(NOT) LEAVING LAS VEGAS
It's been a bad day. Like Murphy's Law bad. It started good - I'm on my way to Minneapolis and at SFO, the airplane PA system was strangely picking up KMEL or some other hip-hop station. I first caught a whiff of Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable" but then I really perked up when Juelz' "Oh Yes" came on, followed with T.I.'s "Bring 'Em Out." That's called flyin' right.
Everything went to s--- in Vegas though (not an uncommon occurrence here). First, the bathroom stall had no toilet paper (I, of course, discovered this after the fact). Then I realized that the reason I couldn't find my connecting flight on the displays was because I was in the wrong terminal and for whatever reason, McCarran doesn't show flights leaving from other terminals (which would, you know, be rather useful). THEN, in trying to rush over to make my connecting flight, I ended up walking into baggage claim by accident which meant I'd have to go through security again. Then the check-in kiosks wouldn't read my credit cards...then...
To make a long story short, I'm about halfway through an unplanned six hour layover at McCarran right now. I was tempted to hit the Strip, catch Tom Jones, put the Circus Circus buffet on smash and then gamble away Ella's college fund but I figured, the day was turning out so bad already, no sense in testing my luck any further. What stays in Vegas is what I'm staying away from.
Upside: McCarran has free WiFi and so, here we are.
I've been meaning to write on XXL's new blogs for a minute but just haven't had the time. I'm glad I waited.
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING...
I was initially skeptical about how this was going to go...for one thing, I wasn't sure why XXL wanted to create a squad of bloggers. The medium seemed more apt for, I dunno, Murder Dog or Kronick but it wasn't clear what XXL's endgame would be for them. As some noted, it was like XXL was trying to copy SOHH's formula but a few weeks into the experiment, the XXL blogs are taking off quite nicely and, in my opinion, are already a few steps ahead of anything comparable, including SOHH.
I think part of my skepticism arose over the fact that XXL went after a few well-known bloggers already, namely Tara Henley, Kris Ex, Noz and most infamously, Byron Crawford. Given that some of these folks, especially Noz and Bol, already blog prolifically to begin with, would they have any steam left for an experimental, magazine-sponsored blog that didn't pay (the latter is still surprising)?
As it turns out, the fears were unfounded. Not only have Henley, Kris and Noz found a happy alternative that doesn't compete with their home blogs so much as they complement one another but first-time bloggers like Sickamore and the YN himself, Elliot Wilson, have turned out to be surprisingly good (especially Wilson - doesn't he have, uh, a magazine to run? Instead, he's posting up dozens of Ghostface O.G. samples.)
And then there's Bol, whose Evil Crafty Genius™ has exceeded even my considerable imagination. Seriously, the beauty in watching Byron work (even when you're on the crosshairs end of the view) is that as outrageous - even reprehensible - as many of his posts may seem, he's just floating out the chum and waiting until far crazier folks snap it up as they almost always do. Nothing attracts hate like hate and in the process, Byron - who is clearly, consciously pushing buttons with the skill of a young Stern (as Kris Ex once noted) - has managed to engineer the exact kind of debacle as he sets out to do.
It's like popping off a gun in a crowded club and then watching people react except, in this case, people are running towards the shots.
Case in point - in dissing Southern rap fans, Byron was obviously trying to stir things up and smarter folks would have just had a good chuckle and then left it alone. Instead, he managed to bait a parade of commentators to come on and rant themselves into a froth that demonstrates 1) a lack of basic reading comprehension, 2) poor fact-checking and 3) an over-reliance on calling someone "a p----" when they have nothing left to fire. I'm not a fan of hate for hate's sake but the ways in people react without thinking is pretty entertaining. As well as despairing. But mostly entertaining.
However, the proverbial next level was attained when someone claiming to be Bun B decided to climb into the ring and try to son Bol. And for a moment, it looked like Bun might have claimed the upper-hand until Byron, came back undaunted and unapologetic.
First of all, the fact that a blogger - any blogger - could encourage a rapper at Bun B's level to respond (via comments no less) is pretty astounding and either says a lot about how far the blogging world has come or about how much downtime some rappers have in between cover shoots and mix-CDs.
Second of all, there was once a time when writers/critics were knee-pad reverential about hip-hop artists, seeing themselves as the vanguard of defending/promoting rap artists. Even when criticism was meted out, it was usually done as diplomatically as possible (i.e. "his lyrics are two years out of date but, uh, the beats are knockin'). Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, there are no sacred cows, no artist is above being crapped upon. I'm not saying this is an improvement but clearly, something significant has changed. If artists like Jeru and Ice Cube (not to mention, um, J--- G---) were pissed off at writers in the past, I can't imagine what shit must look like as the blogger community gains even more influence and visibility. Bloggers these days write stuff that makes the criticisms of earlier writers seem like back rubs by comparison. Kris Ex predicted last year that it's only a matter of time before someone catches a beatdown over a blog post but it has yet to happen. Emphasis on "yet."
Lastly, and this is just a personal note, I think it's hilariously ironic that people who are hating on Bol are calling him a "disgrace" to "hip hop writers/journalists" since I think Byron would take more offense to being labeled a "hip hop writer/journalist" than "a disgrace." Some of his favorite targets are people he sneeringly calls "hip hop journalists," though strangely, Touré has been one of the lone people in this category to get a total pass.