Towards the end of last week, there was a minor shit storm a brewin’ having to do with this hip-hop blog the LA Times was supposed to be starting.
I ended up missing most of it, because there was an earthquake here Friday morning that rousted me out of bed at an ungodly hour, and I took advantage of the extra eight or so hours of daylight to work on some shit I needed to take careof. So I’m only catching up on it just now.
It started a few weeks ago, when this guy from the LA Times named Camilo Smith contacted a few dudes about starting a multi-author hip-hop blog on the LA Times website, to be called the LA Times Boombox.
It’s yet to be determined whether this was something management put him up to, or if this was something he was developing on his own that he was gonna try to pitch to management. I would try to contact the guy and find out, but as a blogger, I don’t believe in doing shit like that. If he so pleases, he can have his say in the comments section like the rest of you fruits.
I know the LA Times has been getting heavily into blogs lately. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a blog there; I remember reading a surprisingly interesting (because I’m racist like that) post he did about that Herbie Hancock album that beat out Amy Winehouse for Album of the Year at the Grammys. And this other blog they’ve got, which lists all of the cholo gangbangers who get smoked in LA on the regular has been receiving a lot of attention lately from the media. (Those cracka-ass crackas have obviously never heard of The Daily Whirl.)
So I’m assuming the LA Times Boombox was gonna be this guy’s attempt to get in on this sweepstakes they’ve got going on over there.
The hip-hop bloggers included a kid named Doctor Zeus, a kid named Brandon Soderberg, and this kid Slav Kandyba, who’s one of the people who writes for The Source these days. Robbie from Unkut.com was also approached about blogging with them, but I guess he’s got better things to do these day than blog for free for some guy from the LA Times.
Oh, and did I mention the free part? That’s been one of the main themes in this entire controversy – the idea, as put forth by Rafi from Oh Word, that these kids were playing themselves by going to work for free for an institution like the LA Times, when they could just as easily be working for free (or something close to it) for themselves.
I know I took a few shots at some of the poor bastards XXL has duped into doing features for this site “on the strength,” under the impression that it might help them become the next Elliott Wilson (minus this recent “sitting at home, emailing people about his new minstrel show” development), but I’m not sure if I buy Rafi’s line of reasoning.
I mean, free is free, right – whether you’re not getting paid to blog for your own site, or for the LA Times? At least with the LA Times there’s that much more of an audience. Sure, there’s the matter of the LA Times profiting from these kids’ work without compensating them in kind; but if that really got to be the case, you’d think “market forces” would step in and rectify the situation.
If this blog had actually gotten off of the ground, and if it was actually worth a shit, I’m sure one of these other sites would have tried to steal its staff away for a few shiny tokens. I should know. It’s the reason why I only worked here for free for a few weeks, a couple of years ago.
Of course I probably would’ve continued to do this shit for free anyway, just for the sake of purposely afflicting the already afflicted (my raison d’etre, in case you haven’t noticed), but you guys know something went horribly wrong in my early childhood development.
I can’t expect anyone else to think the way that I think.
Then I guess there is the issue of all of our media institutions being tools of the business community, as evidenced by the incident the other day, with Complex magazine being told by Interscope Records what it’s allowed to publish on its site and what it’s not allowed to publish on its site.
That’s definitely something I’ve dealt with here in the past couple of years. But as far as I’m concerned, that’s just the kind of shit you have to deal with from time to time: If your “journalism” is that effective, it’s gonna ruffle a few feathers from time to time. But blogging in a hole somewhere where no one can see you is hardly the solution to anything.
And anyway, these TIs can find ways to fuck with you with you regardless of where you publish your shit – as evidenced by the time my own site got completely wiped out from the entire Internets, because I jokingly threatened to kill Ray J. (Oddly enough, I recounted that incident in a post here that got “disappeared” for an entirely different reason.)
But as it turns out, none of this shit ever became much of an issue for the LA Times Beatbox blog anyway – since it ended up being done away with in utero, like so many of Drew Barrymore’s children.
Here’s what happened, at least as far as I can tell:
The saps who were gonna write for the blog were instructed to create a sort of beta version of it on a blogspot domain. It wasn’t set to private or anything, but I guess they figured the content would be such that no one would ever find it. Just like the vast majority of blogs that ever existed.
But somehow, this site called LA Observed did catch wind of it, and highlighted a post in which Slav Kandyba jumped to the defense of Chuck Philips, the Scotty Templeton of hip-hop journalism, whom – in a fit of utter delusion – I guess this kid Kandyba had come to view as his colleague there at the Times.
And this was especially not a good idea, since the LA Times had just been threatened with a lawsuit over Philips’ piece linking Diddy and Jimmy Henchmen to 2Pac’s 1994 shooting. If word was to get out that they had some dumbass kid taunting Diddy on Chuck Philips’ behalf, Camilo Smith probably would’ve gotten into some shit with his bosses.
So Camilo Smith pulled the plug on the LA Times Beatbox blog toot de suite, lest the TIs find out about that shit. (Er, that’s what I’m assuming. You know how I gets down.) The blogspot version of it has since been permanently deleted from the Internets.
Which was probably for the best, given how much of a nutjob this kid Kandyba turned out to be. But I don’t know that I’m convinced that such a blog for the LA Times definitely would have been a bad idea, even if it would have meant some kids – horror of horrors! – doing a little work for free. What do you fruits think?