Shequida - "Milkshake" (mpeg)
Finally saw the VH1 Hip Hop Honors last night. I suppose I was personally relieved because I could finally allow myself to read about it. Poplicks and Cocaine covered most of my bases:
- Hosting was terrible: Run has charm, Russell should stick to the biz.
- LL/Nelly was surprisingly good.
- Colors? Man.
- Melle Mel's muscles were frightening.
- Salt'n Pepa v. En Vogue was just tokenism.
- Boyz? Boyz II Men next year?.
- VH1 golddug in Kanye's pockets.
- BDK was a raw reminder of what it means to perform. Bring back fast rap!
- And a constipated gasface to the ending.
And there were some other points, mostly on the music nerd tip:
- Sub'g TI, Black Thought and Common for Percee P (I mean, really), Edan, etc. How about Lord Finesse?
- I actually liked Snoop on "6 in the Morning." His blend of staccato consonants and legato flow from word to word made it sound fresh and new.
- Snoop c-walking on a nationally broadcast awards show... Kids, please do not do this at home... and moreso outside of your home.
- And forget Com's verse on "Raw," it was his return of the b-boy move that got me. I was happy to see at least one of the new jacks actually enact what Kane is about. I wonder if that was scripted, b/c the producer cut away mid-windmill to some reaction shot of Pepa or whomever.
- Oh, and LL's non-performance performance of every song that night? Just give him a beat! I'll keep the lick lips barbs to myself for a bit (did you see Nelly do that move at the end?)
No new revelations tho, the awards show format is designed to be self-congratulatory and reductive. In other words, it's cool to be invited (remember DJ Hollywood last year?), but is by design exclusive (enter list of MIA VIPs). I did a piece last year on VH1's increasing coverage and, dare I say, documentation of hip hop. It was pretty embarassing for the errors I made: hip hop was not born of nothing, it came from a place of poverty, yes, but of creative, cultural and intellectual wealth; and, I don't know why I put that Edan-Geto Boys thing in, it made no sense. Still, it summarized most of my reasons for why the approach does not work; VH1's take is like "Def Jam's Greatest Hits of Hip Hop." Not in the sense that only Def Jam artists get daps, but rather those who are down with the fam get acknowledged.
So, I'll focus on another aspect: Kehinde Wiley. Anyone else notice the honoree paintings in Old Master style? Wiley did some work for Rush Arts a while back, so I suppose the hook-up wasn't surprising. However, more power to his latest venture. I felt he was an appropriate visual thread because of his mixture of West European traditions and Blackness; which is certainly what "VH1" "Hip Hop" "Honors" embodies. None of the honoree paintings really blew me away like the ceiling pieces I saw at his Brooklyn Museum show last year, but I wonder how other viewers felt. What I like about his work is that you can wax intellectual about it, or just enjoy it; if you're an art history nut, you can talk about the recontextualization of the power pose and the blah blah blah, but, really, anybody who lives in the city or has access to television can engage a florid painting of a young buck in a throwback jersey. I mean, anyone who can get kids to realize, "Damn, Louis Vitton on some baroque isht?" gets their propers from me. And, quite frankly, Wiley adds a welcome splash of color to many Old World-style institutions.
So, in another move of bringing the culture back full circle, please enjoy Shequida's performance at the Passing/Posing opening night reception. I got to work with her on another night and she was divine, in spite of it being unbearably hot up in that room. Nor did she have on her full Versailles attire that eve, but that didn't slow her roll. She packed a 40'*50' art gallery to the gills. Word to her string players, too, her lead violinist was hella cool. She's Juilliard trained, so she ain't half-steppin' to those "No no, no, no, no~ / The boys are waiting" lines.
PS - Found a great BDK interview. I heard a lot of people ask where Scrap at; seems even Kane doesn't know. Hope all is well.
UPDATE (2/24/15): h/t to Anthony for a) digging deep into the archives, and b) passing along Artsy's Kehinde Wiley page. Great overview and resource for the artist's work.