Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why Do I Still Read The Source?

The Source Magazine bills itself as "The Bible of Hip-Hop Music, Culture & Politics". Presumably, "The Koran of Tacky Clothes, Trash CDs and Voluptuous Airbrushed Asses" was just too sacrilegious.

In the past, I stocked up on magazines whenever I was about to begin a business trip and needed some reading relief while up in the air. In fact, this Monday, I'll be making my first work-related travel of the New Year. Sure, I'm just driving up to Los Angeles for a day or two, but Snoop Dogg is on the cover of the latest issue and it's only been six months since my last run-in with a Source cover-felon.

The highlight of this issue is the 11th annual "Power 30" List, which ranks the most powerful and influential men and women in the Hip Hop industry.

As with any subjective "list" article, the entire point here is to manufacture debate, as opposed to issuing a hierarchal mandate. And, that's the best way I can explain the BET family of networks coming in at #1. BET?! The current home hospice for Jaime Foxx Show and Wayans Bros. reruns in the morning and kiddie countdown video shows in the evening is the most powerful entity in urban entertainment?

Oh, but BET just got the rights to watered-down repeats of The Wire…now, with 60% less "grit" and "gulliocity", I guess.

The rest of this post is devoted to three more names that are ranked way too high and a trio of their Power 30 contemporaries who are far too low:


Sean "Diddy" Combs: (Power 30 Ranking: #3)…Oh, come the f*ck on here, people. If this were still 1997, back when Puffy was living off of Biggie's own overrated opus, Life After Death, I might buy this. Since then, Diddy's Midas Touch has been rendered moot by embittered ex-Bad Boy artists, the spectacular failure of his Making the Band reality show beyond the voyeuristic car-wreck allure of it all and his "Vote or Die" mega-campaign that, most experts agree, had a negligible effect on the '04 elections. Diddy hitched his wagon to the Warner-Atlantic Music Group and owes Bad Boy's financial resurgence to Lyor Cohen and a bunch of other faces you'll never see in Harlem. Hey, just like Diddy!

Snoop Dogg: (Power 30 Ranking: #5)…Quick, name three songs off of Snoop's most recent album and I'll even spot you That's That with R. Kelly and Vato. He's done some commercials and is arguably one of the three most recognizable rappers in the world, but in 2007, Snoop's juice is through. His failure to capitalize on the apex of his fame in 1993-94 has relegated him to Hip Hop sideshow attraction who'll spit an "izzle dizzle" for a dollar. Despite being a follower (behind Dr. Dre, Master P and even Pharrell, most recently) for his entire career, Snoop's now hyping his leadership qualities as he pushes "new" group acts "Westurn Union" and "Warzone". And, wasn't the world just waiting for more from MC Eiht and Soopafly?

Ice Cube: (Power 30 Ranking: #12)…All you need to know about Cube's "influence" is found on page 57 of this issue. It's a full page ad that Cube bought in which he congratulates himself for "a great year". His last album, Laugh Now, Cry Later barely went gold, but since it was released independently, Cube did pocket most of the coin. Never mind that the album was overstuffed and out of touch with anyone's standard of urban relevancy. Cube hasn't made an interesting song since 1991. Meanwhile, his foray into family films speaks volumes about how far the ferocity has fallen.


MySpace: (Power 30 Ranking: #8)…I'm in my 30s, I'm married and I don't have any pictures of myself doing that squatting Negro pose in front of a car, a pit bull or a prison fence. For all intents and purposes, I'm nowhere near the demographic for anyone who'd wanna make me their "MySpace Friend". Yet, I still know (umm, "I've been told") that this cluttered mess of personal web pages is the wave of the music future. Diddy infamously manipulated MySpace to hype his sh*tty new release, while every major label seems to realize the benefits of free advertising to the MySpace masses.

Ludacris: (Power 30 Ranking: #24)…In Hollywood circles, Mos Def is the current "rapper-slash-actor" du jour. Critically, he generally gets a pass for his wooden, redundant performances because he's one of those harmless "conscious" rappers who've always appealed more to the media than the streets. Meanwhile, Ludacris is slowly building a more acclaimed resume on both sides of the "slash". Release Therapy is arguably Luda's finest album to date, while a well-received turn in Crash has kicked in the doors for this charismatic superstar-in-the-making. Plus, he hates Chingy. I mean, can't we all relate to that?

XM/Sirius Satellite Radio: (Power 30 Ranking: Not Ranked)…I've had XM in my car since last summer and I can't ever see myself going back to FM radio on a regular basis, again. For years, West Coast radio refused to get caught up in the Dirty South scene. Labels like No Limit and Cash Money couldn't get airplay out here, even as Make 'Em Say Uhh, Ain't My Fault and Ha were blowin' up everywhere else. Now, even Cali has been corrupted by the South's Casio beats and coon-rific lyrics. At least satellite radio gives listeners options. In addition, artists have used it to promote "listening parties" for album releases, while the relaxed rules on profanity allow for some, uh, "interesting" interviews and traffic updates.

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