Top Hip-Hop Lists Are Useless Memes

This shirt is a meme, not a fact.

For some reason this year, I’ve been seeing more “Top n Emcees In History” or “Top n Albums of All Time” lists than I’m comfortable with on Twitter. I think we all understand that when these lists come from an individual, it’s clearly subjective, an honestly a fun way to start a debate with fellow hip-hop heads. I do take issue, though, when these lists are generated by so-called authorities in hip-hop. Blogs, podcasts, and the like that have the attention of many others.

I know that these types of lists are click bait, and some may consider that relatively harmless. However, the state that hip-hop is in right now – with literal legends still trying to recover from the devastating effect of the record industry and it’s exploitative business tactics – I find it to be just a tad irresponsible of any person or any entity with “clout” to fire off these types of lists for the sake of some quick traffic.

Right now hip-hop needs some true journalism and historiography on it’s side. This tweet came across my timeline today for example:

Here you have two influential people – albeit with great intentions – misinforming the public about who was really the machine behind a classic Eazy-E album. Luckily, Ice Cube sets the record straight. But how many people listened to that broadcast or watched this video that don’t follow Ice Cube, don’t even know how much The D.O.C. contributed to the whole NWA era, and are now regurgitating this half-truth about EZ-Duz-It?

After 40 or so years, there is plenty of history and subject matter in hip-hop to be covered and discovered. Literally hundreds of millions of people waiting to consume some ACTUAL content about hip-hop. Websites/blogs/podcasts/radio shows should leave those “top-whatever” lists to us mere mortals to create and spread on the internet. They’re just memes.

Boondocks Back : FIGHT!

If you haven’t heard yet, The Boondocks is coming back for it’s 5th season. After the 4th season debacle (I still don’t think I’ve fully watched the 4th season…it was wack), I’d eventually come to terms with the fact that the first 3 seasons would be canon, and I’d always have the memories of how much that show spoke to me in ways that few pieces of art ever have.

The rumors of the 5th season had me side-eyeing the potential reboot. But learning that Aaron McGruder will be back in the driver seat put all that to rest.

As much as I love and appreciate the social commentary of the show, the geek in me is really looking forward to one thing above all else – the fight scenes! These were what truly stole my heart when watching The Boondocks, so much so that I’m always pulling them up on YouTube just to get that old feeling back from when it was on Adult Swim. I can’t wait to see Huey Freeman throw down once again!

This Is My Endgame

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Is What I’ve Been Waiting For

In an earlier post about my anticipation for Avengers: Endgame, I mentioned that I’d been “waiting for this moment my whole life”. At the time, I felt that that statement could be overblown. But after giving some thought to my history with all things geeky, and having seen Endgame, I recognize that it wasn’t. The last 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are exactly what I’ve always wanted.

While I’ve read enough comic books and lore to be considered a proper fan of Marvel (and DC), it was never enough to satisfy me. I specifically remember reading comic books and wishing that the universe could be properly represented in live action format. This was undoubtedly fueled by 1978s Superman: The Movie.

Superman is where it all started for me.

It’s hard to overstate how much that movie impacted me. (There is photo evidence of it’s impact that I’m in the process of tracking down). Yet, while Superman was a great movie, that I still enjoy today, it didn’t represent the entire DC Universe I was learning more about in comics over the years. The lore, character relationships, dialogue, and epic battles “to save the universe” enchanted me…. but I just wanted all of those things “in a MOVIE”. Wonder Woman, Batman,…the entire Justice League!

Being that this was during the late 80s and early 90s, I quickly realized that a well executed “cinematic universe” was a pipe dream. Primarily because I felt the special effects of the time didn’t do the comics justice. In hind sight, it’s probably one of the things that kept me from being a pure comic book reader/collector. I was becoming more of a cinephile. The Star Wars trilogy had won me over, and the comic book format, while enjoyable, just didn’t quite cut it for me.

Batman Begins was a turning point in the genre. Like many, it became the gold standard for the execution I expected from every comic book based movie afterwards. There were some disappointments, but Iron Man was not one of them. It was a well done movie, and I was more than happy with that. What I wasn’t prepared for was the after credits scene:

My initial thought: “I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up…”

You can understand how cautiously excited I was after this. They’d just hinted at executing the thing I’d been dreaming of since I was a kid. Were they really going to pull this off? I was a full-on adult at this point, with enough understanding of how Hollywood operates (sprinkled with plenty of good ol’ grown-up cynicism) to side eye the potential outcome.

I could not have been more wrong.

I know there are lots more movies to come. And I’ll be watching all of them. Good, bad, and ugly. Because this place that the MCU and Avengers: Endgame has brought us to is what I’ve wanted. Always.

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Hip Hop Makes Everything Better – Ghostface + Iron Man

Never underestimate Tony Stark!

A combination of a) going to see Avengers Endgame in a couple of week (y’all….I been waiting on this day my WHOLE LIFE. I’ll explain that arguably hyperbolic statement another day), and b) going to see Wu-Tang Clan in a couple of months has got me in a mood! To celebrate, I’ve been enjoying things like the video above, an old favorite. A ridiculously meta mashup of Ghostface Killah and Iron Man footage that supports the ongoing theory that hip hop makes everything better.

To the creator of this video…. If you’re out there, holla at me!

Democratization Of Social Media

Been working on a ghost project over the last week, which is loosely based around popular social media networks. ‘Loosely’ because I’ve been burned several times in the past by making an idea too dependent on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook. Policy changes, algorithm updates, API endpoint deprecation, etc. Dancing around all of that gets frustrating as hell. Yet, I’m still cognizant of the role that social media plays on the internet and in our lives. So ultimately, projects will still involve and leverage social media, but always with the caveat of ‘what if’…

This week seems like it’s turning out to be the week of ‘If’. Facebook is attempting to clamp down on ‘fake news’ by changing their news feed again (that always goes smooth, right?). They’re also planning to censor Instagram and demote content that is deemed ‘inappropriate’.

I understand their need to make these types of changes. Not only because of all the trouble they’ve gotten in with the government recently. It’s also a business move. It’s likely hard for “big” advertisers to run ads against a social network full or fraudulent news stories or images of half naked body parts. So I get it.

But the closer that Facebook/Instagram inches toward becoming more conservative, the bigger of an opening it gives for a more liberal social network to rise up in the ranks. (Note: I’m using liberal/conservative in their literal senses here. This is not a political post). What about the people who enjoy “inappropriate” content? Let’s be honest… Twitter would likely be going the way of MySpace right now if it didn’t allow pornography on it’s network. There always has been and always will be an appetite for the ‘inappropriate’ on the internet.

Far be it for me to try and predict how this will play out for FB/IG. I don’t criticize them for the move, either. You’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere, you can please all of the people all the time, etc etc. But these are the types of changes that help to democratize social media, even when they seem “too big to fail”. And it’s why I tend to keep them all at arms length. Because, ‘what if…’