Denounce, reject, tomayto, tomahto?

Tim Russert, one of two moderators for Tuesday night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, pressed the latter on his views on the views of Louis Farrakhan. What followed was the only light-hearted moment of an otherwise tense, combative night:

The tone settled down thereafter, flaring only briefly when Obama said he “denounced” Minister Louis Farrakhan’s long history of anti-Semitic statements but hesitated to “reject” Farrakhan’s support. Clinton said Obama needed to take a stronger stance.

“If Senator Clinton thinks that ‘reject’ is stronger than ‘denounce,’ then I’m happy to concede the point, and I both reject and denounce” Farrakhan’s support, Obama said to scattered laughter in the hall.


China falls short of hip-hop hegemony

Maybe it's not such a hip-hop world after all. China's growing community of rappers, DJs, and B-Boys might be evidence of the globalization of hip-hop that Jeff Chang explored in FP's November/December issue, but it may not be quite ready for prime time. As part of an Olympics-related cultural exchange, Bejing-based rappers Dragon Tongue Squad took the stage at London's Royal Opera House last night. The British press, to put it mildly, was not feeling it:

Mostly, they sang in Mandarin, although even they have admitted the language doesn't lend itself well to flowing rhymes. Handily, translated lyrics were circulated, so we knew that Dragon Tongue-ism contained the couplet "Learn how to be good at learning skills/ Learn how to communicate smoothly". Only once did they shine, and for all the wrong reasons. Chinese Food was a comic masterpiece - "Thai, Thai! Why, why?" went the chorus, possibly, while the verses listed authentic takeaway dishes.

It does sound pretty weak, but the Times' reviewer may have gone a bit far in her blanket indictment of Chinese hip-hop:

Rather than lift the lid on Chinese youth culture, a preposterous performance proved why most hip-hop consumed in that country is - and probably always will be - American.

The reviewer admits that a seated theater designed for opera may not be the best venue for a hip-hop show. It's also possible that Dragon Tongue Squad, who apparently mainly rap about food, are not representative of Chinese hip-hop as a whole. It wouldn't speak very well of American MC skillz if Soulja Boy was sent abroad to represent the entire genre, for instance. Plus, as FP's online readers already know, while Beijing's rappers may not impress the Brits, they totally own those punks from Shanghai.