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-“An Interview with J Dilla’s Mother, Ms. Maureen Yancey” by Jeff Weiss for Passion of the Weiss

“It’s ridiculous. I still have contacts with all of Dilla’s friends and people in the hip-hop community. We still talk, we still keep in touch, we’ve became friends. They check in on me and I’ve had the opportunity to direct them to the estate thinking they’d be able to help do projects. But most of the time, none of their inquiries have been addressed. There’s no one that has made it accessible to them to contribute and get work done. I’ve stopped sending people there. They haven’t been forthright, I was told they didn’t appreciate the help, that we weren’t supposed to use Dilla’s name or license. By the time, I understood what was happening and learned about the legal ramifications, I took down the website for the Foundation that we’d created as to be in compliance with state laws. I figured in the coming year, they’d reevaluate their decision, but it never happened.”

-“Rick Ross’ Next Move” by Rafi Kam from OhWord

Rafi’s advice is of course, exactly what Ross should do, it’s not like anyone thought or believed he was a drug dealer in the first place…my opinion on the subject is, I don’t give a shit at all. It’s Ashlee Simpson syndrome. Everyone shits on someone who wasn’t interesting and really didn’t matter in the first place, but continue to ignore the hypocrisy or bullshit of artists who actually claim to stand for something or matter to people. The only thing that I know is the new Rick Ross and Nelly joint is incredible and Ross sort of raps on it, like gets into it and it’s really good. Rick Ross, just do stuff like this and never try to be tough at all.

-“Students Affairs” by Armond White for the New York Press

“This is a vile misuse of the intimate, verité and reportorial technique that the Maysles, Pennebaker and other doc pioneers worked so hard to justify. MTV has corrupted documentary etiquette and principle through such blinged-up reality-TV series as Super Sweet Sixteen and The Hills—the contrived style that has all but destroyed the integrity of the documentary format. And Burstein—who previously directed Bob Evans’ vanity bio, The Kid Stays in the Picture—hides her cruelty and ignorance behind this debased fashion. Ever since the lousy, condescending Hoop Dreams, too many docs have become dysfunctional family horror shows. Portable video cameras have made it possible for filmmakers to get in close to their subject—not to achieve intimacy, just tabloid sensationalism.”

The validity or lack thereof of ‘Hoop Dreams’ has been discussed here before, so I thought this quote was pretty interesting even if I don’t totally agree with it. This movie ‘American Teen’ certainly seems awful and exploitative–’Hoop Dreams’ only half-awful/exploitative–but White’s invocation of Pennebaker, the Maysles, and in another paragraph, Frederic Wiseman, does show how a lot of doc-makers like Steve James grossly misread the docs of those earlier guys. There’s no value judgements and no melodrama in say ‘High School’ or ‘Salesman’ or even something as super-dramatic and eventful as ‘Gimme Shelter’.

-“Kent Mackenzie’s ‘The Exiles’: Problematic?’ by Jordan for Suckapunk

A companion to this whole discussion of exploitation and “reality” and “documentary” and blah blah blah…

-“Two Shows I’ve Been Watching Part One: Generation Kill” by Joseph for Geek Down

“I wasn’t planning on watching Generation Kill a few weeks ago when the buzz really started picking up. Yes, I’ve certainly done my share of hyperbolizing about The Wire, but I wasn’t excited about David Simon’s next series. The term “mini-series” generally makes me roll my eyes upon hearing it, especially concerning those found on the more “artistic” cable channels. I also wasn’t too keen on the subject matter of the Iraq War. You see, I stopped paying attention to any news or politics after George Bush Jr. won his second election. Sort of because it was disappointing, but mainly because it was a good excuse to disguise my being stupid and lazy. Looking for solace and answers, I started to get into the ideas of libertarianism, anarchism, etc. I sort of went wild with that because it’s really easy to get lost in the masturbatory, escapist fantasy world of the libertarian philosophy while ignoring real situations and practical solutions. The philosophy becomes a way to mask intellectual laziness and apathy (and um, it’s full of holes, like frighteningly). That said, I think I’m “done” with the whole libertarian/anarchist thing, but remnants still hang around in my head. The idea of art addressing current-events or political topics still seems a little lame to me, sometimes because it sucks, sometimes because I just can’t hang mentally. (Apologies if my ignorance comes of as proud, I’m just trying to be truthful.)”

-“Too Weird for ‘The Wire” by Kevin Carey for Washington Monthly

“In the previous year, nearly twenty defendants in other Baltimore cases had begun adopting what lawyers in the federal courthouse came to call “the flesh-and-blood defense.” The defense, such as it is, boils down to this: As officers of the court, all defense lawyers are really on the government’s side, having sworn an oath to uphold a vast, century-old conspiracy to conceal the fact that most aspects of the federal government are illegitimate, including the courts, which have no constitutional authority to bring people to trial. The defendants also believed that a legal distinction could be drawn between their name as written on their indictment and their true identity as a “flesh and blood man.”

You Should Watch: ‘From Gs to Gents’ on MTV, Tuesdays at 10pm

Reality television’s the only TV to watch. Seriously. ‘From Gs to Gents’ picks up where Season 2 of Ego Trip’s reality show totally lost its place. Again, it sets-up a concept that’s super-easy to laugh at and mock and then ends up getting real and serious sometimes but still being ridiculous and absurd. Hosted by Fonzworth Bentley and starring basically a bunch of Jersey idiots, fake hard-ass thug wannabes, and a few actual thugs who are still fake hard-asses, they’re sent through a MTV-ized version of finishing school to learn how to not be assholes. Hilarity ensues, but as I said, there’s some reality there and most of all, the money prize means something not because it’s a lot of money but because some of these guys actually need it and so, Bentley kicks off the date-rapist guy with spikey hair who has a house, a car, and a motorcycle, and not the hothead drug dealer who sort of wants to turn his like around or can at least, put on a like, good enough Bokeem Woodbine impression and tell Bentley he wants to change. Season higlight so far though, is the guy pictured above putting a big sharpie “X” across his own picture and then freaking out as if he didn’t do it in an attempt to get said Woodbine impersonator kicked-off.

The only thing I find weird or problematic about the show is the implicit but occasionally stated suggestion that like, the period for these men to be “Gs” is over and that they need to now become gentlemen. The show’s undoubtedly going for a positive message and maybe that’s the way to get through to these knuckleheads, but it sort of still justifies their stupid behavior.

BONUS: ‘Cheers to Me, Mr. Bentley’ from Da Band’s ‘Too Hot For T.V’. Presumably the first appearance of Bentley rapping? Where’s dude’s album?

You Should Maybe Watch: ‘Choose or Lose & Kanye West Present: Homecoming’ on MTV, Tonight at 10pm.

I’ve only seen a few ads for this thing and who knows how over-the-top or self-serious it might be, but Kanye West and MTV’s Sway talking to Iraq War vets and helping them out–I’m hoping in a way that’s more than putting on a concert for them–seems good-natured enough that even if it is over-the-top and self-serious, I’ll be okay with it.

Comic Book for the Week: ‘Marvel Comics Presents’ #11

Other than the bullshit of this being $3.99–but then again, way too many mainline comics are going to that price–the ‘Marvel Comics Presents’ series is really great. It’s basically a mini-anthology, with each issue containing four stories, usually a one-shot, and then another part of three ongoing stories. The best thing though, is how each of the longer stories all end in the same issue–issue 12–and so, it’s not too crooked to make you pay a lot of money for a small part of the story because if you’re reading either ‘Vanguard’ or ‘Weapon Omega’–I’m reading neither–they both end on issue 12. What I am reading though, is this five-part ‘Machine Man’ story, written by Ivan Brandon and drawn by Niko Henrichon (who did ‘Pride of Baghdad’). It’s a good, solid story about a character most people forget about with really incredible art by Henrichon.

But the real reason this is my comic for the week is the one-shot story ‘Depth Charge’. Again, Marvel allows and their creators embrace the fun of being able to do some weirdo, doesn’t-really-matter story about some lost forgotten character like Oceanographer/Might Avenger Stingray. Basically a quick adventure story with Stingray having to fight a whale and how his eco-friendly concerns are put to the wall when you know, he has to fight and is eaten by this whale. Claustrophobic fight scene panels and wide-screen like sea imagery move back and forth for the eight-page story. My favorite aspect of it is the way that when Stingray returns to the surface victorious on the final page, the sun is setting and there’s like, a palpable feeling of how long this whale fight went on; time used in comics not as an overt “do this before the bomb explodes” suspense-builder but as a simple reality..

Album for the Week: ABN ‘It Is What It Is’

Did you guys even know this was out? It came out like two weeks ago! Rap-A-Lot is legendary and all, but it’s about time we rap fans get mad at them for clearly not giving a shit about their product. It’s really easy to praise and support rap albums like this because the thing about rappers like Z-Ro and Trae is they release nothing but remarkably consistent albums, but ‘It Is What It Is’ is even a step above that. Not that there’s been really any good rap albums this year, but this is the best so far. Those glowing, sad synths that were on ‘Who’s Tha Man’ are all over this album and you know, Z-Ro and Trae do the super-sincere, emotionally honest thing one more time and I’m still not tired of it.

Written by Brandon

July 28th, 2008 at 6:49 pm

Posted in links

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