Monthly Archives: March 2010

Hip Hop Cuba: 500,000 flood the Malecon for Calle 13

Dear Readers,

This was last Tuesday. This was Calle 13’s first concert in Cuba. This was fact: everyone was rapping along with Residente and Visitante. Calle 13 is bonafide phenomenon. I saw them last summer in Central Park, exhilarating. Not just because of the sounds. But also because of the crowd. Calle 13 is a movement unto itself, uber inclusive of the excluded, while still being a home for the mainstream hip.

Calle 13 in 1st Cuba Concert, photo from:

I am struck by these images, these extra-national musical citizenship images, for what they mean for Cuba (imagine U.S. public space being used for a massive hip hop concert), and for what they imply about where hip hop lives, in all those hearts, beating, pushing against our growing edges, regardless.

roopa singh

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Gay Rappers: (so) What if Guru is gay?

Correction: The article below has been updated, changing originally identified MC Solaar (occasional collaborator of Guru) to Superproducer Solar (partner of Guru). Thank you to reader Sabrina for the heads up.

Dear Readers,

A recent report has Guru in stable condition at a New York area hospital.  But the end of February brought with it stunning word of mouth news that Guru, aka Keith Elam, had suffered a heart attack and that his condition was  “touch and go.” But after only a short buzz, a sense of suppression surrounded this tragic near loss.  I wonder if its because Guru is gay.

Guru is half of the timeless hip hop group, GangStarr, with collaborator DJ Premier.  I hope that he is able to live so much longer than this.  Not only did Mass Appeal get me through law school, look at how relevant and courageous the content is in  this era of hip hop mogul-tools dominating airwaves.  Plus the beat is so clean, a “Me, Myself, and I,” meditative precursor to the Kid Cudi sonic landscapes of earphone-fresh today.

Hip hop blogs were chiming in on how Solar, a gods and earths dude who calls himself Superproducer Solar, had exclusive rights through a health proxy to be with Guru in the hospital.  Bristling posts bemoaned Solaar’s presence, saying he even had more control than blood family over Keith’s relevant medical decisions.  And some of those posts had a point. It could very well be that Guru/Keith has entered into an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with a dude who wants to leech off the Guru star. I just checked out the 7grand site, Guru’s current label, and lord knows Solar is all up next to Guru in every damn picture. Addictions come in all forms, you can certainly be addicted to personalities. It happens to the best. The nuance here is how to talk about the idea that co-dependency is enabled by marginalization, and if Keith is in a gay relationship with his partner Solar, then perhaps it’s double hard for him to get free.

Sources say Solar is married, so, I could be wrong.  But periodically the “Who’s the gay rapper?” brigade start their witch hunting, and I for one just want to say, we are what we are.  We need some rappers to come out and stand proud, not just marginalized rappers, but the many gay rappers in the mainstream.  What a difference it would make!

Here’s a bit more on Guru, from, The Names Blog:

“Elam, 43, has kept a low profile in recent years, but released a solo album, “Lost and Found,” in 2009. Gang Starr, whose LPs included “Step in the Arena,” “Daily Operation,” “Hard to Earn,” and “Moment of Truth,” was one of the first rap acts to blend hip-hop and jazz. Their music caught the ear of director Spike Lee, who included the group in the soundtrack of “Mo’ Better Blues.” Elam’s father Harry was a lawyer and judge – appointed to the bench by Gov. Francis Sargent – and his mom, Barbara, was a director of the library system in Boston schools. Elam attended Noble & Greenough School and Cohasset High School before enrolling at Morehouse College in Atlanta. In a 1992 interview with the Globe, Elam said, “You have to go for yours. Nobody is going to do it for you. My father used to say that all the time, but I never really learned that until I was out on my own. That’s one thing a lot of young brothers have to learn for themselves.” (From: The Names Blog)


Roopa Singh

Hip Hop Politics Professor

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

roopa’s hip hop yoga @ hunter: “it is your right to move.”

dear readers,

here are some pics from the session i led today at the school of social work at hunter.  triumphant arms, engaged cores, hearts lifting, and all of this, with some in jeans, and another who gave up her mat for the carpet.  this is taking it back, all the way back to when yoga was more integrated, in so many ways.


roopa adjusting marcus


starting off in childs pose


getting ready for pranayama breathing practice


being a yoga teacher is so humbling and inspiring


this was his first full yoga class and he gave his all for sure. i hope he keeps up his practice!


getting the yoga started even before class, it is your right to move!


this is what flying feels like.


roopa coming into plank from downward dog

It is your right to move, so please do keep it moving!


Roopa Singh


Tagged , , , , , , ,