Sunday, February 24, 2008


Ernest Hardy has long been the culture critics’ critic, a rare writer whose every opinion we read and debated and measured our own against. Blood Beats: Vol. 2 shows why: the expansive mind, the humanistic ear, the timely question, the passionately committed voice. There may be no better guide through pop’s image-storm of identities than Mr. Hardy.
Jeff Chang, editor of Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

I’m not sure whether Ernest Hardy is a pen name or not but his writing is everything his name implies. His dissections of pop culture are neatly carved into well-thought proportions over which he pours a tangy, sometimes biting, down-home styled gravy. To read his work is to think twice. He raises the question that only someone who truly believes in the power of art would seek to answer.
Saul Williams

Ernest Hardy’s gift as a cultural critic is his ability to listen. Whether it be in an interview with a filmmaker, the songs on a pop album, or literary prose and poetry floating off the page, Mr. Hardy hears, feels, and then filters through his own heart and mind the stuff of possibility. His words are not the answer, but the beginnings of deep questions. His analysis bubbles above mediocrity like spring water quenching the thirst of those of us who are parched for a way to understand what it means to create and what it means to consume from the slipstream that is our contemporary culture.
Cauleen Smith, director of Drylongso, and professor of film at Massachusetts College of Art

Ernest Hardy’s talent and reputation as one of the preeminent critics working today are beyond reproach, but with Blood Beats: Vol. 2, he establishes himself as a singular force in contemporary cultural criticism.
Mark Anthony Neal, author of Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic

For anyone interested in the historical significance of Black cultural production, from commercial to indie, Ernest Hardy's Blood Beats: Vol. 2 is a must read. Witty as hell, an erudite critic, the brotha knows his shit. Whether it’s cinema or music, his prose makes you want to grab your iPod and experience the visceral connections between art, love, sexuality, politics and the sacrosanct role of blackness in the entertainment industry. OK, this academic lesbian fell in love with the gay boy journalist.
Phyllis J. Jackson, Ph.D, filmmaker, Comrade Sister: Voices of Women in the Black Panther Party


xiii Introduction: SampladelicaFemmeatopia
01 The Gleaners and I (03.29.01)
02 Agnès Varda:
Trembling Like When You Are in Love (03.29.01)
12 Fuck, Die:
Baise-Moi—Porno Art from France (06.01.01)
15 Raoul Peck: On Lumumba,
the ’60s and the Role of Art in Politics (07.20.01)
25 Freddie Gets Fingered:
Notes on the Prinze of Hollywood (08.30.01)
28 Ja Rule, Krayzie Bone:
Inside the New Sensitive Thug (11.23.01)
33 Life and Debt (02.07.02)
35 Turntablin’: Scratch (03.01.02)
39 Meeting Ledisi on a Wednesday:
The Best Singer in America Breaks It Down (04.24.02)
62 For Colored Girls: Kim Hill’s Real Hip-Hop (06.29.02)
86 Lauryn Hill Unplugged:
She Makes the Songs Cry (07.12.02)
89 The Cockettes:
Living at the End of Imagination (07.26.02)
91 Biggie & Tupac (Remix):
Nick Broomfield Imitates Life Imitating Art (10.04.02)
95 Eminem’s Imitation of Life (12.2002)
99 Antwone Fisher: Bonds Beyond Blood (12.19.02)
102 R Kelly: Tossed Salad, Tossed Cookies
Al Green: The Definition of Soul (04.17.03)
106 Assholios & Goddesses:
Raising Victor Vargas and Lilya 4-Ever (04.18.03)
110 Sarah Schulman:
Acting Up and Defending Names (06.04.03)
127 Young Soul Rebels:
Negro/Queer Experimental Filmmakers (08.2003)
136 From Capoeira to Catfights: Madame Satã (08.22.03)
139 Worldwide Underground Sonic Jihad:
Erykah Badu and Paris Funk U Up (10.03.03)
143 Bus 174 (10.24.03)
145 PSTOLA: Packin’ Heat (02.06.04)
160 Fear of a Black Titty:
Treating Janet Like You Don’t Love Her (05.07.04)
164 What Lies Beneath: Carl Hancock Rux on Asphalt,
War-torn Cities and the State of Black Literature in America (07.02.04)
170 White Man’s Burden: Eminem’s Encore (12.09.04)
177 The Roots/Dolly Parton (03.16.05)
183 Rize (06.16.05)
206 Meshell: Voice of the Infidel (08.10.05)
215 Outkast in Love (08.25.05)
227 Kanye West: Up from the Middle Class (09.15.05)
232 Mary J. Blige: The Breakthrough (01.14.06)
237 Fugees: Hollywood & Vine
Kanye West: Avalon (02.10.06)
241 Black Lily L.A. (04.01.06)
245 The Eye of L.A.: Mark Bradford (06.11.06)
257 Diana Ross: OG Diva Sings the Blues (07.05.06)
265 K.I.M.She.Is (11.29.06)
274 Black Music 2006 (01.12.07)
285 Bastards of the Party (02.07.07)
293 Shut Up, Already! Damn...
File Under: Dead Horses (05.2007)
298 Medusa: The Real (05.11.07)
313 Cross Dressers:
Björk and Ryan Shaw Go Genre Bending (06.06.07)


319 The Pornographer’s Son
381 The Pornographer’s Daughter:
Lil’ Kim Likes It Raw

Flashback to Blood Beats Vol. 1:

“BLOOD BEATS” sets the bar high for those for which cultural criticism – journalistic or otherwise – has been reduced to name dropping and ego-tripping... [Hardy’s] work resides at the obvious (to some) intersections of Blackness, gender and sexuality, but to simply align his writing and style to the now clichéd province of intersectionality is to miss the point of the work. This is writing that is doing real labor – heavy lifting, if you will – on behalf of those folks (the artists, the audiences, and the activists) – who are grappling with “new language in the effort to overthrow... everything.” – Mark Anthony Neal, Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies at Duke University

“There’s intense competition for the title of best quality in Hardy’s prose. I’m inclined to prefer 1) its ability to swivel between film and black pop music subjects while keeping an eye toward trends in American politics, and 2) the (seemingly) effortless elegance of his sentences. The number of new ideas in a typical Ernest Hardy review is high enough and the prose liquid enough that I’ll put petty disagreements aside... Full disclosure: Ernest Hardy is a longtime friend. Yet he’s such a difficult twerp that there’s no way I’d be trying to help the motherfucker on purpose. This praise is about the product and about you, the reader, as your life will be much better with Blood Beats in it. His writing on MeShell NdegeOcello is enough to justify every party of mine that he failed to show up to, each argument about the culture of gangsta rap that ended in stilted silence and bullshit reasons for hanging up. He’s got great pieces on Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo, homo-thugs, Warren Beatty and a dozen other topics. Go cop, for real. Vol. 2 hits in 07 and you'll need to be ready for that.” – Donnell Alexander, culture critic and author of Ghetto Celebrity

“Titled in the vernacular of a record album, this first of Ernest Hardy’s bound, printed mix tapes is a varied compilation of song-length essays, interview interludes, and a sampling of original reviews, none of which would ever be aired on mainstream radio or music television. Not that Hardy’s subjects – ranging from Outkast to Jim Jarmusch to Warren Beatty – aren’t “commercially viable,” but unlike many so-called critics willing to sacrifice scrutiny for the sake of the status quo, Hardy (who writes Flaunt’s “Video+DVD” column) is unabashed in his ability to stoke the flames of discord in the hopes that certain issues that are blatantly ignored, mediated, or pushed to the fringe can penetrate the larger cultural discourse. …Ethnic in-fighting, queer identity, black masculinity – while the conservative and the conventional have fun avoiding such topics, dismissing them as liberal lunacy or academic esoterica, Hardy confronts the often shameful play of ethno-sexual politics, using his subjects, whether a musician or a film, as a site for broader cultural inspection. Decisive deconstructions help locate the substance submerged beneath style, and personal insights help parse the “real” from mere rhetoric, until Hardy’s “niche” concerns bleed into a bigger picture that, once realized, can make the heart beat faster, or the blood boil.” – Andrew Pogany, Flaunt Magazine

“...this collection of interviews, reviews and essays from 1996 to 2000 gives engrossing critical shout-outs to both well-established artists and eclectic, on-the-fringe outsiders...” – Craig D. Lindsey, Philadelphia Weekly

“A good friend of mine gave me a copy of 'Blood Beats' and I love it. I couldn’t put it down. In several of the essays, Hardy articulates some of the same thoughts I have about hip-hop and Blackness as filtered through and fucked-over by American pop culture. His work pushes me to think deeper about what I write. Hardy keeps it real, refreshing and stimulating.” – Rashod Ollison, Pop Music Critic at the Baltimore Sun

In BLOOD BEATS VOL. 1 you will find:

INTERVIEWS: Meshell NdgeOcello, Les Nubian, Queen Latifah, Bjork, Warren Beatty, Kasi Lemmons, Ambersunshower, a round-table session with four black women film directors, and more.

ESSAYS: The Life & Death of Tupac; Why Outkast is so important to hip-hop; the demystification of the gay rapper; Aretha, Chaka & Lauryn: The Thread That Links Them; Erykah Badu Unlocks the Paradox; Macho House (music) and more.

FILM REVIEWS: Love Jones, Hav Plenty, Ghost Dog, Bullworth, High Art, Nenette et Boni, Velvet Goldmine, and more.

MUSIC REVIEWS: TLC, Tricky, Mos Def, Armand Van Helden, Byron Stingily, and more.

Buy Blood Beats Vol. 1 or Vol. 2 at Amazon:
click here

Or, support an indie, black-owned publisher and buy direct from RedBone Press

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