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Vancouver Hip Hop News Issue #1

Issue #1 2003

Hmmm... what what what is hop hop?

I'll leave the answer to that question to kindle... you do the match.

BUT what I can speak on with some perspective is hip hop in Vancouver. The city of multi-cultures, poverty to the east, riches to the west, and you've seen or heard about it- sweet and soulful rain. So you might be wondering what makes this girl slick on it? Well, just the fact that when I tell people, 'yup, I was actually born and raised here in Van,' they do a big raise up the brows, 'reaally?!'

It's less common than one might think. Plus I grew up in East Van near the infamous Commercial Drive. There (to be brief) I learned to avoid eye contact, yet hold head high. No person in this country should have to live on the streets. And alcoholism, drugs, violence etc. is what brings communities down to their knees, praying "God please.' Also add this, children in messed up situations need opportunities to escape the increasingly negative prevalence of reality. Aka: get them creating. Creativity is release number fuckin' one. If it's not there, they go to relase number two; fighting. Hell as gangster rappers have proven, sometimes number two is all about number one. But anyways, I'm side tracking. So let's get back to it.

I've also been lucky enough to live round' the West Side of Van. The biggest difference besides bigger houses, lots, cars, and all that other big ol' bling and personal luxury> is that there are many old and beautiful trees left on the West Side. As a result: fresher, cleaner air.

I've lived in one of the burbs'> yikes! Also have lived and worked in the heart of down town. Yea, that's where the suburbanites come to be loud, fancy-drunk bar stars on the weekends. Cool man.

Am I trying to prove myself here or something? Hello! Of course. If you don't know, now you know!

Since we've hopefully got it clear that I know a lil' bout' Van, let's do the hip hop credentials. I've been listening to rap and r'n'b devoutly ever since round' when TLC asked me, "What About Your Friends" girl?! Or was it when Salt n' Peppa' said "let's talk about sex bay-be" Late 80's early 90's was hip hop's time of glory. I miss those days, and if you're down, I'm sure you probably do too.

I currently write rhymes, practice hip hop dance and collect records, tapes and cd's in hopes of one day being able to create my own funky fresh tracks. Whatever- it's just a hobby. A love on the side. Cuz' it doesn't pay my bills and I'm not trying to be the female Eminem. Ya' heard!

Also note: when skidomes (thats a skater hommy) were still JUST skaters, I was baggy jeans, and men's jersey top girl with an attitude, and as I know will be familiar to some of you> those same people who have now eagerly jumped onto the hip hop band wagon, used to make fun of MY style.

What I don't like:

The Zellers commercial where they sell X-box by saying something like, "On the rizzo' ya' heard"

Oh god, there's nothing worse than that.

What I also don't like:

She's still Benefer from the block. Yea' the Hollywood block, we alllll get it.

(No personal offence to anybody- it's true, I don't know you, just the images YOU make. Own it)

Some people really want to get out of the hood. Whatever hood that might be. It's not just a ghetto thing. And if we've got different aspirations for ourselves than our immediate surroundings can provide, then hey- that only makes us human. But how are we going to get there?

If you're Really a hommy, from what I've learned these past two decades or so, then you stay true to yourself. All that embodies that too- like friends and fam. You hold your head high. Maybe you even Get High. ( Van='s good weed ). You work for it. Earn respect. Cash does not equal respect. Physical attractiveness (usually a symbol of youth), is nice- like cash, but it does not automatically equal respect. Hurting, putting down or thinking you're better than others (well... most others), does not equal respect. You dig'? And you know what? Just cuz' you're from the ghetto, does not necessarily equal respect as a hommy either.

So, what you REALLY want to know about Vancouver, if you don't already, is that here like in any other urban village its full of fake people, who will do what it takes to get shine no matter who they have to burn. They pose in the clubs. They hide behind doors. They want to pose for the cameras. They try to start wars. They pose as victims of dellusion. But I walk by the sea. Cuz' confusion can happen to anybody- yea, even me. However, all rants aside, those people often do mold true thugs and hommies into wiser folks. You'll usually see us on the bus, walking down the streets, or maybe quite unseen all together. Minding our own buisness and shyt.

Alright, that's quite enough out of me for now. Maybe this web site should get a pole going for who the coolest hommies of all time have been? I just thought of a duo to nominate-l the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Willy Wil and Carlton Banks. Peace out- The Urban Maiden......

Issue #2

Issue # 2"Quality"

In the pursuit of quality, instead of choosing just one of the pieces I've been working on since article # 1, here is a collection of passages from all of them.

" much and yet so little to say at the same time.
Gotta' give myself rules, like: number one- don't try and Define Hip Hop; and two- avoid negative attitude pieces..."
-Easier said than done. I find myself constantly writing about Who hip hop music representz, and How its evolved:

"...a blend of beats> 1,2,3,4 sets, rythms, ba-ba-base, tweakin', sampling (taking tha' old and making it now), RnB and rap vocals... music that reflects like a puddle, around which people huddle, behind them is the struggle, its us without the muzzle... reflects individual's stories, community issues and promotes self-awareness and self protection. KRS-One, Salt n' Peppa', Arrested Development some exmps... a powerful movement nurtured by the previous soul, blues, funk generations... A world of dance, upliftment, poetry, fighting the powers, emotions, confidence... The sounds the streets make when you hear whats going on around you better with music.

...Since its become so valuable to a whole generation, and shows definite lasting potential, its cash generating aspects are becoming more important to many than its quality. The upper class (aka. and their bitch Hollywood), and the drug dealers know what I'm talkin' about... Now-school artist of last year Ja Rule (aka. Tupac/DMX rip-off) vs. the newschool ( old now to some), artists of all-time-hip-hop-history: Lost Boyz. No comp. LB fam knew how to make 'Legal Drug Money' outa' flawless hip hop. It's not that Ja Rule is totally awful, it's just that his lyrics leave a bad taste in my mouth. "Life Syles of the Rich and Shameless"- L.O.S.T B.O.Y.Z.
...Its as though hip hop has been adopted by the Upper Class like some cute, war-torn, stray cat. They've dressed kitty in a fancy collar with pink booties and a minerature, graffiti coloured coat, and paraded their newly salvaged savage across stage after stage. Cat may have just been under one too many bright lights, and munched on one too many kitty-nip super snacks. Cuz' now us other strays still on the streets, in the pounds, and you know- just shy of owners are like- 'Wha'?' Hollyhood Kitty miews, miews, miews about money, leisure, parties, pimpin' and hoin', drugs, sex, exploitation... and we say... WOW! It still looks like a cat, and sounds like a cat but we can't EVEN relate to its issues!... I start, and then I can't stop talking about cats... when really nobody is safe from making mistakes... we're all potential hypicrits and f-ups. Potential goes either way. Here's who goes blah:
The Hypicrit: Bling Blingers who really don't seem to get that fast fame and paid radio play isn't actually theirs. (Unless you're Puff, er P. Diddy). Why talk about it like it is?
-"Don't let it go to your head yo'!" -Brand Nubian
The F-ups: Had bad lives (or some idiots maybe even not), let the anger get the better of them, and now use hip hop like coke and push it not caring who gets hurt in the process.
-But don't get me wrong, I like Thug music, be they true thugs like Krazy Bone, Mobb Deep or Kool Keith! Their shit sounds more like real and I take it like a warning bout' facts rather than a glamourization."
So now you know, I've broken my own rules for writing. Why? Am I a hypicrit too?

I think what I've realized through this process is that expression can be messy as hell sometimes. What's said or done isn't always what's meant, or what the best thing is. Trying to explain hip hop and the frustrating parts about the way its changing isn't just my mind-state. And for better work to be created, the craft's person has to be willing to listen to negative feedback, in their own thoughts and from others.
I think Vancouver Does have talent, hidden on every block of this hood. We are one of the most modern cities in the world, we've got a culturally diverse environment, and a relaxed atmosphere. We learn from eachother's different backgrounds> forming historically unusaul bonds and imaginations. We're not Limited to just listening to hip hop, because the youth sub-cultures get along. A metal head shares with a hippie, a hippie shares with a raver, a raver shares with a hip hopper etc. (I personally love drum and base almost just as much as I ever loved hip hop). We also have access to education, beauty and buisness (the legal kind, if we try).
Yet there's still alot of tension too. An extreme millionair climate is sharply and painfully contrasted by many folks who are homeless, drug-adicts, on welfare, facing abusive situations, single moms and basically the same ghetto problems that are unfairly suffered all around the globe.
As angrifying, capitalistic, ruthless, sad and unfortunate for no good reason as parts of Van. can be, there is always strong, green mountains in the background, a colour or tear streaked and sympathetic sky up above, and an ever-rolling ocean to lull us.
We've got a lot to reflect on and put into music.

I'll just conclude by saying that I don't mean to be negative, but critical. And none of us has to act So happy all the time to be positive. And speakin' on quality> critical and positive are two well balanced qualities that I adore, and have always found in good hip hop.
-a smiling face does take one far, especially if it comes from the resiliance of over-coming life strife.
Thanks for listening, theurbanmaiden

(sorry for any spelling mistakes!)



This morning I watched the Cosby Show on Super Station. That show has values to the core, and is funny as hell. Cosby and another old-timer were sittin in the basement together, with a record player so old and busted they had to keep a quarter on the needle as a weight. They were talking about the Jazz they still loved to listen to from back in their day. And I thought, yea Im going to be like that one day, talking about Hip Hop, sorting through cassette tapes, and getting my groove on- creaky bones and all, as I sip tea and wonder what ever happened to the forty-ounce?
There were a lot of good shows on television when I was growing up. The era of the sitcom. But its all good because Im still growing and am proud to say I lived to see the days of the Reality TV show! Hmm reality
Is reality The Bachelore/Bachelorette where ~ a dozen people all compete to be engaged to one person they barely know who is apparently like, so great its worth making an ass out of yourself on national, even international television for?!
Is reality more like For Love or for Money where after already acquiring one million dollars for breaking a really creepy guys heart you get to make another million dollars just for meeting the right guy?
Or is reality actually more like Meet the Parents where as you date a person with three other people and their Mom and Dad, you laugh and squeal as all of your dirtiest little secrets that you NEVER wanted anybody to know are tossed around like a bull shit salad.
Yea- thats my life. Yall, I dont have to date any more, but for those who do if I actually thought that this was the reality of dating I would go nun for sho! Kids in North America may just decide not to pro-create any more if they are taking this reality seriously then were in trouble. But nah, all jokes aside (cuz kids are smarter than they ever get credit for), how about the other type of reality TV show? The Survivors, the Americas Next Top Models, the Money Money Money oh I mean The Apprentice?
Those shows are ok for entertainments sake but reality? Hmm
Then comes along the Donald Trump of Hip Hop P. Diddy. And he decides to hook up with MTV and get to Making the Band.
The show is over now, but I was deeply involved with it the whole time it was on. Why? What made it so different from any other reality TV show? Two words, the contestants.
I liked that the show spent more time letting us get to know them, rather than just using it as a talent showcase. And these cats were real, with real people hopes, dream and problems. We have to wait and see though if the group they established will prove themselves as musicians. But it was moments along the shows own road that highlighted some true issues of hip hop.
The first major thing that got my attention was on an episode where all of the rhymers went to a little club and got a chance to freestyle for us. There this African-American (most of them were) dude named DJ Diamond says something they bleep out and the whole show goes bananas, in a bad, shocked kind of way. Later two of Diddys soldiers go up into DJ Ds room and we find out that what he said was, To all my bad boy crackers. They thought this to be an extremely offensive comment and they told him something like, that you dont hear Eminem sayin the N word, and hes making millions of dollars.
DJ Diamond was honestly shaken up that people would take what he said offensively because he said he had a bunch of Caucasian friends and that all of them said stuff like that together. Now, I myself am a whitey, and I dont use the N word. However, if I did my African-Canadian friends wouldnt be that offended if they use it themselves (theyd just roll their eyes), or else they would be just as offended as they are when they hear other blacks using the word. You know?
So anyhow, my point hasnt got anything to do with what DJ Diamond said because I could honestly care less. Its how you mean what you say in my books, and he didnt mean nothing by it. What my point is, since I got you wondering, is that since when has Eminem made his money by NOT offending people?
The next item on this list is about a lioness named Mysterious. This girl brought me to tears more than once. I mean, even before I knew anything about her I thought she had the best voice, deep and powerful. She was in control of the mike when she had that sucker. Then I found out how much shes been through. An orphan since childhood, been in and out of group homes, music as her escape. Word
Diddy had the group doing exercise as a way to assess their drive to succeed. Mysterious was sweating yall, the hardest. And one of the other girls commented that shed probably never worked out before. I know a thing or two about the science of fitness, but apparently the personal trainer on the show thought it would be better to keep the girl going, so she could prove herself. And oh no, she wouldnt stop. But later one of those nights she did have to go to the hospital, and they never did say why Why? Was she dehydrated? Was her diaphragm in severe spasm? Were her muscles cramping? What was her pain?
You think it would get easier for her from that point on, but while she was on the show, her sister went missing then was later found, murdered. How Mysterious could have come back to the show after that, I dont know. But she did. She struggled with the idea of being in a group, probably because the only person shed ever had to truly rely on was herself. She was willing to make the jump, but Diddy saw her hesitation and she didnt make the final cut. The girl broke down. She had been drinking (maybe not the best choice) and she smashed her empty glass on the table, started screaming, told everybody off and stormed down the block tarring flowers from the tree boxes as she went. Her words still haunt me you know, because she screamed through tears, All of this for nothing. And its true, she went through more than any of those others did to be there, and to get there. But what she was wrong about was the for nothing part. Im telling you, if this girl puts out an album Im sold. Like I said, shes a Lioness, and maybe too much attitude for Bad Boy. She needs a good label that can understand her and take care of her, somewhere where money aint the bottom line. She deserves the chance to turn her hardships into something positive, and I personally think she deserves to be happy.
With all critique aside, I still think the people Diddy and team chose for the group represented like they all did. Chopper and Fredrique stood out for their competition against each other- it kept them fired up. Sara is a momma and a wife, so you know shell bring tha soul. Babs was just a thug rap chick who could bang with the best of em. The guy with the reggae sounds (sorry, cant remember name) was awesome and shouldnt have been cut the first time just cuz he had a little time to do in the pin. He really wanted to put music and craftsmanship before crime, and thats what hip hop offers at its best. It was weird though when Puffy said that the reggae flavour is really starting to be hot in hip hop, and thats not a direct quote, but it was something like that. Ummm from what I know, reggae and dance hall has always been part of the root of true hip hop? Not a fad thing. Im sure Puffy knows that though.
Then there was Nes or whatever, and his freestyle game was too tight to ignore, witty rhymes and passion in voice good.
You know what I wanna know though? If all the finalists were as good as Diddy said they were, why couldnt he have made two bands and surprised us all? That would have put the reality icing on the tip of the reality cake.
Well I could go on, but Im sure your eyes are getting sore (mine are), and perhaps your mouth dry (mine is). So go get a cool glass of water on me (I will), and well chat some more later.
Peace Out