Web Site: http://minds-alike.co
Bio: Mr. Bab finds interest in reading, writing, listening to music and defeating you in any competition. Check out his social and political commentary blog, Minds Alike.
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I know this is an old topic but I was reminded of it while listening to NPR talk radio the other day.
NPR reported on why there are still thousands of people who still lack electricity and heat two weeks after Hurricane Sandy. Some problems that led to the shortage of amenities was the lack of electricians, presumably, the radio said, due to city to city permits that only allowed electricians to work in their city. This sounds like a classic case of protectionism but who knows, the wiring requirements may differ from city to city (though I doubt it). That is besides the point.
Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast hard, an especially bad thing in highly dense states like New Jersey, New York. Estimates for the damage range from billion in New Jersey to billion in New Jersey.
Sandy was predicted days before and state and local governments urged residents to evacuate. Despite this, many residents stayed, downplaying the degree of the storm, and over 100 people died as a result.
Unlike Hurricane Katrina, whereby governments provided bussing out of the area, east coast officials did no such thing. Sandy’s damages totaled to about $50 billions in property damage, second behind Hurricane Katrina by $58 billion (source NOAA, pg. 5), and thousands are still suffering, yet, Kanye West was no where to be found. Everyone remembers his statement that “George Bush didn’t like black people” on camera alongside Austin Powers during a fundraising concert for the displaced Katrina victims. Such a statement was obviously not scripted so this act was either premeditate or said spontaneously out of passion. My guess is the former.
What would lead West to concur that Bush Jr. didn’t care about Black people? As many have pointed out, Bush’s cabinet had more Black people than any previous president, including the so called “first Black president” Bill Clinton and even the current one.
So, again, I ask, what possibly led West to believe such a thing and make a bold claim with bo base?
I can’t look into West’s head but like many Black people they witnessed the condition of the damaged areas, specifically New Orleans, after the storm, people begging for help on roofs, orders to shoot on site and the police handling of looters(1), and concluded that the black suffering was a result of the federal government’s indifference or disregard for Black people.
Now we have a Hurricane Sandy hitting mostly white, suburban areas and two weeks after the disaster, thousands are still in the east coast winter without heat or electricity. Does President Obama care about white people? Using West’s logic, no.
This is a problem that I’ve longed harped about, and that is the double standards of Obama’s presidency. Black people are so scared to harshly criticize the President, if at all, because, presumably he’s “our guy” and we better not team up on him. Instead, shut up, fall in line and team up against those racist white people and the Republican Party. It’s the classic Us vs. Them play; it hurts us and only benefits the political elites.
The real beef is not with Bush or Obama but with government; it’s expensive, lethargic, incompetent, etc. The government, in the natural disaster case FEMA, is not good at handling problems, much less wide spread emergencies, and we all–Black, White, Latino, Asian, poor, rich–suffer from the inherent features of government. In fact, many, including myself, contend government worsens (many times perceived) problems.
Without government, how on earth could we handle such disasters, you ask? There are private organizations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, Direct Relief International, etc that are better suited for handling disasters. There are no lack of funds, as Americans are the biggest private donators in the world (note: Americans are also the richest). In fact, American private donations exceeded government aid in 2007 (p. 26). Donations totaled to $4 billion for Katrina and over $40 million for Sandy so far.
Other relief efforts such as entertainment, food and logical assistance must be taken into account as well. Entertainers and celebrities, with CDs and concerts, play a huge role in relief efforts as well.
In addition, private flood insurance–gasp! natural disaster profiteering–would be a much better solution instead of the current tax payer funded insurance programs, which essentially subsidizes and guarantees repair for destroyed homes in extremely high risk zones. This leaves no incentive for the homebuilder to build else where; what economist call a moral hazard is removed from decision making. Now the tax payer is put on the hook for homes–luxurious ones I might add–built in extremely risky areas that no private insurance would dare cover, at least without a high premium.
Kanye West is apart of the Hurricane Sandy benefit lineup, along with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys and several other A-class entertainers, on 12-12-12 and good for him. That’s the right thing to do, I believe. But he shouldn’t make ludicrous claims and hold presidents to different standards. I’ve already expressed that we should ignore celebrities when it comes to politics but when it comes to West, we should ignore pretty much everything that leaves his mouth that isn’t on an album or radio–and even that could be ignored.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.
(1) There is a lot of confusion on where the order to shoot looters came from. Some conclusions lead to Warren Riley, NOPD police superintendent, a black man. Others point to a phrase said by then Mayor Nagin, a black man, as stated above, on the radio in regards to martial law. Pro Publica has an excellent updated piece on the whole ordeal.
Jimi Hendrix is the greatest rock guitarist of all time.
OK now that is out-of-the-way–and NOT up for discussion–Happy 70th to Jimi Hendrix.
One day while watching PBS, ZZ Top was the featured band and performed their regular hits like “Waiting on the Bus,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” and the others. This new sound was so foreign to me but I loved it It wasn’t long until I discovered this dirty sound was blues-rock. Now, at the time, I didn’t listen to rock at all. Funny enough, the only taste of rock I’d experienced was Lenny Kravitz, specifically his song “Lady.” I would dance around the game room singing this. The other taste of rock, which I quickly rejected, was N.E.R.D’s Fly or Die. I was (am) a huge Pharrell fan and some how I found out about his side project and the cover fascinated me, along with that cool red dog.
ZZ Top introduced me to rock but it was Jimi Hendrix who made me fall in love with the genre. Interestingly enough, Billy Gibbons, lead player for ZZ Top, was taught by Hendrix how to play guitar at the age of 17.
Hendrix was just amazing. My former band members can testify how crazy I was for this man. Mitch Mitchell, drummer for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, was also my favorite drummer and there was not mistaken on his influence after hearing me play. In particular, Mitchell’s fills, modeled after Elvin Jones (drummer for John Coltrane Quartet), were unheard of over a rock record at that time. Sure you had Cream with Ginger Baker but Hendrix’s psychedelic guitar and Mitchell’s explosiveness was simply unmatched. Here’s a great video demonstrating the fills, the latter obviously played with a more “rocky” texture, but exact same triplet fills: Jones at 2:37-3:36 and Mitchell at 1:11; such fills can be heard on nearly every Experience track.
The Experience only released 3 albums, Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland (yup, same studio Badu, Al Green, John Mayer and countless other artist record in) before splitting and forming Gyspy Sun and Rainbows (sometimes called Band of Gyspsys), with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums/vocals. Gyspy Sun and Rainbows was an all-black funk-rock trio formed with Cox, former Vietnam War buddy, and Miles, who was already a pretty-well established vocalist and even led on many tracks, allowing Hendrix to sit back and play rhythm; Mitchell would sometimes play drums. They only recorded a live album titled Live at Fillmore East and didn’t perform enough shows. Band of Gyspsys had the most obvious influence on Funkadelic and Sly Stone, causing Ed Hazel, lead guitarist for Funkadelic, to be nicknamed “Hendrix’s step kid.”
Hendrix’s influence spanned from John Mayer to Eric Clapton to Hillel Slovak (original RHCP guitarist) to Prince. He will forever be missed and I hope one day he appears, admitting to faking his death.
Here are 10 Hendrix songs, performances and covers that demand a listen, in no particular order:
5. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Catfish Blues (Muddy Waters cover)
9. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Killin Floor (Howlin’ Wolf cover)
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.
I have been meaning to write about celebrities and their support for President Obama for a while now. Here it is.
My beef was re-kindled after hearing Young Jeezy on the Rickey Smiley Morning show expressing his continual support for Obama and released his new song, “We Done It Again.” Obama has shouted him out jokingly, “in my first term I sang Al Green, in my second term, I’m going with Young Jeezy.”
The new song has normal political topics: praising the GM bailout, blame everything on Bush, Romney can’t relate to Blacks, Hurricane Katrina, etc. He even says, “we waiting on a savior, maybe Barak.”
Then laments about the number of Blacks in jail before saying this is supposed to be the “land of the free.”
During the interview I couldn’t help but to think about the drug laws, an issue of great importance to me, and how Jeezy, also known as the Snowman, a former drug dealer, who raps about selling drugs, and the lifestyle of it, which includes dying and/or imprisonment, never mentions or connects the Black imprisonment rate with the War on Drugs, an extremely popular and enduring topic in Hip Hop music.
OK that was a lot. Let me try again.
Obama, an ardent prohibitionist, receives support from a former drug lord, boss, whatever, who released a song in praise of the President, which ignores a problem he griefs about in the song–Blacks in jail.
I understand drug policy wasn’t the point the song and isn’t a top issue for most people but Jeezy made a living—dare I say, lifestyle–off the War on Drug policies–and is still profiting from the image now!
Not too sound insulting, but with an issue so pivotal to Jeezy’s life, does he know the President’s or the Democratic Party platform? Unfortunately I couldn’t listen to the full interview but I’d be interested if the hosts asked why, exactly, he liked the President and disliked Romney? Also, what does he think about the President’s gun positions, since he’s been arrested on gun charges.
That sounds like a more interesting conversation in my opinion.
My belief is, like most people, he’s attracted to Obama’s youthfulness, Blackness, Democratic-ness (?). In my experience, other than Obamacare, most people can’t tell me why they like Obama–but are quick to lash out against “the other team.” He sings Al Green, hangs with entertainers, drinks and attends NBA games, etc. Overall he is more likeable and charismatic (Romney bears neither trait), which is perhaps the greatest factor in determining politicians.
Voters love personality, to hell with the policies.
Lastly the song says Obama can’t fix what “Bush f*cked up in two.” Does this suggest it will take 2 terms to fix? If the problem isn’t “fix(ed)” by 2016, will you release another song praising or condeming his performance and presidency? You might as well; if you praise him now with a bad economy and high unemployment–then you should praise him again if the situation worsens.
Since the founding, mainstream rap has centered around a few things, one of them being, certainly, the use and sale of drugs. The drug choice of use is mainly marijuana, weed, Mary Jane–whatever name you give your bud–cocaine and pills. Virtually all of the A and B class rappers, unless, of course, he/she is a gospel rapper, have several songs which mentions and/or glorify the activities.
Recently while listening to 8 Ball and MJG’s On Top of the World, the thought of the effect drug laws had on the Hip hop community rubbed over me. President Nixon ramped up so called War on Drugs and since then neighborhoods and oversea villages have been raided, masses of innocent people have died and hundreds of billions dollars have been spent (or wasted, depending which way you look at it). Now, I won’t beat a dead horse on the impact the WOD had on the Black community. We all know half (p.1, pdf) of prison inmates are in there for drug offenses; we all know WOD has been nicknamed a War on Black People; we all know Blacks get tougher penalties for drug offenses; we all know there is sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine drug charges.
Since we know all that, imagine the impact looser drug laws would have had on the Hip hop world and its entertainers. A lot of rappers would not have existed in the rap scene if forced to choose a legal profession. It was, precisely, the effect of selling drugs (and drug policies) that led them to rap and choosethat as their topic and image of choice.
What goes for Jeezy goes for Jay Z. Does he support Obama for public image? Didn’t you, Jay-Z (with Kareem Biggs Burke, who was recently sentenced to prison for marijuana charges), co-found Roc A Fella with drug money? Isn’t most of your albums about drug dealing and street life?
Rappers who claim to be former drug dealers should thank the President and other prohibitionist for enriching them, like Mexico’s drug lord who said, “From the bottom of my heart, I want to say, Gracias amigos [Reagan, Bush Jr and Sr., and Obama], I owe my whole empire to you.”
This whole celebrity-politics-Obama complex is a big problem for me. Overall, I take absolutely every word out of a celebrity’s mouth with a grain of salt, or sand, whichever is smaller and weighs less. Rappers and celebrities should just butt out of the political (and social?) sphere and stick to making music.
During the Kony 2012 craze-mess, Lupe Fiasco, viewed as a more “conscious” artist, tweeted that Obama should send troops to Uganda. But Obama already did that months before Fiasco and the rest of the world caught onto the flavor of the month. I recognize “Little Soldiers,” so salute to you Mr. Fiasco.
Of course they can and will do what they please and I will always defend their freedom of speech, expression and conscience, even if what they say, express or think is completely false or contradictory; I don’t want a monopoly on this thing. But Murray Rothbard’s quote on economics applies to all topics: “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline…But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
Well said. It is no crime to be ignorant of politics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline of acting and doublespeak. Thinking in retrospect, celebrities may not be ignorant of politics, for they, too specialize in acting and doublespeak. Public figures and celebrities have a long history of working together though. Governments have alays hired them to further their ideology; and celebrities have always signed up for genuine or whorish reasons.
I can go on for years, in depth, on the hypocrisy of entertainers and politics but I will save that for another day—or a book.
*Update: I just discovered Jay Z doesn’t like the word “politics,” supports higher taxes but thinks we need “less government.” He supports “Barack because I gotta respect that sort of vision. I gotta respect a man who is the first black President ever,” he said.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.
After overhearing my brother sing some Rick Ross lyrics, I repeated a familiar joke to him. “And you said Ross’ career was over.” During the time 50 Cent aimed at ending Ross’ career due to his previous profession as a correctional officer, many listeners, including my brother, counted Ross as down and out and unable to stay in the game.
Many may take offense to my specification of black radio and music so let me first quickly explain my case.
When one thinks of Black radio, one names R&B and Hip Hop as the only two genres representing black music. Rock, pop, country, and to a much lesser extent blues (a case can be made for blues but I’ll concede for the sake of length)–none of these genres have a black face. Sure in pop, country and blues there are black entertainers but it is not popularly accepted as “Black music.” R&B and Hip Hop are the only two safe genres that can be popularly accepted as black music.
I am ecstatic the world has woke up to the Hip Hop producer turned jazz pianist Robert Glasper. Glasper is from Houston and I first heard him on YouTube (of course) three years ago. My former drum teacher introduced me to the skillful, now one of my favorites, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave who regularly performed with the Robert Glasper Trio along with bassist Derrick Hodge. Dave possesses a crazy feel and a keen sense of time. He once said in a Vater interview, “I don’t like the way I sound on toms…” so he surrounded himself with snares (he used toms with Mint Condition and Kenny Garret. I am not sure when he stopped playing with toms) thus satisfying his “fetish.” Hodge has performed and recorded with Maxwell, Common, Jill Scott, Anthony McClurkin, and many other entertainers.
Damion Reid was the recording drummer for the second and third Robert Glasper Trio album, bassist Vicente Archer accompanied the two and recorded with Dave,on “Double-Booked,” the Trio’s previous album.
Bred by JDilla and Questlove, Glasper’s sound has always been the soul of true Hip Hop. Glasper frequently honors the great Thelonious Monk and one of his most popular songs is the “Everything Is In Its Right Place,” an original by Radiohead. Different genres comprise of Glasper’s sound but he maintains that jazzy epidermis. The Robert Glasper Experiment, with Hodge on bass and Casey Benjamin on synthesizer, played an intimate and animated show featuring Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West. The fan’s intensity proved we are returning back to the soul, simplicity and beauty of Hip Hop; the substance, discipline, and message in Hip Hop.
Last week the experiment performed on the David Letterman show promoting their new album, suitably named Black Radio. It was excellent to see Bilal on stage again displaying his jazzy vocals. Unfortunately ‘Daddy’ Dave wasn’t on the drums but Derrick Hodge was still on the 6-string bass.
The relationship between jazz and Hip Hop is nothing new, though. Miles Davis recorded Doo Bop; A Tribe Called Quest is obviously influenced by jazz and even recorded with famed bassist Ron Carter on The Low End Theory. Digable Planets, The Fugees, Jay-Z and countless others sampled Jazz which was heavily used during the early 90′s in hip hop.
Whatever Glasper’s goal may be, maybe Black Radio is setting the tone for the future urban radio; for 2012 and beyond. Is it possible? Meh. Maybe somewhere in the future. Far future. Fortunately, Glasper is already in the future. His music is ahead of its time. Black Radio, along with his previous works, deserves to be the face of Hip Hop. In my opinion.
Black Radio features Erykah Badu, Bilal, Stokely (of Mint Condition) Chrisette Michelle, Musiq Soulchild and others. If you appreciate quality music, vote with your dollars and help re-define Hip Hop.
“these are only my opinions”
The first day of February brings about mixed feelings for me, and for anyone who is genuinely interested in Black history. Be it slavery, post slavery, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Migration or the Civil Rights era, I am into Black history and appreciate our great people.
What we should not be into is the sudden interest in Black history just because government or society grants our race with a special month (one that happens to be the shortest interestingly enough).
I am not being a pissy-fit; I appreciate the government’s action (since 1976) to acknowledge the Black history in America and those in the African diaspora. I am thankful for the progression: at one point Africans were not recognized as whole people and now there is a holiday!
(Historian Carter G. Woodson started Negro History Week in 1926 with its purpose to honor Black achievements and culture)
Last year I had an interview with Texas Board of Education trustee Mavis B. Knight and she definitively told me the upcoming textbooks for the 2012 school year were white-washed as a result of the numerous changes the board agreed upon (and she fought against). What use is Black History month when the state government is teaching this generation a White-washed history?
(If you are interested in hearing the interview, please tweet or email me. The Swift website is currently down)
Here I present a new way to view Black history month.
Instead of watching the TV laud over the same figures—MLK Jr, Dubois, Douglass, etc—how about applying their life lessons to present-day life.
The hangings, Jim Crow laws and other forms of institutional racism, and other things that follow racism we do not face, yet we, Black people, seem to have dropped the torch from our predecessors.
Frederick Douglass, who received no formal education, was born into slavery and later became a prolific writer and agent in the abolitionist movement; Booker T. Washington, another slave baby, later became a wonder orator and author, and leader of the Tuskegee Institute; these individuals triumphed over overt racism and repression by the state to become powerful leaders in Black community, leaving a deep print in American history.
How does this compare with today?
Since the 1980s, Blacks have led the stats in poverty, rounding off at 25% in 2009 (table 711). Degree holders for Blacks hover around 20% compared to the national average of 29%. Blacks are overly represented in the prison accounting to 40% of the population. 66% of Black children (fig.1) live in single-parent households. The statistics are dismal.
A few explanations have entered the realm of discussion, and possibly excused the numbers, including the ‘war on drugs’, which can explain the breakup of the Black family, the lack of Black male degree holders, and poverty rates. Such explanations cannot be discussed in this post.
Perhaps we can learn from our predecessors and those who fought and died for us and the things we take for granted. Certainly we can do better with the abundance of opportunities, and privileges—scholarships, free and reduced lunch in school, affirmative action, voting rights, infinite libraries, etc.–provided to us?
Now that you have the torch, what will you do?
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Bab Adetiba. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.
OK before I start, I must admit that I haven’t invested one second of my time figuring out what the Common-Drake beef is about or if it’s even real. So, here is my quick hypothesis on how the whole thing started: Common slipped a line in a song on his new album or exclusive track that might have been referring to Drake. If it wasn’t referring to Drake, over speculation perhaps? If it’s an authentic beef (which I doubt it is, if not Common is pathetic of Drake is a higher caliber writer than I credit him for) and is acknowledged by both parties, what could the beef be over?
I mean Serena Williams is a fine woman but say it ain’t so Joe?
Ugh. I’m so tired of rap beefs, especially the ones to boost record sales. That is so ‘06. Not
even “gangsta” rappers beef with each other any more.
Like, Common, really? Your last album was so shaky I’m not surprised at your assume tactic.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re my top 5 personal favorite rappers but I can’t tolerate this –
especially by someone with your resume.
This is the Common that dropped “The B**** In Yoo.” Why are you shooting at anyone? The same Com’ that rocked the White House?
Drake sings and does other weird stuff with his voice and body
“He opened his mouth and said some things,” said Common on Sway in the Morning, “so if he
want–then say what he want [inaudible].”
(For MTV’s timeline of the queef, click here)
Common is way too old for this. Every one knows this. Maybe that’s why I don’t care and won’t
invest my time in learning about the beef. Because it’s inauthentic, boring, and flat–kinda like
I’m happy to see the senseless queefing between two great artist die down, but why is Common still doing interviews about the situation. Drake is a smart artist and he knows that he can’t win a lyrical battle with Common, so props to him for keeping things “Canada Dry.” On the other hand Common, say it ain’t so homie?
P.S. The picture above is me and Common at his album signing in 2008…
2 Chainz is the epitome of the rap game right now. He is the perfect reason I don’t turn on the radio or take the rap game seriously any more.
His stage name, for one, is spelled foolishly. We seem to have an embrace (and worship) for nonsense, basic-ness, and ignorance. What does 2 Chainz mean? In what state of mind did he develop this name?
I don’t think I want to know the answer.
The hit single “Spend It,” is all over the airwaves, the TV screen, and in the clubs. Why not? 9 bars of “I’m riding round I’m gettin it/It’s mine, I spend it.”is catchy. But like Herman Cain’s tax slogan “9-9-9″ tax plan, “Spend It”lacks substance. Also, like “-9-9,” 2 Chainz single will crash the economy. No really.
Let me explain.
2 Chainz claims he’s “the perfect definition of something you’ve never seen” but he’s wrong. I do see people like him everyday. Criminals do ‘Shoot your ass down…;” I do see people “ridin around stuntin, smoking loud in public, talking loud in public yeah my entourage is bucking.”
I do see people like him everyday – and that’s the problem. Art (I guess if we want to call it art) is to reflect reality, not vice versa. But of course since his subject matter, no matter how detrimental, is deemed cool or makes him “the man,”reality will continue to reflect art.
Like I always say, if you’re going to have a negative subject matter, at least spit poetically. 2 Chainz takes no interest in it. A.B.C. raps are so 2011 I thought!
2 Chainz isn’t here or take interest in challenging the sad status quo. Oh no. He’s profiting from the Black stereotypes of criminality, illiteracy and illegitimacy.
“I’m allergic to the hater type, I’ll take your wife, give her back nine months after that, similac.”
Our dollars, views, and clicks are Hip Hop’s gatekeeper; we must block out wack rappers and support the good ones. Day by day entertainers like 2 Chainz dilute the rap game and make us look like fools. Call me what you will but if reminiscing over 8Ball and MJG’s classic album On Top of the World makes me the old, grumpy uncle, I will gladly embrace the title. ATLiens; Back For the First Time; Too Hard Too Swallow; Southern Hip Hop classics like these should be the bar.
Both 2Chainz and Herman Cain make Black people look bad. They are also both Atlanta natives.
In his book, Cain wrote that while in high school he did not get involved with the Civil Rights Movement because his father told him to “stay out of trouble.” Then he appeared on MSNBC and said “if i had been a college student, I probably would have been participating.” OK, he was under 18 so maybe I’m being unfair.
Upon further examination, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out that Cain attended Morehouse College in 1963 and sat on the sidelines while Blacks were being murdered and abused.
Yesterday Herman Cain reared his ugly head and made some comments on the Iowa caucus race and I couldn’t help but to cringe for I thought Cain was gone for good; like Herman Cain, I wish 2 Chainz will just disappear forever and for good.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bab Adetiba. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.