Wednesday, August 29, 2007

sign o' the times double remix

Original post (9/19/2005)

(start a rumor monday...)

bush addresses haters, set to record dis record

kanye west said george bush didn't care about black people. well, he's out to change that. in an effort to prove that he's more in touch with his african american constituents than folks think, and to silence those who criticized his response to hurricane katrina, george bush surprised reporters this morning by unequivocally addressing his song.

"there's rumors out there on the internetsssss saying that i don't care about black people," he said earlier today during his monday morning press conference. "i'm sick of all these haters hatin' on me and shit. if i may quote the late homie tupac, they're a bunch of mark ass bitches. so i'm taking the time to let you all know, that george bush ain't no punk. and i'ma let 'em know by spitting a few bars. condi,"

at this point, condi rice pulled a radio raheem-esque boom box from behind the podium, and pressed play. as an "urban interpretation" of "hail to the chief" blasted from the speakers, the secretary of state grabbed a microphone and seemingly channeled doug e. fresh as she beat boxed. unofficial unpaid intern, harold gibson transcribed el presidente's freestyle:

yeah...dub-ya up in this bitch...wit' my bitch...turn my headphones up...yeah/unh/yeah/

i'm the chief, nigga hail me/act like ya know/
when i was gov i fed kangays to nigs on death row/
ray nagin got his nerve/puttin' the commander on blast/
while i'm up here signing checks/his black ass cain't cash/
you got nothing but straight fucked by a bush and a dick/
got y'all feelin' like flood victims/'cause my flow so sick/
you seen pics of my vacay/i'm cowboy and you in'jun/
annihilate ya like genocide/the middle east i'm straight pimpin'/
i'm dub-ya, nigga what!/ask john kerry, i don't play/
when that west rapper comes up dead/just blame the c.i.a./
fuck george clinton/i keep the white house white/
i fuck condi/stick it to her/like white in rice/
my bro jeb will be protected if rita hits the keys/
you got beef?/fuck you, nigga/suck on w-m-deez/**

(poof, pow surprise, oooooooohhhhhhh!!!!!)**

west texas, bitches.

george w. bush, now known as dub-ya, spent the rest of his press conference giving shout outs to fox news reporters.

though there is no release date for his upcoming single, it has been confirmed that dub-ya has signed to noah's ark records.


for the uninitiated, deez is short for deez nuts.

if you get the, "poof, pow, surprise ooooohhhhh!!!!!" reference (without goggling it), i will do one thing for you. anything. you name it.

until next time, this has been start a rumor monday.


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

sign o' the times remix

I wrote this post two years ago after Kanye West's comments regarding the media's depiction of Hurricane Katrina. Since I'm ruminating on two other ideas, I thought I'd just post this in the meantime.

Originally posted on 9/8/05

throwing my diamond in the sky: open letter #4
"'Dey don't always know. Indians don't know much uh nothin', tuh tell de truth. Else dey'd own dis country still. De white folks ain't gone nowhere. Dey oughta know if it's dangerous'...'Dis time tuhmorrer you gointuh wish you follow crow...If Ah never see you no mo' on earth, Ah'll meet you in Africa'...They huddled closer and stared at the door. They just didn't use another part of their bodies, and they didn't look at anything but the door. The time was past for asking the white folks what to look for through that door. Six eyes were questioning God."

--zora neale hurston, their eyes were watching god

dear that nigga ye kangay kanye west,
cc: celine dion

i am writing to formally and temporarily retract any and all hatred of you on this blog, as well as any nastiness spewed before, during, and after meetings with the personality chix concerning the fate of hip hop and other shit. my bad, dog. you really showed me. though i often give folks whose "analysis" is filled with rearticulations of the immediately apparent (like dubya and jesse jackson) the moniker, "captain obvious," i'm going to refrain from assigning that name to you. because, well, as we know, there's nothing new under the sun, but every now and then someone tells you a tale, yet does it in a seemingly fresh way. what i'm trying to say is, you took a "duh" moment, and damn near made it shockingly revolutionary. sort of like when you burst on the hip hop scene wearing clothes that fit...but not really.

let me rehearse the event for those who didn't get to see you in all of your glory. friday night on nbc during a televised concert to raise money for hurricane katrina victims, you and mike myers stood before the camera apparently about to plead to the american people for scrilla. disgusted to the point of illiteracy, you gave the cue card guy the finger, and spoke from your heart. you said:
I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family and they say we are looting, you see a white family and they say they are looking for food. And, you know, its been five days because most of the people ARE black. And even for me to complain, I would be a hypocrite because I would turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right to see what is the biggest amount I can give. And just to imagine, if I was down there and those are my people down there. If there is anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help about the way America is set up the help the poor, the black people, the less well off as slow as possible. Red cross is doing as much as they can. We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way. And now they've given them permission to go down and shoot us.
though, as i said, you were teetering on incoherence, i understood what you were trying to say. i'ma break it down: 1) tragedy or not, the media will make niggas look like niggas. 2) the tragedy was hard for you to watch, and you didn't immediately understand the gravity of the situation. though you are not the secretary of state, and weren't strolling 5th avenue looking for some jimmy choos (or whatever), you feel bad for having not at least responded monetarily more quickly. because although you are merely a celebrity, you're someone who has more than the folks on the gulf coast do, and you have the means to attempt to help assuage the situation. 4) we live in a racist capitalist society where those who are the most unfortunate will get fucked first and fucked often. 5) though there are folks on the ground doing their best, the government failed us by not having the resources (read: troops) to protect the "homeland"--terrorist attack, natural disaster (dubya won't let you forget how "natural" the disaster was), or otherwise. 6) there are folks down there just trying to survive, and they're being treated like criminals.

mike myers, playing the part of the white liberal in this episode, appeared as if he hadn't cast a black chick in his last austin powers movie...looking sort of...uh, canadian?** as you, on the verge of tears, barely got your shit together to say, and i quote, "george bush doesn't care about black people." at which point, mike myers lost his fucking shit, and apparently the folks in the control room lost their shit, too. because instead of cutting to someone who prolly coulda held it together, they switched to another nig--chris "do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?" tucker--who very possibly, whether he found jesus or not, coulda been on his angry black man also.

yo, i must tell you, that nigga ye kangay kanye, i repeated that shit like a mantra for the rest of the night, undoubtedly getting on deshi's last nerve. but i sort of had to, because it was the first time somebody cut the bullshit, and kept it real--which is, if you ask me, pretty ironic for a hip hop star.

you're right, dude. dubya doesn't care about black people. but george bush really doesn't care about poor people, and if he didn't say it, his mama sure as hell did. this is why, unfortunately, cunnilingus--'black' as she is-- can be appalled that you would say such things. i know you didn't have enough time to articulate how this situation was more complicated than the mere eight words you were able to spit out--they would've definitely just took the shit off the air--but i have to give props to you for being willing to be that pebble in the shoe: irritating enough that whoever's walking has to--no matter how hard s/he tries to relegate you to a more 'comfortable' place--keep it in the back of his/her mind that you're there, and every now and again, has to pause and decide if s/he's going to take the time to stop and address your presence.

unfortunately, nearly a week later, your act is barely a footnote in this story. you (and maybe ray nagin) are the germ that spawned yet another conversation on race and class. sadly, the media followed the same formula. as we all know, after someone on the fringe says something real and consequently deemed (temporarily) incoherent, they call in their list of "reinforcements". you know the script. there's a list of black people the media call (jesse jackson, al sharpton, t.d. jakes...alan keyes, and armstrong williams for the black conservative pov) when some sort of black shit goes down. and they get to channel your anger in such a way that doesn't scare white folks. call it a coherent articulation of black rage, if you will. but like audre lorde said, "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." and by tools i mean both mechanical device and bitch dupe.

and though i said your move to "keep it real" was sort of ironic for a hip hop star, that's really not true. what you did, in a sense, was truly hip hop. though you came to your popularity in a moment where hip hop has nearly, if not completely, been sucked into the superstructure (that's the right word, right? correct me if it's not.)--hip hop's "induction" into the academy, in my opinion, is the most forceful evidence of this-- for a moment, you made me believe that hip hop might still be used as a place to promote social change.** that maybe it's not merely just another hustle, but, just as certain aspects of it once did, hip hop can still sometimes speak for those with no voice. so in this sense, the fact that you, the reigning queen king of hip hop, stood up and said this is most appropriate.

in fact, as i finish this letter, i'm thinking my hating on you might even be more than temporary. though i reserve the right to call you on your shit when you're on your shit, when it all falls down (pun intended), i gotta fuck with you, that nigga ye kangay kanye.** because your speech showed me something most important: you love black people. (implicitly, i think you care about poor people.) and i, well, despite my position as the assholish hater, i "heart" black people, too.

what else but love?

though i can't promise not wanting to vomit when you come on tv, i bought--and did not download-- your album yesterday. you deserve the 80 cents. don't spend it on another pink shirt. just kidding.

keep it hip hop.

summer m., unofficial voice of 'the race'

p.s. if you haven't thought of this already, i think you and celine should do a record together.


1) by calling myers "canadian" i know i made that a really loaded term. i am not saying there are no people of color and/or racism in canada. but for some reason, whenever i saw that clip, i kept thinking to myself, 'why does mike myers look so...canadian?' i was not, however, entirely lucid.

2) i am not a hip hop skolar. and i know some of you may want to 'discuss' if the presence of hip hop in the academy signifies its death as a viable space of resistance. i say yes, but many of you may disagree...feel free to let me know how and why.

3) "all falls down" is a song by kanye west.

oh yeah...
i really wanna give a special shout out to the blogger currently known as dandelion, author of the freshest blog, she real cool. not only is that a great name for a blog, but she very nicely posted the transcripts from kanye's television appearance, and celion dion's interview on larry king. thus, i didn't have to search for it. good lookin' out, fellow lover of maud.

to see the non-censored version of kanye's speech, feel free to visit ifilm.


open letter #1
open letter #2
open letter #3


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

sign o' the times

25.july.1941 -- 28.august.1955

"The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till"

Emmett's mother is a pretty-faced thing,

the tint of pulled taffy.

She sits in a red room,

drinking black coffee.

She kisses her killed boy.

And she is sorry.

Chaos in windy grays

through a red prairie.

--Gwendolyn Brooks


From the first it had been like a
Ballad. It had the beat inevitable. It had the blood.
A wildness cut up, and tied in little bunches,
Like the four-line stanzas of the ballads she had never quite
understood--the ballads they had set her to, in school.

Herself: the milk-white maid, the "maid mild"
Of the ballad. Pursued
By the Dark Villain. Rescued by the Fine Prince.
The Happiness-Ever-After.
That was worth anything.
It was good to be a "maid mild."
That made the breath go fast.

Her bacon burned. She
Hastened to hide it in the step-on can, and
Drew more strips from the meat case. The eggs and sour-milk biscuits
Did well. She set out a jar
Of her new quince preserve.

. . . But there was something about the matter of the Dark Villain.
He should have been older, perhaps.
The hacking down of a villain was more fun to think about
When his menace possessed undisputed breath, undisputed height,
And best of all, when history was cluttered
With the bones of many eaten knights and princesses.

The fun was disturbed, then all but nullified
When the Dark Villain was a blackish child
Of Fourteen, with eyes still too young to be dirty,
And a mouth too young to have lost every reminder
Of its infant softness.

That boy must have been surprised! For
These were grown-ups. Grown-ups were supposed to be wise.
And the Fine Prince--and that other--so tall, so broad, so
Grown! Perhaps the boy had never guessed
That the trouble with grown-ups was that under the magnificent shell of adulthood, just under,
Waited the baby full of tantrums.
It occurred to her that there may have been something
Ridiculous to the picture of the Fine Prince
Rushing (rich with the breadth and height and
Mature solidness whose lack, in the Dark Villain, was impressing her,
Confronting her more and more as this first day after the trial
And acquittal (wore on) rushing
With his heavy companion to hack down (unhorsed)
That little foe. So much had happened, she could not remember now what that foe had done
Against her, or if anything had been done.
The breaks were everywhere. That she could think
Of no thread capable of the necessary

She made the babies sit in their places at the table.
Then, before calling HIM, she hurried
To the mirror with her comb and lipstick. It was necessary
To be more beautiful than ever.
The beautiful wife.
For sometimes she fancied he looked at her as though
Measuring her. As if he considered, Had she been worth it?
Had she been worth the blood, the cramped cries, the little stirring bravado, The gradual dulling of those Negro eyes,
The sudden, overwhelming little-boyness in that barn?
Whatever she might feel or half-feel, the lipstick necessity was something apart. HE must never conclude
That she had not been worth it.

HE sat down, the Fine Prince, and
Began buttering a biscuit. HE looked at HIS hands.
More papers were in from the North, HE mumbled. More maddening headlines.
With their pepper-words, "bestiality," and "barbarism," and
The half-sneers HE had mastered for the trial worked across
HIS sweet and pretty face.

What HE'd like to do, HE explained, was kill them all.
The time lost. The unwanted fame.
Still, it had been fun to show those intruders
A thing or two. To show that snappy-eyed mother,
That sassy, Northern, brown-black--

Nothing could stop Mississippi.
HE knew that. Big fella
Knew that.
And, what was so good, Mississippi knew that.
They could send in their petitions, and scar
Their newspapers with bleeding headlines. Their governors
Could appeal to Washington . . .

"What I want," the older baby said, "is 'lasses on my jam."
Whereupon the younger baby
Picked up the molasses pitcher and threw
The molasses in his brother's face. Instantly
The Fine Prince leaned across the table and slapped
The small and smiling criminal.
She did not speak. When the HAND
Came down and away, and she could look at her child,
At her baby-child,
She could think only of blood.
Surely her baby's cheek
Had disappeared, and in its place, surely,
Hung a heaviness, a lengthening red, a red that had no end.
She shook her had. It was not true, of course.
It was not true at all. The
Child's face was as always, the
Color of the paste in her paste-jar.

She left the table, to the tune of the children's lamentations, which were shriller
Than ever. She
Looked out of a window. She said not a word. That
Was one of the new Somethings--
The fear,
Tying her as with iron.

Suddenly she felt his hands upon her. He had followed her
To the window. The children were whimpering now.
Such bits of tots. And she, their mother,
Could not protect them. She looked at her shoulders, still
Gripped in the claim of his hands. She tried, but could not resist the idea
That a red ooze was seeping, spreading darkly, thickly, slowly,
Over her white shoulders, her own shoulders,
And over all of Earth and Mars.

He whispered something to her, did the Fine Prince, something about love and night and intention.
She heard no hoof-beat of the horse and saw no flash of the shining steel.

He pulled her face around to meet
His, and there it was, close close,
For the first time in all the days and nights.
His mouth, wet and red,
So very, very, very red,
Closed over hers.

Then a sickness heaved within her. The courtroom Coca-Cola,
The courtroom beer and hate and sweat and drone,
Pushed like a wall against her. She wanted to bear it.
But his mouth would not go away and neither would the
Decapitated exclamation points in that Other Woman's eyes.

She did not scream.
She stood there.
But a hatred for him burst into glorious flower,
And its perfume enclasped them--big,
Bigger than all magnolias.

The last bleak news of the ballad.
The rest of the rugged music.
The last quatrain.

--Gwendolyn Brooks

And while I'm at it:

I'm going to go watch Corrina, Corrina now.


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

play in the sunshine

all grown up.

My ADHD was cultivated by watching music videos during summer vacation. In fact, I think my "thing" for women in glasses started with Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" video; somehow, I implicitly associated sexiness with a woman gazing at you from behind the lenses of reading spectacles, removing them from her face, letting her hair down, and taking a shot of "medicine" before she jumped on it.

In between trips to the Hessen Cassel Library (I always seemed to finish the summer reading in mere weeks. I'd have been done much more quickly had my avuncular escort and other babysitters been kind enough to take me over there more often.), and after our morning basketball camp--both YMCA and unofficial ones that I held in our driveway--I'd plop down in front of the television, and watch videos for the rest of the day with my younger brother and sister, and any other children my parents decided to take in that summer. Not knowing life without cable-- I have distinct memories of rocking out to MTV while my father was still in the house, and my parents split by the time I was six--we'd frantically switch between the three music channels (Vh1, BET, and MTV), hoping not to miss the hottest videos. My right-hand dexterity--I'm a southpaw-- was strengthened during those summer days when we hid from the Midwestern humidity in the basement. We had no remote control (what my father calls "the changer"), so I'd sit by the set and effortlessly switch channels: 3-2! 3-3! 3-6! and back again. Occasionally we'd check in at Nickelodeon (channel 3-5!) on our way back down from BET, but mostly we solidified our short attention spans with 3-minute visual masterpieces.

We all had our favorite artists. I secretly lusted after members of En Vogue, while my sister practiced her octave-range while watching Mariah Carey's "Someday." We all learned the dance moves to Janet Jackson's, "Miss You Much." Even though he's all sulking and thugged out now, I'm pretty sure my brother can still do a mean Ed Lover dance. Looking back, I recognize the power of television to provoke. It's the "Pleasure Principle" video that prompted me to try that "chair trick" and damn near lose my left leg. I admit that I've liked songs simply because I dug the video.

To pacify my sporadic nostalgic desires, sometimes, if I can peel myself away from reruns of House Hunters, I watch hours of Vh1 Soul. If I'm lucky, they'll show a string of videos that remind me of those afternoons in the basement. And, well, most of that shit is straight hilarity. (Teddy Riley in a Speedo? Gut-busting laughs, homie.) Before the days of Hype Williams and Little X, the only nigga consistently bringing cinematic epics to the music video game was Michael Jackson. His world premieres were prime time wet dreams for us. Moonwalker still ranks highly among my favorite movies; the 15-minute version of "Smooth Criminal," is my most favorite video of all time.

The other day I was chatting it up about various tropes in R&B videos from the 80s and 90s, and I focused much of that discussion on the fact that sometimes the concept of these videos led these acts to the most unlikely of places. Locales like the beach (niggas don't swim), and the desert (though we are a tropical people, nigga, it's hot!), for starters.

I assume it was a desire to change up the scenery to something, say, less urban, and that's understandable. But can someone tell me why Jodeci was in the middle of the desert in combat boots? Why was En Vogue doing some version of choreographed tai chi while rocking makeshift "burqas"? And who puts a bedroom in the desert? En Vogue repeated the desert theme in "Runaway Love." Then there was Zhane (so underrated) all bronzed-up looking like Oscars (thx, m'guito) in the "Sending My Love" video. In my estimation, the only niggas who should've been out in the desert were Boyz II Men with their video, "Water Runs Dry." As a funny aside, my mother thought they were saying, "Let's go down to the river and die." She has a hard time understanding lyrics. When you think about it, though, that Boyz II Men flub kind of makes sense.

Then, of course, there is the beach scene, oft-used by boy bands such as Color Me Badd, and Shai--how'd they get dudes from Howard to stand on a rock and lip-sync? Guy's use of the seaside location on several occasions should be noted. Ah, there was a time when Guy videos were the raciest shits on tv; folks had yet to be creative enough to think of the things one could accomplish with a credit card and a more than willing ass-crack. Now, I still can't figure out why those images were so captivating to us.

Yesterday, my sister called me for advice. Eventually she started talking about how everyone, especially our parents, is getting older. My brother has a son, now, and I'm getting closer to thirty each day. And even though watching Vh1 Soul is a nice little diversion down memory lane, I still kind of wish my brother and sister were willing to do that "hopping move" they learned from the Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy." Maybe next week when I'm in Charlotte, NC, Janelle and I will humor ourselves with the "Guess Which Song I'm Mouthing Game." It's one of the myriad of games we've made up over the years. It'd be a great way to end the summer. School starts soon.

(But some days I sit and wish I was a kid again.)


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

i'd rather find nemo

All emcees have a shelf life. And as I sit here in my new, weapon of (orthopedic) change Converse and (a love, peace and) Gap hoodie sipping on iced chai (apparently you can cop the soon to be mentioned disc at Starbucks) with a Coke chaser (let's make it really real), I've come to the conclusion that Common's latest effort, Finding Forever, inspires the same feelings I had when I realized the "cheese" in Kraft's Hamburger Helper couldn't possibly be cheese if one could store that shit on a shelf for months. Unfortunately, you can't, like, add water (for chocolate) and make his new album digestible if your palate has been trained to expect something a bit more, um, delicious.

In recent years, Common has become a stereotype, a cliche, a metonym for "conscious rapper." And the artist formerly known as Sense has solidified his position as Zeus of that Mount Olympus with FF. With this effort, he's officially a soft of rock rapper, if you will. Call him MC Christopher Cross (don't get it twisted, I fucks with Christopher Cross), for FF is a sort of middle of the road effort, hardly a revolution on wax, let alone a vinyl Fountain of Youth.

Not that Common has to actually be revolutionary. That part of his act easily likens itself to Mo'Nique's fat girl schtick. And Common is about as convincing when he speaks to "The People," as Mo'Nique is believable when she claims to love all her curves. Common's disingenuousness is immediately evident when he rhymes, "My daughter found Nemo/I found the new Premo." Any hip hop lover worth her salt ('n' pepa) knows that Mr. West is a lot of things, but DJ Premier Jr. he is not. "The People"--the track on which Common spits this lyric-- sounds nothing at all like Premo. In fact, the only Premo track that sounds like a Premo track is the only Premo track on the album. Common, then, must be crossing his fingers when he repeats that line at the beginning of each verse, just as he had to have been when he "admitted" that Kanye beat him in a freestyle. Not that he'd need luck. That cat can sell lynch ropes to the Klan and go unscathed.

In fact, what FF really does is provide more evidence that Common's been just receiving a hall pass from folks for quite a while. FF lacks a believable facade of earnestness that his previous efforts (Be) have had. The album is more crafted than his goatee. Song about with mildly cryptic references to Chicago? Check. Kanye joint? Got it. Anthem for the still abstract people that also cashes in on the cultural capital of black revolution? In the bag. Love joint that reassures my black queen she don't ever have to worry about being done wrong by a buttery-ass nigga like me? A few of those. That, in tandem with rather below Common standard lyrics causes FF to evoke nothing but hip hop ennui. Minus the non-sensical commentary at the end of the song, "U Black Maybe," is probably the most compelling original track on the album. You might as well listen to "So Far to Go," on The Shining.

Admittedly, Common is better than most of the "emcees" out there. And resting on those laurels has seemingly inspired some rather unsatisfactory output from hip hop's Michael Bolton. Common is so much better than this. Though it's entirely possible to rap about the same shit ad nauseum and still sound dope as fuck (Lil Wayne), maybe new subject matter is in order. If not, Common may no longer stand for everyman, but pithily describe the caliber of his musical output.

(Something told me not to buy this album, but out of loyalty I did. I'd wavered back and forth about this decision Common can no longer be (one of) my favorite emcees. Eh. Knowing is beautiful.)


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Friday, August 17, 2007


Dear Reginald Hudlin,

I don't know how successful your new shows have been since I don't really watch them, but just in case you're still feeling generous with your airtime, I'd like to pitch a gameshow. I've tentatively titled it "Blacker Than."

Here's the deal: it's kind of like playing the dozens, but instead of talking about each other's mama, each contestant tries to outwit the other by coming up with something that's "blacker than" the other. Each round, there's a general topic, say for example, "Movie Theater Etiquette." The first contestant says something they think is really black, such as, "Bringing a two piece meal and a 40 to the theater." It's the next contestant's job to come up with something blacker. He or she might say, "Bringing your baby with you to the 9:00 show at a Magic Johnson movie theater." Then the next contestant might say something like, "Shooting somebody at the movie theater." Play would continue until one contestant remains; he/she would win a point or a prize or something. Three contestants become two, and finally one. The remaining contestant would then go to the championship round where she would have to face Jumpin' Jim, knower of all black things. (Think of ESPN's "Stump the Schwab"). In that round, Jumpin' Jim would say something really black (e.g. Bill Clinton), and the contestant would have to say something even blacker (like Marion Berry). Since this round is more difficult, the contestant will get one plessy pass card if she's stumped. If she can outblack Jumpin' Jim three times before he stumps her, she wins.

You could give away rims or something.

Tell the kids at Viacom Flavor Flav can host.

Let me know if you're interested.

Summer M.


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

my name is prince

A while ago, I was having a debate with a friend of mine about Prince and Michael Jackson. The question: if they were double billed, who would open the show? Though clouded by insobriety, I remember contending that, in such a concert of my dreams, Prince would have to open for Michael Jackson. Despite the undeniable success of both, MJJ is the King of Pop(ularity), and in that regard, Prince is, well, a prince. I must admit that when I'm "in da club," and the dj decides to have that The Gloved One vs. The Purple One spin-off, I somehow end up siding with Michael Joe, despite my desire to declare such a contest a tie, or even pointless, since they're not entirely comparable artists. I always want to retract my mental decision in the end. Perhaps it's Moonwalker, or the whole Indiana connection. (State trumps region, I guess.)

Having said that, I find Prince's descendents much more tormented (D'Angelo, Maxwell), compelling (Bilal), cooler (J*Davey), and musically interesting (all of them) than MJ's. Admittedly, followers of Billie Jean's not-lover seem more popular, and I do enjoy some of their music and antics: I adore Beyonce's "Deja Vu" because the bass line especially reminds me of the opening notes of "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" and "Off the Wall"; N.E.R.D.'s "Frontin'"--especially the portions where Pharrell lays on the falsetto-- is reminiscent of "I Can't Help It." Despite my not at all ironic love of Mr. Timberlake, I found the apparently Prince-inspired Future Sex/Love Sounds inconsistent, mundane, and just wack at times; though the latter portion of "Lovestoned/I Think That She Knows" is one of my favorite tracks, I was shitty when he didn't dance in the music video. Then again, I'm generally shitty when JT doesn't dance. And while I'm speaking of getting on the good foot, the dancing machine Chris Brown is mere pubescent eye candy.

If MJ's sons and daughters are seemingly omnipresent, then Prince's subjects are equally inaccessible. There are more rumors of new material, sporadic concerts, losing record deals, and otherwise unfulfilled or disappointing fantasies than some can handle. A cult following is almost necessarily in order. Though I missed J*Davey covering "Sex Shooter" as an encore to one of their shows, I was lucky enough to be in New York the night Bilal played. He was gracious enough to rock for more than two hours -- more than most would give you for twice the money. He even made an off the cuff comment about his second album, Love 4 Sale, being leaked on the internet. (For the record, I never solicited anyone for that album. Who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? To be sure, if the record label put out that album tomorrow, I'd buy it.) Yet as much as the internet may have been a curse for Bilal, it is often a blessing for indie artists and their fans.

I was glad, then, when Van Hunt released a digital EP last Tuesday, which contained two new songs from his upcoming album, Popular, and two acoustic versions of songs that appeared on 2006's On the Jungle Floor. My most favorite Hunt song ever is "Hold My Hand," which I've previously mused should be some sort of dyke theme song. That joint is a bit less Sly Stone and Rick James, and more Prince. And that's what I like about the first two tracks on The Popular Machine EP. I'm not exactly sure, but when I hear both "Turn My TV On" and "Lowest One of My Desires," I think of some song from Sign O' the Times or "Lady Cab Driver." (When Rick James tells you he wants to fuck you, it's pretty nasty. When Prince says it, you kinda want to let him make it.) Yet, what I also mean by "more Prince" is the evolution you can can track in the music. For me, Hunt's musical choices, his songwriting especially, keeps getting better. He, like the other, previously mentioned Prince-inspired, is on a different trajectory, another plane. Saying, "Y'all niggas keep doing that shit over there, while I fuck with this here." And what's cooler than that?

Prince was right, sexy never did leave. Thankfully, it spawned a few babies.

Of course, I could be all wrong about this.


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Monday, August 06, 2007


The scene: 7am rush hour traffic in the city of wind last Friday. Since Maegs had elected to drive us to the southside so that we could catch the bus to MDW, I missed "Morning Edtion" and was hence subjected to the musical selections and other material of the characters who make up "urban" talk morning radio shows. The following is a slightly messy paraphrase of a rant I gave after listening to these niggas talk about child support issues over some beats that sound like every other song I dislike. And, yes, I do cuss this/that much:

[And] this is what pisses me off. Think about this shit. We come from people who picked cotton and tobacco and shit in the fucking sun from dawn to dusk, who made up songs that meant something, had multiple fucking meanings. You know, shit like, "This way to freedom," or "Make a right at that tree over there," and "Massa ain't shit." But when this nigga says, "Walk it out," that's all he fucking means...It's like so much time on our hands has made us uncreative. Fuckin' freedom.

...Or something like that.

Thank God for Ga. Anne Muldrow, I guess.


language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

joint to joint

You know, an interlude can really fuck up an album. There you are, on the treadmill, thinking maybe you weren't wrong to be lightweight digging Missy's Da Real World back in '99. Then, that Lil Kim interlude comes on, and as you listen to her incoherence-- you know, "Yo, this the Queen Bee and I came to say a little something on my girl, Missy, shit...You see bitch is a strong word. And only strong bitches can use that muthafuckin' terminology bitch," (Kudos to Kim for using the word, "terminology")--a deluge of "Niggas ain't shit, and they ain't never gonna be shit"-esque thoughts flood your head. Or, maybe that's just me. Anyway, the dissonance of the bad interlude compels you to skip to the next song, or just turn off the album altogether. Missy is not alone in her interlude missteps. Recorded acts of sexual encounters sponsored by Bad Boy records have left me querying, "Who the fuck thought putting this shit on a record was a good idea?"

That said, there are some interludes that I find absolutely essential to my cd-listening experience. Though I can't stand to hear Nas do his voice imitation of a slave during the intro to It Was Written, the phrase "[Talkin' that ole] off the wall 'Back to Africa' shit," at the beginning of "Black Girl Lost," is still a personal favorite. In the meantime, I've thought of a few more interludes I do adore:

The Madd Rapper: "This my fourth album." The Madd Rapper interludes, especially from Biggie's Life After Death are still funny to me. Lately, me and my old lady been using the previous quote to express exasperation.

The Fugees: Though I still occasionally employ the "L-Boogie Only" method when listening (meaning, I will listen to a song only through Lauryn Hill's verse, and move on), I will pause for a moment and listen to a few of the interludes.

Kim and Cookie (Outkast): 'kast has given me great interludes throughout the years, but this is by far one of my favorite interludes of all time. Only "Where Are My Panties?" comes rivals it.

Wyclef: I've often contended that Wyclef's solo album, The Carnival, marked the last time he seemed that relevant to hip hop. Ten years later, I still love this album. The interludes help make the album one sustained concept, you know? I mean to describe it in the way you might think about Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? When I hear WGO, I hear one song, with about 9 different movements. The comparison ends there. The Carnival is, I guess, a score. And the interludes are pretty damn funny...



language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. language alone is meditation. ~toni morrison