Phil Mushnick was wrong but are his words surprising? He writes for the NY Post, the money losing division of the News Corp. empire. His small role there is to play the angry old white guy. It's a role which, in addition to their over the top sensationalism and even flat out lies, Rupert Murdoch brought to the New York stage when acquiring the once fiercely progressive Post back in late November, 1976.
Before Murdoch stormed our shores the working class tabloid was owned by Dolly Schiff. It was never as big as the conservative Daily News, its working class rival. It was never as acclaimed as the Times, it's progressive rival, but the Post had its own niche. It represented union types back when the city still had union types. It represented New Dealers back when the city still had New Dealers. It represented Manhattan's lower middle class melting pot before Yuppification swept them to the outer boroughs and beyond. At different times during the 1950s and '60s Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson and former light heavyweight champ, Jose Torres, all wrote for the Post. This when white males dominated media if not all Mad Men type big business. I doubt Don Draper and his boys have another 10 years in them but it would be interesting to see their reaction to 1976, coincidentally, the last time the Nets were champions.
By 1976 an inclusion of non-whites and non-males inside a larger portion of New York's power structure had changed things forever. Unfortunately, so did crime, drugs, protests, decay, near bankruptcy and city wide incompetence. By the "Summer of Sam," the '77 Blackout and looting which followed, a conservative backlash was overflowing. Murdoch swooped in to give voice to the "Silent Majority" which Nixon had earlier tapped into during the Post-Civil Rights era. Murdoch was able to cash in on the backlash in ways that not even the Daily News (Archie Bunker's tabloid of choice) could even dream of. Most of all, and unlike the Daily News, the Post was able to gloss over their reactionary message with an endless array of Hollywood gossip and rumors. Two years before buying the Post, Murdoch's first big foray into the American publishing industry was in creating Star magazine. In the form of "Page Six" a chunk of the Star was brought to the then drab, dry and unstylish Post.
But don't let the playful "Wacko Jacko" or outrageous "Headless Body in Topless Bar" wood fool you. Murdoch's Post was and is about reactionary politics. From day one the sports pages were no different. Out went level headed reporters like Mike Lupica, in came hateful hacks like the fittingly named, Dick Young. As Murdoch is now finding out in England however, his era, like Schiff before him, is coming to an end. When News Corp. does finally take its hit, their already dying tabloid division will be the first to feel the affects of downsizing. Thanks to Craig's List, online dating sites (newspapers used to make a killing on classified sections and the personals) online news sites, and the 24 hour cable news cycle, all papers have been struggling for 15+ years. Ironically, it's sites like this one (built on newspaper links) which offer a dagger to the newspaper business.
Dick Young replacements like Phil Mushnick are stuck in a losing battle. Not just against technology but against a new generation of political thinking. This generation might not be as progressive as the one which died in the 1970s but for good or bad it is a more sensitive one. While Archie Bunker could freely toss out the "N word" on network TV (even while making a liberal statement through satire) today's generation won't stand for Phil Mushnick's race baiting. Worse yet, most see right through Mushnick's ploy. They see his desperation for relevancy in an age when print media has become more and more irrelevant.
Phil Mushnick was wrong. Sadly though, it was only because his out of touch New York Post behavior superseded a theory which is right.
We can pretend that black w/white trim isn't necessarily "official gang colors" but be real. Between the colors, the logo, and tees, they are marketing to an urban set and more importantly, an even greater wannabe-urban collection who, from the suburbs, wonder how they too can be down. Jay-Z does seem like a nice enough guy. He doesn't get mixed up in all the drama that cost Tupac his life. He does give back. All that good stuff aside, how we can pretend that he hasn't thrown around the N-word to sell records? Yes, we can say that he's rapping from experience and that it's all part of his art. But be real. Aside from making money and some tight hooks, what has Jay-Z contributed to the art? Has he been as political as Chuck D? Has he been as powerful as Wu Tang Clan? Has he been as intelligent as Mos Def? Has he been as artistic as Q-Tip? Has he been as soulful as Lauryn Hill? Has he been as funky as Andre 3,000? Has he been as musical as the Roots, who by the way, feature a red-white-and-blue ABA basketball on their bass drum? Has he been as eclectic, ground breaking, humorous or sarcastic as the Beastie Boys? The same Beasties he steals from to sell tees with phrases like "Hello Brooklyn" and "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" in selling Nets gear? The answer to those questions is a resounding no. What Jay-Z can do is sell records. Lots of records, especially to the "How can I be down too?" suburban masses. He can also (after stealing it) sell an image. If Mushnick was capable of breaking from his racist New York Post culture, he might have made a better argument. If he wanted to consult with a music critic he could have looked into what Chuck D calls "the individualism which has crippled the (rap) art form" and made a correlation from Jay-Z to others who are good at branding, like Drake.
...Oh and if Mushnick really wanted to dig for some real dirt he might have asked the camera crew (or the light crew or the sound crew) about the shooting of the 99 Problems video. Instead, it's just the usual drivel one can expect from Rupert Murdoch's million dollar losing vanity project. Phil Mushnick was wrong, but he didn't hafta be. Once again the Post strikes out. Because of that, most don't realize that the Nets struck out too. Not economically. They're selling like Drake does. Or like Masta P (na-na-na-naaaa), Nelly and Puffy all once did. But in terms of being authentically cool and original? Swing and a miss!
PS: This fan post is dedicated to Adam Yauch. A true Brooklynite and true innovator. "Cochese is cool. Cochese kicks ass!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YsiTUxe4MI