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1520 Sedgwick Avenue: Blogs I’m Watching Friday, August 1, 2008

Posted by Andy Hutchins in 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Blogs I'm Watching, Rockabye.

It occurs to me that I link to a lot of sites that I don’t necessarily shout out as often as I should, and that, for some of the four readers here, this is your be-all, end-all authority on hip-hop that isn’t Pitchfork. (Please, don’t let Pitchfork be that. If you take one thing from this, take that.)

So I’m going to give you my little guided tour of the hip-hop blogosphere, the sites that I read like you read 1520, except that there’s other people there.

There’s first and foremost a few mainstream music sites that I read for mainstream music and happen to have hip-hop content. Clearly, though the above mention demonstrates that Pitchfork is one of them, and though I’ve agreed with their reviews of late, they could rightfully be hit with the “hipster tourist” tag that’s gaining traction, and they often myopically give smaller names short shrift. But I visit Idolator about fifteen times over the course of a day, and am consistently impressed by their hip-hop coverage, and Blender’s Burner Blog once or twice every day, and, though I don’t trust the Blender reviews further than they would stretch printed out, I enjoy much of their writing. I also check stereogum for the counterpoint to the Fork, and because I like the perspective a little better.

Then there’s the three blogs I go to for most of my downloaded music.

Fake Shore Drive, which, apart from its great name, is an awesome Chicago hip-hop blog written by Andrew Barber, features almost exclusively Windy City artists, but there’s frequently good stuff from Kidz in the Hall, Consequence, and GLC over there, as well as thoughts and rarities from Kanye, Lupe, and Rhymefest.

2dopeboyz, named for the OutKast song, is the brainchild of Shake and Meka, and they decorate their WordPress template well, plus they roll out pretty much everything that leaks in the world of hip-hop quicker and, frequently, in better quality, than the competition. (According to Alexa, it actually gets more traffic than Idolator. Huh.)

But the behemoth of the hip-hop blogs that’s really, y’know, a blog, has to be Nah Right. It’s been around a good three years, and TIME named it to some important list of something, but the basic deal is this: Eskay, and, recently, Nation kick the music and, sometimes, the knowledge, from everywhere and anyone, almost always with little preamble or prejudice, and a rotating cast of lesser satellite hip-hop bloggers (mostly, not unlike Deadspin, professional white-collar workers) chop up hip-hop, society and each other in the comments. It’s not unusual to see a Nah post up for an hour and have 100+ comments on it; it’s an open registration system, but you still sort of have to get past the bouncer. Truth be told, it’s only in the last couple of months that I’ve been commenting there, but it’s a privilege I cherish almost as much as my ‘Spin membership.

And Nah’s got some serious heft to it, too: Alexa has it as one of the top 10,000 sites on the ‘Webs, and as Crooked I and Mickey Factz could tell you, long-term love from the site opens doors in the rest of the hip-hop world.

Then there’s a couple of sites I visit less often that sort of offset each other’s tenor: the seriously knowledgeable Jay Smooth’s ill doctrine, which goes light on the humor, and the zaniness of The Real, which usually has a kernel of truth to it. Both are really more vlogs than blogs, and less about hip-hop than hip-hop-inspired and -influenced, but Jay’s been around hip-hop a long time, and he’s perfected his mix of understanding the culture, enjoying the music, and calling what he sees in an enjoyable and eloquent manner, both through the vlogs and Hip Hop Music. At the same time, the boys of The Real are damn good parodists, and their style, though still maturing, needles the self-serious in just the right way.

Now, that’s essentially my rotation, especially since the literate and wordy, if pop-leaning, Status Ain’t Hood is no more, its author Tom Breihan off to write other things. But I click links that take me other places, and there’s a few more sites you and I should pay some attention to.

First is the hip-hop clearinghouse that is Hip Hop DX, which combines blogging with news, and light message board use with a large collection of music for streaming, rather than downloading. It’s how my younger brother gets nearly all his hip-hop.

Sound of Hip Hop, rarely seen other than as SOHH, which is at a temporary page that is nothing like what quite possibly the most-trafficked dedicated hip-hop site on the Internet really is. It’s known for its exhaustive and exhausting forums, also down at the moment, which are usually full of everything and some hot air. Not really for the occasional fan, but I’ll dabble from time to time, though I don’t comment.

And then there’s the game-changer, ThisIs50. It’s not so much a blog as a content provider, and it’s certainly not written by 50, but it combines everything from G-Unit music and videos to the frequent leering at celebrity photos and, often, serves as an exclusive content provider to other sites. The most prominent proprietary site for an artist I’ve seen, it shows 50’s either still ahead of the game or has people who really know how to keep him there.

There’s an array of other sites you might find enjoyable, from Kanye’s (possibly ghostwritten) blog, which, whether pecked out by him or not, really does represent how bananas Mr. West is and extends his tastemaker touch, to Okayplayer’s videos, which are always popping up on other blogs. But, really, I could give you World Star Hip Hop or OnSmash and tell you to check it out, but the more practical thing would probably be to integrate some of their content here, and let you take what you want.

So, on that tip, I’ll be posting some different things next week, doing some of what I just told you I’d do; that’s part of what the earlier post was about, too.

(And that VIBE tournament? There were two upsets in the thirty-two tilts of first round, 12-seed Juelz Santana dumping 5-seed Cam’ron, and #9 Young Buck edging #8 Lloyd Banks, and I think seeds may hold to the Sweet Sixteen; if not, I didn’t miss out on that many juicy match-ups. So I’ll break that down when we get to it next week. Or, uh, whenever “Aug. 3th” is.)



1. DougOLis - Friday, August 1, 2008

So does this mean I should ignore Pitchfork’s recommendation of London Zoo by The Bug?

I shall have to check out Nah Right.

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