Showing posts from 2008
Trick Trick Plays "The Villain"
Artist: Trick Trick
Album: The Villain
Koch Recordings, 2008

Chris Mathis, aka 'Trick Trick', has a history of being a Detroit-area underground/local rap personality since the 1990s, and is a contemporary of people who have since come to national prominence like Kid Rock and Eminem. “The Villain” is his second official LP on a mainstream label.

Music-wise, the bulk of production on the album is credited to the artist, incorporating live keyboard and funk-bass riffs with drum-machine rhythm tracks. It will bring to mind post-millennial West Coast hip-hop. Lyrically, the usual targets are here as befits gangster-rap standards (player haters, cops, disloyal associates), amidst shout-outs to Detroit neighborhoods and Trick’s extended posse the Goon Sqwad. Perhaps incredibly, Trick also includes Rosie O’Donnell and Ellen Degeneres on his list of folks to be mad at (on the self-referential “Trick Trick”).

Trick Trick enlists various Detroit-b…
MC BREED: 1972 - 2008

Flint, Michigan-bred hip-hop performer MC Breed has died. Just this past weekend, public statements confirmed his death in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

In the summer of 1991, “Ain’t No Future In Yo’ Frontin’” became a regional, then national, hip-hop hit, especially in clubs and for underground rap enthusiasts. The song remixed Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce” and the Ohio Players “Funky Worm” for its rhythm track. The original music-video shot for the single included a now-prescient hanging of a Saddam Hussein stand-in (the 1990-91 Gulf War had only recently ended; a second video was filmed once the single went national). Detroit figured greatly in the promotion of the single, as urban station WJLB and a few others added the song to playlists. Breed soon found himself in the company of hip-hop’s major stars of the 1990s before his career cooled off toward the end of the decade.

Lyrically, Breed’s style earned him respect from East coast, Southern and West coast fans…
Hype's Retro Reviews:Public Enemy, Greatest Misses, 1992

"Greatest Misses" was the first `anti-concept LP' (according to an interview with bandleader Chuck D) from hip-hop group Public Enemy. Originally released in August of 1992, it hit stores just following the Los Angeles riots of that year as well as being in the midst of the U.S. Presidential campaign that year as well. Perhaps for the first time, the group reaches outside its traditional Bomb Squad production team for remixing select album cuts and singles from previous albums. Those remixes comprise the second half of this release, the first half containing all-new recordings.
1. "Tie Goes to the Runner" - Some wah-wah guitar samples anchor the rhythm track, where Chuck goes off on recent events: "Not surprised at all about the riot zone... This was predicted not self-inflicted By the rap outta the 'hood.."
2. "Hit Da Road Jack" - The group gives a middle finger to racists but al…

"Although it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready to see a black president" 2Pac, "Changes", 1998.
Had he lived, the late Tupac Shakur would likely have been glad to eat his words in light of the events of November 4, 2008. Illinois Senator Barack Obama is now the President-Elect of the United States of America. Besting his opponent Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Obama has cleared over 300 electoral votes, nearly doubling the count of Senator McCain. Key to this were reputed battleground states of Ohio and Florida, both of which went to Obama. Other developments included Obama making strong stands in normally Republican strongholds like Montana and Indiana. Footage has been shown of not only American celebrations in many communities but in communities around the globe: Japan, Kenya, France, Haiti, Indonesia. People are rightfully celebrating a man whose vision, sophistication and determination clearly resonated with a global audience.


Election Night 2008!




Saturday, Oct. 4, @ Cobo Arena, Detroit, MI. The crowd was about 10,000 people. Tickets were free, mostly secured from Obama campaign offices throughout the Metro area. T-shirt vendors were perched outside the venue, hawking Obama shirts and more. The show was set up to raise awareness for voter registration- the deadline being Monday, October 6. Local radio personalities hosted the introductory segment- an African-American Iraq veteran leads the pedge of allegiance; local singer and Oprah Winfrey Show-singing-contest winner Lashell Griffin sang the Star Spangled Banner; a judge running for michigan's supreme court said some brief remarks; finally a trio of Obama campaign workers urged the audience to engage their friends and family members to be registered and to vote on November 4th. Finally the main event: wearing a T-shirt, jeans, gymshoes and a NY Yankees cap, Jay-Z took the stage around 9:30, and did an hour-long set, no guest performers, just Shaw…

Miracle at St. Anna is the latest film from director Spike Lee. It is his first war movie, and arguably only the second action-based thriller after 2007’s Inside Man. The WWII period film actually opens in the early 80’s: A post-office clerk (Laz Alonso) abruptly shoots a customer with a vintage military pistol. An ensuing police investigation finds an Italian stone bust worth millions in the suspect’s apartment. A rookie reporter (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) prods him about it, and the main narrative begins: in 1944, four black men, members of the 92nd Infantry "Buffalo Soldiers" fight their way behind enemy lines in Axis-controlled Italy. They include the towering Train (Omar Benson Miller), level-headed Stamps (Derek Luke), preacher turned apostate Bishop (Michael Ealy), and Afro-Latin/de facto translator Hector (Alonso). Train obsessively carries the aforementioned bust, retrieved from a previous battle.

The quartet manages to find …


That’s ‘hello’, in the Aleut Inuit (Eskimo) dialect.

For those folks out there who haven’t heard yet, Senator John McCain has chosen Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate and vice-presidential candidate (thus securing all 3 electoral votes from a state that is rarely even mentioned during a Presidential campaign). Just recently both Palin and McCain have formally accepted their nominations from the GOP, and now are locked as the Republican Party’s hopefuls for the White House. For the past week or so, a ‘scandal’ of sorts has reared its head: Palin, married mother of five children, is now expecting to be a grandmother. Her 17-year old daughter Bristol is currently five months pregnant, and poised to be married to her 18-year-old boyfriend, Levi Johnston. Conservative pundits, delegates and activists have vigorously stressed that this should not be an issue, and that Governor Palin should be applauded for supporting her daughter instead of, you kno…

Daddy Yankee (Ramon Ayala), a Puerto Rico native and prominent Latin hip-hop ('reggaeton') performer, has publicly endorsed GOP Presidential candidate John McCain, appearing with him at an Phoenix, Arizona high school rally.,0,4019667.story

Some general insight on Latino voting trends can be found here:

Current U.S. Census statistics identify American Latinos as the largest minority group in the USA ( That McCain has been openly attempting to make inroads with American Latinos and youth voters is laudable as it is transparent; but while the much-described "maverick" makes said appeals with star power via Daddy Yankee, it's important to no…

2008 Detroit Caribbean Festival!


Detroit Caribbean Festival photos 2


Detroit Caribbean Festival Photos part 1


Detroit Peace Protest, 8-1-2008


In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, Andrew Klavan praises the recent film The Dark Knight, and makes flattering comparisons between the film's superhero protagonist Batman and sitting U.S. President George W. Bush:

Well, God bless Mr. Klavan for enjoying the movie. One of the great things about pop-culture films is that people from "both" sides of the political fence can watch and be entertained.
Still, while I am amused by Mr. Klavan's logic model, I would have to disagree. To me, our Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush is less like Batman, and more like one of the Dark Knight movie's villains, Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face. In the film, Harvey Dent is an elected official--a crusading District Attorney who wants to rid Gotham City of its criminal element, especially the Mob. Dent hides a dark side, however, and when he is kidnapped and disfigured in an explosion, he goes mentally over the e…

Well, let’s see—circa ’95, I was working at a Super K-Mart, in case anyone is thinking about blackmailing me.

As revealed in a report at The Smoking Gun, popular Florida-based hip-hop star Rick Ross apparently did an 18-month stint as a correctional officer in the Florida Department of Corrections. So far, Mr. Ross has vehemently denied this, going as far as claiming that a photograph of a younger Ross shaking hands with a D.o.C. official must have been doctored. State of Florida transcripts say otherwise:

I will stake my own non-profit agency meager salary that there is not a single rapper in the business who comes from a background of selling dope along the lines of a Tony Montana (people know he was fictional, right?), Freeway Ricky Ross (the real guy from L.A.) or Frank Lucas. There is also not a single rapper who came from a gang background who was remotely touching anything…

Public Enemy @ Pitchfork Festival, Chicago!

Everything in Moderation…
Except When I Don’t Feel Like It

Sour Grapes Turned to Whine?

“(He’s) talking down to black people… I want to cut his nuts off..”

These were the words which shocked the world, African-Americans in particular, when Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke to Fox News journalists concerning a Father’s Day speech made by Senator Barack Obama that revolved about black men taking the initiative to be more involved in their children’s lives and to and turn away from the ills of crime and social nihilism. For reasons which hundreds of barber shops and hair salons are debating as to why, Rev. Jackson’s comments insinuated that speeches which seemingly scold the urban poor give little weight to addressing macro concerns of corporate and government responsibility (or the lack thereof).

The Rev. Jackson’s words (which he immediately apologized for—uh, he didn’t tap the mic?) were condemned by virtually anyone with a public platform, from both conservative and progressive circles, including…
‘Hulk’ Bulky on Action, Light on Talk

Grade: B-

The Incredible Hulk is technically the second theatrical release based on the Marvel Comics super-hero. However, this film, directed by Louis Leterrier (The Transporter 2, Unleashed) apparently ignores the events of 2003’s adjective-free Hulk which was directed by Ang Lee. Lead actor Edward Norton plays haunted scientist Bruce Banner in addition to contributing a script draft which was conditional upon his hiring as an actor (the WGA gives Zak Penn final official credit for the screenplay).

The story continues—or begins again—the saga of former research scientist Dr. Banner, whose body was drastically mutated in the aftermath of a botched experiment involving improving human resistance to radiation. Now, in times of extreme anger or stress, Banner’s gamma-irradiated cells expand exponentially, turning him into the outsized, super-muscled Hulk—driven by rage and prone to lash out at his tormentors with little rest…

Hype's Self Portraits!

Talking Loud and Saying Nothing

"Wack MC's have only one style, gun-buck! But when you say 'let's buck for revolution', they shut the f--- up..." KRS-One, "Ah Yeah", 1995.

So, in the aftermath of the judicial verdict in the Sean Bell case (New York City) and the pending lawsuit in the death of Maurice Cox in Los Angeles, folks in hip-hop circles are wondering about the seeming lack of outrage from most of hip-hop's premier recording stars. Both cases involved an unarmed man who was killed by a barrage of bullets fired by police officers.

Allegedly, 50 Cent meekly eked out a neutral answer when questioned on BET's popular 106 & Park show. In fairness to 50, Curtis Jackson is officially (as in, his tax returns) an entertainer.. as are, well, pretty much all of the hip-hop singers out there. To be sure, they can perform their songs (in the studio, anyway) with charisma, conviction and clarity (regional accents aside). Yet when it comes to, say…

May 3, 2008 @ the Fox Theater, Detroit, was the “Pioneers of Hip-Hop” concert, running from 8 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. The first act was the Sugarhill Gang—at least, the current ‘official’ lineup- four guys and a DJ spinning the discs: The only original member remaining is Big Bank Hank, with others filling in for the original Master G and Wonder Mike (according to Melle Mel’s website, the pair are currently touring as a duo, “The Original Sugarhill Gang”). The group warmed up the crowd spinning excerpts from recent hip-hop hits, then going into “8th Wonder”, “Apache”, and eventually “Rapper’s Delight” (and an encore of the latter closed the set).

The next act was Kurtis Blow. First doing some call & response ad-libs over the “Christmas Rappin” instrumental (via DAT or CD), he then performed “AJ Scratch”, “If I Ruled the World”, “Basketball” and “The Breaks”. He peppered his set with some b-boy moves, and announced that 2008 was his 25th anniversary as an MC.

The fo…

The Detroit chapter of the NAACP held its annual Freedom Weekend Celebration on April 25, 26, and 27, 2008.

I attended a pair of panel discussions Saturday—the first concerned “Which Way, Young Black America: Democrat, Republican, or Independent?
There were eight panelists, and among issues discussed were of course the presidential candidates, and the most attention was given to the “Proposal 2”, the successful effort to ban Affirmative Action statutes from all educational institutions in the state (and IMO, unofficially, other institutions). Among panelists were Munson Steed of Rolling Out Magazine, and editor Bankole Thompson of the Michigan Chronicle, one of a few remaining historically black newspapers in the country. Local educator and Detroit resident Akindele Akinyemi (, self-identified as a Republican, offered that he sees nothing wrong with black pride, and he’s no fan of G.W. Bush nor John McCain, but supports certain GOP platform i…
Foul Ball!

Nope, for all you nice folks out there who dig our (long-reputed but in-practice questionable) national pastime, opening day for most ball clubs isn’t until the end of March. Armchair umpire that I am, I’m actually talking about what’s going on in that other pennant race, which starts off which maybe a dozen or so over-35 types jockeying for position to be frontrunners, then for any number of various reasons gets winnowed down to at least two. Sometimes there’s a third, but for whatever reason nobody tends to take him or her seriously; heck, sometimes there’s even a fourth or fifth final candidate, but no one ever gets to know their names until they actually go into the polling booth. Huh..

As of mid-March, 2008, the presumed GOP nominee for the Presidency is John McCain. A career Navy man and Vietnam War veteran, he was a prisoner of war for several years before finally being freed of those tortuous conditions. Despite having publicly disagreed with President George W. Bush …
Comic Picks this Week:

Justice League of America #19
Script- Alan Burnett; Pencils- Ed Benes

“Sanctuary”, part 3, involves the Justice League team’s impending visit to Cygnus 4019, a planet in a distant galaxy. It seems that Cygnus, aka the ‘Prison Planet’, was designated by the US Government as an option for exiling the most incorrigible of super-criminals. Said to have an Earth-like environment, the idea is that groups of criminals would be sent there to fend for themselves instead of keeping them on Earth to be potential threats on either a local or global scale.
The Justice League finds out that a group of criminals was recently sent there—and they have J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter as a mole in their midst. Only problem is, J’onn hasn’t checked in for quite a while. Meanwhile, Amanda Waller of the National Security Council (and shadow-ops government agencies) is confronting the team about the necessities of having extreme options in place for the criminal element—or potentia…