Busted Headphones

12 Feb 2012 // 10:00 PM

Hip Hop Es Mi Cultura

This travelogue takes us four locales: Havana, Chicago, Sydney and Caracas. Each locale translates into distinctive interactions with hip-hop and its pillars of deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti.

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A Joy to Experience: Neo-Soul Singer Bilal Oliver

Bilal Oliver belongs to an elite class of late '90s Neo-Soul singers, but his guest appearances may be the true gems of his career.

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Art for the Hip-Hop Generation

The Legends of Hip Hop chronicles 50 deserving pioneers of the culture, and ultimately transforms and humanizes them.

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Symbolic Weight & the Def Jam Aesthetic

A coffee table book about rap does not sound too "hardcore" or "gangsta", does it? Well, that's because it's not. What it just might be is sincere.

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The Quest to Understand Tribe

This is supposed to be a documentary, not a fan letter. So how about some balance? It's big picture time when it comes to telling the story of hip-hop.

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Watch the Discourse: Luxury Rap, Success and Self-Absorption

The value of a release as large as Watch the Throne is that it goes beyond the gargantuan personalities involved or even the monster show dates designed to promote it. Part of the value is the discussion it generates.

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My Favorite Aaliyah Things

Ten years after her passing, R&B and popular music fans still love Aaliyah. The continued vitality of her legacy speaks directly to our connection to her style, poise, talent, and potential.

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The Hate for Southern Hip-Hop: Why So Serious?

The way some of us disparage Southern rap, you'd think rappers like Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame had recorded a record dissing Kool G. Rap and Big Daddy Kane.

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Prince’s Parade: It’s Really All About the Music

A large part of what I love about Prince is his ability to take his influences and synthesize them into a whole that suits his fancy. So it's not so much that he brings a new dish to the table. It's more that he explores new ways to enjoy what's already there.

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The Wonder Year: Inspiring Soul with 9th Wonder

The RiverRun International Film Festival showcases a moving portrait of a man in his element, standing at the transformative intersection between hip-hop, education, and craft.

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Nate Dogg: Can’t Be Faded

Nate Dogg's contributions, and the workmanlike way in which he executed them, frequently garnered praise and commendations from his associates.

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Is There a DJ in the House?

If video killed the radio star, some might argue that technology crippled the hip-hop mix masters. Crippled, maybe, but the deejay is not obsolete.

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Walk This Way: The Commodification of Hip-Hop

Now here's a little story, we've got to tell, about the business of hip-hop, you know so well. It started way back in history, from Alexander Hamilton down to Jay-Z.

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Deciphering the Jay-Z Code

He's got 99 problems but a book ain't one. Jay-Z's nonlinear memoir illuminates rap as personal narrative, lyric poetry, and transformative medium.

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Hip-Hop’s Laboratory of Language

What do William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, Ice Cube, and Ghostface Killah have in common? Finally, they all appear in anthologies.

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Their Mics Still Sound Nice: BET Puts Ladies First

Do women rappers have to shake it in our faces in order to get us to listen? As this doc. notes some, like Salt 'N' Pepa do it with sassiness and sex appeal "...you know, if I was a book, I would sell / 'cause every curve on my body got a story to tell".

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Keeping It Real: Dreams, Mind-Alteration, & Misperception in Hip-Hop

Hip-hop has been engaged in an ongoing tension between fantasy and reality, art and artifice but rappers, like all good artists, sometimes have to lie in order to tell the truth.

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Hip-Hop Storytellers: The Heist Motif

Bluster and bravado are considered par for the course in hip-hop, but rappers adopt cunning personas to tell stories of money, power, and respect.

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Hip-Hop Storytellers: The Vignette

"That story is over, but my rhyme ain't done." Vignettes are important tools in hip-hop's rich and plentiful storytelling tradition.

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We Don’t Die, We Multiply: R&B Posse Tracks

Take Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You", a steamy tale of a mistress longing for romantic bliss with a married man, and imagine how it might play out with a multi-perspective delivery.

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17 May 2010 // 10:00 PM

Fear of a Rap Parody

Underrated in the annals of hip-hop cinema, Rusty Cundieff's Fear of a Black Hat is biting and unflinching, and forces hip-hop fans to stare soberly at the culture's flaws and to revisit their own reasons for loving the music.

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The Revival: A Declaration for Female Emcees

Hip-hop needs a women's movement ala Seneca Falls. The Declaration of Sentiments used the Declaration of Independence as its structural model (in hip-hop we call that "sampling").

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Tupac Shakur: An Icon in Context

How do you tell the story of Tupac Shakur? One book tries connecting his life, and sometimes his music, to the social and historical climate of the times.

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There’s a Message in the Music

Hip-hop can, and should, promote the historical and cultural ideals that underscore the value of historical awareness.

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12 Jan 2010 // 10:00 PM

The 411 on R&B

A new decade promises to bring fresh sounds and renewed vigor to R&B. Let's hope it keeps its promise.

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I Still Love H.E.R. (And So Should Everyone Else)

One surprisingly successful technique for converting hip-hop haters and deepening the existing fan's love for the culture is to expose them to "old school hip-hop".

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Hip-Hop & the Contrast Principle

Hip-hop, as a culture and a musical genre, moves at lightning speed. Keeping up requires an awareness of our expectations and a willingness to revisit our assumptions.

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11 Oct 2009 // 10:00 PM

The Messengers

K'naan's The Messengers series is a trilogy of episodes designed to highlight the genius of Nigeria's Fela Kuti, Jamaica's Bob Marley, and the United States' Bob Dylan.

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Hip-Hop Marketing in the Digital Era

In the Digital Age, music and information sit at our fingertips. How do rappers use tools, new and old, to distinguish themselves from the competition?

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It Ain’t Hard to Tell: The Legacy of ‘Illmatic’

The "half-man, half-amazin'", Nas' persona is part myth and part "everyday kid" from the Queensbridge projects.

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8 Jun 2009 // 10:00 PM

Prince’s Paisley Pals

Minneapolis, Minnesota was the center of Prince's musical kingdom, but there were a lot of musicians associated with his purple music. Here's a short list, with a few ground rules.

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Janet Jackson: Regain Control

With the musical world filled with young "divas", there's little room for Miss Janet, an innovator who popularized the Sexy Diva With Choreography paradigm in the first place.

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T.I.‘s Winding Road to Redemption

The road to Grammy-winning rap star Clifford "T.I." Harris, Jr.'s positive outcome may be paved with good intentions, but self-interest fuels the journey.

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Hip-Hop Hooray: Tributes in Rhyme

Forget the beef, let's talk about honoring our hip-hop icons. Perhaps the best way to pay homage to hip-hoppers is to let them speak in their own words.

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Biggie Gives Us One More Chance

Biggie Smalls' mythology hasn't afforded him a dreamy endgame à la Tupac or Elvis. Nobody imagines Biggie pulling the ultimate Machiavellian coup by making the world believe he's dead while he's secretly chillin' in Jamaica.

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18 Jan 2009 // 9:00 PM

Seven Ways to Detox

It's 2009, and that means it has now been a full decade since Dr. Dre's last official release. Here are some suggestions for survival while you continue to await his long-gestating follow-up, Detox.

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We Don’t Die, We Multiply: Posse Tracks

Having more than one rapper on the scene enhances and galvanizes a song, as the central theme is strengthened with each successive verse. As the saying goes, there's strength in numbers.

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17 Nov 2008 // 10:00 PM

Hip-Haute Couture

Although "hip-hop" means different things to different people, everyone seems to be confident that they know what "it" is. Through this subjective lens, there is also a unique brand of investment and ownership in the meaning of "hip-hop".

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22 Oct 2008 // 11:00 PM

Songs in the Key of Rap

The relationship between singing and rapping has had a transforming effect on hip-hoppers and singers alike.

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We Don’t Die, We Multiply: Heartbeat Props

The Digital Underground party has apparently come to an end. If so, we must acknowledge the group for more reasons than popularizing "The Humpty Dance".

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We Don’t Die, We Multiply: Hip-Hop Groups

Group identification creates interesting scenarios within hip-hop culture, from the formation and maintenance of group identity to the difficulties of promoting the lyrical skills of a group's various members.

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10 Jul 2008 // 11:00 PM

Truth in Humor

The second season of The Boondocks tackles issues that are important to the hip-hop community with contributions from numerous hip-hop artists. Boondocks Response Syndrome explains why we react to this series the way we do.

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Daytime TV Goes Gangsta with Snoop Dogg

Hip-hop's top dog touches down in soap opera territory for two days of music and melodrama.

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Mama Said Knock You Out: Hip-Hop & the Family Unit

There are four hip-hop rules for families. One: Fathers, take care of your children and their mothers. Two: Don't talk about other people's mamas. Three: Be good to your own mother. Four: Repeat as necessary.

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Hip-Hop’s Fight Against Time

Hip-hop fights haters, record labels, rival emcees, and even the law. Time, however, has proven to be a formidable opponent.

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13 Mar 2008 // 11:00 PM

The Ballot or the Beef

It's possible that hip-hop and the US government have been engaged in the longest running beef of all, from the infamous FBI letter sent to NWA in 1998 to the Congressional Hearings in 2007 seeking to investigate hip-hop lyrics.

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14 Feb 2008 // 10:00 PM

El Che & the Thriller

Rhymefest's mixtape tribute continues hip-hop's longstanding affection for the Jacksons.

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101 Hip-Hop Albums of 2007

A hundred and one reasons why hip-hop is not dead, say these three opinionators.

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3 Jan 2008 // 10:01 PM

For the Love of the Art

How cool is it to go to the "Self Help" section of a bookstore and get a book with life lessons from N.W.A., Little Brother, and Ghostface Killah?

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Yo! Your TV Raps: Hip-Hop on US Television

Hip-hop's TV exposure has been strong, giving us a mixture of critique, celebrity, and celebration. Who, in the '80s, would've guessed that hip-hop would have such cultural presence?

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A Righteous Boy’s Hip-Hop Journey Through Babeland

Songs, more songs -- the prolific singer-songwriter and musician Ani Difranco keeps coming up with them. Here's some help for finding the best of Difranco, especially if you also like De La Soul.

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From Boogie Down to Tinseltown

Rappers in showbiz: Did hip-hop land on Hollywood or did Hollywood land on us? For those in 'the land', some of the 4,079 hip-hop laws of crossing-over.

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Hip-Hop at the Crossroad: Time, Testimony, & Identity

In the '90s, X-Clan took us "to the east". This year, the group returns from Mecca in "vanglorious" fashion.

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P.M. Mixtape, Vol. Two: Love and Trouble

Since relationships are tough, we need all the help we can get. Sometimes the best advice comes from listening to the right song.

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19 Mar 2007 // 11:00 PM

P.M. Mixtape, Vol. One

Maybe the sun has set on the days of the cassette tape, a format that made you work for your music. Huff, feeling nostalgic for the "fast forward" and "rewind" buttons, makes his own theoretical cassette mix of oddball hip-hop tunes.

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The Purple Experience: Your PopMatters Primer on Prince’s Pop Life

So many Prince albums, but where do you start? Here's a funky little list designed to aid your quest.

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Word Problems: The Snitch’s Dilemma

What if you and your friend were arrested and you were offered leniency in exchange for information about your friend or "the streets"? The hip-hop community believes the very existence of the deal begs us to reconsider our concepts of loyalty and law enforcement.

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Please Call It a Comeback

That scene in Superman III, with the boy yelling words of encouragement to the struggling protagonist? That's how I feel when I think of Lauryn Hill.

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Unsung Heroes: The Band of Extraordinary Women

Huff fantasizes about wielding Diddy-like power to create a supergroup of underrated, under-the-radar female musicians. Danity Kane, eat your heart out.

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//Mixed media

Notes, Hoaxes, and Jokes: Silkworm's 'Lifestyle' - "Ooh La La"

// Sound Affects

"Lifestyle's penultimate track eases the pace and finds fresh nuance and depth in a rock classic, as Silkworm offer their take on the Faces' "Ooh La La".

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