Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Charles Hamilton Hits the Stage at SOB’s in NYC

Charles Hamilton returned to the stage at SOB’s last night (May 19) with a live band and a sleek piano. The once troubled rapper performed with both humility and a chip on his shoulder, professing his appreciation to the crowd for coming out.

The night started with three local up-and-coming MCs , which were all from the New York area. 
Y Rome, Spud Mack, and S.K.E. the Heistman warmed up the crowd quite diligently. With several urgings from the host to “Show these guys some love” the audience managed to muster up partial enthusiasm for the opening acts.

Charles Hamilton & Y. Rome Bad Boys Studios

Before long, the former XXL Freshman graced the stage. With his family in attendance, the atmosphere was suddenly filled with renewed energy. Hamilton was not shy addressing his bad press and troubles within the rap game. “You don’t need a deal to make your music, make your art.” he said to the crowd. “Be yourself, be independent.”

Next he performed “Loser,” which proved to be telling of the artist’s struggles overall and that night. Hamilton and his band were plagued with technical difficulties that visibly frustrated Hamilton and his two backup dancers. Despite this the Harlem native musical talents shined through, keeping the crowd hyped as he spit bars from behind his piano.

Hamilton’s energy was especially felt during the performance for the song “Down The Line.” A powerful solo from one of his female backup singers sent waves through the crowd resulting in a resounding applause. After lamenting his lack of female friends, the comeback kid switched up the mood with his next couple of songs. CH even pulled a female fan onto the stage so he can serenade her.

The multitalented MC brought up his cousin Bridge for “Freshman Party.” After he performed his most well-known song to date, “Brooklyn Girls.” Hamilton noted how weird it was that he was performing the song with a live band. But the difference didn’t take away from the quality as the crowd rocked out with him while he performed.

The RCA signee closed with “New York Raining,” which features Rita Ora. It was an appropriate closer for the night and signaling a new triumphant return in Hamilton’s career. The comeback continues—Don Garvin

Charles Hamilton FEAT SPUD MACK Gangsta Girlz

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


An Excellent Debate

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately with headlines like “Why Heath Ledger’s Joker Will Never Be Matched”. I was going to do a take down of that for several reasons; he’s largely a product of a post-9/11 world that will eventually move on from that mindset, The Arkham game portrayals are better really, etc. But while I was mulling over that listicle I really sat down and deconstructed The Dark Knight. I’ve come to the conclusion The Joker is actually the hero of the film. More than that, he’s arguably better at it than Batman.

Let’s consider how we meet The Joker in that opening scene which will go down as one of the greatest heist scenes ever shot. Joker stages an elaborate plot to rob a bank and even though there’s a dramatic reveal near the end we all knew it was him because the clip had been released as a promo long before it came out. So everyone who saw that film was already in the mindset, “Here’s The Joker, what crime is he going to pull?”

The thing is, he doesn’t pull a crime. He stages an elaborate bout of vigilante justice worthy of Batman himself. The bank is a mob bank. It houses millions of dollars of funds gained through extortion, drugs, theft, murder, you name it. Not only does The Joker rob the bank, he does so in a way in which all his criminal accomplices murder each other one by one thinking that they’ll get a bigger cut if they do. This is supposed to look diabolical bit of insanity but it’s really him immediately eliminating five dangerous murderers while he’s literally in the middle of crippling the mob financially.

Swap The Joker out for, say, The Punisher for that scene. Sure, he’d be a killer with a gun and killers with guns are how we know guys are bad in Batman movies, but the real result is that The Joker completes a major anti-mob strike while getting a quintet of thugs off the streets for good. He doesn’t kill any civilians, and only wounds the manager with a shotgun in self-defense. Even then he lets the guy live with a joke.

In fact, for the whole movie his target is mostly the same mob that Batman has apparently been unable to really stop since Batman Begins. Not only are these crime families still going strong, but they are augmented by the fact that Batman was unable to stop the spread of Scarecrow’s fear toxin, creating a permanently deranged underclass that are now presumably desperate and starving. It’s these largely forgotten downtrodden that The Joker recruits for his army, which implies that Gotham has left them to rot.

Now granted, The Joker also wages a war against the institutions of law in Gotham including assassinating judges and commissioners. That is clearly wrong, but again, look at it from The Joker’s point of view. We know that the police and the courts are corrupt. It’s one of the main reasons that Bruce Wayne became Batman in the first place and why he only trusts James Gordon and Harvey Dent. No one else is incorruptible.

And if the system is so broken that it requires a man like Batman to dispense justice then why is it worth preserving in the first place? If you’re The Joker and you hate the mob then why would your plans stop at robbing them and killing their henchmen? The upper echelons all have the supposed legitimate government catering to them, which is the sort of joke that might indeed make a man become The Joker..

There’s what he does to Harvey Dent to consider, of course. He murders his girlfriend and leaves him scarred and full of rage. Then again, that’s not how The Joker says he sees it. He tells Batman that he turned Dent into “one of us”. What does Dent do when he becomes Two-Face? He goes on a rampage that leaves mob bosses and crooked cops dead in his wake. It’s only when Dent is threatening to kill innocents that things become a problem.

Hey, have you ever noticed that it was that exact time that The Joker made it a point to tell Batman exactly what he’d done to Dent? Almost as if The Joker knew that once Dent’s spree on deserving victims was spent he would do something that Batman should stop.

Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight is an agent of chaos. He says as much, but what does that mean? For him “organized crime” is the problem. It’s institutional, monolithic and supported from people that masquerade as law-abiding citizens who look to the skies for an unlawful vigilante to protect them from the common thugs of the street. He knows that the “rules” are a smokescreen to protect evil and so he fights a two-front war against both the mob and those that who enable the mob to continue to do business.

One of the most-remembered lines in the film is “I believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.” Great line, but people just write it off as a quip. I don’t think it is. It comes after the wounded bank manager is spitting at The Joker about how criminals used to believe in honor, once again pretending to a moral code moments after he started shotgunning the robbers to protect illegal income.
We never really ask where The Joker comes from in The Dark Knight, but what if he’s the product of a mob hit that he wasn’t supposed to survive? What if those famous scars, his Glasgow smile, are the result of criminal violence just as the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents was? He tells different stories to different people in the film, but you notice that it’s always to people he feels are already lying; a gang boss dressed in a fancy business suit, an assistant district attorney in a system he considers coddling the mob, and a man in a costume dispensing justice with his fists. They’re all part of the joke.

In the end over the course of The Dark Knight The Joker does more to eliminate crime and corruption in Gotham than Batman ever comes close to. He does it in a horrific way, but that’s what you get when you almost kill a man like him. He’s Darkman. He’s The Bride. Heath Ledger’s Joker is the real Dark Knight. 
Jef has a new story about robot sharks, "A Senseless Killing Machine", out now in Lurking in the Deep. You can also connect with him on Facebook

Monday, May 18, 2015

(DEVELOPING STORY) Three Men Taken Into Custody in Connection With Chinx’s Murder

Reports are circulating that three men connected to the murder of Chinx were taken into custody yesterday (May 17) afternoon after NYPD’s SWAT team raided a home on 2436 Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, Queens.

 According to, “Rockaway’s online Newspaper”, the men taken into custody may be linked to two different crimes in the area. “While details are still sketchy, police sources say that three men were taken into custody at 2436 Beach Channel Drive at about 12:45 on Sunday, reportedly in connection with Pickens’ (Chinx’s) shooting. Others, however, say those men were arrested for stealing a car in Bayswater, Queens and were chased to the location by police officers. It is possible, however, sources say, that the two cases are connected and that the shooters were seeking to steal a car to leave the area.”

While details are still scarce at best, it appears law enforcement is on the case. XXL will continue to bring you updates as the investigation continues.
Chinx’s family has made a statement via the deceased rapper’s Instagram account:

The passenger in Chinx’s Porsche has also come forward. Coke Boys affiliate Yemen Cheese posted two photos on Instagram; one of him laid up in a hospital bed and the other with Chinx:

A photo posted by YEMENCHEE$E (@cokeboy_yemen) on

A photo posted by YEMENCHEE$E (@cokeboy_yemen) on

Jay-Z demolished Spotify, YouTube, and his streaming music critics in an epic (and profound) freestyle

It is entirely fitting that Jay-Z’s best defense of Tidal, his relatively expensive, artist-owned streaming music service, came in the form of a freestyle.

There’s already been quite a fierce backlash against Tidal, which Jay-Z bought for $56 million back in March. After some initial, heavy promotion, including a bizarre press conference, the app has fallen sharply in the rankings in both Apple’s iOS store and the Google Play store. Many argued that Tidal’s central pitch—that consumers should pay more for music because, well, they should—came across as a bunch of highly paid musicians complaining they’re not making enough money.

But in the freestyle, which took place at an exclusive event on Saturday night (May 16) in New York, Jay-Z addressed these criticisms in quite a devastating and profound fashion. The gist of his argument was that there is a double standard being applied against him and Tidal. But our words won’t do it justice, you should watch for yourself. (Some explicit language.)

Whether these arguments will resonate with consumers remains to be seen. Research suggest the majority of consumers don’t want to pay for music. Tidal does not have a free service and its main product, while offering higher-quality sound, costs twice as much as Spotify does.

So Tidal still has its work cut out for it, especially with Apple poised to enter the streaming market in a big way next month. In the meantime, it’s worth pondering how many entrepreneurs wish they had the skill to publicly take down competitors and critics like this.

Jay Z and Beyonce Reportedly Paid “Tens of Thousands” of Dollars to Cover Protesters’ Bail

As with most Black multimillionaires, Jay Z’s contributions to the Black community are often questioned. He’s even been called out in the past by the likes of actor, activist and singer Harry Belafonte for his perceived lack of keeping up with his social responsibility. There have always been whispers that Hov does more behind-the-scenes giving than most people are aware of. Writer, film-maker and social activist, dream hampton recently peeled back the curtain on Hov’s clandestine contributions saying both Jay Z and Beyonce have been giving to the protest efforts in Ferguson and Baltimore by spending thousands of dollars to bail out protestors.

hampton, who co-authored Jigga’s book 2010 autobiography Decoded, recently took to Twitter to stand up for The Carters and revealed they privately help out on a number of causes. “I’m going to tweet this and I don’t care if Jay gets mad,” she started. “When we needed moeny for bail for Baltimore protestors I asked hit up Jay, as I did for Ferguson, wired tens of thousands in mins [sic].”

It doesn’t stop there according to hamtpon. “When BLM needed infrastructure for the many chapters the were growing like beautiful dandelions, Carters wrote a huge check,” she typed. “And more stuff…too much to list actually, that they always insist folk keep quiet,” she later added.

The tweets were later deleted, but you can peep the screengrabs of the Twitter monologue, below.