Daily Dose: 1/5/17
Charleston, South Carolina, shooting victims’ families speak out in court
Dylann Roof’s life is in the hands of a South Carolina jury. After being convicted of killing nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, he’s decided to try to defend himself during the sentencing portion of his trial. He’s not even allowing his mental state to be considered as part of the case. This is presumably because he actually wants to die, and will likely be executed if he appears to be remorseless. The families of the victims are telling their stories in court.
Donald Trump really is determined to make his mark on America. It’s not enough for him to simply be in the office and enjoy the spoils of the presidency. He’s literally going to try to undo everything that’s already been done, just to say he did. Now, it’s causing him problems with the intelligence community, which is understandably concerned about his ties to Russia. The president-elect says he’s considering a plan to overhaul our top agencies. Yikes.
Fake news, as a concept, is a tricky one. Because, technically, “fake news” doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t aptly describe the actual problem and harmfulness. Because it’s propaganda, in fact, that spreads misinformation that can hurt people. It’s not The Onion. But how do you fix that? It feels like we’re back in the era of the internet where people literally believe everything, just because it’s there. Trying to fact-check this stuff is just a total crap shoot.
Wale debuted a new song on First Take this week, with Lil Wayne. Then he dropped a song called Smile, in which he made reference to Tomi Lahren, the conservative TV host from The Blaze. You might recall that she had a sit-down with Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah, who apparently risked it all and shot his shot, cupcakes style, with her afterward. Anyway, she thought she’d try to clapback at Wale. It didn’t go well at all.
Coffee Break: Megyn Kelly is headed from Fox News to NBC News soon. And though she did publicly feud with our new president-elect at a debate, it doesn’t mean she hasn’t been on the wrong side of history before. It should be noted what her career has previously show us.
Dessert: Nicki Minaj is back on the market, it appears.
Daily Dose: 1/4/17
Omarosa Manigault will be working in the Trump White House
2:23 PMHappy Wednesday, kiddos. It’s a dreary one here in D.C., so let’s get this moving. I think I might go see Fences tonight.
You know Omarosa Manigault, right? The woman from The Apprentice who got famous after being on the show, then ran the reality star circuit for a while before disappearing from the public eye? That one. Well, she’s of course back on the scene now that Donald Trump has been elected, and what you might not know is that now that she’s been hired to his staff. It won’t be the first White House she’s worked for, sort of. She once was working for Al Gore, when Bill Clinton was in office.
One of the funniest things in 2017 so far happened in Los Angeles. The famed Hollywood sign in California was vandalized, and made to appear to read “Hollyweed,” which, by any reasonable metric, is just plain funny. It actually wasn’t the first time it happened, but the fact that someone did it on New Year’s Eve and that Facebook Live streamed the repair process is hilarious. Anyways, these are the guys that claim they did it.
Kim Kardashian is back, y’all. It’s been a rough couple of months for the most famous person in America’s favorite television family. There was the Paris robbery incident, then her husband went a bit wild and put their whole home life on blast. But, let’s be clear. We’ve missed Kim. And don’t come at me acting like this isn’t news. There’s one thing that’s harder to do than anything else: getting people to like you. She’s great at it. She’s better than you at it. Her social media game pops.
By and large, bowl games are a mixed bag. The experiences are so varied, whether you’re attending, playing or just watching on television, and what they mean to each person is completely different. But if we’re to glean anything from them, they are a reasonably decent indicator of what certain conferences are all about. This year, the Atlantic Coast Conference is doing it very, very big. And if Clemson wins it all, it’ll be the best conference bowl year ever.
Coffee Break: You know what it’s like to shop while black. Typically, someone comes up to you with WAAAY too much customer service, or they hide in the corner and watch you, if they’re suspicious. At Versace, they were far more open about it, using so-called code words. Nice try.
Snack Time: I don’t keep up with rap beefs with any regularity, but I do check in if required. And this situation between Soulja Boy and Chris Brown might the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.
Dessert: Ivanka Trump is moving in down the block from the Obamas. There goes the neighborhood.
Technics has no time for DJs anymore
The new SL-1200 turntable is apparently not for you
5:00 PMWhen Panasonic announced a year ago that it was reissuing the Technics SL-1200 turntable, my gut did a flip. The Japanese company was finally getting in on the nostalgia wave that’s served black fashion and culture so well in the past five years with a product that was arguably the most recognizable piece of equipment in hip-hop not called a microphone.
Yet to ring in 2017, Technics creative director Hiro Morishita told The New York Times that they didn’t plan to market the new product to DJs. He even went so far as to call such a strategy “problematic.”
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That statement is nothing short of a direct insult to the hip-hop community and, more plainly, an act of erasure. You cannot separate the Technics brand from DJ culture. Not in this lifetime. And with good reason, too. It was the best product on the market for 30 years. The look was one thing, but the durability is what made the turntables a best-seller. Then, Panasonic stopped making them, then went through a couple of reboots with side versions, which never matched the original.
In the U.K., vinyl sales are at their highest in 25 years, up 53 percent in 2016. Record Store Day has transformed from a quasi-niche artisanal event to a global phenomenon. To quote DJ Khaled, when it comes to wax, business is boomin’. You can buy LPs almost anywhere and subscribe to any number of services that’ll send vinyl to your house. Some will even pair it with a legit bag of coffee. I get a text every day with a photo of an album cover — if I want it, I just reply YES.
Vinyl culture has not just seen a resurgence, it’s been mainstreamed and gentrified all at once. Which is where this strategy from Technics comes into play. As high-end audiophiles have turned their interest to old mediums, all sorts of brands have been getting in on the fun. It’s why you can buy a turntable in a suitcase at Urban Outfitters with a T-shirt or alongside a $2,000 bike at Shinola.
why even re-engineer and reposition the 1200 as an audiophile turntable if you're not trying to leverage its cultural history?
— Brian Miller (@brianbillion) January 2, 2017
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From an age and money standpoint, hip-hop culture has aged perfectly for this product. It almost makes too much sense. After watching DJs wreck shop with the most well-known deck in the business in their youth, plenty of people would buy one these days as a listening device. While plenty of actual DJs have moved on to other products that certainly wouldn’t stop casual nostalgists from dropping large cash just to be able to say they had one, for the culture.
Which ultimately makes this so frustrating. To ignore the hip-hop community for the sake of, say, the classical music one, just doesn’t make sense. Rappers and orchestras are doing shows together at some of the most famous venues in the world. It’s borderline become a genre unto itself from a show standpoint.
Nas and Kendrick Lamar both performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Kanye West used an all-women orchestra in London at Abbey Road Studios to remix his album Late Registration, called Late Orchestration. Jay Z has taken his flows to Carnegie Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall. Migos have even gotten in on this act. And how could we ever forget the way Sir-Mix-A-Lot shut it down with the Seattle Symphony. <— If you haven’t seen that, you need to watch it, by the way.
But all these synergies of musical styles aside, as a lifelong fan of the turntable as an instrument, a tool, a machine and frankly a cultural cornerstone, there’s a lot of disappointment in Technics’ stance. We get it. It’s supposed to be a better turntable. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon the people that got you there.
But this isn’t a Timberland heir in the ’90s saying their boots aren’t intended for black people. That was a relatively new trend at the time and, in general, it was a reckless comment about an item with a shelf life. Same sort of concept goes for Tommy Hilfiger, who popped off about minorities wearing his clothes back in the day. Shirts and pants come and go. The whole idea of the 1200s was that they did not.
It was an aspirational product for any hip-hop head. Saving the money to get them was half the battle. Not to mention that the worlds of audiophiles and DJ culture are more convergent than ever, which means this strategy of exclusion after using us to build a brand is just not smart. But then again, that’s just what people do when it comes to black culture. Ask Run-DMC.
Daily Dose: 1/3/17
Brent Musburger is a fan of Joe Mixon
2:40 PMWell now, how about Nick Viall? ABC’s The Bachelor debuted Monday night, and it appears that the women of color are finally, well, prominent on this show. Your boy is in not one, but two fantasy leagues for the show, by the way.
The House Republicans apparently have a lot to hide. While a large amount of America was watching Southern California pull off a rather stunning win against Penn State in the Rose Bowl, your friendly neighborhood Congressfolk were voting to gut an independent ethics committee. They put the one group in charge of checking on wrongdoing, in to the hands of party leaders. Then, after everyone called them out for shadiness, they changed their minds in another emergency meeting. Which is also pretty shady. Happy first day, 115th Congress!
In other executive office-related news, one HBCU is in an awkward spot. The Talladega College Marching Tornadoes have decided to play Donald Trump’s inauguration parade, a decision that runs afoul of what many bands and groups decided, based on the president-elect’s politics. When was the last time you ever heard of that school doing anything? It’s an incredible moment for exposure, but at what cost? One’s dignity. You gotta feel bad for those kids because walking away from the biggest show of your life isn’t an easy thing to do.
T. Boone Pickens is a super rich oil tycoon. If you couldn’t tell that just from his name, now you know it’s true. You might know him best for his role with Oklahoma State football, where the stadium they play in is named after him. He happens to have an ex-wife who is currently being sued. Why? Because she allegedly was acting wildly racist about various things concerning her employees at her tourist ranch. The catchphrase here is: black people food. Yeah, don’t say that.
Monday night’s Sugar Bowl was a decent game. But the entire thing was overshadowed, understandably, by the situation surrounding Joe Mixon. He’s the kid that socked a woman in the face at a sandwich shop in 2014, and the video of the incident was brutal. For whatever reason, while calling the game, Brent Musburger decided that he wanted to praise Mixon for turning his life around, then went on to wish him well in the NFL. It didn’t go over well, clearly, and then, Musburger doubled down and basically antagonized some viewers. Not a good look.
Coffee Break: The concept of Chance The Rapper and Childish Gambino releasing a mixtape is a pretty exciting one, but whatever it is they do together will make us happy, to be frank. Now that they’re posting on Instagram together, people are not ready.
Snack Time: I’m not particularly into knitting, but if someone made me one of these temperature blankets, I’d pretty much sleep under it every night, all year long. This this is incredibly dope.
Daily Dose: 1/2/17
We really do have to say goodbye to the Obamas
3:00 PMWhat up, kiddos? I’m back, feeling energized and excited for the new year. I’d like to give props to Martenzie Johnson, whose week in this space was genuinely excellent. Time to rock.
It’s been a while since we heard from your boy, but Donald Trump is still wilding. Whether he’s popping off inane tweets about 2017, throwing people off his golf course or charging people major cash to kick it with him on New Year’s Eve, he isn’t slowing down. He’s also managed to somehow convince The Wall Street Journal that when he lies, it’s not actually a lie. How that works, we have no idea, fam. More importantly, clear your schedule for Jan. 10. That’s when President Barack Obama is going to give his farewell speech from Chicago. We expect zero dry eyes in the place.
If you didn’t see Mariah Carey’s performance in Times Square, check it here. There are a couple of levels to this. The people who are mad she was lip-syncing, an argument I’ll never understand. Secondly, there are those who were upset at how she handled the situation onstage. Then, those who thought her reply was excellent on Twitter. Then, all the way down to Carey’s camp, who are accusing Ryan Seacrest’s crew of actual sabotage. It’s not that deep, fam.
Over the course of my short journalism career, I’ve sat in a few press boxes. Not a ton, mind you, but enough to know that it takes a LOT to get kicked out of one, particularly during a professional game that typically serves as the working space for nearly a hundred people. But on Sunday, the somewhat unthinkable happened, when at a Philadelphia Eagles game, a reporter got tossed. Then, others were threatened with ejection if they objected. This is the equivalent of a parent saying they’ll turn the car around if everyone in the back doesn’t shut up. What a mess.
Speaking of abnormal occurrences at games, there’s U.S. Bank Stadium. At the Minnesota Vikings game Sunday, demonstrators managed to make it into the facilities and hang banners protesting U.S. Bank’s involvement with the Dakota Access Pipeline. Political message aside, it was a pretty impressive feat from a physical standpoint. Anyways, the people involved will be charged. Here’s the press release from those responsible.
Coffee Break: The stories of how people fall in love can be interesting, but are often rather boring. Person meets person, person likes person, person, if they live in a place that allows, marries other person. But this story about a mixtape and then a wedding is pretty cool.
Snack Time: Want an apt description of where our nation’s politics are right now? Check out this editorial cartoon, which is about as good as I’ve seen in a long while.
Dessert: If you grew up a city kid, like me, you’ll love these pretty pictures.