Lynne d Johnson



« August 2003 | Diary | October 2003 »

09.19.03 04:55 AM

have you seen the superproducers?

My love for WIRED has waned a great deal since its early days. For one, it's that it's a Condé Nast publication now. For two, and given all the recent discussions about what it means to be a black blogger, in reading WIRED you'd think that black contributions to future culture and tech, in general was damn-near nil. Other than the superproducers cover featuring Timbaland, I think I can remember only two other covers featuring black folks, and one of them wasn't even real. As for the superproducers article, you've got Felix Da Housecat, Timbaland, and half of The Neptunes. The intro in the article states: "Now the production wizards themselves are rising up from the digital underground, armed with unlimited content and unprecendented control." Since my argument is that hip-hop beatmakers have held a symbiotic relationship with tech since day one, this list, even of recent-day "black" super-producers seems a bit low numerically. I could come up with a long list, but I'll just keep it short with King Britt and RZA, to name two. But maybe I'm being too black here, in my contention that is. Or maybe, I just have an overall problem with how WIRED gets down, better yet doesn't get down, with black folks in future culture, or tech in general.

Here are the other two covers that I can remember featuring blackness:

Jada made it in, not for playing Niobe in Reloaded, but for starring in (well not really her) the Enter The Matrix video game. And John Lee, earned his cover, no doubt for being the baddest (and I didn't say black) hacker to key on a Commodore 64. He later earned sparing WIRED ink for his notorious

You might ask what my beef is? Well I live in Brooklyn baby. And that was home to McLean Mashingaidze Greaves, who founded Cafe Los Negroes in 1994. It had a four-year run as a community oriented site, featuring original articles, audio and video files, and chat rooms. BK is also where Omar Wasow set up New York Online, which did receive a little WIRED street cred back in '95. If you don't know what NYO is, it was Omar's original Black Planet, minus the smut. Also, as Donald has mentioned, BK was home to the first black-owned cybercafe - owned by
Rebecca Walker
and Angel Williams. Having participated in these folks cultural productions, I have a stake in how blacks are represented (or not represented) in the world of computer-mediated communication and culture.

When I have met folks like John Lee, who is now making films, or DJ Spooky or Beth Coleman (DJ M. Singe), who both use computers to make music, or Adario Strange, or even just dialogue or just listen to all these folks on the afrofuturism list serv, such as Art McGee - I know there are "other stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come." I want to be one of the people telling those stories, because I know I can't expect anyone else to tell them for me or to me.

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09.09.03 08:54 PM

talk about technology

Bloglines launched June 27. Where have I been? Its about section states: "Bloglines is a new way to stay current with your favorite blogs. As an RSS aggregator, Bloglines tracks changes to blogs that you subscribe to, and remembers which entries you've read." I think it's one of the best aggregators I've seen for blogs.

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09.09.03 08:54 PM

thoughts while surfing

Though I think it's pretty cool that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has offered P2P users tips on how not to get sued by the RIAA, I pretty much think that the use of file-sharing to complete your entire music library is pretty wack...much in the way that buying bootlegs is. Not that I have never downloaded a file back in the Napster days, to simply sample music before deciding to purchase, or bought a bootleg before, it's totally unfair to the music artist. Yes, I know, if the music artist doesn't own their own publishing, the percentage they receive on CD sales is miniscule and they have to make most of their money from touring. But doesn't The Neptunes, Outkast, et. al. deserve to be paid for bringing you their creativity? Besides, hasn't Apple's iTunes Music Store proven, by selling it's ten millionth song on Septemeber 3, that music aficianados are willing to pay a reasonable price for quality downloads? Doesn't it also prove that CDs are just too damned expensive? Universal Music Group, the world's largest recording company has finally figured that out. The same day iTunes Music Store sold its ten millionth song, UMG announced that the company would slash CD prices, and hopes that retailers will follow suit and sell CDs for just $10 or less.

In related news, the film industry has come around full-speed to the legal downloading game. Back in November, five major Hollywood studios formed Movielink, in an effort to move folks aways from downloading pirated copies of films from the likes of Kazaa, Gnutella, and Morpheus. The latest upgrade of Movielink, just might get folks much more interested in downloading movies, even over renting DVDs. For one, you can watch the flick while you're still downloading, or save a download to finish later, or even rent a movie unlimited times within a 30-day period without having to download again. Rental of new films is priced between $4 and $5. But and E-commerce Times can tell the story better than I can. I always wondered about watching a movie on such a small screen, but I guess it's no different than watching it in an Airplane or your car.

Bonus: Cecily asks, what does it mean to be a black blogger? I gave one of my long-ass responses, that could very well be summed up with this statement, "In an Afrofuturism special issue of Social Text, editor Alondra Nelson writes in the introduction: "Afrofuturism can be broadly defined as "African American voices" with "other stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come. This is what I feel black bloggers are doing." What do you think?

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09.08.03 03:57 AM

since when was being African-American synonomous with hip-hop?

The slug on this made me worry:

Eh yo, trip*! *Check this out!
They look like African Americans, dress like them, move like them and even use hip-hop terms like them. With rare exceptions, the hip-hop lookalikes are Malay. ARLINA ARSHAD reports on a phenomenon that is worrying some people in the Malay/Muslim community.

But after reading it I realized it wasn't that bad. This one is interesting too:

Hip-hop mad and still a good Muslim
I just hate the fact that although hip-hop has arrived, it is still considered nefarious. It's also interesting that hip-hop becomes a global product that gets to represent American Black Culture Worldwide. If it ain't got to do with hip-hop, then those abroad won't believe it's authentically black. Shit, there are some white folks right here in the states who won't believe it either.

Peep this statement I wrote in an abstract for a paper I once delivered:

Hip-hop is the most commercially successful black cultural product of the last twenty years. Its wide global transmission relies heavily on the networks of America's recording industry and its distribution mechanisms. These controlled channels of distribution in turn lend to a controlled worldwide distribution of black culture.

And here it is more to the point in how I wrote it for the subject, "Hip-hop's Transformers: Technological Production and Distribution in Hip-Hop"

As a producer the DJ has been able to survive and to become a more evolved robot. And while this better, stronger, faster machine, steers the creation of America's most commercially successful black cultural product of the last twenty years, the music's wide global transmission relies heavily on the networks of America's recording industry and its distribution mechanisms. These controlled channels of distribution in turn lend to a controlled worldwide distribution of black culture. "In this case, the purported authenticity attributed to so much of what is received as black culture might be regarded a definition imposed by those who profit most from it," writes Ellis Cashmore in The Black Culture Industry. In this "commodification of authenticity," it doesn't really matter who creates the product, but instead, who distributes it.


With the development of the CD (compact disc) the record labels found a cheaper means of production and distribution, but hip-hop's creators also found a way to jack that technology, making their own CDs, and distributing the music they wanted the people to hear via underground pathways. Yet the major record labels continued, and still continue, to control the major distribution of popular music. Because of this, the labels control how hip-hop music is defined and perceived, and further alter the listener's method/mode of decoding hip-hop music and black culture.

In Conclusion...

Hip-hop music and its videos, as distributed by the recording industry, play a significant role in the globalization of black culture-how it is received, interpreted, and appropriated. As we have seen with models of production, hip-hop's transformers have been able to use technology to their own advantage. While only on a grass roots level, these transformers have also held a significant role in the transmission and transportation of the music they create. They constantly push the envelope, push technological tools, and will eventually push the recording industry. But in this equation, the consumer is the variable that everyone has to be most concerned with. And if hip-hop's creators can get the consumer to listen to their music, over what the recording industry provides, then they could win the battle. I think they will. And what that they will not only take control of the music, but they will offer more options in the portrayal of black culture on a global scale.

ADDENDUM 09.08.03 10:26:00 PM In response to a question, I state: "The above commentary is not meant to suggest that hip-hop culture or rap music is not a black cultural form or black cultural product. The point of this post is that "being African-American does not mean hip-hop." Further, I stress that what's pushed by major distribution channels of culture - film studios, record labels, cable networks, radio broadcasting conglomerates - comes to represent blackness and that most black folks, in America, are thought of in that context - the context of what is presented in the cultural product. Rap music has a direct linkage to various African traditions of vernacular culture and musical culture. So yes, hip-hop, by-and-large is black. But being black does not have to equal hip-hop. Point made, I hope. To state it plainly, my father was not a pimp and my mother was not a ho'. I am not a gold digging chickenhead. Get my drift? Though I am down with hip-hop and definitely the struggles of people of color all over the world - other places hip-hop is revolutionary and political - and though in many ways I am hip-hop, my blackness is not defined by it. The ground always gets shaky when you mix culture with product - that is as it's meant for mass consumption and not product in the sense of production, which means creation. In America, culture ends up meaning entertainment. Simply stated, hip-hop can not be used as a lens by which to study the behaviors and personalities of all black Americans, and conversely, all black Americans should not be expected to look, act, sound, etc. like rappers. I could go further on this, but I think I've overstated my point already. Peace."

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09.08.03 12:47 AM

like i don't have work to do

Though I have deadlines up the ass and brought home work from the office, here I am playing with apps and code. Some of you may have noticed awhile ago that I added a Favorite's icon. Also recently added a separate html page for links to blogs instead of them being listed with all the other links. Tonight, along with playing with Audiocorder, I also added an RSS Feed. The fun thing about it so far, was adding my feed to both and Feedster. And for you folks who have me on your blogrolling list, I've finally submitted a ping form. The funny thing is that I do all of my coding, scripting, etc., manually using Dreamweaver. My next two tasks are to learn php and set up a wireless LAN. Don't you just love technology?

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09.07.03 08:40 PM

musically speaking

Today an old friend asked when I would DJ again, b/c he hadn't heard me announce any gigs in quite some time. I explained I didn't really have the time nowadays, but that I'd be down to do special events. When I actually used to do gigs, I used LPs. But man, carrying around those crates and bags happened to be a bitch. So then I finally started exploring the whole CD mixing aspect...and I did a gig or two. The major problem I had was being able to capture some of what I did and recording it so I could distrubute CDs or cassettes. I was always mixing to MD in the house, and never copied any of the stuff I did outside. One event I did years ago, mixing vinyl, with Qool Marv and his freinds (including DJ Spinna, Stormin' Norman, and others) when he celebrated an anniversary at Ludlow Bar, happened to be recorded on MD and then recorded to CD. I saw this as a prospect, but got to thinking I'd rather just go directly to the Mac from the stereo.

I'm over the vinyl days, though I love the textural feel, the crackling and the hiss. But no longer feel the need to scratch and spin back. I just want to put on good music and do some solid beat matching and blending. The proprietor at the Brooklyn Moon Cafe has often asked me to come over and practice and share my craft, or better yet song selection, on his Pioneer CDJ 100 set up. I keep passing, but as I sit here listening to one of my old mixes on MD, I'm like damn, I'd sure love to start doing that again. I used to practice almost every night with simply a portable CD player, CD changer, and mixer. The mix of music on this joint I'm listening to right now is so damn funky, and I don't even remember most of the music. And nowadays, since my gig has me in a space where I'm listening to mainly popular music...I don't even know I'd have the same touch. What I'm listening to right now is of the nu-jazz, neo-soul, beats, electronica variety. I feel so out of touch with that music right now, because I spend so much time evaluating the popular. As I sit here listening, I realize this is my life's blood, my heart throb. What many folks don't realize about me is that jazz is actually my first love of music, with funk following, house probably follows next, and let's not even begin to mention the classics. Yes I am still a hip-hop head, but I see it as an evolutionary process when considering Black Music in general.

I think the only thing that's going to make me devote time to this craft again is the ability to record to something other than MD. If I go straight to the Mac, then I can burn CDs and share with folks, put it on iTunes or even download to the iPod. So I ran across Audiocorder and from the reviews I read, it's a cool little tool. But it seems to record in AIFF format, and I'm not sure I'll get the sound quality I need with that format nor do I know that I'll be able to then convert to MP3 or AAC even. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

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09.05.03 11:55 PM

breaking and entering

I've got a peeve of the day. Let's call it the bad luck car. First off, I own a '91 Mazda MX6, that looks a little like this car, except it's kind of silvery grayish. Yep, I have nice rims and I also have a spoiler. Put it this way, it was a pretty average car that my sister owned and gave to me a few years back when she opted for a Jeep Grand Cherokee (she now owns a Dodge Durango). Anyway, not to digress, I got rear-ended a few years back and that's when I put the spoiler on and got a nice paint job. Pretty much after that, I had so many break-ins, window, and mirror crashings, that I kind of gave up on my weekly car wash and wax, along with shined-up tires. My CD-changer was stolen from the trunk and the lock was jacked up, so I put a lid on the lock. Another time, I suppose it was a crack head, broke in and tried to enter the trunk through the back seat. I've had clean-up rags and laundry detergent stolen from the trunk, and then sun glasses and cell phone adapter from the glove box, not to mention a slew of other things. Well, the heat was off for quite some time, especially since there is so much double parking around here during alternate side of the street parking days that the car just doesn't look as appealing as once before - a few bruises here and there. The city of New York broke my passenger side lock during towing, when they tried to jimmy it once, and that some door, I'm supposing a crack head again (do they still exist?) tried to dig out the handle and lock. To say the least it's been quiet, I think now, for at least the past year or two. That was until tonight.

I let my bro borrow the car and he called me to report that a cup of either tea or coffee had been dropped very close to my car, the passenger side lock had been dug out, the door is permanently unlocked, and said tea or coffee was spilled in the car. One thing I can say is that they stole nothing. I have an alarm. Had to get a new one since the one my sister gave me the car with went on the blitz. And they couldn't get my CD player this time, 'cuz I got a one-disc that's in a face-out system. But I think they thought the radio was in there. The frame around the removable face plate, has been faulty at best. But recently I had a guy glue it in place, b/c the jerks who installed it didn't cut a new hole in the dash for it, but instead just slammed the new radio's back-end into the existing hole. Hey, I'm glad nothing's missing. Not my new speakers, nothing from the glove box. Though it does look like this person tried to remove my Buddha and Ethiopian flag colored tassel from around the rear view mirror. Bet they thought Buddha was more than simply a fragrance stone. I do feel violated though and tomorrow morning I have to go out and spend money to either get a new lock and handle soldered
into the door or just completely shut the damn thing up. I am still utterly baffled that a crack head had time to drink tea or coffee while completley pulling out my door lock, and not one person saw this individual. But hey, that's life in BK, when parking on the streets. Perhaps it's time I invest in that monthly parking now, huh? Or perhaps power locks. But damn, my car isn't even all that pretty anymore...

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09.05.03 01:12 AM

and so it is redux...

As taken from the comments of the post below and duly amended...

Hey folks, I'm here. Just back from a week long respite in ATL where I visited my baby love and the men of DIC, and my airline ticket broker - him. If you don't know who this dynamic crew of bloggers from HOTLANTA is by now, you better ask somebody. It was all about maxing and relaxing and continuing the self-mastery. So though I'll be back to posting again soon, it'll be a minute. Gotta' get re-acclimated to the daily jig (and no I didn't mean gig).

I have to say that I'm a lil bit perplexed by the different reactions I got to the last post, but I expected to be. One person thought perhaps I didn't have a boyfriend and was lonely, and another thought I was sad or sounded depressed, and another thought...Oh well forget it.

Most of you were right on point. And basically it was an interpret as you see fit kinda' deal. But here's what I feel was the point of the post. Sometimes I find myself feeling like a zombie as if I'm just going through motions with life leading me...instead of being in touch with my spiritual faculties and getting out of life what's proper for me. That's all the post was about. How can you know your purpose if you are not quiet for a moment of time? If there is always your voice or the distractions and sounds of others, then there is always interference. It's like the signals the radio or TV pick up and then things just don't sound right. Quiet is like meditation or focusing inward, it's when that signal drops. The post was about my noticing, that often times, we as humans, have too many criticisms and opinions of others and things and I wanted to step back from that. A step back from the to speak. I also wanted to pull away from my external self and get in touch with my internal self. You know the real self, without the ego on my shoulder telling me what to think. In other words the materialist in me often seeks spirituality.

Put it this way, if you know anything about Zen, Buddhism, Sufism, Metu Neter, The Secret Science, et. al. then you know what I'm going through right now. Nothing forced me here. No terrible thing happened. It was just time to take a step back and instead of being a player, well, if the metaphor is going to work correctly here, then I guess, I decided I needed to be the playwright.

Something told me that sharing would or could be conflicting for myself and for others. See I knew there was a reason I was afraid to share. Folks I am not about to slit my wrists. I just want the spiritual me to project a lil more...and spiritual does not mean religious so don't get it twisted. It's about balancing mind and body .... will and intent. It's about knowing that the most basic function, breathing in and breathing out, can enable a little somethinig called clarity. Instead of putting colors all over the picture to dilute (better yet over dramatize and unrealistically beautify) the reality, I want to see it in black-and-white for a spell.

As an aside, I just switched webhosts so I don't know when the domain will point to the new location. And I bought some new domains, and, which for the time being will be parked at, that is until I can find or find time for something else to do with them. So if it takes more than a week for me to post again, don't worry about a sistah' ... I'm growing...inside...and hopefully it's enabling me to spread a lil' light on the outside.

In my absence, check my links, perhaps some of the other bloggers I'm linked to might interest you. If that's not enough, search my diary archive, or check out some of the other pages on this site, linked on the left nav over there. I write in other places too, you know. And for those of you who've been around a minute waiting for me to unleash that site design that's been sitting in development forever, or hoping I hook up with Donald to give this joint a face lift, maybe when I return...I'll have something in store. Then again, if you've been following me long enough, you know there are times when I say I won't be around here posting that I end up being most prolific. Two years + is a long time to continue trying to churn out something fresh and interesting, even if no one else was reading. Aight, I'm ghost.

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