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Letters from the issue of Thursday, January 24, 2008

A HOUSE DIVIDED

Finally, some authenticity: I couldn't side with The Bird more about the Phoenix hip-hop scene ("Wigga, Please," Stephen Lemons, January 17). I'm a huge hip-hop fan, and I'm from the West Coast, and a whole lot of the kind of people I've seen performing and in the audience at the Blunt Club fit the definition of "wigga."

Ha, just like The Bird said, they look like "B-Rad" Gluckman in that movie [Malibu's Most Wanted], which is one of the funniest films I've ever seen. I'm not saying that wiggas don't exist in L.A. They do. Just not in the numbers that are here in Phoenix.

I saw this cat you mention, Ill Al, perform once, and I've got to say, vomit came up in my mouth. Some white kid like him getting up to the mic and making a fool of himself was what that was about.

Also, I read the story about Willy Northpole in the previous issue ("Raising Terrazona," Niki D'Andrea, January 10) and was really impressed. There's no doubt about Willy being the real thing, and, as a black man in Phoenix, I was happy as hell to see somebody authentic on the cover of New Times. It gave me hope for this town.

So New Times, don't listen to [Power 98.3 DJ] Karlie Hustle, who's a wanna-be, and who (from her radio voice) I also thought was black. I read her jive shit on arizonabeats.com, and all I can say is . . . the lady got her fat ass burned and now is lashing out at New Times for telling it like it is. Peace.
Michael A. Johnston, Phoenix

Covering her badonkadonk: First off, I'd like to thank New Times for attempting to cover the Phoenix hip-hop scene. I, along with many others, appreciate the effort to expose a segment of the Valley's hip-hop community that rarely gets coverage in your publication.

While [music editor] Niki D'Andrea is allowed her opinions, as we all are, I believe some of the content in her "Raising Terrazona" piece was written with the intent to create a rift between the Tempe and Phoenix hip-hop scenes. Although I stand by the statements I gave to her, my intention was to answer her questions about the racial composition of the two nights, not to reinforce the reporter's dualistic take on the Valley hip-hop scene with an oversimplified stereotype.

The scene is so much more than black and white, and so much more than two hip-hop nights. Race is the elephant in the corner, and while I agree that its role pertaining to the two club nights and "scenes" was worthy of acknowledgment, I don't think the entire story needed to be racially charged and polarizing. To attempt to pit the two "scenes"/nights/races against one another seemed like a sensationalized attempt to be "compelling" through controversy.

Participants of both the Phoenix and Tempe scenes are, by and large, equally upset about this article, and, perhaps, this is a wake-up call for New Times to expand its staff to include someone who is well-versed in hip-hop culture, whatever their race might be, to cover our community in a more educated light in the future.
Karlie Hustle, Phoenix

Where's my cover, Niki?: Let me start by saying that I appreciate and respect Niki D'Andrea's job as music editor at New Times. This is in no way meant to be offensive or rude.

With that said, I got my copy of New Times the way I always do. Picked it up off of the studio desk at work during my on-air shift at Power 98.3, and immediately I was drawn to the cover.

Lo and behold, young Willy Northpole had made the front of New Times! Now, from this point on, I experienced a roller-coaster ride of emotions, beginning with great pride. You see, I'm from Arizona in the way most people are from here, by way of somewhere else. However, I have spent over two decades here. It's easy to see why pride would be my first reaction.

Finally, Arizona hip-hop is beginning to get the real recognition it deserves. Willy is a thorough, credible standout, and it's about time we support and sustain our own superstars. I feel like there are few more deserving than Mr. Northpole, but there still are that few.

Over 13 years ago, I took part in the renaissance of Arizona hip-hop, spearheaded the movement that paved the way for your Willy Northpoles. So it makes sense why I would stand in agreement that "Willy Northpole and the Groove Candy scene represent real Phoenix hip-hop."

No sooner do I reiterate [that] to myself than I flip to the story and begin reading, and I'll be damned: You made mention of everyone from Roca Dolla to Mattlocks to Karlie to Hot Rod to Cirque to Emerg to Justus to Jiggle to Tiffany to Juice — and with good reason. At this point, the swing of emotion has brought me to bewilderment, if not confusion. How can you make mention of Arizona hip-hop, the movement, its past, present and future, and not so much as indicate the relevance [of] Pokaface, The League, and The Associates?

 

Quick background: I have shared a stage with everyone from 50 Cent, Snoop, Ammonium, Wu-Tang, and Nas, to Outkast, Notorious B.I.G., Ludacris, Cypress Hill, and L.L. Cool J. I was signed in 2001 by Ted Field himself to what was, to my knowledge, the first major solo record deal of any hip-hop artist in Arizona, with advances and budget commitments totaling over $1 million.

I have had a minimum of eight songs of my own (not to mention a plethora of collaborative efforts) played on Phoenix radio, ranging from five to more than 100 spins on my latest single "Bump My Shit," which is still being spiked into rotation at Power.

So, as I'm glancing at the cover yet again, I can't help but feel a sense of curiosity.

Will you — given my history, my involvement with hip-hop radio and the current hip-hop scene, the album I'm in the middle of recording — give me the cover story I need, want, and feel like I deserve leading into the Super Bowl weekend?

Pokafase, Phoenix

Editor's note: Hey, Pokafase, the good news is, we will be writing about you, among others, very soon.

The Blunt truth hurts: The cover story praising Willy Northpole and his style of hip-hop to the skies and trashing hip-hop at the Blunt Club at Club Red was the most one-sided piece of "journalism" I've ever seen.

Shows hosted by Groove Candy with attendance estimated by New Times as 300-plus are covered with admiration and wrapped in glory. And that's great, I have nothing but admiration for Willy Northpole. They are building something special, and I really hope that their great shows at the Door continue to build and pull bigger crowds every week. I'd love to see Northpole and several of the other really talented artists in the Groove Candy scene break through on the national level, and Niki is right on in telling the New Times readership about Willy Northpole. His talent really is incredible.

The problem comes when another great show, Blunt Club, featuring a different style of hip-hop that pulls a 300-plus crowd weekly in Tempe is kicked under the bus and thrown out with the garbage. Put this on an editorial page as an opinion piece, and I have no problem with it. If Niki D'Andrea (the author of the story) likes Willy's great hip-hop the best, that's very cool. Write it up in news style, beat up on Blunt Club, slant the hell out of the story, then blow it up as the cover story and you have a complete lack of journalistic ethics by not just the writer but by the whole editorial staff who let the story run without basic fact-checking.

And more to the point, Niki D'Andrea, in writing for New Times, has completely misunderstood and misrepresented what Blunt Club is all about. Blunt Club is an offshoot of original hip-hop and rap culture that loves the great sound of hip-hop; but without the negative messages of sexism, homophobia, misogyny, and violence.

New Times was the very first long-term advertising contract I signed when I first started the Red Owl (that later grew into the Club Red-Red Owl dual venue when a pizza place next door went under and the chance to expand came along). I was proud as hell to host the first New Times Summer of Sound event in May last year. And I rearranged my entire summer booking schedule for New Times when it needed help finding a venue for the punk category show (headliner Fenix TX; winner Nunzilla). I didn't make a big deal of it. I just called in a lot of favors to switch the dates around and help them out. And they came through with a great show; the punk show really kicked ass as did the rock show.

So it saddens me greatly to stop advertising in New Times, given that I value them as a business partner very highly. But I simply can't stay in a publication that writes attack editorials disguised as responsible reporting. I can't stay in a publication that trashes an important and viable part of the live music scene.
Kim Commons, Club Red

Retardo Montlebons: Are you [complaining] pussies kidding me? Grow the fuck up. This article ["Raising Terrazona"] was a good one. Are you all too close to this to realize the article speaks about something different than what you think you read? You all don't get it. Fucking Retardo Montlebons [sic].

 

And the letter from Kim Commons (posted in full online under comments for the "Raising Terrazona" story) is hysterical. Seriously, get a clue. Stand down, dork.

As for everyone else, quit bitching and keep up the solid work on the hip-hop community.
Name withheld by request

Can't you effin' read, people?: My God! What has become of people? Did anybody really read this ["Raising Terrazona"] article? I thought it was pretty solid.

Who do you want to write an article like this? Someone from the inside (who will definitely be one-sided) or someone from the outside looking in? And how this became a "Groove" versus "Blunt" story is beyond me. Can't you people fucking read?

Anyhow, at least I know that Blunt Club has moved to Club Red! That was a good move on part of that Kim girl who owns it.

Keep putting out great articles, New Times!
Prime Mover, Phoenix

Reality ain't riches, bitches, and fly stitches: Dope article ["Raising Terrazona"], but hip-hop from day one was not so much black culture as it was street culture. This culture has included black, white, and Latino since birth.

As someone who's has been involved in PHX hip-hop since the early '90s, I think it's dope that Willy Northpole and them got deals, but let's see if they bring the guys in to the spotlight that put in all the work, like Cut Throat, Antedote, Drunken Immortals, Ascended Masterz, Rooski, Super Market (for the old-skool Phoenix heads).

Commercial rap is cool, but let's try to stop sellin' fantasies about riches, bitches, and fly stitches and start sellin' reality.
Amoerock TC, via the Internet

Ain't where ya from; it's where ya at: I could give a fuck about this article for these reasons: With or without the New Times cover, best wishes to Willy. Whichever clubs were caused to butt heads, whatever. East Coast/West Coast, all good. This is AZ, where there is no coast. And in case no one realizes it yet, hip-hop is worldwide now. It ain't where you're from, it's where the fuck ya at!
Mr. Token, via the Internet

Brad "B-Rad" Gluckman speaks: Everyone remember, this article ["Raising Terrazona"] was written to incite hate amongst us in the AZ hip-hop community. It was written to divide us in order to create controversy and move papers.

I'm a member of Universatile Music, Avenue of the Arts, and Furious Styles Crew. I have love for Karlie Hustle, 98.3, Groove Candy as well as Man Up, 5Fith Coast, Hot Rod, and Willy Northpole.

We can't allow any media outlet to use its voice to try to divide us. We are all AZ hip-hop, no matter what.

Just because there are different styles of hip-hop, just because we are so diverse in sound, style, and race does not mean we hate each other. Don't allow this reckless thoughtless article to make you choose sides.
Ill Al the Anglo-Saxon, via the Internet

Duh, it's the music that matters: The ["Raising Terrazona"] story exposed me to new artists and frankly surprised me, too. Definitely doesn't fit with the perception I had of Phoenix's hip-hop scene. I didn't know there was one until I read this story.

I also got the impression from the story that the scene is diverse, not that it's all black people or all white people. The focus was on people who are doing big things in hip-hop right now who have been overlooked for too long.

I don't think stating that there is a black rap scene in Phoenix is racist, or that giving long overdue attention to a marginalized part of a music scene is unbalanced. It's about time someone had the guts to say there are still struggles that are still relevant in the African-American community, and that there are talented people who deserve recognition and are accomplishing things from that community.

Why is telling that story and giving a voice to the issue racist? The music is what's supposed to matter, and music is tied to the cultures from which it comes. Recognizing that, sharing those stories, and celebrating accomplishments should not cause a heated debate about race.
Jon Pritchard, via the Internet

Listen up, playa-haters: Yeah, shame on New Times for actually putting a black man on its cover!
Keisha, via the Internet


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