April 17, 2006 by Marc Lamont Hill
Last week, MTV unveiled its Ten Greatest MCs of All Time List. Here it is:
10. LL Cool J
8. Ice Cube
7. Big Daddy Kane
6. KRS One
3. Notorious B.I.G.
Of course, any top ten list in music, sports, etc. is going to be highly contentious and this one is no exception. Still, I can’t imagine how the folks at MTV could release this list with a straight face. Under what criteria can you put Tupac ahead of Rakim as an MC? If we’re talking about skills, how do you exclude Kool G Rap, Common, Black Thought, and Lauryn Hill? If you argue that the choices are based on the artist’s impact on the generation, how could you not have Chuck D, Scarface, or Snoop on the list?
I know some hardcore hip-hop heads/race wo(men) will object to Eminem being on the list but I think he belongs, given his skill set and impact on his generation. As a Jay-Z fan, I’m fine with him being on the top of the list, even if I object to the likely reasons (commercial success) behind his position.
I won’t go so far as to write my on top ten list (yet), but I must say that any conversation about great MCs must include, in no particular order: Jay-Z, Common, Nas, Kool G Rap, Rakim, KRS One, Eminem, Andre 3000, Black Thought, and Big Daddy Kane.
Let the arguments begin.
April 14, 2006 by Marc Lamont Hill
I feel sick.
A few days ago, Muhammad Ali sold 80% of the rights to his likeness, name and image for $50 million in cash to CKX Inc. Basically, this means that the company, which also owns the rights to Elvis Presley, has the exclusive right to market anything brandishing Ali’s name or likeness.
Surely, this is a savvy business move. After all, despite being the most recognized worldwide name in sports history, the champ’s likeness has only brought in 7 million dollars per year in the past five years. Through aggressive marketing, CKX expects to quintuple that figure and spread Ali’s image throughout the global market place.
But this isn’t about business. This is about the greatest athlete in human history selling the very thing that made him special in the first place. Despite his fabulous talents, Ali’s status as a world-historical figure (as Grant Farred argues in his book, What’s My Name?) is linked to his struggles against the American empire. The name “Muhammad Ali” signifies more than pugilistic prowess. Rather, it reflects African people’s struggle to (re)name themselves in spaces and places thoroughly inimical to their culture, history, identities, and bodies.
Now that the tenticals of capitalism have stretched to the legacy of the “Greatest”, look out for the inevitable proliferation of billboards, commercials, and magazine ads that will transfigure our post-colonial freedom fighter into a post-modern pitchman.
April 13, 2006 by Marc Lamont Hill
June Pointer, the youngest original member of the Grammy-winning group the Pointer Sisters, who started as a gospel singers in Oakland and reached pop music stardom in the 1970s, died Tuesday. She was 52.
Ms. Pointer died at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica from cancer that spread to her pancreas, liver and lungs, said her brother Fritz Pointer. She had been admitted to the hospital in February after suffering a stroke. She is the first member of the musical group to die.
April 13, 2006 by Marc Lamont Hill
I just came across this interesting set of essays about the Duke scandal entitles “A Social Disaster : Voices from Durham”
Perfect Offenders, Perfect Victim:
The Limitations of Spectacularity in the Aftermath of the Lacrosse Team
by Wahneema Lubiano
Don’t Nobody Move
by Bryan Proffitt
Behind the Liquid Wall
by Dasan Ahanu
(White) Male Privilege, Black Respectability, and Black Women’s Bodies
by Mark Anthony Neal
April 12, 2006 by Marc Lamont Hill
On the way back from the airport, I listened to the highly popular and nationally syndicated Star and Buc Wild Show on my local radio station. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been contacted by several local activist groups to participate in a boycott of the show. I decided, however, to wait until I had listened to the show a few times before making a decision.
In the 20 minutes that I listened to the show, I heard racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes. Star, the ringleader of a morning crew that includes characters named “White Trash Helene” and “Chris the Queer”, disrespected slain rapper Proof by demanding that people only refer to him as Eminem’s hype man. He then continued to make jokes about the rapper and his career. (For those that don’t know, this is that same guy who made fun of Aaliyah’s tragic death by playing plane crash sound effects while reporting the incident.)
I must admit, there are moments when the show is incredibly funny. For example, last week, Star’s public heckling of Dave Mays’ incident with Busta Rhymes made me laugh out loud. The group’s quick wit and irreverent humor allowed us to laugh at May’s dependent relationship with Benzino. Soon after, however, the show returned to its regular offensive schtick, with Star saying that Banco Popular is the fastest growing bank because Latino women come to work in the morning, get pregnant by noon, and have babies by evening. Such comments are standard fare on the show. Like Wendy Williams and Howard Stern, the bulk of the show represents some of the worst that shock jock radio has to offer. From this point forward, I cannot justify watching it.
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