Dirty Roots: Southern Hip-Hop Part I — The 12″ Era (1979-1983)

As far as my ears can tell, pretty near every rapper from Inglewood to Plumstead nowadays owes more than a little something to the rise of the Dirty South sound that pretty much took over hip-hop in the late 1990s. As anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the genre knows, however, southern hip-hop was … Continue reading Dirty Roots: Southern Hip-Hop Part I — The 12″ Era (1979-1983)

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Pan-American Blues — Black Country Music

If one listens to a “hillbilly” record like, say, Jimmie Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel” back-to-back with a “race” record like Lead Belly’s “Cow Cow Yiki” it should become immediately clear to the listener that often the distinction between these two genres has for many years been (and continues to be) more of an industry marketing rather than … Continue reading Pan-American Blues — Black Country Music

Paul Williams — Architect to the people

Although it takes an incredible combination of cognitive dissonance, myopia (and usually some chauvinism) to deny that Los Angeles can be characterized by its amazing architecture, it does happen. Ironically, most of the blame for this fact can be placed on the shoulders of the self-appointed boosters in Hollywood, whose idea of Utopia seems to … Continue reading Paul Williams — Architect to the people

Proto-rap — a look at black soul and jazz poetry for Black History Month

INTRODUCTION In my freshman year of college I remember being hipped to the Last Poets by LaRon Johnson, another temporary housing refugee. He basically told me that they were rap music before rap music. This was back in 1992, a year after CERN released the World-Wide Web and when most music was shared via cassette … Continue reading Proto-rap — a look at black soul and jazz poetry for Black History Month

Krazy Kat – One of the kolossal komics in the kontinuum debuted 13 October 1913

INTRO TO KRAZY KAT On 15 October, Google paid tribute to Winsor McCay's comic, Little Nemo in Slumberland, which debuted on that date in 1905. It was a beautiful tribute to one of the greatest comic strips of all time. Just two days earlier, though not celebrated by Google (I don't expect them to honor … Continue reading Krazy Kat – One of the kolossal komics in the kontinuum debuted 13 October 1913

A History of Black Cinema: 1915-1969

The Lincoln Motion Picture Company In most American silent films, minorities were generally played by white actors in make-up. When actual minorities were cast, roles were generally limited. Latinos in silent films usually played greasers and bandits; Asian-Americans played waiters, tongs and laundrymen; and blacks usually played bellboys, stable hands, maids or simple buffoons. Early … Continue reading A History of Black Cinema: 1915-1969

The Great Black North

One fact that’s widely overlooked during Black History Month is that it’s not only Black History Month in the US. Besides having the stated aim of highlighting the contributions to human history made by the entire black diaspora, BHM is simultaneously observed in Canada. People who've never been to Canada may not believe that black … Continue reading The Great Black North