Art, Greed & Unpronounceable Symbols: Thoughts on Nas' Scathing Letter to the Industry….

So Nas is pissed.

Earlier this week, a private email sent by Nas to executives at Def Jam, Nas’ current label home, leaked onto the internet. And it is a doozy. Nas slams the label suits for holding up the release of his highly anticipated Lost Tapes Vol. 2 collection, railing against a major label system that serves the interests of label execs at the expense of artists and fans.

The first full paragraph goes a little something like this:

I won’t even tap dance around in an email, I will get right into it. People connect to the Artist @ the end of the day, they don’t connect with the executives. Honestly, nobody even cares what label puts out a great record, they care about who recorded it. Yet time and time again its the executives who always stand in the way of a creative artist’s dream and aspirations. You don’t help draw the truth from my deepest and most inner soul, you don’t even do a great job @ selling it. The #1 problem with DEF JAM is pretty simple and obvious, the executives think they are the stars. You aren’t…. not even close. As a matter of fact, you wish you were, but it didn’t work out so you took a desk job. To the consumer, I COME FIRST. Stop trying to deprive them! I have a fan base that dies for my music and a RAP label that doesn’t understand RAP. Pretty fucked up situation

Damn. Straight ether.

Nas’ sentiments are passionate, honest, and dead-on. But this is not a new phenomenon. Not even close. You think an email is intense? How ‘bout changing your name to an unpronounceable symbol and purposefully sabotaging your own career?

Why you should enter the Black Youth Project's Video Contest, Democracy Remixed!!!


So, I am writing a blog this morning about why black youth should submit videos for the Black Youth Project’s video contest, Democracy Remixed.

  • The first reason is that I know black youth got lots of things to say. My morning bus rides to school are never quiet because black youth are always talking “loudly” about some issue—“Girl, did you hear about what happened to so and so when he was walking home . . .” So, why not take that conversation and make a video blog about it?
  • The second reason is that $500 dollars can buy lots of school books  . . . but, it can also buy lots of clothes from GAP so that you can be fashionable as you think about how you’re going to change the world one day.

There are a million Guatemalas

This blog is dedicated to one of the most underrated American Historians ever, Harriet Washington.

Last week it was revealed, at least to the masses, that the United States conducted STD trials on Guatemalan citizens over a two year period in the 1940s. Unfortunately, our black President had to issue the apology. The discovery was made by Susan Reverby, an historian studying the infamous Tuskegee Experiment conducted on black Americans. According to the Financial Times, she came across this information while doing research to “debunk the myth Tuskegee itself exposed subjects to infection rather than in fact depriving them of treatment.” Written that way, it almost seems as though she is suggesting the government’s role wasn’t that bad because they didn’t actually infect scores of black folk. They just watched. Which of course, makes this Guatemalan thing that bad. It’s the real fuckin’ deal!

But really, there is no need to compete on this topic because Tuskegee and Guatemala are drops in the bucket when it comes to testing on vulnerable populations. However, I will say what often makes some of the medical mistreatment of blacks so egregious is that we have been such important catalysts to medical discovery. So while Tuskegee was happening, whether blacks were infected intentionally or got syphilis on their own accord, there was a cure available. The withholding of treatment was not some random clerical error.

On Motherhood and NWNW

I’m sorry y’all but this “No Wedding, No Womb” stuff is really driving me up the wall. NFL season isn’t worth talking about until my Cowboys start winning. MLB playoffs hold no status since my Astros are…my Astros. No Wedding, No Womb has even managed to wrest my attention from the start of basketball and hockey seasons.

This “movement” has me thinking seriously about my stance on having children out of wedlock. In that sense, it has been effective. For the past two weeks, it’s all anyone can talk about. Lately I’ve been thinking about what it is that truly keeps me from supporting what is (should be, anyway) a noble cause, that is: providing stability for our children.

A Little Less Racist, A Lot Less Homophobic, and a Bit More Welcoming…Hopefullly

I attended my first preparation meeting for my Cape Town Study Abroad program yesterday. I immediately felt like an outsider among the other 20+ students that I will be attending the program with. While giving introductions it became common for people to express their past study abroad experiences, almost like it was a requirement to have one. One person told an anecdote of how they just came back from Rwanda; another explained how she was excited about going “back to Cape Town.” Me? The only black male in the room, (of course) I don’t even have my passport yet.

Young Blacks Unlikely To Rally Behind Democrats

Young Blacks Unlikely To Rally Behind Democrats
Cathy J. Cohen, | October 5, 2010

Chicago, IL ( — When record numbers of young African Americans turned out to vote for Barack Obama nearly two years ago, political pundits predicted the start of an important and positive trend. Socially marginalized young blacks buoyed by the election of the nation’s first black president would supposedly begin to see themselves as newly politically empowered and engaged. They would become as invested in, and optimistic about, their future as their young white counterparts.

So how is it that heading toward midterm elections in November, large percentages of black people ages 16 to 25 continue to feel alienated from mainstream American society and contemplating not who to vote for but whether to bother voting at all?

Clearly, politicians weren’t paying attention to what these young people were saying even in the heady, hopeful days after the Obama election. The Democratic Party that benefited greatly from the votes of these young people was also asleep at the wheel; if not, party leaders would have understood that despite young voters’ genuine enthusiasm for Obama, they were not energized by the Democratic Party nor particularly moved by its agenda. It was Barack Obama and the historic nature of his election that energized young people. (Read the full article)

The Real Bullies

After the several suicides of gay American teens in the past few weeks, major news outlets, celebrities, and politicians have addressed this issue of bullying… mainly in schools. And while I, currently in high school, hear epithets muttered under breaths, see the carelessness of hateful words, and see the intimidated outsider eyes bearing the four-letter weight of confusion, of hate…know that this is not where it all begins.

Prejudice in various forms: homophobia, racism, sexism and others, have existed for a long time. This kind of bigotry has imposed on the lives of undeserving people for years, for ages before anyone my age was born. Clearly, kids aren’t inventing names to call each other or deciding what or who is going to be the norm and who is going to be unaccepted. We have each been born into a world, into a society where a standard of normalcy is pre-determined, where every mind has at least a little bit, if not a lot, of contempt for difference. Hurtful names and insensitive stereotypes already exist, all that young people have to do is keep them in use. Hostility toward certain groups, like gays, is not new. Discrimination, and hatefulness are not unique to kids in school. Chlidren and teens learn these things from adults. The recent media focus on bullying may be looking at the wrong bullies.

Why Won't Blue And Red Play With Black?

The election of America’s first Black President in 2008 ushered in what many believed to be a post-racial America. A country historically embittered by racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia could finally boast a grand success in the realm of identity politics. On the fateful night of November 4, 2008 the United States of America seemingly reached the apotheosis of racial progress. As Senator Barack Obama calmly walked across the stage on that cool night in Chicago’s Grant Park, civil rights leaders wept, people of all backgrounds held hands and sang they were proud to be Americans. Ostensibly, we could finally close the book on civil rights. If Barack Obama could make it anyone could right? Wrong, in 2010 just two years after his election racial animus is at an all time high, and Blacks continue to lag behind their fellow cohort groups in almost every quality of life category. Such gaps exist where 48 percent of Blacks are incarcerated; where the Black/White wealth gap is now 14 to 1; where Whites own homes at 70 percent and Blacks at 45 percent; where health gaps in major illnesses persists and Blacks disproportionately do not have health insurance; and where poverty reigns at 30-40 percent for many folks.