Israel/Gaza – What’s Going On?

As Buffalo Springfield put it, “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” In world politics and conflicts, it’s often easy to lose track of (or not know to begin with) the origins of a given conflict. We hear the big, breaking news but don’t know why or how this round of fighting got started. It’s especially difficult to get a clear picture of fault lines in a crisis that has been going on continuously for a century with roots that reach back thousands of years. So what do we need to know to understand the latest round of fighting in the world’s oldest blood feud? Let’s take a look…
Map of IsraelFirst, some quick geography. The State of Israel is located in the heart of the Middle East, on the eastern bank of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered on the south by Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, by Jordan on the East and across the Dead Sea and Jordan River, on the Northeast by Syria, and on the North by Lebanon. It borders internally the Palestinian Territories of the Gaza Strip on the Southwestern edge, and the West Bank, named for its location on the Western bank of the Dead Sea. Though it was not and is not always this way, the primary points of conflict (at least since 1948) have been between Israel and the (occupied) Palestinian Territories. Though certainly not existing in a historical vacuum, the most recent conflict finds its roots in the kidnapping and execution of 3 Israeli students on June 12 in the West Bank. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) began an operation to locate the teenagers and PM Netanyahu publicly blamed Hamas, which Hamas denied. The two and half weeks that followed were comprised of heavy raids in many areas of the West Bank, finally producing the bodies of the three victims on June 30. Then, with tensions still high, on July 2 the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was found burned to death. The suspects were arrested by Israeli police within a few hours but later that night a series of rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel and Israel’s July 3 airstrike response began a familiar pattern of back-and-forth destruction. On July 17, the IDF began its present ground incursion into Gaza called Operation Protective Edge, with one of its primary goals being the destruction of the Hamas tunnels running from Gaza into Israel (and expertly explored by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer here).

I think this is a good place to pause for a brief history lesson. You can’t get where you’re going without knowing where you’ve been and the start of this seemingly unending struggle goes back at least a century. We could no doubt journey back further but let’s start with World War I when what would be known as Palestine was controlled by the Ottoman Empire.
What is past is prologue.. READ MORE

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Funny Moments In Hip Hop – A Scholar’s Take

With my partner in Lime, Prof submitting a heavy, thoughtful, and informative piece about the Israeli Palestine conflict, I thought I’d balance out the content this week by writing about funny moments in Hip Hop history. I love to laugh. Comedies and sitcoms tend to be what I gravitate towards in the film realm. That said however, being funny typically isn’t a central focus in Hip Hop, or music in general. The topics for Rap music are varied; from politics and social consciousness, to style and swagger, to partying and blinging, to keeping it real and representing. Comedy however isn’t big for Hip Hop. Occasionally a song like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” or “Thrift Shop” which present rappers in more lighthearted, self-effacing contexts does well, but while those stories may be “chuckle-worthy” if you will, they’re not laugh out loud hysterical. That said, every once in a while something hilarious happens in Hip Hop. Typically the funny in these moments is unintentional, and for me that’s what makes them so enjoyable. It’s not only what happened, but thinking about what may have been going on in the heads of those involved that I find truly hysterical about these instances. With that in mind, here are 4 moments in Hip Hop that for a variety of reasons, always crack me up.

4) Suge Knight – “All in the videos. All on the records. Dancing.”

Suge

“Funny” isn’t typically the first word that comes to mind when people talk about this moment of Hip Hop infamy from the 1995 Source Awards. We all know the backdrop: Suge approaching the peak of his run as the head of Death Row Row Records taking a direct shot at Sean “Puffy” Combs, the head of Bad Boy Records; Death Row’s main competition at the time. Many trace the start of the East Coast vs. West Coast mid-90s Rap feud to this moment, and given how tragically all that ended, it’s easy to discredit any funny in this moment. Trust me, I get that. But take away the historical context of the 24 months or so that followed the ’95 Source Awards, in and of itself watching Suge go up there and deliver his acceptance speech, and then going into an off the cuff mini-rant about Puffy’s perceived over-involvement in his artists’ material always gets a rise out of me.

Probably a bit tipsy, after thanking a handful of people for their involvement in Death Row’s success, Suge starts the Puffy dig with a slurred “and one other thing I’d like to say,” then announces to his audience, “any artist out there that wanna be an artist and wanna stay a star”, and eventually gets into dissing (but never actually naming) Puff; “that don’t have to worry about the executive producer tryin’ to be…” And this is where I start to laugh. Suge draws out his speech for emphasis, “all in the videoooos, all in the records…” and then pauses again, as if thinking to himself, ‘what else does this clown do on camera? oh yeah…’ – “DANCING, come to Death Row!”  It was a controversial moment that played a major role in shaping the course of Rap for years to follow. But just the fact that Suge decided to attack Puff at an award show is amusing in that he actually had that little respect for not only Puff, but the event itself.  It was Suge’s time, and in Suge’s world, no way a dancing in the video, shiny suit wearing, executive producing hype man who adlibs too much on tracks was going to take his spot.  So he calls out Puff, drawing out phrases with a mocking tone being the goal, but falling way short because sarcasm and wit aren’t really Suge’s strong points.  And he had a point; Puff was always dancing in videos and had his vocals all over his artists’ songs.  It was funny because it was true. Given that Suge’s known for his straightforward intimidation tactics, when he stepped out of his character and tried to be backhanded and subtle, the results were hilarious.
CLICK HERE for more of Hip Hop’s best laugh-out-loud moments…

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Oddball Magazine – An Introduction

Back in May, the good folks at Oddball Magazine decided to run a piece featuring our video for the track ‘What You Need’, off our 2012 LP entitled ‘Blue Star Boulevard’.  Having had several conversations with Editor and Owner Jason Wright, we at JP Lime Productions are not only returning the favor and running a feature on Oddball Magazine, but also plan to work more closely with them in the coming months, pooling our collective talents to bring our respective readers more fresh, varied content.  That said however, for the time being we invite you to read the following interview we conducted with Jason and implore you to check out his poem entitled, ‘A Letter To The World‘ which you can read here. You can also watch Jason perform the piece here or at the bottom of this post, after the interview.  Lastly, be sure to satisfy your poetic thirst at www.oddballmagazine.com.  Now, onto the interview.

Oddball Magazine

What’s up Jason? Lets get right down to the nitty gritty. What exactly is Oddball Magazine?

Short answer is I don’t know. I mean it’s a poetry magazine that I have poured my heart and soul into.  It’s is a hybrid of poetry and art, photography, mixed with both amateur poets and seasoned poets.  We feature slam, abstract, lyrical, and plain ol’ odd. We are the pulse of Boston poetry.

Click here to find out more about Oddball Magazine

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Casting a Biopic

BET AWARDS '14 - Red CarpetNews broke this week that Nick Cannon was strongly being considered to star in the Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? biopic and many people, including Richard Pryor Jr., were initially unconvinced that he could carry the role. That is until Cannon started working through the mannerisms, body language, hair and habits of the deceased comedian and folks began to go, “Oh wait, I can see this now, how did I miss it before?” Cannon showed up at the Bet Awards with an afro and moustache that looked oddly familiar and in a TMZ interview last Wednesday he talked about but didn’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t confirm that he’d been offered the role after conversations with planned-director Lee Daniels. Soon after, Richard Pryor Jr. was asked about his opinion of Cannon playing his father and said that he’d recently been convinced, and that Cannon was the second-most qualified person (after himself) to play the role. The Pryor biopic project has been around but unable to get off the ground for quite some time. Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company was attached at one point as was Forest Whitaker. Director Lee Daniels has recently been strongly tied to the film but as yet is unconfirmed while actors Eddie Murphy, Marlon Wayans, and Michael B. Jordan have all been rumored for the lead role in the past. Jennifer Lee Pryor, Richard’s widow, is producing the film to which Richard, Jr. has repeatedly voiced concerns. But setting aside the production mishaps and low probability that the film still has to yet get made, the idea of Nick Cannon taking on the role of a ground-breaking, idolized comedian, a true American icon is intriguing. “Nick Cannon’s hilarious”   but can he truly encapsulate such a revered figure as Richard Pryor?

What about Gary Busey as Buddy Holly? Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles? READ ON…

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NBA Free Agency – Poetry In Motion

The past week in the NBA off-season has been an eventful one indeed. Several top stars signed contracts that not only solidified their own futures but also reshaped the landscape of the entire league.  While there are still likely several dominoes to fall between now and the trade deadline next February, given the amount of noteworthy activity this past week, I’ve decided to build a post discussing all that player movement. But this isn’t just any old, stale recap and analysis; there’s plenty of that all over the web already. To add a little flavor to the matter at hand, this week’s NBA analysis will be in the form of a poem. That’s right folks; the NBA off-season is officially in full swing and with that in mind, to paraphrase the old In Living Color character, Calhoun Tubbs , “I wrote a poem about it. Wanna read it? Here it goes!”

King James is back in Cleveland, a Cavalier again.
He’s just a kid from Akron, so of course all’s forgiven.
The Decision’s now a memory, thus the fickleness of fans.
Truly tickles me a little ’cause the bitterness of man
Is just transposed from those who love the Cavs to those who love the Heat
Because he chose to take his talents far away from old South Beach.
And now the bloggers speak of growth.
They champion LBJ’s maturity
But had the Spurs gone on to choke
A three-peat brings security.
‘Cause would the King have left his throne with 3 rings to defend?
I’m glad for Cleveland’s fans, but face it, ‘Bron jumped ship again.
‘Cause he didn’t trust his team; no front-court help, a dimming Flash.
Chris Bosh is overrated, poor Dwayne Wade ran out of gas.
So enjoy it while you can Ohio, yes it will be fun
But he signed a two-year deal and can opt out after year one…

Lebron

What about Carmelo and the rest of the league’s player movement? CLICK HERE for more poetic analysis

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Total Slaughter, Complete Mess

Hollow-Da-Don-vs-Joe-Budden-610x405

It seems that on a night when it was potentially reaching its greatest audience, battle rap (or at least some of its biggest stars) wasn’t quite ready for the limelight. Complete with a paid livestream that crashed, allegations of fixed outcomes, a Daylyt meltdown of foolish proportions, more than one rapper not making it through their entire battle, and amateurish microphone issues, last Saturday’s live PPV event left many people wondering if there would be a second one and where battle rap might go next on the mainstream level.

The night was comprised of four matchups: two that were determined by the results of the show “Road to Total Slaughter”, the long-awaited rematch of their 2007 battle between Murda Mook and Loaded Lux, and the top-billed Joe Budden vs. Hollow da Don. Sway served as master of ceremonies with DJ KaySlay onstage performing a role that was unclear. Royce da 5’9” and Ebro from Hot97 performed a minute-long “color commentary” from the mezzanine after each match, but neither had much insightful to add and mostly served as distraction while the judges “deliberated”. The crowd seemed to be populated with a fair share of celebrities – Kid Capri, Busta Rhymes, Victor Cruz and others got multiple shout outs as Sway worked to fill delays onstage. And while the viewing audience was vocal at points, much of the show felt as though the crowd needed to be convinced they were having a good time. To call the event a failure would be to ignore some of the great performing that did take place, specifically from Arsonal, Mook and Hollow. Though heavily reliant on gun talk Arsonal, for example, dominated his match with Big T, clear and sharp with his punchlines, in control with good stage presence. Big T represented well but simply didn’t have the power to match Ars’ clever combination of gangsta and comedy. But where Total Slaughter was hoping to shine a light on an under-appreciated artform and make a wave as the event that brought it to the mainstream, the missteps added up to a night that seemed difficult to control and wrought with amateurism.

Was Total Slaughter a total waste? READ ON…

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On The Run – 2 Contrasting Takes On Jay Z and Beyonce’s Mega-Tour

This past Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to have attended Jay Z and Beyonce’s ‘On The Run Tour’ at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. Aside from sitting in the parking lot for an hour and half after the show and not moving, and then the very slow ride up Route 1 that proceeded, I had a great time. I don’t consider myself a hard-core concert goer, but I’ve certainly been to my fair share over the past 20 years or so, beginning in the late 80s when as a kid tagging along with my older siblings I had the pleasure of seeing the likes of Run DMC, The Fat Boys, Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick, Salt & Pepa, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. In the 90s as a teen I saw Nas, Jay Z, Foxy Brown, Puffy, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Lil’ Kim, Cypress Hill, the pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas, & LL Cool J (again), amongst several others. Adult life in the 2000s brought Prince, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg (twice, one time front row), The Game, LL Cool J (again), Kanye West, Jay Z (again), Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Will Smith (again), et al. my way. And most recently, just last year in the midst of his Good Kid mAAd City run, I watched Kendrick Lamar perform. So again, it’s not that I’m at a concert every month, but I’ve been to a few, so if nothing else I have a solid frame of reference when building an opinion on a given show.

I mention this because in the following paragraphs I’ve built this post in a point by counter point format using the review published on Boston.com on July 2nd, the morning after the show. Here’s a link to the review, and despite my generally not seeing eye to eye with it I do implore you to read it as it was the author’s honest take and was intelligently composed and well-written.  Let me be clear: My intention here is not in any way to bash the author, Emily Wright, an Arts & Entertainment writer for Boston.com, nor to demean her abilities and opinions. I respect her thoughts and as a blogger in my own right, respect the time that she puts into her craft. Again, I only mention my past concert experiences to drive home the point that though I may not be a professional Arts & Entertainment writer by trade, I’m basing my thoughts on 20+ years of shows that I’ve been lucky enough to attend as well as of course, my love of music, which I’m sure Ms. Wright shares as well.

That said, simply put, Emily Wright and I saw the performances differently and have generally contrasting opinions about it. We’ll start with the title of her article, “Beyonce, Jay Z Try To Do Too Much During ‘On the Run’ Tour in Foxborough”. In her introductory paragraph she expands on that notion by stating:

How right was Wright? READ ON…

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#MyFirstPhishShow

ticket

It’s all I had been thinking about for weeks.

I had downloaded the brand new album ‘Fuego’, I had created a Spotify setlist of my favorite songs, and a setlist of the songs relating to the band’s fabled land of Gamehendge. I pulled up acclaimed full live shows from phishtracks.com and played them as I cleaned the apartment, walked to work or wrote late at night. I read all kinds of Song Histories and creation stories on phish.net and phish.com. I plunged head-first into a beautiful, rich, colorful Phish pond and my excitement built. As the day approached I planned my wardrobe, our food for the tailgate, and other party essentials. It was the kickoff show of their summer tour and #MyFirstPhishShow. More than just a show, it was to be an experience and my hippie soul, full of “memories of being free”, was alive.
Rock on, journey on, READ ON…

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‘(Road to) Total Slaughter’ – the next UFC?

Arsonal vs daylyt2

Battle rap is back, folks. Not that it ever really went away, mind you, it has simply been quietly growing in crowded clubs and on Youtube channels all over the country. Just as Mixed Martial Arts was a sport burgeoning on breakout success in the early 90’s, Paul Rosenberg and the boys from Slaughterhouse believe the form of vocal performance known as “battle rap” is likewise nearing its time of mainstream success. On one of the show’s promos, Joe Budden says “witness the birth of the next great American sports league” and on July 12 they present their first Total Slaughter live battle at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC as Slaughterhouse’s own Joe Budden takes on Hollow da Don, and longtime stars of the sport, Murda Mook and Loaded Lux square off. As a shrewd precursor to this first of what they plan to make a series of live battles, the Shady Records affiliates along with watchLOUD.com are airing a four-part reality series entitled ‘Road to Total Slaughter’ whose contestants are competing for 2 undercard spots at the July event.  Eight veterans of the battle rap game from all across the country must live together in the House of Slaughter in Brooklyn and compete in a single-elimination tournament for the top two spots. Each of Dizaster, Arsonal, Math Hoffa, Daylyt, Aye Verb, Big T, Cortez, and Marv Won displays a deep passion for the sport and a dedication to their craft making for both stiff competition and lively, informed conversation outside of the battles. Slaughterhouse serves as four-headed judge to the battles while Loaded Lux and Murda Mook reside in the house as mentors.busy bee and kool moe dee
Battle rap takes its origin from one of the oldest traditions in hip-hop, the game The Dozens. Will Slaughterhouse be the ones to successfully bring battle rap to the mainstream? READ ON…

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