Archive for the ‘Hip-Hop Editorial’ Category


It wouldn’t be complete year in Hip-Hop without a high-profile jumping. The latest spectacle came yesterday courtesy of A Boogie and PNB Rock, who paid Lil B a physical receipt yesterday at the Rolling Loud Festival for a preceived Twitter slight. Over the years, Lil B has garnered a lot of good will beyond the lyrical troll content that ignited his popularity and birthed an entire subgenre of adherents. His slang and brand has become a mainstream staple on platforms like ESPN, and rececently he’s even taken up the mantle of defending legends like Nas from slander. All that has mainfested with almost universal condemnation for the actions of A Boogie and PNB Rock, who for all intents and purposes are being viewed like Brutus and Cassius after shanking Caesar.


The thing is, this sudden condemnation of Boogie and PNB is just the latest example of the rotating goal posts that makes up what passes as Code of Ethics in Hip-Hop culture. There ia an unwritten rule against criticizing a fellow artist publically. Because there is so much money invested in mainstream artists, it can be damaging for an established artist to be critical, even with well-meaning intentions. It’s come to be framed as “hating,” especially when it concerns a veterab being critical of younger musicians. Generally, it’s expected that if you don’t have anything positive to say, keep your mouth shut or give empty praise along the lines of “so and so is doing his thing” or “he’s bringing a different sound to the game.”

We have a few high-level examples of how it can go left. The Nas-Cam’Ron beef started back in 2002 because Nas was bold enough to say on the radio that Cam’s breakout Come Home With Me album was “trash.” The entire quote goes “I like Cam, he’s a good lyricist, but the album is wack!” And from that statement we had a beef that lasted for years.

That is tame compared to these next examples. Let’s take E-40 and Biggie. Most know the main points of this confrontation. A magazine asked Biggie to grade emcees based on his personal perference. There must have been some good weed and liquor during that interview because Big was very candid about everyone (basically told KRS to GTFOH with that Teacher of Hip-Hop moniker). But 40 got the worst being ranked zero (“I don’t fuck with duke at all.”). Instead of handling it on wax like he did AZ and Rasheed Wallace (see “Record Haters“), 40 addressed it during a Biggie show in the Bay.

Biggie and his entourage were surrounded after the show by a crew of Oakland killers. Depending on who you believe, this was all set up by 40 or just local street dudes taking it upon themselves to defend 40’s rep. Peace was made on the phone, and Biggie was escorted to out of Oakland safely.

What happens when you don’t get a pass for a loose tongue? Look no further than Joe Budden’s brief feud with the Wu-Tang Clan. All that started from Budden taking umbrage with a Vibe emcee poll that ranked Method Man over him. Budden maintained that he had all the respect in the world for Meth, but that he’d destroy him on the mic (“I will chop that man’s head off his shoulders.”). Well, the Wu had other ideas. Inspectah Deck made a diss record, but Raekwon and a few goons took it further by assaulting Budden in his Rock the Bells dressing room.

We not the Britney Spears types. We’re not the Justin Timberlakes. We will whoop your fucking ass. You got niggas coming fresh out of jail looking for record deals. These are sociopathic muthafuckas.Method Man 

I could go on and on (Slowbucks vs. 50, G Unit jumping Gunplay, Dogg Pound’s “NY NY” video set being shot up, etc.), but let’s get back to Lil B. Because he’s become a fan favorite, you’re granted a certain immunity from the public against “lesser” artists. You could be dead wrong, but the general public will side with you because you’re the more known commodity. Because of his brand (the Lil B curse etc.), Lil B believed he reached a certain point where he could talk freely about anyone, even to the point of calling an artist like A Boogie, who’s just reaching his highest mainstream recognition, a knock-off of a female one-hit wonder. See below tweet:

Lil B made the cardinal mistake that many emcees have made, and some fatally — Before you publically criticize or attack someone, make sure they’re playing by the same rules you are. Like Budden, you might open your mouth thinking you’re setting up a lyircal battle, and instead end up with a swollen eye (or worse). Not everyone is here to go back and forth on records in the time-honored battle tradition. A few would rather put hands on you as Lil B find out in his hometown of all places.

As much as we love Lil B, he isn’t exempt from an ass-whooping for running his mouth. We all love to say “Keep That Same Energy” when it’s not applied to one of our favs. If you found it funny when Gunplay was getting rag-dolled by G-Unit, Tru Life punching Cam, or understood why E-40 ambushed Biggie, then save the caping narrative for Lil B. Chivalry doesn’t exist in the streets. Choose your words and actions accordingly.




There are distinct moments in Hip-Hop history where you can pinpoint the decline of an artist or a trend. From 50 Cent losing his sales battle with Kanye West a decade ago to Hammer donning a thong for the “Pumps and a Bump” video, we’ve seen our share of fall-offs and “NAH” moments in this game. Time will tell if we arrived at another such instance with today’s release of YG’s bawdy “Pop It, Shake It” video.

The clip features YG leading a hedonistic pool party filled with strippers and (IG Booking) models. This isn’t a new concept. 2 Live Crew and later a solo Luke laid the blueprint for the how to feature (exploit?) curvaceous models twerking and pussy-poppin’ to infectious bass and drums. Not much has changed nearly 30 years later.

Well, except for one key area. While it would be extremely naive to believe the video vixens of yesteryear were “all-natural,” the last decade has been focused on celebrating models with surgical augmentation that has become exceeding absurd. “Pop It, Shake It” lends itself to that trend with a lead model whose backside looks like it came straight off Frankenstein’s table.



Considering that we haven’t seen a mainstream video this blatantly explicit in years, fans have already started the comparisons to Nelly’s infamous 2003 video “Tip Drill.” While Nelly has the famous card credit swipe between the ass cheeks shot, YG equals the smuttiness with salad tossing topped with flowing champagne.


Look kids, far from me to engage in the generational wars we’ve seen on social media been young and old(er) Hip-Hop fans. But damn it, ” Tip Drill” is where I draw the line. “Pop It, Shake It” is not this “generation’s Tip Drill.” There is no “Tip Drill” of this era. That video can only be equaled by vintage Luke. Back in my day, at least our disgusting objectification of women featured strippers with competent surgeons!

But in all seriousness, the fake booty era is on the clock. It reached its apex several years ago with the popularity of the Kardashians and Nicki Minaj. Since then, women have spoken out on this unrealistic body standard as tragic cases hit the media of women dying from botched surgeries. Kendrick Lamar, despite some critical pushback, also declared his disdain for artificial body parts on “Humble.”

Fake booties will never be eradicated, much like Jay Z couldn’t completely destroy autotune with his “Death of Autotune” track. But the proverbial shark has been jumped. The immediate social media reactions show that dump trucks and inflated bubbles on stick legs are just not popping anymore. And while I don’t expect afros and Badu head wraps to start popping up in videos of this ilk, maybe we can return to a simpler time in Hip-Hop when the booty claps accompanying a misogynistic track flowed like waves and not cement.


Earlier this week, the hamster wheels were in overdrive with the news that Janet Jackson, a few months removed from the birth of her first child, was separating from her billionaire husband Wissam Al Mana. Usually, this would be a time for sadness. But in a era where online relationship discussions have become the equivalent of Spy vs. Spy, a breakup is the opportunity to analyze who gained the most out of the relationship (finessed, scammed etc.). In this case, an alleged prenup worth $500 million after five years of marriage has been cited as proof Jackson is the ultimate scammer who ruthlessly waited five years and had a baby to hit the literal jackpot.

Fortunately for us readers, the internet has a way of quickly exposing hypocrisy and blatant gender bias. T.I., whose latest soap opera chapter with estranged wife Tiny revolves around a gorgeous new side chick Bernice Burgos, hasn’t gotten the same gushing praise for his comments about how marriage no longer fits his life.

Wait, no applause for Tip’s supposed “finesse” skills? No respect for an entrepreneur that got his star girlfriend and future wife to finance his career? No hi-fives on how he got married but still had threesomes, other lovers and outside babies (allegedly)? No props for getting said wife to take a charge while he was on parole? And no kudos ultimately being wiser than most people in knowing when a relationship has run its course and trying to get out with your sanity intact?


The crux of the issue is this – many of us have not come to terms with our past hurt and disappointments with the opposite sex. Sprinkle in the celebrity worship that defines our society and you get scenarios where we see ourselves in these T.I./Tiny and Janet Jackson dramas.

Nah boo, just because you got a meal and an outfit out of a thirsty dude doesn’t mean Janet, a 50-year-old multi-millionaire and legend who’s learned firsthand that money doesn’t buy happiness, would subject herself to a five-year bid to get coins out of a sham marriage. And homie, let’s pray T.I.’s philandering is nothing like your personal life unless you live for publicly embarrassing your family.

Love can be messy. Very messy. But every celebrity mess you come across does not constitute a scam.


25 years ago, three teenage girls from Atlanta changed Hip-Hop forever. Armed with an unapologetic joy for sex, a bold and colorful sense of style and womanhood, and an infectious charm that only can come from the optimism of youth, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas blindsided a Hip-Hop industry that had increasingly marginalized women’s voices. And in turn, TLC inspired a generation of young girls and artists, an impact can still be heard today.

When TLC signed with Babyface and L.A. Reid’s LaFace Records in August 1991, a formidable task lay ahead of them. 1991 had not been a strong year from women in the Hip-Hop lane that TLC hoped to infiltrate. Queen Latifah’s Nature of a Sista and MC Lyte’s Act Like Ya Know were the only albums in ’91 that dropped from female emcees.


Raunchy lyrics were in full swing at this time, but they were usually confined to albums and not the radio. On their first single, “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg,” which also preceded the album by three months, TLC circumvented radio’s strict censorship rules with wit and lyrics that speak to the diversity and depth of women’s perspective.

So when Chilli decides to be submissive for her lover’s attention (“Cause I ain’t too proud to beg for something that I call my own“), it’s balanced by the declarations Left Eyes makes on demanding sexual satisfaction and dictating how she wants it (“Realize the realism of reality treats/ Us Both the same/ Cause satisfaction is the name of the game… Yeah I like it when you (kiss)/ Both sets of lips/ Ooh on the TLC tip.“). And in a unique twist, Left Eye’s verses gives an early example of body positivity for men in her willingness to accept her lover(s) regardless of their physical shortcomings (“2 inches or a yard rock hard or if it’s saggin’…“).

The song proved to be a perfect introduction. …On the TLC Tip dropped on February 25, boasting production from the likes of Jermaine Dupri, Marley Marl, Babyface, and writing from Left Eye and Dallas Austin. The result was a gumbo blend of Hip-Hop, R&B, funk and sprinkles of New Jack Swing’s frenetic energy.



Despite their carefree attitudes, TLC was acutely aware of the confining expectations that patriarchal society has of them. That absurdity is a constant theme in the album via the skits, starting with an intro from a white male who casually dismisses their femininity (“They don’t really look like women…“). In “Intermission II,” it’s T-Boz dealing with a lover who wants to keep her at home while he enjoys the nightlife. The commentary reaches its most serious point on “His Story,” sadly showing that not much has changed for women who seek justice after a sexual assault.

His story over mine his story will be his story
And my story is a waste of time
They’re gonna believe

His story (Yeah, yeah, yeah)
His story (Oww)
They’re gonna believe
His story
His story



Part of the TLC’s success as a group stemmed from their contrast with the multi-platinum phenomenon that was En Vogue. The four-woman ensemble (Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones and Terry Ellis) embraced the sexy diva image and possessed polished vocals that allowed each one to sing lead. They set the tone for the decade with 1990’s platinum Born to Sing, which spawned the classic single “Hold On.” As women in their late 20s and early 30s, they had a maturity to their sex appeal and presentation that TLC wisely did not try to emulate.

Instead, TLC occasionally poked fun at the glamorous diva requirements that had come to be expected of subsequent girl groups. The trio most noticeably did so in the video for “Hat 2 Da Back,” briefly donning black cocktail dresses while championing their love of baggy clothes and baseball caps (“Hat 2 da back I gotta kick my pants down real low/ That’s the kinda girl I am…“). Shots at the diva image can also been seen in the intro for “What About Your Friends.”



…On the TLC Tip proved to be one of the biggest albums of 1992. Although their style and music were rooted in Hip-Hop culture, the message of safe sex, self-love and care-free fun crossed over. The album spanned four singles and eventually went on to sell six million copies. Ironically, Hip-Hop purists were the last group to embrace the trio, likely due to gender bias and their softer presentation in the midst declining militant black nationalism and the emergence of gangsta rap in Hip-Hop. Much to the chagrin of some, the group graced the cover of The Source, back when the publication was the holy grail of Hip-Hop credibility.



Today, TLC stands alone as the best-selling girl group in music history with an estimated 65 million records sold. Their influence can be seen in everyone from pop acts like Britney Spears, to subsequent groups like Destiny Child, and those that deftly blended Hip-Hop and pop like Nicki Minaj.

But never forget the journey began in February 1992 with Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip.

RIP Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes


As if Lauryn Hill getting sentenced to three months in prison on tax evasion charges wasn’t bad enough, another legendary New Jersey Hip-Hop act is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Naughty By Nature frontman Treach announced yesterday on Twitter that he was “firing” Vinnie, aka Vin Rock, from the group for undisclosed reasons, and has now released a diss record entitled “Tall Midget.”

This song is painful on several fronts. For one, these guys have been together over 20 years and should be able to handle differences behind closed doors and not like rappers still in their early 20s. Secondly, this song is bad — the chorus, beat and verbal attacks scream pure struggle. And as someone just old enough to remember Treach’s prime years (circa 1991-1995) when he was one of the genre’s best emcees, the massive drop-off in quality leaves you speechless.

Treach probably threw this together in the last 24 hours, but it’s still amazing that no one in his camp pulled him aside to flat-out tell him how wack this track is. There are only a handful of times when a diss is so comically bad that the disser comes out looking worse than the intended target. This is one of them.

Let’s thank the Hip-Hop gods that Vinnie appears to be taking the high road and won’t be penning a lyrical response.

For the younger heads, I’m sprinkling this post with some vintage Treach in case this diss is your Naughty By Nature introduction.


Before the digital emerge, artists heavily relied on videos to push their music. For Hip-Hop, that promotional model reached its apex in the late 90s, when go to directors like Hype Williams could literally command million dollar budgets on 3-4 minute videos. The reason was a good video could not only stay in rotation for months, but it would make fans rush out to buy your music. That isn’t true today, and many emcees, especially those without major label backing, shoot simple videos almost like afterthoughts. Lil Wayne is hoping to change that with the release today of the socially conscious video “How to Love,” which his team has been lauding for weeks as a “game-changer.” The problem is that the song itself is a blatant, and not well-executed, pandering to pop audiences. Will that matter, or is the video strong enough in its message to give Tha Carter IV its final headed into next week?

The topics in the video are issues that will undoubtedly hit home for a lot of women: child molestation, unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and bad choices in men. The strongest asset of the video is the fact its a narrative that shows what shaped the protagonist’s mindset and eventual bad decisions. The video then flashes back and shows how that same character could have had a much different path with a stable family life. Aside from some nitpicking like not emphasizing the importance of a positive male/father figure in the flashback and the cheesy ending quote (“Thanks for teaching me how to love!”), it’s commendable that a rapper on Wayne’s level would offer this to mainstream audiences.

In the end, the visuals are strong enough that they enhance “How to Love’s” message, which came off much more hollow with just Wayne’s auto-tuned vocals to go by. The song isn’t going to convert most of Wayne’s hardcore Hip-Hop fans, but this song was never intended for them. Having been, however controversially, called the “greatest rapper alive” for a period in Hip-Hop around Tha Carter III, Wayne has obviously set his sights on becoming a pop star. And with “How to Love” being his second highest chart entry on Billboard (#5),  already certified platinum, and being lauded as a “great, creative song” on this very site by a 65% vote, it appears Wayne is on the right track for his pop icon goals.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

R&B star Chris Brown had a dressing room-trashing tirade following an appearance today on Good Morning America.

Brown was on hand to promote his new album F.A.M.E., which is currently #1 on iTunes and has spawned three #1 hits. Robin Roberts centered her interview around Brown’s conviction for assaulting ex-girlfriend Rihanna two years ago. The subject made Brown very agitated, and he attempted several times to refocus the interview on his new album.

According to reports, Brown quickly left the set after the interview and destroyed his dressing room, punctuating the act by hurling a chair through a window.

On Twitter, Brown complained of his past misdeed being used to define him.

“I’m so over people bringing this past shit up!!!” Brown fumed. “Yet we praise Charlie Sheen and other celebs for their bullshit! All my fans!!! This album is for you and only you!!! I’m so tired of everyone else!! Honestly!! I love team breezy!!”

More information will be posted as this story develops.


Temper, temper CB. Just when he starts making strides to get himself back to where he was a few years back, he shoots himself in the foot. Think about it. When confronted with a violent, shameful mistake from his past, he deals with it by becoming violent again.

I understand that he wants this to disappear. I can empathize to a degree with not wanting this issue to define the rest of his career. At the same time, he has to understand that viciously beating one of the most famous pop stars in music is going to resonate for some time. During that time, people are going to watch very closely how he carries it. And childish outbursts like this just gives more ammo for those who believe he’s truly learned nothing from the Rihanna ordeal.

Someone on Brown’s PR team needs to let him know that anytime he gets interviewed by a woman, the Rihanna issue is going to be mentioned for the foreseeable future. Domestic violence is something very dear to the fairer sex, and nearly all of them either have went through it personally, or know someone very close to them that’s experienced it. So aside from your music, they want to make sure this is not something still dwelling inside you. In a way, every time it’s mentioned it’s a great opportunity for Brown to reconnect and heal with the women that are still hurt by what he did.

Don’t be surprised if Breezy has another crying session on stage over this. This time, the specter of Michael Jackson won’t help him get over. Brown is still a very young man. When I look back on my early 20s there’s definitely an abundance of actions I’m not proud of. And luckily, my misdeeds did not have to play out in front of the entire world. But no matter the circumstances, you’re past never leaves you. It’ll be up to Chris Brown whether he lets the Rihanna mistake be a burden on his soul that breaks him, or an incident that strengthens his resolve and propels him to be a better man.