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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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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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Film

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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".

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Film

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.

Music

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").

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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".

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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?

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Film

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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.

Music

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".

Music

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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