*This interview was conducted by Travis Glave of the world famous blog Wake Your Daughter Up and posted on his site on May 26th, 2008*
You thought it was over. You thought it was all done. Well you were wrong! After a half year hiatis, we here at WYDU track down your favorite bloggers and ask them seemingly ridiculous questions and pester them until they tell us to either go listen to Gerardo for the rest of our lives or they answer our silly questions just to shut us up.
Next in line is the man behind Poisonous Paragraphs and possibly the hardest working blogger in the game, Dart Adams. My first exposure to Dart was mainly him leaving comments on WYDU as long ago as early '06. I would then see him on Okayplayer threads with him dropping albums for the OKP's and linking my blog along with them, which I'm sure helped spread the notoriety of WYDU. But I didn't learn until later that was only half of Dart Adams, the legend. Dart has been a presence on the internet for quite awhile, posting his writings on myspace blogs, Allhiphop.com, Okayplayer and numerous other places. When Dart started his own blog, all the rest of us were put on notice, this cat meant business. There is not a better written blog out there, hands down. Dart is serious about this. And not only does he cover hip hop, but sports, comics, movies and whatever else maybe on his mind at the moment. Never one to hold anything back, he might ruffle some feathers, but fuck it, it's one of the reasons I have the utmost respect for the Poisonous one. He's been on my list of bloggers to interview since I started doing this almost a year ago, and it's finally here.......
WYDU: What is good? I'm with my man Dart Diggidy Adams, would you mind kickin' the ballistics and droppin' the 411 on who you are and what blog you represent for those living under a rock?
Dart Adams: I'm a dude from Boston who pretty much lives to write and my blog is called Poisonous Paragraphs.
W: Alright man, you cover soooooo many things on Poisonous Paragraphs that others often do not touch on, such as comic books, sports, movies, video games along with the "normal" hip hop fare found on other blogs. We will touch on each of those subjects, but first let's talk about the music, describe your first memories and how you got into hip-hop?
DA: I was pretty much born into it. My earliest memories go back to 1977/8 and I remember people playing records with breaks in 'em and people rappin' as far back as I have actual memories. I also remember it being a big deal when the new tapes came in from New York. The first time I heard Rap on the radio I was confused and feelings were mixed around me. Some people were happy that someone finally made a rap record, other were pissed it wasn't a better crew on the radio and others thought that records would kill Hip Hop and Rap. Sound familiar?
W: You've been involved in the culture as an MC in the past, how did that experience factor in to what you are doing in the present?
DA: Just in the "going back to the lab and come back fresher" aspect and the "don't bite" mentally. My experiences in the Hip Hop industry from being around my brother when he was dealing with shady labels in the early 90's and seeing how messed up the industry was from early Boston artists (New Edition, Picture Perfect, Tam Tam, Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs, Almighty R.S.O., Posse NFX, Not Your Average Girls/Phajja, Ruffa, etc.) that my family knew in the early 80's opened my eyes to a lot of things. I was reading liner notes and looking for names of writers, arrangers and publishers when I was six. It comes out in my writing now.
W: What made you want to spend half your free time doing a blog? How did you come up with your multi-faceted concept over covering the many different subjects that you do?
DA: The simple reason is that I've always been into a lot of different stuff growing up so it was natural. When I worked at Tower Records I was working on the Video/Books/Magazines and Music floors simultaneously and everyone who was looking for something came directly to me like I was a damn concierge. I feel I've been blogging for years without even realizing it. When I got to do a blog and finally write about whatever I wanted to without wondering if it would "fit" into anyone else's format I knew that this is what I'd do and how I'd do it. I don't need to pitch shit to anyone, I open my laptop and just write about it. Somebody somewhere's gonna feel it. If not they'll catch it later on down the line during a random Google search. Time means nothing in today's On Demand/Tivo/DVR/RSS feed world.
W: Seriously, how much time do you spend a week on your blog? I know I spend godawful amounts, and I'm pretty sure you spend more time than I do…
DA: I treat blogging like a job. I get up at 8 or 9AM and start researching for a list of blog ideas to determine if I should do them and when. Then I start writing that days blog. If I finish before 4 PM then I start researching and writing the next days blog. Every weekend, I list my five potential blogs for the next week. If my brother doesn't come home from work or no one stops me I'll just keep on going until something forces me to quit. I have hella blogs that I've written but I'm not going to post them until the summer cuz they're all mad long and the NBA Playoffs could provide me with an even better story when it's all said and done.
W: I've always found coming up with ideas for posts and series as a challenge at times, how do you come up with some of your ideas for posts? .
DA: I'm someone that always has ideas for posts because I have a crew of dudes that make beats, a gang of old magazines and tapes (audio & video) for inspiration and an internet full of bloggers that sparks friendly competition. If I took a digital picture of my future blog list and posted it up you'd really think it's a fake because it's so damn long. I also use this method I got from a character in the graphic novel "Watchmen" by Alan Moore (read it if you haven't already) called "The Veidt Method" where I actually read all 150+ active blogs on my blogroll and then I know what not to write about and what no one else has touched on or what different angle I could bring to a big story that no one else has done as of yet.
W: Who were/are your blogging influences? What blogs do you tend to have saved in your bookmark list?
DA: I have 165 blogs listed in my Technorati favorites and by the time this interview is posted it might be up to 170. If you post up new and interesting content then I read your blog regularly. If you post the same shit that everyone else does then I don't really care. I like to call them "The Blogging Avengers". That consists of: Dallas Penn, Rafi @ OhWord, Robbie @ Unkut, you and all the heads @ Wake Your Daughter Up, Eric @ When They Reminisce, Dan Love @ From Da Bricks, Jeff Weiss @ Passion Of The Weiss, Flood @ Floodwatch, Mr. Mass @ Masscorporation, Brandon Soderbergh @ No Trivia, Sweeney Kovar @ Classic Drug References, Mike Dikk & Raven Mack @ Dumpin (where'd y'all go?), Doc Zeus @ Not A Blogger, A-One @ Know Good Music, J. Burn, Hugh, & Mark @ Stuntin' On Prose, Meka and Shake @ 2 Dope Boyz, the whole crew @ Moovmnt, Tree Beats @ What It Is, M. Dot @ Model Minority, G & Ming Tzu @ Grandgood, Joey @ Straight Bangin', Max @ Hip Hop Is Read, Aaron & crew @ Metal Lungies, Animal Mother @ And It's Still All Good, Marvelous Mo @ Mo Is Dead Serious, Sickamore @ Thank God I'm Famous and gang of other heads I've forgot about (mind you this is all off the top!). My first influences blogwise were Eric's Archives, Desolate Ones, Vinyl Athletes, Broke B-Boys, To The Break Of Dawn, Can't Stop Won't Stop, B Side Wins Again, Soul Sides, Biff Hop, Crooklyn's Classics, Bootis Connex, Black Pharoahs, Bossplayer, The T Organization, Rap Dungeon, Music Thingz, Bust The Factz, Rapchwast, Lethal Spit Poetry, 12 Inchers, The Dice Game, The Phoenix Spot, Sarava Club, Orgy In Rhythm, Groove Grave, Alma Matters, Embrace The Knowledge, Rock The Dub, From A Young H Perspective, Logan Sama's Grime Sets, & Chantelle Fiddy's World Of Grime/Whatever amongst a bunch of other now dead blogs. (I told you.. I watch and read everything)
W: Discuss how us bloggers effect the industry, for the good and the bad. How have the rise of blogs and the internet changed the way music is promoted and basically released?
DA: The music industry was/is a joke and it should be destroyed. The P2P sites, advances in computer and communications technology coupled with the affordability of CD-R drives and CD-R's just sped up the inevitable collapse of the music industry in my opinion. A record label just offers you a chance to become a sharecropper or slave and go into debt even faster than you can do yourself with credit cards. You get "signed" and that means absolutely nothing. I know hella people that got signed and were broke stuck on a contract for years where their albums never came out or they instead became part of a talent pool writing and producing for other people behind the scenes. Blogs came up to introduce people to new music they didn't know existed or to bring back rare and out of print Hip Hop that folks may have missed out on for whatever reason. If there was no need for blogs then they just wouldn't exist. Now the labels send promo materials directly to us because they know we have the eyes of the music buying public. Our album reviews are trusted more than major music magazines are because we're private citizens with no corporate ties. We do it for the love.
W: You have many "classic" posts that have been seen on forums, web sites and myspace. Which ones would be your personal favorites? Which ones have created the most response from the masses?
DA: When I first started I tried to write stuff that would end up in Oh Word's This Week In Blogging posts every Friday. I ended up in there about 4 or 5 times before Rafi stopped doing it. My personal favorite blogs were the turntablism week posts from when I first started back in February 2007, The Wanderers vs. The Warriors, The Ed O. G blog I did, Why Are 70's Babies So Damn Salty?, Industry Rule # 4080, My Tricky blog, The Last Days Of The Record Store, The Basketball Diaries, my Open Letters To Red Sox Nation, all of my Revenge Of The 80's posts, Journey Into Mystery blogs and Rants Of The Day are all among my personal favorites. The other blogs I really loved turned out to be my most well received posts like Mommy, What's A Backpacker?, They Don't Dance No' Mo', Essays In BETism, The Walkman Days, 100 Favorite Cult Fims Of The Internet Age, I Still Love H.E.R., Black Like Me: A History Of Black Comic Book Heroes, Style Master Generals, Top 50 Non Hip Hop Songs That Hip Hop Fans Loved, my Top 50 G.O.A.T Emcees/Groups & Producers Lists, the 50 Producers On MySpace That You Need To Hear Right Now, Cause & Effect got me quoted in a book this year, 12 Emcees To Watch In '08, Supreme Rap Misses and of course my Top 50 Nintendo Games Of All Times blog. Those joints are all over the 'net.
W: I seen last week you had words for one of Oh Word posts. The post said, in essence, that there is no good hip hop anymore. How do you counter to that train of thought?
DA: I believe that if someone has made their mind up that nothing good is out that you can't change their mind because it's closed and their mixed on their positions no matter what you do. I just continue doing me and keep it movin'.
W: How would you compare hip hop to what we as kids grew up to? You come from the same era as I do, we both know that hip hop isn't the same as it was then, but yet, we are both still professing our love for it.
DA: I don't think you can compare it because it's two completely different animals. Back then everything was open and there were hella labels and different kinds of artists all doing different kinds of music under the umbrella of Hip Hop. Now if you don't look this way or sound like this or have these kind of beats then you aren't really "Hip Hop"...whatever the hell that means. Everything is a damn genre now. Jay Electronica, Mickey Factz, Kidz In The Hall, The Cool Kids, Pacific Division and The Knux make Hip Hop but because they don't do what everyone else does they're "hipsters"? Fuck outta here with that ol' divisive bullshit!
W: What about other genres of music, do you listen to any others? Any country albums in Dart's crates? hahaha
DA: No Country LP's or CD's but damn near everything else. I grew up listening to all of my parents albums and 8 tracks so I listened to everything from Gospel to R&B to Latin Jazz to Classic Rock (which back then was just "Rock"). I just got off of a recent kick where I listened to a lot of Mandrill and Madhouse (Prince's Jazz fusion side project). I'm also really into Grime which is a kind of amalgamation of UK Garage, Reggae & Hip Hop so expect some posts about Grime in the near future on my blog as well.
W: Alright, so talk about some of the people that email you concerning the blog. What's the oddest email you've ever gotten? I'm sure you get some of the same music sent to you as I do, anything that was particularly strange?
DA: I get e-mails from people asking me if I'm really a team of people instead of just one person which I find flattering...and somewhat scary. I get a lot of wack shit from people that clearly don't read my blog because if they did then they'd know what not to send me. I got an e-mail from someone who wanted me to promote some of wack ass Izza Kizza's shit. I get a lot of Hip Hop trivia questions and requests for Live Create A Players for the 2008 NBA Draft.
W: What are some of your all-time favorite albums? I mean besides the MC Skat Kat you and I were talking about the other day….
DA: I highlighted them all in my Top 25 Hip Hop Albums blog last year and all my other personal favorites are all visible right there on my blog here: http://poisonousparagraphs.blogspot.com/2007/04/25-greatest-hip-hop-albums-of-all-time.html .
W: I don't get any groupies at all…well, okay, maybe a couple of the email stalking kind. Any luck for you or are you like me and figured out you need to be a soul/funk/jazz or R&B blogger?
DA: I actually do. I find it pretty damn weird that I can be reading an Urb in Newbury Comics and some girl will come up to me and ask me if I've heard of a dude named Dart Adams because "I look like that drawing that he puts up on his blog all the time". I ain't complaining, though. Never that.
W: What is the best part, besides the pseudo internet celeb status, of having a blog?
DA: Getting CD's and new albums mailed/e-mailed to me weekly and getting e-mails and phone calls from people asking me to write stuff for them. I'm holding out for real money, though. Besides that, it's the feeling of knowing that I'm outperforming an entire cubicle block or office at a music magazine all by myself. That feels pretty goddamn good.
W: How do you view the blog scene? I've always considered blogs such as the Oh Words, Nah Rights, and the Bryan Crawfords as the "upper tier". Blogs such as yours, mine, Metal Lungies, From Da Bricks, WTR as kind of the middle tiers, then a lower tier of the casual bloggers, do you see it that way or do you have some other theory on the blogs?
DA: I see the blogs that have original and new content as upper tier and the blogs that just post the same videos, songs and news items as everyone else does as the middle tier. In my opinion content is everything. Same with music, books and movies. Ill Roots, 2 Dope Boyz and other blogs have exclusive content that make them stand out from the rest.
W: You made the comment about bringing some "flagship" artists to Poisonous Paragraphs, kind of like Eric with Ill Poetic, myself with The Smile Rays and Has-Lo (I'm talking to 2 In A Room about making their comeback on WYDU), who do you got lined up?
DA: My lineup of flagship artists would be Danny Swain, Vandalyzm, Invincible, Tanya Morgan, and every producer I've every featured on my blog.
W: You hail from Beantown. How would you describe the history of the Boston hip hop scene? How is it currently?
DA: Boston got Hip Hop from New York first along with New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia, few people really know that. These cities and states all had the first Hip Hop radio shows, labels, DJ and B-Boy crews and emcees outside of New York. Boston was down with all the elements of Hip Hop culture since the late 70's (God bless Lecco's Lemma and Skippy White's). The Source started here as a two sided sheet of yellow paper. Several well established Hip Hop crews got there start here and we have a list of classics and artists that's hella long. We're chock full of talent but it's hard to try to go national, especially the way the music industry is now. We need more show venues and exposure but we have so much talent here it's scary.
W: The Boston hip hop scene has always been kind of known for being a little rough, has that changed at all?
DA: Back in the days there was so much violence that you couldn't even have decent shows in the city because an incident would always happen. It's gotten better now because gang violence isn't what it was back during the early 80's leading into the Crack Era and we've realized that without local buzz or a thriving scene no one will pay attention to Boston/MA or the New England area as a whole. The Boston Hip Hop scene is so world famous that people come all the way from the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, and Japan to work with their favorite Boston/MA based artists.
W: Who would you consider the greatest group/artist to hail from Boston? I'm taking it wouldn't be Benzino.
DA: Fuck Benzino. That dude has done some shady shit to some of my own friends and family members so he's a non entity in my (black)book. The greatest artists from Boston in my biased opinion are New Edition, Jonzun Crew, Stark Reality, Donna Summer, Guru from GangStarr, Ed O.G, T.D.S. Mob, MC Spice, A Train AKA Cublunk (yes, he did really beat Biz Markie in a battle!), Scientifik (R.I.P.) and gang of other vets that are on the cusp of being regarded as great.
W: Boston has ruled the sports scene the past year or so, although those cheaters, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl…hahaha….Why is Boston such a GREAT sports town? It seems like the people really KNOW the sport they attend, unlike say, oh, LA, who just goes to be seen?
DA: It's helped by the fact that we're an insular town of people that like to be know it alls. No one wants to be the asshole that doesn't know what they're talking about in a group...ever. Plus, we identify with Boston sports teams as part of our own identity as opposed to just a sports team. It's like being born into an 100 year old (or 60 year old) gang to us. You're born a Red Sox fan. You're born a Celtics fan. You're born a Patriots fan. Starting from birth you're going to learn all about the history of those teams and every goddamn nuance and piece of minutiae about each particular sport. I wish kids did that with Hip Hop!
W: You had an interesting post on the history of the Red Sox being somewhat on the racist side when it came to running the team, do you still see them being kind of wish washy? Jacoby Ellsbury is the only African-American that jumps out to me right now on the team…oh and Coco Crisp.
DA: Jacoby Ellsbury is actually a Native American...back then the Red Sox were under some racist ass management (Yawkeys) and they didn't make inroads into remedying those problems until the Yawkeys died off and the ownership of the team changed. As far as Black Red Sox go we have Coco Crisp and Devern Hansack in Pawtucket. The problem is that there aren't too many Black players in baseball anymore, period. The Red Sox are committed to getting the best players possible in their uniforms with the current management. That simply wasn't the case back in the days...ask Pumpsie Green.
W: Who is the all-time greatest Red Sox player? Ted Williams or Babe Ruth?
DA: Between those two it's easily Ted Williams because he the man who broke down the science of hitting and he lobbied for the integration of Major League Baseball and played in exhibitions against Negro Leaguers. Babe Ruth refused to be shown up by a great Black pitcher or hitter so he never played or he'd sabotage the game somehow. I consider Babe Ruth to be a Yankee anyways...his daughter is a Red Sox fan.
W: Where do you stand on the Boston debate? Should Jim Rice be in the HOF?
DA: Jim Rice should've been in Cooperstown two seasons ago in my biased opinion. While we're at it Dennis Johnson should be in the Basketball Hall Of Fame. Stop bullshittin'!
W: Despite my EXTREME dislike for the Pat's, I can't deny they have a great front office and are the team of the decade. How do you see them in the future? It seems like just about every team has to re build at some time, do you see that in the future?
DA: Their window to win it all will be gone by 2010 and then they'll be just a 10 win team. That's great for most cities but we're spoiled now and a 10-6 season is a disgrace. The Patriots need 3 full seasons to get 6 losses nowadays. When I was a kid, a 5-11 Pats season was cause for hope. After they lost Super Bowl XX back in 1986 I thought they'd never go back to the Super Bowl again.
W: What's your take on the whole "spy-gate" thing that went down with Belidick…oops, I mean Belichick and the taping that went down? I thought my Steelers handled it better than I would have.
DA: They tried to bend the rules and got caught. Now everyone hates the New England Patriots even more than they did previously causing them to have to be even more on point then ever before. I still feel they earned all of those wins regardless but it was some dirty business no doubt.
W: You even cover comic books and do some great posts on black super heroes, why do you consider it important to have multi racial super heroes?
DA: As a kid I didn't see too many brown faces on TV or in movies that weren't gang members, thieves, pimps, thugs, drug dealers or rapists...real talk. Hardly any of them spoke anything resembling English. If you saw the film "Hollywood Shuffle" then you know what I'm talking about. I felt invisible almost. As a Black Bostonian in the late 70's and early 80's I felt even more invisible. When I read comic books and saw that Black people could be heroes or even seen as heroic in some way or form it not only helped affirm how I felt being a Black kid but to little White kids that didn't know about Black people and had to go off of the media it did the same thing. The Black Panther, The Falcon, Luke Cage and Cyborg were all characters that I identified with as a kid.
W: Who would win in a foot race, The Flash or Superman?
DA: Technically, the Flash because he's made specifically for running at high speeds while Superman can just fly but time and time again DC Comics have shown Superman running just as fast as Flash when they have raced each other. This is because they've painted themselves into a corner and made Superman too goddamn powerful a character. The Flash always ends up winning on a technicality, though.
W: Who is the hottest female super hero? I could never get with Wonder Woman…wow, that just sounded incredibly….nerdish.
DA: Depending on who the inker is it's a tossup between Dagger from Cloak & Dagger, Storm or Psylocke from X-Men or Starfire or Wonder Girl/Troia from Teen Titans. That's way nerdier, Travis.
W: What is the magic behind movies in general? You seem to be a big fan of movies, was that something that has always been?
DA: I didn't discover this until I was 30, but the main reason I fell in love with emceeing, comic books, and movies was for the same reason...they're all based on a script or the written word just applied to a different medium. I used to rhyme so people would listen to what I wrote. All a comic book is a script with some drawings attached to it. A film is nothing more than the visual representation of a script. When you finally go to shoot a script you know what make you do? Draw up story boards. In other words "make a comic book out of your script so we know how to shoot it and make it into a movie". Everything is everything.
W: What are your favorite hip hop influenced movies?
DA: I covered it all in my Hip Hop influenced movie blog a while back. You can read it here: http://poisonousparagraphs.blogspot.com/2007/01/25-most-influential-films-to-hip-hop.html
W: If you have any free time, what does Dart Adams do for fun?
DA: My free time usually involves playing old ass video games on my G5 Mac or my Wii since I suck at all the new ones that use more than four buttons (I'm old!), roaming the city of Boston to kill time between Red Sox and Celtics games (I don't get my regular Red Sox tickets until June), watching DVD's with the subtitles on at all times, marveling at how clear HD pictures are on my living room TV, making behind-closed-doors deals that get me closer to my dream of complete global domination...that and playing with my adorable niece and nephew who wonder how come I work so hard for free.
W: Any final words for all those lovely people in internet land?
DA: All of the magazines I started this blog with the hopes of writing for have since folded. Most of the people that have approached me to write for them either never paid me or their publication folded shortly afterwards. I do all this because I sincerely love it but my main goal is to write books, scripts, screenplays, graphic novels, comic books, produce/write an underground Hip Hop show for Fuse or G4TV, etc. I take this writing shit seriously, this is no hobby to me and I appreciate everyone who has ever read my long winded rants or posted my shit on another site or has sent me an e-mail message or a MySpace request. If anyone from any publication is looking for someone who can write their ass off to contribute material get at me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind, if it ain't about money then I ain't concerned.
W: Thanks for the time dude, it's been a pleasure.
DA: No doubt, Travis. You're the man. One
*I'll be doing a FAQ blog regarding Poisonous Paragraphs in the near future. Believe it!