Next come DJing, breakdancing, beatboxing, and emceeing

[…]
The
adviser said that he had heard from a source in Iran that the
Revolutionary Guards have been telling religious leaders that they can
stand up to an American attack. "The Guards are claiming that they can
infiltrate American security," the adviser said. "They are bragging
that they have spray-painted an American warship—to signal the
Americans that they can get close to them." (I was told by the former
senior intelligence official that there was an unexplained incident,
this spring, in which an American warship was spray-painted with a
bull's-eye while docked in Qatar, which may have been the source of the
boasts.) […]

"Shifting Targets," Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, Oct. 8, 2007

Give this post a soundtrack

[…] The mini-fad for referencing turn-of-the-'90s hip-hop may just be
an accident; the samples Pretty Ricky, Lloyd and Musiq Soulchild employ
have been mined by other artists, including Nelly and Ini Kamoze.

But
by vocalizing these hooks instead of just interpolating them, the
younger artists claim a legacy. Lloyd and the members of Pretty Ricky
were barely in grade school when Salt-N-Pepa and PM Dawn were at their
peak; Musiq probably admired De La Soul as a teen. This music echoes
forth like a favorite children's story, a hint of a more innocent, if
not simpler, time.

Perhaps the pumped-up Lotharios of today
want a break from all the bump and grind, and dream of eroticism as a
realm that celebrates not just performance, but as Prince Paul said,
bodies of all kinds.

"The talk turns suggestive," Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times

[…] During her '90s crusade against rap's habit of degrading women, the
late black activist C. Dolores Tucker certainly had few allies within
the hip-hop community, or even among young black women. Backed by folks
like conservative Republican William Bennett, Tucker was vilified
within rap circles.

In retrospect, "many of us weren't
listening," says Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting, a professor at
Vanderbilt University and author of the new book "Pimps Up, Ho's Down:
Hip-Hop's Hold On Young Black Women."

"She was onto something,
but most of us said, 'They're not calling me a bitch, they're not
talking about me, they're talking about THOSE women.' But then it
became clear that, you know what? Those women can be any women." […]

"Has rap music hit a wall?" Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press

[…] Local hip-hop artists Boots Riley from the Coup and rapper and producer
Kirby Dominant express reservations about hip-hop university classes. "One
time, someone came up to me, and said, 'I know so-and-so, they're a professor
at Harvard, they're a big fan of your work,' " Riley says in a phone interview.
"But that doesn't impress me more than any other people feeling that way. I
don't need to be validated by academia because that presupposes that academia
is a pure endeavor and not guided by market forces, which is not the case.

"Anthropology, for instance, was all about studying the natives so they
could figure out how to control them. Again, the natives are being studied."

Dominant, a UC Berkeley alumnus who actually attended the much-publicized
class on Shakur in the late '90s, says that he finds value in hip-hop studies,
provided they take the long view. "With hip-hop and all black music, you can't
talk about the art separate from a lot of other things," he says. "You can't
talk about hip-hop as an art form without talking about the people, the
economics, how and why it was made. You have to be pretty thorough." […]

"Academic hip-hop? Yes, yes, y'all" Reyhan Harmanci, San Francisco Chronicle

He hit it and quit it

James Brown- Sex Machine / Soul Power
James Brown
James Brown Olympia 1966
James Brown

[…] When the band hits its first notes and the room begins to ride
the music, a kind of metamorphosis occurs, a sort of transmutation
of the air of expectation in this Midlands crowd. They've been
relieved of the first layer of their disbelief that James Brown has
really come to Gateshead: At the very least, James Brown's Sound
has arrived. After the band's long overture, Danny Ray, every
impeccable tiny inch of him, pops onstage. He says, "Now comes Star
Time!" and the roof comes off. Under Danny Ray's instruction, the
crowd rises to its feet and begins to chant its hero's name.

When James Brown is awarded to them the people of Gateshead are
the happiest people on Earth, and I am one of them. Never mind that
I now know to watch for the rock-paper-scissors hand signals, I am
nevertheless swept up in the deliverance of James Brown to his
audience. The Sun God has strode across a new threshold, the alien
visitor has unveiled himself to another gathering of humans. I see,
too, how James Brown's presence animates his family: Keith, fingers
moving automatically on frets, smiling helplessly when James Brown
calls out his name. Fred Thomas bopping on a platform with his
white beard, an abiding sentinel of funk. Hollie, the invisible
man, now stepping up for a trumpet solo. Damon, who during Tommie
Rae's rendition of "Hold On, I'm A-Comin' " can be heard to slip a
reference to "Lady Marmalade" into his guitar solo.

The show builds to the slow showstopper, "It's A Man's Man's
Man's World." The moment when James Brown's voice breaks across
those horn riffs is one of the greatest in pop music, and the
crowd, already in a fever, further erupts. When they cap the ballad
by starting "Sex Machine" it is a climax on top of a climax. The
crowd screams in joy when James Brown dances even a little (and
these days, it is mostly a little). Perhaps, I think, we are all in
his family. We want him to be happy. We want him alive. When the
James Brown Show comes to your town — when it comes to Gateshead,
U.K., today, as when it came to the Apollo Theater in 1961, as when
it came to Atlanta or Oklahoma City or Indianapolis anytime, life
has admitted its potential to be astounding, if only for as long as
the Show lasts. Now that James Brown is old, we want this to go on
occurring for as long as possible. We almost don't wish to allow
ourselves to think this, but the James Brown Show is a precious
thing that may someday vanish from the Earth.

Now James Brown has paused the Show for a monologue about love.
He points into the balconies to the left and right of him. "I love
you and you and you up there," he says. "Almost as much as I love
myself." He asks the audience to do the corniest thing: to turn and
tell the person on your left that you love him. Because it is James
Brown who asks, the audience obliges. While he is demonstrating the
turn to the left, turning expressively in what is nearly a curtsy
to Hollie and the other horns, James Brown spots me there, standing
in the wings. The smile he gives me is as natural as that one he
gave Fred Wesley, it is nothing like the grin of a statue, and if
it is to be my own last moment with James Brown, it is a fine one.
I feel good.

I had a feeling I'd want to return to this year's very best writing about music, but not like this, not this way.

Practicing and performing the mnemonic rituals of a kinetic orality

[…] In The Games Black Girls Play, Gaunt argues that cheers —
songs and seemingly nonsensical chants performed in conjunction with
handclaps and foot stomps — offer entertainment for black girls across
the country, but they also play a more important role. They teach young
girls aspects of "musical blackness," placing them socially in step
with black tradition. The book examines black girls' forays into
popular culture — whether unconscious or deliberate — and what their
invisibility says about hip hop, musicality in the black community, and
when and where girls enter the annals of music history.

At first
it seems like a stretch to claim that the way girls play has influenced
a commercial behemoth like hip hop. But have you heard Nelly's "Country
Grammar"? Its sing-song chorus was sampled from black girls' games, and
Gaunt suggests that the song gained popularity in part because it was
immediately recognizable to black audiences. Gaunt emphasizes that male
rappers like Nelly use such games as material, but female rappers do
not — an assessment that's blurry and not as convincing as her other
arguments; it doesn't help that the aspiring female rappers Gaunt
interviews about why this might be don't offer illuminating
explanations.

And lest anyone think girls have been passive
creators of sampling fodder for boys, over time girls have appropriated
snippets of New Edition's "Candy Girl" and the Jackson 5's version of
"Rockin' Robin" for their own rhythmic use in games, which underscores
the reciprocal and often unexamined relationship between black girls
and popular music. When Gaunt traces the origins of traditional games
like "Miss Mary Mack" by fusing academic prose with vividly rendered
memories, her journey is refreshing, if sometimes daunting in its
technicality. […]

That's the middle of "Playing for Keeps," a Joshunda Saunders review that C. shot my way a day or two after I saw this Yahoo Buzz Log post last week.