towns with law enforcement using these arrests as a way to obtain funding by showing high conviction and arrest rates.We also talked about how certain groups and individuals who are willing to speak out against the police or powerful people may find themselves victim to snitching tactics. KC Carter gives a run down of how the Geto Boys and Rap-A-Lot Records found themselves under the gun, especially after it was discovered that the Geto Boys were spending hundreds of thousand of dollars to pay for legal resources to try and few people who they feel were railroaded into Texas jails. KC talked about how informants were flooded into the 5th Ward in an attempt to bring down J Prince of Rap-A-Lot records and that law enforcement went so far as to try and get Scarface to become a snitch.
Yes indeed Snitching is big business in more ways than you can possible know. Its just a shame that 60 Minutes got Cam’ron to talk about such a serious issue, cause from what they showed, he definitely didn’t break it down the way he should’ve. Well don’t fret ’cause we break the whole thing down in this eye opening interview on Hard Knock Radio
A Brief Overview of the Anti-Snitch Conference in
by Alan BeanAs promised, here’s a guest post from Rev. Alan Bean of Tulia Friends of Justice describing an invitation only gathering of activists in Atlanta, GA sponsored by the ACLU discussing snitching abuses by law enforcement. Pictured at right is forum participant Alexandra Natapoff, a law professor at Loyola (CA) who is perhaps my favorite legal thinker on the subject.The ACLU’s Drug Law Reform Project called their Atlanta roundtable event, “Undercover, Unreliable and Unaddressed: Reconsidering the Use of Informants in Drug Law Enforcement.” The invitation-only gathering was a kind of testing-the-waters experiment bringing together a representative sample of academics, media people, grassroots organizers, Hip Hop artists, and people who have been personally violated by dishonest informants.“Law is just one piece of the puzzle,” Loyola law professor Alexandra Natapoff told us, “what needs to be changed is social tolerance for unfair practices.”
This statement was reinforced by Anjuli Verma’s insightful report on a series of focus groups conducted in
Texas earlier this year by a high-profile research organization. If the broad cross section of people questioned in this small study is anything to go by (and I suspect it is) Mainstream America isn’t too worried about the criminal justice system in general or the abuse of informant “snitch” testimony in particular. It is generally assumed that appropriate checks and balances are in play and that most “snitches” are small fish used to catch big fish.
None of this is true, of course. In the drug war, most informants are relatively big fish ratting on their small fish associates, girl friends and family members. Ed Burns, an ex-cop and school teacher who now produces HBO’s inner city drama The Wire, remarked that “there are very strict rules about using informants and they are broken 99% of the time.” Dr. Natapoff cited a report by the California ACLU suggesting that most police departments in the Golden State have no policies to violate.
My impressions of the Atlanta gathering were primarily shaped by a one-hour break out session in which ten Type-A Alpha males told each other what it was all about. While our soft spoken moderator, Graham Boyd, tried to steer us back to the informant issue, we insisted on talking about what I call “the prison problem”.
Jack Cole, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, laid out the familiar but shocking facts. Most Western democracies have incarceration rates in the 100-200 per 100,000 people range. In America , by contrast, 717 of every 100,000 white males are currently behind bars-and that’s just the white guys. At the depths of Apartheid hell in South Africa , 851 black males were incarcerated. In America , 4,919 black males per 100,000 are currently behind bars.
The question was why?
Black participants wanted to talk about “white supremacy” and “white hegemony”. Marc Lamont Hill, professor of Urban Education and American Studies at Temple University with a machine-gun, rat-a-tat speaking style, put it bluntly: “I don’t want to assume that the law could be anything but malevolent [toward black defendants] given the influence of white supremacy. All the spaces that were open at one time are being controlled. In the hood, there are police officers on every single corner.”
Jack Cole, a retired police officer, blamed it on drug prohibition: “We spend so much money on the war on drugs, we don’t have any money to help people.”
The Wire producer Ed Burns acknowledged the relevance of racism and the drug war but was inclined to blame mass incarceration on the loss of manufacturing jobs. “When the jobs disappear, the drugs come,” he said. “We are doing all of this because there are no jobs.”
In other words, the Atlanta gathering brought together bold, well-informed people with strong opinions. That’s what it was designed to do, and the differences in perspective were as invigorating as they were enlightening. However, as the DLRP’s focus groups and Bill Cosby’s well-publicized rants suggest, there is a wide slice of black America (the people who have benefited the most from the Civil Rights Movement) who currently have no particular problem with the drug war, mandatory minimum sentences or the abuse of informant testimony. These people are concerned about the mass incarceration of black males, but there is a tendency to shrug and say, “You do the crime, you do the time.”
If reformers want to change the minds and hearts of Middle America we need black reformers to frame and deliver the message to a black, middle class audience. If we can’t convince Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey we don’t have a prayer with the white mainstream.
As I suggested in my PowerPoint presentation, we need to discover and publicize an avalanche of Tulia-style criminal justice horror stories. The recent exoneration of Ann Colomb and her three sons after they had been convicted on the basis of perjured inmate informant testimony is a story still waiting to be told. Financing a massive and coordinated story-telling coalition (supposing we can find the resolve to work together) will require millions of dollars in funding-and that will mean converting a long list of high profile people to our reform gospel.
There was a widespread consensus at the Atlanta gathering that we need to change the national narrative-a daunting task, to be sure. As Ed Burns put it, “When you’re going up against mythology you’re swatting smoke. Where does the responsibility for changing all of this begin?”
And we are going up against mythology; in particular, the well-entrenched myth that efforts to help poor people create nothing but dependency and a false sense of entitlement. It is widely believed that locking up the poor, the drug addicted, the mentally ill and the ignorant will somehow teach them a lesson. And even if there is no deterrent effect, mainstream America believes that mass incarceration makes the streets safer.
As professor Natapoff suggests, the America mainstream tolerates unfair practices so long as they are believed to enhance public safety. Until we can change that impression we will get nowhere.
The Atlanta gathering probably raised more questions than it answered-but that was what it was designed to do. A follow-up gathering is needed-and soon. This time I would like to hear Alexandra Natapoff, Ed Burns and at least one black representative from the Civil Rights and Hip Hop generations lay out their visions for the way ahead in hour-long presentations followed by vigorous small group discussions. As Dr. Natapoff told us in
Atlanta , “This is just the beginning of the debate.”
– Alan Bean
With three successful mixtapes and three chart-topping singles under his belt, and his full-length debut album on the way, Belly is ready. His debut double CD, entitled THE REVOLUTION, is set for international release on CP Records in June of 2007. Belly recruited many of hip-hop and R&B’s finest to work alongside him on THE REVOLUTION. Features on the album include Fabolous, the legendary Scarface, Kurupt, Nina Sky, Ginuwine (on the first single, “Pressure,” already Top 10 in Canada), Mario Winans and labelmates Massari and the princess of CP, Monique. Production was deftly handled by Beat Merchant. Da Heala, Lynxx, Whosane? and Bacardy also contributed their talents to this classic. A prolific writer, the double CD format allowed Belly to express himself as a complete person. “The People” CD tackles songs about politics, poverty, sex and the street life, no holds barred. I had a chance to sit down and talk to Belly, just click on the link below to hear the conversation.
West Coast lyrical great Kurupt and his newest partner in musical crime J. Wells are no strangers to a group situation. Kurupt, best known as one-half of the multi-platinum rap group Tha Dogg Pound teams with artist/producer J. Wells, a member of LA’s legendary Likwit crew (King Tee, Tha Alkaholiks, others) for their debut effort “Digital Smoke”. In stores June 5, “Digital Smoke” pays homage to Kurupt and J. Wells’ beloved city of Los Angeles with special guest appearances by Goodie Mob, Tha Alkaholiks, Kokane, Roscoe, James DeBarge and Kurupt’s fiancée, Gail Gotti.
“This is a different flavor,” Kurupt says. “This is along the lines of what J. Wells is doing and we’re letting people know that this generation of West Coast is coming with that fire.” That fire has been set ablaze with their horn-propelled lead single “All We Smoke”. J. Wells, in particular, uses the song as a way to explain his rap heritage. “I’m talking about how I came in the game and about cats that influenced me, like DJ Quik, like Battlecat, Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound and N.W.A,” J. Wells explains. “I talk about my addition to the West Coast and to hip-hop, period. Kurupt is on there spitting, killing it.”
Tracklisting and credits for Kurupt & J Wells Digital Smoke:
2.) All We Smoke
3.) I’m Just Sayin f/Roscoe & Tri-Star
4.) Get It f/Goodie Mob & Roscoe
5.) I’m Too Gangsta f/Gail Gotti & Styliztik Jones
6.) Summertime f/Y.A., Gail Gotti & Nire’
7.) Digital Experience f/Bigg Gipp of Goodie Mobb
8.) Smokin f/ Y.A. & James Debarge
9.) History f/ Butch Cassidy
10.) Weed Types
11.) Los Angeles f/ Samuel “Shawty” Christian
12.) Itz Nothin f/ Roscoe
13.) Got Me Going f/ Knoc-turn’al
14.) I Came In The Door f/ Kokane
15.) Likwit Smokestra
16.) Let Em Know f/ Tha Liks
Produced By: J. Wells
The LP’s lead-single, “All We Smoke,” is available for download on iTunes and will have an accompanied video in May. Make sure to visit the group’s website and myspace, listed below.
When did Cam’ron become the spokesperson for Hip-Hop? Did anyone forget to call Jay-Z or Talib Kweli? It wasn’t enough that Oprah and her guests, who included Stanley Crouch, Jason Whitlock and female students from Spellman College, tear a hole in the Hip-Hop panel of Russell Simmons (Sounded like a bafoon all the way through), Dr. Ben Chavis (Who should change from Dr. to Rev. with his preaching), Kevin Liles (Who cares about your rise from intern to President? That’s not the issue) and Common (Even he had his misses).
Now, 60 Minutes did a profile on the “Stop Snitching” epidemic which has been custom in inner-city neighborhoods for decades, but has exploded in recent years with it’s commercialization thru song and clothing. Who did 60 Minutes look for to talk about “Stop Snitching?” None other than the “Albert Einstein” of Hip-Hop, Cam’ron. Whatever happened to publicists? I guess Jim Jones is preparing Killa for interviews.
If you thought there’s a witch hunt against Hip-Hop, you’re probably right. But in defense of the so-called art and “poets”, like Russ would say, are a bunch of fools. The worst legal defense team you can have. I haven’t seen one well-articulated argument from someone in the Hip-Hop game. It’s always the same nonsense. “We ain’t calling everyone hoe’s.” “This is how we grew up man.” If that’s how you grew up, express it. But, once you get out of that life talk about the life your living now. Show growth! Trust me, I’m a fan. I listen to the music. All the way from 50 to Lupe. Different ends of the spectrum and all. But, as much as I’m getting tired of hearing wack music in general, I’m getting even more exhausted of watching little kids from Harlem like the ones on the show last night sounding as ignorant as the rappers. All 5 of them said they’ve been witnesses to crime but didn’t report a thing. Granted, our relations with 5-0 ain’t healthy (I.E. Sean Bell, Cincinnati, Rodney, Louima) but we are letting criminals run rampant in our community without worry. You know what I call this? Selfishness. Our community is selfish as hell. We don’t share with each other. We don’t come together as people. But we share bullets with each other that’s for sure. We trade insults with each other. We step on one another and hate when someone else is trying to make moves. Fact or Fiction? We don’t need ESPN to answer that one.
Back to the issue at hand. So Cam, your telling me that if Jay sent someone and tied up mom dukes in a
Brooklyn basement, you wouldn’t snitch on Hov? You’d leave Mommy Cammy there to die? You’d turn into your worst enemy, Curtis and go straight to the police “like you should.” $$$ signs have taken over ethics and morals. Your code of ethics is not only harmful to yourself but to our community. Thugs like Busta Rhymes should be thrown in jail not just for their numerous offenses, but for the fact that 25 witnesses said he was right next to the killing of Israel Ramirez and saw the shooter but refuses to cooperate with the Police. Ramirez’ family will never get their husband and father back, but don’t you think it’d be nice if they atleast found out who did this horrible crime? Don’t you think a life takes more importance than a career? Not to Hip-Hop acts. Selfish my friends.
In final, Is this what Malcolm and Martin fought for? Didn’t they fight to end ignorance? I believe they did. Problem is, the voices of our community are now rappers who are unraveling all their work and sooner or later we’ll be saying “Martin and Malcolm Who?”
Wednesday, 25 April 2007
The authenticity and street credibility of a rapper can oftentimes be used to jump start their career before then they can even record an album. How many times have you heard about a rapper’s war stories before you’ve even listened to their music? Does it really matter how many ki’s a rapper sold or how many bodies they’ve caught? Well, if they’re rapping about all these things, then I guess it does. In any case, Saigon has been a name that’s been buzzing in barbershops, street corners, and online all-alike for the last several years. The Yardfather has been busy in the lab cooking up his
Knock’s debut album, “Greatest Story Never Told” with Jus Blaze, Abandoned Nation, and Hip-Hop Since 1978. Though he is a product of the street, Saigon is not just another rapper talking that gangsta shit, “You got people that advocate it and glamorize it when they only show ‘em one side of it. They show the crip walk and the flag hangin’ out, but they don’t show the dead nigga layin in the casket, why don’t you show em that part. Show em’ the harsh realities of this lifestyle,” Saigon explains the problems with exploiting street life on wax.
When are we going to hear the album, it feels New York has been waiting a lifetime for The Greatest Story Never Told?
Saigon: I’m guaranteeing the best Hip-Hop album in the last 20 years. Guaranteed to change the game, but it’s gonna do more then change the game, it’s going to change life; the state of life for a lot of people in America because it’s the unadulterated truth. I mean like actual truth, the things people think about everyday, hear about, but don’t wanna say because they scared of the repercussions or what’s going to happen. It’s the same things I been spitting but it’s me a lil bit more advanced. Jus Blaze and Kanye pretty much did my whole album, so you can imagine what the production is like and I know how to pick beats. I got the best outta of Jus and Kanye and… Greatest Story Never Told, July 31st.
Is this album going to be different from what is being released in Hip-Hop today or from at least what is being forced on to the public ?
Saigon: I’m not even into Hip-Hop right now, I don’t wanna be subliminally influenced by nothing because I’m in my zone, so I’m not listening to any rap right now. I haven’t heard anything out there that inspires me. I will say that there’s not been an album in the past 20 years that is going to better then mine. My shit is better then Illmatic.
Damn, 20 years that’s a pretty confident statement. You know Illmatic got 5 mics, right?
Saigon: Yall gonna have to give me another mic, 5 and ½ mics or something.
Why though, what’s Saigon bringing that’s not already been heard. You’ve always been known to be on some like “educated thug shit”.
Saigon: My shit ain’t even educated thug shit. It’s so beyond that. My shit is like… I feel like a politician that’s running for office…( Source VP. Julie Als walks by) Oh My God, stop distracting me Julie (laughs). Yea , you know I just think because the content of the music, the timing now with all the diamonds and bullshit in rap. It’s getting repetitious, it’s not important no more. We know if you sold a few million records you can afford a diamond that’s not a secret. If you still talking about “ look I got ice” 3 albums in. You shouldn’t be allowed to make another fuckin record unless you come up with something new to talk about. There should be a committee; matter of fact The Source should start a committee to where yall bash anybody who talks about the same thing that they talked about for three, four years. This shit is artistic, that’s like a person drawing the same picture over and over again, trying to impress you. “Look son, you showed me that picture last time”, you’re not an artist if you can’t come up with new ideas. Creativity is lacking, really the record companies and radio got a lot to do with it because everybody is trying to make a radio hit. One thing I didn’t do is try to make a “radio hit”, I didn’t try to make radio songs. You see the 1st song I leaked and that was not a single. I put out “Pain In My Life” on my own.
With that also what do you think of the comparisons and similarities of Ludacris’s verses from Runaway Love with Mary? Do you feel like it took some of shine away from your joint.
Saigon: Yea, yea I feel like it did. I’m not insinuating Ludacris stole my shit, but we met for the 1st time in August when my record was out and his wasn’t, and he told me that he loved my record and he didn’t mention about the one he had. He didn’t say “ yo I got one just like it”. He didn’t say nothing. See what I’m sayin and my record goes “ Young Felcia was only four when she learned how to ride a bike…”, his record goes “Little Erica is only five years old, she trying…”. Come on doggy, I call a spade, a spade something smells fishy. (laughs) and you know what’s funny I’m glad that he came out with it because it gave my me power at my label. My label didn’t want to put a dime behind my record. They were like “ you can’t dance to this in the club”. Every fuckin record doesn’t have to be club song.
Records that used to get played in clubs weren’t “club songs”,
Saigon: Exactly, they usually have the same tempo or catch phrase that everyone can sing along too, and make people buy into it and the label didn’t understand my record. Then they saw
Luda’s do well in radio and win a grammy and perform. That gave me a little bit more leeway. Then came the bbbut,bbb,bbbut, the stutterings. Bbbut that’s Ludacris, so what muthafucka. I’m Saigon, I’m not Ludacris but there was point in his career, when he was at my stage. The labels are followers, they don’t wanna develop artists anymore, spend time. They wanna cut and paste what is already out, just copy.
How has Jus-Fort Knoxx and Hip-Hop Since 1978 been supported you in giving you the artistic freedom to make music however way you feel?
Saigon: It’s like you gotta find a happy medium, you gotta find a way to where everybody is happy because if the label is not happy their not going to spend the marketing dollars that you need, if they don’t believe in your shit, there’s no way you’re going to get that extra push that you need. That’s kind a of why it took so long with my project, it was finding that happy medium to where everybody was happy. “Ok, we can finally agree of this, they gonna put up the money up that I need, and I don’t feel like I’m compromising my sound and what I’m about and we met in the middle. Jus Blaze is a genius man, I gotta give him so much credit. I think this album is gonna put him up there with the Dre’s and all them. Everybody knows he can make dope beats but nobody ever seen what he can do with one artist.
True, you mean like actually sitting down with the artist and coming up with concepts…
Saigon: Yea, not just giving a dude a beat being like there go make a song. My album don’t stop from when you turn it on to the end there’s no space. It all flows together. It’s like reading a book that’s why I called it Greatest Story Never Told. Each song is like a chapter, imagine reading a book and chapter 3 had nothing to do with chapter 2, it wouldn’t make sense. It might be a good chapter but you like “damn that had nothing to do with what the fuck you were just talking about.”
So can people who can’t relate to your story or who are from a different environment relate to your music?
Saigon: My shit is for everybody because I don’t glamorize the street. Why try to glamorize something when their nothing glamorize about it. Anybody that’s really in the street know that’s something that you’re trying your hardest to get the fuck out of, anybody who really came up out of the hood hard knows. You might say that shit once, but there’s no need to keep emphasizing it.
Especially now from the majority of the music, there’s a real twisted picture about what it’s like in New York hand to hand sales, crowded blocks with fiends, doesn’t really go on like it used to.
Saigon: If you even still thinking about the crack game man… hell no. That’s why a lot of down South artists that even talk about that shit now, regardless of whether they gonna like me for saying this or not they were always years behind us because my family is from the South. When I would go down South and I had on some new sneakers muthafuckas would think I was from the future, son. “ Oh my god, where did you get these from??”Man, I copped these shits on the corner ( laughs) even with the music. I’d come down there with the new Rakim tape, same reaction. Anybody that had fam. Down South knows what I mean, growing up in the 80’s going down there. Now, it’s reversed they got their own style with the grills, all that.
Word, have you been Down South in minute, how’s love you get from there?
Saigon: I always go down south and always get a lot of love, mad love. One thing, real recognize real, man. Not to sound cliché, but I just mean genuine people can tell who else is genuine. I don’t have no hate or animosity in my heart for nobody at all. Unless, you do something to me that’s the only way I would have that ill feeling toward anybody. Nowadays in Hip-Hop we built to tear each other down, we see another person come up we like fuck that I gotta bring him down. Look at the all “rap beef” we have going on now. To me that only markets and promotes the idea that black people don’t have no unity at any level. When we in the hood, we got excuses “nigga I’m broke, starving.” These are millionaires that still feel like they gotta go at each other throats.
What about the argument when rapper’s claim that they are just telling a story?
Saigon: We know that story, you not telling us something that we don’t know, so who is your music targeted too. You can’t preach to the choir, you preaching to the choir by saying “yo it’s fucked up in the hood”, who don’t know that. These dudes emphasize it, and they tell themselves this is what’s good and what’s selling right now. The label’s don’t want us to start thinking, they don’t want us to get smart because they make money off our ignorance the more ignorant we seem the more money they make.
They say “ignorance is bliss”, well if that’s true, then bliss may equal to a generation of young people lost in their own quest of money and jewels. The irony of the situation is that Hip-Hop started as a voice for the people but was lost when the culture started generating billions of dollars and the corporate take over began. “Artists that are really about something, they don’t get the same push as a negative person that’s pushing poison gets, not even half,” voiced Saigon on his views of many record company’s harmful practices. The beauty of Saigon’s pending success and longevity is that it won’t matter how many records he sells in his first week, or how many singles he gets. Saigon is one of last to represent a breed of emcee’s that were gangsta before they ever rapped guns or drugs on records. “Greatest Story Never Told” like I said if it ain’t the best album that you ever heard. You see me in the street and I will personally refund your money,” in true boss form, Sai-Giddy makes tgem an offer they can’t refuse.
Whoa what’s up Source.com members and visitors, it’s your boy JawZ, just ranting and raving for the moment. So please while reading this entry, bare with me, as always, I strive to empower you in a reading and maybe get a few laughs in at the same time.
Let’s discuss what I think is very important to us in this hip hop community man. Today we should get on the subject of literature (no not that crap your English teacher forces you to read) because the older I get, the more I find that by continuously indulging in reading materials, I learn more and unlock doors to mysteries that I would’ve never ever solved (that’s a metaphor, lol). I noticed while searching through another site and googling books, that recently hip hop is not only making money from, cd’s, dvds and new media advances (new media actually is a new division in a lot of record companies, so go to college major in info systems and rape the market, or just holla at Big Ced hehe), but hip hop is also increasingly collecting royalties from book publishing. That’s great.
I’ll try to explain that last line, for example, I read this book a few months back by Hill Harper (CSI: New York, He got game, etc.) called “Letters to a Young Brother”: MANifest Your Destiny, which was written to act as a sort of manual to becoming a successful and morally correct minority youth in America. Hill wrote the book in an easy to read, “let me talk to you” manner, and he even used Nas as one of his contributors in the book at the end of a chapter to answer a question asked by a kid whom Hill was mentoring. Once I read that Nas was “Industry Cosigning” this book, that gave me all the more push to go out and buy it. That’s just one example of how the book industry is now using hip hop to boost sales. So rather you’re an inspiring MC, “hip hop head”, “backpacker” or whatever hip hop term may suit you, if you read more and put energy towards an idea you have that concerns/contains hip hop and something else that you’re passionate about, then man, you could have a best seller on your hands.
Something else gave me the inspiration to write this entry, Friday, while reading the newspaper, I learned of how much money U.S Senator Barrack Obama earned in 2006, he made almost a million bucks because of royalties from his best seller “The Audacity of Hope”. Just think of how much money that people like George Orwell, Judy Blume or some of my other childhood favorite authors have made from their books. Plus writing a book could make your lyrics 10 times as nicest as the next rapper because you’ll obviously have a wider vocabulary than that guy and could convey your message to a much larger audience.
I’m informing the readers of this site about reading books and so forth in such a manner because I know that in the world of hip hop, we are motivated by passion and money, just like in any genre of music or career field. I could give a damn if a kid likes reading or not for the enjoyment he gets from it, but if he gives it a shot because money may be a motivating factor then hey, I know that kid may one day pick up a book that could possibly change his life and maybe a trend would start in the hip hop and black community that would involve kids reading and sharing books. Knowledge is power right? Maybe we should start getting rappers to write books for every album that comes out. Don’t steal my idea either, if you do pay me (lol).
P.S. Check out Kevin Liles’ (former President of Def Jam, now V.P of Warner Bros.) book as well it was very good, plus I heard LL Cool J’s workout is the real deal.
And I’m out.