Street cred doesn’t come any more legit than having a blog hosted by born and bred Harlemite and Upper West Sider Jay Smooth, mastermind behind hiphopmusic.com and “founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad,” which has been blasting the beats of hip-hop’s underground and indie acts over the airwaves since 1991.
Smooth’s Ill Doctrine – begun in June 2007 in association with the PodTech Network and hip-hop magazine XXL – is a real deal video blog for hip-hop heads, who’ll appreciate the passion, independence, and encyclopedic knowledge the DJ brings to his new media venture.
Smooth’s perspective is decisively politically-oriented and socially-conscious, and his viewpoint is really the viewpoint of Ill Doctrine. In overexposed editorials addressed directly to the camera, Smooth will denounce the hypocritical policies of major record labels that fail to support artists’ mixtape releases, and he does so in unadulterated political terms. Smooth unapologetically and humorously gives shout-outs to the first Super Bowl featuring black coaches, and offers commentary on issues like media representations of African-Americans.
You might raise your eyebrows at first, but the man knows what he’s talking about, as demonstrated by his keen insight and sharp bullshit detector. Ill Doctrine never strays very far from the realm of serious ideas—which in this day and age is an absolute godsend—but there’s also plenty of lighter fare, including short rhymes performed by Smooth himself and video mashups featuring the beats of Nas (“Where Are They Now”) plus the voices of the great musicians of yesteryear.
Smooth’s love of progressive thinking is inseparable from his love of music, and just as Ill Doctrine serves as Smooth’s soapbox it also spotlights the hip-hop Smooth knows best.
The most exciting musical moment on Ill Doctrine has to be “4 Countries/4 Bars,” a live collaboration of MCs from New York, London, Berlin, and Paris, each rapping in their native tongue and then passing the mic to their foreign language (or accented) brethren. Smooth hosted the jam session on his radio show, and the Ill Doctrine bonus features section contains the footage.