Is The New Nicki Minaj Lyric Video Criticism Fair?

Nicki Minaj’s lyric video for Only has come under criticism for showing Nazi propaganda imagery. Even the Anti-Defamation League drector spoke out against the timing of the release as well. Which coincided with Kristallnacht “the night of broken glass”, the night of pogroms that started the Germany’s policy of Final Solution.

Is this a simple case of unawareness or a publicity stunt? 

Watch the video here.

Is White Privilege to Blame for Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Snub?

Seven. Kendrick Lamar was nominated for seven Grammy awards this year. In the Grammy calendar year, he made what is undeniably the best, most complete album. good kid, m.A.A.d city is more than just an album—it is an experience—a neo-blues, hip-hop opera. Yet, at the end of the night, he came away with nothing; and it seemed like everywhere he turned, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis were there snatching the awards he fought so hard for.

But it’s hard to hate Macklemore. Macklemore is a white rapper who addressed white privilege early in his career—something many white rappers have refused to acknowledge while laughing all the way to the bank—and continues to address it even on The Heist. He made an album without an A-list feature; instead, he asked his friends, Wanz, Ray Dalton, and Owuor Arunga, to feature on songs that would eventually become back-to-back number-one singles. He made his friends famous, how cool is that?

The Grammys have always been at least worthy of commentary on race relations and the politics of industry relationships; the Recording Academy’s voting body skews older and white. It would appear that the Grammys are more than willing to give out awards to musicians making black music, but not so willing to award black musicians. In walks Macklemore, a socio-politically-conscious rapper, but a white rapper nonetheless; this wouldn’t matter if history didn’t precede him. But the history is there.

To break this down simply for white readers: think about what it must be like to see people who look like you make incredible bodies of work, and yet consistently be denied accolades. What kind of message does that send and reinforce? Not having to think about this is the definition of white privilege.

Hip-hop is a culture that was born from marginalized Black and Hispanic communities, and rappers from those marginalized communities fought and protested for hip-hop awards to be included in the Grammys’ televised portion. There wasn’t even a Grammy award for Best Rap Album until 1996. This is the lineage Kendrick, not Macklemore, descends from. Macklemore admitted via instagram that Kendrick’s album was better, but how much does that help quell the anger of fans who have seen Black artists, and specifically hip-hop artists, snubbed one too many times?

But we’re not afraid to say it: Kendrick Lamar was snubbed in the Best Rap Album category. Macklemore made a great, energetic LP; Kendrick made a 21st century masterpiece.

Let us know your thoughts on Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy snub in the comments.


Hip Hop Abroad: Afghan Rap Group Rallies for Women’s Rights

Hip hop just got a lot more diverse.

An Afghan woman rapping about gender inequality alongside her fiancé is far from the norm in Afghanistan. Yet, despite the inevitable backlash, one of the first female rappers in the country continues to perform under the stage name Paradise. In fact, the nation’s unstable political climate makes Paradise and her rap group, 143Band, all the more determined to expose violence and discrimination against women through music.

Amid many years of war and political instability in Afghanistan, women and civilians continue to face violence from armed opposition groups, according to Amnesty International’s 2013 report on human rights. The impending withdrawal of NATO coalition troops in 2014 will likely further challenge President Hamid Karzai’s government in providing security for civilians and improving the status of women.

YouTube and Facebook  have helped 143Band a lot more than the media in Afghanistan,” Paradise and Diverse wrote in an email to Mashable.

Paradise formed 143Band with her fiancé, who goes by the name Diverse, in 2008. Since 2010 the two have maintained an active Facebook fan page and YouTube channel.

Read the full article on Mashable.

MIXLY Panel Discussion: Diversity and Hip Hop

UPDATE: We are excited to announce that the first ever MIXLY Panel Discussion will be airing live this coming Friday at 12:00 noon on this website and on our YouTube channel. “Diversity and Hip Hop” brings together two leading scholars of hip hop and diversity to discuss the deeper meaning of recent events such as Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance, Macklemore’s Rolling Stone interview, and Robin Thicke’s (controversial) song of the summer, “Blurred Lines.”
We’re pleased to announce the two participants today. Marcia Alesan Dawkins is a communication professor at USC Annenberg, contributor to numerous publications, including The Huffington Post and The Root, and author of both the critically acclaimed Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity as well as the recently released and well-reviewed Eminem: The Real Slim Shady (Hip Hop in America.) Rebecca Haithcoat is currently a music writer for MySpace and has previously worked as the assistant music editor of LA Weekly, where she wrote about numerous hip hop figures, including Kendrick Lamar, V-Nasty, Iggy Azalea and Speak.
Be sure to tune in Friday at noon for Marcia and Rebecca’s take on the hottest topics of the summer! You can watch right here on the website or on our YouTube page, where the discussion will be streaming live.
Photo from MTV.

1/2 on A Baby : Noa James & Lesa J [a MMXLII original web series]

This week we have something new – “1/2 on a Baby,” the latest series from MMXLII (pronounced “mix-lee,”) the brainchild of Ted Chung, co-founder of Stampede Management and Cashmere Agency.  MMXLII’s name, the Roman numerals for 2042, represents the year that America will become a minority majority country – one without any ethnic majority.

With “1/2 on a Baby” we want to see what that change means for real people.  We’re finding people who have come together, in spite of, or maybe because of, their differences, and asking them the questions that are hard to ask but too important to be ignored.  What does it mean to share a life, a company, or a vision with someone from a totally different background?  How do you overcome those differences?  What do you gain from them?

We start our series by posing those questions to rapper and music promoter Noa James and his partner Lesa.  Noa and Lesa couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds – he didn’t find out about his Haitian background until the age of twelve. She’s one of the few American speakers of Lao, raised by a tight-knit Laotian American family.  Today the two live and work together in California’s Inland Empire  where they organize and promote the weekly Common Ground,   as well as numerous shows in Pomona. Lesa runs the  Brick to Ya Face blog, and Noa is part of the Black Cloud Music label. Next year the two will be married at Paid Dues.

At MMXLII Noa and Lesa’s story got us thinking about the different structures of different families, and how those differences play out in people’s lives. We’d love to hear what you took away from their relationship.

Shout out to Noa & Lesa for lending themselves so gracefully to this candid exercise.

MMXLII EXCLUSIVE: Countdown to 2042 w/ George Clinton pt. 2 [VIDEO]

Today we’re back with the second part of our Countdown to 2042 episode with George Clinton. Clinton breaks down how his music’s ability to attract both black and white listeners helped them to define a new sound. Clinton talks about funk’s connection to hip-hop and how being open to new things has allowed him to recognize new sounds and make connections with new generations of talent. Learn how he’s stayed relevant for so long and see all the different talents he’s worked with over the years in our new clip. Read More

Straight Outer Mongolia via NOWNESS [VIDEO]

A forthcoming documentary  from Australian director Benj Binks shows a budding hip-hop underground in Mongolia and how it relates to other oral traditions of the land. Their hip-hop roots seemed to have begun with the fall of Communism there and the messages of the music deal mainly with social issues. See more after the jump. Read More

When Our Kids Own America pt. 1 via NPR

While reading a cool article on code-switching from NPR we looked through their “Code Switching” section and fell upon their newest post which seemed to be even more so up our alley. It’s a three part series and you can start reading part 1 after the jump. What is it about you ask? This: America’s seismic demographic shift is upending life in our suburbs, cities and our popular culture. So why are we still clinging to the same stories to make sense of these changes? Read More

SPEAK! – Bulletproof Denali [MUSIC VIDEO]

Next week we’ll be dropping a new episode of our “Countdown to 2042” series with hip-hop artist SPEAK! aka Portuguese Eagle aka Tijuana Sunrise and so many more aliases. To get you ready for it we’ve decided to share his newest video, Bulletproof Denali. Enjoy.

Read More

Ghetto Mishpucha: A Crypto-Jew and the Birth of Hip Hop

When you think of hip-hop’s early roots you probably don’t think of non African-Americans in the inner-city, but upon a closer look an unlikely candidate was very much in the mix. A Puerto Rican Jew to be exact. Hit the jump for some insight. Read More