ON THE COVER
CP: Rapper Amanda Blank: coquette or queen-bee? A.D. Amorosi would have us believe she’s on the verge of stardom, and people with massive cred — Naeem Juwan of Spank Rock, Santigold, Diplo — are getting behind her upcoming album. The rap game a producer’s art form that needs MCs to keep it in the spotlight, and Blank rhymes over Spank Rock’s beats with impressive fervor. Nerves have gotten the best of her in the past, though; does she have what it takes it to break through?
If only she were a little more confident, all this may have been Blank’s sooner.
Juwan claims that Blank has always been shy and insecure. Deutsch says that the entire time he’s known her, he’s never been able to figure out quite what she’s thinking because she’s often so quiet and withdrawn.
“I still feel as if I’m a novice to this game and don’t have my necessary confidence up yet,” confessed the petite Blank from her South Philly row home before leaving for her German tour. “I just never really felt comfortable doing my thing until I met people — family, really — like Thom, Rose and Naeem.”
Not that her real family wasn’t pretty cool to begin with.
Blank grew up down the street from Germantown High School with an artist mother and a film teacher father (they divorced during their daughter’s childhood) who were genuinely hip, even hippie-ish parents. “My dad still wears the Hollertronix shirts I gave him — and he’s 60,” says Blank. “Most people think I look like my mom, which is cool. But I think I look like my dad.”
Even if I’m a little behind on the scene’s lingo — some of the acts and spaces are foreign to me, but I’m a transplant after all — there’s the sense of something undeniable in her rise from art-punk gallery shows to remixes and guest spots, and now on to her solo debut. There’s nothing Autotuned or inauthentic about her. The rap world may soon be hers, but she was ours first.
PW: PW digs into the righteousness and reputation of legal lion Judith Brown Chomsky. (Yes, she’s married to Noam’s brother.) She’s part of worldwide efforts in upholding human rights, especially against large corporations. She’s even whipping up seldom-used — and sometimes controversial — measures to do it. Recently, she employed the Alien Tort Claims Act in a suit against Dutch Royal Shell (huge oil company) for arranging for the murder of activists in Nigeria.
“At the time we filed them we didn’t know if it would work,” says Chomsky. “To go against a multinational company, that was a big thing. A lot of people said that it couldn’t be done.”
Chomsky is a part of the legal team at the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit firm committed to civil rights.
She was originally brought in to help on a liability case in Palestine. At the time, she was a labor lawyer and her knowledge of corporate structure made her a natural fit.
She discovered that challenging corporations was fun and jibed with values that she had always championed. Chomsky asked for more cases and the Center obliged.
Since then, the global defender has stood up for society’s most vulnerable victims against some of the most powerful corporations in the world—sometimes traveling to extremely volatile parts of the globe in order to do so.
Heavy shit, and the revelation of humanity’s darker side in her work weighs on her, of course. She’s also taking heat, in a Washington Post op-ed piece, for the use ofATCA in an upcoming case against IBM for its support of South Africa’s apartheid government. The authors say, “Judicially made corporate human rights litigation is a luxury we can no longer.” Props to Chomsky for not only calling bullshit on that point of view, but for fighting against it in her work.
INSIDE THE BOOK
CP: So much more than a sing-songy fairy tale. Can I blame Drew’s cancer for that speeding ticket last month? Mural Arts Program goes behind bars. Waiting for a Halladay that won’t come.
PW: Boy, is Philadelphia Blue‘s face red? Don’t forget it: It’s Chinatown. Whither rock and roll?: Breaking even instead of breaking hotel furniture. Words I’m glad I didn’t write: “…about as graceful as an obese ballerina.” Seriously?
WINNER: CP by a mile, for picking up the smart hip-hop coverage that PW dropped with that DJ Diamond Kuts article, and running with it.