What’s wrong with Jay-Z?

I haven’t had alot of time to listen to Kanye West’s much anticipated sophomore album, Late Registration, but I have been intrigued by the remix of the song “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” In the first half of the song, West makes very astute observations about the relationship between “bling” in America and the trade in “conflict diamonds” in parts of Africa, including Angola and Sierra Leone. Although it was five years ago that the U.N. adopted a resolution condemning the role of diamonds in fueling these brutal wars, it took West’s song to bring the issue to the attention of large segments of the American public.

My problem with the song is not West’s part but Jay-Z’s. The second half of the song is an extended cameo by Jay-Z, who raps about nothing relevant to the first part. Sample lyric:

Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week
I do this in my sleep,
I sold kilos of coke, I’m guessin’ I can sell CDs
I’m not a businessman I’m a business, man
Let me handle my buisness, damn!

Jay-Z’s considerable talent is evident on the song. He can flow and he is funny, but why has he never said anything socially relevant in a song? Or maybe he has? Am I missing something here? I mean, he doesn’t have to be Chuck D, but it seems he has wasted his talent in part by not pushing himself more. “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” is a perfect case in point.

What’s up with the hats?

I dislike the look of people who wear hats backwards (a.k.a., “hat boys”). Reading Patrick Allitt’s book, I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student, I realized why. Allitt, who teaches history at Emory, writes: “Then came the trend, starting around 1994, to wear the hats backward, with the bill sticking out behind and the adjustable plastic tab defining a semicircle of forehead. The reversed student hat makes a statement about its wearer, something like, ‘I am dull.'” That’s what I’m talking about!

Hurricane Katrina

Every day the devastating effects of the hurricane become more and more apparent, and hit closer to home. Some refugees from Louisiana have been arriving in NC with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Yesterday, our dean asked us to report any openings in our classes here at Wake Forest University. because some students at Tulane had inquired about the possibility of enrolling here for the semester. It’s hard to imagine the disruption in people’s lives. They truly are refugees. Why, God?

Slackin’ on my bloggin’

OK, so I have been slackin’ on my bloggin’, but a new semester has started so I am back and ready to elevate my game.

In fairness, much has happened since the last posting on May 17th. Sold a house, bought a house, moved out of apartment into new house, separated family members moved to NC, lots of unpacking and yard work. Kids spent much of the summer at the neighborhood swimming pool. I read the page proofs and created indexes for two forthcoming books (one to be published in September 2005 and one in early 2006), organized a professional meeting of 200+ people in Philadelphia, and prepared to take over as editor of an academic journal. Not to mention playing in a mixed doubles tennis league. More on all of that later.

So, the three months of summer flew by. Blogging is about the only thing I slacked on this summer.

Welcome back.