HHF Report: Raising the bar/What you know about Barfest

Written by Nobodee Jones

I always speak to the artistry of hip hop music. Real rap that pulls at a cat’s mind with entangled metaphors and words grounded in veracity that either leave a cat sayin’ shiiid or damn. It’s that much mo’ important as we in a time when tunes like this aren’t heard in the culture (on mainstream, but what’s new?)

That ish is a testament to the need to refocus on the roots and get back to the essence of hip hop, the underground. I chopped it up with one such cat that embodies this drive, mindset, work ethic, and fellowship that the culture has lost in it pursuits of fame, money, marketability, and chasing that tabby and then check this! Yea this cat can rhyme!

What you folks know about Diggz a.k.a Diggz the Prophecy?  It’s the bullishery going on now in the culture that got some folks looking for deep ish in the dark but its cats like Diggz that stoke the fire for the culture and helps bring real hip hop out the depths back to its proper position. This 27-year-old Jersey cat. Hood raised mind elevated. Says he been rhyming since like 11 years old.

Pulling inspiration from various artist. Diggz –  “Main one is basically Nas but I’m influenced by anyone that picks up the mic and chases the dream because its hard as fuck to get into, especially now days where; it’s oversaturated nowadays. Talent really doesn’t matter nowadays it’s all about image and all other stupid sh!t, but that’s another topic.

If I had to go with main influences Nas, Pac, Biggie, even people like Cassidy, Lord Banks I mean I got a different set of inspirations and influences depending on what we talking about but the main influence is definitely Nas.”  (Sidebar: Diggz is an artist is his rite but he run rhymes with a clique of other lyrical beast in AClass Company, S/O)  

 

But we on that Barfest, right?  Diggz is the architect, he started this ish on some never forgot the lessons, chances, and opps he had in life (despite doing a lot on his lonely). So he took a local idea some time back (bout a year), gave it the Diggz and BARFEST was born.  

First jumping off a year ago and it was well received with 16 enter with one cat walking away, that being Walter the West Nile (bullishin’ it’s just Walter West, but he sick).  Only 2 and a half judges that first year, that half in case a tie. This year just got underway and although it’s now a closed set and cats are locked in the prelims this year where around 55 folks and 5 judges now!   Yet it’s not done with just rappers, we got producers in on this as well, even though the focus it bars.

“I also let the producers drop whatever beat they want, like I said because even though this competition is mostly for artist. I wanted some producers who normally don’t get people to check out there beats to get some recognition.” – Diggz.  

So this competition has the rawr heartbeat in it. We all love a good beat but that whole concept is subjective to the cat listening to it (kind of a deep area, perception). The thing is so many hip hop heads or those that claim that title overlook the underground scene and it’s now more assessable than ever. (Sidebar: Why you think this bullish they call rap is so easy to get nowadays) Yet if a cats work ain’t heard on the radio you deny credibility or you either given credit where it isn’t due.  

Barfest is Hip Hop, it just brings those cornerstone park and rec battles to everyone with www access.

Diggz – “Anybody who follows me, follows my circle of friends, that may have reposted when I made the announcement or post. If you want to join, go ahead, I don’t have to know you personally. It’s like what yall do on Rawr Radio, if you feel as though you need the platform to showcase what I call “The Bars” then join. It’s for the artist, it’s not for my artist or my friend it’s for THE artist; anybody who feels as though they slept on, I’m underrated. Well join and prove yourself.”

Barfest 2 is already running with the preliminaries over and the tourney underway starting with 16 cats. Vespa, Hero, Shara, Asce, Seis, Manga D, Neb, Peace, Jools, Detox, Sax, Shogun, La Dub Z, Maikis, Jason, and Gatzby who can all be found online via SoundCloud.

(Sidebar: Whatever you do, you do it Rawr and if I didn’t address this, a cat wouldn’t be doing it in the Rawrligion Way. I thru a shout to AClass Company earlier, these cats are Diggz Da prophecy, LA Dub Z, Walter West, WarrenPeace, Nosticthepoet, & Magnetic The Shaman.)

If you notice or know Diggz is the architect and one of the judges, as well as Walter West and, Nosticthepoet and two of the cats in the comp are in his group. In fact, this is what Diggz had to say about that.

“The bad thing about have three judges in AClass. Everybody thinks we going to be bias against the members. I tell people all the time, if LA and Peace come weak they would hear it from me first because they in the group. I would have said no offense but yall might night make the next round.

“Like they would get the judging even more because they in my group. I’m not bias at all If they win, blame yourself. You didn’t muthaf#ckin out bar them. It’s not my fault that yours, I’m not like everybody else I don’t pick friends over who is actually good. Yall got me f#cked up if think that’s what I do.” -Diggz. Gotta luv that and the smooth ish about it, he answered that with us just chopping it up.

Check it you can find Diggz Da Prophecy on SoundCloud and YouTube and you can follower the Barfest 2 on his SoundCloud page as well. On another note RAWR Radio will also be doing a special ShowCast when the Barfest is all said and done. The broadcast will cover/highlight the event! Date and times are still on the table so stay posted and stay RAWR!!

Nobodee Jones, co-owner, online broadcaster, personality for RAWR Radio based in Ardmore, Ok. Born in Ardmore, OK raised in Atlanta, GA. Pays homage to hip hop culture through RAWR Radio Weekend ShowCast via Mixlr.com online. RAWR Radio itself grew from a personal need that mainstream hip-hop is failing to produce. Although still in the early stages the shows continue to see growth. We feature Unsigned Underground artist. Real radio, just like you like your Hip-Hop! From the heart but not for the overly sensitive. Check out the RAWR Radio website and stay connected with Nobodee Jones and RAWR Radio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SoundCloud, Google+. RAWR!

 

Advertisements

HHF Opinion: Making A Case For The Get Down

Written by Warnell Jones

Amidst the fleeting knowledge of the origins of the art we all know as hip-hop, we were given a TV show that gave America a true glimpse of the musical shift in the 70s that would change the course of time.

 

The Get Down – a television program exclusive to Netflix – is that show. The show debuted as a 6-episode “half season” in August 2016, and has since received critical acclaim, as well as harsh critique. Most importantly, is that in the midst of this “Love & Hip-Hop, Real Housewives of (where the f**k ever)” nation, we have been graced with a program that purposes its intent on enveloping the history and development of our culture, hip-hop, in a head-crashing love story, one hour at a time. The hip-hop “purist” would surely agree – hip-hop needs this show.

The negative opinions and reviews that the worldwide media displays, just shows us that the demand for history and culture isn’t as high as it should be. This is actually interesting because seeing these results show a parallel to the similar need for historical, intelligent, and thought-provoking lyricism in hip-hop music. There’s actually more parallels in this dynamic, one including that The Get Down was very poorly promoted, similar to so many of the lyrical juggernauts that hip-hop bred.

As far as the numbers go, it’s a tell-tale of interest as viewership goes. Amongst Netflix originals, views after one month of a season or series debut go as follows:

Orange Is The New Black – 15+ million viewers

Fuller House – 15+ million viewers

Stranger Things – 13+ million viewers

Making A Murderer – 12+ million viewers

Marvel’s Daredevil – 8+ million viewers

The Get Down – 3.2 million viewers

This statistic is touchy for more than a few reasons. At first glance, it’s an insult to those of us who love hip-hop culture, that there are a number of topics perceived to be more entertaining than the art and origination of the music and culture so widely accepted today.  According to this metric, that list consists of superheroes, framing a murder case, Bob Saget, 80s style creepiness, and a women’s prison. All more interesting than the birth of hip-hop. Think about that.

Another interesting statistic about The Get Down is its price tag. $120 million. That’s right. 12 episodes. Insight from hip-hop legends. Two and a half years of production. $120 million. Netflix’s most expensive show yet. With a long list of issues during the production, from cast costs to production drama, including constant script rewrites, The Get Down’s 3.2 million viewers don’t justify its $120 million price tag.

Surely, all of that “numbers jive” is credible. But let’s be clear, no program EVER has brought more hip-hop history to the television format. A number of hip-hop legends – Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambataa, and hip-hop historian Nelson George – were integral in the creation and development of this series. They were very careful not to limit the scope to the music of the era, blending in the political and social information needed to understand our culture.

The Get Down is cavalier in its effort, showing the disco scene of the times, in its drug trafficking, sex enthralled, dance fevering glory. Its notwithstanding in its display of what was a real-life horror story – being a minority in the Bronx from the late 60s to the late 70s. Burning buildings, low employment, street gangs, dilapidated community – all REAL factors of the environment. The political truth is even touched on, as we see a portion of the rise of Mayor Ed Koch.

The show doesn’t shy away from any controversy of the time – we get to see drug cartels, murder, sexuality, rape. They even show the truth of the underground influence of the LBGT community on what the people heard on the airwaves.

All this, in only 6 episodes. With 6 more riveting shows sure to educate, entertain, and enthrall its viewers; hip-hop heads worldwide have every reason to get down with The Get Down.

 

Detroit writer, Warnell Jones is a hip-hop enthusiast and all-around music lover and  loves to write about hip-hop culture, music, love and society.

Warnell is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Interview: André de Quadros , Professor of Music, Boston University

Interviewed by Omi Muhammad

Boston University Professor of Music, André de Quadros is a conductor, ethnomusicologist, music educator, and human rights activist has conducted and undertaken research in over forty countries. Professor de Quadros also holds affiliated faculty appointments in other BU departments: the African Studies Center, the Center for the Study of Asia, and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations.

In this interview with HHF digital magazine Professor de Quadros talks about his political work in the realm of music education, asking questions about how musicians and music educators can use their work to challenge existing power structures, with a particular focus on his Music in Prisons program and Empowering Song project.

HHF: Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with us at Hip Hop Forum digital magazine, Professor de Quadros. To begin, I saw you have been working with refugees in Sweden, was it a part of one of your programs?

André de Quadros: With Afghan refugees, yes. I teach a conducting course over in Stockholm. As a part of the project, the people I was working with, we went to three different locations; a young women’s prison, the second was a high school with lots of issues of demographics and so on, and the third place was where they would send Afghan teenage boys who were refugees.

HHF: When I had looked at your bio, I’d seen some of the other work that you’re doing so I was actually pretty interested in that, it’s very diverse.

André de Quadros : Well my background is in conflict in different places, my bio is very out of date, I haven’t updated that in over two years but I’ve been doing a lot of work in the Middle East and other places dealing with displaced peoples and incarceration.

HHF: So it sounds like you do a lot of work across the board dealing with people in conflict situations. Can you give us a little bit of a background on your Music in Prisons program and your Empowering Song approach?

André de Quadros : Sure, well we’ve been working, I and three other people that I work most closely with, in two prisons in Boston; one is a men’s prison which is a medium security prison, and the other is the only women’s prison in the state. In both prisons we work as part of a University program that allows students to take a course in music while they are incarcerated. It is offered as a college course.

There is no selection process to be a part of this course, we don’t audition. Some programs only work with people who are going back into the community, we work with a lot of people who are never leaving the prison. In the women’s prison we’ve had relatively smaller groups of ten and twelve and in the men’s groups we work with about twenty-six or so.

With the Empowering Song approach, we believe fundamentally  in creating conditions for personal power, personal expression, community transformation; a lot of experimentation and improvisation. I also use Empowering Song approach in the Middle East with refugees, teaching and performing in my own ensembles and so on.

There is no high ground for any particular style of music; in the prisons for example, a lot of the men rap and that becomes part of the work, there’s classical music in there or pop or music of the Muslim World. It’s pretty inclusive, it’s about potentially reconnecting music to the body. We not only reconnect the music as in moving in time with something but we use the body to get inside the text and to portray the text.

Say there is a rap that might have a text about being in prison or missing one’s family, so we might create a series of body pictures that relate to that. So I don’t like calling it theater, I don’t like calling it drama because it’s actually much deeper than that. But it is essentially theater school exercises.

How can the body tell the story, how can the body be part of the story. So there is a lot of story work that we do in the prisons, in other words they write narratives to rapping to writing poetry to writing song text to writing about genres. We have an unrivaled unequaled archive of papers that they’ve produced. There is also a lot of visual art that is produced, we take into the prisons a lot of people that practice visual art to work alongside us.

HHF: So you have found this connection between music and social change; what sparked your desire to do this? What made you think to connect the two in your programs?

André de Quadros : I guess when I was in college in India, I became very influenced by text and books and other writings that talked about asymmetrical relationships of power within societies, within communities, within countries. Oppression is so systemic all over the world; from within a country  like the oppression of black people in the United States, to the oppression of whites to the third world through colonization and so on.  

So I fell under the spell, if you like, of important writings such as the Pedagogy of the Oppressed (by Paulo Freire) and other associated authors. So I was motivated by that, how can we overturn the existing power dynamic? How can we displace them? How can we interrogate them? And to what extent can I as a musician contribute to displacing power as existed and as it exists? How can we speak truth to power? How can we use this as protest, how can we move the world forward?

I think music has immense power but on the other hand I don’t think we have fully understood its capacity in contemporary society. We see music as something to listen to or something to make, but at its full capacity; it can mobilize a people, console a people, change lives in ways unimaginable for people who are forgotten in society. We allow the forgotten to become consumers but never the makers of music. So in the prisons we have men who have never rapped before, who’ve never sung before, who’ve never written poetry before; now they’re writing, they’re singing, they’re moving, they’re rapping, it’s incredible. Just listening is not enough to experience the power of music as a human being, its more fully realized by active participation.

HHF: If you could send a message to artists specifically or even the community at large, what would you say to them in regards to music and the work that you do?

André de Quadros : I would say it like this, What kind of world do you want to live in? I don’t think anyone is entirely satisfied with the state of the world. I think they’d say, I don’t think we are heading in the right direction. I would say to musicians for example, What kind of a world do you want to live in? How can your art making, or music making change the world and move it into the direction that you want it to go?

HHF: Wow, yea that’s a good question.

André de Quadros : Let’s say I stop someone on the street and ask them a question. If they were to say, I can’t stand all those black people protesting, what are they protesting about? I would say, how can music help you to understand their problems, and how might you seek to build a better world through music? This is not to suggest using music to give voice to your whining or complaining, but how will music help to achieve greater understanding?

 And of course I’m giving an opposite example, I’d be very disappointed if someone said why are all those black people protesting. The history of black oppression in this country is not even fully understood if you read a whole lot of the texts on that.

But to someone like that I would say what kind of fair egalitarian, democratic America do you want to live in? How do blacks, whites, Latinos etc. negotiate their world of equality and democracy? And to what extent can your music making contribute to the discussion of a world in which we can all live in? What does that mean to you?

I think all music making has got to be political in the sense of engaging in these difficult discussions. We think about what it might mean to  be of a different background and find ourselves the same. Some of it might be protest, nothing is wrong with protest. Music has been a part of protest since the beginning of time. Hip Hop’s origins are in political protest, social protest. You know I’m not an expert on Hip Hop but I’m certainly mindful of it.

HHF: In listening to you talk about music and the creation of it, its almost obvious that your musical journey didn’t start in college. So how far back does it go, do you come from a musical family or culture?

André de Quadros : Interesting question, first off, I’m Indian. I grew up in India, attended university in India and so on. I started learning the violin at the age of four and my mother came from a very musical family as did my father. They were not professional musicians, my mother was an elementary school teacher and my father was a physician.

I grew up before the digital world, there was no television in India, at all. There was no television even when I was a teenager. Some people say yea well we didn’t have a television at home but it’s not the same thing, we didn’t have a television in the country.

So I grew up in a world where it was an acoustic world essentially. There was very little technology in the form of radio or anything. So I grew up in an entirely different acoustic world that some can hardly imagine. People made music as they worked, as they sold things and so on.

HHF: So music was a huge part of the culture.

André de Quadros : Yea but I don’t even like calling it music, because it wasn’t necessarily music as we see it. We talk about beats, we talk about genre, about composers. I’m talking about someone is pulling a rope and they’re chanting. A lot of that wouldn’t even be called music because of vernacular etc. I mean I would call it music but the western music, whether its rap or pop or another genre; its about the piece, the beginning, middle and end, the composers. Those kinds of definitions and parameters of music do not apply in the kind of music that I’m talking about. It was a sonic landscape and an acoustic world in which I grew up in very different from that of the United States.

HHF: Wow, I love that; a sonic landscape and an acoustic world. Are there any final thoughts that you would like to share with our readers before I let you go?

André de Quadros : Nothing that comes to mind, It was a pleasure speaking with you.

HHF: You as well, thank you for taking the time out to sit down with Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine.

de-quadros

To find out more about André de Quadros and his work, please visit his website at http://www.andredequadros.com/.

West Baltimore native Omi Muhammad is an artist and writer, now based in Philadelphia. To see her work, please go to http://www.urban-gypsy.net/index.html

Omi is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Opinion: Manslaughter; We have a charge, will there be a conviction? 

Written by: Warnell Jones

Call me crazy, but I think I just witnessed America showing some form of guilt and remorse. I may be losing it, but did the mighty US of A take action against a white police officer for the unjust murder of a black man?

 

Perhaps good old America is coming to its senses, realizing that it’s not (never, ever was) acceptable for police officers to use deadly force against situations that don’t call for such. We hope that someone in our judicial system came to see this (and every instance like it) for what it is – a crime.

 

Allow me to catch you up on current events.

 

Terance Crutcher

On September 16, 2016, in Tulsa, OK, Officer Betty Shelby killed Terence Crutcher – an unarmed; or otherwise innocent, black man – after shortly being tazed by her fellow officer during a traffic incident. She later gave the press the excuse of Crutcher not following orders and possibly reaching through a closed window for a weapon (that was never in the vehicle). Now generally, these claims are coerced and allowed as fact in these cases. However, multiple videos of the incident have made this case different.

 

Betty Shelby

On September 22, 2016, Officer Shelby was charged with Felony 1st Degree Manslaughter – punishable up to life in prison.

 

This is an anomaly in modern-day American society – history tells us that no matter the offense, the powers-that-be (the judges, in this case) choose the side of the lawman against the side of the victims. So often, the officers that commit these crimes are sent on paid leave, while the system “investigates”, only to determine that the officers in question will not have charges brought against them.

 

In 2014, 100 unarmed black men & women were killed by police, notably including young Tamir Rice & Michael Brown. No convictions of murder or manslaughter for any officers.

 

In 2015, 102 unarmed black men & women were slain by police, notably Sandra Bland while in police custody. Of those cases, 2 convictions of manslaughter were found.

 

This year, the names range from Alton Sterling to Philando Castile, from Korryn Gaines to Keith Lamont Scott. Now Terence Crutcher. This is the 1st charge for manslaughter this year. That staggering statistic means that if the police have a similar number of unarmed killings this year, and Officer Shelby is the only officer convicted this year, the rate would be 1%. Over 3 years, 300 unarmed people killed by police, 3 convictions.  3 / 300 = 1%.

 

Certainly, in an America where “all men are created equal”, that idea doesn’t fare well for anyone in possession of melanin-heavy skin.

 

Perhaps I am somewhat elated to see that black people of America are getting a chance of an apology, of recognition, of acceptance.

 

But then again, history shows me different. That 1% number only happens if a conviction is handed to Officer Shelby. Right now, she’s only been charged……

 

…….and we know a charge and a conviction are two different things.


Source of statistics: http://www.mappingpoliceviolence.org. 


HHF Report: Hip Hop Festivals (September, 2016)

Written by Vince Comegys-Davis

Dear Hip Hop,

While you are a part of our everyday lives, it has been a while since we have had a conversation. From the beginning you have been a best friend to many, touched the souls of the world and have helped us through tough times. You have evolved with every new generation and with each one that has taken the torch to pass on your knowledge it has been said that a piece of you has disappeared.

As it is now there is fear that you have already been laid to rest. It was with a heavy heart that these words touched my conscious and I could not help but wonder how it is that this culture that has impacted the world in so many ways has ended. Was it all cleverly laid plans to further alienate a people? If that is the case then we must raise a fist in the air for those who take up arms through hip hop to pass on the knowledge of the past to future generations. So as it is believed that the human spirit does not perish, so too is it that the spirit of hip hop does not fall. Which then begs the question, why is it that we continually hear that hip hop has died? Is it because we are being force fed a watered down version of what hip hop once was? If so, where have you been old friend?

*Pause*

In fact, your essence has been felt. No, not so much because of the mainstream but because of the underground. Through events and organizations that understand the culture and wish to share it with their communities. Allow me to share that information with those who may be reading this ode to you.

In 1973 (as the story goes) Kool DJ Herc was playing at a party and found a way to extend the break beat of songs. There were good vibes throughout these parties and they brought together communities. This is where hip hop, the music aspect, began and it is still alive in the world today at events throughout the world.

If you wish to be a part of hip hop in its purest form, why not check out these events this month in Philadelphia, California and Baltimore …

 

  1. Allentown Arts Festival

Presented by The Alternative Art Gallery

September 30-October 2, 2016

Allentown, PA

www.allentownartsfest.com

 

  1. Meeting Of Styles

September 16-18

San Francisco, CA

http://www.meetingofstyles.com

 

  1. Skillz Over Politicz

Johns Hopkins University

September 10

Baltimore, MD

http://www.skillzoverpoliticz.eventbrite.com

 

FB_IMG_1472393231870

Born and raised in the city of Wilmington, DE. Like many other inner city youth hip hop was a major form of self expression, but Vince Comegys-Davis took a different route into the culture. Beginning in musical theater and training in the classical styles, it didn’t take for him to realize that his first love was for the dance element of the culture. Since 2007 Vince has been passing on the knowledge that has been bequeathed to him and it was this mindset that brought forth the creation of Street Xpressions Arts Organization.  A nonprofit organization in which he is the Executive Director. It is here that Vince, his board and the teachers will continue to pass on the history of the culture.  Vince is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Opinion: New Rap Style (if you call it that!)?

Written by Nobodee Jones

The death of the lyricist Is a reality that has the nerve of hip hop heads and hip hop culture irked. The cats that laid this ish down, right? See this is where my opinion may clash with some. It could also be that I may need to be enlighten on the culture perhaps. A cat ain’t above learning or derailing my own ignorance. Yet if I gather this ish right hip hop’s cultural music, rap didn’t start in the conscious mind of correcting the ills and “keep it real” philosophies or the tight quips and spit of the world or by shining lights on the black and grey matters of Ghetto and Po’ville, USA. In fact, it was more like to get your mind off the bullish and f*ckery that every town and country had burdened my folks with. True dat a cat was not immersed in the era that birthed the culture, so all this is a second hand account of his story. Yet I recall the talks from older cats of days when it was a delight to hear raps from the gang in sugar hill. The artistry that made flash a grandmaster, and the how Flex mastered the funk. [On another note: My thought actually reflects back to the tales of DJ’s mastering the breakbeats and looping. Giving cats ammo to bust out backflips, backspins, windmills, and robotic moves.] But when cats started rapping It felt more braggadocious and to keep the party live.

Now we fast forward to the hip hop scene today. True, a cat really isn’t into a lot of the music getting built up or pumped by mainstream and media so much. A lot of these cats just saying box ‘cause it rhyme with socks and they ride the rhyming to deliver bull-ish glazed over with a “catchy hook” Now, the question is this. Isn’t this just party music, turn up tunes, or get lit hits, whatever you want to call it? Ok, now they even got the culture throwed. The whole wardrobe is some bull-ish. The technicality of making tights out of jean material got these cats on some real Gangstalicious ish. But here’s another throwback thought tho. Remember the era of disco or what I call that “purple era” with Prince, Morris Day, and cats like them. Know what I’m talking about? That time when these cats was dressing up in spandex and frills and wearing make -up and all other androgynous tomfoolery (not the word I wanted take out fool and at sex act + ery)? Sometimes this ish seems like a cycle and you get a certain type a cat that gets in touch with his inner bird and then call that shit fly. Just saying, these cats aren’t too different than those cats.

Back on the point tho. Trap music and trap beats aren’t the death of hip hop lyricism. Those beats don’t determine the course of the culture. In fact, the music is significant in showing growth of the culture in the creation of another subgenre of sound. The issue is that some of these new cats don’t give a ish as long as they get the fame and the money.  Check this, I don’t force my kids to listen to any genre. What appeals to the soul can’t be told but if they want to know what hip hop is, I school em.   (i.e. Hustle, & Lil DJ.)These kittens now a days don’t know the history and at this point, it probably wouldn’t matter if they did. Not as long as the standard for a successful track is a tight beat and a nice hook. {sidebar: Oh this is what happens when industry comes into play. If you lower the bar for acceptable work, let’s say lyricism, you then increase the abundance of lyricist. We all love a good beat. So get a neck dancer track, make that head sway. So now the paradigm shifts to DJ’s & producers cause you can throw bull-ish on it and it still jam.  Recall the verse in planet rock, we still jammed and sang along with that za za za…just sayin’) Maybe its growing pains of the culture? You know that time when you woke up and had head full of white head embarrassment spread across ya face. So here’s one perspective; these kittens mumbling on the mic with their generic bars and flamboyant presentation of themselves cannot kill lyricism in the game. It’s true that if you dub it Hip-Hop or rap music it’s a bit offensive how I see it. Its like taking the art form backwards an that’s the ish that gets under the skin.  This is why you gotta  keep ya ears open for  cats like Prynce Tone, Southside Louie, J. Israel, Diggz Da Prophecy & La Dub Z,  The culture is amidst an industrial hostile takeover and these little cats do not know or care they pawns, they out for they scratch.

Mic Check – The Idiocy of Mumble Rappers | EP.02ble Rap…

This is the direction of mainstream. It’s a money game. The standard has been lowered and they undermining the worth and skill of a lyricist.  Got these kittens treating the lyrics like an accompaniment instrument. This is an offense to the Hip-Hop Culture.  Its nonsensical verbal upchucks and folks confusing the smell of this as real shit cause they throw in references to the life of struggle and hustle in that word vomit. Nothing like songs by artist like  King Cobb, Banner, Flame Da Darkchild , & Ratt Boi, Mainstream don’t play them but play that bullish and you know what happens if you hear the same tune over and over, regardless if you hate it. You gone find yourself humming or singing it.  Not knocking these kids hustle, neva that. They only PROVE the need for RAWR Radio, and that cats we spin; D-Dot Jewels, Tha Message, M.O.D tha Hardhead, Kelly Machete, & Dre K.B along with the great avenues for artist and hip hop culture like Big B Show, Hip-Hop Forum, Cro Audio-& Video Studios, and Labels like CTOWN  Records, MilliUp, Open Window Ent., Over the Top Ent., and  GamFamTV.

 

James “Nobodee Jones” Horton, co-owner, online broadcaster, personality for RAWR Radio based in Ardmore, Ok. Born in Ardmore, OK raised in Atlanta, GA. Pays homage to hip hop culture through RAWR Radio weekend Show cast via Mixlr.com online. RAWR Radio itself grew from a personal need that mainstream hip-hop is failing to produce. Although still in the early stages the shows continue to see growth. We feature Unsigned Underground artist. Real radio, just like you like your Hip-Hop! From the heart but not for the overly sensitive. Check out the RAWR website and stay connected with Nobodee Jones and RAWR Radio on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,Soundcloud,Google+. RAWR! 

HHF Interview: Ajawavi Ajavon, ‘Every Man Counts’

Written and interviewed by Warnell Jones

If you’ve been paying attention to life over the last thirty years or so, you’d come to notice that the fabric of the traditional family has been tearing away ever so steadily. Now, that doesn’t mean that single parent homes cannot work, but rather that the optimal situation of two-parent homes seems to be fading away.

In many cases, fathers are not an equal part of their children’s lives – sometimes, even dictated by the judicial system to be this way. Many single mothers have taken the task of attempting to be both mother and father because there was no proper resolution to the relationship, nor proper mediation within. It is an issue within our society that has changed the “norm” when it comes to family.

In the wake of her own family troubles, Ajawavi Ajavon found a true calling in the field of family re-attachment – focusing on FATHERS. Her company, DAB Mediation, has spawned an organization called Every Man Counts. It’s through this organization that she, along with others, have created hope and confidence for men in the areas of child support, co-parenting, and relationship mediation.

EveryManCounts

HHF: Thank you so much for taking sometime today to talk to us about your great organization, Every Man Counts. How did this awesome thing get started?

Ajawavi Ajavon: Ok. Every Man Counts started from my own personal experience. I was married for eighteen years, and when I filed for separation, my ex-husband separated from not only me, but also our children. I saw my kids go through heartache, and now I had to take on the role of being “mom” and “dad”. I was the “den mother”, the “cub scout mother”, the “girl scout mother”, and the “basketball mom” – I had to split myself three ways, one for each of my kids; one a cheerleader, one a basketball player, and one a Cub Scout. I saw that they appreciated what I did – sometimes they didn’t want to make me go out of my way to do things, but I enjoyed it – but I could still tell they missed that “father figure” in their lives.

So, I started working with my ex-husband to help him understand how important it is to be in the children’s lives; not only as married, but especially when we separated. I didn’t want him to take out his frustration against me on the children. He’s still coming around – it’s a work in progress. The kids are 24, 21, and 15 – they were 15, 12, and six when we separated.

I was a certified mediator for the courts in Delaware and New Jersey, and I seen that so many people would come into court unprepared. Same as my ex-husband, when I took him to court for child support, he was dumbfounded, like, “What? Why do you need child support?” So, I took my experience, and what I would want for my children, and created Every Man Counts. I knew it was important to educate the fathers. Through my experience with my ex-husband, I had something to teach the fathers, so other mothers wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. I’ve noticed it’s not just in our community – it’s in every male community, black, white, Asian, Hispanic. Every Man Counts, because when we build better dads, we build better lives.

HHF: What type of things do you do in this organization?

Ajawavi Ajavon: I educate fathers, from the early stages – changing diapers, breast milk feeding – all the way to the adolescent stages – what to talk about with your daughter during her first menstrual cycle, and her first boyfriend. Some of these things I help educate fathers on because I know fathers that are afraid to talk about these necessary subjects.

We hold lots of workshops. Financial literacy, entrepreneurship, activity ideas for the fathers who have their kids in joint custody, healthy food choices, co-parenting. We also have a program for those that need assistance with re-entry, and those needing assistance with court proceedings. It’s called CourtSmart. In addition to our workshops, we have events to promote unity, and it also gives the men in our program a chance to commune and share their experiences. I was actually purchasing trophies for our annual Dads fishing trip. This year is our third.

We invite fathers and sons, but I also invite children who don’t have a father or a mentor, and give these men the opportunity to be a part of their lives. We even did a Father-Daughter Tea Party, where we had fathers and their daughters come and participate in a dressy tea party event. We had girls aged all the way up to 16. It was sold out. So beautiful. We also have an event called the Barbershop Conversations, where we actually go to a barbershop and have open conversation about the issues pertinent to the community.

HHF: How do your clients initially react to a black woman making such a grand effort to help fathers?

Ajawavi Ajavon: At first, they’re like, “OK, she’s a woman. What does she know about fathers?” (Laughs) I stress that I don’t teach fathers how to be fathers. What I do is teach fathers what mothers and children need and want from an absent father. I’m not gonna teach you how to pull your pants up and be a man, no. I’m teaching the basics of being the better dad for the child. And what is special about my program is that the fathers that have been through my program come back and become teachers and presenters in the program – they give back by mentoring other fathers. Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, all taught by our own fathers. The only classes I teach are the early stages parenting and the co-parenting classes. The fathers love to encourage each other, “I’m a single father just like you – if I can do it, you can do it.”

HHF: What is the most common problem that you come into contact with in your clientele?

Ajawavi Ajavon: The common issue I have with clients is that they’re not confident enough. They’re not confident enough that they can win their case. They’re not confident of the judicial system. They often have a view that the court is “for the women”. It’s hard but necessary to change this mindset. The core values of my program are integrity, perseverance, accountability, and discipline. I can’t service anyone that isn’t able to adhere to these core values. I don’t allow my clients to play victims. We must be accountable for the portions of this situation which we are at fault. I can’t hold your hand. I can help you, but I can’t do it for you. In our CourtSmart program, we show these guys how to have all paperwork prepared, signed, stamped, dated, and arm them with the confidence backed by our core values, not only are they empowered to do well in court cases, the judicial system often shows respect and favor for their efforts. In fact, the courts refer clients to us because we teach the specifics that the courts want to see – at a cheaper price and more efficiently than many lawyers in these areas.

HHF: This is clearly a needed program across the nation. What is your current jurisdiction? What are your future goals?

Ajawavi Ajavon: We are currently in four states – Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. I could see this everywhere. I want to take my company to every city. I want to get government-funded. Right now, we exist from private donations, along with efforts from my for-profit company, DAB Mediation.

HHF: Thank you so much for this time! We are looking forward to your program spreading like wildfire through the nation!

Ajawavi Ajavon: Thank you so much!

Aja

DAB
Warnell Jones has always been a writer at heart. He often writes about music, love, and society (in no particular order). He is a part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.

HHF Portfolio: Alim Smith, Fine Artist, Delaware

According to  his site, YESTERDAYNITE – Alim Smith says he is devoted to creating art  ‘heavily inspired by entertainment (primarily music and comedy), women and black culture’ and hopes that the ‘presence of black culture in his work serves as a form of self-expression and education’.

 

Check out this fantastic portfolio of his art-work personally selected by Smith for Hip Hop Forum, reckon you might recognize some of these faces … Thank you Alim Smith.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Alim Smith is a Delaware born interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in American art galleries primarily on the east coast. His artistic process expands beyond a singular medium due to several years of applied studies in Visual Art, Communicative Arts as well as Photography. Smith’s creative exploration stems from experiences and events within his culture, applying a variety of ideas based on his knowledge of self and understanding of others.

alim

To see more of Alim Smith’s work, or buy his art, go to his personal website, YESTERDAYNITEAnd also have a look at this really nice interview with Smith, first published on The Eclectic Society Movement

 

HHF International: Street Art Documentary, South London

David Baker filmed this work in Lambeth, South London an area he describes as ‘very cultural , very cosmopolitan and political at the same time with many different ethnicities but  it’s also a hotbed for a lot of urban talent a bit like a borough in New York like Queensbridge or the Bronx.’
A Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine exclusive  By David Richard Baker
David Baker
Digital artist, David Baker was born in Brixton, South London in 1973 and became immersed in urban street culture from an early age. His work attempts to encapsulate the fundamental surviving elements of hip-hop through creative expression of Street Art , Music, DJing , MC-ing and Knowledge through the medium of film making.
To see more of his work, now and in the future, check out his YouTube channel!

HHF Opinion: Police shooting of Philando Castile

Written by Warnell Jones

What happened? What did Philando Castile do wrong? Is there a police protocol in Minnesota that deems an officer just when he does more than just issue a ticket for faulty equipment? Was Philando Castile in gross negligence of the law by legally owning a firearm? Is it acceptable for an officer of the law to feel threatened by a man reaching for his wallet or ID, after telling said officer he would do so?

Certainly the wrongful death of Philando Castile last week at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota has raised many questions and comments about the state of police responsibility, protocol, and racism in America.

Many have the thought and idea that this officer (we’ll call him Officer Jackass) is incapable of being an effective police officer, because this is a terribly sad example of law enforcement. This does not fit the mantra of ‘protect and serve’.

If Officer Jackass was scared because Castile had a legally owned firearm in his possession, he should’ve taken appropriate measures to seize the weapon. An ideal situation sees Officer Jackass asking Mr. Castile to keep his hands raised while the weapon was taken from him, instead of firing on him with his family in the car. In addition, Officer Jackass could have very well used non-lethal measures to subdue Mr. Castile if a threat was posed (of which there was none). This is terrible law enforcement, where a fearful officer that doesn’t know how to manage situations makes a terrible assumption that leads to murder.

If this was an isolated incident, the previous paragraph would serve as just judgment. Sadly however, history shows us many more situations like this in the revered “home of the brave”. Before this ‘smartphone era’ we didn’t have any documentation to substantiate the idea that police officers were purposely killing black people. To our dismay, the judicial system seems to be in on the plot.

It appears that ‘home’ for black people is a country where the officers of the law are allowed – often without punishment – to kill black citizens. Sure, it seems like a stretch, but in a land where “all men are created equal”, the murder of a citizen is a just cause for “due process”, right? You know, where a court examines the situation and places a fault, judgement, and punishment on one of the involved parties? All too often, the judicial system exempts these officers from this process. Yeah, the officers that wrongly take the lives of citizens. When these acts continue without judgement, are we supposed to conclude that law enforcement employees have a ‘free pass’ to kill black people? Does this ideology negate the ‘scared cop’ theory?

Either way, these facts and occurrences have drawn strong disdain from the oppressed in this situation. In a society where the privileged onlookers of these tragedies have the caveat of dismissing surveillance footage as lore without fact, the black conclusion is, “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. Some even feel a similar rage to their ancestors during the Civil Rights Movement. Some privileged person would pose the question, “Why?” Because 2016 & 1966 have a similar ring. Because this is an issue of civil rights. Living without wrongful persecution from the police is a civil right. We shouldn’t feel the need to protect ourselves from our ‘protectors’.

We shouldn’t feel like the police in America are looking for a reason to kill us – but I’ll be honest – I don’t have much credible information to support that claim.

How do we turn these thoughts and feelings around? What measures need to be taken to prevent these heinous acts in the future?

Warnell

Detroit-based Warnell Jones has always loved writing: having kept journals, notes and lists of his thoughts for years. (Some long gone now), he loves seeing his mindstate in retrospect as he goes back and reads his past thoughts. His passions and what he hopes to write about: hip-hop (all four elements) R&B, race relations, social change, education, food, fitness and love.  

Warnell is part of the New Black Writers Program, managed by Hip Hop Forum Digital Magazine, to support, nurture and develop the talents of Black American journalists of the future.