Friday, December 18, 2009

Catcher Freeman was a sexy man


Find more videos like this on The Spill.com Movie Community


I've been re-watching the second season online all week. This episode reminds of when my dad told me my own family history, or at least his side. And then in high school, I learned my mom's family was owned by Martha Washington's, and my mind was blown. In addition:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Loud sounds when the wind blow



I've always loved this song, and I may have played it on one of our old podcasts. I'll have to check. Anyway, I finally got the full album a couple days ago, I'll share my thoughts soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

We can't even kick it

A couple weeks ago, Noz reminded just how much I used to love the singles by Faith Evans. To my mind, one of the great crimes committed against during her career is Diddy putting Loon on the album version of "Burnin' Up," leaving kids like me to watch the video to listen to the superior Missy version and the great (re-?) remix with Free. But this also got me thinking about Faith's first single from this album:



"You can't even be my friend." It is such a cold line, exactly the kind of thing you never want to hear. Anyway, this got me thinking on another tangent about what may be one of my favorite songs from the beginning of high school:



I had no business liking this song, but everytime I saw the video, I'd love every second of it. One of my main problems with R&B in the 90s was that I felt like the guys were either hypermasculine, trying to show they were just as tough as rappers, or soft as doctor's cotton. In hindsight, this was a perfect mix of what rap was concerned with 9 years ago with R&B. I'm pretty sure I never heard this on the radio in Jersey, but it was all over MTV2. Seeing as these guys were from Baltimore, could any current/former B-More residents tell me how well received Ruff Endz were? Or did they end up like B-Rich?

When I moved down to Chapel Hill, the moving company lost (or stole...) a box of mine that had all my coats and jackets. So recently, I have found myself in a shopping mood, looking to upgrade my little whatever whatevers. Those of you who've followed this site for a little while know that I like my sneakers. So last week, I ordered myself a new pair of Claes:



Just how I like them, simple and clean. It's rather odd to live in a college town that, even compared to where I went to school, is sort of in a vacuum in terms of places to go shopping and such without the use of a car. But I'm a lazy person.

I swear I've been trying to find new music, I just got caught listening to Here, My Dear for about a month and got pretty disconnected from the rest of the world. The past two weeks have just been me, hunched over, vibing to Dro's first album and Playa, the group Static Major was in while also helping Tim and Missy craft the beginnings of their musical legacy. At some point soon, I'll share my thoughts on at least one of them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I breeze through Africa just to see the safari



A couple things struck me while watching this video earlier this afternoon:

-It's not hard to snoop around a site like NahRight and see all these posts of Nicki Minaj. I mostly avoided them because I figured those guys were posting her songs just so they had an excuse to put a picture of her on the site. After seeing her in comparison to the miniscule OJ, all I have to say is she's a big bitch, man. Maybe by saying that, I'm no longer a black heterosexual guy, but I like having the option of hugging someone. Let's just skip her rapping for now, it made my head hurt. Take a lesson from Diddy, and pretend to take ownership of the verse.

-I'm not familiar with OJ's catalogue (or Gucci's for that matter), so I have no opinion on his verse. But, golly, is he tiny.

-Waka Flocka Flames is up there with Shorty Shit Stain as one of the best rap names ever. Partly for reminding me of Fozzie Bear. And his "you're washed up like Shaq" line reminded me of something: why don't rappers make references to sports players anymore? I'm not talking about Kobe or LeBron or Jordan, I mean people like Rod Strickland, Bernard King or Zab Judah? Are rappers now such big nerds that they can only follow the blogs and don't even have a passing interest in any sport? Or maybe the best participants in sports that rappers tend to follow lack personality. Seriously, how long can we go without someone making fun of JaMarcus Russell, or someone saying they've been overlooked like LT. I could be way off base here, and I would truly appreciate anyone pointing me to a good sports punchline/reference/whatever.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baby Girl.

My blogging hiatus of late has very little to do with my being in a new place or finding music right now boring. I have been out of touch recently, but that had more to do with my previous situation working in a more traditional office environment. It killed my listening habits, as did working Tuesday to Saturday. Now that I am a member of the 9-5 work crowd (kind of... for now), I can spend a lot more time with music. So here's something I've been thinking about writing for a while, I just couldn't work up the motivation to sit down and flesh it out:

If you'll recall a little while back, I wrote something about how a Jay/Timbaland album back in '98 or '99 would have been terrific. Now, it is true that Tim brings (brought? I can't get with "Off That" or "Reminder") out the best in Jay, but the reverse, I'm sad to say, just isn't true. For all their highlights, Jay and Tim have only really recorded a handful of tracks together. So where to go for the bulk of Tim's genius? It's tempting to say Missy, just because they as a duo were so successful for so long. But, I've come to conclusion that after Da Real World, Tim started to rein himself in more and more to fit Missy's "I love the old school" vision. I guess the production is still quite good, but it stands out less. Bubba Sparxxx? I love Deliverance, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel comfortable bestowing that honor upon Bubba K. So Petey Pablo and Miss Jade are shit out of luck.

That leaves me with two viable choices: Ginuwine and Aaliyah. There's more to choose from with Ginuwine, since Tim handled most of the production of his first two albums. Yet, I get the feeling many of you don't really appreciate something like "Final Warning" or "None of Ur Friends Business." Thus, we are left with "Baby Girl," Aaliyah.

First, let's get one thing out of the way: "Are You That Somebody?" is flipping fantastic in every respect. But, when I was a kid occasionally checking out MTV since I couldn't handle the poor production value of BET, I was drawn to her single "One In a Million." You'll have to excuse me if I wasn't checking for her back when she was singing with the Remix Killer on "Summer Bunnies", I was only seven. But I distinctly remember one summer afternoon watching television and seeing this shy, beautiful girl talking about her upcoming album and video. So I stuck with MTV and watched her video for "One In a Million." From that point on, I was hooked.

I remember back when LL Cool J made "Headsprung" he mentioned that Timbo was a true producer; working with the artist to make the best music possible. That is so true of his work with Aaliyah. Let's be honest: her singing range is rather limited and it's not as though she's writing her songs. In many ways, then, it was left to Tim and Missy to bring her personality out, or at least something people would find believable. Clearly, they knocked it out of the park. Whenever I listen to Aaliyah/Timbo songs, I always feel like there is some sense of mystery around her. Many of her songs are about her apprehension about entering a relationship, her constantly thinking through what she is doing. Yet, I never get the feeling I know her any better at the end of a song. An obvious contrast is Beyonce, who totally puts herself out to be seen. Maybe it's my own personal taste in women that biases me, but I find the former more appealing (not to mention "Halo," or "Daddy" or some other crap are terrible to me). Anyway, as much as I like the Jay/Tim connection, it's rather sparse compared to the almost two albums of music Tim did with Aaliyah. Surprise surprise, they're all great.

This was just something I thought about a few weeks ago after getting into an L-I-Y-A-H phase one morning. Just some quick thoughts. As I find more stuff and continue to get settled, there should be more.


...And I'm being honest




After a month, I'm finally settled in NC. As for the above songs... it's been that kind of week. I'll slowly work my way to writing stuff again, but I enjoy eating biscuits and, uh, meeting people. Also, why does JD insist on saying "Get Out!"? What does that have to do with anything?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yay-er.

"Nigga, PING! PEWN! PEWN!"

I won't be spending my time or hard drive space listening to this album. I was never a big Jay fan in the first place, but he has his moments. Now, though, it's quite satisfying to watch old fans struggle with what a lame their hero has become. Also, Kanye's pewn pewn/room room/vroom vroom line isn't that bad in principle (think "Get 'Em Girls"), he's just not much of a rapper. The same is true (but less so) for "Stretch work, yoga." All that needs is a Cam ad-lib of "like what?" in the middle, and it's much more tolerable. Sadly, Jay-Z is/was not that kind of rapper.

I may start posting old podcasts of my radio show from last year with my buddy Patrick, as well as any stories that listening to them conjure. If anyone is interested, let me know. In the meantime, I am preparing to move, so I'll give you a hint as to where I am headed with this video.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Oh my God, I hate Usher!


"Long-legged half-breed." Wow. Anyway, Watching the video abover reminded me of this moment:


Hey, praise White Jesus.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Very good, detective.


It's better than this commercial shows, believe me.

I am moving in a couple weeks, so my use of the public library system to fetch interesting books here in Boston is coming to a close. In times like this, I start to watch a lot more movies and favorite TV shows. I don't really watch shows that are currently broadcast; for the most part, they bore me. Instead, I stick with my old favorite "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But, about two and a half weeks ago, I saw this post and was inspired to revisit an old favorite of mine as a kid, Batman: The Animated Series. It should be obvious at this stage of my blogging that I am a nerd, and as many of you know, being a nerd starts at a young age. This show, from its design to its storytelling and characters, captured my imagination (as well as my brother's) as a six or seven-year-old. Amazingly, it still does now. I never got into collecting comics, it was so tedious a habit and I always felt that I had to start at the very beginning to catch up and gain some perspective on what was going on in the issue I was reading. Luckily, this show created a world of its own, still rooted in the original comic's mythology, that I could follow along with every Saturday morning. For whatever reason, even though I watched much too much television as a child and there were all sorts of hero shows on the air, Batman has been the only character whose stories I find interesting. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the writing (the shows with Marvel characters were atrocious, as I recall), but I also think treating Batman as a detective made for a more interesting character than a Whiz! Bang! approach. Watching these old cartoons, I can't help but think of Christopher Nolan's recent take on the Caped Crusader. For all the legitimate problems those movies have, at the end of the day, they captured how I envisioned a live-action Batman, in part because the movies are somewhat similar to B:TAS in their treatment of his relationships with Gordon and Alfred, as well as using his detective skills. I doubt many people cared about the scene where Bruce and Alfred reconstructed a bullet using forensic testing, but that scene, more than the costume or his fighting style or anything else, captured what I like about the character. End of nerd rant, I just needed to get that out there.

For reference, you should watch this with the volume off ("Who Are You" plays in the background):

Friday, August 7, 2009

Uh...

Among others, where was this man on this list? Yet somehow, Little Brother made it? Look, I have their first album, and it is good. But come on, people.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The 2009 Elders.



I had planned to write this before I left for my vacation, but then MJ died and I got discombobulated and before I knew it, I was off. Then returning, I was still somewhat stuck in MJ mode, it was my birthday, and I just got lazy overall. Now, most of you know already that I am a big fan of the former comic strip/current (?) tv show "The Boondocks." As some of you know, the strip and show are not too popular with some people, especially some older African Americans. Conservative Larry Elder apparently created an award on his radio talk show called "The McGruder for the Most Outrageous Statement by a Black Public Figure." This was started either in response to one of my favorite ideas from "The Boondocks," the "Most Embarrassing Black People" awards. It was nicknamed the Elder. I forget what the actual stipulations were for nomination, but I think they were pretty self-evident: any black person who acts, says, or does something so ridiculous it reflects poorly on the entire community can be nominated. Seeing as how we are a little more than halfway through the year, and it's been an interesting and somewhat angering year for race relations, I thought I might continue this tradition. So I now present my candidates for the 2009 "Most Embarrassing Black People" awards:

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


Call Tree!

I am not going to go through the case again. It's all over the internet and tv. My dad really only holds two black scholars in high regard: Gates and Cornel West. They're both around my dad's age, and they books can be found in my parents' home back in Jersey. Growing up, I saw these two, and especially Gates, as basically the men my dad wanted to be if he had the same access to resources. I remember reading Gates' memoir, Colored People, in high school. I don't remember much about the book now, but I do recall how much it resonated with me, which is amazing since we were born 35 years apart and he's from West VA and you know where I hail from. All that said, I'm not too big a fan of his Genealogy Project, I just don't see the goal. Regardless, from an academic standpoint, the man handles his business and you have to respect that.

Given how I viewed him growing up, his arrest stuck me as completely absurd. Not in the sense that the cop is a racist or a moron, but Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the absolute last person I would imagine getting arrested anywhere (nevermind his own home). Honestly, when I found out, all I could do is laugh out loud. I also found his question to the officer, "Why, because I'm a black man in America?" very ridiculous. Just say it out loud. There's something about pointing out that he is a black man in particular that stuck me as odd phrasing. I can also imagine him saying it, and putting an extra emphasis on "man." It's a statement straight out of 1990, which is strange for a man at the forefront of his field.

You may be asking how this embarrasses black people, and I am not quite sure. I think the way he has handled this situation, talking about doing a documentary on the relationship between people of color and police, but at the same time ignoring the recent cases of Shem Walker or Omar Edwards, strikes me as opportunistic and creepy. At the very least, it discomfits me given how my dad has looked to him as a shining light. Of course, I have heard that he is called the "academic capitalist" so his behavior should not shock me too much.

If you want a sense of my thoughts on this debacle, watch this clip. Harold Ford, Jr. and Carlos Watson get at what I am thinking. To sum up my thoughts really insufficiently, this was a case of "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong" on both sides. It just so happens that one of the people involved has the ability to arrest the other. I maintain that the president's comments at his press conference were fine. The media just lack the ability to deal with full sentences. More generally, you really should be reading TNC, period.



Juan Williams



Back in college, I wrote an opinions column for my school newspaper my second semester of sophomore year. It was mostly hit or miss, in my view, but somehow signaled my arrival on campus in terms of larger, "more important" discussions. I'll have to write about my experience sometime, I guess. Anyway, that next Christmas, my dad bought me a copy of Juan Williams' Enough. At the time, I was a little familiar with Williams and some things he had written, disagreed with him a lot, and to this day, I have not even so much as opened that book. Considering the above clip, I think I made the right decision. When I watched this, my mind was blown. He cannot honestly believe what he is saying, he has to only do it because it pays well, right? I don't know, things like this kill me.

Shelby Steele



As I mentioned above, I read the blog of Ta-Nehisi Coates. A lot. I enjoy and sympathize with his perspective, and unlike a lot of bloggers for prominent publications, the comments section is actually worth reading and can help deepen your understanding of a topic. I mention all this because TNC has a strong dislike of Shelby Steele. He did claim, after all, that white guilt was responsible for our failures in Iraq. RIghtly or wrongly, I tend to be wary of black conservatives. In the case of someone like Steele, his take on Obama strikes me as incredibly dishonest. How is President Obama a "bargainer?" I can see how other successful black liberals fall under that category, but it's not a very useful generalization at all. The same is true of conservatives. There are/were people like John McWhorter, who I disagreed with all the time, but at least his arguments were well reasoned (mostly). With Steele, he is falling into his own trap of bargaining for the dominant group of his party. He lacks the ability to just admit he was wrong and adjust his views to fit the current circumstances. Instead, he makes the circumstances fit his views. As a scientist, that sort of behavior is endlessly frustrating. Also, after watching this clip, I get the feeling the choices he describes for prospective black politicians fits in with his own life experience, especially at a place like the Hoover Institution.

Michael Steele

Like I said, I am wary of black conservatives. In my experience, some are like Shelby Steele in that when you talk to them, you get this sense that they are responding more to how they have been treated by people of all types than their claim that they have come to their views through some rigorous test of logic. I am also have issue with black conservatives complaining about identity politics, Affirmative Action, and the like while failing to self-reflect and realize that the only time they are called upon by the media in any fashion is to talk about issues of racial or ethnic identity. I very rarely see black conservative (or to some extent, liberal) commentators talk about health care, the economy, the wars or any topic without it being related in some way to race. One of the reasons I stopped writing my column was I that I tired of being the go-to person for all things related to people of color. I have very broad interests, though this blog may not reflect them all. That black conservative commentators lack the clout to talk about issues that concern all Americans shows me that their claim to be above identity politics is crap.

Anyway, there are black conservatives who have ideas that I find stupid, like Williams. There are others whose ideas I find disingenuous, like Shelby Steele. Then there is Michael Steele. For about a month or so, he was laying low and doing a good job of it. Then came this shit:



Personally, the "fried chicken and potato salad" comment is not what offended me the most. It is bizarre in his choice of potato salad as a quintessentially African American food, but I digress. For me, saying "Y'all come" is what was more bothersome. It's so incredibly lazy and shows that he simply has no idea how to make Republicans more appealing to minorities. It's also much, much too forced in terms of the way the sentence in constructed.

Of course, this is not the only embarrassing remark made by Mr. Steele. I don't have the time or the energy to go through them all. Between showing some "slum love" for Bobby Jindal, to claiming that government jobs "aren't jobs," if I think about all the things he's said, my head might explode. He'll probably win the award in a landslide, he bombarded us with nonsense at the beginning of the year. But I'm saving hope for an appearance from Stanley Crouch slapping another person. Or Jermaine Jackson, who might be one of the greasiest people on Earth.

I'll also happily take any suggestions, in the good chance I have overlooked anyone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another part of me.



I'll be on hiatus/vacation for the next two weeks. In regards to recent events, at this point I really have nothing to say. The more I read about his life, the more this hurts me. I'm sure I'll write more later, but I'm still processing about what he meant to me. Also, that move at 2:25> Usher's career.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The would-be "Best of Both Worlds"



After hearing Jay's boring new song about how he hates Autotune, but somehow, not the most famous artists who use it (because they're creative?), I got to thinking again about what is the best Jay-Z album. Now, if someone like Noz or Trey Stone are to be believed, then it's Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter. A couple years ago, back when I was living in Seattle, I had a lot of free time and mostly thought about rap and went to my local used record store. After reading Noz's defense of Vol. 3 in the comments section of these posts, I figured I would actually cave and buy a record that is really only known for "So Ghetto" and "Big Pimpin'." Just in case I wasn't feeling up to buying the album that day (or ever), I could listen to it at some handy listening stations. Now, those of you who read Posse on Blogway way back when may remember some post he did about a fantasty Timbaland/Hov album and embedded some songs in that post. One of those songs is Vol. 3's "Come and Get Me." For whatever reason, I wasn't really able to get into while reading his post, but I figured that If was was going to buy a hard copy of the album, I better know what this song sounds like, so it was the first track I listened to. It started off decent enough, with talk of "remov[ing] your roof" over some beat that did not sound like Timbo at all... then it changed to this slow, sort of futuristic album cut. As though it should be the title track, with Jay defending his rise to stardom following Vol. 2. With this song at least, I was convinced.

I went looking through the album credits to see who was responsible for the rest of the production, since Jay fans love to celebrate Jay-Z's beat selection meanwhile shitting on Nas. "So Ghetto?" Check. The other four Tim tracks? Check. Everything else, though, was just not grabbing me. To be honest, all the other beats sound horribly dated from the DJ Clue?/Dame Grease/Swizz Beats era of New York rap... except these sound like their throwaway beats. Remember the first single, "Do It Again?" It's not a bad beat or song, per se, but it isn't engaging at all, and certainly shouldn't deserve Jay's supposed seal of excellence or approval. And do not get me started on "S. Carter." As soon as it started, with Amil's shrill whine, I stopped the CD player. Why he dumped Foxy for her I will never understand. Overall, the songs I heard from the album just didn't convince me that it was an album worth owning.

As I mentioned before, Noz had this rap nerd fantasy post about a Tim/Hov collaboration album. Personally, I don't think that would have worked in 2007, or anytime since Jay-Z has retired. He simply cannot rap as well as he could back in '98-01 and Timbaland, except for a few cases (like Jeezy's 3 A.M.), has simply outgrown rap. I'm not sure he could bring it anymore. But, there is a wealth of material from the past that could have been compiled to make probably Jay's best album. Think of this as a missed opportunity. Now, I would say Timbaland's best beats were from about '97-'02 or '03, and if certain people are to be believed, Jay was at his best around the time of Vol. 3. Now, what would an album look like if Jay had waited two years between Vol. 1 and Vol. 2? Here's my idea of the tracklist, in no particular order:

Intro: Hand It Down
So Ghetto
Paper Chase
N*gga What, N*gga Who
It's Hot (Some Like It Hot)
Snoopy Track
Hey Papi
Lobster and Scrimp
Big Pimpin'
Come and Get Me

Look at that, what album in 1999 could touch a lineup like that? Even with Bleek on the first track? It's amazing what a little quality control could have done for his place in 90's rap. Maybe then DMX wouldn't have been the megastar at that point in time. Oh well, I can dream.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Do you see what I see?



A while back, I wrote a post about the Backwudz's first album Wood Work. Again, if you haven't heard it, check it out. A couple months ago, on MGG's site, I saw a youtube video from Big Marc of the group doing this song he entitled "Concrete Complications." What struck me at first was how he had changed his whole look and rapping style. From throwbacks and fitted caps to a Freeway-esque beard and a fledgling mohawk as well as an over-enunciated cadence (a change from his thick Southern drawl) that OutKast has always been so fond of. I would say that he got this from Wayne, but it's clear from his style to the topics he chose to write about in that short song that 'Kast was a more direct influence. Anyway, I thought it was pretty serviceable, nice to see someone who'd been out of the spotlight for so long back giving us something to consume for a little while, but I figured that would be about it. I also knew he'd released a mixtape over old (?) Dilla beats and renamed himself "A. Leon Craft," which I passed on since it felt a bit weird to hear the combination of those two for whatever reason. But maybe a month or so ago, I heard his appearance on "Caddys" and started to take notice. For one, he's putting out music rather consistently, so clearly there is something in the works. But also, the thing that made me hesitant about "Concrete Complications" was gone from his verse. Before, it felt like he was trying much too hard to be Andre from the way he presented himself physically, to his style and writing subject. On "Caddys," he sounds more comfortable with his new flow and he's just rapping well, not overly concerned with getting a message across to the streets. Then, a little more recently, I heard his song "Spaced Out." It's pretty nice. I am sure some of you are skeptical of someone who calls himself A. Leon Craft and hails from Atlanta, but don't worry, he's not treading old ground. Instead, he's taking Andre's verse on "Xplosion" to it's logical extreme and taking the space meme as far as he can. Given that on the songs I've heard he's used it for cars and women, he seems pretty comfortable with it. I'm looking forward to what he has in store next.

Also, I have no idea what's gotten into me recently, but enjoy this posting streak while it lasts.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kingdom Come.



Yea, apparently LeBron even witnessed this. Like I told my brother, he may be on his way to becoming the Donovan McNabb of the NBA.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Slapstick.



Just to jog your memories, we've seen this before.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I hope Seattle wins, I watch Seattle lose.



As you all know by now, I'm Jersey born and bred. But back in college, I spent a couple summers in the Puget Sound area, one in Seattle. I didn't live in Central District, where I get the sense most of these guys are from (I lived near UW), but I'll be damned if this doesn't remind me of my memories of living with a bunch of middle-aged townies, sitting on a dock at night staring at Lake Union, getting lost on my runs and just generally enjoying life. The only one of these guys who is at all familiar to me is Vitamin D. Unfortunately, I never saw him in concert (I also missed Devin that summer... what a fool I was), so it's nice to be introduced to him knowing what the city is like on my own. Spotted at Noz's place.

On a related note, I know some of you have been watching the Lakers-Nuggets series. You should know that J.R. Smith and Dahntay Jones are from my area. One of my friends from high school was buddies with Jones in some form or fashion, as I recall. Given all that, I should be glad that two hometown guys are in the Western Conference Finals. Except Dahntay Jones just isn't very good, and has resorted to bush-league tactics to stop Kobe and J.R. just talks too much for me. If you look at Jones' face after he was taken out post-tripping Kobe, you could see him cover his face in shame. So sad. But too much talk from overeager role players, hard fouls, as well as atrocious and inconsistent refereeing, seem to be a theme this year in the playoffs. Or does this always happen? I forget.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No, no, no.



There isn't much more I can add to the criticisms of this video that the dudes over at SMS haven't already covered. When will this supposedly new phenomenon stop capturing young black mens' minds? Seriously, it's been at least six years. "White Girls," however, is a comedic gem.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The franchise of Star Trak sales.



I have a couple things on my mind, so I don't want to spend too much time on each topic, so let's begin. I imagine that many of you have heard the new Clipse/Kanye song by this point. I suspect even more that a few of you are none too enthused with the Thornton brothers at this stage in the game. As I am someone who likes "Kind of Like a Big Deal," I must say I'm a bit puzzled by people who don't like it for a few reasons. First of all, since they really came onto the rap scene in 2002 (we'll ignore "The Funeral" for now), Clipse have made a lane for themselves and others beating to death cocaine double entendres/similes/metaphors/etc. Think about "Wamp Wamp," Pusha's whole second verse was about pampers, Santa's snow, and Jo Jo Dancer. What we have here now are a couple references to the "flame and the flask." They're more concerned with what the lifestyle has afforded them than with describing how they got to where they are. I see why this could frustrate some, but consider UGK's Dirty Money. Bun B lays it flat out here that each UGK record was a part of a bigger story. Knowing that Clipse are guys who know their rap music, I wouldn't be surprised if Till the Casket Drops follows the same bigger scheme. Also, does anyone remember the couple songs they put out back when HHNF was supposed to come out at the end of 2004? Those sounded nothing like what was on Lord Willin' (they lacked the "metaphysics," if you will), and were essentially big celebrations. Of course, their train got derailed and, realizing they needed to develop more of a narrative in their greater body of work, Clipse retooled the album to go into (what some would call excessive) detail and the lyrically lyrical phase. Another, less important point: this song has a chorus. These two love to talk about how their first single is a "disruption to radio." While this is certainly different from what I think the radio plays (I haven't listened to the radio in months, to be honest), it's a fairly straightforward song. So, while I am sure there are those of you who are telling your friends, "I told you these guys had nothing to say," consider that this is only one song and that there is a bigger narrative they aim for. Some of you might say at this point, "What good is an album in this era? These guys need to adjust." That is a point I don't know if I can argue with. But, that UGK 4 Life exists and is good, I can still hope. It's not like I am the one concerned with sales.

The other topic on my mind is Keith Sweat, of all people. After being exposed to rapper XVII by Noz a while back, I decided to check out the dude's first album. I couldn't actually find a readily available copy, but I heard a fair amount of it on Rhapsody. Pimp C is all over that thing and has some amazing skits where he extemporizes about haters, women, Don "Magic" Juan and anything else on his mind. Towards the end of the album he makes reference to a chorus on an earlier song (and also the truth?) where he says he "just bought a house next to that bitch Keith Sweat!" He later says, "Yea I be in Atlanta... taste the banana." Inspired by that, I have been revisiting Keith Sweat's work. Upon further review: Pimp was right. What makes Keith Sweat interesting is Teddy Riley's new jack swing. To wit:


I Want Her - Keith Sweat

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Been a while.



Sorry I've been gone so long, I had to handle business, meaning I had to study for and take the GRE. What can I say? THe purse comes first. Now, with that monkey off my back, we can get back to business around here. There's a lot of music and news I have to catch up on (like this), but I'll get to it and hit y'all with a post real soon.

Real quickly, though: Jay-Z signed Mickey Factz??!!! Good Lord.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cuz...



I'm very sorry I missed this when it came out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

20 degrees with no jacket.



It's really tiring to hear fellow bloggers complain about how bad rap is, how rap (beef) is boring, etc. To me, this sounds like empty talk. For one, there are people with excellent taste sharing that new new for you you. If you don't know where to look, that's one thing, but to complain that nothing good exists is tiresome. To be clear, I am not thinking of the (thankfully) dead argument about "real" rap or whatever, just good music regardless of its source. Secondly, there is so much music of all kinds out there, including rap, that it is nearly impossible to be up on everything as it happens. So, while I haven't been following the latest in Rick Ross leaks, though I have heard something about Weezy saying he's "in the all black Maybach, sittin' in the asshole," I do have plenty of time and energy to look for somewhat old or overlooked records that I didn't check for when they came out because I was busy or doubted the quality of the full album.

About three years ago, I remember being home for spring break and doing what I do normally when I was back at my parents' house: watching TV and eating food out of boredom. I didn't have a car, and being on the internet all day didn't appeal to me, so those were my last two options. It was abysmal. Anyway, I remembered seeing, in the fall I believe, the video for Da Backwudz single, "You're Gonna Luv Me," and during spring break, I saw the video for their second single, "I Don't Like the Look of It." I was pretty sold on them as a group.

Keep in mind, at this time, crunk was king and at this point in time I was decidedly against Southern rap in that manifestation. It was nice to hear a song like "You're Gonna Luv Me" that let the beat breathe as opposed to trying to start a riot, and if you watch the video, the duo felt very entrenched in the culture of Atlanta. They weren't trying to imitate anybody else from their city and still felt authentic, which I think is hard to do when such a strong movement exists. The simultaneously bizarre and brilliant choice of sampling the Oompa Loompa song for their second single was too creative to to hate on, and they really did the beat justice. Reading this, you may think I picked up Wood Work, their first (and at this point, only) album, excited to hear what else they had to offer the rap world. But, I figured that it would be like many other rap albums released since 2006: an uneven affair with the singles as the best songs, a lot of trend chasing, and one "reflective song." Sometime a couple weeks ago, I was reminded of their existence, though I forget how, and decided to finally give the album a listen three years later.

Now, if you were to listen to only the two singles mentioned above, you might think of Da Backwudz as extensions or updates of OutKast's stylings. Personally, I tend to think of Field Mob as more fitting of that description. A better example of a group of Southern rappers similar to Da Backwudz is more likely Trenton Takes favorite Jim Crow. Both work with similar A-Town heavyweights Organized Noize and Mr. DJ for a track, are more playful in tone than OutKast or other DF members, and Crow's Nest and Wood Work are both mainly backed by one producer. In the case of the former: Jazze Pha. The latter: Milwaukee Black. I think many of us agree that having a primary producer for at least a debut album is good for all rappers, and it is certainly the case here.

Something that is really striking to me about Wood Work is that it really plays like it was meant for vinyl or cassette. That is, it's tone switches halfway through the album as though there are two separate sides. The first half is where the heavy hitters can be found: both singles, a good intro (what?), a great Killer Mike feature. Side A sort of falls off when the snoozer "Fantastic" comes in (read SMS's take here). The second half is really the impressive part to me. These guys show a lot of depth in their subject matter, are introspective, and with help from Sleepy Brown, Gipp, and George Clinton, how can you really go wrong? With those names, I guess I can see the OutKast tribute thing, but none of those songs remind me of DF at all, except maybe the album closer "Smoke N Ride."

As rappers, Big Marc and Sho 'Nuff are competent enough. The second half of the album is really interesting to listen to, since they show great range that was sort of missing from their singles. This is certainly worth a listen, in my mind.

I Don't Like The Look Of It (Oompa) (Feat. Caz Clay)
Whatcha Know 'Bout My Life (Feat. Big Gipp)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Always bop, bop hard.

For anyone like Michael Steele who has stuggled with how to relate and communicate effectively with young black people, here's this handy video on just that.



Honestly, every time I read about what come out this guy's mouth one of two things happen. First, I laugh hysterically. Second, I just want to shake my head. Never have I seen someone struggle so much to try and relate to people to get their attention. OK, maybe Saigon is worse in that respect. But really, between "We are all good," "Some slum love out to Gov. Bobby Jindal," and "off the hook," I don't know how much of this I can take. It's going to be a long two years.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

That's W-I-G-O-U-T.



Due to my work week, I can't really afford to have a typical Friday night, and since I was alone in my apartment, I decided to watch She's Gotta Have It. If you've ever seen any Spike Lee movie from before this decade, you probably already know what kind of man Spike tries to triumph, which made watching this movie, for me, really frustrating. Briefly, you've got pretty boy Greer Childs, unemployed fool Mars Blackmon and the "well-meaning" Jamie Overstreet. In a movie that is about a black woman in the 80s trying to find her own identity, that has female characters that don't feel like they only serve a purpose as background, the dudes in this movie feel really kind of flat. As soon as you meet Greer, you know Spike is going to make it seem like he's the absolute worst choice for Nola. Watch School Daze, his hate of pretty boys beats you over the head. He felt like a kind of cinema straw man, though him calling Jamie and Mars "ghetto negroes" was pretty awesome.

Mars... really had no business dating Nola in the first place, so I couldn't see him as any sort of real option from the start. Unlike Greer, he's one of those "real" black people Spike Lee loves, which seems to be the only reason his character didn't get any real sort of comeuppance or judgement in the end. He's supposed to "grow up" and that's it. As though Spike couldn't bring himself to judge someone who's kind of an idiot. Let me be clear: I love Mars in every way, but in the context of this movie, and the serious turn it takes towards the end, the Hood Rat archetype has to be put in its place, not simply tossed off as immature. As a side note, living in Boston and watching Mars come down hard/truthfully (you be the judge) on Larry Bird was such a sweet moment. "Nobody can cover him," my ass.

Then there's Jamie... who rapes Nola (or to use her words, "near-rapes"). But somehow I should not really feel like he's a bad person, because Nola can't make up her mind anyway, so it goes both ways? This is where he lost me. The inability to come to a conclusion is the definition of a Spike Lee Joint, and while it's great in Do the Right Thing, here... I'm not sure.

ANyway, does anyone remember Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, Snoop Dogg's first foray into TV? I imagine Dogg After Dark can't hold a candle to this:



At some point I'll write about actual rap music again. I've been listening to The W after the release of Raekwon's new singles. I'll get my thoughts together in a little while.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ghost Deini: Style Visionary

Patrick recently had a snow day, and reminded of a great song. More importantly, he reminded me of how ahead of the curve Starkey Love's sense of style is. Observe:



The video for "Run." I just love that hat. Keep in mind this video is now five years old. Now, take a look at something from Michael Kors at this year's fashion week in New York:



But somehow, it looks lamer when not worn by the Wu.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Buy your own damn fries.



Unlike Brandon Soderberg, I am not a serious comic book reader. I suspect those of you who skim my blog from time to time aren't either. That said, I have always loved the daily comic strips that came in the newspaper. Back when I was younger, instead of reading the news to see what was happening with the Thunder or news of actual importance, I'd read the entire comics page. This did lead to a small (and in hindsight, bizarre) obsession with "Dilbert" and "Robotman," now known as "Monty." Now that I think about it, I haven't the slightest clue what drew me to those two. But I digress. I don't think I have to tell you that there weren't many daily comic strips about non-white/animal/Prince Valiant people, and there still are not. Sure, there is "Curtis" and "Jump Start" and possibly a few others that I wasn't exposed to. But "Curtis" wasn't in my local paper, and the concerns of "Jump Start" were too beyond me; I didn't have kids, and I was too old to relate to the younger characters in that strip. Luckily for me, "The Boondocks" made it to the Trenton Times when I was thirteen.

In order to explain why I loved this strip/show so much, I have to share a bit of my own background. As the name of the blog suggests, I was born and raised for a time in Trenton, New Jersey. Due to circumstances out of my control, my family moved to a nearby suburb where my brother and I (or my brother and me) spent the remainder of my childhood. If you know anything about the premise of "The Boondocks," then you can imagine why this strip was right up my alley. I am nowhere near as angry with white people or frustrated with black people as Aaron McGruder, but when you're one of two black people in your neighborhood over the age of ten, it's refreshing to know that there is someone out there who struggled with some of the same issues as you. Like the imcomparable Riley, my younger brother was also a bit of a fool, used to be obsessed with rap to the point that it distorted his worldview, and thought that I take everything way too seriously. To be honest, the character I have the most in common with, and miss now that the strip is a TV show, is Michael Ceasar. Part nerd, part rap lover, and optimistic most of the time seems more like me than a revolutionary 10 year-old. Besides, he is the character responsible for the greatest story arc in the comic's run.

I don't want Ceasar's exclusion to be any sort of main critical point about what is missing from the show now. I am so happy Uncle Ruckus exists in this cast of characters, he's provided so many great jokes. I would like to see more of Jazmine, if only to laugh at her. Whenever the third season starts airing, I hope there's an episode with her talking about her bi-racial new hero, the President... or Halle Berry or Alicia Keys. Taking the strip to TV also lets McGruder indulge a bit to our benefit (like Charlie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson and any number of rappers helping with voices) and fleshes out the world he created just a little bit more.

There are a host of issues I could bring up with this show, from its sometimes disagreeable politics, its treatment of rappers as insecure homo thugs, and R. Kelly. But I thought I would just share why I love this show so much. I thought about having some songs you could download at the end of the post, but McGruder's a pretty straight ahead rap purist, so it'd be a wasted effort. You can really check most episodes for some reference to the kind of music he likes, whether through the soundtrack or in the script (the "Dwyck" reference in the lemonade stand episode). You may also want to check out Boondocks Bootleg. It has short clips on the typical haircuts of black men, an "Ask John Witherspoon" segment and the "Negro News Brief." It's kind of hit or miss, but worth checking out nonetheless.

In somewhat related news, these audio clips are kind of great.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Negro please.


As Joey pointed out for the former leader of the Carter Administration, Taz, take off that silly ass hat. There's more of Mr. Arnold's fashion nonsense at the Complex blog.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Is this hip hop?



I don't know about some of you, but for me, winter signals a shift in the kind of rap I want to hear. In the spring and summer, I'm a bit more inclined to listen to tales of workin' the slab, bendin' corners, chasin' hoes and all that fun stuff. The music feels warm and appropriate for the time of year. But as soon as winter rolls around, all I want to hear are crime tales from abandoned urban youth. A couple years ago, right before finals, I distinctly remember only listening to Hell on Earth, The Infamous, and Hell Hath No Fury for a couple weeks straight. Obviously the weather alters my mood. After reading about Tray revisiting The College Dropout five years later, he inspired me to go back to a time when I thought Kanye was a rapper that I could connect to. That's not to say I ever thought he was the best, but let's be honest; I'm not from, nor have I ever had to run the streets. So listening to some guy who comes from a fairly well-educated family rap about topics that matter to him was pretty affecting to me. But now that I'm older, those skits fall way, way flatter than i remember. Maybe it's because I am also a college graduate without a drug habit or a job at the Gap.

Anyway, along with the change in weather, there's a big event (in my mind) coming to Cambridge in a couple weeks: M.O.P. at the Middle East. In anticipation of that, as well as my hunger for riot music in the winter, I've been listening a lot to First Family 4 Life. It's not as clean in execution as Firing Squad, which has Premier as executive producer, but this thing is pretty tight. I've written about "4 Alarm Blaze" before, but thinking back, I have a hard time figuring out what is really the standout track on this album. Firing Squad, for me, has a couple clear standout tracks: "New Jack City," "Anticipation," "Brownsville" and "Downtown Swinga '96." FF4L lacks the standalone "signature" track of the album (maybe "Handle Ur Bizness"), but they're all so good it doesn't matter. Premo gives Fizzy Womack and Berkowitz five great beats, and the ones by Laze-E-Laze and Fame are great too. In terms of rapping, these two break no new ground, and you know that is true with any M.O.P. song. But these two have more passion in their voices than most; I can always feel their hunger and borderline desperation. The guest list is pretty on point, too: Tef, Jay-Z, O.C., Heather B, Guru, Freddie Foxx, and Treach. Besides Guru, all have great, energetic performances. Thinking about Guru being sleepy reminds me, why isn't "1/2 & 1/2" on this album, or a Gang Starr album for that matter? I know it's on Full Clip, but there is no excuse for either party to omit such a gem.

Getting back to business, whereas Firing Squad is a really well constructed album that builds up to its best songs then allows you some time to soak it all in (an hour of Fame and Danze yelling at you/threatening fake-ass gangstas can get a bit too intense at times), FF4L feels like a collection of the best songs that the Mash Out Posse had made over the course of a year. If you have a chance, totally pick this up.

M.O.P. (prod. by Premier)- Breakin' the Rules
M.O.P.- Facing Off

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What in the world?



Best R. Kelly impersonation ever? I think so.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Click, click, click.



Since my roommates have been gone this past week, I have had a lot of time to myself recently. So, besides doing the usual running, reading, etc., I've also been watching TV. Actually, I broke out the second season of Chappelle's Show that my dad got me for Christmas two years ago. This week was the first time I had watched any of those episodes since they aired 5 (!) years ago. I don't think I can describe how committed I was to this show. When it came out my junior year of high school, for whatever reason, I was incredibly amped. To give you some perspective, I had really only seen Dave Chappelle in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Nutty Professor, and heard all my friends quote Half Baked without actually seeing the movie. So given how unfamiliar I was with his work, there was no reason for me to care so much. But every week, I was hooked and would talk about, quote and reenact skits with my friends Thursday mornings. This may seem odd, but this week I've spent some time thinking what about this show appealed to me so much. It wasn't the humor, because like I just said, I didn't really know that guy's sense of humor like I think I do now. Then I realized something about the television shows I had watched as a kid with my family. Save for a few (like In Living Color or The Chris Rock Show), many were about black families and how they dealt with life. That's great and all, but kind of distancing for someone high school or college age. Also, given that Dave Chappelle is one of the few black comics who grew up in a pretty diverse environment (between Yellow Springs, Ohio and DC), his point of view made a lot of sense to me as someone who was and has been essentially one of the only black people in his classroom/office space. Also, the inclusion of musical guests who appealed to my sensibilities at the time made the show feel like even more of a personal connection between me and this random 30-something guy. So with that little introduction, I thought I'd share some songs I thought of while watching the show that aren't by Prince or Rick James. Besides, my favorite sketch is the World Series of Dice.

Youngbloodz feat. Lil' Jon- Damn!

It was very obvious the opening line "They callin' me, to come back to the street" spoke to him since he quoted it a few times before going into those Lil' Jon impersonations. I cannot tell you how annoyed I got from people at my school asking me to impersonate Dave Chappelle impersonating Lil' Jon. As a wise man (who deserves his own post) once said, white people. In defense of that picture, I go running in the cold of Boston... but with tights on. Also, what happened to these guys?

Black Star- Thieves in the Night

Just based on how many times these two were featured on his show, it's obvious Chappelle loved their music. Hell, he does the intro for Kweli's "Quality." He used to have an iTunes celebrity playlist, but they took that shit down. I remember this one being on there and he quoted the line about the yacht and a slave ship. You know it, I do too, so there's no real need to be precise with it.

DMX- Get At Me Dog

Like any rap fan with a smidgen of goddamn sense, Dave Chappelle loved DMX in some way. I own Belly. There's no reason not to like this song; besides, it includes a reference to Optimus Prime.

Happy new year, by the way. I'll try and get back to posting regularly and writing about topics of consequence soon. Which means I need to get back to a record store or search my hard drive. I'm on it.