Saturday, May 31, 2008

Video: Jay Electronica - Bitches & Drugs

KINDA WILD VIDEO

DJs Leak Lil’ Wayne’s Album In Protest Of Rapper’s Comments Against Mixtape Jocks

You can't bite the hand that feed you son!!!!

lilwayne
Lil’ Wayne’s recent comment about mixtape DJ’s is coming back to bite him where it hurts worse: potential album sales.

The Cash Money star unexpectedly criticized the underground industry in an interview with Foundation Magazine, a title dedicated to covering the mixtape game.

The rapper, whose DJ Drama hosted Dedication series and DJ Khaled fronted Da Drought 3 catapulted his stock among fans, responded to a question about his favorite mixtape DJ by lashing out: “Fuck you if you a mixtape DJ.”

“I created the mixtape game, but I’m not into that no more,” Wayne said. “I’m doing Lil’ Wayne. I’m against it, anti-mixtape dude. I don’t know no mixtape DJs.” The comment seemed directed at various DJs who have put together their own Lil’ Wayne compilations without the rapper’s approval, this despite the fact he often leaks his material himself.

Regardless, various DJs are now leaking Lil’ Wayne’s highly-anticipated Tha Carter III in protest.

The album is due to be released June 10, and was expected to sell well, but downloadable links to the project have popped up everywhere online.

One anonymous DJ attached a letter with the album responding to Wayne’s comments.

“Lately Lil Wayne, dubbed “The Greatest Rapper Alive,” has taken a shot at all mixtape DJs,” the note began. “I myself am a DJ and I found his inappropriateness to be unprofessional considering how this album is highly anticipated. So, I have received this version from a contact who’s name I won’t disclose for his safety and reputation. But since I can give a fuck about “The Rapper Eater,” here’s a gift for his fans as a big “Fuck You” to Sir Lil’ Weezy.”

Another DJ, a high-profile Southern spinner, also sent a blast echoing the anti-Weezy sentiments. The DJ said he was speaking out for all his fellow DJs and couldn’t let Lil’ Wayne off the hook for his comments. He ended his blast by apologizing to the rapper’s label and explaining he understands if any relationships he has with the company would end as the result of his actions but he noted he had to take a stand.

DJ Doo Wop was among the first to start the backlash against Lil’ Wayne with a a video montage he created featuring images of Wayne and audio from the Cash Money camp profusely thanking DJs.

Lil Wayne’s label, Universal Records, has not issued a statement in regard to his mixtape comment or the leak of Tha Carter III.—Jayson Rodriguez

THE WINNER IS....

man this gonna be the highest viewed basketball game final ever

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kanye, Jay-Z Prove Hip-Hop Tours Can Be Big Business

High-concept shows are some of the bestselling of spring

STEVE KNOPPER

Posted Jun 12, 2008 1:00 PM
ADVERTISEMENT


Every night on Kanye West's Glow in the Dark Tour, an alien comes down from the sky and declares the rapper "the biggest star in the universe." That may or may not be true, but this spring, West and his one-time mentor Jay-Z have achieved something almost as unlikely: They've turned hip-hop into a blockbuster touring business. Jay-Z's tour with Mary J. Blige, which ended in early May, grossed more than $23 million, including sold-out dates at Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Bowl. West's tour with Rihanna, N.E.R.D. and Lupe Fiasco, which ends June 13th, is on course to make more than $21 million. Both grosses, as estimated by Pollstar, are strong showings in a genre with a mixed box-office reputation. "Hip-hop is starting to mature," says Live Nation exec Faisel Durrani. "At some point we will reflect back at how important these tours were in the growth of the [hip-hop concert] business."
From 2003 to 2007, only one hip-hop tour made Pollstar's Top 20 list of North American tours: Eminem and 50 Cent's Anger Management, which grossed $21.6 million three years ago. During that period, artists from T.I. to the Game routinely sold millions of CDs but failed to do well on the road. "A lot of times, hip-hop shows haven't translated live," says Adam Friedman, chief executive of L.A. concert-promotion company Nederlander.

Jay-Z and West have transcended this issue by broadening their shows from the "two turntables and a microphone" concept to large live bands, big sound, pyrotechnics and showmanship. West, for example — who audaciously spends most of his time onstage alone (with the band in an orchestra pit below) — is the star of a space opera complete with crashed spaceships, vast video-screen galaxies and a spot-on cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." And Jay-Z spent two weeks in Miami rehearsals working on sonics and pacing with his 12-piece band. "Jay-Z's whole philosophy is, 180 seconds cannot go by without some sort of event," says Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, musical director for Jay-Z's tour and informal creative consultant for West's.

Also, both rappers have smartly paired up with R&B stars — Jay-Z with co-headliner Blige, and West with opening singer Rihanna. "You have to water down rap tours by mixing them up with R&B," says John Smith, a veteran Nashville promoter who has worked with artists from Tupac to Chris Brown. "You want it to be for everybody, and you want to portray your show as fan-friendly." Smith adds that hip-hop's reputation as "thugged-out" means artists and promoters often have to pay more than twice as much for insurance as rock or country acts in the same venues.

But that may be changing, thanks to the Jay-Z and West tours. For one thing, artists have recently realized that with CD sales plunging, they have to sharpen their live shows to make money. "This is the first time in history that someone from hip-hop reaches for the levels of the Rolling Stones," says ?uestlove. "Jay-Z and Kanye are saying, 'Bono and Jagger are our peers.'"

[From Issue 1054 — June 12, 2008]

who is Kobe bryant?

I LOVE THIS JOINT PEOPLES!!!!

Workers shifting to 4-day week to save gasoline

By Andrea Hopkins
Thu May 29, 4:07 PM ET
When Ohio's Kent State University offered custodial staff the option of working four days a week instead of five to cut commuting costs, most jumped at the chance, part of a U.S. trend aimed at combating soaring gasoline prices.

"We offered it to 94 employees and 78 have taken us up on it," said university spokesman Scott Rainone.

The reason is simple: rising gas prices and a desire to retain good workers. And while so far only the university's custodians are eligible, Rainone hopes the option will be offered to all departments -- including his own.

"In our office, we have people who travel anywhere from five or six miles to a couple who are on the road 45 to 50 minutes," Rainone said. "As the price of gas rises, the level of grumbling rises."

Regular gasoline averages $3.94 a gallon in the United States, up 33 cents in the past month and 88 cents since the beginning of the year, the Energy Information Administration said this week.

The federal government has offered four-day workweeks to eligible employees for years as part of a flexible work program that also includes telecommuting.

But the surge in gasoline prices is pushing more private employers as well as local governments to offer a four-day week as a perk that eliminates two commutes a week.

Staff at Neighborhood Development Services in rural northeastern Ohio were talking about quitting to find work closer to their homes when executive director Dave Vaughan stepped in with offers to compress their work week.

"I didn't want to lose people," Vaughan said of the program, which more than half of his 19 employees began last week. "In rural areas like we are, gas price increases are more challenging because we don't have the mass transit alternative -- we can't jump on a bus or take a train."

Eventually, Vaughan hopes to close the office one day a week, further reducing energy costs.

In America's struggling automaking heartland, the shorter workweek offers employers a way of rewarding employees when the budget does not allow a salary increase, said Oakland County, Michigan, executive L. Brooks Patterson.

"By allowing employees to work four 10-hour days it will save them 20 percent on their commute costs and ease the financial pinch of filling up their cars," said Patterson, who last week proposed the compressed week for county workers.

Gasoline prices have begun altering U.S. commutes in many ways, a survey released on Thursday showed.

CHANGING HABITS

Some 44 percent of respondents said they have changed the way they commute -- doing things such as sharing a ride or driving a more fuel-efficient car -- or are working from home or looking for a closer job in order to reduce gasoline costs, according to staffing services company Robert Half International. That's up from 34 percent two years ago.

On New York's Long Island, Suffolk County legislator Wayne Horsley also has proposed employees have the option of working four 10-hour shifts, rather than five eight-hour shifts, saying it would save 461 barrels of oil in a 120-day pilot project.

"This is a gasoline-driven proposition and we're looking to change people's long term philosophies of life," Horsley said.

The program, termed Operation Sunshine, will cut gasoline costs for workers who drive an average round trip of 32 miles to work. It also aims to cut the county's energy bill by having fewer employees in the office at a time, Horsley said.

In Oklahoma, a resolution is pending before the state legislature encouraging state agencies to implement flexible work schedules that would allow the four-day workweek.

"State employees are on fixed budgets and they are not usually the most highly paid in our society," said State Sen. Earl Garrison, a Democrat, who sponsored the measure.

Some schools, including community colleges in rural areas where commutes are long and public transportation is scarce, already have plans to drop a day of classes, usually Fridays.

The school district in Marietta, Georgia, a city north of Atlanta, institutes a four-day week during June and July when schools are out and it is mostly administrative staff who are working, saving on air conditioning and water in addition to commuting costs for employees, said Thomas Algarin, director of communications at Marietta City Schools.

But a four-day workweek brings problems too. The state government in Ohio is bucking the national trend and canceling an 8-year-old policy that allowed a compressed workweek.

"There were just too many vacant seats on Friday," said Ron Sylvester, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.

(Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago, Kevin Krolicki in Detroit, Marcy Nicholson in New York, Matthew Bigg in Atlanta and Tom Doggett in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott and David Wiessler)

Monday, May 26, 2008

AUTOMATIC CLASSIC SON!!!!!!!

My dude flux reppin binkis recs put in some work at the automatic classic show saturday night along side some oher artist that put in that work also check out TEKITHA OF THE WU TANG kill it!!!




Sunday, May 25, 2008

Summer Sounds

this a article from the new york times
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By BEN SISARIO
SUMMER means music. It’s the season of the beach blanket jam, the prom song, the blockbuster movie soundtrack, the open-air amphitheater show.

For the music industry, however, summer has always been something of a paradox. It’s a crucial time for singles — there’s no better exposure for a pop song than to have it pumping out of Jeeps and boomboxes — but when it comes to albums, summer tends to be Tumbleweed City. To maximize sales around the year-end holidays, record companies often withhold big releases until the fall, leaving few major titles for July and August.

Luckily for fans, though, that pattern is changing. In a sign that record labels are relying less on the fourth quarter, the docket of releases this summer is one of the strongest in years.

New albums by Coldplay, Usher, Lil Wayne, Nas, T.I., Slipknot, the Game, Solange Knowles and the Jonas Brothers are just a few of what Billboard magazine counts as 180 significant records coming out between now and the end of flip-flop and cocoa butter season. (Whether they actually come out on schedule, of course, is another story.)

Record companies, retailers and artist managers are hoping that a better summer calendar will entice listeners back into stores and, after seven years of slipping sales — total album purchases have dropped 36 percent since 2000 — help stanch the bleeding.

“The retail community has been lobbying for years to try to smooth out the path so that the release schedule is not so packed, come fourth quarter,” said Ed Hogan, the director of music at Best Buy.

The last three months of the year typically account for at least a third of the year’s sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But after a dismal fourth quarter in 2007, record companies are opening up to the idea of releasing big records earlier in the year. And a few major acts have already proved that fans are perfectly willing to open their wallets in the summer.

Last year the Atlanta rapper T.I. released his “T.I. vs. T.I.P.” on July 3, violating a time-honored industry rule: never put out a high-priority album near a major travel holiday. But “T.I. vs. T.I.P.” sold 468,000 copies in its first week, easily reaching No. 1.

The lesson was that a major artist with a strong fan base can release an album anytime, if a proper marketing plan is in place. This year’s T.I. album, “Paper Trail,” is scheduled for Aug. 12, deep into the season’s dog days. But T.I. has been promoting it since November and has doled out news and music to fans through his social-networking Web site, StreetCred.com.

Julie Greenwald, the president of Atlantic, T.I.’s record company, said August can be a strategic release date despite the industry’s conventional wisdom that consumers are less interested in buying records in the summer. A late-summer album can profit from both initial fan attention and interest that can be stirred up around the holidays once a second single arrives.

“Now there’s even more reason for people to buy your album,” she said. “For the people who are the second ones in, when they hear two joints that are bona fide, that’s usually when you catch them.”

Some of the biggest rap records this summer are coming out near July 4. Nas’s new album — which originally had a racial epithet as its planned title but, according to an announcement this week, will now be released without one — is due on July 1, the same date as new records from 50 Cent’s G Unit and Busta Rhymes. On July 8 Geffen will release the Game’s “L.A.X.”

It’s a good summer for indie rock too. Weezer’s self-titled album is due on June 3. (It was moved up three weeks after it leaked on the Internet.) Wolf Parade’s “At Mount Zoomer” comes out on June 17; the Hold Steady’s “Stay Positive” arrives on July 15; and the first solo album by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes is due on Aug. 5.

A summer release also naturally coincides with touring season. With live performances now accounting for a much bigger chunk of artists’ revenue, they and their managers are keen to schedule an album release to promote concert dates. It’s no accident that My Morning Jacket, for example, a band that does very well on the road, is putting out its new album, “Evil Urges,” on June 10, just before the Bonnaroo festival and its full tour.

Retailers say that spreading releases throughout the year alleviates the annual fourth-quarter glut, when many worthy albums are inevitably overshadowed by the biggest and most heavily promoted. But they are also concerned about a seesaw effect, with overcrowding merely shifting from one season to another.

“It’s feast or famine,” said Don Van Cleave, president of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, which books retail promotion packages for labels, like listening posts and store displays.

“So far this year it’s been very difficult to find enough titles to fit into our programs,” he added. “All of a sudden this summer we’ve got way too many records to serve.”

No one is expecting labels to abandon the fourth quarter completely, of course. But for an industry that has been hard hit with declining sales and waves of layoffs, doing business in the summer is also a way to economize. The holiday season is the most expensive time to market albums at big-box outlets, which account for about 65 percent of music purchases.

“If you’ve got a record coming out in the fourth quarter, you’re going to pay a lot more to get it placed on sale at your Targets and your Wal-Marts and your Best Buys,” said Marc Reiter of Q Prime, a management company whose clients include Metallica. “Some artists and labels can say, ‘I can come out a little earlier and get my presence in retail for less money.’ ”

Metallica’s next album is one of the most eagerly awaited of the year, but it’s not coming out until the fall.

“It’s not ready,” Mr. Reiter said. “If we could have it out in the summer, we’d have it out in the summer.”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

kobe jumping over a pool of snakes

This joint is funny. Dude can't lose making these viral commercials

Kanye West - Flashing Lights (Feat. Dwele) (Alternative)

yo! i'm diggin this peoples!!!

FLUX THE WONDA SOLO JOINT AT THE AUTOMATIC CLASSIC

it's gonna be trill
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Kimbo ESPN Photo Shoot

Kimbo slice is on the new ESPN magazine cover, whoa!!!! I guess street dreams are made of these. Here's the video for the shoot.

Wale - W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.

I'm kinda diggin this joint. Atleast the video don't have the same o same o concept

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jean Grae "Love Thirst Produced By 9th Wonder

Video For Jean Grae "Love Thirst Produced By 9th Wonder" Off Of "Jenius" Coming Out Soon.

MASS APPEAL MAG NO MORE

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Man, all of my favorite magazines are biting the bullets. If it ain't the magazines it's the stores where I get them from. Mass Appeal magazine to me represented New york just by the look and feel of it. My home away from home mag. damn damn damn.

Mass Appeal magazine, the acclaimed Brooklyn, New York-based outfit has long been celebrated for its distinctive style and celebrity columnists. After 12 years of publishing, the company announced quitting today.

The magazine, named after the Gang Starr song of the same name, will now focus on off-brands including Miss Behave magazine and Colossal Media. The Mass Appeal staff, which includes present staff from Ego Trip, VIBE, Complex and other publications, will remain devoted to event coordination and their website.

The contributors at Mass Appeal included photo-journalist Ricky Powell, author Livingroom Johnson, famed Hip Hop A&R Dante Ross, emcee and author R.A. The Rugged Man and Lord of Brooklyn artist and emcee Kaves.

Recently, the magazine aired video outtakes from their cover story with The Game. See below:


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Edreys Official Heat Interview Pt 2

My dude Edreys is nonstop like hiphop fam. You got to love it. I'm still wondering why this dude wanted me to draw a picture of him? go figure, Suge got knock out, everything make sense in the world now hahahaha.

THE REAL!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

MIYA'S DREAMLAND

Allegedly guy that knocked out Suge Knight

Wow!!!!!This dude just gave riley some xtra material for his charcter on the boondoks

X-FILES MOVIE TRAILER

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Byrd Gang (Feat. Juelz Santana) - Splash / Byrd Gang Money

Man, this joint is funny but i can dig heads having a good time during these times, Juelz Santana one of a kind a funny ass dude hahahahah

Guru (Feat. Doo Wop) - Who Got It On Lock

I can dig it, but i still miss that gangstarr!!!!!

Gnarls Barkley - Going On

this ish is fly peoples!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Worker productivity up at 2.2 percent rate in first quarter

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By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
16 minutes ago
Worker productivity rose by a better-than-expected amount in the first three months of the year while labor cost pressures eased.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter. That was slightly higher than the 1.5 percent increase which had been expected.

In a sign that inflation could be easing, labor cost pressures slowed a bit. Unit labor costs rose at an annual rate of 2.2 percent, down from a 2.8 percent rise in the final three months of last year.

While rising wages and benefits are good for employees, those increases can lead to higher inflation if businesses are forced forced to boost the cost of their products to cover the higher payroll costs.

However, if productivity is increasing it allows businesses to finance higher wages out of the increased output.

The Federal Reserve, which is always on guard about the threat of inflation, closely monitors developments in productivity since wage pressures are often the key way that inflation gets out of control.

The Fed last week boosted a key interest rate for the seventh time since September, but the increase was a smaller quarter-point move and the Fed signaled that it may pause its rate cutting campaign in part because of concerns about inflation.

Private economists believe the weakening economy will dampen inflation pressures. However, the sharp economic slowdown is occurring at the same time that energy and food prices have continued to rise.

Many analysts think that the country has already toppled into a recession. But overall economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, eked out a tiny 0.6 percent rate of increase in the first three months of the year, the same anemic pace as the final three months of last year.

The rise in productivity in the first three months of the year occurred as the number of hours worked declined at an annual rate of 1.8 percent.

That reflected layoffs that have been occurring as businesses have cutback on their payrolls in the face of an economic slowdown that has been triggered by a steep slump in housing and a severe credit crunch that has resulted in billions of dollars of losses from financial firms.

The 2.2 percent rate of productivity growth in the first quarter was up slightly from a 1.8 percent increase in the fourth quarter of last year.

Productivity for all of 2007 rose by 1.8 percent, up a bit from the 1 percent gain in 2006. However, both of those increases were far below the growth levels of the past decade as productivity experienced a healthy rebound, reflecting all the investments that had been made in productivity-enhancing equipment such as computers.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

'Iron Man' 100 MIL AND PLUS DUDE!!!

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All AP Movie News
Sunday May 4 1:45 PM ET
"Iron Man" was pure gold at the box office.

The Marvel Comics adaptation, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the guy in the metal suit, hauled in $100.7 million during its opening weekend and $104.2 million since debuting Thursday night, the second-best premiere ever for a nonsequel, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The film also scored overseas with $96.7 million in 57 countries where it began opening Wednesday, putting its worldwide total at $201 million.

The movie, distributed by Paramount, is the first release by Marvel Studios, which has begun financing its own productions after such studio-backed hits as the "Spider-Man," "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four" flicks.

"We could not have hoped for a better way for Marvel Studios to blast off," said David Maisel, chairman of the unit, a division of Marvel Entertainment, which stands to pull in a greater share of box office receipts and merchandising money by financing movies itself.

Debuting in second place with $15.5 million was Sony's romantic comedy "Made of Honor," starring "Grey's Anatomy" heartthrob Patrick Dempsey as a man who tries to woo his best pal after she asks him to be "maid of honor" at her wedding.

"Iron Man," which won rave reviews from many critics, features Downey as billionaire arms designer Tony Stark, a boozy womanizer who builds a high-tech suit and becomes a superhero, mending his ways after he's taken captive and sees firsthand the devastation his weapons cause.

The film is directed by Jon Favreau, and also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard.

Despite the huge "Iron Man" opening, Hollywood's overall business was down compared to the same weekend last year, when "Spider-Man 3" had a record debut of $151.1 million. The top 12 movies took in $154.1 million, off 15 percent from a year ago.

"Nonetheless, `Iron Man' did better than expected," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers. "This is certainly the shot in the arm the marketplace has needed."

Movie attendance this year is running 6 percent behind that of 2007, so the arrival of "Iron Man" may jump start the box office as the busy summer season begins.

"If that first May movie is a big hit, it tends to lead to a big summer," said Rob Moore, Paramount vice chairman. "There hadn't been a big event movie yet this year. So you have the first event movie of summer, and people go `And I hear it's really good. All right, I'm in.'"

"Iron Man" was the 10th biggest opening of all time and the fourth biggest for a superhero movie. Among nonsequels, it came in behind only the first "Spider-Man," which premiered with $114.8 million.

"If we have to, we're happy to come in second to another Marvel property," Maisel said. "It emphasizes how lucky we are to have such a powerful brand that's not loved by just comic book fans but also general movie fans."

The next Marvel production arrives in June with "The Incredible Hulk," distributed by Universal and starring Edward Norton.

In limited release, David Mamet's martial-arts drama "Redbelt" opened solidly with $68,646 in six theaters. Released by Sony Pictures Classics, "Redbelt" stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as an honorable instructor caught up in corruption in the world of mixed martial-arts competitions.

Paramount Vantage's "Son of Rambow," a comic tale of two British boys making their own "Rambo" movie, also opened well with $52,549 in five theaters.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Iron Man," $100.7 million.

2. "Made of Honor," $15.5 million.

3. "Baby Mama," $10.3 million.

4. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," $6.1 million.

5. "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay," $6 million.

6. "The Forbidden Kingdom," $4.2 million.

7. "Nim's Island," $2.8 million.

8. "Prom Night," $2.5 million.

9. "21," $2.1 million.

10. "88 Minutes," $1.6 million.

___

On the Net:

http://www.mediabynumbers.com

Justice - Stress

Man these youngin wildin out, but the way they shot this video is hard fam!!!!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Album, New Fears, Same Old Attitude

I COPPED IT. WHUT ABOUT U?
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By NATE CHINEN

AHMIR Thompson was sitting in the back of a town car inching through Midtown when he received a vexing call from management, not entirely unlike the one that opens “Rising Down” (Def Jam), the new album by the Roots. One month before its release there were problems with a hidden track, and Mr. Thompson, better known as ?uestlove, the Roots’ drummer and bandleader, made no attempt to hide his frustration, raising his voice in protest.

As a tenaciously independent-minded hip-hop group, the Roots are accustomed to tension in the face of major-label pressure. But as ?uestlove observed moments after the call, the climate has felt especially urgent lately. “I’m not ashamed to say that this is probably the first we’ve ever been afraid: afraid of not being relevant, or afraid of not actually having a record deal after this album, or afraid of failure.” Long pause. “But I think that’s a good thing.”

Conflict and counterintuition have been motivating factors for the Roots ever since Mr. Thompson and Tariq Trotter, a k a the rapper Black Thought, joined forces to form the Square Roots in Philadelphia in the late 1980s, when they were in high school. They went against the grain from the start, using live instruments at a time when sampling was king. These days, in the era of the ring-tone hook, their ranks include a sousaphone player and a psychedelic rock guitarist.

So it’s easy to understand why the group might be afraid. Jay-Z, who helped bring the band to Def Jam, stepped down as the label’s president late last year, and the industry climate is grim. Given that hip-hop sales were down about 30 percent last year, it can’t be comforting to be a boutique band on a label that traffics in platinum stars like Kanye West, Rihanna and Young Jeezy. Def Jam did not return calls for comment; Billboard on Monday ran an article with the headline “Cult hip-hop band the Roots struggle at new label.”

The Roots see themselves as keepers of the flame, upholding the defiant but earnest spirit of hip-hop as it existed roughly 20 years ago. (In the words of Black Thought, on the new album: “I’ll show you where my rare essence is at/The adolescence of rap/The real muscle in the message of that.”) And while they identify with the hip-hop underground, they’re hardly strangers to the mainstream, having backed the likes of Jay-Z and Nas. When ?uestlove received that intrusive phone call, he was en route to the airport; he had a gig in Las Vegas, spinning records at a joint birthday party for Quentin Tarantino and Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas.

“We’ve been on a major label for 15 years,” said Richard Nichols, the executive producer of the new album and the Roots’ manager since 1991. “There’s a science to being a left-of-center group and maintaining the calculus between your critical appeal and your actual sales base.”

The Roots have cultivated a loyal following over the years, partly thanks to the collegiate jam-band circuit. Commercially the group has rarely had a smash: the closest thing was “Things Fall Apart” (MCA) in 1999, which peaked at No. 4 and sold more than 500,000 copies within its first few months, playing a substantial role in the millennial neo-soul boom. That album’s biggest single, “You Got Me,” earned a Grammy Award for the Roots and for Erykah Badu, who sang the chorus. (They are touring together this month and next.) The Roots’ last album, “Game Theory” (2006), was their Def Jam debut after a string of releases on Geffen and MCA. According to Nielsen SoundScan, “Game Theory” has sold slightly more than 200,000 copies since its release two years ago.

As a group that thrives on touring, the Roots might seem somewhat insulated from sales concerns. But that’s not entirely the case. “There’s a winner-take-all kind of thing that kicks in with black culture, and definitely with hip-hop,” Mr. Nichols said. “If you’re doing contemporary white music, you can be a Deerhoof or Panda Bear or Grizzly Bear” — critically favored but noncommercial indie-rock acts — “and you’re not really judged on your sales impact.”

However it is to be judged, “Rising Down” earns ?uestlove’s depiction as a “meat-and-potatoes hip-hop record.” Spiked with dire intensity and stocked with head-spinning rhymes by Black Thought and nearly a dozen guest rappers, including Common and Talib Kweli, it’s the most potent Roots release since the one-two punch of “Things Fall Apart” and its predecessor, “Illadelph Halflife” (Geffen). And despite its punishing starkness, the album still reflects the crisp musicianship for which the Roots, and ?uestlove in particular, have long been admired.

Characteristically for the Roots, “Rising Down” grapples with tough issues: its title is an allusion to “Rising Up and Rising Down,” William T. Vollmann’s seven-volume treatise on the nature of violence. “I think this Roots album has a very mirror-reflective image of what the state of America is right now,” said Dice Raw, a Philadelphia rapper who has been loosely affiliated with the group for 15 years. “The war is an issue, but it’s also the environment, it’s also unemployment rates in the black community; it’s a lot of things we’re going through right now.”

One track, “Singing Man,” adopts the chilling first-person voice of a figure like the shooter in the Virginia Tech massacre. (The Roots had been booked to play on that campus the week of the shooting.) Elsewhere there are sharp indictments of drug laws and government surveillance. On “Lost Desire” Black Thought tackles Philadelphia’s murder rate, among the nation’s highest, with harrowing poetry:

We in the city where they definitely lost it

You open your eyelids and get capped in the ribs

Your funeral, they have your 12th-grade portrait

Pretty corpse and casket, pale shade orchids

Other rappers on “Rising Down” make strong impressions; an up-and-comer named Porn delivers one wickedly clever verse in the voice of a cough-syrup addict, and there are equally gripping turns by Mos Def and Saigon. Dice Raw, who wrote most of the album’s choruses, also contributes some of its pithiest lines (e.g., “I’m kind of like W .E. B. Du Bois/Meets Heavy D & the Boyz”).

But there’s no mistaking the album’s intention as a showcase for Black Thought, still an underdog after all these years. “For me it’s important that we establish and contextualize Tariq’s position in the hip-hop infrastructure,” ?uestlove said. Despite all the guest rappers, or because of them, Black Thought comes across as nimble, resourceful and intensely lucid.

He has two big virtuoso turns: “@15,” an improvised freestyle taped when he was 15, and “75 Bars (Black’s Reconstruction),” featuring an intricately structured tirade that spills across (you guessed it) 75 bars without a moment’s pause. The imperiled hidden track, which ended up getting dropped, was one more exhibit for the jury: a lengthy freestyle by Black Thought and Malik B., a former member of the Roots, from a 1994 radio appearance.

Black Thought often raps with the hard articulation and thrust of a battle rapper, but in conversation he can be soft-spoken, his cadence reflective rather than aggressive. “We’re very much amoebic,” he said thoughtfully, leaning forward in an ergonomic chair, “in that we absorb what’s going on in the outside world.”

He was in the engineer’s booth of a recording studio near Times Square. The rest of the group was visible through the glass, warming up without him. They were rehearsing for their six-week tour with Ms. Badu while in the presence of multiple film crews and photographers. Flashbulbs strobed the room as ?uestlove led his band mates — on guitar, keyboards, bass and, yes, sousaphone — through a slinky yet ominous groove.

Black Thought watched quietly from the booth for a while before sauntering out to deliver the day’s first rousing chorus: “It’s for all of my peoples who understand and truly recognize/Some won’t get it, and for that, I won’t apologize.”

That couplet might seem to summarize the position of the Roots with regard to the public. But the defiant stance doesn’t mean the group is ignoring the commercial realities. “Maybe that was just a better way of saying that we’re proud of who we are,” ?uestlove said. And he voiced a common opinion among the members of the group: that the Roots somehow need the platform of a major label.

Black Thought echoed that. “Without that foot in the door, without that major-label certification, you’re on a different list,” he said, “and it’s harder to get things done, accomplish your agenda.” But, he hastened to add, the challenge was also a creative spur.

As it turned out, the hidden track wasn’t the only thing that didn’t make the cut on “Rising Down.” Another was “Birthday Girl,” a four-minute pop song featuring Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. Trotted out this spring as a first single, it provoked much puzzlement and derision. So after first tacking it to the tail end of the album, the Roots cut it loose. (It’s available on iTunes and at myspace.com/theroots.)

Mr. Nichols confirmed what many observers have surmised about “Birthday Girl”: that Jay-Z heard “Rising Down” and requested a stronger single. “It was something we could use to shut the record company up,” Mr. Nichols said of the song, “and it was so clearly outside the rest of the album that people would know we were going for a single.” Without it, the album’s best shot at a hit is “Rising Up,” a neo-soul exhortation with the rapper Wale and a hook sung by the Def Jam artist Chrisette Michele. They played it Monday on “Late Show With David Letterman.”

The conversation that opens “Rising Down” also closes it, bracketing the album in argument. “There are some abrasive times,” Black Thought acknowledged, “where you reach a certain point and there might be a screaming match.”

Did it all feel a bit Darwinian? “Yeah,” he said. But he added: “I don’t regret that things are the way they are. I’m appreciative of it because I think it shows in the final product. That’s what sets it apart.”


Celtics stand on brink of greatest choke ever

I hear the bandwagon in the ATL

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By Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports

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Here was the most improbable moment on the way to the most improbable Game 7 in NBA playoff history. Late Friday night, late in a series that should’ve been long over, late in the career of too many stars, Doc Rivers talked to his Boston Celtics the way that you would’ve expected Mike Woodson to be talking to his fuzzy-cheeked Atlanta Hawks.

“Slow down,” the Celtics coach confessed to saying.

“Breathe.”

How about that?

Kevin Garnett. Paul Pierce. Ray Allen.

Slow down.

Breathe.

Here comes a Game 7 for the Celtics that no one saw coming, basketball’s best team with 66 victories, a steamroll season, and still they are unable to shake the go-go Hawks. A No. 8 seed, a someone-had-to-make-the-Eastern Conference-playoffs afterthought with a losing record, a losing history, and they were standing with 20,000 delirious and stunned fans in Philips Arena chanting, “Seven … Seven … Seven,” on Friday night.

Game 7, Sunday at the Boston Garden.

The Hawks did it to the Celtics again, 103-100 in Game 6, and make no mistake: The greatest upset in NBA history is within reach for the Atlanta Hawks.

So together, the Hawks and a stunned sellout chanted, “Seven … Seven … Seven,” on Saturday night in Atlanta, a city suddenly smitten with these Hawks that they ignored for so long. Around America, there’s one thing basketball fans forever have been able to rally around: beating the Boston Celtics.

From Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, from Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, one thing never changes: The sweetest sight in enemy basketball territory is the Celtics fighting for dear life.

“All those doubters, they’ve never played a lick of basketball in their lives,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson sniffed.

His defiance is understandable, but who is Woodson kidding? Belief was universal that the 37-45 Hawks were destined for destruction. For now, this is the eve of an NBA apocalypse. Commissioner David Stern has endured one Finals bust after another, but the prospects of preserving a collision course for the top-seeded Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers could inspire him to throw on a striped shirt Sunday and come down to the Garden floor himself.

Truth be told, the NBA became so angry with Garnett for pushing a ref in Game 4, it suspended the Washington Wizards’ Darius Songaila for a love tap on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James.

In every way, the odds still are wildly stacked against Atlanta. Yes, there have been No. 8 seeds beating No. 1 seeds. Nothing like this, though. Nothing close. The Dallas Mavericks won 67 games a season ago, but everyone could see those eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors coming for them. The Warriors had been transformed with a midseason trade, destroyed the Mavericks in the regular season and forced Mavs coach Avery Johnson to make panicked lineup changes before Game 1.

As much as anything, these Hawks have shredded the aura that has surrounded the Celtics in the East. Once they returned to Atlanta, it was clear that the Hawks realized that the Celtics couldn’t run with them. Kevin Garnett has been talking a lot on the floor, desperate to intimidate these young Hawks, but it hasn’t worked. He has to wait for Josh Smith to a make a mistake out of immaturity – a bad pass, an ill-advised shot, whatever – but Garnett has struggled to keep Smith between him the basket.

For Garnett, Game 7 is a referendum on a season of genius, impassioned leadership. Pierce and Allen are on the line, too. Rivers would never live a loss down. All together, they’re on the clock now. Deep down, they understand that they’re within 48 minutes from the biggest choke the sport ever has seen.

To watch the Celtics away from home against Atlanta has been to believe that the 66 victories never happened, that the defensive dominance and the pounding of Western Conference powers was merely a mirage. Suddenly, the Celtics have lost so much certainty, so much composure. For the first time, there’s adversity in this historic season.

The Hawks have been pounded three times in Boston in this series, and they’re probably marching into a fourth on Sunday. Nevertheless, Woodson confessed, “I’m anxious to get back to Boston and see what we’re made of.”

After all, all the pressure goes to the Celtics now. The longer the Hawks hang on Sunday, the tighter the Celtics will get. The Hawks should be long gone in these playoffs, but they’re on the way to Boston for the most improbable Game 7 the NBA ever has seen.

This was supposed to be the Celtics’ season, but you heard Doc Rivers, didn’t you?

Slow down.

Breathe.

Out of nowhere, out of Atlanta’s wildest dreams, out of the commissioner’s worst nightmare, the Boston Celtics are on the cusp of catastrophe.

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