Archive for the ‘Viral Videos’ Category

Rap and Hip Hop’s Dark History: Anything For Money   Leave a comment

I want to preface this post with these two videos:

 

…Let’s be honest: This was what fueled the sharp rise of Hip Hop in the U.S. in the 1980s, the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur in the mid-1990s, the industry’s implosion during the mid-2000s and the mostly watered down stuff we see in the mainstream today.

Now me, I’m old enough to both remember and appreciate The System (The Government) and the Music Industry’s carefully laid out plans to indoctrinate, manipulate and brainwash the unsuspecting masses with African Americans as the primary focus. Most Blacks stopped listening to and playing Rock and Roll after Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis made it famous among White Americans during the 1970s. The politics of the time and the start of Reagan’s “War on Drugs” during the 1980s left many African American youth without a healthy outlet to ease pent-up frustration.

That all changed when Hip Hop was “re-discovered” in The Bronx in the early 1980s. Its popularity in African American cities exploded almost overnight. It came in at just the right time: Many young African Americans were researching their ancestors. Hip Hop, which survived in Africa was virtually unknown in the U.S. The self-appointed keepers of Hip Hop Lore, the original grandmasters and DJs of the early 80s still living in the Bronx often talk about how far Rap and Hip Hop has gone from its early years.

Here’s Kool Moe Dee’s Wild Wild West:

…And N.W.A.’s Express Yourself:

One thing both songs have in common is they tell a clear, concise story or message. THIS was Rap and Hip Hop’s original purpose. It’s like I said before: Rap is poetry over beats. Like other genres of music, Hip Hop is used to tell a story or message, usually about the times or who you are as well as uplift and empower.

…How then did we go from the above to this:

 

…Given I talked about the first song two years ago, my opinion of this type of music has changed since then. I now consider both Silento’s Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae and Soulja Boy’s Crank That to be fake Hip Hop and actually do more harm than good to the history of the genre. Why? Because they’ve become the blueprint for how to make “Safe Hip Hop”. You know, stuff that won’t offend privileged White Americans who don’t want to be reminded of how good they have it compared to many African Americans.

The real problem with both of these “songs” and the copycats they spawned isn’t the dancing. The dancing is freaking awesome. The REAL problem is both “songs” are not real songs. I mean that literally and that’s why I threw in the quotes. Recite The Alphabet. Now Recite The Birthday Song (“Happy Birthday To You”). Notice how both songs don’t just have rhythm but have subtance and is purposeful. The above songs lack both substance and purpose. The focus of both songs is the dance and this is why they’re both so “simple”. All you hear is what would be the chorus in a normal song the whole time.

Let’s take a look at PSY’s Gangnam Style, which was recently dethroned on YouTube for Most Watched Ever:

Yes, it’s goofy and in Korean but this is still a full song. I’ve seen the lyrics translated into English so I can say that. Yes, the focus is obviously on the Horse Dance but it’s still a full freaking song.

All that said, let’s now look at the song the put the U.S. Government on edge:

…I decided to go with the full version so you have the full, political context of the song. Public Enemy put both the U.S. Government and the Music Industry on notice with this song: To empower young African Americans to become politically involved, politically engaged and demand change from both themselves and the system. Believe it or not, this scared The System even more than N.W.A.’s F*** tha Police. They shut down that song by simply saying anyone who listens to it hates police and the mainstream ate up that lie like candy.

As the 1990s began, Hip Hop Artists realized they were being forced to do one of two things: Avoid politics and increase their chances of making alot of money or dive into politics and risk not just being blackballed but even killed. Most picked the former. All you need to do is look at popular rap music from about…I wanna say 1992 to now. Most of it is about glorifying money, sex, drugs, violence, alcohol and guns. It wasn’t until about…I wanna say 2007 Artists started to avoid the subjects of drugs, alcohol and especially guns. They knew the history so…yeah.

https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/pjimage23.jpg?w=748&h=420&crop=1

Back then, those who did weave politics into their music had some success early on but not for too long. The lucky ones survived the 90s. The unlucky ones…well, this brings me to Biggie and Pac. Let’s be honest, Tupac Shakur was killed because of his mother’s affiliation with The Black Panthers first and his early political messages second. The Notorious B.I.G.’s death was also politically motivated, as was the “so-called beef” between them. THAT was carefully orchestrated to ensure whichever was killed first, the other would automatically blamed so their death could be written off as “retaliation”.

…And both of them knew it. Listen to The Notorious B.I.G.’s last album Life After Death. At a glance, it can easily be written off as your standard rap beef mixed with sex talk. It wasn’t until AFTER he died people began to realize he’d actually foretold not just his death but the reason why he would be killed. Look up Notorious Thugs, My Downfall, What’s Beef?, You’re Nobody (‘Til Somebody Kills You) and Somebody’s Gotta Die on YouTube as I won’t post them all here to be nice to those who don’t have high-speed internet (LOL!). Overall, there is a reason it is considered his greatest masterpiece and one of the greatest Hip Hop Albums of the 1990s. Yes, it’s the same one Hypnotize is on as well (third song on the first disc).

All that said, sadly the overwhelming majority made their choice: They chose profits over principles. They chose to give in to the system they knew could care less about them or their fanbases. There is a certain irony with most of those rap videos of the 1990s and early 2000s: The jets, cars, mansions, clubs and and jewelry prominently featured in them? They were all rented. The scantly clad women and backup dancers were hired or volunteers to shoot the videos as well.

For what purpose?

Simple: The system wanted to present a false narrative and a false reality to African Americans. The reality of the 1990s: Bill Clinton’s Mass Incarceration Policy. It wasn’t until during his wife’s Presidential campaign last year he admitted it did more harm than good as African American men were unfairly profiled in large numbers. The rap videos and music glorifying guns, violence, drugs, alcohol, sex and money were all things many African American youth desired but felt would always be out of reach unless they pursued one of two paths: Music or Sports. Again, the irony being few actually made it in either. I see young artists trying to sell their music in Downtown Boston, Dudley Square and Grove Hall almost every day and have for 15 years.

The sad truth is there are no guarantees in either. While it IS true some of these artists used to sell drugs, the overwhelming majority of them never have despite rapping about it. It IS true some artists recorded while high on drugs or while drunk, though. Most out of their own admittance years after the fact.

It wasn’t until the late 2000s artists in general realized The Industry was taking a bigger and bigger cut of the profits from their music. Some artists didn’t write their own music and that made it easier for record labels to “own” an artist’s blood, sweat and tears. Turns out being indie or starting your own label is the smart thing to do. Few artists in general could pull it off and it was virtually unheard of in Hip Hop. Artists like LL Cool J and Ice Cube reinvented themselves as actors, leaving music entirely. The advent of social media changed the game. Now, artists could cut out the middle man and get their music to fans directly, keeping 100% of the profits.

This actually proved to be an interesting and unexpected perk for indie, underground and new artists as now they could record a song and sell it online by themselves. At the same time, established artists use Social Media to connect with fans and promote their music. Hip Hop and Rap have certainly come a long way. Given the recent politics of America, the time is right for a true revival of the genre with a new generation of promising talent driven not by greed but by passion.

In my next post on the subject, I will talk a bit more about how much Hip Hop has changed since 1979 and where it may be going. Here’s a video to check out you may find interesting until then:

…That cover picture. Really is something, isn’t it?

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The latest Viral Dance Craze has divided the Internet   Leave a comment

I’m of course referring to The Nae Nae:

This one totally went over my head when I first heard about it in February. In fact, I had to ask my Facebook contacts about it the other day. Buzzfeed compiled everything you might wanna know here.

Then NECN featured this local principal doing the Nae Nae on the first day of school:

That said, I just emailed the principal of the Holmes School (where I will be working this school year) and asked her if she would be interested in doing it on Tuesday. If she agrees, I will post the video. Even if she declines, I plan to do it myself.

Getting back to the main topic, the song has divided the internet. On one side, you have those who love the song for the dance. On the other side, you have those who hate the song’s repetativeness, simplicity and lack of any substance despite being categorized as “Hip Hop”. That said, it definitely ISN’T music and was never meant to be “enjoyed” alone: All the song does is tell you what to do and nothing more. I rarely say this publicly but those who hate the song are haters or jealous haters who are just mad they never thought of comingup with the cash grab first. LOL.

Speaking of interactive songs, there was another song that came out about 15 years back that is still considered today one of, if not the greatest dance song ever thought of:

Yep, DJ Casper’s Cha Cha Slide. This song’s selling point, like Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae is literally nothing but telling you what to do yet it hasn’t received any of the hate the newer song has. Makes no sense if you ask me.

At present, Watch Me Whip/Nae Nae has clocked in nearly 196 Million hites on You Tube. If you think that’s alot, keep in mind the You Tube King Gangnam Style by Psy has 2,406,842,219 hits (and still counting!), a feat highly unlikely to be topped anytime soon. The question to ask is “Is this You Tube video something I will want to watch every day several times a day?” When you keep that in mind, the answer is obvious =D

The many faces of Brendan Aurabolt   Leave a comment

All of these pictures of me were taken between 1996 and last Monday I took almost all of them myself. I have one question I want everyone to give an honest answer to but before I ask the question, let me introduce you to some of my selfies:

 

Preparing to head outPicture 001Webcam Stills 010HNI_0081HNI_0074

The following are pictures I frequently use on various websites. Some of you are probably very familiar with them:

 

HNI_0070 HNI_0079 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Webcam Stills 011 IMG_0015 IMG_0011 IMG_0175

 

Now here’s my question:

Which group of pictures has a better chance of being used by the media if I get arrested or murdered?

 I think you and I both know the answer so we’ll leave it at that.

If not for what happened in Missouri the other day, I wouldn’t have even considered sharing the first group of pictures. This is the first time ever that I’ve shared those pictures with ANYONE. Until this post, my own family didn’t even know they existed save the first one. I actually meant to delete them but forgot over time.

Given the way the media likes to portray black men on TV and Movies, I’ve decided to present this post as an open challenge to the WordPress Community: Reblog this post with the question above, the hashtag below and see what happens.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown

Speaking of Michael Jackson…   Leave a comment

What you are about to see is Michael Jackson personified in 17-year old Brett W. Nichols. The video speaks for itself:

The kid did his homework. By the way, he won the Talent Show no surprise.

Here’s footage of MJ doing Billie Jean in Bucharest in 1992 for comparison:

Reportedly the kid’s been studying Michael Jackson’s dance moves for 10 years. He is also a self-styled perfectionist when it comes to the choreography just like the man who inspired him to do this. In an interview he did after the video went viral, he said there were still things he needed to work on. Even sweeter: He’ll be back next year =O

When I first got wind of the video this morning, the video had 1.5 Million hits. 12 hours later, the video has over 5.4 million hits on You Tube!

Five Years After Death, Michael Jackson’s Legacy Lives On   2 comments

The King Has Risen! Just kidding. This is actually a Hologram.

A week and a half after the release of Michael Jackson’s second posthumous album XSCAPE (By the way it’s AWESOME, see below), The King of Pop made a special appearance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.

But wait, didn’t he die five years ago? I’d know. I watched the coverage all summer. If you were not the kind of person who could accept the fact the dead can’t come back to life, well…this picture speaks for itself:

Michael Jackson died on June 7, 2009. This is fact. Michael Jackson’s body is interred in a crypt in Los Angeles. Also fact.

So how is an obviously dead man touching a living person in front of a live audience and millions more watching?

Simple: It’s actually a hologram of Michael Jackson.

You can tell that it’s not actually a person much easier in these pictures:

…I’ll give ’em credit for trying. Looking at the faces of the live audience–most of whom have probably seen MJ perform live–it goes without saying it’s not the same. It also drove home for alot of folks in denial The King of Pop is dead and has been for five years next month.By the way, the song performed was Slave to the Rhythm from the recently released Album XSCAPE. If the choreogrphy looks familiar, they meshed it from live shows he did. I could tell at a glance it was a combination of the choreography for Billie Jean, Beat it and Remember the Time.

Actually everything on the stage when the curtain was raised onward was a hologram. Only the dancers in the foreground and in the aisles were real people. It would’ve been too obvious otherwise. Unlike Tupac’s hologram from two years ago (which was done to include Dr. Dre and Ice Cube), MJ’s hologram would be performing solo.

 

Enough about the Billboards. Now we’re going to talk about the recently released album XSCAPE:

It’s interesting to note I didn’t even know this was in the works until I saw samplings for some of the tracks on The Playstation Network two weeks ago. That said, when I looked to buy the album on iTunes I decided to buy the Deluxe version so that I could have both the original and remastered versions of each song.

Like I did when I wrote my review of 2010’s “Michael”, I read some of the top reviews on Amazon.com for the album before writing this. They come from folks claiming to be hardcore and lifetime fans of MJ my age and older. They’re quck to call Michael (the album) a failure but hesitate to even suggest XSCAPE is anything but the real deal.

…Just sayin’.

Anyway, this review is about MJ’s second post-humous album XSCAPE. Eight songs were chosen for this album. The standard version only has the remastered versions of the songs while the Deluxe Edition comes with both the Remastered and Original versions each song. Both versions of the album include Justin Timberlake’s Remix of Love Never Felt So Good, which can be easily argued has no place on either version of the album. While yes, we get it, Sony wants to attract Justin Timberlake fans and vice versa but it would’ve been better released as an LP on one of his (Timberlake’s) albums or something than including it with XSCAPE.

Moving on, let’s go down the list track by track:

1. Love Never Felt So Good: One could date the original version as part of Off the Wall (the album). This album’s lead track, Love Never Felt So Good does its job of pulling you in. for the rest of the album. The remastered version I think will do its job of pulling in new fans as it is a nice fusion of past and present. It’s also my understanding the remixed version was leaked on the internet late last year according to some reviewers. If that’s true, I never heard about it regardless.

2. Chicago: I heard echoes of “Invicible” in the remastered version and Human Nature in the original version of this song. It’s your classic “girl once burned wants to play the fielnd” ballad. This is one of those songs that are just made to transcend time itself.

3. Loving You: The word for the original version of this song is RETRO. I would highly reccommend anyone who picks XSCAPE as their first MJ Album and likes this track makes Thriller 25th Anniversary Edition their second. The bonus track on that album Carusel and the Original version of this song are so similar, I suspect he recorded both songs for the album but like Carusel, it didn’t make the final cut for Thriller’s original release.

4. A Place With No Name: If the intro for the Original version sounds familiar, MJ sampled America’s “A Horse With No Name” and used it as a base for this song. For the record, he got their blessing and permission to do it. The remasterd version reminds me of The Way You Make Me Feel from Bad. The subtle galloping you hear in the remastered version is a nod to the song that inspired the original version of the song.

5. Slave to the Rhythm: This track seems to be somewhere between Dangerous and Invicible. I think the Remastered version does a better job highlighting MJ’s vocals but the pacing for the original is to jam to. All in all the track does its job of acting as the bridge between MJ’s older albums (Thriller, Off the Wall and Bad) and his newer ones (Dangerous, Blood on the Dance Floor and HIStory). As a reminder, this song was performed by the MJ Hologram at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.

6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are: Easily the most controversial song on the album. I have no doubt it will be used as fodder for the haters and critics. Even I will admit it’s a very odd song and it immediately made me think of Demerol, which is the bridge for the song Morphine (Blood on the Dance Floor). The gist of the remastered version in no uncertain terms describes a young girl who is a victim of child sexual exploitation. Again, unless you heard the bridge for Morphine (in which MJ literally says he’s addicted to Demerol) you’d have thought this to be far outside the realm of what MJ does. Then again, the same could be said about Scream (“Stop F***ing with me”), Privacy (Invincible) and Leave Me Alone (Bad) in which MJ takes shots at his critics and the paparazzi. The original version had more of an emphasis on the vocals and seems to be somewhere between Bad and Dangerous. I dunno. I think this is one of those songs that should have been released while he was alive. Soon enough, his legacy will be called into question once again only this time he’s not around to defend himself.

7. Blue Gansta: Easily my favorite song on the album and a stark contast to the preceeding song. It’s as if MJ is saying “Yeah I wrote that song but so what? What are you gonna do about it?” According to one of the top reviewers, this song was leaked some years ago under the title No Friend of Mine but was renamed Blue Gansta for the Album release. The original version has shades of Smooth Criminal and The Way You Make Me Feel (both from Bad) thrown in with a touch of You Rock My World (Invincible). It also seemed to have the essence of Duke Ellington’s Jeep’s Blues with those trumpet blasts. An instant classic.

8. Xscape: The cover song is yet another blend of classic and mondern MJ. I mean that for both versions of the song.

All in all I give the album a 10/10.

I’d have given it a 8/10 if I only got the standard version. With XSCAPE, I think it’s safe to overlook “Michael” if you didn’t like it. I didn’t have a problem with it personally but that’s just me. This one will no doubt make critics of The Estate releasing his unreleased song rethink their stance. While yes I ‘d be the first to agree the unfinished songs on “Michael” should have never been released, there is a demand from the fans to hear more of his unreleased work.

And we all know that there are HUNDREDS MORE songs where these two albums came from.

 

The thing about R. Kelly you should never forget   Leave a comment

One of R.Kelly’s Many Booking Mugshots.

He is a convicted rapist and a convicted pedophile.

Click that link for the full, uncut and distrubing details of what he did by the journalist who has since made it his life’s work to see to it R.Kelly’s crimes against children are never forgotten. Some of what that article contains is pretty disturbing to read but given what a man of his status went to prison for, it should never be forgotten for as long as he lives.

Having said that, I don’t have a problem being transparent and saying I own this album:

The album contains what most would call some of the greatest-ever R&B songs of the genre before his first conviction. The 2-Disc compelation contains World’s Greatest, Gotham City and I Believe I Can Fly, which was recorded and featured in the 1995 movie Space Jam as and its connecting music video. The song itself is still considered today to be one of the greatest R&B songs of all time despite the fact its creator is a convicted pedophile. Rightfully so but there is no avoiding the controversy of the artist.

Let me expain one clear difference between Michael Jackson and R. Kelly: One admitted to sharing a bed with minors on tape, had said interview used against him in court and was found not guilty of comitting any crime. The other lied about having oral sex with a 17 year old girl and was later found guilty of the rape of a minor.

Despite the fact Michael Jackson was found innocent of all crimes he was accused of, the court of public opinion prefers to forgive a convicted rapist.

Why is that?

They’re both black men so there’s no race/gender bias. They’re both musically gifted (which is indesputable). They both have fans all over the world. Michael Jacks0n deserved a second chance. R. Kelly got several and wasted no time blowing them all:

Shortly after his release from prison R. Kelly released the above album (because let’s face it, he was broke and needed the money). While he was working on Volume 2 R. Kelly’s name was called in a sex tape leaked to the media in which he urinates on a 14 year old girl. In court, Kelly said he did not know the girl was a minor but as an adult already convicted of a similar crime it’s not unreasonable to have expected him to confirm the girl’s age before taking her to bed. This was the case in which the court of public opinion came to the consenus “Ok so what? If he couldn’t tell I don’t think I could either!”

After being released from prison (again) R. Kelly recorded the first “Black Soap Opera”, better known worldwide as Trapped in the Closet:

His timing couldn’t have been better. At the time he released the first 5 chapters Tyler Perry was becoming a household name with the Madea plays. Trapped in the Closet quickly became a cult classic and after chapter 12 was released it really looked like R. Kelly would be able to put his dark past behind him.

Then he is found on tape raping a 19 year old woman. This time, supposedly it’s R. Kelly himself who recorded it. R. Kelly’s latest incident is resolved without jailtime but the damage has already been done. There is a belief among many that now, the guy simply does not care anymore. This is percieved belief highlighted in the recently released Black Panties in which R. Kelly supposedly admits to his previous crimes and that he just can’t help himself. I haven’t listened to the album so I can’t comment on that but I have no plans to buy it.

You see, R. Kelly is like those politicians repeatedly caught cheating on their wives: He’ll just do it again knowing all he has to do is make music to pay off the legal bills sure to come. Does that make ANY sense? No it does not.

Again: I won’t deny he is a very gifted singer. Even so, I can’t support a man whose personal life is so tainted it’s clearly effected his professional life. That’s the other side of why so many look the other way when it comes to R. Kelly. Yes you should draw a distinction between his public and private lives. It’s what I did with Michael Jackson and Paul Reubens (aka Peewee Herman), after all. Even so, R. Kelly has neither shown remorse for what he did or even asked his victims for forgiveness. When you take that into account it’s harder to come up with a valid arguement to support this guy.

I hope this gave you guys something to think about moving forward. Oh, I will listen to the music he’s done in the past that I have. When I do, I prefer to think of him as the man he was before his fall from grace.

The You Tube Revolution has FINALLY Begun   Leave a comment

All I can really say is it’s about time.

I was one of the first to stand up and say You Tube was systematically taking away their users freedom of expression in conjuction with the RIAA. Some will say the problems started when YouTube was bought by Google 6 years ago. Before the buyout You Tube was a massive free for all. Everything under the sun including pirated movies, tv shows and so on were shared on You Tube. After the buyout YouTube cleaned house.

The problem is they didn’t stop there.

Things escalated from closing accounts used to upload pirated movies to blocking videos in the U.S. for having copyrighted music playing in the background. Now granted, the buyout by Google brought some organization to YouTube but nowadays you’ll find few who make music who actually likes the RIAA. It’s free advertising for them as far as they’re concerned. Oh, speaking of advertisements. As I’m sure you’ve been finding out all year, Google has been coming up with new and creative ways to stick advertisements in every single video on You Tube. This is kinda related but for those who have Chromebooks, did you know Google is using the info you store on those computers to better spam you with junk mail? That isn’t baseless rhetoric from Apple and Microsoft (“Don’t get Scroogled”). It’s fact.

Anyway, folks are beginning to take a stand against You Tube’s practices. Now don’t get me wrong Google has no plans on EVER changing its copyright policy. They have it set up in a way that ANYONE can claim copyrighted material is theirs even though it’s obvious they’re not the copyright holder. It’s an automated system that requires little to no oversight from a Google employee. Ergo, it’s not equitable to change their system.

The only options we video makers/uploaders have is to go elsewhere or make a new video host site. I think a combimation of both is in order. I have been looking at Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Vimeo and Veoh. over the last two years as alternatives. I think it would be far better for someone to just make a site than to just jump to one of those sites. More and more Cable Channels, Anime Companies, Major Sports (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, Olympics, NCAA, NASCAR, etc.) and sports entertainment (WWE, UFC and TNA) have been streaming their programs through their own websites. Yes, much of it is because some folks will upload live feeds to You Tube after it aired but at the same time they don’t want their content regulated by a third party company.

Now I want to back up a little bit and give the less tech-savy folks out there who use You Tube in on three truths you should always keep in mind:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, an ordinary person like you uploaded the video to the site.
  2. If the video contains copyrighted music and the uploader is not a musician, it will be flagged and blocked or removed in short order.
  3. You Tube has a Three Strikes Policy when it comes to uploading Copyrighted or offendable material. Three Strikes and your account’s closed.

 

See, the thing less tech-savy folks SHOULD know is You Tube’s automated system only does what it’s programmed to do. It does take into account, for example someone walking by with Lady Gaga blaring on their iPhone. It does not account for someone WITH permission uploading copyrighted material. All it knows is someone not in its recorded uploaded something in conflict with the programmed peramaters. Fanmade Music Videos made with copyrighted songs used to be everywhere until a few years ago. What happened? The new copyright policy is what happened. It forced those who make AMVs as they’re also called to look to other sites or just use Rapidshare or Mediafire.

At last, The Revolution has begun.

As more and more people become aware, new video host sites will rise. I don’t expect these new sites to reach even the level of popularity You Tube has but when they come they will be here to stay.

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