Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dart's Rant Of The Day: Well, Isn't This Awkward?

Here's the story so far, Charles Hamilton has been M.I.A. following posting that his free album "This Perfect Life" would be released by Interscope Records on June 16th. He last posted on Twitter June 10th and his own blog on June 11th. If you tried to visit his blog after June 30th (the third consecutive Tuesday that his album didn't drop) it was now switched to private. A few days ago, someone claiming to be "Simone" stated that Charles Hamilton was fine and there was nothing to worry about...oh word? So Charles Hamilton hasn't made enough mistakes and dug enough holes over the past 100 days that Interscope would just drop him and his imprint/production house Demevolist Music Group altogether? Rumors are rampant and nothing exists but speculation and no confirmation or clarification on his status has come from himself or Interscope yet. Let's review, shall we?:

March 28th, 2009 (approximately 95 days ago) was when news of the whole incident involving Charles Hamilton stealing not only an entire beat, song title and vocals from his own hook from Black Spade off of his MySpace page occurred. It hit the internet and Charles Hamilton was under attack from all angles not solely because he was Charles Hamilton, Hip Hop's whipping boy/punching bag but because of his actions following the accusations of the theft. Had he just admitted to it (because Black Spade stepped to him like "I like what you did with the track"...he only wanted credit), but no. Instead, Charles insisted that the song/arrangment and vocals were all an original recording by himself years ago. That sounds EXACTLY like one the Black Spade made years ago. He was quickly and thoroughly clowned and it was obvious that he was, in fact, a thief and a liar.

The one thing that compounded the issue was that around this time Charles Hamilton had a major feature upcoming on the show "Last Call with Carson Daly". It was an interview and a showcase that would air on national television on a major network. By performing that stolen song at a venue during SXSW 2009 as Black Spade just happened to be there was astounding. All off the investigations, fact finding missions, lies and his rush to prove something that wasn't his was his (?) must've gave someone over at Interscope's legal offices (or maybe just his own handlers) a migraine headache. That show was going to be the first major promotion leading to his album dropping in digital form June 2009 but in physical form in August 2009..this incident completely put a black eye on Charles Hamilton and Interscope Records.

Charles had managed to go a month while staying relatively quiet. He still did things that raised the ire of those that were now beginning to despise him and his antics. It's a damn shame because I won't lie and say that Charles Hamilton isn't talented, the problem is that homie cripples himself at every turn. I joked on Twitter that if Charles Hamilton was actually a video game character his special move would be to shoot himself in the foot repeatedly. On May 22nd, a video of Charles Hamilton embarassing his friend/assistant handler/associate Briana Latrise and subsequently getting punched in the face for it surfaced. Those that by now hated Charles' guts laughed their asses off and rejoiced (myself included) but afterwards I thought to myself "This kid is committing career suicide!". The fallout resulted in Charles Hamilton trying to get attention in any way possible on the internet. This wasn't a promotional tool...was it? Not to Briana Latrise it wasn't.

Charles couldn't even sit still and keep quiet until his album was set to be released on June 16th (Sonic The Hedgehog's 18th birthday)! He released insert artwork for his upcoming album sometime between June 6th -7th (I heard about it sometime around then and I mentioned it on Twitter after someone else told me about it. I didn't get visual confirmation until about 2 AM the morning of June 7th). This set off a wave of ill feeling throughout the entire internet because inside Charles Hamilton's liner notes he listed himself and James "Jay Dee AKA J Dilla" Yancey as co-executive producers of "This Perfect Life". That act alone was a mistake, but the way Charles handled it turned it into a shitstorm of hatred and chaos that may have ultimately killed the project altogether when he not only antagonized most of Detroit's Hip Hop elite but outright lied about his relationship with the Yancey family.

That bring us to the present day. Charles Hamilton's "The Perfect Life" still has no release date as of the writing of this blog. His record label isn't making any comments or statements about him or the current status of his project. When the free album didn't drop on the 16th, the new release date was the 23rd. When June 23rd came and went there was no new release date mentioned anywhere. After June 30th came and went people started wondering exactly what the hell happened? Did the suits and the brass finally say "enough!" and cut their losses? Did they just decide to punish Sonic The Hamilton and put him on time out for an undisclosed amount of time? The moral of story is don't be your own worst enemy. Like Treach famously said "You can run but you can't hide, you can't go far/No matter where you go, there you are!",


Monday, June 29, 2009

Dart's Rant Of The Day: Embrace Change AKA Adapt Or Die (Revisited)

Pardon me as I go on one of my Tyler Durdenesque rants here but we are living in remarkable and confounding times right now, ladies and gentlemen. The exponential growth of technological advances has forever changed the world in several ways. For one, network television is now TiVo'd, DVR'd and Hulu'd to hell so Nielsen Ratings no longer accurately tell the tale about what shows are watched the most. The problem is that television works off of commercial time sold to companies for the live viewing audience. The music industry is still stuck on reporting Soundscan numbers even though digital sales are up on average 250% each year since 2005. Why don't we get the iTunes, eMusic and Amazon digital sales numbers combined and reported along with the weekly Soundscan numbers then? Wouldn't it only make sense given that digital sales seem to be the wave of the future?

Since big business decided to not roll with the punches and embrace the new changes that advances in technology and cultural changes in general brought about, some of our traditional media formats are suffering tremendously. The print media is suffering as several magazines and newspapers have either folded or changed to strictly online publications instead. It's been reported that 525 publications folded just in 2008 alone. Quincy Jones said that he was going to get his magazine back and switch to an online publication instead because the print media was all but dead. Damn, if Q sees that then he's a pretty progressive thinker even at his age!

The question is what happens to all of the writers the used to work for these publications? What about all of the people currently in college for journalism...what the fuck are they supposed to do for a living when they get out of school? Who's hiring? I've seen Blender, Hip Hop Connection, King and Vibe go under in recent months and heard even more rumors surrounding other publications like Complex (still running), and Giant (I dunno but for now? Still going). Even Entertainment Weekly has Death's Head hovering over it for God's sake! (TMZ is fine BTW). Spin has recently let a gang of employees go and slashed it's expenses drastically in hopes of staying afloat and weathering the storm. Good luck with that one, guys! Who knew the collapse of the auto industry would affect the print media in such a way?

Already in 2009 more than 60 publications have recently folded including most of the ones that offered me jobs or an opportunity to write for them in the past year. The others have had their budget's slashed severely and cut costs to offset the plunge in ad pages being bought in their magazines. The King magazine employees first found out that they would soon be out of a job via Twitter and Facebook, not a good look. So what does that mean for me or many of my other blogging brethren/sisteren that hoped to parlay our blogging into writing careers? Where the hell do we go? Who's gonna pay us to wax poetic (or Spoken Word) about Hip Hop or in my case Hip Hop related fuckery of all kinds (or not really...it depends)? Do we all get together and start our own internet media conglomerate and build something new from the ashes of the old dead system instead? Time will tell, I guess.

I've seen the box stores/record stores progressively die when I was working in managing them up close. I've even seen the video store die a slow and agonizing death while I was working in them (and using Netflix...LOL). I've jumped ship every other time I've seen "Mene Mene Tikel Upharsin" written on the wall before. I quit being an emcee when I realized that I didn't wanna grind hard to get back in "the game" anymore at age 30 after leaving a middle managerial position @ CVS back in 2005. It took me days before I was able to bring myself to write a blog this week because I thought to myself "What's the point? It won't go any farther than this blog!". I've since come to my senses but seriously "Fuck am I gonna do now, huh? It's all fucked up now!" © Diddy

There may be no more light at the end of this tunnel anymore so it might be time for me to switch up my attack plan. I've been developing multiple scripts and screenplays with my brothers and I'm back to my treatments for potential graphic novels as well. The post office ain't hiring (budget cuts) but Marvel, DC, Vertigo, etc. are still looking for talent (provided you self publish your own graphic novels/comics and grind so they recognize you). When the environment around you changes, you adapt to ensure your own survival. When the environment changes drastically all of the biggest dinosaurs disappear from the Earth first. Adapt or die.


Friday, June 26, 2009

What's New In Dart's iPod #84 AKA The Off The Wall Edition

What a terrible week this was! First off, let's begin with that bullshit ass "Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen" flick. It had a couple of twins in it that were the 2009 version of Jar Jar Binks. That was the tip of the iceberg on what was a horrible movie overall. Next, was the recurring news about the possible trades of Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo in light of the 2009 NBA Draft which stands to be another huge bustathon. The Celtics only had a 2nd round pick and I didn't watch the draft too closely because it was boring as all hell. Let us not forget that Charles Hamilton's album "This Perfect Life" wasn't released for the second Tuesday in a row. His "fans" are livid.

I've watching my niece and nephew a fair amount this week since school just ended. This week I learned that this has been the rainiest June since 1903 in Boston at the typing of this sentence this would be only the 7th day of sun in the 26 days of this month so far. The Red Sox played almost every home game in fear of being rained out. I've also become the newest associate of the brothers over @ Nerd With Swag so expect some of my posts to land over there for the forseeable future on the weekends. Then Ed McMahon died. The next morning Farrah Fawcett died after a long battle with Cancer. Michael Jackson passed away after a heart attack a few hours later.

This week I'll be reviewing seven new projects that recently hit the 'net/bloggerverse and/or will be landing on store shelves soon in the following order: Blaq Poet "The Blaqprint", DJ JS-1 "Ground Original 2: No Sell Out", DJ Spinna "Sonic Smash ", Grand Puba "RetroActive", Tame One "Acid Tab Vocab", Wale & 9th Wonder "Back To The Feature" and Wu Tang "Chamber Music". For those of you new to this blog, I don’t rate albums on a scale or assign them a numerical value out of 5 or 10, instead I merely answer the all important question of “Is it worth buying or not?”. Here's how my recently revised "Cop It Or Not" ratings system breaks down below:

Opinions be damned. This particular project has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and should come with a Surgeon General's warning and/or a biohazard sticker. It should only be handled by hazmat teams or bomb/demolitions squads. To quote Common & Canibus, this album is your worst nightmare squared.

Oh No! This CD is a drink coaster/table balancer/doorstop/gerbil/hamster room divider/frisbee/discus/makeshift shield/last ditch choice for a visor/alternate shuriken choice. Sell this shit to whoever is dumb enough to buy it from you.

Maeby (Maybe)! Depending on your own set of personal preferences you might like this joint. Give it a listen first to see if it's in your lane or not.

Mos Def! Cop the album when it drops...'Nuff said.

I'm coming home! I'm coming home! Where I belong...© Michael Jackson

Best Joints: I-Gititin, U Phucc'd Up, Ain't Nuttin Changed, What's The Deal?, Legendary Pt. 1, Hood Crazy, Voices, Sichuwayshunz, Stretch Marks & Cigarette Burns, S.O.S., Let the Guns Blow, Don't Give a Fuccc, Rap Addiction and Never Goodbye

Hot Garbage: Hate

Dart's Take: The production was on point throughout this album. Blaq Poet was Blaq Poet. He spit a bunch of street level, thugged out semi gnorant shit about street life selling drugs, shooting muthafuckas, other muthafuckas getting shot and slapping the shit outta wack rappers. Unfortunately he forget to spit bars nice enough to make his album stand out from those some wack emcees he dissed all over the album. This album wasn't very rewind worthy and the instrumentals might move more. I was bored...why lie? I give it a maybe.

Best Joints: Intro, Like This, Clear N Present Danger, Murder, Nuthin', Karma Killerz, Ridiculous, Runnin' This, I Don't Mind, On The Map, The M.O.B., Bang Da Underground, Original G'z, Too Easy, What's Happening, Rock Steadily and Brainbender

Hot Garbage: Some Rap Shit, No Comparison and I Knew A Girl

Dart's Take: Yeah..this was just OK. A few standout tracks but not one of your top choices to throw into the car and ride to with all the excellent albums that droped recently. There isn't a bunch of wack material on here or wack beats but it's all just OK. There are a gang of emcees that spit some nice bars but Jak D appeared on this LP in 3 different songs and failed to spit anything niceon any of the tracks. I wasn't getting my head nod on much, just listening intently and waiting for that jawn that grabbed my attention.

This album is chock full of guest spots from notable emcees but it doesn't meld into a concise album that's more than average. I'm giving "Ground Original 2: No Sell Out another maybe. Check it out and give it a listen first at least.

Best Joints: Elemental, Lyrics Is Back, Lights Out!, New York, Call Me Senor, Get On Down, Making Your Way In The World, Guaranteed, More, More Colors, Melody, Still Golden and Outro

Hot Garbage: N/A

Dart's Take: Do you remember those old Beyond Real compilations that DJ Spinna used to put out? Remember all those classic tracks Spinna produced over the years? I could name a laundry list of bangers this dude made and the saga continues with "Sonic Smash" on High Water Music. This album features appearances from Phonte, Sputnik Brown, Torae, John Robinson, Senor Kaos, Jigmastas, Dynas, Tiye Phoenix, Elzhi, J-Treds, Breezly Brewin, P. CASSO, Homeboy Sandman, Fresh Daily, etc. and it's ridiculous.

The head nod factor will be in effect, you will exercise your rewind button, you may keep a few joints on repeat as well. Bottom line is "Sonic Smash" has met and exceeded the necessary requirements in order to attain a mos def. Cop it when it drops on June 30th!

Best Joints: I See Dead People, Hunny, It Is What It Is, Get That Money, How Long?, Good To Go, Same Old Drama, Go Hard, Reality Check, Cold Cold World, Smile and

Hot Garbage: This Joint Right Here (this jawn right here needs a remix), This Joint Right Here Remix (Wow..the same beat but this time it's longer with the other Brand Nubian brothers on it? *Facepalm*)

Dart's Take: Grand Puba's last solo album "Understand This" was a solid effort but it came out so long ago (2001) the overwhelming majority of music fans have forgotten about Grand Puba's greatness even though Brand Nubian has steadily released albums throughout the 00's. This album was a surprise in the greatest sense because I had no expectations going in. The production and bars were on point for the duration of the project with the exception of one track that could've left off. I'm gonna have to give "RetroActive" a recommended maybe.

Best Joints: Molly, Anxiety Attacks, Ooops, Hip Hop Action Figure, Suede Adidas, Dips, Ghetto Gutter Gillaness, Press Rewind, Bitch, Kik Rox and Go Away

Hot Garbage: N/A

Dart's Take: The newest Tame One project on Amalgam Digital dropped on Tuesday. It checks in at 12 total tracks but only 10 actual songs all produced by Parallel Thought who also did last year's "Da Ol' Jersey Bastard". If you're a Tame One fan like I am there's no reason to not cop it. I've been playing it for just more than a week now (thank God for advances) and I still rock it. I give "Acid Tab Vocab" a recommended maybe.

Best Joints: Wordplay, Cyphr, Chillin (Catch vs 9th), Tito Santana, 5 Minutes, Life's A Bitch, Night Life, Sweatin Out Weaves, Hot Shyt, Wonder Why, Pot Of Gold, Sharp, Warwick Avenue, The Sun, Rather Be With You (Vagina Is For Lovers), Goodbye, Say It Again, Talkin Shyt, Nothing To Worry About, Rhyme N Reason, Um Ricka and New Soul

Hot Garbage: N/A

Dart's Take: There isn't a weak moment on this mixtape and it's exactly what we've come to expect from Wale over the past couple of years. You take Wale, add 9th Wonder and a gang of guest appearances from artists like Currensy, Playboy Tre, Young Chris, Freeway, Beanie Sigel, Joe Budden, Skyzoo, Talib Kweli, Joell Ortiz, Bun B, K'naan, Peedi Peedi, Black Thought, Royce Da 5'9, Jean Grae in addition to a bunch of others. It's a no brainer. Download it yesterday. Mos def, easy. Here's the link

Best Joints: Kill Too Hard, Harbor Masters, Radiant Jewels, I Wish You Were Here, Ill Figures, Sound The Horns, NYC Crack and Evil Deeds

Hot Garbage: Unfortunately Redemption, The Abbot, Sheep State, Supreme Architecture, Wise Men, Fatal Hesitation, Free Like ODB, Enlightened Statues and One Last Question are all just interludes and not actual tracks

Dart's Take: You take RZA, you add his production genius and have him supervise the soul band The Revelations then bring in Masta Ace, AZ, Cormega, Sean Price, Havoc, Kool G Rap, M.O.P. & Sadat X then what you have is arguably the best Wu Tang related project since Think Differently Music's excellent "Wu Tang Meets The Indie Culture" from 2006. I give it a highly recommended maybe. Look for it when it drops on June 30th.

Late Passes (For Doz Dat Slept):

Projects I'm Looking Forward To Reviewing Once They Leak...I Mean Drop in 2009:

Rhymefest-El Che
Fashawan-Boy Meets World
Jay Electronica-Act II: Patents Of Nobility
Jay Electronica-Abracadabra: Let There Be Light
Royce Da 5'9"-Street Hop
Big Boi-Sir Luscious Leftfoot, Son Of Chico Dusty
Royce Da 5'9"-Street Hop
Pac Div-Grown Kid's Syndrome
Magnif & J Dilla-Detroit Royalty
Blu-God Is Good
Drake- Thank Me Later
Sean Price, Guilty Simpson & Black Milk-Random Axe
Alchemist & Oh No are Gangrene
Eternia & MoSS- At Last
B.O.B.-The Adventures Of B.O.B.
Billy Danze-Behind Gatez
AG & O.C.-Oasis: Together Brothers
Phat Kat and Elzhi are Cold Steel
The Beatnuts-The Planet Of The Crates
Ski Beatz-Half Man, Half Amazing
Evidence-Cats & Dogs
Statik Selektah-The Hangover

Rest in eternal peace, Michael Jackson. Hopefully you, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Rick James & Ray Charles are having a hell of a lotta fun up in Heaven.