How Is Rap Changing Today’s Society?

USA Today music writer Ken Barnes took part in an online chat on Tuesday (August 2) with readers, and was asked how he believes that the rap genre is changing today’s society. “Complex question to tackle. I’m not crazy about the perpetuation of swaggering gangster stereotypes–it’s, like, more than 15 years since NWA now–but I guess new mini-generations of suburban kids keep coming along to get all impressed about the number of bullet holes somebody can boast,” Barnes responded. “But for production and other musical innovations and making verbal facility and cleverness of paramount importance, I think rap has had a great effect on music. As for society in general, that’s a slippery slope; it’s very difficult to gauge the actual effect of any sort of art form on society, and certainly not in the scope of a casual chat.”

The transcript at has since been removed.

Release Q-Tip’s ‘Kamaal The Abstract’

Contributed Anonymously:

Starting a grassroots campaign to get Arista Records to release Q-Tip’s long shelved album ‘Kamaal the Abstract’. I was partially inspired by the current Fiona Apple campaign to release her third album, but mostly inspired by Esthero’s ‘We R In Need of a Musical Revolution!’, because she talks about the responsibilities of all to drive music to be better. Q’s second album is amazing and has been sitting on the shelf since 2002, which is a damn shame. If you are a fan of Q-Tip, A Tribe Called Quest, rap music, music in general, or hate how record companies treat artists…then click on the links below. It only takes people speaking up for our voices to be heard. That might sound like an inane, stupid comment but its true. We speak up, we will be heard, people will listen. All it takes is five seconds. Click the link and sign., which hosted the petition, has since shut down.

Critics Are Being Too Tough On Eminem’s ‘Encore’

Ken Barnes of USA Today took part in an online chat with readers and was asked about his thoughts on Eminem’s latest effort ‘Encore’. “Saleswise it’s doing OK, and airplay is growing for both ‘Mockingbird’ (although that may be over on radio pretty quick) and now ‘Like Toy Soldiers,'” Barnes said. “Critically he’s been bashed, in my opinion too harshly, as if critics feel they need to make up for praising him so lavishly on his first three albums, so they demolish this one (which I think is not an advance and a bit of a disappointment but still full of clever bits and dazzling wordplay and delivery) with sledgehammers.”

The entire chat transcript at has since been removed.

From Rap Buzz To Bust

Jim Farber of the New York Daily News profiled the trouble Mase and Shyne experienced in album sales with their latest efforts, ‘Welcome Back’ and ‘Godfather Buried Alive’. Farber noted that both rappers’ material seemed behind the times, Shyne do to his incarceration and Mase do to being away from hip hop for so long and questions about his credibility. The story at has since been removed.

XXL Has Nothing To Do With Hip-Hop

Contributed by AdamBernard:

Flipping through the reviews section of XXL this month (Lil’ Jon cover) made me realize how little XXL has to do with Hip-Hop. They dissed both Erick Sermon’s album and Cormega’s album (which is really a mix-tape). Both of these albums have a very good chance of ending up on my year end top ten list and seeing yet another publication that claims to be about Hip-Hop blatantly show a lack of knowledge about the culture infuriates me. In the words of Sticky Fingaz “but wait it gets worse!” To find out how, click here.

Is Kanye West Overrated? Can The Same Be Said For Hip-Hop?

Contributed Anonymously:

Chuck D (the old school rapper) has been quoted saying that “Kanye West is overrated and has been called ground-breaking just for speeding up old records.” I agree with him.

Nowadays in Hip-Hop we are so soon to bombard people with accolades for even having sub-standard talent. Yet real MC’s are just forgotten. Be honest, you rushed out to buy “The College Dropout” or “Get Rich or Die Trying” but you don’t know about real Hip-Hop.

Reasons 50 Cent Walked Away From The Grammys Empty Handed

Contributed by AlJones:

1) If you go back and look at the list of winners you’ll notice that all of them from Outkast and Beyonce Knowles to Metallica, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliott have either spoken out against or appeared in those little anti-downloading commercials, 50’s like the only major act who SUPPORTS DOWNLOADING.

2) Well, sway FROM MTV SAID that the Grammy’s was mad at 50 because he refused to perform. The reason 50 didn’t perform was due to the Grammy budget, the Grammy’s offered close to a million dollars for Outkast performance and offered 600 thousand dollars to the Black Eyed Peas performance and only 500 thousand dollars for 50 performance
And Sway said 50 felt disrespected because 50 is a bigger star than both these acts.

50’s Unhappiness Understandable After Grammy Losses

Steve Jones of USA Today fielded questions from readers in an online chat on Tuesday, many related to 50 Cent’s reaction to going home empty handed and losing the Best New Artist award to Evanescence. Jones called the New Artist nod the biggest upset of the night, and remarked, “I could understand his being upset at not winning, at the same time he could have been classier about losing. But, if you think about, he really didn’t make that much of a scene.”

The entire transcript at has since been removed.

A Hip-Hop Rebirth In 2006-2007

Contributed by AdamBernard:

I don’t want to get all preachy by the current state of music right now is mediocre and that goes for ALL FORMS of music. Pick a genre, any genre, and you’ll find somewhere between three and six artists or groups that you like. That’s horrible, there are no real comercially viable options anymore. Plenty of people blame radio, or blame MTV, and though they are partly to blame, it’s not their fault entirely. Radio and MTV can’t play things that don’t exist and I think what people are craving right now is a kind of music that hasn’t ben created yet. This is why I feel there will be a complete overhaul (again) in 2006-2007.

Contined in the rest of this editorial are thoughts on who’s got next, what will happen to The Source, Hip-Hop, and the young artists that droped albums this year. The full story at has since been removed.

Why Vote? An Open Letter To Hip Hop

Paris has weighed in on the importance of voting for Democrats, even though he disagrees with many of their policies. The rapper argues, “Conservatives vote, often as a unified force, and rarely is their collective voice as splintered as that of progressives. This lack of focus serves to weaken significant opposition to the conservative agenda. I believe that in this instance, we, as those seeking change, must adjust accordingly.” Read more.