News Blurbs Archive
Kevin Frazier - Outside 2007 BET Awards Press Conference

Kevin Frazier Asks Rappers to Get Mind-Boggling Smart

You might know Kevin Frazier from his work on Entertainment Tonight. Black Tree Media caught up with him by the elevator bank outside the press conference for the announcement of the 2007 BET Award nominees. During that press conference, 50 and T.I. were hit with the question of hip-hop’s role in the post-Imus environment.

It’s sad to see most rappers duck and dodge all responsibility for the sake of la dinero.

“I’m just a street reporter.”

Kevin Frazier whispered his response to that answer.

You know why?.. No one needs to read an ET blast saying, “Kevin Frazier Assaulted by Angry Rapper’s Entourage.”

Haha. He’s smart like that.

What’s that Kevin?

Kevin Frazier - Outside 2007 BET Awards Press Conference

“There are lots of things going on in the black community to rap about than just women and fighting and being mad.”

Kevin Frazier - Outside 2007 BET Awards Press Conference

“People want to see what you give them, and feed them, and nourish them, especially younger kids. We’re talking about adolescents, teenagers.. who are really soaking up all the knowledge that they’re learning from what they see on TV.

Kevin Frazier - Outside 2007 BET Awards Press Conference

“And what they see on TV as you mentioned, asses and everything else, then that’s what your perception of reality is. And as we know, being here in Hollywood, perception is not reality. It’s very, very different.”

Yes, she’s Sri-Lankan. My new favorite flavor.

Nas and Kelis in Stop Smiling Magazine

Nas Breaks Down Super-Materialism and Hyped-Up Fans in Stop Smiling Magazine

When Nas hit the press last year for “Hip-Hop is Dead.” He did so without any real explanation of what he meant. People on both sides of the ‘what has hip-hop become’ debate got shook and decided Nas was coming after their baby. Southern rappers (T.I. and Lil Wayne) took the, “I’m making money, it must be alive” route; and underground mags (Mass Appeal) propped up profiles featuring underground rappers, nuclear fallout deep, proclaiming they were proof hip-hop isn’t and will never be dead.

Didn’t Young Jeezy want to smack Nas around a little or at least give him a firm talking to?

It was like Moses rose from the ashes, landed on the Empire State Building and smashed the hip-hop commandments on the heads of the heathens. What was all the fuss about?

Just confusion all around to an obvious personal critique of this music of ours.

I’m not sure if Nas ever got past saying.. “that’s not what I meant”..  in any previous explanation he’s given.

In the latest and greatest issue of Stop Smiling: The Magazine For High-Minded Lowlifes they devote the entire issue to hip-hop nuggets; with two covers, the New York circulation features Nas.

Nas - Stopsmiling Magazine cover

The interview was conducted at the time of the album’s release.

He still doesn’t say why hip-hop is dead, the man has layers (and contradictions), peel back and see what makes sense.

SS: One of the things you seem to be saying on “Hip-Hop is Dead” is that hip-hop culture is super-materialistic, that everyone’s out for themselves. That it’s a lot like the way American culture, as a whole is becoming.

The problem is, we don’t realize the power of words.

One rapper from wherever talks about the hardships of growing up, and the record might be so hard, so hot, that the fans - the listeners- think it’s telling you how you should live, or that your music should be an imitation. That’s not why I made records.

But when I did, and saw what was happening, it was too late to explain, “Yo, I’m just expressing myself, not telling nobody to live no kind of way. You may not be able to get it the way I got it. There might be an easier way for you.”

So when someone starts talking about bling and ice to express themselves, you can’t tell who the real dudes are - and it makes us look like crazy, materialistic pigs. Some people think life is all about material things, and that’s all their record is about because they don’t know anything else.

Time for the contradiction…

We get the blame for being overly materialistic.

I come from the Eighties. The American dream was the shit Scarface died for, and it was everything no one in America had: Porsches, Ferraris, big mansions in Miami. That was drug dealer shit. There was a time when the drug game bought you all of those things. And when that era died, what was left is what the rappers like myself picked up and kept moving on with.

We talk about the experiences of those before us, what it was like, how insane it is that a guy who can’t read is born wanting to wear Gucci. And he earns on the streets without school. And learns class, sophistication and counting money without school. That is amazing to young brothers. Because it shows you their genius.

When you saw them go down A??,??__ whether they were shot, killed or put in jail A??,??__ you realize then that they’d had a decision to make. They could have said yes to that life or no to that life. But whether they did or didn’t, what they were after was something everyone is after: the money and the women.

So now we have thousands of rappers picking that up, saying the same shit they heard somebody good say, and it fucks it all up.

Not a true contradiction, just have to pay attention as he defined the soil that sprouts “real dudes.” Please note the two fingers on each side of that.. “real dudes.”

Thank you.

We’ll finish this off with a snippet of the “do you have a special responsibility” question.
It’s there you’ll find Nas talking about those hyped-up fans.

I’m criticized for doing songs for children, but if I do a song telling a ho’ to suck my dick, I would never get criticized.

What I realized is that 70 percent of rap fans don’t know what rap music is, and don’t like it. They just like the excitement and controversy.

That’s only 300,000 of those that buy your albums if you’re a platinum artist. The others are into the hype - that’s it.

Whatever they’re looking for, they’re not looking for the music. Those fans don’t know what rap music is. Rap music is a small community. And it’s hard to explain it because so many people feel like they’re a part of rap music but they’re not.

Rats in the City

“Face Off,” Funeral Home Accused of Allowing Rats to Eat a Man’s Face

This weekend I was in the city dipping in and out of stores, and found myself at West 4th Street in time for the tip-off of the annual street ball tournament season. It was a female game, but entertaining in that WNBA way. You know, if you can pick out the players tougher than you are and their girlfriends on the sidelines, some of them are actually cute.

Anyway, before the game there was pizza to be eaten. Check. Not ten minutes after finishing it off, someone pointed out to me that across the street, three stores down from the pizza shop was the Taco Bell that was all over the news for entertaining midnight rat parties.

Nice. So that hair on the crust of the pizza wasn’t Mexican mustache?

Rats are the most disgusting and bold creatures on the planet.

They do not care about your feeble attempts to swat them with brooms or early morning shouts to clear the hallway, “Please let me use the bathroom first!” It’s their world, they’ll get back to you and step aside when and if they please.

Rats will also eat anything.. even your dead brother’s face.

Tyrone Ragland

Tyrone Ragland is suing a Harlem funeral home for allowing rats to literally treat his brother’s corpse as a beef jerky. As reported in the Village Voice, the funeral home had a history of losing bodies and taking cold corpses from neighborhood hospitals.

Tyrone Ragland says his family was “moving on up” or out.. with the help of his brother, Tyrone had plans to buy a two-family house in Queens to raise their children and get away from the guns and drugs of the neighborhood. Only problem, Tyrone’s brother, William was involved in the drug game himself.

Just like Carlito’s Way, in the midst of planning an escape from a decidedly foul life, in the shadows his adversaries were planning his death. Soon after making their plans, Tyrone’s brother was murdered for $500 and a few packages of heroin - an alleged contract killing.

The murder was a huge blow to the family.

They gathered themselves and planned for an open-casket funeral.

Plan B had to be sketched up when they went to the funeral home to view the body, Tyrone Ragland described the horrific scene..

“Chunks of his flesh, bites of him was taken of his neck, his arms, his forehead.. They pulled the sheet down to his shoulders and that’s all my stomach could take.”

William Ragland's body

His brother’s nose was completely gone, white patches of gnawed on flesh potmarked his forehead, cheeks and neck. A pizza party or beef jerky, whatever the case there was some funeral mismanaged rat snacking going on.

His brother Tyrone Ragland had initially contacted the Riverton Funeral Home (the one accused of past offenses), but decided to go with Florence E. Browne Funeral Home, but Riverton picked up the body from the hospital without contacting him. They later transported the body to the funeral home of his choice, Florence E. Browne, claiming his brother’s body was in perfect condition at the time.

Florence E. Browne claims otherwise, so his lawsuit sits in the realm of, he said, she said.

He’s not sure which funeral home is to blame.

The moral of the story? Can’t pin one on you, but to my familia, when I cross over, roast my body over extra-large, extra-hot coals. I will haunt you from the skies if my ears are used as snack food.

Check the full story at - Face Off << *shaking head * Don’t you love that title?

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks America’s Newest Sweetheart

There was a temptation last night to just go ahead and post the headline “Jordin Sparks Wins American Idol.” Once Melinda Doolittle was cut, there was no doubt Jordin would win it in a landslide. She is everything an American Idol should be: 17-years-young, a great smile, bubbly personality, seemingly beautiful on the inside/definitely on the outside, and oh yeah.. she can sing.

It was great to see how happy she was. A smile is one indication, speechlessness is another.
She could barely utter a word when Ryan Seacrest said she’d won. And that last performance was something out of a movie. You could feel the emotion of the moment..

Jordin Sparks - American Idol finale

.. with the little sparkle display in the background and the behind the performer camera shot that shows the hugeness which is the Kodak Theatre, people from front row to the rafters.

And here is a girl who no one knew or heard of a couple of months ago.

One of the people on those long American Idol lines.

All of those people were there, cheering for her.

Beyond a record contract - it’s an acknowledgement that you’ve got something special.

It really was a big moment for her.

Jordin Sparks - Fox 5 Morning Show

Jordin Sparks was on Fox’s morning news show today and said as much, “It was one of those crazy things. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”

I’d toss in more quotes but it’s not necessary: happy, amazed, thank you. That about covers it.

She’s going to be around for a long time.

Blake Lewis and Doug E. Fresh

Blake Lewis and Doug E. Fresh: You Gotta Love it

Blake Lewis didn’t win American Idol but having the chance to perform with Doug E. Fresh aka the original human beatbox is not a bad consolation prize. Check Blake’s =very plain= Myspace page, you’ll see has a link to The Temple of Hip-Hop, an organization started by KRS-One that promotes the core culture of hip-hop. Blake isn’t blindly spitting on the mic when he’s remixing the music with his mouth.

The performance with Doug E. Fresh starts off shaky, then the beatbox back-and-forth begins and it’s over. Blake Lewis really went boom for bip with him. Behind those dark shades I think even Doug E Fresh had a raised eyebrow - “This kid is going in.”

MTV caught up with Blake after last night’s show.

MTV: Let’s talk about your collaboration [with Doug E. Fresh]. Sorry, Bette Midler, but Blake’s performance was definitely the hottest thing tonight. Was it a dream come true?

Lewis: That was Doug E. allowing me to hang out with him on stage, and that was an honor. Forever etched in my brain. It was one of the hottest times I will ever have on stage. It was just a dream come true. Hopefully I’ll get to get him in the studio, and we’ll have to do, like, a beatbox track, you know? Get something really down.

And he’s already conjuring up future collaborations for that “child of the 80’s meets Duran Duran meets Michael Jackson’s “Bad” meets Maroon 5, jazzy vocals, something you can dance to” album.

.. there’s so many amazing producers out there.. I like DJ Shadow, I love Dan the Automator. Will.I.Am is an amazing producer, and he lives in that realm of hip-hop, dance and pop. ... I’d love to work with anyone that would really want to work with me. I’d love to work with Danger Mouse and Gnarls Barkley and Cee-Lo. Robin Thicke ... The possibilities are endless. I’m putting it out there. If you want to do something, call me!

You think Justin Timberlake will call him, or is that competition?

Blake Lewis and Doug E. Fresh