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See You at the Crossroads

The legacy of what we call "Black Music" will be carefully traced by the imprints left on our media and the music itself. Russell Simmons offered a typical nugget recently saying that "we're such a small percentage of this country but such a large portion of its culture." I could not help but agree with this inflated view of hip hop while Brooke Hogan and Paul Wall gallavant with diamond teeth in her newest video, and DJ Premier produces a hit record for Christina Aguilera. (Shouts to Premo for being ever the gangster.)

Shortly before I embarked on my last channel-surfing mission it had occurred to me that Black Music has been able to conflate a range of influences both originating it and being birthed from it. Hip-hop specifically got over our BadBoy hangover around 2002 and has launched popular artists with undeniable talent like Outkast, Eminem, Busta, 50, The Game, T.I., Lil' Wayne and others. We stand at the crossroads of piquant musical development in this genre. Because a generation of children, now matured, has had the chance to fully absorb the meanings and the will of its existence. All that aside though, the shit just has to sound good.

I called my boy Mr. Tom Bombadillo of Plastic Little to rehash some of these awakenings and to get his perspective on how a group full of "chucklehead" (his word) misanthropes can thrive in the flourishing rap scenes springing up in every niche of our country. Plastic Little is a Philadelphia squad composed of PackofRats, Squid a.k.a. Michael Ferrari and NoBody'sChild (NBC) a.k.a. Bombadillo. The strength of their music is its flexible nature -- drug-induced chicanery and catchy showtune beats. Their songs do nothing to pay homage, as is the stale credo of underground rap. Instead, tracks like "Drizhollering" emphatically declare the importance of hollering at the right b*tch on the right drug in the right club. And it sounds good.

The Plastic Little trial run came in the form of a Thug Paradise 2.1 EP released on aNYthing Records courtesy of A-Ron the Don, whose queer downtown tastes help him to shepherd a cult of artsy hippies in New York. "The first album was more a commentary on rap," NBC explains of the indie success. "Now, we're more focused on making fun songs...Light-hearted is the way our friends describe us, and we don't want to stray too far from that kind of fun execution." We shot the shit about how detrimental it can be to innovate. It is a chore to be labeled "experimental" and still expect to attract the same interest as an album packaged for a 14 to 17 year old. "The first album [wasn't] extremely racy, but it was tongue-in-cheek. It might have kept away some labels who didn't want to deal with that."

Suddenly, they are recording their second full-length album She's Mature slated for an August release. Tom recalled his upbringing in music and infused me with a sense of momentary worldliness when he suggested that even in Plastic Little's off-color, electrofunk raps there were the rudiments of old-school rap and the ethos present in Native Tongues records of the nineties. I could not help but agree. Last month's BET awards for example engaged several generations with performances from Chaka Khan. Might hip-hop be here without her ballads to sample intellectual property from? "Get Close" is the PLR track that I liken to the innuendo-filled soul songs of Minnie Ripperton, not too bashful about sexual disclosure and better for it. Because when girls want to talk about your "dick wit' you," it's a good thing. It should not be suppressed or made into an intellectual struggle over the value of her versus the value of your dick. 'Just make that shit bump' is the equivalent (auditorily) of the impulse to say 'let's fuck, girly'.

Fireside Tracks by Plastic Little : "Foil," "Get Close," "Drizhollering" Download here or check out their show in NYC on August 2nd at Fat Baby.

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Aretha Franklin - Sparkle OST


Romantic Hits: Evening For Two



Jae_Millz-142nd_and_Lenox_(Mixed_by_DJ_Block_and_D J_Hpnotiq)

Jaguar Wright - And Your Point Is

Makaveli - One Love, One Thug, One Nation [2006]

Baby - Birdman

Playa - Cheers 2 U

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