Results tagged “Jay-Z” from Drama Queen

Since I never got around to posting my critique of American Idiot for the Broad Street Review, the show's Best Musical Tony nod and an article by Jon Pareles in today's New York Times seem as good excuses as any to get it up here. But that's not really my purpose today.

Pareles, as a pop music critic, doesn't generally cover theater. And let's face it, it's kind of depressing that a journalist who's been covering rock since the '70s only now feels that the form is reaching a critical mass on the Broadway stage. Seems sort of an exercise in emphasizing how woefully out of touch with popular culture Broadway has become. But to me--and mind you, I love me some Green Day--the less obvious discussion is this: will it take another 40 years before hip-hop makes a dent on Broadway? I guess In the Heights tossed rap into its bag of tricks, but that show's cockeyed optimism only scratched the surface of hip-hop's depth and potential. 

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It's true commercial hip-hop is in a fallow period right now, with teenybopper pop/rap crossovers dominating the airwaves, but there's certainly no shortage of a back catalog or hungry up-and-comers. With players such as rapper Jay-Z and Jada Pinkett Smith--yeah, her own band favors thrash metal, but c'mon son, her husband's Will Smith, king of populist hip-hop--getting into the producing game (for Fela!) things might soon change. However, if and when they do, Broadway will still be years behind Hollywood, which already mined the genre and its artists for years. I mean, even Vanilla Ice got his own movie way back in 1991.

Eric Rosen and Matt Sax's Venice--a rap version of Othello--is currently bringing some buzz, and its appearance in October at L.A.'s Kirk Douglas Theatre might serve as a launching pad for even wider success. And maybe it will take two white kids assimilating rap into Shakespeare for other producers to be open to that music's inherent potential. But it's just plain astonishing that no one has bothered to dig into the operatic rise and fall of Eazy-E, or built a blow-your-mind jukeboxer around Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death (free idea: round out the score with some Li'l Kim), or hired Queen Latifah to do in a jewel box what she does best in arenas, or tapped Lil Wayne or Outkast, or hey, the Jigga man himself, to add their particular musical vision to the American Songbook.


May 16, 2010 9:01 AM |
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This week I'm macking on: The return of the rock-star president. And no, not that one. 

Ok, screw it, I'm just going to say this quickly and get it out of the way. Les Freres Corbusier is re-mounting their emo-musical-light-show-fanboy-concert Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in May as part of the Public Theater's Public LAB season. Even better, tickets will be $10. I hope they sell CDs, and I hope producers here in Philly go see it and bring it home for me, and since I'm starting to feel like LFC's very own Mel, that's all I'm going to say on the subject. For now.

This week I'm hating on: Haters. If anyone--for example, these Fox News twits--expected Jay-Z and Young Jeezy to button up and settle down after the election, a.) they've never listened to hip-hop, which was founded on the principles of skillful braggadocio and a reflection of the urban African-American experience, and b.) they don't get what's going on in this country. Which is not to say I think every African-American agrees with all the, ahem, sentiments the rappers expressed on that jubilant inaugural evening. But the fact that the Fox talking heads (and others) are surprised our "postracial president" didn't make racial enmity disappear by walking up the Capitol steps and brushing that dirt off his shoulder, just emphasizes how wide the chasm of understanding is between not only the races, but the haves, have-nots and those-who-once-had-little-but-now-have-a-voice. 

And p.s., enough with the Aretha-dissing. On a bad day, like, say, Tuesday, she still sounds better than anyone I know, and she damn sure dresses better. No one other than the first lady of soul should have been up on that balcony belting out a patriotic tune for Mr. President, and I, for one, am glad she's still around to do it.

January 23, 2009 11:06 AM |
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