Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why "Urban" Radio Sucks.

About 12-13 years ago, I abandoned black radio for good. By "black radio", I mean the terrestrial "Hot/Kiss/Power/Where Hip-Hop & R&B Live!" format that permenates the airwaves in every major US city. I still occasionally listen to "Adult Contemporary" radio (for the 35+ demo I'm in) when I don't have other options, but otherwise I'm listening to Sirius XM or my own music via Spotify or some other app. The reasons are many: repetitive playlists, corny "on-air personalities", and the "national show" trend that has made local stations somewhat obsolete. But mostly because of the music. It sucks, we all know that, and for years I've wondered why. Everyone has that artist they love whom they know would blow up if they just got more airplay. So why don't they get more airplay, when black radio can find time to play a Chris Brown song 8 times per hour.

Here's why.

I meant to post this awhile back. It's not a "new" video, since it's been out more than a year, but it explains precisely how black radio is programmed, and as a result, precisely why black radio sucks. If you're not familiar, New York's Hot97 is basically Black Radio's Flagship Station, and Ebro Darden is its Program Director, which is a nicer way of saying he's the guy that has to strike the balance between what listeners (presumably) want, and what makes the corporate entity that owns the station money. It's a precarious balance, and one that Mr. Darden seems to have a solid grasp on. Speaking with The Combat Jack Show's Reggie Osse, Dallas Penn (a friend of, and legendary producer Just Blaze, Darden explains exactly how records are chosen for airplay (hint: it involves advanced analytics and focus groups), why DJ's don't even really exist anymore, and (in a roundabout way) admits that this is why modern black radio is so awful.

I admire Ebro's honesty here. He knows he's part of the problem, and doesn't shy away from admitting that. He also knows he couldn't "fix" the problem if he wants to keep his job. This is in 3 parts, and there's some light banter at times, but there's some serious knowledge on the radio and music industry being dropped here. If you've got time to digest it all (and I think you should, it's pretty fascinating stuff), I'd encourage you to.

Question: Do you still listen to "black radio"? Was anything in these videos enlightening?

Monday, February 24, 2014 Newsbriefs 2.24.14

It's been a long time. I already know. But hey, mortgages and Montessori school tuition don't pay themselves, and this blog's meager ad revenue doesn't pay for either. Ya'll know the drill. Anyways, I'm back (for now), so here's the rundown...
Gay player enters NBA history [CNN]

Mexican drug lord hid in mountains, homes, sewers [LA Times]

Piers Morgan to End CNN Show [Daily Beast]

Paula Deen Gets $75M+ in Business Comeback Money [People]

Netflix to pay Comcast for smoother online video streaming [LATimes]
Question: What's on your mind today? Drop some links, start a convo.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No. Michael Sam Is Not Rosa Parks.

It's Black History Month, which is a nice way of saying it's time when those of us with kids have to do help them with school projects. My 5 year old had the task of creating a presentation on Rosa Parks, which means we've spent quite a bit of time learning about the civil rights pioneer. We even created a movie for the occasion. No, seriously.

All together now... awwwwwww.

Since Rosa Parks has been on my mind a lot the past few weeks as we've cut out photos, read library books, and scoured Youtube for kid-friendly videos (we made the one above, mostly because there aren't any. Not because it's the assigment). While there was quite a bit more orchestration (Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and the chapter considered her a good candidate to take such a stand) behind Parks act of civil disobedience, it was still quite the act of courage for a 42 year old seamstress. She would be arrested for her sit-in, and even after the laws were changed following the ensuing 1 year boycott, Parks became completely unemployable, eventually fleeing to Michigan where she worked for Congressman John Conyers. In short, she took a potentially dangerous action, knowing that her life would likely never be the same as a result. That, my friends, is heroism and courage.

Michael Sam, while courageous, is no Rosa Parks, as some who engage in hyperbole are saying of his decision to "come out" before the upcoming NFL draft.

I applaud Sam's decision to "own the story" and announce his sexual orientation prior to the scouting combine. He takes an issue that was rumored off the table, and in an odd way, probably boosts his personal Q-Rating a million points in the process. I mean, has any other potential 3rd round linebacker prospect gotten shoutouts from the FLOTUS and POTUS? Nah. Sam could have talked around the issue when teams scout him, but by going public, he's making those interviews about little other than football. An openly gay player in the first media market is prolly gonna be in huge demand, sell a shitload of jerseys, and be the smiling, happy face of "NFL tolerance". Any teammate, opponent, or commentator who says anything sideways about Sam's sexual orientation is gonna get blasted, prolly making dude a Tim Tebow like folk hero in the process. I'm not saying this is a come up, but... well, it's a come up.

What it's not is anything even remotely in the same stratosphere as Parks refusing to give up her seat, or Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier. Not even close. It's just a guy who happens to like guys, playing a sport with guys who like girls. Something that's probably been happening for years now, but ain't eeen know it. Word to Jason Collins.

Not all "firsts" are equal folks. Enough already.

Question: Is Sam the next Jackie Robinson, or merely the first gay linebacker that we actually know about?

Marcus Smart Was Right.... And Wrong.

[Editor's Note: yeah, I'm late. I already know.]

Ok State point guard Marcus Smart has seen his fortunes go from sugar to sh*t faster than any black man not named Charles Ramsey. Last spring Smart was lauded for passing up the potetial of being the #1 overall pick in the NBA draft to return to college for another year of seasoning. NBA Analysts thought he was a fool, College Basketball purists thought he was living proof that some people value the college experience over a quick buck. As an NBA fan, I sided with the former: no matter how cool college is, you always strike when your stock is highest.

Smart's season hasn't gone as planned. His team has underachieved, his game has regressed, and after this weekend's incident, his stock is likely in freefall.

Personally, I was a bit shocked Smart got off with just a 3 game suspension. I was pretty damn sure he'd be kicked off the team, and wouldn't have objected if the school had done that. You can't just go around shoving boosters, no matter how obnoxious they might be. These are the rules. Of course, the school is in the business of making money, so, yeah... see you in 3 games, Marcus. Lay off the caffeiene while you're at it.

All that said, the media's attention on Smart, versus the asshole fan who shouted whatever he shouted at him was pretty revealing. Are we really asking 19 year olds to put up with (probable possible)verbal abuse at the mouths of grown assed, presumably fully developed 60 year old fans? I sure hope not.

What's really sickening is Texas Tech's insistence that the crazy fan in question, Jeff Orr, didn't say anything that could have presumably set off the teenager, even going as far as to release a Zapruder film-level video of the incident.

Whether or not Smart was called a nigger isn't the issue here. The issue is, why would a grown man call a 19 year old a piece of crap under any circumstances, let alone a basketball game? Any why is the burden of controlling ones emotions squarely on the shoulders of Smart? Does Orr think he can just hurl insults at a 6-4, 225 point man and not get his ass whipped? Would he do that anywhere other than from the sanctity of his expensive courtside seats? Would he say that to Smart if he ran into him at Target? I doubt it.

While Texas Tech and Orr came to a PR-friendly resolution, Smart's facing an uphill battle to regain his footing with pro sports. Which is why he is ultimately the the person most wrong here. Because he had much more to lose than Orr, who didn't even lose his tickets.

Keep your head up, Marcus Smart. And keep your mouth shut, Jeff Orr.

Question: What's your read on this story? Where's the line between casual fan trash talk and verbal assault on a party that can't retaliate?

What We Can All Learn From The Jordan Davis Case.

I'll admit, I haven't been following the case of slain Florida teenager Jordan Davis for a lot of reasons, the largest of which is that I've always felt the facts in this case were so clearly incriminating that there's no way Michael Dunn could possibly walk. I mean, seriously, you shoot a kid at a well lit convenience store, with tons of witnesses, your "them Negroes had a gun" alibi fails to produce evidence to back you up, and you're caught writing letters full of racist screed. I'm thinking this is a slam dunk, and Dunn is about to get a life sentence.

Then I realized who was trying this case.

That's right, the same numbnuts who failed to get make an even halfway credible case against George Zimmerman: State Attorney Angela Corey and Assistant State Attorney John Guy. So yeah, this whole thing might not be a slam dunk.

The saddest part of this case is that it sends a message to black parents that your children, to many people, as disposable. Dunn was so annoyed with Davis' loud music that he felt the need to take the kid's life for it. Davis was no thug, he was a hardworking kid with two college educated parents and nothing resembling a criminal record. But Dunn (who was more than likely drunk, but that's another story) saw what he wanted to see, imagined a threat on his life, and preemotively took the kid's instead. Then drove himself and his girlfriend to a hotel where they got drunk, ordered a pizza, and slept peacefully, as if they'd done little more than run over a possum.

May Michael Dunn never again see the light of a free day.

Question: Have you been following this case? Any concerns about the competence of the prosecution?

Bro, What Happened To My (Favorite) Blog?!?

So yeah, you're probably wondering what exactly happened to this blog, and maybe (ok, prolly not) wondering what happened to me. Well, it's pretty simple: I've been dealing with two things that have been monopolizing my time of late. One rhymes with Jay Dob, and the other rhymes with Khree Tids. Or something like like. Whatever, whatever.

So basically, I've been busy. Simple as that. I have a treat for you today though, since I've got a fleeting spare minute. I'd usually do a NewsBriefs post to catchup on all the old stuff I've been missing, but I'm just gonna keep it funky and give you a bunch of new postage. Go get that.

- AB

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

DMX To Box George Zimmerman, Avenge The Entire Black Race.

There's weird sh*t, and then there's really weird sh*t that makes you wonder if you're living in some alternate universe. File this under the latter.
Let's get ready to ... mumble. As in, what now, George Zimmerman?

Seems like the former neighborhood watchman has found yet another way to remain in the public limelight.

This time, he'll be stepping into a boxing ring to fight rapper DMX.

Zimmerman said the celebrity boxing match was his idea. Boxing was his hobby, he told Radar Online last month, even prior to the "incident." The incident, of course, is the February 2012 encounter in which he shot dead an unarmed Trayvon Martin, 17. He stood trial for murder, but was acquitted.

"Prior to the incident, I was actually going to the gym for weight loss and doing boxing-type training for weight loss," he told Radar. "A mutual friend put me in contact with Damon and provided me with an opportunity and motivation to get back in shape and continue with my weight loss goals and also be able to help a charity out."

Damon is Damon Feldman, owner of Celebrity Boxing and self-described opportunist, whose claim to fame is putting together bizarre matchups. Think Tonya Harding, Michael Lohan.

He said last week that he was accepting offers for someone to step into the ring for a three-round, pay-per-view fight with Zimmerman.

"The news has been out for an hour and my e-mail is overloaded with 8,000 people wanting to fight George," Feldman told CNN on Thursday.
So we've basically entrusted a damn crackhead with the task of exactly kharmic revenge on behalf of the entire race. Lovely, just lovely. Out of all the rappers we coulda chosen, we had to pick DMX? Really? A guy who's 150lbs soaking wet, which a history of mental problems is gonna beat a 200+ pound killer! guy with MMA training? Damn. Wasn't 50 Cent available? He was once a boxer, and he raps (sometimes). He's probably too rich to care. So how about real rap tough guys like Bumpy Knuckles, Trick Trick, and The Game. They've got plenty of free time on their hands, and Game even has a (somewhat puzzling) Trayvon Martin tattoo. Heck, he was even mistaken for Martin by internet race baiters some. And he asked to do this. Why not Jayceon?

Anyways because Zimmerman hand-picked his opponent, we're stuck with DMX now. And as tough as he might come across, I thinking most of that is macho-posturing and heroin. Mostly the heroin. Need I remind you what happened the last time a macho-posturing rapper stepped into the ring?

Yeah, this could get ugly. Real ugly.

Keep your nose clean, and drink lots of raw eggs, X. The entire race is depending on you.

Question: Is DMX gonna get his clock cleaned by George Zimmerman? What will it mean for Black America when/if he does? Could you think of another rapper who might have been better equipped to handle this?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Richard Sherman's Vindication.

If you've been around this blog long enough, you're fully aware that I'm not really a football fan. My sporting fandom extends to exactly one sport, and exactly two teams. The rest of the sporting world is little more than a useful diversion while I wait for my Tarheels and Wizards to tip off their seasons again. Nothing more, nothing less.

All that said, I watched the Super Bowl with greater than usual interest last night, specifically for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. After giving a memorable, and perhaps somewhat crass postgame interview a few weeks ago, Sherman has become a household name for perhaps all the wrong reasons. Lots of people labelled him a thug, and uncouth loudmouth, a poor sportsman, and a sign of the erosion of American culture as whole. All over an emotional, perhaps too passionate 15 second sideline interview. In a roundabout way, Sherman's interview and the subsequent backlash was indicative of American culture as a whole: oversensationalized, lacking in nuance, passing judgement on a the entirety person's character based on one moment in time. Worse were those who "defended" Sherman by insisting that his rant was perfectly okay because he was a Stanford grad, as if him going to Florida State, or NC Central, or Wyoming would have somehow meant he was every bit the ignorant thug everyone had labelled him in the first place. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So last night, in a contest of two teams in isolated markets that most of America wouldn't otherwise care about, the battle lines were drawn: The All American QB and his merry band of similarly complected wideouts, versus a team of roving dreadlocked ganja smoking bandits from a state where you can both legally get blazed and marry a person of the same sex. It was the perfect matchup for Culture War 2014! Or something hyperbolic like that.

I, for one, for cheering for Sherman and the Seahawks for all the aforementioned reasons. Also because I've spent time in both cities and found Denver really boring and Seattle freakin' awesome. Mostly the latter.

Anyways, you know the final tally by now: The Hawks jumped on Peyton and the Broncos early and often, the game was over by the half, Sherman was seldom even tested and eventually knocked out of the game altogether, and probably everyone on the East Coast either fell asleep or turned to House Of Lies at some point, or maybe that was just me. Either way, well done Sir Sherman and the Seahawks.

Question: Who were you cheering for? Did the "culture war" over Sherman's comments rub you the wrong way and did you cheer for the Hawks as a result? What's up with Peyton Manning? What sorta person names their child "Golden Tate"?!?