08 August 2010

Rightway Entertainment Unplugged Vol. 1

I couldn't call myself my a Ribault Trojan if I didn't give a shoutout to my fellow alum, Roderick Garner and his Rightway Entertainment Group.  Rod G specializes in event planning, mix cds, photography, videography and a lot more and his motto is, "You've tried it their do it the Right way!"

He's doing it the Right way this Friday, August 13 at Cafe 331, where he's presenting Rightway Entertainment Unplugged Vol.1.  The concert features a live band and performances by some of Duval's best up and coming independent artists, including Jasmine Rhey, RnB Sanga, The Prolegend Movement, The IGive, and Ausmoses.  DJ Cheek and DJ De Mac will be spinning on the 1's and 2's.  Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door.

If all of that entertainment isn't enough to convince you to come out, then the $5 Goose and $6 Hennessey should get some of you fired up! 

So come out and show love to Duval's independent artists.  If we don't support them, who will?

Doors open at 8 p.m. Cafe 331 is located at 332 Forsyth St., downtown Jacksonville.  For more information, call 904-651-9832 or 904-233-6897.

Random thoughts on hip-hop, education, and youth

Every one of the three high schools in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Jacksonville is failing. Less than a third of 10th graders in our community are reading on grade level. But when I look around, it seems like every other young person that I see wants to be a rapper...No wonder Soulja Boy's lyrics make no sense. These kids can't read.

When you listen to lyrics and watch videos filled with Maybachs, bling, and mansions, its easy to see the allure of the hip-hop industry. Hell, sometimes when I look at my light bill, I think about throwing a hat in the game and spittin some verses.

But is what we see real and attainable, or is it all just smoke and mirrors? Is the hip-hop industry the modern day slave trade, capturing youth with an illusion and enslaving them with draconian contracts that suck the life out of them financially and creatively?

We as consumers don't realize how much of the lyrics and content of today's songs are controlled by the record company executives and not the artists themselves. Ironic, when you think about someone in a high-rise office somewhere who has never set foot in the ghetto, pushing lyrics glorifying the hood and "keepin it real". Well, if the hood is all that great, why don't they live there? The truth is, for those of us who actually know, the ghetto isn't all its cracked up to be. That's why Jay-Z lives in TriBeCa and not Bed-Stuy. That's why you don't see any Jaguars players living in Cleveland Arms or Washington Heights. Why have mayonnaise sandwiches and Kool-Aid when you can afford filet mignon and Dom Perignon?

What's even more ironic to me, is the artists who make the money, and then still get themselves caught up in the game that they should have been able to avoid because of their finanical success. And then our young people, blindly following them and lacking positive guidance and role models in everyday life, try to imitate this negative pattern of behavior. And so we have a generation of kids who could sing all the lyrics to Kanye West's song "Through the Wire" without having any idea of who the Emmett Till was that he spoke of in the opening verses. We have a community of kids who talk about Ak-47's like they're Super Soakers, but can't spell this week's vocabulary words. That's if they even bothered to go to school in the first place.

We can't blame it all on the music, though. People say this all of the time, but it really does start at home. Parents, stop sending your kids to school in $200 Jordan's, but can't send them with paper and pencil. If your kid has brought home three report cards filled with D's and F's, don't wait until April to ask for a conference and then expect the teacher to change the grades or give extra credit. Worry about your kid's school clothes and less about your club outfits. Then maybe we'll see some changes.

But I'm not letting the record companies and artists off the hook. Record companies need to sell quality music again. Stop selling an album full of trash, and then wondering why kids would rather just download the stuff of the Internet. Artists, maybe its time to go back to being independent, if that means being able to produce better songs. While having a discussion about independent artists, Thomas "Murk" Kelsey said, "The artists need to step up on their craft and deliver regional if not local hits, besides songs they think are good in their ears, if not others." I personally think that the Internet might just be a great equalizer, allowing artists and consumers to take back some of their power from the executives.

And artists, you can try to channel Charles Barkley all day long and say that you're not a role model, but let's get real. You're putting yourself out in the spotlight-and pushing kids to beg their single parents who are already scraping to put food on the table, to buy mp3 players, cd's, and ringtones, so don't try to dodge the issue and act like these kids aren't going to look up to you.

When it comes to this issue, I feel like Brother Marley-"I got so much things to say". I have more to follow up with in a future post. But in the meantime, what do you think? Let's get this conversation going. Our community is desperate for it.