Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Rap icon hosts lively Hip-Hop debate show on Web"

from - by Gail Mitchell

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Bill Maher crossed with "Meet the Press" for the Hip-Hop culture -- that's the potent formula behind "SpitFire," a new talk show hosted by rap pioneer Kool Moe Dee.

The show is an offshoot of, a recently launched social networking site. Concentrating on all things hip-hop, the portal ( will also begin posting three- to five-minute segments of various "SpitFire" episodes at the end of November.

Taped before a studio audience in Los Angeles, "SpitFire" finds a suit-and-tied Kool Moe Dee orchestrating a lively discussion with three special guests. For instance, the sixth episode (taped October 30) featured MC Lyte, radio/TV personality Tavis Smiley and Public Enemy frontman Chuck D.

The trio dug into such issues as the absence of black political leadership today, whether there is a willful silencing of social and political messages in Hip-Hop music and Lyte's decision to participate in VH1's "Celebrity Rap Superstar" series. (Kool Moe Dee passed on the same offer.)

At one point, Smiley directed a pointed question to young black America: "Is there anyone in the public sphere who you believe would be willing to die for you in the way Martin Luther King and Malcolm X did?"

"This is about the evolution of Hip-Hop and representing its culture," says Alex Avant, chief networking officer and partner in I Am Hip Hop.Com.

Anyone affiliated with the Hip-Hop culture -- New-School/Old-School artists, managers, agents, lawyers, graffiti artists -- are potential guests. Noting that Kool Moe Dee had long harbored the dream of being a talk-show host, Avant adds, "Hopefully, this show and the site will become key sources for people to find new Hip-Hop artists."

Earlier episodes of the 90-minute show (which includes about 20 minutes of audience Q&A) brought together such guests as Doug E. Fresh, Warren G, Xzibit, Run-D.M.C.'s Darryl McDaniels, clothing designer Karl Kanai, the Sugarhill Gang's Master Gee and author/former Billboard columnist Nelson George. Topics range from fashion/imaging and use of the "N" word to assessing an artist's social responsibility and what constitutes as selling out.

Primarily African-American with a 20% mix of Hispanics and Caucasians, the "SpitFire" audience falls between 18 and 51 years old. Avant says two to three more tapings are planned for this inaugural cycle. During the hiatus, the shortened segments will begin running on "God willing, after that," Avant says, "viewers will able to watch 'SpitFire' on a television network."

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