Saigon – Free Tru Life

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Raekwon 68,000 first week sales


Congradulations Rae

check them out here Hip Hop Sales Week 13/9/09

Published in: on September 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment’s take on the Kanye West Incident

By illseed


All content within this section is pure rumor and generally have no factual info outside of what the streets have whispered in our ear. Read on.


I am happy to see Kanye West get up on the Jay Leno show and let himself open up. BUT…


Now, we see Kanye West looking all-sympathetic after being a monster. Jay Leno gets him to almost cry at the mere mention of his mother and a huge ratings boost. AND, Taylor Swift is redeemed. Sales go up. Beyonce looks like a saint, mo’ money! Now, here is what somebody emailed me. I didn’t edit this at all.

My now ex-boyfriend is a producer over at MTV and he told me that they were going to create another spoof for this next award show. Movie awards was Eminem and Bruno, this time…Kanye and Taylor Swift.

Let’s dissect the VMA:

1. Kanye did this at the beginning of the show during the first award nomination. MTV planned this to keep us glued to their network.

2. Right after the incident Rhapsody aired a commercial stating,”we listen to jay z, we listen to Pink but right now is Taylor’s moment.”

3. There are 3 winners at the VMA…Beyonce, T.Swift and Kanye.

Kanye is gaining so much publicity(bad publicity is good publicity) from this stunt. His fans doesn’t care if he dissed a country singer, they will still buy his next album.

4. Beyonce saves the day and dedicates her award to the young singer. You think B really cares about a VMA at this point in her career…NO.

5.Taylors album sales will get a significant boost because people feel sorry for her.

6.If MTV really was embarrassed by the stunt, they would not have re-aired it on the rerun episode of the awards or posted it on their website.

I feel that this information is necessary because we can’t allow the media to blind us and think we are stupid. And the sad thing is they are using our talented Hip Hop artists to do the dirty work. Corporations such as Viacom(own MTV, BET,VH1,Comedy Central-Dave Chapelle show) are exploiting our people and our music. Its sad that Kanye cosigned to do this spoof and he should apologize to Hip Hop not just Taylor. All MTV cares about is “Advertisment Dollars.”


Some folks are crying foul suggesting that there were a lot of subliminal messages being tossed out there in at the awards. There were all sorts of lil signs being thrown out there. Then there was Lady GaGa’s crazy ass get ups and messages. Then there was Jack Black’s nutso devil worship session that people actually started to PRAY TO THE DEVIL! What the HELL!? No pun intended, but that was a bit much. There were other lil’ things, but I would rather not say.

Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Grown Man Rap – Only Built for Cuban Linx 2 Review

Only Built for Cuban Linx 2

Ok I’m not even going to pretend that I’m trying to do an impartial review on this as I am a die hard Wu-Tang  fanatic and it would be retarded of me to try and mask it so here goes.

Since Raekwon announced plans to make the second installment to his bona-fide classic 1995 debut LP fans like myself have gone through every emotion conceivable in run up to its release from the intial excitement of hearing about the project to just plain misery when it appeared this album may never see the light of day.However the time has come and if only for a little while hip hop has been given a much needed adrenaline shot by one of the greatest to ever do it the chef Raekwon. What’s the mathematics for the day god?

The album features a cream of the crop list of producers from the late great J Dilla to the RZA, Dr.Dre, Alchemist, Pete Rock and even the legendary Marley Marl who all brought their A game to the table and perhaps only producers of this caliber and age could truly understand what was needed to get the job done. Yet despite the amount of different producers the album somehow maintains a cohesiveness that hasn’t been achieved on a rap album in some time.


There are simply too many good tracks to mention any particular that stand out  as I’m sure many will come down to personal preference but here’s a few of my favs so far.

“Surgical Gloves” is a straight up banger and surely guaranteed heavy rotation in car systems across the globe. The only bad thing about “Pyrex Visions” is it’s length as the beat and Rae’s flow are so smooth you could listen to it all day. “Ason Jones” is a fitting tribute to fallen clansman Ol Dirty Bastard over laid back head nodding production that only Dilla can provide and “Black Mozart” has RZA flipping the Godfather sample to great effect as Inspectah Deck drops one of his best verses on the album.

If there is anything bad to say about this project is that the tail end of it isn’t as great as the beginning and middle and also there is no Nas feature for a Verbal Intercourse 2(but now im just being picky). Other then that the Chef has proved that not only could he follow up with an album worthy of the Cuban Linx title but he may even have exceeded the expectation set which considering the status held by the first one is one hell of an achievement.

So there you have it I could seriously talk all day about how good this album is but you really have to check it out for yourself because words alone can simply not do it enough justice.


Published in: on September 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Death of Record Labels:Artists take charge by Tolu Olorunda

“Societies never know it, but the war of an artist with his society is… to make freedom real.”

—James Baldwin[1]

Hip-Hop should listen to Marco Polo & Torae more.[2] On “Crashing Down,” a prophetic track off the duo’s latest LP, Double Barrel, the hook goes:

… Whatchu gon’ do when the walls come crashing down?/

How you feel?/

Ask me, I’m doing fine/

I’m asking, whatchu gon’ do when the walls come crashing down?/

This crashing down they speak of is something record labels would rather not talk about, rather not discuss, rather not address. But, as the 19th century poet, Cullen Bryant, might inform, “truth crushed to earth shall rise again.” This crashing down is the end and death of record labels as we’ve known them. Total destruction. And this is no time for melancholy. Indeed, it’s a time for celebration, a time for jubilation, a time for exhilaration.

There’s a reason Hip-Hop was conceived in the belly of South Bronx streets, and not “midtown Manhattan skyscrapers/ Where former hustlers sign papers/ And do fu**ed-up capers/.”[3]

This reality, however, never really mastered great impression on the minds of middle-age White executives, who, for two decades, ran the Hip-Hop industry like a slave ship, holding artists hostage; who, for two decades, ran the Hip-Hop industry like a plantation, dictating to Black artists the conditions of freedom, and turning out once lyrical masterminds into commercial cows for an uninformed public’s consumption.

The artists were bound by deceptive contractual obligations, forced to partake in activities that went against personal principles. But they took the pain in silence. They carried the cross without complaint, invested in hope of a day when their sacrifices would turn ripe the fruits of freedom. Well, my lords, ladies and gentlemen, that day, that moment, is upon us.

Tennessee rapper Young Buck understands this better than most others. On “Breach of Contract,” a recent mixtape single, he raps: “We turn the cotton into marijuana fields/ Then work like slaves, just to try to pay the bills/.”[4]

Rappers have, indeed, worked “like slaves” to furnish the lavish lifestyles of record label executives. They tirelessly tilled the grounds these suit-wearing plantation-owners reaped great harvest from.

But now, emancipation begins.

To put food on the table, many mainstream acts signed their names to record deals that insulted the dignity they were raised with. They did it not because of a desire to spit on the Black faces that supported their careers from day 1, but because they understood—or, rather, thought they did—the game, and how it had to be played. These rappers “poked out [their] a**es for a chance to cash in,”[5] and the “[shady] record company people”[6] made good use of it. Very few of these slaves to their labels owned their Masters.”[7] Most were simply slaves. Period.

These artists knew they had to put on the Blackface—often the only available escape from a past mired in poverty. For those brief moments, the Blackface became more than an opportunistic cosmetic supplement—unlike Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927). It became a permanent feature.

So, for some, songs like “Chain Hang Low,” “Chicken Noodle Soup,” “Fry Dat Chicken,” and “Whip It Like A Slave,” didn’t invoke memories of shame and sadness—reminder of a time when Black actors and actresses were forced to work like dogs for chicken change. Not at all. Those memories had taken up a new form—reality.

The New York Daily News took note of this trend in 2006.[9] Errol Louis, columnist for the paper, noted the similarity between some of the time’s most popular songs, and 200-year-old minstrel hits. St. Louis rapper Jibbs’ 2006 chart-topping single, “Chain Hang Low,” was revealed, first by a New York Times music critic, to have borrowed inspiration from “Zip Coon”—a famous minstrel hit from the Blackface era.

In mention also was 50 Cent’s diamond-selling 2003 album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, which, Louis wrote, carried “an unmistakable echo of a hit minstrel song from 1856 called ‘Root Hog or Die’.” The lyrics of the song, he explained, bore frightening resemblance to the themes explored in Get Rich or Die Tryin’: “I’m right from old Virginny, with my pocket full of news/ I’m worth twenty shillings right square in my shoes/ It doesn’t make a dif of bitternance to neither you nor I/ Big pig or little pig root, hog or die.”

Louis continued: “It’s sad to see musically untrained youngsters shucking and jiving for a bit of money and fame. Most could never dream of succeeding in a serious artistic setting like a church choir, dance ensemble or jazz band, places that require study, discipline and hard work. Many would be swiftly laughed off the stage.”

It is true that many of these, for a lack of a better word, artists have no talent or skill worth the time and money record labels spend marketing them. No question. It is also true, however, that the record label executives have been consistent in selling to the fans manufactured noise as music, undaunted by the truism that for every action there’s a reaction.

* * *

In its three decade commercial history, Hip-Hop has undergone a series of stages, morphing from a spiritual culture of resistance into an on-demand pill big companies see fit to digest whenever in need of cultural authenticity.[10] But, besides the artists, the only victims in this tragic-comic tale, it seems, are the fans of color.

Black and Brown fans have been told to shut up, sit quietly, and watch the wonders of executive-thinking unfold. True enough, everything went according to plan, but the outcome was farthest from ingenuity.

In return, we witnessed young artists of no recognizable skill get placed in line ahead of veterans and certified lyricists. What took flesh, as a result, was a torrent of talentlessness that made many question the validity of Hip-Hop as a critical art-form.

This brand of label politics ensured that highly-anticipated albums—albums Hip-Hop needed so badly—were placed on the back burner—shelved and abandoned.[11]

No other example yields greater timeliness than Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, which is scheduled for release tomorrow—after a mere 3-year wait. Since news broke in 2005 that Wu-legend Raekwon was prepping a sequel to his 1995 classic, fans have waited impatiently, only to be disappointed, year after year, by reports of postponement.

Every Hip-Hop fan can, on demand, recount similar experiences. From Q-Tip fans, to Papoose fans, to The Clipse fans, to Saigon fans, the stories are no different.

This happened primarily because the stupid executives, unprepared for the technological tidal waves Napster and Apple had ready for launch, expected fans to remain adherent—even in the face of blatant disregard. But the tables soon turned, and with the new millennium came an age of free downloading—an age of choice—an age of freedom.

And the recording industry hasn’t been the same ever since…

In The Long Tail, Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, details, amongst other things, the rise and fall of giant record companies—crippled only by self-absorption. Anderson chronicles the drop in CD sales from 2001 to 2005: “Sales fell 2.5 percent in 2001, 6.8 percent in 2002, and just kept dropping. By the end of 2005 (down another 7 percent), music sales in the United States had dwindled more than a quarter from their peak. … Between 2001 and 2005, the music industry’s total sales fell by a quarter. But the number of hit albums fell by nearly half.”[12]

Anderson suggests that the shifted emphasis from substantive compositions to hit-singles had begun forming the now-decomposed carcass major label executives try as best to turn their attention away from.

Watering down the music to appeal to broader bases had less an impact than the labels aimed for, he concludes. Instead of uniting diverse fan-bases, it fragmented them, creating a greater need for genre/sound specificity.

The consumers, Anderson writes, soon found out that the “only way” to “maintain a consistently good enough signal… is if the filters get increasingly powerful.” [13] And so they began sending signals, but the rapacious executives pretended they couldn’t receive it.

Before long, fans discovered the indifferent intentions labels had in mind, and turned their backs against them forever, creating, as replacement, informal sub-groups of peers that could recommend great music to each other and benefit from shared passion.

The consumers wanted music that catered specifically to their taste, but the executives, stuck on stupidity, thought the battle wouldn’t last long. Wrong!

This turf war over the future of creativity and substance began raging. The fans agreed with acclaimed writer S.H. Fernando that “[t]he diversity of rap songs is matched only by the diversity of the people making them.”[14]

Labels, disagreeing, unwisely hired attorneys to police the internet and put to an end peer-to-peer file-sharing.[15] The aim was to nip in the bud this budding revolution. Foolishly, they only gave it more credibility, recruiting millions to the cause. The once-giant labels thought a few casualties would intimidate their opponents. But it didn’t. And now, the big four—Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI, and Sony BMG—are forced to tuck their tails between their legs and surrender to their captives’ will, which tossed their way reparations (net sales) of $11.5 billion in 2006, compared to more uplifting, and less contentious, times like 1996: $14.5 billion.

The fans demanded an end to the reign of free-market fundamentalism in music production—especially Hip-Hop. The sheer though that the market (radio, television, print magazine, websites) could police itself never sat well with them. They understood that the radio and TV stations were, to a great deal, beholden to the record companies. They knew how loyal and unquestioning on-air personalities had to be to A&R executives—job-preservation.[16]

And now, just as with the global economy, the fundamentals of the recording industry have been shaken-up, exposed as frail and vulnerable.  The boom and bust of revenue, brought by boisterous executives, are no longer hidden from the public. The Bernard Madoffs of the music business can no longer shelter their names, faces, and reputations.

Like the cymbals on Coltrane’s “Alabama” and Miles Davis’ “Prayer (Oh Doctor Jesus),” the walls will come crashing down.

Right on cue, the multi-millionaire executives have begun blaming their artists, blaming the fans, blaming everyone but themselves, for the outcome of this Ponzi scheme—which, might I add, they created.

Their years of carelessness and recklessness have nothing to do with the current state of affairs, they swear. Their years of shunning artist-development and “cranking out these pop groups,” as “Vinnie” described in last week’s editorial,[17] isn’t in no way related to the disgruntlement fans presently express, they contend. Dumping disposable artists on an intelligent audience didn’t create this crisis, either, they say. But we know better.

* * *

Every Black Hip-Hop artist who’s ever sold more than 500,000 copies has a tale to tell, a story to share.[18] Each has, once, or twice, or thrice throughout their career, been confronted by a middle-age White male executive who reminded him/her who was boss, who assured him/her how a bright future could be clicked off with the switch of a button, who lectured him/her about how much more he knew the Black audience’s taste in music.[19] Everyone. No exceptions.

And such artist, at that moment, had to muster up divine self-restraint to avoid being subsequently hit with attempted murder charges. They restrained themselves because they believed that someday soon, the empire’s endeavors would be exposed, that someday soon, the corporate thugs who run the industry would be stripped naked of all supremacy.

These very artists, if they would be so observant, would notice that their expectations are closer, nearer, and realer than they’ve ever been.

Since last week’s publication,[20] which featured an interview with a former marketing heavyweight, I’ve received tons of e-mails from managers, independent executives, and artists, expressing great joy in Vinnie’s prediction that if major record labels “don’t change their ideology, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon, they’ll be gone in 5 years,” and that, in their space will surface artist-controlled “Music/Entertainment Firms.”

These readers have seen it all and been through it all. They don’t see major labels anymore as a relevant element in the making of an artist. Their usefulness has passed.

Mainstream Hip-Hop acts, still bound by contractual obligations to record labels, should understand that the fans have their back, that the fans are just as displeased with the politics of the business as they are.

We’ve all suffered greatly from the greed of the pigs at the trough.

At this junction, when the prospect of freedom is more tangible than ever before, don’t be stupid. Don’t sign your life away to the same companies responsible for the current meltdown. The labels have, long ago, absolved themselves of all responsibility concerning artist-development, marketing, and promotion. Nothing the labels can provide you today can’t be done independently—with tenacity and temperance.

The rumors are not true: Fans don’t discriminate against independent acts in favor of majors. Remember: These are the very fans whose rebellion brought to their knees once omnipotent record companies.

Even if they don’t buy the CDs as often as you’ll prefer, they show their support in other ways—merchandise and concert tickets.

The record labels never meant well for Hip-Hop, and they’ve made that known, as best as possible, in the last two decades. Even if it’s a young, handsome Black face sliding the contract across the table, understand that the content is just as dangerous as it was when old, not-so-handsome, White faces were pushing the poison.

We are an independent people. We can do it ourselves. We don’t need no more tyranny. We can walk right into liberty. We can free ourselves from the shackles and bondages the music industry has kept us bound in for far too long. We can flip open a new page this moment, and fill it with words of redemption, words of hope, words of freedom.

The days of kowtowing before executives are past. The present is truly a gift. And the future awaits with great anticipation the rising up of a resilient people.

John Forté would agree: “It’s a new day running/ And it ain’t coming/ ‘Cuz it’s here for the taking/ It’s been years in the making/.”[21]

The GZA would concur: “No time for backwards thinking/ Let’s think ahead/.”[22]

It’s time: Let’s think, act, and move ahead into a future fueled by self-determination!

Tolu Olorunda is a columnist for and a cultural critic. He can be contacted at Tolu’s Column will return in October 2009.

Published in: on September 8, 2009 at 10:50 am  Comments (1)  
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