Comedian D.L. Hughley once quipped that everybody wants to be black 'til the cops roll up. And as The Bird's colleague Niki D'Andrea discussed in her recent cover story, "Raising Terrazona" (January 10, 2008), with Phoenix's African-American population at 5.6 percent, there's a buttload of crackas in this megalopolis tryin' to be black in the PHX rap game.
As you might expect, these wanna-bes don't like being called out as local Jamie Kennedys, Kennedy being the star of the 2003 comedy Malibu's Most Wanted. In the flick, he played a rich, Jewish dork from "the 'Bu," who desperately wanted to be black, though he was as pale and goofy as Josh Groban.
For her story, D'Andrea compared and contrasted two scenes: the long-running Blunt Club (now in Tempe), which draws a predominantly white crowd, with a sprinkling of other colors; and The Door's Groove Candy, which draws mostly African-Americans and a few lighter shades.
Groove Candy founder and Power 98.3 DJ Karlie Hustle, summed up the dichotomy in the cover story.
"There's definitely a division amongst the scenes," squawked Hustle to D'Andrea. "They [the Blunt Club] do have that sort of white hippie, hemp necklace, backpacker, super-hip-hop-nerd group. And then you have a more mainstream 'commercial' community."
Generally, D'Andrea found Groove Candy to be a blacker and more authentic hip-hop night. Hence the piece's subhead: "To put it bluntly, Willy Northpole and the Groove Candy scene represent real Phoenix hip-hop."
Now some fools in both scenes are running around like a buncha thin-skinned bitches claiming D'Andrea's a racist for calling it as she saw it.
D'Andrea ain't racist. Nor is she prejudiced against the Blunt Club, which is emceed by African-American Emerg McVay, who graced the cover of New Times' 2004 Best Of issue. (Merg is one of the few keeping that scene from being whiter than a Miley Cyrus concert.) To the contrary, D'Andrea's given the Blunt Club much love as a writer and editor. She actually wrote up Blunt Club for Spin magazine in 2005, a prop Blunt Clubbers love to tout.
The fact she did this hasn't been mentioned by anyone in the midst of the silly shit storm following "Raising Terrazona," a story that's allowed New Times to do what no other major pub in this burg has the gonads to do: put a black MC on its cover.
Check it: The day after the story hit the streets, Willy Northpole, the rapper on the cover, called D'Andrea to say, "I want to thank you for putting a black, thug-looking man on your cover. That makes a major statement."
So who's pissing and moaning? Well, there's Kim Commons, owner of Club Red, where the Blunt Club's held, who recently wrote a War and Peace-length epistle to the editor announcing he will no longer be advertising in New Times 'cause he regards D'Andrea's article as "one of the most one-sided pieces of 'journalism' I've ever seen."
Kim, New Times does magazine-style journalism — that means journalism with a freakin' point of view. We're not about roasting Ball Park franks, cuddling by the campfire, and singing "Kumbaya." Did you just move to town or something? Do you read our paper?
Every locale that's made a significant contribution to hip-hop has been the scene of competition, beefs, out-and-out feuds, and sometimes, shootouts, whether we're talkin' 'bout The Dirty South, New York or South-Central Los Angeles. Sheesh, ever watch 8 Mile? Though that movie's about one of the few successful white rappers in history — Eminem — the message of the movie is that you can't step to the mic and be a punk.
For too long, the PHX hip-hop scene has been filled to the brim with small-timers, mirror-muggers, and Caucasian clichés. All D'Andrea's done is make an observation. She's had the ovaries to point out that many of these pretenders are of the persuasion of Jamie Kennedy's film character Brad "B-Rad" Gluckman.
That may be why so many wiggas have been whining on the local hip-hop message board Arizonabeats.com, specifically this dumbass "Ill Al the Anglo Saxon," who claims D'Andrea's article was "poorly written and racist." This, despite the fact "Anglo" looks like he and K-Fed share the same gene pool.
Stung by the negative feedback, Karlie Hustle on the same site changed her tune, and suggested D'Andrea was off-base because she is an "an older, white person." Uh, Karlie, D'Andrea is only one year older than you. (D'Andrea's 31; Hustle is 30.) And Hustle's as white as the walls in this warbler's office. To this tail-wagger, Hustle copped a little-known fact: She's of Armenian descent. Maybe her real name's Hustlamanian. On the phone, she talks like any other white chick. But on air, she affects the black, street vernacular.
Let's face it, Hustlamanian talked smack in the article. Then she got called on it, and reversed her position online, saying New Times should be picketed. (Picketed? What does she think this is, the Montgomery Bus Boycott?) Hustlamanian then posted a poll on Arizonabeats.com asking what people thought about the picket idea. Currently, the survey has more respondents stating that they think it's a retarded proposal and will not be participating.
One more thing on the picket tip: If you want, bring it on, Karlie. This feisty finch would love to see you and four more of your wigga pals protestin' down here at Jefferson and 12th Street.
Half-white, half-Pakistani rapper Grime, himself the subject of a previous New Times cover story ("Rappin' Radical," August 31, 2006), was critical of D'Andrea initially but softened his position later, posting one pic on Arizonabeats.com of an all-white Blunt Club crowd and one of a far-darker Groove Candy scene, stating, "although there is some cross visitation, most of the people who go to Groove Candy don't go to Blunt, and vice versa."
Is there any problem with recognizing that one hip-hop scene has more color, and is more authentic than another? Hell, can you even think of more than a handful of successful white rap/hip-hop acts? Okay, Eminem, maybe Paul Wall and Everlast. Definitely the Beastie Boys, despite the fact they're annoying as shit. (The Bird figures you could throw in Kid Rock or Justin Timberlake or Nelly Furtado or Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, though they ain't this winged wordsmith's personal snifter of Hennessy.)
Christ, you almost have to include Vanilla Ice to get to nine, and everyone knows he was wack.
The Bird turned to Phoenix activist Jarrett Maupin for his view. The Rev. didn't want to take anything away from Latino artists or artists of other backgrounds, but he agreed the source of the art form matters, a lot.
"The situation with hip-hop is kind of similar to jazz," analogized Maupin, who's the local head of Al Sharpton's National Action Network. "I'm not saying that there's no room for Louis Prima or Dave Brubeck or George Gershwin. But jazz came straight out of the slave plantation. There was no way to have jazz without the black experience. And in its purest form, that's what it is."
Nor is there anything racist with indicating, as a writer and a critic, that something is weak. This bullfinch's been down to the Blunt Club many a time. And more than once, The Bird's cringed inwardly while watching some white ASU dropout rise to the mic. D'Andrea simply said what many have been too polite or too politically correct to say elsewhere.
Hip-hop sprang from the black cultural experience, and if you ain't of color, you'd better be damn good if you're going to come across as anything more than a wigga.
The grossest thing about Sand Land's ongoing immigration debate is how it's empowered pathetic, wing-nut losers that nobody would lend 10 cents' worth of time to otherwise.
Take the internal investigation veteran Mesa police detective Matt Browning underwent over complaints about Browning's being at the Arizona Legislature on March 13, 2007, for a seminar titled "Improving the Tone of the Immigration Debate."
Browning, who's spent some 12 years of his career undercover, infiltrating white supremacist hate groups, observed that anti-illegal sentiment had become a rallying cry for extremists. He noted an overlap between such groups on the border as the Minutemen and more radical organizations like the neo-Nazi National Alliance.
Browning's boss, Mesa Police Chief George Gascon, gave Browning the okay to speak. There were other speakers present. State Representative Kyrsten Sinema organized the event. Panelists took questions from the audience, sometimes hostile ones from nativists in attendance. But Browning was the one the anti-immigration folks fixated on because he was a cop and because what he was saying about some nativists could not be easily assailed.
Browning told the assembled that he's been undercover in numerous skinhead and nativist orgs, adding, "Every meeting, every discussion, everything revolves around immigration. Every meeting has started with somebody spouting off something about stopping the dirty Mexicans, stopping the waves of the browns, stopping it from happening."
Browning's statement, captured by the Legislature's online streaming media service, quickly made the rounds on Google video, inflaming the nativists to no end.
A gang of eight was soon complaining about Browning to the Mesa PD, spawning a five-month investigation by Mesa's internal affairs cops, who ultimately concluded that Browning should be exonerated of claims that he was somehow a "dirty cop" for speaking at the seminar.
This mockingbird stopped by Mesa PD recently to pick up its copy of the report, making a very interesting discovery. Of the eight men and women writing in via e-mail or letter to kvetch about Browning, none lived in Mesa. Moreover, The Bird spotted some familiar names, anti-immigrant nutjobs like Sandra Miller and Rick "Buffalo Chip" Galeener, who live in Phoenix and Cave Creek, respectively.
Miller, who sometimes goes by S.J. Miller, is an über-Froot Loop who at least acts like she's borderline retarded every time this avian runs into her at a nativist demo. She often shakes her hand and bobs her head like a kid who has to go potty.
Miller's not much of a writer, but it hasn't stopped her from penning psycho screeds for wing-nut rags like Cave Creek's Sonoran News, and more disturbingly, for the online nativist publication VDARE.com, named for Virginia Dare, the first English (read white) baby born in the New World. The Southern Poverty Law Center's labeled VDARE.com a hate site, and an online "meeting place for many on the radical right."
Miller's contribution to VDARE's xenophobic swill was an article titled "Follow the Money to Oppose Home Depot," in which she equated Home Depot's hiring Spanish-speaking employees with "a signal that yet another corporation feels able to openly hire illegal aliens."
The pistol-packin' Buffalo Chip is a familiar mug at nativist rallies 'round town. A member in good standing of bigot-boy Rusty Childress' United for a Sovereign America, this bovine pie's known for the racist T-shirts he offers on his Web site, like one that reads, "When they [illegal aliens] rape your daughter, you'll care"; or another that says, "The sucking sound you hear is anchor babies."
This fossilized embarrassment to the human species, who looks like he should be out near Superstition Mountain huntin' for the Lost Dutchman's Mine, routinely screams bigoted B.S. at anyone who's brown, even if they're not Mexican. On more than one occasion, Buffalo Weenie's referred to non-whites as monkeys in the presence of this feathered fiend.
But the pièce de résistance of this prejudiced posse is Verohnika Clark of Ramona, California, an avowed worshipper of Adolf Hitler who runs the sinisterly wacky Adolfhitlerresearchsociety.org, which is devoted to presenting a revisionist history of Hitler the sweetie pie.
"We believe National Socialism to have been a movement that was rich in love and Christian brotherliness," states the Web site. "We feel that Hitler has been academically demonized for nearly 70 years, and it is our goal to eradicate this slander about him and his supporters."
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Uh, so why did the Mesa PD bother to pay attention to these loonies as they tried to impugn the integrity of a policeman who's put his life in jeopardy investigating some of the most hateful and violent underground groups in the Zona? And why is Mesa PD continuing to pay heed to these knuckledraggers as it pursues similar complaints against Chief Gascon himself?
"Our credibility has to be above-board all the time," the chief informed this clucker. "We have to run a transparent organization that has to go beyond simply accepting complaints from one group of people and not from others."
Despite the heat he's gotten, Gascon said he would do it all over again, if need be, and allow Browning to make his appearance at the Legislature.
Amazing the abuse men like Gascon and Browning have endured from agenda-driven crackpots like Miller, Galeener, and Clark. Because if The Bird was in Gascon's position, he knows what he'd do with letters and e-mails from these freaks: Use 'em to wipe his avian arse.