Archive for the ‘Special Reviews as in Exclusive but NOT Retarded’ category

VH1 Hip Hop Honors 2010 – Reporting Live!

June 4, 2010

Best 2010 Hip-Hop Honors Ever!

It’s the early morning of Friday, June 4th and I’m writing this having just returned home from the 2010 VH1 Hip Hop Honors event. This year’s theme is The Dirty South, honoring such legends as Master P, J. Prince (founder of Rap-A-Lot), 2 Live Crew, Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri. Thanks to the homie Adam Bernard, I was invited to witness the festivities firsthand and let me tell you what a rare treat this was. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and would spend my weekends hopping from music store to music store. Due to the North Star state’s geographic location, rappers from every region eventually had their material matriculate back to us. I got a fever for several simultaneous flavors and really learned to love rap music for its various variants. Now was my first opportunity ever to see many of my heroes in the flesh, so of course I had to be there.

Seriously.

Before I begin, I want to point out that the entire show was shot “out-of-order” so if anything in this recap happens in a different sequence or doesn’t make it to air, you can chalk it up to the magic of television. I’m going to attempt to avoid spoilers, but knowing VH1’s track record you’re going to be bombarded with commercials of all the surprises so unless you have the will-power to not watch the numerous “What Chilli Wants” marathons over the next 72 hours I’d advise you to proceed with caution.

After hours of standing, the night began with a tribute to Rap-A-Lot Records’s founder J Prince. Rap-A-Lot’s string of releases from 1990-1994 is my favorite period of any record label’s output ever. The medley of the label’s biggest hits began with Geto Boys member Willie D and The Game performing “Mind Playin Tricks on Me.” Say what you will about The Game’s music and penchant for name-dropping, but his love for Hip-Hop really shines through in his live performance as he knocked Bushwick Bill’s verse out of the park. The medley also included Juvenile doing “Nolia Clap” and Drake dueting with UGK’s Bun-B. None of these acts were announced beforehand, so you can imagine how the place exploded when they just appeared on stage one-right-after-another.

We were then treated to the opening vignette and an incredible brief (We’re talking 2-3 jokes tops) monologue from Craig Robinson, best known as Daryll from “The Office.” His dry wit was quite a change from the playfully obnoxious partying of Tracy Morgan in years past, but with the flamboyance of the talent being honored and doing the honoring he made an effective straight man, making the presentation palatable for the not-so-country attendants at hand. Also on hand were comedians Eddie Griffin and “Community’s” Donald Glover, the latter of which’s introduction of 2 Live Crew got the biggest laugh of the night.

I thought it was a smart move to divide the tributes by region, allowing the night to work as something of a crash course in “Country Rap Tunes.” Odd as it may sound, Jermaine Dupri got the biggest reactions of the night. For whatever reason, whenever his name was mentioned, the crowd erupted. Odder still is that he got this warm reception yet his tribute video and performance was the only one audible heckled. The only thing I found jeer-worthy of his segment was Diddy giving the worst performance of the night with arguably the least convincing lip-syncing ever publicly performed. What made it so bad was that during his “Welcome to Atlanta” verse, Dupri was still backing him up with a live mic resulting in awkward audio for all.

As for the second worst performance, it fell in the middle of an otherwise great No Limit tribute. Romeo came out dressed like his father circa-’96 to do “I’m Bout It, Bout It” and his tremendous attention to detail in the attire made it work. Off to a great start, things come to a screeching halt when this transitioned with the smoothness of a parking break into Silkk the Shocker’s “That’s Kool.” Despite being the final “hit” of the original No Limit Records, Silkk gave-up midway through the verse repeating one bar four times and then half-finishing the rest, just in time for Trina to miss her cue, do the second half of the chorus, and exit. Gucci Mane then came out as he and Kid Capri attempted to reenergize the crowd getting them just barely ready for MYSTIKAL to do his “MAKE ‘EM SAY UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” verse, saving the night. It’s really great to see Mystikal back on the scene and as energetic as ever, but his appearance just made the choice of “That’s Kool” all the more baffling. Here you have a chance to reunite Silkk and Mystikal for arguably the label’s third most well known song (“It Ain’t My Fault”) and instead you opt for “That’s Kool,” a song nobody really liked or wanted to hear in the first place?

While Silkk Lupe-ing himself will most likely still make it to air, one thing you won’t see is the Serato breaking down during 2 Live Crew’s performance, resulting in them restarting three times over. Sadly, this means you’re going to miss the night’s most genuinely touching moment. After “Me So Horny” and “Hoochie Mama,” the opening notes of “Banned in the USA” suddenly went silent. With the show stopped and countless technicians rushing the stage to fix the problem, Luke walks out and says “No Music? F**k it then. Let’s do this.” He then goes into the Crew’s old “One and One” routine (their reinterpretation of The Kinks “All Day and All of the Night”) as each member joins in with a “just like old times” look in their eyes. Moments like this are what a show like Hip Hop Honors should be about and it would be a shame if you never got to see it.

With the bulk of this show set to be made in post-production, the lineup’s randomness really drained the crowd. The real star, however, was the tremendous set design and art direction. Every artist had a distinct motif that really captured who they were. It helped give each region a distinct look to match the sound and added a grandiose touch of theatrics. Both VH1 and the artists involved really went out of their way to make the night as comprehensive as possible, from Cool Breeze (the man who coined the phrase “Dirty South” on Goodie Mobb’s 1995 album Soul Food) performing the Organized Noize tribute to Mannie Fresh grabbing the mic in between 2 Live Crew technical difficulties to acknowledge Suave House and other southern icons that VH1 forgot.

While I really have no idea how this is going to look on air, I had a great time. The Rap-A-Lot medley was the best performance and believe me when I tell you it is not to be missed. If you check it out, be sure to look for me. I’m the one white guy who isn’t wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses indoors or has a flat-out embarrassing tattoo. Seriously caucazoids, step your game up!

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Memorial Day – Holiday Review

May 31, 2010

FLAGGRAVESFIREWORKS!

Fire up the BBQ and hose down the BBW, it’s Memorial Day once again! Federally mandated, it’s a solemn day of respectful reflection and INCREDIBLE DEALS ON ELECTRONICS! Seen by many as the official kickoff weekend of summer, Memorial Day is actually a nationally recognized Holiday where we’re supposed to remember those who gave their lives for this country, preserving our freedom here and overseas. I know a lot of you kids with your black fingernail polish, Hot Topic gift certificates and revolutionary rock music may disagree, but in all seriousness I love this country with all my heart and, contrary to how this paragraph may read, take the sacrifice those before us have made to ensure our tremendous fortune pretty seriously. So now, them in mind, let’s take a look at Memorial Day.

Like all good things, Memorial Day originated with black people. In the 1860s following the Civil War, Freedmen (former slaves who were now freed men) began dedicating a day to moving their fallen Union brethren from the mass Confederate graves into proper individual burials. This day (originally May 1st) was marked with sermons, prayers and picnics. Commemorating graves soon became custom in America, ultimately resulting in the holiday being officially named “Decoration Day” in 1868. This date was later moved to May 30th as it “Wasn’t the anniversary of a battle.” There was also a separate day of remembrance for Confederate soldiers on June 3rd until the 1968 Uniform Holidays Bill which moved the now universal Memorial Day to the final Monday of May, giving us all a three-day weekend. Seeing that Memorial Day had its origins in the Civil War and the World War vets wanted their own designated day, Veterans Day was created in 1971 to add more specificity to the original May holiday.

Memorial Day!

Of course, when you’re a child, Memorial Day is the greatest tease of summer there is. Typically the last “day off” before the final week of school, the sleeping in and outdoor shenanigans are that first hit that makes the last four or so day of class unbearable. This made Memorial Day all good until you hit high school and it became a day of “Study” before 2-3 days of nonstop finals. Then the holiday became one of procrastination where I just watched Combat Shock or Naked Lunch and listened to the Lunachicks while I walked around the park or something. Once college (rock and) rolled around and classes ended three weeks prior, I began really observing what the Holiday was about, visiting graveyard and watching actual parades honoring our brave veterans.

But being an obscure rap fan, when I think of Memorial Day, I first think of this –

Possibly the worst anything No Limit ever released.

Wow. What an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful album. I know many of you probably consider “awful” and “No Limit” to go together like a horse and carriage. But ask the local Kangas and he will say “well, during their decade-long existence, No Limit put out 140 (!) releases and by the law of averages, they all can’t suck.” I’m more of a No Limit apologist than most, to the point where four years ago I was writing a book about the label and dove deep into their catalog. I stand by Fiend, Young Bleed, Mac, Tru, Kane & Abel, Mystikal and Mr. Serv-On all having put out good-to-great ahead of their time* albums on the label, but even then I’m not delusional enough to not acknowledge that the tank fired off some of the absolute worst rap CDs and Tapes of all time. Even as someone who owns the Lil Soldiers record, I can state with some authority that Full Blooded’s Memorial Day is quite possibly the far-and-away absolute worst.

“Dog S***,” the apropos above track, is all the evidence I need. Beginning with butchering a Geto Boys quote in an attempted homage, Full Blooded ruins an alright Beats by the Pound production with some of the absolute worst rapping ever released on a national level. Half riding the “I’m a dog” theme, the garbled voice and mushmouthed delivery is Master P’s door-prize record deal distributing at its worst. Not to base an album off one song, but folks, this is as good as it gets. 70+ minutes of Beats By the Pound production wasted on this awful, awful, awful rapper. The saddest part about this is how awesome the packaging looks. Classic No Limit blood-red plastic with a cover that once inspired a friend of mine to write “My grandma is going to be so pissed that Full Blooded is f***ing with my grandpa’s grave at Fort Snelling. He was a paratrooper who fought for his country! You have no right Mr. Blooded!”

So on this Memorial Day, the only day sacred enough to not have a horror film themed after it, remember the soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms around the world. Don’t remember the awful album you wouldn’t have known about had I not just written about it and brought it to your attention just now. Cool? Alright, let’s go shopping!

We give the holiday Memorial Day a Four Out of Five.

We give the Full Blooded album Memorial Day a One out of Five.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*Remember “conscious” rap fans that No Limit rapper Mac had a song chastising the ignorance of homophobia on his 1999 album World War III at a time when the ever-enlightened Common and Mos Def were letting the word “faggot” fly left and right. Mad progressive, yo.

When Did Commercials Get Super Weird?

May 12, 2010

Can it be it was all so simple then?

Has anyone else noticed that the average commercial is super friggin’ weird these days? As a product of the 80s, I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side believing that the entire point of a promotional tool was to get the consumer to purchase a product. These days, as the mega-conglomerates would have you believe, not so much. They just want your attention and want you to think it doesn’t matter whether you buy it or not because they’re just that cool. Did it begin with the Quizno’s hideous Sponge-Monkies or Pepsi’s strategy to trap children in their bottles? Regardless, we’ve become a generation who wants whatever weirdness on top of weirdness you can throw at us in order to fork over the hard-earned cash we don’t have for your awful product that we don’t need. Quite frankly, this is why we are all dead on the inside the greatest country in the world. Here’s some example of how far into the abyss we’ve descended.

Pledge “Glass Box”

Beginning our journey is a reminder that modern commercials exist with the rational of the irrational and completely illogistical logistics. Without delving too far into NYUnicorn cultural studies post-modernist “othering” rhetoric, you’ll most often find cleaning products ads targeted toward women. Therefore, what better way to remind them of what they were put on this Earth to do than make the act of cleaning the most demeaning task possible? In a commercial that had to be directed by Sardu, a woman is “trapped” in a glass box and forced to clean it without so much as a protest or a plea. While this isn’t as bad as the one where a woman is screaming to be let out of the box at the end of it (not a joke), which has conveniently vanished from YouTube, the disembodied male voice gives the entire spot a bizarre misogynistic repressive sadomasochist vibe all from cleaning allergens. Did they really need to say the woman was “trapped?” At the risk of sounding oversensitive, when a woman is trapped in a glass house I have to throw stones and ask “Who is this supposed to appeal to?”

The Chicas Project “Sharing”

Whereas the last commercial brought up the possibility of the commercial not having a clear target audience, this one for Mun2’s The Chicas Project appears to be deliberately pursuing the wrong one. I first caught this in the summer of 2008 while channeling surfing and the image of siamese twins caught my attention. Two girls who enjoyed partying enough with each other to SURGICALLY SHARE THE SAME BODY?! This is the stuff that great 70s exploitation films are made of. AND THEY CHOKE EACH OTHER OUT IN FRONT OF THE PIZZA MAN? Sign me up, ring the alarm and sell me a t-shirt – I have a new favorite show. Even the name The Chicas Project gave the whole thing a jovial but morbid edge. Imagine my disappointment when the promo turned out to be just an attention-grabbing one-off for another reality show about two girls trying different crazy things! Im sure for what it is, this show on the youth-orientated Telemundo sister-station is fine, but it’s saddening such a bizarre premise seemingly raised on so much organic free-range awesome has gone to a 30 second waste.

Old Spice “P-P-P-P-P-POWER!”

Just when people thought time-tested deodorant Old Spice couldn’t go any further off the creative deep end than their I’m On A Horse Super Bowl ad comes this series, directed by the ambassadors of absurd Tim Heidecker and Eric Weirheim. Starring one of my Honest-to-Gosh favorite actor’s, Terry Crews AKA President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, Tim and Eric at least want to convey to you that Old Spice’s body wash is a quality product. What’s crazy is, unlike their Absolut ads, this isn’t a viral campaign. This is a nationally prime time syndicated commercial seen by every single demographic. While I love these ads, as does my Father who coincidentally was born a generation before me, I have to wonder if these are really going to catch on with everybody the way a Wasssssup or Can You Hear Me Now did and if so, where do we go from here?

I'm so gaffing the pilot episode for this series.

If anything, my greatest hope is that such outside the box factory thinking can expand beyond commercials into more standard programming. Sometimes cult followings crossover, and when that happens we’ve historically been all the better not only for better art, but the seeds planted for future generations that continue to defy convictions while managing to not suck. Abbbbbbdominals.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

South Park vs. Militant Islamic Radicals & One Angry Red-Headed Kid

April 23, 2010

I spy with my little eye something that is BLASPHEMOUS!

This week saw the airing of “South Park’s” 201st episode, the aptly named “201.” In it, celebrities and Gingers collided over possession of the Muslim prophet Mohammad who both sides believed solely possessed the ability to “never get made fun of ever.” It was a poignant episode that lived up to the hype of the series, now in its fourteenth season, reaching such a momentous milestone. It was not without controversy as, not unlike the last time creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Peace be Upon Them) flirted with broadcasting an image of Mohammad (seen as the highest level of blasphemy in certain Islamic circles, punishable by death), there was an overlying fear at the show’s home Comedy Central that death threats would be made. Little did they know that they would incur the wrath of not only Militant Muslims but a Rigorously Rowdy Redhead.

The Islam-centric threats came from the New York-based website RevolutionIslam. I’d like to quote their official statement that mentioned previous artists murdered for depicting Mohammad in the past and specific directions as to how to get to the creators’ (Peace Be Upon Them) homes, but I can’t as their website has since been hacked in the absolute most hilarious of ways. Minor as it may seem, the threat was enough to intimidate the network itself, resulting in every instance of the word “Mohammad” used in the episode being bleeped out, and a large black censor-bar completely obscuring the prophet for the entire half-hour duration. The network went one step further as to pull the episode out of its scheduled rerun slots, as well as made it, as well as every other episode that so much as mentioned the prophet (!), unavailable to stream on both Netflix and the show’s website.

One of these things is not like the others...

Is Comedy Central overreacting? Perhaps.* Without getting into “we can’t let the terrorists win” rhetoric, I have to echo the sentiment of the show’s original “Cartoon Wars” two-parter from 2006 where, addressing the Danish Mohammad cartoon fiasco, declared that in the eyes of parody “either everything’s OK or nothing is OK.” It’s a slippery slope and, seeing as every other religion has been blasphemed to some degree, sets a dangerous precedent. Stone and Parker (Peace Be Upon Them) responded yesterday morning with this message on the show’s official website:

In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.

Also angry with Stone and Parker (Peace Be Upon Them) is a red-headed Youtube “personality” named CopperCab. You’ve probably seen his original outrage video from a few months ago venting his frustration with the show’s treatment of “Gingers,” people born with red hair, pale skin and freckles:

Which became such a phenomenon that the boys (Peace Be Upon Them) aired a clip of Cartman recreating the video as a commercial for the show’s season premiere:

Of course Coppercab saw the clip and, channeling the spirit of Mick Foley, came back with this:

Personally, I find the idea of one of the biggest franchises in cable-television history targeting an obscure 18-year-old boy for something he said on the internet to be hilarious. Coppercab seems non-plused by the entire thing and, following the implicating of Gingers in the last episode, came back with this:

Folks, if you’re like me, you can’t stop watching those opening three seconds. Incredible. I’d make the kid one of my favorite nutzoids, but I’m not convinced his sheer insanity has peaked yet. Could the Gingers and Radical Islam perhaps be in cahoots? Is this a multi-national conspiracy to get “South Park” removed once and for all? How will Matt and Trey (Peace Be Upon Them) respond on Wednesday? Now that we finally know Cartman’s father, it looks like every truth will be coming forward soon.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

UPDATE CUPCAKE: As of 3:15 PM ET on April 23rd 2010 AD, London has REFUSED to air episode “201.” More on this as it develops.

*And by “perhaps” I mean “yes.”

CENSUS 2010 – Census Review

April 7, 2010

THE MARK OF THE BEAST

Happy Spring dear readers. If you’re not like me, you’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Last week’s updates were somewhat sporadic and it’s been six days since my last transmission out to you in internetville. While I understand the idealistic and comforting thoughts that, perhaps, I was celebrating Easter or Passover with loved ones or returning to Can Cun for Spring Break with Skylar and Chet, the situation has been far more serious. I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but I may have really messed up something with my personal life that has now put me, you and everyone we know* in grave danger. I filled out the 2010 Census.

Yes, I don’t know what I was thinking and that’s exactly why I’ve been holed up in my attic/bunker/bomb shelter/Arby’s for the past week. By letting the government know that (and sorry if this is TMI) I’m a 23-and-a-half-year-old white male who has two roommates, I have left myself vulnerable to whatever socialist hologram missile they want to fire at my door and take my guns, which I’ve named “Lord Tariq” and “Peter,” away. Not since I foolheartedly got the H1N1 vaccine shot last February have I wandered into such an apocalyptic warzone from which no independence can escape. I’ve been seduced by a system that somehow allows a Democratic Republic to make not willingly participating in something so unconstitutional a federal offense.

But now that I’ve made my bath, it’s time to sleep in it. This was the first Census, U.S. or otherwise, I’ve ever taken part in. I did recall having fond memories of Census 2000, but in reality I was just thinking of Death Race 2000. From what television (tell-lie-vision) and radio (rey-dio, Spanish for “King God”) would have you believe, the purpose of the Census is to figure out who exactly is making up this pretty good great country. However, Minnesota Congresswoman and Pixar villain Michele Bachmann recently made it quite clear the Government wants to read my diary and find out which girl in homeroom I like as in like like. This sentiment was shared by evolution-denying Texas Congressman Ron Paul who whined about it voiced his concerns while trying to figure out how to work his answering machine. Using this evidence, we can clearly see that Barack Obama is planning on rounding up all the Japanese into internment camps as his entire administration runs on a platform whose primary focus is harkening back to World War II and finishing the job. I mean, I’m as disinterested in anime as the next guy who bathes, but I would NEVER willingly take part in THIS!

As for the Census itself, despite being a fascist trap that plays directly into the New World Order‘s plan for global domination, it was pretty nice. It came on a high quality paper and was worded in a manner that made it accessible for all but not oversimplified. There was only one section that I felt the wording was a little bit off:

Ummmmmmm....what?

Now, it’s not my place to speak on that word but I did read that the Government has attempted to explain the controversial word choice by stating that enough Americans still self-identify as that word that I don’t feel comfortable typing. The word I can speak on, however, is “white.” I, myself, greatly prefer the term “Caucazoid.” In fact, I think racial identification is just more white guilt reactionary institutionalized profiling of the other. Instead, people should identify as “Awesome,” “Jus Aiight” or “Jerk.” Doesn’t that seem simpler?

Overall, if we survive the Reptilian Humanoids using the information provided to crash commercial aviation into our homes, 2020’s Census looks promising. Right now, however, the outdated terminology really takes away from what would otherwise be a truly great Government form. Picking up the tab on returning the form was a nice touch, almost making up for the redundancy of the “Census is coming” and “Your Census is Due” pamphlets I received in the mail which really made Uncle Sam seem like a needy College girlfriend. It’s above-average, but still somewhat of a letdown.

We give The 2010 Census a Three Out of Five.

Until next time… Let’s Agree to Agree!

*Except for “people” who enjoyed the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know as I don’t really recognize them as people, but rather opaque talking odors.