Quentin Tarantino, the Master Remixer

I’ve enjoyed the “Everything is a Remix” video series. As an old-school hip-hop fan, I’ve always enjoyed figuring out the origin of samples used in any given track. I guess that’s why part 2 of the remix series, which covered remixing in movies, was so interesting to me. That video touches on some of Quentin Tarantino’s work and then directs viewers to check out another video which goes into depth on Tarantino’s considerable theft reuse of ideas from earlier movies. I had no idea that Quentin “remixed” so much material for Kill Bill. Check it out:

Dear Santa…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Boondocks (or anything to this blog for that matter). The first one below moved me to post. BTW, am I the only one who isn’t feeling the TV version of the Boondocks? The boys’ voices are just a bit too high pitched IMHO and I won’t even get started on the language…

Anyway, I doubt that I’ll get a chance to post anything else on this blog before the holidays so happy holidays to everybody. See you on the other side of 2006, when I’ll hopefully have more to write on this site. 🙂

Move to China, Become a Rapper & Make Millions!

I was reading an article in Business 2.0 about Americans who are making it big in China when I noticed a picture of a brotha with two Chinese girls next to him. (reminds me of that line from Digital Undergrounds ‘Sex Packets’, but I digress…) So of course I skipped right to that part of the story and what I read blew me away. This cat moved to China on a whim, had never done any ‘serious’ performing before and is now a huge star over there and making millions! See for yourself…


As in much of the world, Americans and American culture are often viewed in China with a mixture of repulsion and fascination. Andrew Ballen has ridden the second part of that equation to improbable heights.

Ballen arrived in China four years ago “on a whim,” he says. A native of New York, Ballen, now 32, had dropped out of Duke University’s law school, angering his father, a high-achieving Jamaican immigrant who is a physician in North Carolina. Ballen wanted to get far away from the scene of his failure, and China seemed about as far away as he could go. He didn’t know a soul in China. He didn’t speak a word of Chinese.

To cushion his landing, he took a job at one of China’s leading for-profit language schools. After a month, he realized two things. First, he’d never earn enough money as an English teacher to live well in China. Second, Chinese youth were mesmerized by hip-hop. “As an American black kid, I knew something about hip-hop,” Ballen says.

He’d never done serious performing in America, but Ballen quickly started his own weekly Thursday night hip-hop show in Shanghai, renting out a club, paying a flat fee to the Chinese owner, and keeping the $4 entrance fee and a slice of the bar take. He canvassed top universities, distributing fliers to students to announce his opening night. He did the same in expat neighborhoods, concentrating on women. “Get the hot women, and the hot men follow,” Ballen says, summarizing his marketing strategy.

Three hundred people turned out to hear Ballen rap and DJ on opening night, and kids keep coming back, in increasingly large numbers. On a recent Thursday night, Ballen takes in $3,200 from the gate, and the bar soaks up more than $10,000. In the four-year history of the show, Ballen has grossed nearly $2 million.

The rap gig launched a burgeoning multimedia empire. A few months after his debut in the club, Ballen started an English-language radio talk show where he spoke frankly about romance and the anxieties of youth. The talk show led to a deal with Motorola; Ballen became “the voice” for some cell-phone services. Next he started a popular TV travel program, striking an innovative deal with one of Shanghai’s leading stations that allowed him to sell advertising and keep the lion’s share of the take.

Andrew Ballen is now a star in China. He moves around the country with two Chinese assistants, one of them on hand simply to answer his mobile phone. The endorsement deals keep coming; even his old employer, the language school, pays him more than $1,000 a month to be a pitchman. He is frequently stopped on the street by Chinese who want to shake his hand or buy him a beer.

On a recent Friday, after staying up all night at the hip-hop club, Ballen snatches a few hours of sleep, then goes into a studio to do a radio commercial. Next he grabs a late breakfast and gulps down two cups of coffee before locking himself away to write a script for his next TV episode. Between paragraphs, he ponders how someone who never ran a business in the United States could launch so many, so quickly, in a country he still barely comprehends. “I have nothing,” he says, “but my imagination.”

Club Nouveau on ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’

I just got an email about Club Nouveau’s appearance on NBC tonight. All of you 80’s R&B fans won’t want to miss this. Set those TiVo’s…

Club Nouveau ushered in a new sound in music, It was 1986 and “Rumors” took the music business by storm, But Club Nouveau was more than just a new group with a new sound and a new hit. Club Nouveau brought a new attitude, Led by Jay King & Valerie Watson (as the Timex Social Club) “Rumors” was Independently Produced, Manufactured, Distributed, Marketed & Promoted without the help of a Major Record Company on any level.

Club Nouveau’s success brought them to the attention of a young up and coming record executive by the name of Benny Medina who had just come to Warner Brothers as the Head A&R Rep for their R&B Division. Medina made the King Jay Record Label and Club Nouveau his first signing and “Jealousy” (#8 Billboard R&B) was released as the first single from the album titled “Life, Love & Pain” (released in 1986). Jealousy was followed by “Situation#9″(#4 Billboard R&B) both released in 1986.

Lots of Extra Content in the ‘Ray’ DVD

Sounds like the DVD of ‘Ray’ is well worth checking out, even for peeps who saw the movie in the theater:

Too often the “extended editions” of popular films released to DVD seem to contain little more than a few minutes of filler scenes that didn’t work well enough to be included in the theatrical cut, or moments of sex, violence or crude humor that had to be softened to get the rating the studio wanted.

That’s not the case with “Ray,” Taylor Hackford’s account of the life and times of Ray Charles, played by Jamie Foxx in a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination last week. The Universal Home Video disc contains an option: push one button and the film unfolds in the 152-minute form in which it played in theaters; push another, and a substantially different movie appears, incorporating 24 more minutes of material that adds considerably to the film’s rhythm, dramatic depth and complex, ambivalent vision of its subject.

[read the whole article]

Vh1’s Black in the 80s Series

I just finished watching the ‘film/movies’ episode of ‘Black in the 80s‘. It was an entertaining and informative trip back to the 80s. It made me realize that I need to add some (major) movies to my NetFlix queue that slipped by me. I also have to watch Hollywood Shuffle again! I’m looking forward to catching the Def Jams (music) and TV episodes over the next couple of days. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially for those of you who are too young to really remember/know what went down in the 80s.