DMX Can’t Believe Anybody Would Have a Name As Ridiculous As ‘Barack’Rapper DMX has seen his share of gangs, hard drugs, and prison bars, but please, reporters, don’t try telling him crap like there’s some black guy out there named Barack Obama running for president. The Dark Man X seemed unfazed by a female candidate, but a Barack? “What the fuck is a Barack?!” he demanded during a recent Q&A with hip-hop mag XXL. “Where he from, Africa?” DMX admitted he’s not following the race and suggested that “no one person is directly affected by [whoever is] president” anyway. But seriously: “Your momma ain’t name you no damn Barack!” The Yonkers-born DMX knows something about baby names, after all; his kids are named Xavier, Tocoma, Shawn, Javon Micai Wayne, and Praise Mary Ella. The XXL interviewer futilely tried to pursue the topic, even trying to convince the politically apathetic rapper that the possibility of a black president is a big deal, but eventually gave up with a halfhearted, “Well, Barack has a good chance of winning so that might be something.” Thoughts, DMX? “Good for him, good for him.” —Jennifer Chen
KRS-One Freestyles for ObamaAt last night’s launch party for the Smirnoff Signature Mix Series, we asked rapper KRS-One how he felt about some people’s assumption that the black vote will go for Senator Obama in the presidential election. The hip-hopper has appointed himself of a spokesman for black culture in the past, most notably when he drew ire in 2004 for saying he “cheered when 9/11 happened.” “People should assume [blacks will vote for Obama],” he told us. “And people should assume that KRS-One will vote for Obama For those of us who preach Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, are those who have dreamed of a day of a black president or an African-American president.” He was careful to add: “If Obama gets in, it’s not like he is going to do anything different. But at least if he gets in, at least we get a chance at the steering wheel.” We asked KRS if he would care to take a moment, then, and freestyle about his candidate. He obliged:
I don’t know where this is goin’
But KRS-One is right now freestyle flowin’
Me, I’m not into votin’
All that wishin’, beggin, and hopin’
Me, I get open
Let me tell you Obama’s not a token
the morning line
How Now Dow Jones?
• Thirty or so Bancrofts are converging on a Boston Hilton today to discuss whether they’d like some more money. (Actually, spread across the clan, the estimated $500 million in profit a Dow Jones sale would bring doesn’t sound like a staggering amount.) [NYT]
• Councilman and former Black Panther Charles Barron (he of the “Sonny Carson” avenue-renaming idea Bloomberg called “the worst ever”) announced he’s running to replace Marty Markowitz as the Brooklyn beep. Should be a lively campaign, as they say. [NYP]
• In rapper-arrest news, Lil Wayne and Ja Rule have been picked up on separate (!) gun-possession charges in busts an hour apart. [WNBC]
• Midtown businesses that lost money to last week’s steam-pipe blast will not see a red cent from Con Ed — not even restaurants that lost their supplies to spoilage when the power was cut. Some are threatening to sue. [NYDN]
• And the Yankees beat the Devil Rays 21-4 last night, which both tabs agree puts the team in the “21 Club.” Yuk yuk yuk. [NYDN, NYP]
the morning line
• It’s down to the wire — the deadline for the legislature to approve Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing plan is today — and the still-unbowed mayor is pulling out all stops: Yesterday, he campaigned for it in three churches, fer chrissakes. [NYT]
Red Carpet Canceled (Gasp!) at Fabolous CD PartyThe release party last night for Fabolous’s new album, From Nothin’ To Somethin’, wasn’t a complete bust; Fab seemed to be having a good time, eventually, posted atop a corner couch at Runway with a bottle of Level vodka and mugging for pics with the megaproducer Swizz Beats, his buddy. But outside, things went less well. It started early when one invited guest — Teyana, the My Super Sweet Sixteen subject turned Pharrell protégé — walked face-first into the bar’s strict I.D. policy. Even borderline real celebrities like Cassie, the pop singer of “Me & U” fame, weren’t immune: She couldn’t get in, either. Even worse, the I.D. checks left an ever-swelling crowd waiting to get in; people yelled, charges of incompetence were leveled, and club management shut down the red carpet before Fabolous even showed. That meant there were none of the usual red-carpet interviews for reporters, which is why we can’t tell you anything definite about anyone in attendance and are forced instead to invent completely unfounded gossip about the guest of honor. Let’s say that Fab, too, has become a fan of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and has recently taken up, um, horticulture. “It helps me think,” he might have said, if we had spoken to him, and if it were true. —Amos Barshad
the morning line
Anything God Can Do, Rudy Can Do Better
• Giuliani yesterday unveiled the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, a “Contract with America”–style plan called — we kid you not — “The Twelve Commitments.” Most of it is boilerplate, calling for low taxes, energy independence, security. Best part: America’s Mayor unleashed it during a “speech attended by about 150 people.” Fred Thompson leads in the polls. [NYP]
Liza RapsIt was not particularly surprising to find Liza Minnelli at last night’s amfAR Honoring With Pride benefit. It was entirely surprising, however, when Liza broke into a rap on her way into the Rainbow Room. “There’s always a man that you love,” Liza quasi-rapped for us. “There’s always a man that you didn’t love. There’s always a man that you love to love, and a man that you love too much.” She’s working on a new album inspired by her godmother, Kay Thompson, and the rap will be on it. “She was the first rapper,” Liza told us, proudly, of Thompson. Um, okay. If you say so. —Brett Amelkin
CORRECTION, June 7: Minnelli is work on an album of songs associated with Thompson. She is not working on an album with Thompson, who died in 1998, as that item initially stated.
Too Bad ‘Star Search’ Got Canceled
From the nymag.com video team, a double bill for the ages. Both feature hungry showbiz strivers ready to duke it out for a shot at the big time but in only one are the contenders clutching dressed-up dolls. That’s right: Up at Harlem’s Hip Hop Culture Center, a hundred M.C.’s took turns at the mike for 24 hours straight in the first-ever “rapathon” while a gaggle of mostly blonde preteen divas laid siege to the American Girl Place for a film audition. The former is decidedly PG (“No curses, no n-word, no b-word”); the latter, which features a girl saying “I don’t want to sound conceited, but people tell me I’m talented,” somewhat obscene.
American Girls Audition [NYM]
24-Hour Rapathon [NYM]
A Guide to Recognizing Your Partygoers: Introducing the Lady SovereignettesYour field guide to the species of nightlife habitat.
Species: Lady Sovereignettes
Etymology: Mini-clones of their idol, British rapper Lady Sovereign.
Distinguishing characteristics: Easily identified by their high side ponytails, Lady Sovereignettes are unofficial parts of any rapper’s army of pint-size wannabes. Often seen sporting large gold earrings or fake diamonds, shod in white Adidas sneakers (like their famous leader), and wearing oversize white tees with tribal designs, and, unadvisedly, leggings.
Known locales: Fulton Street Mall, Hip Hop Karaoke at the Knitting Factory.
Diet: White Castle slyders and Doritos.
How to approach: Though they appear to be threatening, Lady Sovereignettes are quite docile and harmless. They front well, but give one a good head petting and she’ll be purring like a kitten. Don’t try to touch the ponytail at first, however — a savage scratch will be in order. Smile, say hello, and compliment her loud shirt before any attempt at touching.
Endangerment status: With their leader proving insufficiently popular to dominate in the wild, these creatures will have to change their camouflage to survive. Likely to morph into Amy Winehouse imitators within three months. —Amina Akhtar
Harlem’s Juelz at Hot 97 Party: Obama ‘08!Last night was Hot 97’s fourth annual Full Frontal Fashion show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Hip-hop stars including Omarion and Lloyd performed, and Kimora Lee Simmons and P. Diddy showed their latest Baby Phat and Sean John collections. Hometown hero Juelz Santana, crown prince of Harlem’s beloved Dipset crew, gave us his take on the radio station, and his style. After the jump, find out why black people should “root for Obama.”
in other news
Breaking: Rich White People Can Tolerate Obscenely Rich Black PeopleSuch is the lesson of the Sunday Times piece on tony Alpine, New Jersey, home to generations of wealthy, Waspy, bankery sorts and, lately, the hip-hop elite. But there are, sadly, some exceptions:
Ms. Stone, who helped secure mortgages for leading rappers like Cam’ron and Biggie Smalls, said it had not always been an easy move to make: “A few years ago, I had a client — she was a major artist too — that had excellent credit, over $2 million in the bank, was buying a house for a million-five, and because she was a new, young artist, the underwriter didn’t want to give her a mortgage.”
Also, because she was black.
Alpine, N.J., Home of Hip-Hop Royalty [NYT]
in other news
Next on NPR: Also, Sometimes Panhandlers Ask for Money on Subway Cars
Yo, whassup homies — NPR is here to tell us about a fresh new trend: Fly rappers dropping sound underground. Hold on. Let’s put this a little more delicately: NPR’s “Weekend Edition” this weekend discovered a fascinating new phenomenon — rappers on the New York City subways who take over trains and force everyone to listen to them for a stop or two. And not only has the intrepid reporter infiltrated the young folks in question, he’s recorded them doing something called “beatboxing”. (Wait’ll they show him the helicopter!) NPR, represent. Adjust your Kangols and acknowledge crack is whack, everyone: It’s going to be a dope ride. Back to 1986.
A Captive Audience for Subway Hip-Hop [NPR]
Now, New York Rappers Beef Via Photoshop
It’s a bit off topic for us, but the ongoing beef between New York rappers Tru-Life and Dipset seems worth mentioning. This weekend, in retaliation for the cover of Tru Life’s latest mix tape (above left), which depicts Dipset’s Jim Jones wearing Borat’s overly revealing yellow bikini, Dipset affiliates hacked Tru-Life’s MySpace page and put up photos of Tru Life in the bikini (above right). And with that, ladies and gentleman, we have reached the obvious end point of the evolution of rap beef; Jim Jones, who once threatened to slap the kufi off Nas’s head, is resorting to Photoshop geekery. At least no one’s getting shot. —Amos Barshad
Tru Life & J-Love — Tru York Mixtape Cover [Nahright.com]
Capo Strikes Back, Hacks Tru Life’d MySpace [Nahright.com]
the morning line
• New Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, in a Spitzerian move, will go after Albany’s hot potato du jour: “member items” (the lawmakers’ richly funded discretionary-spending kitty). The AG’s office promises to look into more than 6,000 individual items. Come on, that Elks clubhouse totally needed a new humidifier. [NYT]
• The bizarrely warm weather (66 degrees tomorrow, kids!) is wreaking havoc on every seasonal business: Apparel shops are stuck with non-selling winter gear, cafés are making a killing on outside tables, you can rent a boat in Central Park, and city pothole crews are aimlessly wandering the streets. [NYP]
• The city’s all but throwing a parade for Wesley Autrey, the Playboy hat-wearing Samaritan who jumped in front of a subway train to save a fellow commuter. Among the fruits of his good deed so far: the Bronze Medallion (NYC’s highest award), $10,000 from Donald Trump, and a year’s worth of free MetroCards. [NYT]
• Civic heroism being infectious, two Bronx friends are credited with a spectacular rescue of a 3-year-old boy dangling off a fire escape. One cushioned the fall with his body, and the other caught the child as he bounced off. Heartwarming, and just a teeny bit slapsticky. [amNY]
• Finally, the Daily News catches a great throwaway moment in its Busta Rhymes item. The arrested rapper covered his $3,500 bail (on an assault charge) when an associate pulled the needed amount in cash out of his pocket. [NYDN]
in other news
Trans-Fat Ban to Become Just Another Law for Busta Rhymes to BreakBusta Rhymes surrendered to police last night; he allegedly beat up a former employee. From the Post’s coverage of his arrest we learn that Rhymes has lately been:
• Kicking his driver in the head and chest.
• Beating up a fan.
• Keeping a machete in his car.
• Refusing to tell investigators who shot his former bodyguard.
• And — as the photo makes eminently clear — eating a lot of doughnuts.
Busta Busted [NYP]
the morning line
• The city’s comptroller has red-flagged a $10 million contract between the Parks Department and Dominick Logozzo, a Brooklynite with serious mob ties; the deal entrusts Logozzo with the management of a city-owned golf course. Best part: Logozzo is also an investor in the Zone Diet, which the Feds claim is a front to hide Mafia profits. [NYP]
• Governor Spitzer unveiled his initiatives for New York in his first State of the State speech yesterday, and it left half of Albany slack-jawed. Among other things, the Spitz wants to guarantee health insurance for all children, reduce the cost of worker’s comp to boost business, and spend billions on school aid — all that while cutting taxes. Sounds, uh, good. [NYT]
• According to a suit filed by “several disgusted janitors,” there is hanky-panky afoot in New York’s Equinox fitness clubs — as the Daily News puts it, “sleazy gay sex.” Gay sex in gyms?! Say it ain’t so. [NYDN]
• Busta Rhymes turned himself in to the cops on a misdemeanor assault charge, having allegedly roughed up an associate in a money dispute. Not too exciting, but an upgrade over Rhymes’s previous brush with the law: a ticket for talking on a cell while driving. [amNY]
• And a metallic, gold-colored lump of rock, most likely a meteorite, crashed through the roof of a New Jersey home and embedded itself in the floor, delighting scientists. Okay, progressive politics or not, Jersey is still freaking weird. [NYDN]
in other news
This Week, It’s Jim Jones Versus Jim Jones
There’s a new documentary out on the Jonestown massacre called Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple, and it’s at the Quad on West 13th Street this week. At the same time, there’s also a new album, released yesterday, from the unfortunately monikered Harlem rapper Jim Jones. One Jim Jones led the biggest mass suicide in history. The other Jim Jones has his track “We Fly High” — with its ubiquitous call to arms, “Ballin’!” — blasting out of nearly every car stereo in the city. Is the new Jones overtaking the old one? We consider …
Tom Ford, CommandoTom Ford doesn’t wear underwear. Foxy Brown may get dropped from Def Jam, though this would come as news to her. Former flames Derek Jeter and Mariah Carey are set to meet this Friday, and it could be awkward. Chelsea Clinton recently got a job at a hedge fund, and her boyfriend may be her stockbroker. Is the Times playing favorites with suspended reporter Lola Ogunnaike and op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd? “Page Six”, ironically, lectures a company about freebies. (Also, it turns out Harvey Weinstein didn’t actually “swig” champagne on Halloween, as the “Six”ers reported. And that the “stripper” he was chatting up was actually Margherita Missoni. Whoops.) Ron Perelman is now dating designer Tory Burch, though she’s yet to finalize her divorce. Former Martha Stewart broker Peter Bacanovic tried to avoid getting his picture taken, failed. Lauren Bacall was denied backstage entry at the Metropolitan Opera. Guitarist Al Di Meola is a bad father. Tara Reid was drunk, again. A politician cheated on his wife in Albany, a married director got another woman pregnant, and the daughter of a retired news anchor got busy with a female fashion designer in a car, though names aren’t named. Joshua Jackson defended Lindsay Lohan. And her dad, who has thus far been unable to help himself, wants to write a self-help book.
New York Rap Institution Turns to the Ivy LeagueNew York’s most revered independent rap label is banking on a pair of Ivy League rappers to resurrect it. Rawkus Records — founded in 1995 by Horace Mann grads Brian Brater and Jarrett Myer with $10,000 from Rupert scion and Harvard dropout James Murdoch — introduced Brooklynites Mos Def and Talib Kweli to a mass audience, made it into the big leagues, and then disappeared, dropped by Geffen Records in 2004. But this week saw its first major release since then, with School Was My Hustle, by the two-man act Kidz in the Hall, coming out on Halloween. The duo’s 22-year-old emcee, Penn alum Naledge, admires the label’s history. “You bought their records because of the brand,” he says. “It wouldn’t matter what the artist was; you knew if it was Rawkus, it was top-shelf.” And founder Myer thinks Kidz lives up to the tradition. “Right now,” he says, “investing the right artists can make Rawkus way bigger than it ever was.”
— Amos Barshad
Plaintiffs: Michael Wright, professionally known as Wonder Mike; Guy O’Brien, p/k/a Master G; collectively p/k/a The Sugarhill Gang
Defendants: Rhino Entertainment Co.; The Sanctuary Group; Sugar Hill Music Publishing Ltd.; Joseph Robinson Jr.
Accusation: Wonder Mike and Master G, two of three original members of Sugarhill Gang, say the son of the couple who signed them back in 1979 stole their names through fraudulent trademark applications and has put together a replacement band that performs — well, lip-syncs — Sugarhill’s songs. In a lawsuit filed Oct. 20 in a Manhattan federal court, Wright and O’Brien also say the poseur is laying claim to their royalties, and that they haven’t been paid for at least fifteen years on any of their recordings.
in other news
Rappers Like Being Criminals; B-Ball Players Not So Much. Discuss.
Brooklyn native and current Boston Celtic Sebastian Telfair was robbed outside the Flatiron restaurant Justin’s last week, and an hour later, Brooklyn rapper Fabolous was shot there. Fab — who, remember, earns his living in a business where law-enforcement run-ins have never been much of a negative — has been utterly unapologetic about his post-shooting flight and his subsequent arrest for possession of unlicensed guns. Basketball players, too, try to build their street cred these days, but Telfair — a Coney Island projects legend, Stephon Marbury’s cousin, and a Jay-Z pal who’s about as cred-tastic a player as one could imagine — immediately hired superlawyer Ed Hayes to declare that not only had he given a statement to police, he had volunteered his cell-phone records to alleviate any suspicion that he was involved in the shooting. So what’s the marketing reason that Brooklyn-born rappers want to play up their urban appeal while Brooklyn-born ballplayers want to play it down? Shawn Sachs, a PR exec at Ken Sunshine Consultants, explained it to us.
in other news
Rapper Gets Shot, Joins Elite NYC ClubThe Brooklyn rapper Fabolous was shot in the thigh in the wee hours of yesterday morning outside Diddy’s Flatiron restaurant, Justin’s. He fled in a Dodge Magnum and then was arrested himself when the car ran a red light and police officers discovered guns — including one with a sawed-off serial number — in the vehicle. And he thus entered the illustrious pantheon of New York MCs to get caught up with violence and cops. Join us for a stroll down memory lane, won’t you?
the morning line
Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger, Up a Tree
• Now this hasn’t happened in a while: Rapper Fabolous is in stable condition at Bellevue after getting shot in a Manhattan parking garage. The would-be assassin and his three friends, who fled in a vehicle, were quickly arrested after running a red light. Update: Now Fabolous is under arrest as well. Developing, needless to say. [AP via amNY]
• The Gubernator toured Bloomie’s turf yesterday, not two weeks after the mayor’s Cali visit. Says the Times in the vintage Times deadpan, “The two men seem to be genuinely fond of each other.” We know they’re both post-ideological moderate Republicans and all, but this love-in is giving us the heebie-jeebies. [NYT]
• You may remember Dean Faiello as the guy who allegedly (a) impersonated a doctor, (b) botched a cosmetic surgery, (c) killed the patient to cover it up, and (d) buried her under his New Jersey house. Well, feel free to remove “allegedly” from that litany. Faiello pleaded guilty in exchange for a twenty-year prison stint. [NYDN]
• Queens assemblyman and union leader Brian McLaughlin is expected to surrender today to federal corruption charges. The rap is a rather shopworn classic: contractor bid-rigging, with a side of possible expense-account abuse. [WNBC]
• Finally, in case anyone cares, and some of you must, Rangers 4, Devils 2. Oh, come on, people, it’s one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports. Or so we’re told. [Fox Sports]