A Tribe Called Quest is being celebrated for their ingenuity and creativity tonight on Hip Hop Honors, but one of its members, Phife Dawg, gets extra respect for the courage he’s brought to his battle against diabetes. The ailment afflicts a big chunk of the African American population; reports tell us that 13 percent of blacks over the age of 20 suffer with the condition. Phife, one of the Tribe’s founding members, is fighting the condition with dialysis, and a recent switch in treatments has made him feel much better, one of the reasons he was able to participate in the Honors show.
Rappers have never been afraid to put their opinions out there, and last night at our Hip-Hop Honors show, after helping celebrate his South Central bud Snoop Dogg, Ice T answered a volley of queries from the press, passionately erupting on a number of subjects. The most compelling flurry had to do with names – the way we identify ourselves and each other. Delivered in a lightning bolt speed, it was an impressive spiel, And it went a little sumpun like this…
N*gga?s not a bad word. My father said n*gga, so I?m not gonna get rid of the word. It has no relevance. I feel there are inside words and outside words. If you?re gay, you can say gay stuff, if you ain?t gay, don?t talk about it. If you?re fat, don?t talk about nobody skinny. If you?re skinny, don?t talk fat. If you Italian, same thing. I come from the hood where n*ggas is, so I can say n*gga. But if you ain?t from that, don?t say that. You dig?
Lyrics are key, beats are big, but one thing Monday night’s show isn’t going to let us forget is that dancing – yes baby, dancing – is central to hip-hop culture. When LL Cool J came out to tell us all about living the b-boy life, he was reminding us just how physical and seductive the music is. Introducing the Wild Style section of show and having Busy Bee and company taking the Hammerstein stage, all the spins, handstands, toprocks, windmills, and freezes brought out the groove’s theatrical aspects. And it’s infectious, right? That’s why Fab Five Freddy was standing up, swinging his butt in the Honorees box. Ditto for the bounce that was in the air a bit later, when WHODINI took over the stage with “Freaks Come Out At Night” surrounded by dudes doing suicides and butterfly kicks. “Grafitti artists and breakdancers are what got me into hip-hop,” Busy Bee said after his spot. “It’s nice to be back; me, Caz, KRS-One are still doing it, still looking good.” Even Snoop‘s low-key body language stuck out. Guess just swooping right and gliding cool is a way to make a big statement. Give yourself plenty of room in front of the TV on Monday, you might catch the fever. [Pictured: T-Pain/Getty Images]
Always good to know something about the host of a big show. In midtown Manhattan, on Thursday night,? rattled off a list of his fave discs to kick 07 Honors live. (Feel free to fill the comment section with what you think might be some of those discs, and know this in advance: he’s a Nas fan). Then the 30 Rock comedian busted some poetry, telling us that the music stretches from jazz to showmanship to the gangster lean itself. Then he hit the brakes. “Before we go any further I gotta tell you something about your boy. Me and hip-hop come outta the same womb, the Bronx. What that means is me and hip-hop is blood brothers, like KRS-One: “I am hip hop.” I’m Slick Rick’s first chain, I’m all of Afrika Bambaataa‘s records in his crates, and yes, yes, ya’ll, I’m the the hydraulics in Dre‘s Cadillac, I’m the Forbes’ richest rappers list, and the carboard box under the breakdancers’ heads, I’m every train on the 4 line. And I’m loving my butt-crack boxer shorts, saggy pants, eff the police attitude.”Boom. Street creativity, cultural weight, and commercial clout summarized nicely. See ya Monday night.
Think Common has a decent head fake? Any chance Rakim can hit a three-pointer? Whadya think, can MIMS show us why he’s hot by dunking the damn thing? Lots of rappers consider themselves decent ballers – they’ve often got hoops in their head. This Sunday in Brooklyn there’s going to be a generational clash of the titans, and we’ll see what’s what (that pic over there is Chris Brown from last year’s game). As part of Hip Hop Honors, the Celebrity Hoops game unites a swarm of famous participants; Chubb Rock, Dana Dan, Grandmaster Caz, CL Smooth, DJ UNK, Positive K, Lyfe Jennings, Love Bug Starski, and more will all be on the court. Swizz Beatz is rocking a half-time spot, Chrisette Michelle trills the national anthem, and Salt-N-Pepa, Irv Gotti, and New York herself are stopping by. Grandmaster Melle Mel is one of the coaches. If you’re a baller and you’re in NYC’s greatest borough these weekend, you should be there, too.
Two questions: What artist do you listen to most often when you’re shooting around on your own? What’s the hippest rhyme in hip-hop about being on the court?
Mario is into Ice Cube (we won’t say which song). Diddy is down with Run-DMC (you can guess the track, can’t you?), Busta Rhymes salutes Public Enemy (no, not “Bring the Noise”). In fact lots of celebs still get a kick out of old school hip-hop tracks. We put together lots of lists for Hip-Hop Honors. Come see who chose which joint, and while you’re hanging out, check the 20 cuts we’re calling the best of 2007 (so far).
Hey, what’s your favorite old-school classic? C’mon, spill the beans…
Busta Rhymes Artist Info
Three years ago Queen Latifah flipped the script with The Dana Owens Album, letting us know that blues and jazz were just as much a part of her program as beats and flow. With a ?been there, done that? attitude, she left hip-hop behind and moved into other territories. Unsurprisingly, confidence was everywhere in the new music. The singer had already received kudos for another move that widened her career circle: starring in such films as Bringing Down the House, Last Holiday, and Chicago. The same swagger that marked her approach to rap was central to her acting and singing. (Check her latest VH1 show, Bridging the Gap, which connects her with Eve.)
Now she?s back with Travelin? Light, a smart follow-up to that jazzy debut that packs an even bigger punch. If performance is about charisma and commitment, Latifah is pushing all the right buttons. Some tracks explode, some get overtly sultry, and on the sweet bossa nova ?Quiet Nights? she makes some tough vocal maneuvers seem like a breeze. We sat down for a chat about her new musical persona.
VH1: You sang live in front of the band on some tracks. It must be exciting to have those horns wailing right in front of you on something like ?I?m Going To Live Until I Die.?
QUEEN LATIFAH: It?s the song I?m coming out to our tour. It?s my life anthem. I want to be someone who lives life to the fullest. I had a great example from my 94-year-old grandmother who took it ?til the end. The pace of the song and energy is fun. And yeah, it?s a kick. I?ve been a big Sarah Vaughan fan, but I didn?t know that one. Prepping for this disc I bought a bunch of jazz – a whole lot of Quincy Jones. And what struck me was how lush his big band sound was. I made myself calm down eventually, but I knew I wanted something strong like this.
It couldn’t have gone on forever. Not after the bodyguard spilled the beans. So the court has stepped in and removed Britney Spears‘ kids from the singer’s home. As of Wednesday, that bastion of maturity, Kevin Federline, will take care of his own progeny. You recall the history. The judge ordered a parenting coach, and random testing for drugs after finding “habitual, frequent, and continuous use of controlled substances” defining the toxic one’s party-centric lifestyle. So come mid-day Wednesday, K-Fed will have to nurture Sean Preston and his brother himself – if he can stay alive, that is. Check pics of Brit and K-Fed in happier times, plus a few snapshots of Brit’s recent VMA disaster.
Britney’s Most Shocking Moments
Britney Bombs on the VMAs
Britney’s Kids Have Rotting Teeth
Britney’s Nutty, Naked Photoshoot
Britney’s Naked Hot Tub Makeout Session
It didn’t take long for hip-hop, b-boy culture, and breaking to become a global phenomenon, and years ago Wild Style star and hip-hop icon Fab 5 Freddy found himself in a Japanese hotel teaching a group of females about the fine art of tagging. He recounts the action in our “Tales From the Road” series, part of this year’s Hip-Hop Honors action, so yep, it includes some wildness – clubbing, boxer shorts, calls from the front desk, running and screaming, and brothers protecting their sisters from the Rock Steady crew. Let’s let Fab ‘splain it himself.
The Story of Wild Style