Thursday, June 30, 2011

NPR on the cost of making Rhianna's hit song


How Much Does It Cost To Make A Hit Song?

03:58 pm
June 30, 2011
by Zoe Chace

Getting a song on the pop charts takes big money.

Def Jam started paying for Rihanna's recent single, "Man Down," more than a year ago. In March of 2010, the label held a writing camp in L.A. to create the songs for Rihanna's album, Loud.

At a writing camp, a record label hires the best music writers in the country and drops them into the nicest recording studios in town for about two weeks. It's a temporary version of the old music-industry hit factories, where writers and producers cranked out pop songs.

"It's like an all-star game," says Ray Daniels, who was at the writing camp for Rihanna.

Daniels manages a songwriting team of two brothers, Timothy and Theron Thomas, who work under the name Rock City. "You got all the best people, you're gonna make the best records," he says.

The Cost of Rihanna's Man Down

Here's who shows up at a writing camp: songwriters with no music, and producers toting music tracks with no words.

The Thomas brothers knew producer Shama "Sham" Joseph, but they had never heard his Caribbean-flavored track that became "Man Down."

According to Daniels, the brothers listened to the track and said, "Let's give Rihanna a one-drop! Like, a response to 'I shot the sheriff!"

They wrote the lyrics to "Man Down" in about 12 minutes, Daniels says.

To get that twelve minutes of inspiration from a top songwriting team is expensive — even before you take into account the fee for the songwriters.

At a typical writing camp, the label might rent out 10 studios, at a total cost of about $25,000 a day, Daniels says.

The writing camp for Rihanna's album "had to cost at least 200 grand," Daniels says. "It was at least forty guys out there. I was shocked at how much money they were spending! But, guess what? They got the whole album out of that one camp."

A writing camp is like a reality show, where top chefs who have never met are forced to cook together. At the end, Rihanna shows up like the celebrity judge and picks her favorites.


Listen to the story or read it HERE.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Music Business Haiku

Time for the ballad
Soulful lines sketch poignant thoughts
The drink blender roars.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deductive Reasoning with Black Dynamite

From the 2008 Blaxploitation homage/parody Black Dynamite. Using deductive reasoning (sorta!) Black Dynamite connects the dots to uncover the devious truth behind The Man pushing Anaconda malt liquor in the ghetto (NSFW language but without the "reveal" scene whereupon they discover their pal Gunsmoke has consumed too many Anacondas):

Great video Mashup of 36 cover versions of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"

What Will Happen If Gay Marriage Becomes Legal? (Chart)

Congrats, NY. Cali should have done it ahead of you but could not pull it off.

From Sunday's NYC Pride March (owned, California):

Friday, June 10, 2011

Mexico's Narco Polo Shirt Fashion Craze

updated 54 minutes ago

MEXICO CITY — "Narco Polo" is the new fashion trend sweeping lower-class neighborhoods in Mexico, inspired by seven high-ranking drug traffickers who were arrested over a three-month stretch wearing open-neck, short-sleeved jerseys with the familiar horseman-with-a-stick emblem.

The polo shirts are becoming ubiquitous in street vendors' stalls from the drug-war-ravaged state of Tamaulipas to the cradle of Mexican drug trafficking, Sinaloa.

Demand is so high that a Mexico City street vendor named Felipe stocks several colors, and names them after the drug lord who was wearing that color at the time of his arrest.

"This is the 'J.J'," he says, pointing to a blue one, "and this is 'La Barbie,'" indicating a green number. That was a reference to Jose Jorge ("J.J.") Balderas, who allegedly dealt drugs and shot soccer star Salvador Cabanas in the head, and to U.S.-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, "La Barbie."

Despite their Ralph Lauren labels, the shirts on sale on Mexico City streets for 160 pesos ($13.50) are clearly pirated goods, sold by unlicensed vendors like Felipe who don't want their full names used for fear of attracting police attention.

read the full post HERE.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Music Business Haiku

Tourist samba gig
Tiny umbrellas in drinks
My defeated soul.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Political haiku - Anthony Weiner Sex Scandal edition

Weiner's politics
I didn't need a screenshot
To know he leans left.

[punchline stolen from a Jon Stewart joke]

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Does the Anti-Jewish Foreskin Man Comic Cover Contain Neo-Nazi Code?

The Anti-Defamation League has a post HERE regarding the anti-Jewish/racist comic book published by supporters of the anti-circumcision ballot initiative in San Francisco. (There is also a move to get it on the ballot in Santa Monica.) For background on the ballot initiative, check some of the major California newspaper sites. What I want to talk about is a comic book put out in support of this initiative that portrays Jews as vile monsters, like this: [click to enlarge]

To be clear, I am not claiming that all supporters of the anti-circumcision ballot are anti-Semitic, racist, or whatever. I am specifically addressing the comic book put out by a prominent supporter of the initiative. The publishers claim that the comic is pro-human rights and not anti-Jewish, but that seems a stretch when you have a blond superhero (called Foreskin Man) fighting grotesque Jewish characters that tap into the very old stereotype of depicting Jews as sub-human, bloodthirsty barbarians/vermin/creatures. When one recalls the European myths of Jews sacrificing Christian children for blood rituals, you've got some serious historical tropes at work. And of course, more recently we have the examples of the 1900s Elders of Zion crap and 1930s Nazi Germany propaganda. And look at the Jewish characters. How the hell could this not be offensive?

Here are some more panels from the first issue, which is apparently set in San Diego [facepalm + sigh]:

The Jewish characters are a combination of evil thugs or monsters. If you think I'm exaggerating about the monster part, the gang leader is named Monster Mohel:

In these comics, doctors and thugs tie up unwilling beautiful big-breasted mothers so they can circumcise their sons against their will (but with the father's permission), an act they anticipate with almost sexual/sadistic pleasure. Granted, one has to get past the ridiculousness of a hero called Foreskin Man whose costume has a uncircumcised phallus tip as a logo he wears on his chest. This is so ridiculous it's almost a parody that one would find in The Onion or a bad SNL skit. But all this ridiculousness aside, this is some vile stuff. I mean check out the eyes and dripping teeth of Monster Mohel:

When I saw the cover for issue 2, the thing that really jumped out at me was the fact that Foreskin Man is visibly holding an 8-ball in the very weird setting for a circumcision, a pool table (plus you get a good look at that logo):

So, if one is going to set a circumcision as taking place on a pool table, why out of all the things the superhero (who is able to fly through the air) would do be to pick up a pool ball? Weird, but okay, so maybe he does. Well, out of all fifteen pool balls, he just happens to pick up the 8-ball? Chance, coincidence? Given the fact that 88 serves as a dog whistle for Neo-Nazis (Neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler," derived from Heil Hitler = HH = 88, "H" being the eighth letter of the alphabet) is seems too much of a stretch to me. Comic book images in general and covers in particular are very deliberate, and this seems like a subtle little signal put out there for "the right people" to get.

Here's the panel after he hits "Monster Mohel" with the 8-ball. Notice how the hand is now claw-like. This is typical propaganda art that demonizes one's enemy as non-human, a monster. (Remember, it's not anti-Jewish!)

Apparently in Foreskin Man's world, circumcision is so bad that it is better to kidnap a child from his parents than to let them circumcise him.

...and apparently there are sexy hippie chicks (also with large breasts) that will raise kidnapped children "their way"; certainly with their foreskins but probably also raised to hate Jews as well. (For you San Diegans, the foreskin-loving hippies choose Ocean Beach near the pier for their meeting place, which considering the freak factor of OB, makes sense, doesn't it?)

Check out the kid: in all the illustrations the babies' faces are drawn to look like little men instead of newborns, and they react like very alert kids instead of little babies. Anyway, so while I might be off on the 8-ball symbolism, it seems rather clear that the work is clearly anti-Jewish, but really, this is so far off the WTF scale... I never dreamed I would write a blog post about [sigh] FORESKIN MAN.

In the linked story, the comic's creator hints at creating a different kind of story. I anticipate a subsequent edition with a Muslim storyline involving Foreskin Man to deflect charges of anti-Semitism. It will be interesting to see what happens to the ballot measure.

Final note; I obviously do not own the copyright to these images, which are made freely available on the Internet by the creators. I report them here in the spirit of criticism as permitted by copyright law.

UPDATE: Ah hell, there is a Foreskin Man card set too. Check out this SF Gate post HERE.