Hip-Hop Fridays: Industry And Street Notes...October 11, 2002

With "Wanksta'" absolutely owning New York City radio (Hot 97, 107.5 WBLS and Power 105) and systems inside of anything moving on the West Side Highway, Jersey Turnpike, and the Verrazano, it is hard to argue that 50 Cent isn't pulling off the biggest comeback in Hip-Hop history. It was only around two years ago that 50 Cent had offended every major Hip-Hop artist in the game by making a cut, "How to rob..." on which he cleverly, and tongue-in-cheek, describes the robberies of the unique material possessions of Hip-Hop's biggest artists. From the response, only 50 and his fans thought it was funny. With a very real but little-known history of Hip-Hop artists being robbed for their jewels, it isn't a stretch to see how some artists would not view the track as good humor. Everyone from Jay-Z, Big Pun and Ghostface Killah expressed serious displeasure or offered "wink-of-the eye" verbal spankings for the Queens rapper (Jay-Z has referred to the back-and-forth with 50cent as "pro wrestling" where the artists, despite public disses, have no real problems with each other backstage). With Ja Rule it was worse, with the two artists having a real physical exchange of animosity. Then, there was 50's little-known cut, "Jerk," on Next's sophmore 2000 album where the artist raps about, well, as it has been described, "self-love." I leave it to you to read the lyrics by clicking here. 50's "honesty" on an R&B cut with a rapidly fading group didn't win him many new fans and had his street loyalists scratching their heads. In the middle of all of this he wound up getting shot at point blank range, in the jaw and legs, requiring surgery. He would later part ways with Tone and Poke from Trackmasterz, and appeared to be an island unto himself, in a constellation of platinum stars and their satellite crews. What brought 50 back? Well, 50 Cent recently revealed his "secret." At the recent Mixshow Power Summit in Puerto Rico a couple of weeks ago, 50 told the world's best Hip-Hop D.J.s that for some time now he has intentionally been making music and giving it to the hottest and most influential mixtape DJs - permitting them to have exclusive cuts and then offering to guest host and provide drops for them. It is a technique that record labels have perfected but I can't recall a single independent artist executing the strategy as effectively as 50 has (right now, 50 Cent has 7, that's right, SEVEN "Best of'" mixtapes on the street, all selling!). Over time, the streets were fiending for more of the former boxer's creative works and previously stand-offish D.J.s were hollering at 50 to bless their tapes with freestyles. Eventually the A&Rs and label execs acknowledged the growing buzz (which many of them are still in shock over) and a bidding war for 50's services ensued. Eminem and Dr. Dre of Shady/Aftermath won out and now, it's on. Need we remind you of what 50 said to MTV earlier this summer, ""I have full access to the streets through mixtapes - that's my forum. I take full advantage of it. I don't have it where I can say, 'Put this on [the radio program] "Top Eight at 8,." When it gets to that point, it's gonna be terrible for them because the artists that are out there don't control the street. They skipped over that and went to mainstream radio once they came out." Well, since that quote 50 has controlled the Top Eight at 8 and the Fourplay at Four and the new album is done...

...L.L. Cool J.'s album "Ten" drops on Tuesday Oct. 15th. "Luv U Better" is now spinning at radio more than 5,000 times a week, and the Video is in heavy rotation on BET & MTV. He has more than one Neptunes produced track - a sure formula for success. Mr. Smith has the XXL cover story on stands now, and the 17-year veteran raised eyebrows and generated some applause and respect for his recent endorsement of the Republican Governor of New York, George Pataki in his effort to win a third term in office. Sounds like L.L. is pushing all of the right buttons in the world of pre-album promo, right? Not so fast. A national group of independent retailers is discussing boycotting L.L.'s album due to the fact that Def Jam has informed them that L.L. will not be including them in his promo tour and in-store activities because of his prior committment to the filming of his movie "Swat." L.L. should be careful. Hollywood is nice but the Mom and Pop record stores make the first-week sales look pretty...

Here are the song titles for "Ten":

1. Intro
2. Born To Love You
3. Luv U Better
4. Paradise feat. Amerie
5. Fa Ha
6. Niggy Nuts
7. Amazin' - Introducing Kandice Love
8. Clockin' G's
9. Lollipop
10. After School feat. P. Diddy
11. Throw Ya L's Up
12. U Should
13. 1Million Stars
14 Mirror Mirror
15. Big Mama (Unconditional Love) feat. Dru Hill...

...In overlooked music for the underserved there is a hot CD coming out on October 15th, that my friend Teria Rogers, a producer on WEAA 88.9 FM Baltimore, MD, Morgan State University Public Radio has put me onto. It is called Red Hot + Riot. Full of African music and dedicated to Fela Kuti, it features well-known artists such as Dead Prez, Common, Macy Gray, Talib Kweli and Me' Shell N'Degecello etc...Here is a good look: http://www.redhotriot.com/. By the way, the B-more BlackElectorate.com representatives should be sure to catch The Morning Journey with Sandi Mallory from 5:30-10AM, which Teria produces. WEAA is primarily a jazz station but features Carribean, African, Public Affairs, Hip Hop, Gospel and Talk. Its the format of the future...

...We have been telling you about it for 6 months in this space. On Wednesday it finally happened - M.O.P. has officially signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. The first sign that the ink was drying on the paper came last Thursday when Beanie Sigel dropped by Funkmaster Flex's show brandishing a Jay-Z/M.O.P. remix of "U Don't Know" ( a song off of Jay-Z's Blueprint album that has a very M.O.P.-friendly beat). The Philly native could be heard repeatedly telling all other rap crews and record labels, over the airwaves, to "re-group" because "the Roc-A-Fella roster is crazy." The first M.O.P. cut to be handled by Roc-A-Fella is "Ground Zero." Laughter broke out at the press conference announcing the signing when M.O.P. made a comment that indicated they were looking forward to having all-access to the R.O.C.-owned beverage of choice, Armadale Vodka. In more R.O.C. news, Cam'Ron has begun his Paid In Full Tour. You can catch The Diplomats - Cam'ron, Juelz Santana, Freaky Zekey and Jim Jones appearing live with N.O.R.E, & MOP and more on the Paid In Full Tour on the following dates:

October 11 - House Of Blues - Myrtle Beach, SC
October 12 - North Carolina A&T - Greensboro, NC
October 13 - Hard Rock Cafe - Orlando, FL
October 15 - Quest - Minneapolis, MN
October 16 - House of Blues - Chicago, IL
October 17 - State Theater - Detroit, MI
October 18 - TBA - Fayetteville, NC
October 19 - Howard University - Washington, DC
October 22 - Agora - Cleveland, OH
October 24 - Skyline - Boston, MA
October 25 - First Union Center (Power 99) - Philadelphia, PA
October 26 - Connecticut State University - Danbury, CT
October 27 - Buffalo State University - Buffalo, NY
October 28 - Hammerstein Ballroom - New York, NY
October 31 - Florida Atlantic University - Boca Raton, FL
November 1 - North Carolina State - Raleigh, NC
November 2 - Delaware State - Dover, DE
November 3 - Savannah State - Savannah, GA
November 6 - TBA - Richmond/Baltimore, MD
November 7 - Norfolk State - Norfolk, VA
November 8 - Civic Center - Greenville, SC
November 9 - Perdue - Indianapolis, IN
November 10 - TBA - Milwaukee, WI

Still can't figure out why the R.O.C. is promoting Freeway's hot new single "What We Do" (with a beat and loop that would make Truemaster and RZA proud) featuring Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel when they have decided to push his album back until next spring. And people wonder why the mixtapers', MP3'ers, and CD burners' don't buy albums anymore. You can listen to "What We Do" by clicking here. By the way, yesterday it was announced that global record sales are down by 9.2% this year. Read my E-Letter To The Los Angeles Times and Geoff Boucher Re: "Hip-Hop's Slump: A Blip or a Trend?" at
. Don't fall for the music industry/RIAA line that this is all the fault of music file sharing and CD burning. If the industry would put out some product, year-round, instead of waiting to flood the market during the 4th quarter, we would have something to buy...

...Russell Simmon's Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) is having its third regional summit for Hip-Hop artists and the community, today and tomorrow. Here is the official release:

"In response to an invitation issued by hip hop legend and Dallas native, the D.O.C., the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is convening its third major summit in Dallas, TX. October 11&12, 2002 at the Adolphus Hotel and the Texas Academy of Arts and Letters. The theme of the Dallas Hip Hop Summit is "Taking Back Responsibility:Empowering Our Youth."

In prior Summits in New York and Los Angeles, the HSAN (Hip-Hop Summit Action Network) has focused on the theme of "Taking Back Responsibility." The D.O.C. is the first hip-hop artist to initiate the establishment of a HSAN local Youth Council and the theme of the Dallas Summit reflects the commitment of the D.O.C. and his Silverback Records label to empowering the youth of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

For the first time, the HSAN is opening the Summit to public participation and, as a result, there has been a tremendous response from youth throughout the Dallas -Ft. Worth area. Involved in the Dallas Hip Hop Summit program will be the Dallas Urban League and NAACP, the S,I.T.E.S. (Students Information Technology Education Scholarships) program, Merrill Lynch and Bryan's House, an adolescent program to help Dallas-Ft.Worth youth become responsible adults.

Joining the D.OC will be Russell Simmons, Chairman of Def Jam Records and the HSAN, recording artist Erykah Badu, Minister Benjamin Muhammad, CEO/President of the HSAN, on-air personality Action Jaxon, elected officials, record industry executives and local civic leaders.

The official radio station of the Dallas Hip-Hop Summit is 97.9 THE BEAT, a Radio One affiliate.

Day one of the Dallas Hip-Hop Summit on October 11th, which will take place at the Adolphus Hotel, will begin with registration from 9 to 11am. The first session will begin at 11am, and will feature a panel discussion moderated by Minister Benjamin Muhammad, including Russell Simmons, Erykah Badu, the DOC, State Senator Royce West, Dallas Urban League CEO Dr. Beverly Brooks-Mitchell and Rikki Rincon, media relations specialist for the Latino musical community, Vernon Norris, COO of Silverback Records and Jonathan Huffman, VP of Silverback Records. The second session will focus on Hip-Hop Economic Development, Hip-Hop Political Empowerment and establishing the Dallas-Ft. Worth Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council. In addition, the Urban Leaguer Def Jam Reader literacy program and the SITES programs will be highlighted.

Day two of the Dallas Hip-Hop Summit on October 12th will begin with a 9:30am visit to the Dallas Juvenile Detention Center by the D.O.C., Russell Simmons, Minister Benjamin Muhammad and other Summit participants. HSAN believes that hip-hop can help inspire young people to avoid juvenile delinquency and this visit represents an outreach effort on the part of those involved. Following the visit, the program will begin at 11am at the Texas Academy of Arts & Letters. It will focus on youth voter mobilization and a "Get Out The Vote" rally, in conjunction with an appearance by Ron Kirk, Democratic candidate for United States Senate. In the afternoon, the NAACP and Rap The Vote will make a special presentation. The Summit will conclude with the building of an action agenda by the youth of Dallas-Ft. Worth, declaring their issues and their priorities which will guide the work of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council.

...In the March 15th 2002 edition of this column we wrote: "By the way, has there ever been a "King Of Hip-Hop Soul"? The closest thing we can think of in terms of an R&B artist or group that had almost unanimous support from the Hip-Hop community is Jodeci. If we had to promote a new artist for the title as of today, it would be Jahiem, who is backed by Naughty By Nature's former producer Kay Gee and blowing up by the day." How prescient is that sounding these days? With his song "Fabulous" - for those of you who haven't heard it yet, you'll love it and so will the children - blowing up in New York City (they know the chorus: "cause u-n-i-t-y is all we need; to get our r-e-s-p-e-c-t; never g-i-v-e, u-p and keep your h-e-a-d, u-p) his new album, Still Ghetto, coming soon, and his first album having sold 1.5 million, we'll get out front and say that Jahiem will be the male equivalent of Mary J. Blige, this decade. If you haven't heard "Fabulous" or Jahiem's first album, Ghetto Love, don't be excited by our pronouncement, get a late pass, cop the first album, and get the second album as soon as it comes out. Right now Jahiem is headlining the Seagram's Gin Live 2002 tour which is raising funds for One Hundred Black Men and concludes October 18th in Los Angeles...

...In a universe of unsigned, new and reborn artists to watch, keep your eyes on Eboni - a unique vocalist with all of the Soul, Reggae, Hip-Hop and R&B trappings you could hope for. Some of you may remember her, as she has paid her dues, while evolving her talent. Eboni, as a theater major at Hampton University, formed a female group called KEI that eventually signed to Atlantic Records. KEI was shelved in favor of another female trio - the Braxton Sisters - but was soon picked up by Jireh Records in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, Jireh filed for bankruptcy and left Eboni and friends without a contract. These experiences led to the production of her first independently released debut album, Marley Brown, named after two of the artists that have influenced her most - marrying the rhythm, revolution and consciousness of James Brown and Bob Marley, reflecting Eboni's beliefs and philosophy. Marley Brown is currently available at Tower Records, Sam Goody, Kemp Mill, and Willies in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Online, Eboni's Marley Brown can be purchased on her website: www.Eboni247.com and www.soulblazing.com. Over the past two years, Eboni has been performing her material primarily in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area as well as Philadelphia and New York. Eboni spins captivating soulful songs, delivering a positive message to those listening and whose hearts and minds are open to her understanding. Her next scheduled performances are this weekend at Malcolm X Park in Washington, D.C. for the Awareness of Oneness festival, and the 26th of October at VIP also in DC. Check her out and get a copy of her album. And to all of the A&R's - don't drag your feet...

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, October 11, 2002