Results for 50 Cent

interviews

Mark Anthony Neal and Joan Morgan

Next Jim and Greg welcome Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University and author of New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity, and Joan Morgan, a writer and critic who recently left her post as Executive Editor of Essence Magazine. Joan and Mark have been debating the merits and demerits of hip hop since they grew up as friends and neighbors in "Boogie Down Bronx." And Joan was one of the first music critics to examine the dichotomy of hip hop fandom and feminism in her 1990 Village Voice review of Ice Cube's first classic album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Greg asks Joan what she makes of misogyny in modern hip hop. She explains that it was always there, but the level of it has changed. That concept of women has consumed commercial rap music, so listeners don‘t hear a lot of balance in perspective and tone. She also explains that something like the Ice Cube album is actually easier to wrestle with because it’s a brilliant album. Joan and Mark explain that labels are as complicit as artists in perpetuating a certain level of misogyny since they are the ones actually limiting the range of what you hear in hip hop.

Greg wonders if perhaps the consumer has already begun to speak out. Last year's top hip hop act, T.I., sold 1.7 million copies of his album King. Those aren‘t paltry figures to be sure, but they are definitely much smaller than what we’ve seen from star rappers in years past. Mark sees less revenue and less investment in major-label hip hop as a good thing; it's an opportunity for fresher sounds to come into the marketplace. Jim likens the trend to the development of indie rock in the '80s. That market was also glutted with big name acts like Poison and Mötley Crüe, leaving music fans to seek out underground rock from bands like Hüsker Dü and The Minutemen. Perhaps next we'll enter into an era of indie hip hop.

When asked about the effectiveness of banning certain words in hip hop music, Joan first expresses disappointment in what came out of Simmons and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network's meetings. Without doubting Simmons‘ sincerity, she calls the resulting call to action anemic at best and disingenuous at worst. Mark also grates against people, especially members of the“old guard,”making proclamations about culture or language. This kind of criticism is compounded by the fact that critics of rap music often don’t understand aesthetics. Mark's specific example is the hit hip hop single "In Da Club." People that take issue with the shallow nature of 50 Cent's lyrics may be failing to hear what makes a song like that so popular — the production and the beats. Mark furthers that rulings against specific words don't take into consideration that some rappers can make really complex, compelling statements using racial or sexist epithets. Joan adds that you can also say some really sexist, racist and homophobic things without using any“bad words”at all.

Go to episode 82

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15
reviews
GraduationGraduation available on iTunes

Kanye West Graduation

Another album to be released on the same day as Curtis is Graduation from Kanye West. 50 Cent has publicly challenged West in the sales department, but when it comes to the music, Jim and Greg think there's no contest. The rapper/producer's third album and“dissertation”shows that not only has he grown as a rapper, but also as a producer. Jim calls the album a smorgasbord of sounds and a departure from the traditional Kanye West soul sample formula. He thinks Graduation is musically brilliant, and definitely recommends listeners Buy It. Greg is also impressed with this album. Kanye is an innovator sonically, but also demonstrates a complexity in his lyrics. Where 50 Cent denies he has any weaknesses, Kanye broadcasts them. This is evident in the album's closing track, "Big Brother," which Greg calls one of the best songs Kanye has ever done lyrically. He also gives Graduation a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 93

50 Cent

Curtis Jim and Greg review two of the biggest releases of the year this week starting with Curtis from 50 Cent. This is the third album for the Dr. Dre protégé, who has been very vocal about his violent, drug-filled past. In fact, on this album, he isn't vocal about anything else. Jim is completely disappointed in the rapper's creativity and calls him a“cartoon character.”Greg also hoped for more from the man who many thought would fill the shoes left by the Notorious B.I.G. He finds 50 Cent's delivery deadpan, joyless and obnoxious. One track in particular, "Straight to the Bank," made Greg want to stick needles in his ears. We'd say that warrants a double Trash It.

Go to episode 93
Doctor's AdvocateThe Documentary available on iTunes

The Game The Documentary

Another news-making release is West Coast rapper The Game's sophomore album, Doctor's Advocate. The“Doctor”referred to is none other than hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, who served as a mentor to The Game on his debut album, The Documentary. Though Dre did not work on this second release, he is certainly on The Game's mind. After engaging in some sibling rivalry with fellow Dre protégé 50 Cent, The Game was dropped by Daddy Dre and left to work with new producers like Scott Storch and Will.i.Am. Jim actually enjoyed the production on Doctor's Advocate, and for that reason alone gives the album a Burn It. For Greg, though, it's the lyrical content that he finds most fascinating… even troubling. The Game appears to have some major emotional issues tied to his relationship with Dr. Dre, and has written some of the saddest gangsta rap lyrics Greg has heard in a long time. He recommends listeners sample some of the bizarre antics on Doctor's Advocate and Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 51
Tha Carter IIITha Carter III available on iTunes

Lil Wayne Tha Carter III

Lil Wayne has been an inexplicable sensation for years, but now that has translated into big sales. The rapper's third album, Tha Carter III, sold over a million copies in its debut week alone. This is the first time sales numbers have crossed into seven figures since 50 Cent's The Massacre in March 2005. Jim and Greg explain that you are certain to hear a lot about Lil Wayne all summer long, but the question is whether or not he deserves such success. Greg explains that the rapper is all over the map lyrically and musically on this album, but that's not such a good thing. He loves that“bullfroggy”rapping style, but wishes the album was more focused. Jim doesn‘t think Wayne is as outrageous and off-the-cuff as people perceive; he sees this release as a very carefully executed and marketed attempt at a crossover. The subject matter isn’t without subtlety, but some of the production is terrific. Both Jim and Greg give Tha Carter III two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 134
good kid, m.A.A.d cityGood Kid, M.A.A.D. City available on iTunes

Kendrick Lamar Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

At 25, Kendrick Lamaris shouldering some pretty heavy expectations for his major label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. The Compton rapper caught the attention of Dr. Dre and rap tastemakers with his independent debut Section.80. Does Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City live up to all the hype? Jim acknowledges Kendrick's skill as a lyricist - he says his rhymes are almost novelistic - and he understands he is taking on characters in his songs. However he's troubled by the gangsta clichés. No amount of self-awareness, Jim says, makes it OK to indulge in 50 Cent-style misogyny. Jim gives Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City a Trash It rating. Greg couldn‘t disagree more. He thinks Lamar has yet to meet the rap cliché he couldn’t upend. Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is wrestling with Compton's legacy in a way that eludes sound bites and lyrics-quoting. Greg says it's a Buy It record that requires close listening.

JimGreg
Go to episode 362
news

Music News

Last week the Atlanta Police Dept., in conjunction with the RIAA, raided the Aphilliates Music Group office in Atlanta. The result was the confiscation of 81,000 mixtape CDs and the arrest of DJ Drama. Drama is one of the top mixtape DJs working today, having created pre-release buzz for rappers like T.I., Young Jeezy and Lil' Wayne. 50 Cent, Lupe Fiasco and The Clipse can also credit mixtape CDs with laying the foundation for their careers, and many of the best hip hop tracks released each year are put out by these underground DJs and not by the major labels. The question is why some members of the record industry are now treating this useful form of publicity as contraband. Jim and Greg invite hip hop historian and journalist Jeff Chang to join them in a discussion of the role of mixtapes in hip hop and the effects of this recent raid on the rap industry.

Go to episode 61

Music News

Jim and Greg discussed the great Kanye West/50 Cent sales battle a couple of weeks ago, and this week the results are in. Kanye took it in a landslide with a #1 spot on the Billboard charts and a whopping 957,000 copies sold. Kanye's album Graduation is the biggest selling album so far this year and is the 15th biggest sales frame since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data in 1991. 50 Cent's album Curtis only sold 691,000 in the first week, though for a hip hop debut that's nothing to scoff at. As Jim and Greg note, no one should shed a tear for 50 Cent. On Forbes' list of the biggest earning hip hop stars, Fiddy holds the #2 spot behind mogul Jay-Z. So, despite this recent loss, 50 Cent is laughing "Straight to the Bank."

If you've been surfing YouTube recently, you may have noticed Trent Reznor's call for more stealing. The man behind Nine Inch Nails is fed up with his record company's decision to hike prices for his album Year Zero and he let his grievances be known at an Australian concert. While he doesn't legally have the authority to give his music away, he does have a point; HMV in Australia is selling Year Zero for AU $32.99, which converts to about $28 in the States. That's definitely more than a music fan should have to pay for an album, especially one that utilized a web-based marketing campaign.

And while one musician embraces the web, another does not. Pop icon Prince plans to sue YouTube and other major web sites for unauthorized use of his music in a bid to“reclaim his art on the Internet.”In a recent statement his representative wrote:“YouTube … are clearly able (to) filter porn and pedophile material but appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success.”Prince obviously doesn‘t need to use the web to build a fan base, but to Sound Opinions H.Q., he’s beginning to sound like a cranky old man.

Also in the news is the death of longtime James Brown collaborator Bobby Byrd at the age of 73. One of the chief architects of Brown's trademark sound, Byrd is often referred to as“The Godfather of Soul's Godfather.”You can hear his contribution in tons of early Brown tracks. In fact, the repeating phrase“Get on up,”on "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" was sung by Byrd. Byrd also had a successful solo career, and as Greg explains, his music can be heard sampled in countless late early hip hop songs. To pay honor to the soul/funk/R&B legend, Jim and Greg play his song, "I Know You Got Soul."

Jim and Greg speak with John Jurgensen, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. John recently wrote an article about how US visa procedures are squelching a British pop invasion. Artists like Lily Allen, M.I.A. and recent Mercury Prize winners The Klaxons have had to cancel tour dates and postpone recording sessions due to difficulties obtaining visas. John explains that this is partly due to Homeland Security crackdowns, which now mandate that artists themselves have to go to an embassy in person for fingerprinting and a retinal scan. John also says that artists have to prove that that they are legitimate,“internationally recognizable”acts. Jim and Greg wonder just how much more legit you have to be if Mercury Prize winners are getting hassled. The three reporters understand that these procedures are in place not just to protect Americans from danger but also from a loss of jobs, but unlike in the agriculture and technology industries, you can't sub one musician for another. And a loss of jobs and tour dates for one singer means the loss of many for the hundreds and thousands of promoters, roadies, sound engineers and teamsters here in the States.

Go to episode 95

Music News

First up in the news Jim and Greg discuss a recent TV commercial featuring music by The Beatles. The diaper company Luvs has taken the 1967 peace anthem "All You Need Is Love," and turned it into the jingle“All You Need is Luvs,”and some Beatles fans are worried that this soils the song's meaning. The Fab Four's songs have been used a few times in advertising, especially since the catalog has come under the joint control of Sony Corp. and pop singer Michael Jackson.

Also in the news is rapper 50 Cent's lawsuit against internet ad company Traffix Inc. The hip hop star is taking issue with Traffix Inc's recent ad campaign that features his cartoon image and encourages people to“shoot the rapper”and win $5,000 or five ringtones. While Jim and Greg agree this is pretty distasteful, they wonder if 50 Cent's real beef is that he didn't come up with the idea himself. The hip hop star has based his image on his own violent background, which includes being shot nine times.

Go to episode 87

Music News

A number of free agents are popping up in 2009 including 50 Cent, Beck, Ryan Adams, Pearl Jam and Metallica. These music heavyweights have been on label rosters for years, but now, following in the footsteps of bands like Radiohead, it appears they have a shot at going out on their own. Jim and Greg agree that none of these artists actually need a record label. But, Greg points out that many might be tempted by 360 deals similar to what Madonna and Jay-Z have with Live Nation. The money's not in record sales anymore, so if major labels can entice an artist with the promise of profits from touring and merchandise, we may not see as much independence.

Go to episode 165

Music News

After the RIAA started to crackdown on the selling of mixtapes a few months ago, Universal Music has decided to sell legal, corporate sanctioned versions of the tradionally grassroots compilation. These "Lethal Squad Mixtapes," will sell for $5 to $6, but it's unclear whether there is a market for a series like this. Part of the appeal of mixtapes is that they are underground, and, as Greg notes, Universal is about as“street”as the next company they discuss in the news. Fellow corporate giant Walmart announced that it will sell DRM-free downloads at a lower price than competitor iTunes. Jim and Greg are surprised that the music industry would agree to sell their digital songs for lower prices, but Walmart is the world's largest retailer. Also, this fits into the big box store's M.O.: give consumers what they want at lower prices, even at the expense of other retailers.

Auto manufacturers such as Toyota's Scion brand, are planning on getting into the Internet radio business to provide special content to their drivers. Jim and Greg think this is an interesting move considering the recent hikes in webcasting royalty rates and their effect on small webcasters. And, this follows suit with Scion's attempt to establish a“cool”identity for itself. The Toyota brand was one of the few corporate sponsors of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and now they've tapped Vice Records and Ninja Tune Records to program their channel. But, despite this indie pedigree, Greg points out the reality: "You can't buy cool."

This summer's biggest blockbuster movie, Spiderman 3, racked up well over $300 million in the U.S. In fact, there were a number successful films that eclipsed the $300 million mark. The music industry, however, cannot boast such impressive figures. They were banking on big name releases from the likes of 50 Cent and Kelly Clarkson, but of those two, one got bumped, and the other tanked. The number one selling album of the year so far is from an American Idol rejectee Chris Daughtry, but that was actually a 2006 release. So, in light of these industry discrepancies, Jim and Greg wanted to invite New York Times music reporter Jeff Leeds on to the show to discuss the summer season. Jeff explains that movie studios have many sources of revenue from a film like Spiderman (DVDs, toys, etc), but record labels depend on a single revenue stream. Their only saving grace is concert sales; a live music experience, like a live movie screening, can't be replicated with a download. These three critics are curious to see what big fall releases have to offer.

Famed jazz percussionist Max Roach died last week at the age of 83. Roach was the last link to the Bebop era of jazz, but Jim and Greg explain that his love of music and his style of playing continually evolved. Greg explains that it's impossible to talk about rock drumming and hip hop without mentioning Roach. Unlike some jazz purists, the musician saw those contemporary forms as natural extensions of African music, like jazz. You can hear his unique style in the composition "Freedom Day," which also features vocals from his wife Abbey Lincoln.

Go to episode 91

Music News

Jim and Greg start off the show by updating a couple of news stories they've been talking about recently. The first is the sad state of album sales this season. When fall first kicked off, industry insiders had high hopes for big releases from people like Kanye West, 50 Cent, and The Foo Fighters. And now albums by Bruce Springsteen, the cast of High School Musical 2 and Rascal Flatts have been added to the mix. But, despite the big names, sales have not been soaring. In fact, in this week's chart, not even one album has approached six figures.

So what does the music industry do to appease its shrinking customer base? Answer: Sue them. Last week the RIAA sent its ninth wave of pre-litigation letters to administrators at 19 universities. A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg discussed the trial of Jammie Thomas, a woman from Minnesota who was found guilty of copyright infringement to the tune of $220,000. It seems that trial left a taste of victory in the RIAA's mouth, because they are continuing their crackdown on music“theft”among college students. It seems these members of the industry missed the "Radiohead" memo.

Go to episode 100