Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ahhh Corinne Bailey Rae...

The Sea, the new Corinne Bailey Rae album is out, and it's got me wishing she was singing to me (sorry, my dear girlfriend haha). In all seriousness, I love the tracks "Feels Like the First Time" and "I'd Do It All Again."Soul is alive, children!

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Listen to "Feels Like The First Time"

The Death of Howard Zinn and the Left-Wing Intelligentsia

God Bless, Howard Zinn! America took a blow upon hearing the news of his passing on January 27th. The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition released the following obituary on the historian and political activist...

Remembering Howard Zinn, Historian and Activist
The ANSWER Coalition joins with the anti-war and progressive movement worldwide in mourning the loss of historian and activist Howard Zinn, who died Wednesday at the age of 87. While we extend our deepest condolences to his friends and family, we also note that his 87 years constituted one proud, unceasing effort in the fight for justice.

We know further, that while Prof. Zinn may be gone, his books, which have opened so many eyes and minds to the hidden history of the United States, will continue to inspire generations of activists to come. It is no accident that each year the sales of his People's History of the United States continued to outpace the prior year's sales (a nearly unprecedented feat in book publishing).

His intellectual and historical contributions are only one part of Professor Zinn's life and legacy. Indeed, he learned about history by taking part in it. Professor Zinn became involved in the struggle for justice in the 1950s, as the modern Civil Rights Movement was beginning to grow in the Deep South. As a professor at Spelman, he lent his advice and support to the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the youth movement that was taking bold action against Jim Crow. While his activism ultimately cost him his job, Prof. Zinn recalled that he "learned more from [his] students than [his] students learned from [him.]"

Prof. Zinn dedicated the next half-century to opposing militarism and war abroad, and injustice at home. He practiced what he preached, frequently joining the picket lines of striking workers and lending his voice to the anti-war movement.

In 2007, in a statement for the ANSWER website, Prof. Zinn wrote: "I'll be marching March 17th, with my wife, with friends, to express our solidarity with all those people, all over the country, who demand that the United States bring our troops back from Iraq. We need to make clear to the Democrats in Congress that we expect bold action from them to stop the war, to save the lives of Americans and Iraqis, and use the enormous sums wasted on war to serve the needs of the people."

Howard Zinn endorsed and worked with the anti-war movement to build the strongest opposition to the Iraq invasion and other colonial-type wars. On March 20, when tens of thousands march together we will honor the work, the legacy and the example of Howard Zinn.

Indeed, this is how we will be honoring the life and legacy of Howard Zinn: by building the movement and protests that he always approached with so much energy and enthusiasm.

Long live Howard Zinn, activist and people's historian!

My Barack Obama Poem

somewhere in Harlem five years before the fact....
By Sidik Fofana

he gonna have a real African sounding last name
and his wife is gonna be smart but have a fatty too
and he gonna rock a fresh caesar 
and his lips gonna toke every now and then
and he gonna love him some jay-z
and aretha gonna sing the national anthem
and he gonna install a ball court in that house...

i'm telling you, sun
it's gonna happen.

Muslims in America

Mos Def and other artists, poets, comedians, and activists gathered for a memorable celebration of Islamic culture at the Apollo in Harlem. Here's Abed Z. Bhuyan's take on the festive event from the Washington Post's On Faith blog...

Guest Voices

Muslims in America: A celebration

By Abed Z. Bhuyan teacher

"Talent, like love, is only useful in its expenditure." This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was brought to light on January 23, when the Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) brought its signature arts and culture event, Community Café, to New York City. Ibrahim Abdul Matin quoted King to provide a context for the evening, in which IMAN blessed an audience of 1,500 at the legendary Apollo Theater with an unforgettable night of performances.

A living symbol of the Harlem Renaissance, a period when African American culture especially blossomed, the Apollo Theater was the perfect place for a historic evening that will prove pivotal in the Muslim American experience. "Bringing IMAN to the Apollo is a reminder to the Muslim American community of its roots in the African American community," said Amir Al-Islam, IMAN Chairman of the Board and Distinguished Lecturer of African American History at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. IMAN is currently based in Chicago and plans to expand to New York City in 2010. It has a community-based, action-oriented mission and organizes the Community Café, which promotes social change through the arts.

All those in attendance were aware of their connection to the city and to one another - through a shared history. Performers and hosts reminded us of the giants whose shoulders we stand on, often citing the legacies of Malcolm X and the Prophet Muhammad.

"IMAN is committed to promoting arts and culture in the Muslim community, alongside service and advocacy," says Asad Jafri, IMAN Director of Arts and Culture.

Deeply rooted in the prophetic tradition of service and social justice, the organization pushes all those involved to take action to better their communities. A prominent theme of this New York City special edition of the Community Café was connectedness - that what happens in Brooklyn affects what happens in Harlem.

And, more broadly, what happens in Haiti affects what happens in New York City - and vice versa.

In light of the recent earthquake, Imam Shamsi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York opened the night with Qur'anic verses that reminded us of the importance of patience in the face of calamity. IMAN teamed up with Islamic Relief and raised over $13,000 to support victims of the earthquake. In addition to the funds raised, IMAN Executive Director Rami Nashashibi encouraged the audience to strengthen the effort to grant Haitian asylum seekers Temporary Protective Status.

A man of many talents, the comedian Aasif Mandvi performed a dramatic reading that took the audience along on his journey back to his childhood in Bradford, England, home to a large South Asian immigrant community. Many who had followed Mandvi's successes over the years, most notably in his current role as a correspondent on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," were able to place his life in context. He spoke poignantly of the history of his hometown and the bigotry he and his working class family often faced as minorities while living there.

The ReMINDers, a husband and wife hip-hop duo, sang "Black Roses," an ode to their children, reminding the audience of its responsibility to posterity, effectively linking their present to their future. Liza Garza, as she performed her spoken word poetry with her child clinging to her back, demonstrated that very link. The rapper Amir Suleiman and Danish pop group Outlandish were among the other artists that graced the famous Apollo stage.

Fittingly, the night ended with Grammy nominated hip-hop artist Mos Def performing his hit song "Umi Says." Echoing his classic lyrics, he encouraged the audience to "shine your light on the world," adding, "I want Haiti to be free." Mos Def had performed this song many times before, but his words rang through the Apollo with a higher sense of purpose and urgency on this particular night.

That high sense of purpose defines the Muslim American community today, and the Apollo was home to its powerful expression. Those who attended Community Café walked away with a heightened sense of pride and empowerment that is sure to permeate the greater Muslim community and New York City at large. The audience was treated to a celebration of American Islam, in all its diversity.

And it was beautiful.
Abed Z. Bhuyan, a graduate of Georgetown University, is currently a high school teacher in New York City with Teach for America. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

9th Wonder Teaches with Mark Anthony Neal

Professor 9th is teaming up with Professor Mark Anthony Neal (on the real, read his books, they are like benign crack for the Hip-Hop soul) to teach a class at Duke University on Soul sampling. Gosh I wish I was matriculated! Hear 9th speak on it... Interview with 9th Wonder from on Vimeo.

Aftermath Pt.1 -- Kil Ripkin

Ma-ma-militant! Kil Ripkin, a very hungry MC out of Brooklyn, will be unveiling his album The Balancing Act pretty soon. Check out the single...

All-White Basketball

You gots to be kiddin' me? All-white basketball league dedicated to "fundamentals"? Don "Moose" Lewis  wanna-be commissioner of this Aryan division has insinuated that African-Americans have tainted the game. Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson tarnished the fundamentals of the game. Yeah. This guy also says he wants to promote skill-based basketball instead of "street-ball" played by "people of color". I would debate with this fool, but people from a distance wouldn't know who was who.

Peep the story on the Huffington Post -   Whites-Only Basketball

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nas and Damian Marley -- Free Track

The song itself, off the Distant Relatives LP to drop 4/20, is aight, but the what an album this could be...

Goodreads: What's in Fofana's Back Pocket?

So one of my colleagues, Ally Hurder, came up with an awesome idea. Since I'm always walking around with a book on me, she suggested I add a section to my blog called "What's In Fofana's Back Pocket". So I added one based on my "read" shelf on and placed it to your left and down (scroll baby!). Look for more updates on my literary digestion!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From the Creator of the Wire

Just when I thought HBO's spring lineup was meh, I saw this...

Who: David Simon (creator of the Wire) and Eric Overmyer, plus Wendell Pierce and others...
What: Treme, a new television series about jazz musicians in post-Katrina New Orleans
When: April 11, 2010
Where: HBO
How: Emailed prayers across for The Wire's resurrection and getting the next best thing.
Why: Why not?

The Clipse Go Conscious

Sunday, January 17, 2010

R.I.P. Teddy Pendergrass

Amidst the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake (please continue to pray and aid in relief efforts), we quietly lost one of our all-time great soul singers Teddy Pendergrass. I remember when me and my boys were bumping "Close the Door" at the end of every episode of our college radio show. Those were the days. Rest in peace, Teddy, and as a unworthy tribute to you, here is "Come Go With Me"....

B. Oyama, Fashion Designer

For the dapper men of Harlem, there is only one designer to go to and that's Bernard Oyama, native of Gabon, West Africa. The former banker, who's been profiled in the New York Times, offers a genteel look--a cultivated line of Egyptian cotton dress shirts, Mogador silk ties, and highly stylish wool blazers--for the fashionably-aware gentleman. Noah, one of my besties, dragged me to his flagship store on 137th and 7th in Harlem and I must say, I was impressed.

B. Oyama on Harlem gentrification...

B. Oyama New York
2330 Seventh Ave.
Tel: (212) 234-5128
Fax: (212) 234-5561

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catastrophe in Haiti seems like natural disasters are befalling the poorest spots on the globe. It was only a couple of years ago that Hurricane Katrina hit the Ninth Ward of New Orleans and now this earthquake of even more epic proportions hits Port-au-Prince, Haiti and kills over 100,000 this Tuesday. I believe that this earthquake is really going to test the capacity of human compassion, but also politically, it's going to test how our new administration regards less fortunate nations. Are we going to help when it's not really in our interest? I hope that question is answered with an emphatic yes. Judging by the address Obama gave early today, I'm confident our country, one of the greatest in history of man, will come to the aid of the people who need it the most. Diary Day 65

Follow Sidik Fofana on his quest to land a freelancing job at the prestigious publication,

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So I forgot to tell you, I had been blogging on and a few days ago, the editors picked my post on the top books of African-American interest to grace's front page. Though, my goal is still to write for the actual site, making it to the front page of open salon (the editors monitor everyone's posts and pick appropriate ones for their daily page) is definitely a step in the right direction. A lot of people got to read my book picks. Many of them gave my post a thumbs up and left comments. I was ecstatic.

Why am I doing this diary you ask? I don't know. Well, for one. When I got into this business--journalism--I knew how much hard work and rejection I would have to face. So far I have had some sucesses and a lot of failures, but I have realized if I want something, I gotta pursue it until as Paulo Coelho says, "the universe conspires for you to have it." Secondly, my high school students read this blog from time to time. I want to show them that whatever they want in life takes time to get. I wouldn't be surprised or discouraged if I'm writing "Salon Diary Day 1000". I want to show them that success doesn't happen overnight.

And ah yes, part of me believes that in the romantic notion, however faint it is, that the staff is reading this and it has struck a chord in them.

Anyway, that's all I have to say on that. If you missed that Salon post, check it out and keep trucking, people, no matter what your dreams are!

Saigon Warning Shots 2

Okay, player?
Warning Shots 2
KR Urban : 2009

Saigon has several different personas that arrive in his music and in the public sphere. And they are chock full of contradiction. He is “Da Yard Father,” a name he earned during his seven years of hard time in the penn. Then there’s the character he played on HBO’s Entourage; a very hedonistic, non-gangsta whose creative energy is mainly dedicated to wiping down imported cars and cruising around the city of Angels with his makeshift manager. At the same time, he is the proud father of Rayne Dior, a little girl who brings joy, has her father’s the eyes, whose heart has the hardest beat, and who “better not come home from the prom late (quote).” And oh yeah, there’s the alliterative “Hitting hoes in Hamburg” rapper.

No, no, the juxtaposition of the last two roles is not a result of manipulative design. In Warning Shots 2, Sai Giddy’s album/mixtape hybrid, right before the official end of his track “Fatherhood,” a heartfelt dedication to his daughter, Sai effortlessly cues up for his next track: “I just had a beautiful girl in Cali. You know I’m an international playboy. I got mad broads out this piece.” The song is called “All Around the World” (produced by Beatnik & K-Salaam) with an implied “Pimping.”

Is this a parody? Nope. Is this a coincidental misplacement of songs? Maybe…until a scan down the rest of the track listing reveals that “Fatherhood” is not only followed by “All Around the World,” but also by “For Some P*ssy,” and the barely metaphoric “Cookies & Milk.”

Somehow, Saigon escapes from this paradox relatively unscathed for the simple fact that he claims like being a good father, and then calling somebody’s else daughter a hoe and other outlandish protestations or belonging in the top three alongside Jay-Z and Nas, falls within the unwritten license of absurdity that Hip-Hop has granted most gangster rappers. For Saigon’s sake, it’s good that most of his listeners can’t tell the difference between honesty and pure braggadocio. As a matter of fact, Saigon’s focus lays in blending the two seamlessly.

That’s why when Sai spits, “Give me the bigger gun, I gotta get rid of one/ I’ll show him I’m not the nigga to shun,” in “Copping Pleas,” the impressive part is not Sai’s eagerness for heavier artillery, but his nimble double speed flow. While the need to blow a competitors head off is not shocking or novel to the game, some of his musings get too outrageous. For instance, “Tell a b*tch I know Kanye, for some p*ssy.” That’s just too much information.

A far cry from the New York gems of yesteryear, Warning Shots 2 does not lack mic presence, however the topic shifts are extreme and almost comedic, imploring us to suspend our disbelief (and go for the ride.)

-Sidik Fofana

Monday, January 11, 2010


As the death toll continues to increase in the city of Chicago, the president's adopted hometown, many are left trying to find answers to the longtime problem.
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by Sidik Fofana

Somewhere along the way, Chicago has become a scapegoat for being a hotbed of youth violence.

It started—as all tales of urban renewal do—with a bright, utopian plan. This was the 30’s. 1937 to be exact, when the nation was staving off depression and the New Deal of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration was just beginning to reinvigorate the economy. In the late 30’s, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) was established to maintain housing for poor and low-income residents. The architectural philosophy was simple: tower projects on superblocks to maximize the number of occupants.

Before the projects were the projects, dens of iniquity where drugs, prostitution, and violent crime ran rampant, they were literally “projects”, urban landscaping plans that sought to mesh together beauty and affordability. In 1942, the Chicago Housing Authority commissioned the Cabrini-Green houses a marvelous 10 section complex with building of red brick and concrete reinforced exteriors, and open gallery porches. In 1955, the Stateway Gardens were under construction. In 1962, the Robert Taylor homes completed the trilogy.

But something went wrong. At some point, these pillars of urban development deteriorated and along with them Chicago’s inner city. In D. Bradford Hunt’s book Blueprint for Disaster (2008) youth-to-adult ratios, loss of working class families, and the high rise structure has contribute to a poor quality of living. Leftists would blame it on the substandard socioeconomic conditions in which these residents are forced to live. Conservatives blame it on the residents themselves. No what matter which school of thought prevails, the bottom line is that public housing went from castle to catastrophe.

As astonishing as it may seem, drugs didn’t have as much to do with it as people think. In 1980’s, when the crack epidemic razed American cities, leaving neighborhoods barren with homelessness, unemployment, and poverty, Chicago was left relatively unscathed. As a matter of fact, the New York Times published an article in February 1989 stating that crack use has not reached epidemic proportions. In the piece, “Crack Epidemic Missing in Urban Sweep,” law enforcement and officials confirmed that Chicago has “never had a dynamic upsurge” and that they were “perplexed by the low levels of crack activity in Chicago.”

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Which leaves only one culprit: violence. If Chicago’s drug history is a relatively vague radar dot, then its history of violent crime is a disturbing wave of electromagnetism. In 1916, 198 murders were recorded in the city. By 1974, that number more than quadrupled. Though murder rates have slightly decreased the past few years, statistics are still less than ideal. To this day, homicide rates in Chicago are 2.70 times the national average. This year alone there has already been over 500 murders. In the month of April, more people have been killed in Chicago than in the whole country of Iraq.

None of this really hits home until the human faces and their stories accompany the numbers. The story that stands at the apex of this epidemic is that of sixteen year old Derrion Albert, a honor roll student at Fenger High School was beaten and stomped to death on September 29th of this year. A near fatal shooting of a teen girl in the same Roseland occurred more than a month before. Corey McClaurin, 17, a senior at Simeon Career Academy High School was shot just a week before. To say that youth violence in Chicago and in the country at large has emerged into a cause of national cause is figuratively putting a band aid on a gunshot wound.

Of course, some members of the greater Chicago community have experienced this issue’s effects more profoundly than others. One of them Father Pfleger, a priest at Saint Sabina’s church on the Southside of Chicago. “We’ve buried about five children from the church and from the community,” he says almost unwillingly. In July two teens were shot in front of his church.

The violence occurring in Chicago harkens back to height of gang violence in California, when Los Angeles neighborhoods were torn between the Bloods and the Crips in the 1970s and 1980s. As gang testimonials like Blue Rage, Black Redemption by Crip founder Tookie William proclaim, even though the gangs disseminated into various sects, ideologies remained the same and leadership was clearly defined.

While Chicago mimics Los Angeles’ violent influx, there is one vital difference:  In Chicago, gangs are not responsible for most violence, neighborhoods are. Most community members including Diane Latiker, founder of Kids Off The Block, an organization which offers positive alternatives to at-risk, low income youth, would say that Chicago’s problem is not big sets, but small territories. “While there are still gangs in Chicago, a lot of what’s going on now is more block territories,” says Latiker. “Every block is a different set that has their own clique. You can walk from 115th Street to 116th and there’s different clique there with probably a different name.”

But what has caused this? Do different blocks spontaneously develop their own set? Shockingly, the answer doesn’t even involve the participants in these cliques, as much as the socioeconomic intervention of gentrification itself. Chicago had its share of major gangs in 1970’s (Latin Kings, Bloods, Crips, Vice-Lords, Black Gangster Disciples) and before gentrification, each major gang was for the most part housed together in the same project building or same areas of the city. With urban development came the demolition of high rises like the Cabrini-Green buildings which once housed over 15,000 people and has been gradually evacuated due to plans to tear the building down. By the end of 2009, 53 more buildings will undergo Cabrini Green’s same fate.

The problem arises when people who used to share the same housing unit find themselves displaced all over the city, having been forced out of their homes for the sake of urban renewal projects. The violence, which was already cantankerous to begin with, increases manifold when people from different neighborhoods have to live near each other. Young adults from different parts of the city develop animosity towards each other. The result is the landmarks become warzones. Chicago, in essence, has turned into a city of volatile apartments, blocks, corners, storefronts, and other edifices. The worse of them: schools.

“One day, we had four different school fights,” Latiker recalls of a Friday in Chicago this past year. “What happens is kids meet up by the bus stops. It’s very serious.” Since students from different neighborhoods may attend same school, those buildings have become battleground on which conflicting students fight over supremacy.

Students who attend Fenger High blame Derrion Albert’s death on these “turf wars” that have incubated many public schools throughout Chicago. For the past two years, Fenger High School started admitting Altgeld Gardens students, who were forced to transfer because their neighborhood’s former school, Carver High converted to a military academy. The sudden zone shift created a sift between the two populations which escalated into physical altercations. Students from Altgeld Gardens claimed that students from the “Ville” a neighborhood around Fenger had been stalking them, and he whole situation came to a tragic head when a brawl broke out between Ville and Altgeld students and Derrion Albert was tragically caught in the middle and beaten to death.

“How can kids get an education when they’re afraid of going to school and afraid of coming home from school because you hear on the news of another child killed,” laments Father Pfleger. “You talk about Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome coming home from Iraq, but what about Post-Traumatic Stress when there’s all these schools where you walk past lockers students used to be that are dead, and then you can’t come to and from school without passing two or three sites where they are teddy bears and balloons for little kids that have been killed there.”

While Chicago residents are upset by youth violence, they are even more upset about the legal response to it. It seems the city’s police force, in recent years, has been more concerned with enacting harsh indictments on offenders than establishing preventative measures. The police department did enforce a strict curfew updated in March of 2008 obligating minors to be indoors by 10pm. Yet, the city currently upholds a handgun ban that comes with harsh penalties for violators. According to the Chicago Reporter, up to six percent of Black youth are incarcerated on any given day. In essence, law enforcers are more concerned with what happens after crime than before the crime.

Ryan Hollon, who works for the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, believes that although the punitive response has not exacerbated the issue, it certain has not quelled it. “The way we respond is installing those security cameras and putting in those metal detectors and pushing kids out that we think are dangerous, but really what we need is to transform schools into places where people can learn how to handle conflict with words rather than with blood.”

Latiker and Pfleger, like Hollon, agree that youth violence especially within the African-American community has been a symptom of self-hate. To them, punishing the behavior is not key, but rehabilitating the psyche is. Latiker runs her organization by this personal philosophy, giving members of the Kids Off The Block program, many of whom were formerly involved in these turf wars, positive alternative to the streets through sports, music, and other creative outlets.

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“Nobody seems to want to go to the youth that cause the problems and have issues so deep,” she says. Father Pfleger has worked with Chicago public schools to form an Anti-Violence Movement as well as several other outreach programs in the community. In Chicago’s Back of the Yards Neighborhood, Father Kelly, head of his order’s reconciliation ministry at Precious Blood, commissioned youth from a city summer job program to paint a mural. The mural, which depicts both African-American and Latino images, stands on the border between two neighborhoods and seeks to unite two conflicting populations “transforming an area that’s noted for its violence and its division into a place of hope and unity.”

The Windy City has taken the brunt for the youth violence in the past few months, but as large as a metropolis it is, Chicago is only a microcosm for what’s going on a the national level. But sometimes it only takes a brushfire to wake up a whole village.

Talib and Mighty Mos with "History"

What a mature classy video from two stars who grown up and are doing it big inside Akwaaba Mansion in Brooklyn.

Mos Def Feat. Talib Kweli-History (Creative Control Color Edit) from Creative Control on Vimeo.

Top 10 Most Ghetto News Clips Of The Decade

Remember Black Planet, that ancient social networking site that was like a collision with BET? Well here was one of their trending topics. Not the most tasteful literature, but still hilarious.

Top 10 Most Ghetto News Clips Of The Decade

By Casey Gane-McCalla December 29, 2009 11:38 am

latarian-milton (1)

I know the term ghetto isn’t politically correct, but I couldn’t think of a better term. These news clips shouldn’t make Black people look bad, but they sure make Black people interesting. These clips do not represent African Americans as a whole, but a hilarious slice of life that we can all be amused by.
10. Reporter Turns Ghetto. Black people have to be bi-lingual. This newscaster turns from proper newsman to angry “ghetto” newsman after a bug flies in his mouth.

9. Cam’ron Debates Bill O’Reilly. Who does Fox News get to represent Hip Hop in a debate about the influence of Hip Hop on the youth? KRS-1, Chuck D? Nope Cam’ron, the king of ignorant crack rap. This debate quickly turns into an infantile argument between two big kids. Maybe Cam’ron should introduce his idea of more parent teacher conferences to Obama’s education team.

8.Whistle Tip Mufflers. In Oakland they were making special mufflers that made loud screeching noises. They decided to interview Bub Rubb and Lil Sis about them. Wooooop Wooooop.

7. Thuggin It And Loving It. A group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana made a DVD that highlighted the city’s criminal element. The local news quickly picked up on all the guns and negativity that the DVD promoted.

6. Leprechaun In The Hood. No this isn’t a movie starring Ice-T. Some people in Mobile, Alabama thought they saw a leprechaun, but in all honesty, it could’ve been a crackhead.

5. Gucci Mane Home Invasion. Gucci Mane’s manager tries to take advantage of the fact that Gucci killed someone to promote his single “Icey,” while Gucci tries to show his innocence with a Martin Luther King t-shirt. I sincerely doubt that Gucci Mane was part of MLK’s dream.

4. Beauty School Beat Down. When a man tried to rob a beauty school he gets beat down with curling irons in Shrevesport, Louisiana.

3. Spike Lee Like Dick (Pause). When Spike Lee said he liked a Knick player named Dick, Gus Johnson used the Dipset influenced slang term, “pause,” which is meant to make sure a statement that could be perceived as homosexual, in fact doesn’t mean anything homosexual at all.

2. 29-Year-Old Has 21 Kids By 11 Women. The headline is self explanatory.

1. 7-Year-Old Steals Grandma’s Car. Latarian Milton stole his grandma’s car, because he was mad at his mom. He told reporters that “it was fun to do bad things” and that he enjoyed “doing hoodrat stuff with my friends.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Free Mixtape Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek RE:Union Mixtape

Your boys are back and they got fire...

...and you said I couldn't buy your love...

The Apple Tablet

Yes, adults, there's a new toy! This just might be the sexiest Apple concoction yet.

Here's what I've picked up from the cyber buzz:

  1. It will be released late this month.
  2. It will use 3G network.
  3. It will compete with the Microsoft tablet.
  4. It will be the Iphone and the Macbook on steroids.

Dopeness from the UK

Here's the latest Hip-Hop from our European counterparts. I present to you M.E. He's got that golden age delivery, just listen.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Best African-American Books of 2009

By Sidik Literature Editor

This year, I gleaned and digested tons of books. Oh how many worlds I traveled! I traversed the motherland, sampling the best of contemporary African writing. We kicked sand on a Sag Harbor beach with Colson Whitehead's pubescent protagonist, Benji. We even scoured the mucked-up mind of legendary Wu-Tang producer, RZA, for precious bullions of Eastern philosophy. In the end, some journeys were more memorable than others, and so I salute those journeys with a cozy place on my list of the year's most notable books.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf, $24.95)
Adichie shows what happens when the everyday dysfunction of

family and relationships intersects with external political turmoil in this penetrating collection of short stories. The narratives, many of which have published individually in major literary magazines, take place in Nigeria and in the United States, often catching their protagonists in the middle of their diasporic to and fros. This collection serves as a fine follow-up to her Orange Prize winning novel Half of a Yellow Sun.

Confessions of a Ex-Doofus-ItchyFooted Mutha by Melvin Van Peebles (Akashic Books, $17.95)
Riotous, defiant, and edgy, this graphic novel chronicles the solitary life of a young man trying to make good in the Big Apple. Of course, no piece of art from Melvin Van Peebles is authentic without its share of risque vernacular and snappy wit of which this comic never runs dry. It makes a supplementary companion to the film of the same name.

God is Not an American by Jessica Care Moore (Moore Black Press, $20.00)
Translating resonant verbal performances into valuable written poetry has almost always boggled the spoken word artist. Since 1996, Jessica Care Moore has made a living by making her verses sing on paper as loud they do on stage. In this collection of poems, she aims her political ammo on the Western machine.

Open Letters to America: Essays by Kevin Powell (Soft Skull, $13.95)
This collection of open letters reads more like a post-Bush good riddance speech, but is all the more powerful because of its political optimism. Open Letters to America finds Powell stepping away from the fiery indictments of imperial power that connote his work of late. In these essays, Powell envisions a world where Barack Obama's multicultural coalition of young freedom fighters brings equality and belonging to the undermined populations of America.

The Tao of Wu by The RZA (Riverhead, $24.95)
Anyone who has paid attention to a Wu-Tang rap verse knows the intimacy of the legendary Hip-Hop's crew relationship with martial arts, Eastern philosophy, and the Five Percent Nation of Islam. The RZA, the group's producer and chief intermediary, weaves these loose threads into a complete manifesto on the Wu lifestyle.

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne by James Gavin (Atria, $27.00)
James Gavin's comprehensive biography on the storied Jazz vocalist went relatively overlooked this year. Still, Gavin paints a real portrait of a fragmented star who embodied the very twill of racial entanglement that haunted her career. The book spares pleasantries, tackling both Horne's triumphs and demons.

Two Notable Books

I recently compiled the best African-American books of 2009. These two books just missed the list, but are excellent reads...

In Hip Hop World, pop culture critic Dalton Higgins looks at Hip Hop from a global lens, examining cultural movements in Europe, Asia, Africa and all over the world.

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In The Assassination of Fred Hampton, Jeffrey Haas meticulously analyzes the conspiracy behind the murder of this famed Black Panther leader.

New Boy

I saw this video on the blog of Chloe Hilliard, a brilliant journalist for the Village Voice. So I thought I'd steal it and share. It's a short film based on the story "New Boy" by legendary Irish writer Roddy Doyle. I's about a Rwandan refugee's first day at his new Irish school.