Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Is Sampling Dying?
Simple beats and Auto-Tuned vocals form the foundation of 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West's latest release. As the title implies, it's a breakup album. But perhaps the split is deeper than even West realizes. His new sound is a bold departure from his previous efforts, but also a challenge to the parameters of what many listeners would consider hip-hop. 808s & Heartbreak doesn't rely on an element once pervasive in the genre: samples. The album doesn't contain any prominent samples, while West's previous release, Graduation, featured them on 10 of its 13 tracks. He is not alone in this change: Young Jeezy's last album, The Recession, boasts just three samples, and T.I.'s latest, Paper Trail, features only four.
The staple of hip-hop's beatmakers for nearly 30 years, sample-based production has slowly eroded over the past decade, due to rising costs and rampant litigation. Today the average base price to clear a sample is $10,000, and the threat of lawsuits over copyright infringement looms heavy over artists and labels. High-profile rappers have become legal targets for music publishing companies, while independent MCs struggle to compete. With no standardized pricing, the prohibitive cost of samples has altered the creative approach of many hip-hop producers. The trend toward purely electronic production -- synthesizers, drum machines, Auto-Tune -- has injected major stylistic changes into the genre, with producers like the Neptunes, Timbaland, and T-Pain at the forefront.
"The art form of hip-hop -- the sound that attracted us to it -- is diminishing," says RZA, Wu-Tang Clan producer and MC. "It's becoming just another form of pop music."
Up until the early '90s, artists sampled liberally from other musicians. But a case brought against Biz Markie in 1991 changed the rules of hip-hop and sample-based music as a whole. That year, the rapper appeared in a U.S. District Court in New York accused of copyright infringement for sampling portions of a 1972 Gilbert O'Sullivan song, "Alone Again (Naturally)," for a track on his album I Need a Haircut. Though he initially sought permission to use O'Sullivan's original composition, Markie never received it and included the sample anyway. The rapper's actions incited a stern response from presiding Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy.
"'Thou shalt not steal' has been an admonition followed since the dawn of civilization," Duffy told Markie. He then issued an injunction against Cold Chillin'/Warner Bros. Records for the distribution of the album and song. "People talk about the Biz case as a turning point," says Hope Carr, president of Clearance 13'-8", an agency specializing in sample clearance and risk assessment. "It was enormously frustrating, because the decision didn't really decide any actual law; the only citation was the Bible. But it certainly got a lot of people's attention."
Thanks SPIN MAGAZINE!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Twenty-four hours after Howard University nursing students took to the streets with picket signs and a list of demands, meetings are underway to address their issues.
Both the dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences and Howard University President Sidney Ribeau met with students to work toward a resolution of their call for a better education and a responsive administration.
Approximately 50 nursing students marched down Sixth Street recently to end their silence about problems they were facing with their educational curriculum.
In response, the school held a town hall meeting on Wednesday evening, Nov. 12, with Dean Beatrice Adderley-Kelly who came prepared to deal with the concerns.
Wednesday evening also saw a meeting with Ribeau and Howard University Student Association officials aimed at resolving student issues.
According to HUSA Vice President Kellen Moore, the meeting with Ribeau tackled the list of demands presented by the nursing students at Tuesday’s protest.
Although not all of the demands on the list –– such as the ineffective teaching methods of professors –– could be handled by the administration, Moore said he feels confident that they have begun to pave the way for reasonable solutions.
In addition, the meeting worked toward prioritizing the students’ concerns.At the town hall meeting, students and administration participated in an open dialogue.
HUSA General Assembly Vice-Chair Corey Briscoe, who attended the protest as well as the meeting with Ribeau and the town hall, felt the meetings were necessary to resolving the issues.
“It is now time for the college’s administration, faculty and students to work together to ensure the success of the program,” Briscoe said, “for the outcome depends on everyone meeting in the middle and upholding their responsibilities.”
According to Briscoe, many students were frustrated to the point of tears at the town hall meeting, but their frustrations were heard by Adderley-Kelly.
This outcry is not the first of its kind. In 2007, The Hilltop reported that nursing students walked out of examinations, which threatened accreditation, in protest of the shoddy education they believed they were receiving.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
The subway system in Washington, D.C., is making fare cards featuring President-elect Barack Obama's image to commemorate his inauguration as the 44th president.
SmarTrip cards with Obama's smiling face will be available in January, Metro spokesman Stephen Taubenkibel told DCist. Regular fare cards marking the Jan. 20 inauguration will be available in late December.
Images of the Obama card were shown at a recent Metro Board of Directors meeting. See the mock-up below, first posted on DCist.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Former Washington, DC Mayor Anthony Williams sprang into action Wednesday after witnessing a robbery. Williams ran after and caught a thief who had grabbed a package from a UPS truck.
The UPS driver yelled at the thief after seeing the package being swiped.
Williams was nearby and decided to do what any 57-year-old ex-mayor would do: track the guy down on foot.
"I was saying to myself, 'What am I going to do if I catch him?'," Williams later joked. "What does a dog do when it catches a car?"
When confronted the thief recognized Williams, saying "Oh, you used to be the mayor!".
He then handed over the stolen package and disappeared into the crowd.
Williams attempted to follow the man, but eventually lost him.