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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 03.

“They moved in a tight-knit order, carrying sticks and clubs, shotguns and rifles, led by Ras the Exhorter become Ras the Destroyer upon a great black horse. A new Ras of haughty, vulgar dignity, dressed in the costume of an Abyssinian chieftain; a fur cap upon his head, his arm bearing a shield, a cape made of the skin of some wild animal around his shoulders. A figure more out of a dream than out of Harlem…”-‘Invisible Man’ (556)

Remember when people read newsgroups and dudes would say shit like “Man so-and-so must be reading this newsgroup because they really fixed the show from last week”? Well, that’s how I feel after last night’s episode. Not really. No one is reading this but this week’s episode was a lot less problematic and actually addressed some interesting points while still being entertaining. The episode’s targets were more even-handed and I’m into equal opportunity embarrassment. I don’t demand for things to be fair nor would I consider it criteria for whether something is “good” but it is nice when you can tell a little extra thought is put into something.

Obviously ‘Affirmative Reaction’ (‘Family Feud’ but with racially sensitive questions), was supposed to make the white rappers look like idiots but the game also mocked super-serious posturing about racial anger. $hamrock’s foolish answers, especially the one about black people never being on time, were met with anger from the audience but Prince Paul just sort of laughed it off. It was fun with a serious edge to it, as opposed to being serious with some failed attempts at humor tossed-in. The set-up of the game made everyone involved seem pretty idiotic. Prince Paul, holding a spear was funny, audience reactions were funny, and the white rappers’ answers were funny. Everyone comes off looking stupid but with some dignity. You can’t totally look down at anybody except Lord Jamar.

The ‘Affirmative Reaction’ game seemed to be in direct contrast to the scene before, where Lord Jamar seemed angry at the white rappers only because they were white. At least a few of the rappers were excited to meet Brand Nubian, Persia was downright humbled, and all of them were listening but they were treated with nothing but disrespect. Sadat X was trying but recieved the “you’re a sell-out” eye from Jamar. Compare Jamar’s response to that of Juelz Santana who was very encouraging and disinterested in their whiteness. When Jus Rhyme rapped for Santana, he had the same exact horrified expression on his face that I have when Jus opens his mouth but Juelz was appropriately polite, unlike Jamar who took the super-obvious shots at poor John Brown. The show’s editors made no conceits to Lord Jamar either, making him look like the asshole he seems to be. To follow up Brand Nubian with Prince Paul’s half-parody of black power was a really interesting move by the show. Prince Paul, in full-on Ras the Destroyer mode, was a gentle joke on black nationalism. ‘Affirmative Reaction’ both laughed-at and reminded viewers of racial conflicts, moving away from the stone-faced seriousness of Lord Jamar without removing any of the significant points that could have been made.

The show is also becoming increasingly comfortable giving the viewers a taste of Jus Rhyme’s very-specific form of idiocy. Honestly, he’s the only character who needs to be made fun of…Jus Rhyme is not a freedom fighter. I know his heart is in a good place, but everybody’s heart is in a good place. It doesn’t stop them from being a fucking idiot. The look on Sullee’s face when Jus Rhyme wins over the barber shop with grotesque clichés about “the struggle” is really depressing. Jus is going for his Phd in ‘Ethnic Studies’? He’s yet to say a single insightful thing about race! The episode all comes together during elimination when Sullee says something incredibly insightful and legitimately challenging.

Presumably, without reading any of the books Jus Rhyme has read, without knowing or caring what he is saying, Sullee makes the incredibly important distinction between Whites in power and poor (or even middle-class) whites who do not have the time nor the interest in oppression. What Sullee is really addressing is not ‘White Power’ but ‘White Supremacy’ and makes a damn-good and dare I say, just fucking correct, assertion that it’s really just ‘Supremacy’. This some real ‘Redneck Manifesto’ shit! Sullee’s verse was even mentioned as exactly why the show isn’t a normal reality show in this video interview with the ‘(White) Rapper Show’ creators. The theme of last night’s episode seemed to be a significantly more even-handed approach to race where everyone is foolish and only half-knows what the fuck they are talking about. It’s a lot more rewarding to watch.

Some shit I wanted to say that I couldn’t incorporate into the points above…

Sullee was totally right about ‘Affirmative Reaction’ being bullshit but fucked-up as those rules may be, that’s just how ‘Family Feud’ rolls…

Also, poor G-Child. Where will she go? What will she do? Can we start a trust-fund? She also needs to lay-off the cough syrup. She took being sent home so well and she’ll just keep pursuing her dream of rapping like Vanilla Ice even when she is like, thirty. That’s really sad but really kind of touching too. Seriously. It is. Fuck you if you don’t realize why.

Also, also: Isn’t it pronounced “Ju-els” and not “Jules”? Serch clowns himself again. Last week he did it by being totally out-rapped by Grandmaster Caz…

“…Ras bent down from the horse, saw me and flung, of all things, a spear, and I fell forward at the movement of his arm, catching myself upon my hands as a tumbler would, and heard the shock of it piercing one of the hanging dummies.”-‘Invisible Man’ (557)

-Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Vintage: New York, 1980.

Written by Brandon

January 24th, 2007 at 7:41 am

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Why I Love Dipset.

So, Dipset are at it again. If you haven’t read, according to Nah Right, someone Dipset-ized Tru Life’s Myspace. Among the changes, the main image is (was) a reversal of that lame Tru Life mixtape cover and the top four friends are (were) listed as Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, J.R Writer, and Duke Da God. The most hilarious change is Tru Life’s ‘About Me’ section. I copied the text from the screenshots on Nahright, so all weird grammar, spelling, punctuation etc. is kept intact.

“I want to apologize for disrespecting The Whole Dipset especially Jim “capo” Jones. I’m just a tad upset with my situation at rocafella, Jay Z spends all his money on beyonce, and doesn’t leave much for any of his broke Rocafella artist Like me Young Gunners, Memphis Bleek and Peedi Crakk; especially for his dust smoking habits.. I’m driving around the lower eastside in my 96 Windstar Caravan with my broke friends not really doing much. I don’t know when my album gonna drop, I’m still living off Jewelry I stole from Mobb deep and I’m down to my last dollars. I really want to say thank you to Geno, end of the day I know he is my muscle, and the only reason niggas aint swerve on me yet”

96 Windstar Caravan? Spends all his money on Beyonce? This is why I love these guys! This whole hacking thing is presumably a response to the Tru Life mixtape that shows Jones’ head photo-shopped onto Borat-in-a-wrestling-singlet and Cam’ron photo-shopped onto a woman’s body. While we’re at it, the woman’s body with Cam’ron’s head looks disturbingly close to Jamie Foxx’s Wanda character from ‘In Living Color’…anyways, this whole Dipset/Jay-Z beef was absurd from the beginning and as many others have said, it’s only become more ridiculous because Jay-Z has given it the time of day and worse, seems to be taking it seriously.

What makes Dipset so great is how they will do the most juvenile shit ever, fully aware that it makes them look stupider than it does the intended target and not give a shit at all. The entire career of Dipset has been about actually not giving a fuck. Just start with their clothing, their complete embrace of fur and pink and purple is an affront, a challenge to laugh at them. I’d also argue that for fans like me, it’s almost a challenge to take them seriously. I really have to work hard to find what I consider some really interesting realities that they address. Although I love their over-the-top production, many have a problem with it and I can’t really argue. Those nutso strings and cackling sped-up little kid voices on ‘S.A.N.T.A.N.A’ entertain me but I can see why a lot of people have trouble taking the Dips seriously. This bombastic production, coupled with their apparent ability to rap on anything from super-obvious samples (‘Push It’, ‘Roxanne’, Zapp, Cindy Lauper, ‘Between the Sheets’) to television themes (‘Monday Night Football’, ‘Magnum P.I’, ‘Hillstreet Blues’) to fucking Rick Wakeman samples makes them bona fide weirdos. Even their actual threats are filtered through some weird, genius form of Dipset comedy wherein they are the butt of their own jokes, as when Jim Jones threatens some guy with a wedgie. And yeah, I really mean genius here, these guys are funny in this weird subtle comedy way that’s only seen on like, early Albert Brooks films or ‘The Larry Sanders Show’. Those “Mizzle” skits on Cam’ron’s ‘Purple Haze’ are legitimately clever: “Get some weight on you like that fat bitch Della Reese-Yo, I still don’t know what that means.” A pitch-perfect parody of a Woon, the hanger-on, repeating what his favorite rappers say, without any understanding. Or the genius of ‘Chicken Head’:

Chicken Head: I’m a chicken, so I’m a act like a chicken, quack quack!
Cam: That’s a DUCK.

The extra-weird thing about that skit is by the end of it, Cam has clearly lost the argument. As much as the Dips are about pumping themselves up, they spend a lot of time making themselves look like jerkoffs. The much-hated ‘Killa Season’ is the best movie that came out last year. No joke. It is Cassavetes-like in its improvisatory style and what people used-to Hollywood movies call “the worst acting ever” is actually so realistic that it makes you uncomfortable, so you call it “bad”. I have a feeling that when people actually freak-out because their niece has been shot they look a little embarrassing too. A musician hasn’t made a vanity project that makes them look this real since ‘Gimme Shelter’.

Now that Dipset are huge because of ‘We Fly High’, one might think they’d tone it down, but as this hacking escapade proves they couldn’t care less. When ‘We Fly High’ was first released it seemed like typical Dipset hilarity: Jim Jones doing push-ups with a video chick on his back, that hilariously bad on-purpose bluescreen effect with Jones, Cam, and Juelz doing choreographed dancing. Then, Ballin!-mania hit and the inevitable remix was released and the video is even goofier. Jones ups the retardation level by now, bench-pressing a video chick. The video really is a parody of the baller-ific Puffy era. The video takes place on white floors, in front of white walls, leaving the only thing to focus upon to be the rappers, girls, and cars. Rap video cliches are reduced even further. Money is handled in a way that suggests contempt, they objectify woman and money; Diddy poorly juggling wads of $1 bills, Jones drops-back like a QB and throws a wad of bills like a football, Juelz wears the bills in his bandana like an Indian feather, and Birdman angrily punts a stack of cash. When Juelz brags “money ain’t a thing” I sort of believe him. And, let’s not forget the part where the to-be-bench-pressed video girl climbs out of the hood of one of the cars, exposing the car as, literally, a prop…and Juelz has some weird little piece of shit dog on his lap. Is that cool by anyone’s standards?

At the same time, Cam drops a shaky video of him riding mountain bikes with his friends through Harlem. I think there’s some truth in all of their actions. The fun and even stupidity of Dipset is there to be entertaining but it’s also there for us to cut-through to get to the substance. They couch their big ideas and their emotions in jokes. They, like the best artists of any medium, in any era, have a compulsive need to tell the truth. Take a song like ‘Harlem Streets’ from ‘Purple Haze’, a very affecting song, that contains the line “I told my mother I hustle and she said ‘Be Careful” which pretty much defines, in the sparest of words, a mother’s unconditional love for her son. Of course, ‘Harlem Streets’ is backed by a TV theme sample which arguably, downplays the song’s seriousness, as does a line like “…climb behind vagina/then I hymen grind her”. This precarious balance of emotional lyrics, goofy production, and rampant misogyny, contains itself because all of it sort-of fits together in a real-world-is-contradictory way. Jim Jones’ ‘Summer Wit’ Miami’ (wasn’t this the real beginning of the beef with Jay? Everyone seems to have forgotten this…) does not contain a single quality line but the overall feeling of the song is a lot like what it feels like to reflect back on summer. If you actually listen to it, it’s hardly a party song, more of a morning-after-the-party song. Those ‘Purple Haze’ skits are funny but they are also incredibly well-done and realistic. They didn’t have to be recorded so shittily, as to reflect a bad phone-line, the Jamaican on ‘Rude Boy’ could have a slightly less impenetrable accent, and as I said, Cam doesn’t have to get totally schooled in his argument with his girlfriend. The world of Dipset is incredibly well-observed and well-wrought, but there’s also room for wedgie jokes and bad CGI.

Written by Brandon

January 15th, 2007 at 4:44 am