Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breaking News: Hip Hop Star Found Dead In Paris

PARIS (REUTERS)-The most controversial rapper and producer in Hip Hop was found dead this morning, at a five-star hotel in Paris, France.
The body was discovered near the balcony in the luxe Coco Chanel suite of the Ritz hotel, sometime around 5:15 AM, by the concierge.
Though there were no bruises, marks, wounds, puncture holes, or any apparent trauma found on the body, there was a pool of black, digital ink that had coagulated underneath his head. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"New Jack" Anthology Xcrpt: In Cold Blood (The Baltimore Teen Murders)

In Cold Blood: The Baltimore Teen Murders

By Barry Michael Cooper

(Published in Spin Magazine May 1986)

God Almighty, you can get killed in Baltimore--for no reason at all.

Say that to yourself a few times. Gargle it, and choke on the terror.  If you look at a kid too long, or the wrong way, you could get killed. For no reason at all. If you bump into a kid on the street, if you only lightly brush up against him, and even if you apologize, it could be the last thing you ever do.

In Baltimore, 14-and15-year-old boys are killing each other on rundown basketball courts, in high school gyms, in poolrooms, on row house porches, in garbage strewn back alleys. In the last 14 months there have been almost 20 murders of young kids by other kids. 

Baltimore is known in the tourist trade as Charm City. But do not come down here looking for charm right now, and whatever you do, don't disrespect the killer children on the corners.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"New Jack" Anthology Xcrpt: "Crack" (Spin Magazine-Feb. 1986)

Spin Magazine Cover Story-February 1986
By Barry Michael Cooper

(This was the first national magazine story on the emerging crack cocaine epidemic in America, months before both Time and Newsweek.)

It is almost midnight in Harlem, and the colorless summer night has painted the row of tenement buildings, storefronts, sidewalks, cars, buses, and people in shades of the unknown in this concrete netherworld.

Is this a jungle? The young lions are dressed in black nylon T-shirts and black Lee carpenter jeans rolled up at bare ankles to showcase shiny black Bally loafers. Sinewy arms folded across their chests laden with gold medallions, a silent roar creasing their lips in the guise of a sneer, the young lions usher their prey in and out of video parlors and misty hallways.

Is this a war zone? Loud, rapid machine-gun fire, in the form of recorded digital drums, blasts from a glistening metal boom box, the modern teenager’s portable iron curtain, repeating the most damaging bursts of ammo, shooting down all hopes of retreat from its demanding groove. Thick marijuana smoke is suspended in the air.

Is this an island? A jet stream of water punches out of the mouth of an open fire hydrant. A few adults and children, barefoot and frying in the melting night, giggle and play, carefree, in the cooling flow. The river of water circles the block, separating this patch of Harlem from the rest of the free world. In the street, the water babies instinctively sidestep the steady flotilla of crushed beer cans, greasy wine bottles, and empty miniature manila envelopes of reefer. There are messages in these bottles, cries for help tossed in a curbside sea. The fleet stops at the corner of Eighth Avenue and capsizes into an already gutted drain of moldy, splintered, and stagnant dreams.

This is 145th Street, “Crack City.”

"New Jack" Anthology Xcrpt: Mourning In America (The Crack of the Dawn of the Dead)

Mourning In America 
(The Crack of the Dawn of the Dead)

An Essay By Barry Michael Cooper

"The velocity of history will either break your back or give you wings"

The '80s is dead, y'all, and crack cocaine murdered it. Crack both disfigured the Belle Epoque of the 1980s and wind-sheared the wings on the American Dream, sabotaging it’s flight path and fracturing it almost beyond recognition. Crack created a mass grave filled with the time-eaten corpora of our communal selective memory; a grave twenty-five years deep and a quarter-century long. 

For some, the 1980s were the dawn of an America the RRC (Republican Ruling Class) thought they had lost in the 60s with the election of Kennedy--John F. and almost Robert F.--the proliferation of Dr. Martin Luther King’s multi-colored Dream, and the specter of Malcolm X’s Black Nationalist resolve stamped, By Any Means Necessary. By the time Jimmy Carter--the son of a peanut farmer who became a Naval officer--was elected President of the United States in 1976, the American Dream was beginning to have the potential retrofit of a land filled liberty and justice for all. The Carter Era--not Jigga or Weezy’s but Jimmy C.’s--was a prodigious time for us Mountaintop Children. The Mountaintop Children (or Black Boomers, if you will) are that progeny--primarily African-American--born at the rise of the Civil Rights movement; children of cultural privilege and promise, hoisted onto the shoulders of history by ancestors who struggled, bled, and died to make this One-Nation-Under-GOD -With-Liberty-And-Justice-For-All-America, a level playing field.