GOODBYE TO HALIFAX… AND 50 CENT

Greetings,

Well today’s the day – my stay here in Halifax ends tonight. What a ride it has been. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed most of my time here and getting an East Coast lifestyle. Nine months later, I’ve got a graduate degree, new friends and a totally renewed perspective on my profession, my future career ambitions and what I want out of journalism.

Sure, Halifax isn’t for me as a long-term place of residence, but it’s been a great student experience. This will likely be my last foray into academia and it’s been a blast being a student one last time. I accomplished goals, learned a lot and feel a lot more confident as a journalist. Everything from being the BJ Representative, President of the BJ Students Society, Journalists For Human Rights, writing for numerous publications, doing CBC Radio, multiple trips, starting the KSU web site and getting the new logo going, writing for Tidings and learning more and getting excited about radio – it’s all been terrific.

So far, 2005 has been very good to me. I’ve got loads of opportunities in front of me and I feel like I’m ready to start anew.

Thanks Halifax, King’s and everyone at it – it’s been swell.

50 CENT: One area of journalism I’m keen on getting more into later this year is music journalism. I haven’t done a lot of it in the past, but I want to do more on the subject because a lot of my technology-related articles have a natural cross-over into music.

This month’s Vibe features two major articles: the first deals with the Top 50 movies that influenced Hip-Hop, and the other on 50 Cent’s rise to power in the Hip-Hop musical genre. The cover is absolutely incredible – a stunning riff on 1983’s Scarface, with 50 Cent in the pose and place of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana. It’s an amazing shot and apt for a guy like 50 Cent (Scarface is regularly cited as a major influence on contemporary urban hip-hop, given its prominent place in movies like New Jack City).

Personally, I’ve got a mixed opinion on 50 Cent. After reading this article, I don’t think it’s fair to demonize him as the worst purveyor of U.S. inner city carnage on the block – he’s not. A lot of what 50 Cent does in his acts are about performance and genre expectations – he’s playing a role of the ultra-violent thug because his intended audience expects that. Sure, he’s been shot nine times and he’s lived the life as much as he portrays it, but the guy isn’t making poetry here: he’s reflecting a very stark reality of urban life in the U.S., and a lot of people have problems facing up to the reality of what 50 Cent is saying.

This being said, he’s also done a great job at reinforcing stereotypes about gangsters. 50 Cent is from that hip-hop lineage of N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Eminem and so on – no responsibility towards their lyrics and what they mean, total objectification of women, rampant homophobia and extreme violence. The common rationale for this is that they’re reflecting their reality of urban life and art is about writing about what you know. Fair enough, but I also think guys like 50 Cent not only makes hip-hop trivial, but forces more artistic hip-hop like Common or The Roots to the fringe. Just because Common doesn’t flash T&A or waves a .22 in front of the camera doesn’t make it important, but it’s hard for artists like that to compete with such visceral imagery as sex-and-violence.

Fascinating stuff – incidently, if you’re interested in thoughtful Hip-Hop, check out this site. Okay Player is a fantastic site.

Also, this kind of debate isn’t reserved for just hip-hop – mainstream rock deals with the same kinds of issues too. More on this later.

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