Let's Get Free is interesting musically too?it's mostly at about Mobb Deep tempo (same as Black Sabbath tempo), with the same popping snares but a less digitized bass sound. The drums get busier, too. In more than one place it seems as if they're trying to use dub reggae techniques to hypnotize listeners into higher consciousness. This hasn't been done in hiphop yet, at least not explicitly?BDP, PRT and Wu-Tang are the precedents. It especially hasn't been done with crazy down-South rhyme flows like D.P.'s (they're both in their early 20s, met in northern Florida, moved up to Brooklyn). Dead Prez built a very strong local rep on its live act, and it'll really be something if they tour extensively, which acts on Loud generally don't. God knows the album's not gonna get a radio or television push, despite a killer lead single and video, "Hip Hop." You can see it at the Loud (dot-com) website. But don't bother if your computer speakers have no bottom.
For those of you joining us late, this is the weekly events-preview column. Perhaps you wonder why the weekly events-preview column is so much about hiphop. Here's why: Hiphop is what's going on! Those other publications, in which hiphop is some kind of niche taste, some specialized culture for black kids and wiggers, are full of shit. And all you motherfuckers who think hiphop fell off when it got jiggy, please don't send me your bitchy e-mails without first listening to Screwball's Y2K, Outsidaz's Night Life, MF Doom's Doomsday, the new Ghostface and the new Dead Prez. You assholes.
Ahem. So, back to the intellectual point I was making, here's an example: Starting Monday there's a three-day conference in Midtown called "Successful Corporate Branding." Branding has been the hot business-book topic for a couple years now?marketers who don't know the lingo yet are way behind the curve. The basic idea of corporate branding is that you draw an indelible association, in consumers' minds, between your company and a specific subcategory of product. For example, Nike with "running shoe," Amazon with "online bookstore," or A Tribe Called Quest with "abstract rhyming." You accomplish this through a logo-based advertising campaign, which is nothing but a legal graffiti bombing raid. There's no worded information in the ads, because you save that for the p.r. There, you try to make a story of not your company, but your category?which you, through that consumer association, "own." And you don't freak about competitors because, to return to an example, the hotter jogging got, despite the growth of Reebok and others, the more money Nike made. Really smart companies actually form partnerships with their closest competitors (e.g., the Native Tongue posse). Dumb companies stray from their brand identity. Note you haven't heard much about Amazon's electronics store, while as of his most recent hit ("Breathe and Stop") Q-Tip was still referring to himself as "abstract." You think he had to hire a consultant? Everyone who grew up with hiphop knows branding as the only way to market. This conference, meanwhile, costs $1745 to attend. (3/20-22 at AMA Management Center, 1601 B'way at 48th St., 800-262-9699.)
Branding might be the reason that everyone in New York knows that Friday (3/17) is St. Patrick's Day, yet few realize that another drinking holiday, Purim, follows on Tuesday (3/21). Or maybe it's that big honking parade. (3/17, along 5th Ave. from 44th St. to 86th St., 11:00 a.m.) A scientific-minded alien who dropped into my neighborhood on St. Patrick's Day would probably conclude, based on observable behavior, that Patrick was the patron saint of peeing in public. And if he read the Post he'd think the day had something to do with exclusive heterosexuality. But of course the best part of St. Patrick's Day in New York involves stepping out of the parade and into Renwick's silent, supremely imposing St. Patrick's Cathedral (at 5th & 50th).
Purim, on the other hand, is actually practiced?even by pious leaders of orthodox congregations?by getting soused. To alien observers, Jewish holidays appear to be about feeling really bad about shit that happened a long time ago. That's partly because our St. Patrick's Day, Halloween, 4th of July and New Year's Eve are all celebrated at once, on Purim. (The event the holiday commemorates, I can't help but mention, does indeed involve some horrific shit that happened a long time ago.) You probably have to go to Crown Heights or Israel to participate in a proper observance, though this one at the Puck Bldg.?sponsored by Hi-Tech Talmud Torah and Chabad of Gramercy Park (they Purim, you drink 'em), and featuring the band Hasidic New Wave, a Moroccan buffet dinner and a separate children's party?looks pretty promising. (3/21, from 5:15, 295 Lafayette St. at Houston St., 683-9004, $18.)
You see?: events column. To be with it these days you have to know how to construct a well-grounded multicultural identity. As I said, hiphop has coded this process into vernacular rituals, and businessmen are picking up a few crumbs. There're also plenty of academics trying to portray, in more universal language, the modern landscape of personal politics. Among the more interesting of these is scheduled to speak at the 92nd St. Y Thursday. She is Mary Catherine Bateson, a professor at George Mason University and Spelman College, and also the daughter of Gregory Bateson (one of the great interdisciplinary scientists of the 20th century) and Margaret Mead. Her new book is called Full Circles, and it combines memoir, biography and cultural anthropology to get at the changing role of women in American families. The great thing about the Bateson mode of inquiry is its healthy respect for the unknowable; Full Circle's focus is on the "strangeness" between even intimate individuals. (3/16, 8:15 p.m., 1395 Lexington Ave. at 92nd St., 996-1100, $20.)
Descended from Jewish gangsters, reared on the Ramones, a major influence on Fear and perhaps the very last Zima drinker, New York Press contributor George Tabb is no stranger to strangeness. His live act, as frontman of punk band Furious George, is unique in 21st-century Manhattan, rooted as much in vaudeville as late-70s CBs. The man knows, to the depths of his soul, who he is, and it's something to behold. Furious George plays Friday night at Siberia. (3/17, with Hevy Floe, 10 p.m., 250 W. 50th St. at B'way, in the 50th St. 1/9 subway station, 333-4141, free.)
Also referencing the Ramones this week are the Donnas, whose Friday show opening for Joan Jett at the Roxy will, God willing, attract a crowd that looks as if it strutted straight out of a prison-chick movie. (3/17, 515 W. 18th St., betw. 10th & 11th Aves., 645-5156, $15 adv.) The Donnas, though a decent band, haven't yet produced anything on the level of "Do You Want to Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)" and "Bad Reputation," but still it might be best this week to cut to the chase and catch the younger act when they play without their Runaway Godmother, Wednesday at Maxwell's. (3/15, 1039 Washington St. at 11th St., Hoboken, 201-798-0406, $10.)
Women of many ages have enjoyed the regular classes on sex offered at the Lower East Side vibrator-emporium Toys in Babeland. A great store from Seattle?if they opened only a few thousand more Manhattan franchises its owners could effectively counterbalance Starbucks. While most new L.E.S. and East Village boutiques ignore the fact that their whole recent-college-grad shopping community is superimposed over a Latin-American neighborhood, T.I.B. is proving to be an exception. They reach out this week with "Sex Toys en Espanol," a gratis lesson with no translation. "Pasa por el mundo de vibradores, consoladores, lubricantes y condones," they say. Didn't learn those words on Sesame Street, didja? (3/15, 8 p.m., 94 Rivington St., betw. Ludlow & Orchard Sts., 375-1701, free.)
Thoughts of the old Lower East Side remind me that community activist Clayton Patterson is screening his video of the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Riot, Friday at Millennium. This tape actually played a role in the indictment of six officers; I saw some of it on public access cable once, it's berserk. Patterson knows an awful lot about the NYPD?he can explain in depth how the force changed during the Dinkins and Giuliani administrations. For some of the many New Yorkers who feel strongly about the Diallo shooting and verdict, yet as far as activism goes don't know where to start, this might be a good place. (3/17, 8 p.m., 66 E. 4th St., betw. 2nd Ave. & Bowery, 673-0090, $7.)
Let's see: community activism, the Latin L.E.S., sex toys, rock chicks, a punk Jew, women's history, drunk Jews, Irish Catholics, running dogs of capitalism, socialist hiphop? I forgot old hippies! Sorry dudes, here's one for you: Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and cofounder of the Doors, will appear at the Learning Annex Friday night to reminisce about those strange days. Ray seemed to still be "Out there, beyond the perimeter" last time I saw him interviewed, so you probably want to dose for this li'l chautauqua. (3/17, 7-10 p.m. at the Hotel Intercontinental, 111 E. 48th St., betw. Park & Lexington, 371-0280, ext. 4855, $24-39 sliding scale.) Then grab the kids and head straight for Cinema Classics, where at midnight they're screening Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon in place of the soundtrack. Nineties kids in suburbia discovered that the Oz images and Floyd tunes together conjure an uncanny synchronicity?they say it's "dope." (3/17, midnight, 332 E. 11th St., betw. 1st & 2nd Aves., 971-1015, $5.)