Can we just talk about guns for a minute?

Can we talk about guns for a minute

You watch that C-SPAN feed this week?  Shit got crazy up on Capitol Hill…

House Democrats led a sit-in at the Capitol building beginning Wednesday at 11:30 am and running for 25 straight hours.  Democratic Senators came and joined in support, Elizabeth Warren brought Dunkin.  Their intention was to force the House of Representatives to bring forth a bill on gun legislation for a vote, presumably one of the four (or Collins’ fifth option) that was voted down in the Senate on Monday.  Those four measures, two proposed by Republicans and two proposed by Democrats dealt with particular pieces of the gun control debate, from closing background check loopholes, to the not-as-simple-as-they-appear “no fly, no buy” measures that coordinate with the nation’s various no fly and terror watch lists.  All four were rejected along nearly perfect party lines despite a CNN poll this week that says a large percentage of Americans are in favor of some “common sense” gun measures: 90% supported universal background checks (I know, most places make you do some kind of check, we’ll get back to that in a moment), 87% supporting measures that would prevent felons and those who are mentally ill from getting a gun, and 85% supporting a “no fly, no buy” initiative. Yet even in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando or the many others so recent, we remain stubbornly entrenched in our views, with so little room for movement between the two sides.

In the wake of this type of terrible event, as the phenomenon becomes frighteningly common here in the United States, many of us scramble for answers, with questions and debates about where blame should lie and what solutions might exist towards prevention of future such tragedies.  Here in the United States, of course, the discussions surrounding gun violence, gun ownership rights, and what impact legal restrictions can and will have are nothing new.  The right to bear arms as outlined in the Second Amendment to our Constitution is passionately protected by a large portion of our citizenry, while the intention and language of said Amendment is the subject of its own debate within the context of modern weaponry.  What exactly is the definition of “a well regulated militia” and what bearing does that phrase have on the Amendment as a whole?  Many would say that the principle at the center of the Amendment and the right itself is defense against tyranny, believing that an armed citizenry cannot and will not be overtaken by tyrannical rule.  For many it also represents a spirit of personal independence and self-reliance, a drive to protect what is yours.  All of these are noble principles advocated by the pro-gun crowd.  That self-reliance bumps up against societal safety when taken to a particular extreme, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

let's talk about guns

#NoBillNoBreak sit-in on Capitol Hill

The point is that this is an important dialogue worthy of a sophisticated and evolved citizenry, debating with our fellow Americans deep social issues of personal responsibility, freedom and prevention of tyranny, and how we perpetuate notions of violence.  And while that dialogue does take place in smaller pockets, on a large scale the two sides simply retreat to familiar and fervently defended stances with no movement made toward compromise.  As I mentioned, three of Monday’s Senate votes failed along perfect 53-47 party lines, while the bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy aimed at closing the “gun show loophole” gained an additional 3 votes from Senate Republicans.  In my opinion, each side of this debate has valid criticisms which we should accept and use as a basis for compromise.  On the political right, there are two great notions which comprise much of the argument. 1. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” and 2. None of the measures proposed thus far would have had a specific impact on any of the recent tragedies (Omar Mateen was not on the no fly list, for instance).  The first is an age-old cliché that argues for personal responsibility but I think understates the deadly nature of firearms.  Guns have one solitary purpose, to kill, and when we passively move past that we skew the debate. I think perhaps a more accurate phrase would be “Guns don’t kill people, people with guns kill people”.

The second point, that the proposed legislations don’t actually address issues that relate to any recent tragedy, is, I think, the more pressing one for the present dialogue.  Many critics argue that making background checks truly universal, including trade shows and private sales, is redundant given that, they claim, most places perform a background check anyway.  The “no fly, no buy” and related measures rely heavily on several different secret government lists, opening a litany of civil right issues while contributing little in the way of practical results.  And even an assault weapons ban (which I’ll get to in a moment) wouldn’t have affected the 2015 Louisiana movie theatre shooting, Dylann Roof’s shooting in Charleston, 2012’s Wisconsin temple shooting, or the 2011 Arizona shooting involving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, all of which were perpetrated using only handguns.

Left Right and Center, let’s talk about guns! KEEP READING…

Rap Flashback – Schoolly D

Schoolly-DFor today’s Rap Flashback we’re taking it way back, as June 22nd 1962 marks the birthday of Philly’s Schoolly D.  Schoolly D’s rap career took off in the mid-80s and he’s best known for the classic Rap track, ‘P.S.K. What Does It Mean’, released in 1985 on Schoolly’s own independent label, Schoolly D Records.  Schoolly’s credited with being one of the first artists to introduce a hardcore element to Hip Hop music, rapping about sex, drugs, and violence.  Ice T in fact considers Schoolly as being the first gangsta rapper.  When asked about the origins of gansta Rap in a 2007 interview with Davey D, Ice had this to say:

Here’s the exact chronological order of what really went down: The first record that came out along those lines was Schoolly D‘s ‘P.S.K.’ Then the syncopation of that rap was used by me when I made Six In The Morning. The vocal delivery was the same: ‘…P.S.K. is makin’ that green’, ‘…six in the morning, police at my door’. When I heard that record I was like “Oh shit!” and call it a bite or what you will but I dug that record. My record didn’t sound like P.S.K., but I liked the way he was flowing with it. P.S.K. was talking about Park Side Killers but it was very vague. That was the only difference, when Schoolly did it, it was “…one by one, I’m knockin’ em out”. All he did was represent a gang on his record. I took that and wrote a record about guns, beating people down, and all that with Six In The Morning.

 

Schoolly’s influence was also evident beyond the 80s as ‘P.S.K.’  was resurrected on Notorious B.I.G.’s 1997 release, Life After Death as the quick hitting ‘B.I.G. Interlude’.  For that classic track as well as groundbreaking content, Schoolly D, JP Lime salutes you!

“One by one I knocks ’em out”

 

The Oddball Show with Lewis M

The Oddball Show podcastThis Tuesday night the Oddballs are joined by poet, teacher, and Hip Hop artist Lewis M.  A member of the prolific Flatline Poetry collective, Lewis is also a Hip Hop producer and emcee whose new album “That New Violence” dropped this April.  Is Hip Hop Poetry, inherently, or do they live in different worlds?  Join the conversation tonight at 8:00, only on the #OddballShow.

Pertinent Links

‘That New Violence’ on Bandcamp

FlatlinePoetry.com

Lewis M on Twitter and Instagram

Rap Flashback – Heavy D., Big Tyme

Heavy D and the Boyz, in JP Lime's Rap FlashbackJune 12, 1989 marks the release date of Big Tyme, the second studio album from Heavy D. & The Boyz and in my opinion, one of their most enjoyable.  Featuring tracks from in-house producer DJ Eddie F as well as Teddy Riley & Marley Marl and with co-production efforts from Pete Rock (Heavy D’s younger cousin) the album definitely had an R&B/Mainstream appeal to it.  Radio friendly singles “We Got Our Own Thang” (one of my two favorite Heavy D tracks, the other being “Nuttin’ But Love”) and “Somebody For Me”  were received well by audiences as they offered fans a light-hearted, dance friendly balance to the political and hardcore edge that Public Enemy and Ice T were incorporating in their music at the time.  That said, Heavy does get a chance to showcase his all too often underrated lyrical prowess on more upbeat tracks such as “More Bounce” and “Flexin”.  Big Tyme peaked at #1 on the Hip Hop/R&B charts and number #19 on the Billboard 200.

When Heavy D. passed in November of 2011, I felt like a part of Hip Hop’s early innocence passed along with him.  Though hugely underappreciated for much his post early-90s career, Heavy D. was a champion for clean Hip Hop music that made you move your feet.  Seminal tracks like “Mr. Big Stuff”, “Now That We Found Love”, “Got Me Waiting”, and “Gyrlz, They Love Me” are about relationships and playful bragging.  While he could rap with the best emcees from around the way and occasionally made street-hop tracks (very well I might add, see 1992’s “You Can’t See What I Can See”), his best work came in the form of tracks like ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘The Overweight Lover’s In The House’ – tracks that made you dance, smile, and usually both.  Heavy represented a time before gangstas, strip clubs, bling, and recreational drugs began to heavily permeate Rap’s conscious and content.  Big Tyme embodies that very notion and for that Heavy D. and The Boyz, we at JP Lime Productions salute you!  Rest In Power, Heavy D.

“Original, individual, smooth criminal / dance a lot, dance a little, shuffle to the middle.’

Rap Flashback – Lil’ Wayne, Tha Carter III

Tha Carter IIIJune 10, 2008 marks the release date of Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne’s 6th album and most successful work to date.   Laced with star guest appearances and featuring several hits such as the international smash “Lollipop” (featuring Static Major) and Billboard successes “Got Money” (featuring T-Pain) and “A Milli”, the album sold 1,005,545 copies in its first week and rounded out 2008 with 2.88 million records sold.  It peaked at number 1 on the Billboard charts and remained the top record for 3 weeks.

Weezy’s raspy vocals and sometimes razor sharp, sometimes smooth and melodic delivery are featured, as are contributions from notable producers Just Blaze, Manny Fresh, Kanye West, and Timbaland.  Tha Carter III was well received by critics and fans alike, and won the 2009 Grammy Award for Rap Album Of The Year.  As such, Lil’ Wayne staked his claim as the self-proclaimed ‘Best Rapper of Alive’ and built a vast and undeniably strong fan base (7 million twitter followers & 38 million likes on Facebook).  Simply put, Lil’ Wayne is a bad dude and for that we at JP Lime Productions salute!

 

Rap Flashback – EPMD, Strictly Business

Strictly Business coverJune 7th, 1988 (that magical year in Hip Hop) marks the release date of EPMD’s debut album, Strictly BusinessThough the album peaked at a modest 80 on the Billboard charts, it went gold four months after its release, no small feat for a Rap album back in the 80s.  The record also received much critical acclaim (1 of 43 albums to ever receive 5 mics from The Source) and as such has withstood the test of time. 

Still widely renowned as a seminal Golden Age of Hip Hop album, Strictly Business introduced EPMD’s Erick Sermon and Parish Smith to the masses.  They went on to be considered one of the best in Rap History.  Erick Sermon would lend both production and rap credits to many artists, most notably teaming up w/ Method and Redman in the mid-90s to form the super (yet curiously slept on) group, Def Squad – remember El Nino?  True guardians of the funk sound, even before west coast artists would go onto popularize it in the 90s, EPMD dropped a classic w/ Strictly Business and for that, JP Lime Productions salutes you!

“I’m not an emcee who talkin’ all that junk about who can beat who. You sound like a punk.”

Rap Flashback – Gang Starr

Gang-Starr-No-More-Mr.-Nice-GuyOn this date in 1989, Gang Starr’s debut album No More Mr. Nice Guy was released.  Though Step into the Arena would be their breakout album, as DJ Premier would gain full range of his sonic mix, the heavy scratching and jazz influence that embodied their sound begins on Nice Guy. The album peaked at #83 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts and gained critical acclaim for its unique sound and positive lyrics, contributing to the foundation of what is now often called “alternative rap.” 

With this mantel in mind and the late, great, Guru’s Boston roots, Gang Starr, we salute you.