Monday, December 18, 2006

A Funk Doc Funk Blast

Your mother always told you some funk everyday keeps the doctor away.

-- What's better than an enormous arena/skyscraper airdropped into an otherwise tasteful, classic Brooklyn brownstone neighborhood? How about an enormous arena covered 150-feet high, 75-feet long animated signs?

-- In anticipation of Wednesday's possible "final approval" of the Atlantic Yards, The New York Sun offers its opinion that such an outcome would serve as an unbecoming harbinger of the future in urban planning. Read it (unless you're a sissy).

-- In an interview with Senegal-born rapper Akon this month in The Source, a few passages demand closer attention. The writer, Chloe A. Hilliard, observes early on: "To West Africa, whose coasts were used to ship slaves to the New World, he is the first positive international representation of their people in decades." Now maybe I'm wrong and it's just that Hilliard knows little of West African culture (ever heard of Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Toure, or Tony Allen?) or, perhaps, simply suffers some sort of weird obsession with slavery, but it sounds to me like she's trying to start a new coastal beef -- with Africa's west side. Possible future New York Times headline: "Longstanding East Coast/West Coast Rap Feud Ends; former foes vow allegiance against a new enemy: Africa."

On a gloomier note, Hilliard reports:
Kicking off the transcontinental promotional tour for his sophomore album, Konvicted, Akon's engine is currently in overdrive. What would normally have been a publicity push has turned into a media circus. The week prior, Akon appeared on NYC's Hot 97 radio station. During an interview with host Angie Martinez, the singer admitted to practicing polygamy. Mayhem ensued.

"This week I realized just how big I was," says Akon of the media's attack on his lifestyle. "I started getting calls from people in high positions in Africa and the states saying, 'Akon, what are you doing? You can't be that open. You represent millions of people.'" However, not everyone was bothered by his admission. "Understand that after the show, I got a call saying that Hot 97 got over 350 calls from women saying they wanted to learn more about [polygamy]." Having witnessed the power of his words, he now refuses to address any questions about his dating life.
Now, far be it from me to question the fruits of stardom in Africa. As an aspiring rap star, I got dreams, too. But what I really want to know is this: If more than 350 Hot 97 female listeners need to be educated on what polygamy is, maybe it really is time to start asking whether hip-hop has failed the fairer gender? Yes, it's time to wake up.

-- Finally, Greg Gutfield passes on the Huffington Post press release we've all been waiting for:
IN THE NAME OF FREEDOM AND TOLERANCE, AND IN HARMONY WITH OUR GAY MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS, WE PROUDLY ANNOUNCE THE FIRST MARCH TO MECCA, FEBRUARY 14, 2007

Human Rights Watch, Moveon.org, ACT-UP, the Huffington Post and David Geffen are proud to present the March to Mecca, a celebration of peace that calls all gay brothers, sisters and people undergoing sex-reassignment to march to the holiest of holy cities, Mecca, the capital city of Saudi Arabia's Makkah province on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2007.

The march, a brainchild of activists and celebrities who acknowledge that more gays are dying from Islamic fundamentalism than from the policies of George W. Bush, will begin 12 noon sharp in Jeddah, the stunning night-life friendly Saudi Arabian city located on the coast of the Red Sea.

"Not marching in these countries, in this era of terror, seems cowardly," says event co-organizer Sharon Stone. "I'm embarrassed to say at social gatherings I even blamed the United States for everything. But I realized it's the radical Muslims - not the US - who want gays dead, and for that I am truly sorry."

Keep reading.

-- P.S. Read Mark Steyn. Civilization demands it.

1 comment:

ChloƩ A. Hilliard said...

"Now maybe I'm wrong and it's just that Hilliard knows little of West African culture (ever heard of Fela Kuti, Ali Farka Toure, or Tony Allen?) or, perhaps, simply suffers some sort of weird obsession with slavery, but it sounds to me like she's trying to start a new coastal beef -- with Africa's west side."

Hello Tom,

I came across your wonderful critique of my Akon feature and figured I drop you a line to help clarify some points you attempted to make.

1 - I am very aware of the illustrious careers of Feli, Farka and Tony. However, Akon has done something all three of those men have not—become an international superstar with the record sales to match all while being a relatively new artist. You’ve mentioned these three artists, but do you think the American population is familiar with their work they way they are with Akon’s. Did they ever have a public stage to address the masses the way Akon does via TRL, 106 and Park, Myspace.com, etc. That’s what I mean by “positive international representation” when you figure the majority of the images we see in the American media of Africa are coups, the janjaweed and refugees.

2 – As an African-American I am in no way trying to sensationalize of fixate on slavery however, for our young readers there needed to be a picture painted of where Akon comes from. Everyone knows 50 Cent grew up on the mean streets of South Side Jamaica Queens and sold drugs. Well, there is another reality out there.

Just thought I’d share some insight.

Next time, direct your questions to me. I always respond. It’s way better than assuming…especially for someone wanting to become a journalist.

ChloƩ A. Hilliard
News Editor, The Source Magazine
chilliard@thesource.com