Communications 306: Images of Hip-Hop in Popular Media

College and rap meet up and do wonderful things–Banner has a bachelor’s in business and an almost-master’s in education. Various godlike individuals are teaching at Rice and Duke (Bun B and 9th Wonder, respectively). A thousand mentions of College Park in my record collection (mostly contained in songs by OutKast, everyone on Grand Hustle, Luda). A thousand mentions of college girls (mostly Ghostface). Thug Motivation 101 is not an actual sit-down class but it’s an actual listen-to-my-life-struggles-and-successes class, so it gets included here too. Meth and Red didn’t make the list because they did not take their coursework seriously, but Jay gets a nod for his school of hard knocks matriculation symbol (his all-blue Yankee), and I also have to include Cam’s cute wordplay regarding his shoes being University of Florida–because, you see, they are gators.

Communications 306 is a forum for the presentation and critical analysis of AP images as a reflection of the cultural zeitgeist at large. The goal of this course is to facilitate the improvement of students’ ability to deconstruct, organize, and critically think about communicative messages while becoming better equipped to articulate ideas. To that end, please turn in your papers providing a thorough explanation of the reasons for rap producers’ general inability to successfully merge MCs’ revolution-praising lyrical content with ear-pleasing piano loops and crunchy, snappy drum patterns by the end of class today. (Other than Waka’s veiled criticism on mixtapes of the media’s coverage of crusading journalist and muckraker Julian Assange and the difficulty of reconciling his hero status with our disgust regarding those rape charges, it’s all either stripper songs or old Coup albums in apt. 15. Killer Mike’s “Burn,” a hate letter to Johannes Menserle set to some nice heavy drums and harmonizing courtesy of Parliament, needs to be better, but what is the answer? Shocklee in ’88 is not available, so let that dream die. Remember the gates-of-hell/fuzzy bass of death in that dead prez song? Yeah, like that.)

“Foxboro, MA: Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets celebrate their 28 to 21 victory over the New England Patriots during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.” (Al Bello/Getty Images; January 16)

WHEN I SAY JET, YOU SAY LIFE. A trio of wide receivers expresses its fondness for Curren$y.

Where haven’t we been? To the Super Bowl, babycakes (well, not in quite some time, anyway). My affection for this team has something to do with my experience in NYC bars on Sundays, when dudes actually do the J-E-T-S! chant (they actually do it, in real life! At bars!), and something to do with the MCs who are proud Jets fans. Monch likes the Jets, Rae likes the Jets; logically, then, I like the Jets. Rex Ryan is an unfunny loudmouth who’s always shouting I’M FUNNY to the world, talented but in need of some editing, but I guess as a person with a website who is guilty of all of that myself, it takes one to know one. Jet life, fool. Jet life. Lames catch feelins; we catch flights. Jet life, fool–turn it up some. Lames can’t feel us; we catch flights. Jet life, jet life (fade out).

“Manila, Philippines: Thousands of Catholic devotees join a procession during the 404th Feast of the Black Nazarene.” (Dondi Tawatao/Getty; January 9)

Lil B at the Highline!, 01/14/11.

I’m kidding, of course, since I don’t see any spatulas in the photo above. Anyway, in the Philippines I’m pretty sure Jesus and Pacquiao jockey for position as the people’s based god.

“Rawalpindi, Pakistan: Supporters of Pakistani religious party Sunni Tehreek chant slogans and shower rose petals outside an anti-terrorist court.” (B.K.Bangash/AP; Jan. 7)

Multi-billionaire, military contractor
Crushing my opponents, with the strength of a compactor

Ex-factor, I turn liquids to metals
Water to wine, I turn dirt into rose petals.

Quick–who’s my favorite Sunni Muslim? Why yes, it is Ghosty. Very good.

Messages come from everywhere, right? Get yourself un-fucked, horrible pervy old Anthony Bourdain said on TV the other day, and I thought, That’s a pretty stylish saying that I might have to add to the repertoire. Every now and then I spend my time in rhyme and verse/And curse those faults in me, “Along Comes Mary” says on oldies radio as I drive around the city, and I think, You nailed it, Association! Nice handclaps, by the way and That’s a thought-provoking line about self-criticism, especially since it’s in a song about weed (per my dad, who would know). Classic rock radio sends me messages about classic rock breaks; If Monstabeats was smart enough to use the theme from The Jetsons theme on “Jets Son,” for example, who’s to say Ski won’t freak that Steve Miller in the near future for Curren$y? Grandpa Ghost too; he speaks to me and sends me messages–mostly in verse, occasionally in AP photos, but sometimes through e-commerce as well. I desperately need the Missoni “Fish Scale” bikini, in other words.

“Cane toad Agathe sits on a toy scale during an inventory at the zoo in Hanover, Germany.” (Holger Hollemann/AFP/Getty; Jan. 5)

Toad style is immensely strong, that’s true, and it’s immune to nearly any weapon; when it’s properly used, in fact, it’s almost invincible. And any picture of a scale is clearly meant to evoke the triple beam in current American culture. A hooligan, a heathen, wolverine, E-40 said. Everybody on my team got a triple beam. But this picture is clearly about humans’ selection of life partners.

A statement on the heterosexual female’s quest for love and romance as related to financial security, this elicits notions of the whole frog/prince idea that little girls are saddled with from the beginning, combined with girls’ fondness for peddlers of street pharmaceuticals as we get older and our bodies ripen. But in more global terms, it’s a scale, so: scale raps. Baggie raps. Pyrex raps. Anybody who explains the importance of weight and purity and payments rendered for the provision of substances that relieve various kinds of discomfort. Any schedule I/II rapper. Jeezy Biggie Rawwsss Clipse, and anybody with an ice cream cone face tat. In summary, as Agathe beautifully illustrates above: we usually prefer the frog to the prince (we don’t like pretty when it comes to our frogs, or maybe that’s just me), and we like to know our frog has the means to de-stress us and provide us with something that attaches to our brain’s opioid receptors. I don’t partake in much chemical distraction but it’s nice to know he has it at the ready just in case, as I have not yet mastered my brain’s “anxiety off” switch. (Does he also give affection inconsistently, and not call me when he says he will? SWOON! Give him my number). Not explicitly captured in the photo of Agathe, but implied: if your name is “Reince Preibus”, you will never ever see me naked.

“Doha, Qatar: Entertainers perform during the opening ceremony of the 2011 Asian Cup football tournament at Khalifa Stadium. (Karim Jaafar/AFP; Jan. 8)

When I think of the term “wiz” as a shortened form of “wisdom” I think of Meth paying tribute to his lady in song. Thanks to the capital W, I now think of kush and OJ and Internet fame and that skinny frame (takes one to know one though, Wiz. No hard feelings, buddy). Based on my knowledge about things named Khalifa, I assume the soccer tourney in the photo above starts out fun, with neck ink and parties, kush and OJ and Internet fame, and then expectations plummet. Disappointing collaborations begin. The players in the stadium begin milking their glory moments to a tiresome degree, putting out boring, lazy versions of the thing that accelerated their progression toward fame. Ah, but there are small glimmers of hope yet. In these metaphoric terms, maybe the game’s not over–maybe Curren$y shows up toward the end of the second half to bring it home? Maybe that hit song becomes tolerable for one precious last time if the Steelers get to the Super Bowl (sorry, Jets) and the crowd at Heinz Field sings it in unison? Maybe?

“Members of a Navy band wait to perform during Paraguay’s bicentennial celebrations in Asuncion, Paraguay.” (Jorge Saenz/AP; Jan. 1)

All White Everything as stated by the State Treasurer of Georgia, of course (just made that up, but it fits because it’s Jeezy who’s been “preserving both capital and public trust by managing Georgia’s cash resources efficiently and conservatively” for some time now). Additionally, I’d like you to please name the only other quintet seen looking so dapper while begrudgingly posing for photos.
(It’s NWA).

“Teresópolis, Brazil: Rescue workers remove a live rabbit as they search for survivors inside a home destroyed by a landslide.” (Felipe Dana/AP; Jan. 14)

a) Landslides are metaphors for things being torn asunder and for ’70s coke-based romance ending. And do you know what rabbits are symbols of? Magic! Things that looked one way but turned out to be quite another at the last minute! Ta-daa! Collaboration with the spirit world! Deceit, but in a good way! So this is clearly photog Felipe Dana’s rendering of Odd Future’s hold on the rap game–pulling something live and precious and youthful out of that which is sad and sprawled out in pieces everywhere, dead and broken on the ground. I mean, RapRadar often has posts with titles like Bow Wow’s Suicidal Thoughts and Shawty Lo Calls Off Engagement. Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life? How bout just a nice update on Del or something, rap sites?

b) If those the new 20 then order me forty/Gucci Mane rabbit drums made by Shawty. I believe Nitti would have something to say about who “made” the rabbit drums, but I don’t mean to get mouthy. And I really like that you made a song called “Nerd,” Mr. Redd.

i. Weed and syrup, you rabbit fools/Come run and get your rabbit food.
ii. Diamond brick, frowney face, rabbit food, frowney face.

c) out they rabbit-ass mind – Khujo, “Y’All Scared.”

“Madrid, Spain: A boy carrying a balloon stands with Catholic nuns after a mass celebrating the traditional family unit.” (Susana Vera/Reuters; Jan. 3)

The angst/joy, heaviness (sin, guilt)/lightness (air in the balloon) tableau coupled with imagery of groupthink, dogmatic thought as incarnated by uniformed individuals, and humans standing amid other humans and getting that alien feeling–it’s CoFlow. It is. Take a good hard look. The concept of the traditional family unit has gotten all chopped up and bloodied by those boys over the years–I just can’t decide if this photo is more “Stepfather Factory” or “Last Good Sleep.”

Most rapfan boys I know are never not waiting for The Return of Meline (YES, they still send “never not” in emails, and they type “smh.” Even though they are grown ups). WELL, I will have you know I’m never not not expecting a track from Ian M. Bavitz more often than once every 3-4 years. So here’s the one we get to last us until 2014–Murs’ Varsity Blues 2.” Everyone within a 75-mile radius of this post loves Murs but it’s not ’03 anymore so I don’t believe he’s better than your favorite rapper anymore. Those days are over. I am running dangerously low on serotonin” raps are dullsville and they have been ever since the first Living Legends CDs. Sadly, I like the idea of new Murs music more than the reality; a video of Aesey in the studio (“the studio” being the utility closet in the back of an old plastics factory in the Tenderloin, a single bald lightbulb hangin from the ceiling) just fuckin around with the beat would have been so much more satisfying.

“Participants react to the cold waters of English Bay while taking part in the 91st Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, British Columbia.” (REUTERS/Andy Clark; Jan. 1)

People doing incredible things to their faces while saying “BRRRR.”



One thought on “Communications 306: Images of Hip-Hop in Popular Media

  1. danps

    Braylon Edwards is a first order Ringling Brothers caliber clown, but I cannot bring myself to cheer for the S——-.

    I shall tepidly pull for the Jets on Sunday, perhaps a 6-3 win that features Stonehands earning his nickname multiple times over. That “will yourself into the end zone and drag several Patriots with you” business was a mirage, I am convinced.

    Word verification for this post was “odorria.” cf.


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