Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Inventos: Hip-Hop Cubano." A Q&A interview with Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi

Full Disclosure: I spent a summer living with Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi and his family in Berkeley. It was 1996, and I was interning at the Marin Independent Journal.

Eli and his brother, a livewire cat named Kahlil, were friends with my fiancee. They hooked me up with a room in their house, and showed me a lot of love. I vibed especially well with Eli, since we both loved hip-hop music and had a natural curiosity for all things funky.

Although he split his time between the house in Berkeley and his family's home in Sacramento that summer, we still hung out and made a tiny bit of noise, and we would run into one another through the years at various shows, political rallies, and what not.

Now, as grown up, professionals working in the media biz and still pursuing our interests and love of hip-hop, it's appropriate that we connect like this. Eli's doing big things as a documentary film maker, having achieved a national distribution deal for his underground banger "Inventos: Hip-Hop Cubano."

"Inventos" is a stunner - a raw, heartfelt glimpse into the lives of a group of young Cuban hip-hop artists trying to develop a scene on the island, with extremely limited resources. It takes the culture and the music to it's essence: folks doing it simply for the love, young people enamored with the energy and rage and beauty of hip-hop cultura.

The film, released in 2003, has made the film festival rounds, scored a few awards. It's also set him up to complete his next film, an introspective look at Ghanian hip-hop.

Last year, Eli screened the movie at the CSU-Monterey Bay campus, to rousing success. It can be purchased at local bookstores and music stores, or you can buy it online There will be a screening of the movie at 5 p.m., April 27, San Francisco State, HSS Building, room 135, in San Francisco

Eli took the time to talk to "The Beat" recently to politic a little something. That same love for hip-hop culture and his accute, natural curiosity were on display, only now he has the film festival awards to show for it.

What's up man. Thanks for talking to "The Beat."
For sure.

So, just give me the rundown in your words, how "Inventos" came about.
"Inventos" started in 1994 when my brother (Kahlil Fantauzzi) went down to Cuba and met up with a group called Aminaza (sic), which later became Orichas. Since that time he was telling me "Man, you gotta go down to Cuba." Because of what it represents in the world, I always wanted to go.
I was in the Caribbean, and (Khalil) said he was going again. That was in 2000, I met up with him. And we just did that. I took my camera with me, and started shooting what I saw, and it was really raw...

When I came back, I was showing people, and they got real excited about it, and I said "Damn, I want to make a documentary about it."

I always had a video camera with me at all the protests and the hip -hop shows, and I always wanted to do a documentary, so I figured this was the right time for it.

Did you have any formal training as a film maker when you began the project?
When I started filming, I had no formal training. When I was in high school, my mom had a high 8 camera and I just took it as my own. I would take it to all the protests and all the hip-hop shows, everyone that I saw. KRS-One, Nas, everyone that came to the Bay, I just filmed it.

I went to Cal (UC-Berkeley), and I took two video classes, and I was able to figure out the basic stuff from that. It wasn't until after the movie I went to NYU and got some formal training.

Did you get your masters in filmmaking?
Yeah, I got my masters at the school of the arts at NYU.

There was a fire at the old house while you were in post production?
Yeah, you heard about that?

That was actually during the editing phase. I was with some of my high school students at a retreat, and I got a call my brother, he said, "Yeah, the house burned down." My first question was "Are you alright," and he told me "Yeah, I had to go to the hospital for smoke inhalation."

So after I made sure that he was alright, you know what my second question was? It was like, "What's up with the film?" He said "It's done..."

They restored everything that was on the computer, so how I was editing was I had most of what was called A-roll, interviews and stuff. I didn't get to put in what they call the B-roll, the concert footage and stuff. So when you watch it, you're like, "I wish I could have seen more of the concert footage." Or at least that's what I tell myself when I watch it...

What was your goal with the DVD?
There were three main things. The first one was to show the rest of the world what was going on down there, or start the conversation between the international hip hop community about what Cuba had. I came back with some footage and people were really excited with it, so I figured that if I went back and did some more, I'd have something to work with...

A lot of us in the community, the hip-hop heads in the Bay, we were able to go to Cuba, that's how that conversation really started, and we just went from there.

The second reason was, the most I ever learned about myself was travelling outside of this country. A lot of folks in Cuba haven't had that chance, and watching yourself on a screen is a way of doing that.
A lot of the feedback I got was that "Man, it was great to see people doing it. It was great to see it right there on film." That was a major part of the success was because (the people in the film) loved everything, and they told me that themselves.

The third reason would be for myself, to prove to myself that I could do it. I knew at the time I was making Inventos that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to make documentary films, and it's not easy, but I got it done. In the Inventos steelo, just making it happen with nothing.

Have you had a chance to go back since then?
We just came back from last summer's "Inventos Sankofa Tour" (sic). That's when we brought down the first CDJ's to give to a community center down there. It was cool. I just got to shake everyone's hand personally and got to give them a hug and say "Thank you for making this happen."

It took a long time to do that, because of the legalities of it. So to get the stuff to them, I had to get a crew of nine people to bring two bags of gifts each, because we can't send the stuff because of the embargo. So we handed a bunch of stuff out and it was great.

What have been the musical developments on the island since the film was released?
All of the people in my film became the leaders of the hip-hop movement out there. When people call on Cuba to be represented at hip-hop conferences in South America, it's usually folks from the film

They came back to NYC a second time and played at the Apollo Theatre with The Roots and Kanye West.

There's been so much development that have helped and hindered it . I say that because when people are hungry for what you have, they start preparing stuff for them, to please them. When people want something from you, you start doing that, rather than doing what comes naturally. Recently, with the investment of reggaeton, a lot of people have been doing the reggaeton thing. It's taken from the consciousness of the art as far as music that can form a social change.

What's the distribution deal you have in place?
You know how we did it at first, just pressing them up at the house. I had my boy Miguel Perez do the artwork. You know what the Bay taught me to do, sell them out the trunk.

Through that hustle, we got some interest, some deals were on the table. I felt a lot of them were exploitative, but then we got a deal with City Hall (Records). I liked it, and we got a national distribution, and it's been an amazing ride. I never thought it could have happened or would have happen, and it's happening.

What's your take on the international hip-hop consciousness? Are people in other countries drawn to the music or the sense of rebellion?
To me, hip-hop is just a reflection of society, and so it's not a coincidence that 50 Cent's 'Get Rich or Die Trying' is being pushed all over the world, because that's what America is pushing all over the world.

When we look at Cuba, what do they represent all over the world? They represent social consciousness. Everything from having a large literacy rate to universal health care to La Revolucion. And in that kind of environment, what is has produced is a revolutionary style of hip hop being represented all around the world.

Every place I've been, hip-hop represents itself differently, because the society and what they're going through. The reason it's hip hop doing that and not another genre is because hip hop has been the voice of the youth. And never before have I seen the youth have such a strong voice in society. Before hip-hop, where did we have a voice? This is the first time they're making the world listen. They're making society listen to them. Hip-hop has been that tool.

Industry question: How does one go about marketing their own DVD?
That's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to bring the same hustle that Bay Area hip-hop did with CDs to DVDs. It's a lot of personal connections, being a part of the scene. I think if I wasn't a hip-hop head, I wouldn't have had this kind of exposure. If I wasn't an activist, I wouldn't have had this exposure.

I live in those two societies, that's how people know me. Just like you, you're a part of those scenes, and that's how we are able to link up for this interview for The Monterey Herald.

Your next project sounds pretty ambitious. Talk about that.
This is my baby right here. Man, I've been working on this one close to 8 years already. You're going to see these characters grow up not only into manhood, but their profession as hip-hop artists...

In Africa, they have what's called the hip-life movement, which derived from their form of music and culture called the hi-life movement and the hip-hop movement. What Africa is doing is amazing right now, because the rest of the world isn't paying attention to them. They're turning to themselves and they're becoming famous on their own continent.

Anything else you want to throw out there
Big up to the whole Clenched Fist Productions crew. Check out the all the new projects on www.clenchedfist And to all the revolutionaries out there, using your art or education to change the world, put your fist up and let's do it together.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Immortal Technique in Watsonville

Watsonville is off the hook right about now.

Brown Berets have solidified their presence in the community, which is almos miraculous when you consider that the Brown Berets have been almost MIA over the past 15 years or so (maybe they've been in Watson this whole time and I didn't know). The Danza Azteca group White Hawk has been holding it down for some time now as well. There have also been punk rockeros in bunches, and recent protests against immigration reform and HR 4437 have brought hundreds of young activistas into action in the strawberry town.

I was bombarded with all of this energy when I arrived at the Watsonville Veterans Hall on Monday, to check out a workshop by hip-hop artist Immortal Technique. Now, I have to admit, I was really aware of only one Tech song going into the gig, the "Bin Laden" single with Mos Def that was produced by DJ Green Lantern. But I was very much aware of his hardcore political stance, as well as his status as one of the emerging Latino hip-hop artists from the East Coast. Knowing all that made his appearance in Watsonville, a farm town with a predominantly working class Mexicano community, all the more intriguing.

The Vets Hall was bustling with young energy on Monday afternoon, hip-hop electronica in full effect. Youngsters dressed in Shady Gear and skater shoes mingled with bald-headed cholos in Raiders jerseys. A cipher broke out on the front steps. I was impressed.

The event was organized by The Brown Berets, so I made sure I identified myself at the door because I know that most grass roots are skeptical of any media coverage. My suspicions were varified by a fair-skinned women wearing a skully and a shirt that said "liberation," with a picture of what looked like Angela Davis on the front.

"We're not allowing corporate media to cover the event," she informed me with a bubbly smile. She was really nice about hating on my profession. I was fine with it, so I put my notebook away. I didn't feel it was necessary to list my activista credentials or try to give the secret Chicano activista hand shake.

And though I don't have 94 percent memory retention like Truman Capote, I am still capable of 'membering stuff. Notes would have to be taken in the head.

Immortal Technique rolled up dressed like sort of futuristic Vato Loco swat team member,replete in black garb with a black utility vest. He seemed very appreciative of being there.

A week earlier, he had headlined a large show in Watts, which was billed as a building block for Brown and Black relations in the so-cal ghettos. By all accounts, the show was a success, and Tech mentioned it several times during his speech. His workshop, "Street Politics of the Rap Industry," was incredibly true to its name.

Tech laid it down straight up for the kiddies: the record industry is a joke. Record labels exist only to push what is hot at the moment. Any artist who doesn't recoup for the label ends up as a tax write-off. He warned that the record industry is designed to keep the artists starving, while the record execs eat all the honey.

"If you're going to be a puppet," he said bluntly," don't be surprised when someone shoves a hand up your ass."

His whole workshop was a fearless exercise in how to hustle right: if you want to be successful, you better be prepared "to sleep only 2-3 hours a day." You better be ready to roll up in a record store 15 deep and demand that they put your CD on the shelf. Ditto for Radio DJ's that are programmed to play the same 10 songs 48 times a day (twice an hour, every hour).

Tech stays indy for a reason: because he refuses to be one of those sore puppets.

The workshop wasn't without its lighter moments: when asking the group what "payola" was, a young graph writer responded "a hallucenogic drug you smoke." That was pretty funny (and that graph writer-dude looked like he may have taken peyote at least once in his life).
Tech also broached the subject of his prison term. At one point during his bid, he was supposed to get out on MLK's Birthday after serving a year (he didn't mention what for), but instead was locked in "the hole" for having contraband, which was an extra t-shirt and pair of pants. He also shared that his family had saved for him to go to school, and after a year away, the money they had saved for their son's education was used to fight for his freedom. Despite the obvious pain of that experience, he relayed that his term had helped him determine his life's direction.

It's sad that a systematic beat down has to be the catalyst for one man's revelation, but then again, how many freedom fighter's have been born from such injustice?

As the discussion wound down, he took questions from the crowd. One question, How can hip-hop lead to social change, was met with an interesting answer.

"Don't expect any rapper to be a leader," he deadpanned. "The rap industry is meant to make money... At the end of the day, a rapper is just an individual..."

And he's certainly right. One cannot look to hip-hop artists for social change given the genre's sometimes counter-revolutionary imagery (violence, materialism, excess, mysogany).

But it can help spark the dialogue that leads to revolutionary thought. Especially in an unassuming place like Watsonville, where small town pride and a conscious Chicano activista community have transformed into a hotbed for cultural awareness and empowerment.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

RIP: Proof of D-12

A sad day in hip-hop. Here's the AP news story on the death of rapper Proof, a member of Eminem's group D-12:

Rapper Proof killed in Detroit nightclub shooting

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) - Proof, a member of rap group D12 and a close friend of Eminem, was shot to death early Tuesday at a nightclub along Eight Mile, the road made famous by the 2002 film that starred Eminem and in which Proof had a bit part.
The death of Proof - real name Deshaun Holton - was confirmed by Dennis Dennehy, the publicist for D12's label, Interscope Records, as well as by Detroit police spokesman James Tate.
"Memorial service arrangements are still being made, and his friends and family would appreciate privacy during this difficult time," Dennehy said in a statement.
Eminem and Proof, 32, seldom were seen in public without each other. Proof was the best man at Eminem's wedding in January, and they have been close friends since before Eminem became a superstar.
The music video for the Eminem song "Like Toy Soldiers" shows Eminem pacing a hospital hallway as doctors try to revive Proof, who has been shot. Later, Eminem attends Proof's funeral as the song's lyrics lament the escalation in violence between rappers.
It was Proof's idea to form D12, a six-member Detroit-based rap group that counts Eminem among its members.
D12 has been around since the mid-1990s, when the members met at Detroit's Hip-Hop Shop, a clothing store by day/hip-hop club by night.
Proof's family members gathered at a home on Detroit's northwest side after hearing the news of his death. The residential street in front of the two-story home was lined with vehicles, and people hugged each other on the sidewalk.
Proof was shot inside a small bar in a strip of businesses along Eight Mile, which is the dividing line between Detroit and its northern suburbs. Tate said two people were shot in the head - one fatally. He said an argument at the C.C.C. nightclub escalated into gunshots.
The other victim - a 35-year-old man - was listed in critical condition, Tate said.
Wende Berry, a spokeswoman for St. John Health System, said Holton was dead on arrival at St. John Conner Creek, an outpatient treatment facility. Berry confirmed that he had a gunshot wound.
Police said shots were fired inside the bar around 4:30 a.m. By the time officers arrived, both of the injured men had been taken from the bar in private vehicles, Tate said.
Evidence technicians and detectives remained inside the bar Tuesday morning. A spot of blood was on the street in front of the tavern, and police marked shell casings in a parking lot across the street.
Patrol officers said the bar is a frequent source of problems on the city's east side. Tate said police have taken 18 incident reports there since 1996. The latest was a vice raid in December in which six tickets were issued, most involving minors possessing or drinking alcohol.
The bar, he said, was legal, but was operating outside of its licensed hours.
Another member of Eminem's inner circle - rapper Obie Trice - was shot while driving on a Detroit-area highway in December.


This is the second death to rock the Detroit hip-hop scene in less than two months. In February, underground producer James "Jay Dee/J-Dilla" succumbed to a bout with a rare blood disease. Now, the violent end to an MC who many in the "D" claim as an architect for the city's scene sucker punches the hip-hop nation.

And it's a shame that the mainstream media will view this as just another dead rapper, a tragic cliche in a musical genre full of tragic cliches. Any talk of senseless violence and glorification of an excessive lifestyle found within Proof's lyrics is sure to come up as evidence that he fostered this sort of fate. Bullshit. It ain't even like that.

I'mma keep this short because I just don't know if there is anything to add to this. Life is too short, folks. Don't ever take it for granted.


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Friday, April 07, 2006

"ATL" Movie Review

"Down South you grow up quick, especially in the ATL."

And thus the premise for rapper T.I.'s movie "ATL" is laid out in the movies opening moments, along with a montage of southern living: country landscapes, worn houses, rib shacks, and the sound of Ray Charles cooing "Georgia" over a hip-hop beat.

The movie's release coincided with T.I.'s new album, "King," which was no coincidence. T.I. is primed to be a superstar, evidenced by his album's number one showing on the pop charts, and the movie's strong no. 3 ranking in box office sales. T.I. is now worthy of wearing the crown as "King of the South." And he makes it look easy.

The movie itself is a coming of age tale of two brothers, Rashad (played by TI) and Ant. The pair live with their uncle George (the parents were killed in a car accident) in Mechanicsville, an Atlanta community that is very working class. The presence of drugs, violence and despair loom in the background, but they don't dominate the movie. That' helps the flick avoid the whole "'hood movie syndrome."

This movie is more "American Graffiti" than "Menace II Society," and TI carries himself with the same angst and wide-eyed bewilderment that Richard Dreyfuss did more than 30 years ago in "Graffiti."

Rashad is a young man longing for some direction in his life. He dotes over his younger, scattershot brother Ant by helping him learn to be a man, but Rashad is hard pressed to figure that out for himself. He assumes the responsibility of role model that their uncle seems to duck, and helps run the cleaning business that he inherited when his parents passed away.

Rashad's crew is another revelation: no drug dealers, gangsters or hustlers among them, a welcome relief in an urban drama. Instead, we get a preppy braniac who keeps it real in the hood, an aloof miscreant/high school flunky who does gold "grills" on the side, and a doughy food worker from the east coast who can't find a job he likes.

And out of this ragtag bunch we get characters who don't appear headed for imminent doom (except Ant, who chooses to sell weed as a side vocation and gets into it with the local kingpin). And they all congregate at the most unlikely of spots: the roller rink, where Rashad and his crew battle it out on skates with rival crews. It's a joy to watch a movie with young people of color depicted simply as young people, period. Here are a few of my highlights:

- Thick country accents abound, which brought instant smiles. A school teacher saying "Thanks ya, Jee-zuss" and a girl complaining "My mouth is not that BEEG" were special treats.

- An east coast versus down south feud erupts when the homies debate regional slang. A NYC homie asks "Why you gotta end everything with shorty (pronounced "shaw-dee") while his southern brother asks "Why you end everything with son." They both make good points.

- I learned two great phrases: "(She got a) ass fatter than a swamp possum with mumps," and "You open like a can of pigs feet." The trick for me now is to use them in a regular conversation.

- The movie is a great entry point for southern culture, particularly the roller skate culture. I didn't see that bow wow movie "Roll Bounce," but that movie looked very lame. "ATL" made skating look cool.

- Rapper Big Boi of Outkast shows up as a germaphobe dope dealer (I forgot to write his character's name down). He shows up in an Escalade on some ridiculous 28-inch rims. And that is the reason you never hear about street dope dealers retiring to the Bahamas, they don't know how invest their money properly.

-Big Boi has two of the best lines in the movie: after beating his blood cousin who shorted him on some drug money, he looks him dead in the eye and says "You bet not tell my momma." Later, when a rival throws money in his face, he dead pans "You just hit me in my damn mouth with some money." Classic.

- T.I. is the truth. It's so hard for a non-actor to carry a movie, but he more than manages by not only going against type from his rap persona, but flipping the same scowling on the surface mannerism to convey Rashad's depth of character. 50 Cent could take some acting lessons from T.I.

- The number one rule in skating: Don't Fall. You just end up looking like an ass.

- Keith David, one of the scariest looking dudes in Hollywood, shows up as an uppity rich guy who turned his back on the ghetto. Even in that role, he looks like he would just kick my ass.

- Big Rube of the Dungeon Family shows up! Well, his voice does, at least, in the form of an overdub during a scene in the movie. Big Rube should be in a lot more movies.

- The trap house (dope house) in the movie looks like a cross between a crack house and a cult compound. It's pretty creepy looking.

- One thing I might do is rent the movie on DVD when it comes out, and play a drinking game based on rapper cameos. Every time a rapper makes a cameo (and there are a bunch, including Bone Crusher, Big Gipp, Jazze Pha) you gotta take a drink.

- Minnie Ripperton's "Let Me Know" is a great song. That's all I gotta say.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Q & A Interview: Ms. Veronica

Me and Ms. Veronica go way back. We're tight like that.

Okay, so I'm lying. I only met the girl last fall, after her fabulous photo spread for Eye Candy in XXL magazine. The magazine's center-fold shoot is the hip-hop equivelant of the Playmate of the Month (minus the nekkidness).

Last year, the 2000 North Salinas High School grad made her splash as one of the video hotties in Kanye West's "Gold Digger" clip (she's the one in the black teddy under the banner "Vixen"). She's also been one of the Bay Area's most visible lobbyists, bigging up her Yay Area bretheren at every opportunity she gets.

The Herald did a huge feature story that I penned, and we got calls from folks both praising the piece ("It's about time some flavor was in your paper" read one e-mail) and bemoaning it (a couple of people threatened to cancel their subscription because they thought images of her from the video were demeaning to women).

But Ms. Veronica is the ultimate hustler, a true hard-worker who manages high-profile modeling gigs and a down-to-earth close-knit family background at once. "The Beat" managed to touch base with ya girl after she just flew in from a shoot in Miami, where she was steady on the grind, as always.

How are you doing?
I'm great. I'm still in bed. I have three days off, so that's good.

What's new and exciting with you?
I've been pretty much touring right now. I've been gone for a while, and I've been working on a TV show called Latin Fever. It's like Extra and Entertainment Tonight, with less gossip and a little more urban, with black and Latino celebrities.
So far, we've done interviews with (pro boxer) Bernard Hopkins, Mr. Cartoon, he's like the tattoo artist to the stars. We interviewed Terrance Howard, who was nominated for an Academy Award.
We do Snoop and Twista this weekend. We're interviewing fashion designers too. We have Karl Kani and Adam Hardy, whose clothes are very popular right now
The show starts at the end of April, so check your local listings. It'll be nationwide.

Are you doing the interviews yourself?
Yeah, I'm doing the interviews

What's that like for you?
It's fun. You get to meet a lot of people. I love the camera and I love my job.
I'm also working with a new company, NBK entertainmet/It Factor. It's run by Jeff Robinson's company. He's Alicia Keys manager... I just got back from Miami with them. We hosted a huge party. Usher came, Cristina Millian, lots of athletes, DJ Clue showed up. A lot of celebrities, it was really fun.
We had a photo shoot at Ty Law's mansion in Maimi. It was big. (Robinson) is such a nice guy. I have never worked with such a great company before.

For our readers, can you describe how you get paid? Do you get money from appearance fees? Do you get paid by the hour or per appearance?
Definitely appearance fees, and that helps. It's also fun, because during the (NBA) All-Star game, I hosted a few parties and I made a few thousand dollars just for partying! I got there and did some shopping and I got to come home with a few thousand dollars for it. And they paid for my planet ticket and my hotel and took care of me.
A year ago, I would have had to have paid for my own ticket. So this year, I got to spend some time shopping and had some fun.
Basically we're getting paid to be there. Appearance fees are big.
I haven't been working on videos, because I've been working on the show. But I did a magazine shoot for OYE, Open Your Eyes magazine. That was big.

Do you get paid per day when you do a magazine shoot?
Some of them are promotion, some of them you get an editorial fee. That's what it's called.

When we last talked, you said you were in a video with Rhymefest. Will that be released anytime soon?
That's released. It's me and Kanye West and Rhymefest. It's the funniest video I've done. It's also the quickest, because that was done in front of a green screen in one day.

I've made a big deal of the Hyphy movimiento in a lot of my recent pieces. What's your take on it right now, since you're repping The Bay so hard?
I love the Bay Area. I definitely make sure I support the Bay. I got 40's album, I got Balance's album... I push the Hyphy movement a lot. I make sure every magazine I'm in I push the Hyphy movement. Celebrities see me and they ask me "What's the Hyphy?"
I get messages from big celebrities like 'What's the Hyphy? What's a scraper? What are stunner shades?' I just laugh...
Everywhere I go, a lot of celebrities call me Ms. Hyphy. I know the Hyphy movement is going to blow up real soon. I get it out there with mainstream celebrities. That way, when I do go to a video shoot or an interview and someone is talking about Hyphy, they can be like "That's what Veronica is talking about."
Even in my interviews for the show. I always ask how do you feel about the Bay Area, and theyre' like,"Yeah, E-40 is cool,' but then they're like "What does that have to do with what we're talking about."

What's the most difficult thing you've encountered during your new gig as a show host?
What's hard is I might talk to someone in G-Unit one day and then someone in Black Wallstreet the next day and it's hard. They talk about each other and I'm like,'Wait a minute.' I don't want to make anyone mad or get in the middle of these rapper beefs.
What I'm worrried about is one day they'll talk about somebody that I actually know. That would suck.

Is it your impression that some of these guys are extra sensitive?
Yeah, I guess, I mean, I think it would be a lot stronger if everyone just stuck together... Some people just want attention and then some people have nothing else but to talk about somebody else. That's all they got.
Some people have nothing going for them, and so they decide to talk about somebody else, and then it doesn't work for them and what sucks is that it gets out of hand and people end up dying.
I know Busta Rhymes had a video shoot and his bodyguard got killed. I think it's nonsense, but the rumor was that it was somebody who was talking about somebody else. That's how the guy ended up getting killed.
I think it's even worse in the Bay Area. When Bay artists talk about other Bay artists but theyre' not even on a big level yet. It's like, you guys haven't even started yet, there's no reason for it.
At the same time, I think a lot of rappers are scared for The Bay to come up. It's something different from what they're doing, and it scares them. They know if it gets big, its so different that its going to wipe out what they got going.

What are you listening to/feeling right now?
E-40. That's what i've been listening to for the last few. The Federation's new album is crazy! Balance's new album is good, I actually got to listen to it before it came out. I got it a month ago. As far as the Salinas/Monterey area, people are going to love that album.
It's cool, when I get to listen to other peoples albums beforehand, because I know whether it's going to suck or not or whether it's going to be good.

Goldie from The Federation said something that I thought was funny. He said that you were cool because you would date "an average looking dude." Can you tell me what he meant by that?
Of course, being in the industry you get asked out by a lot of celebrities and athletes all the time. It's like a big college, but it's so small at the same time because you keep seeing them all over the place, so they ask you out a lot.
I would rather just date an average guy, where it's not going to be all crazy, where I'm in New York and you're in Texas. I would rather date an average guy who is going to be more laid back... But I can definitely say, right now I'm very single.

Well, I'm sure our male readers will be glad to hear that. Now, for a more serious question: Are you looking for any writers for your show?
Ummm, I'm not too sure (pause) I'm not too involved with the technical stuff.. I don't know. But if we are, I will definitely throw you in there.

I'm just playing... Anything else you want to throw out there?
I just feel really blessed, and I thank god every chance I get. I'll thank him three times a day. I'm just blessed and thankful for everything.

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