Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sifl & Olly

Hey Kids!

Long before "Youtube" and "Internet Addiction"...MTV would broadcast awesome young people shows late at night.

Sifl & Olly was one of the best.

One would come home from a late night of partying with friends, spread out the Carl's Jr. on the living room floor, pop on MTV and get to watch stuff like:

THE PANDA SONG



WHATEVER



Show creater Liam Lynch went on to write for some bands and even music supervise School Of Rock...so it all worked out.

(I still think his puppet version of My United States of Whatever is better than the live one which I won't post. Homeboy had a hit on his hands so he had to put his face to it.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who's Working Harder To Derail Barack's Bid?

Who's doing more to keep Barack Obama from the White House?

His Enemies.

Bush
McCain
Conservative Punditry
Republican Strategists
Conservative Publications

-OR-

His Friends.

Reverend. Jeremiah Wright
Ludacris
Samantha Power
Wesley Clark
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Voters
Scion Of Black Entertainment Robert Johnson
Democrat Geraldine Ferraro
This Monstrosity:
The NetRoots
"Thorough" Investigative Journalism From The "Liberal Media"
The New Yorker
Michael Pfleger
The "Backbone Having" Democratic House & Senate
TV Comedies Produced By Liberals
Tony Rezko

What do you think?

Does This Help Or Hurt

Ludacris: Politics

(An Ode to Obama)

You decide.



Not sure calling Hillary a Bitch is a good idea...

But what do you think?

Wednesday Morning Annoyance

Happy Wednesday!

Here's an article from conservative columnist Andrew Klavan claiming that George W. Bush is just like Batman
.

To Wit:

...the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand.

WRONG!

(God I hate logical errors...but fine, I'll be quick in dispelling this: SPOILER ALERT)

1. Batman wasn't vilified until the VERY END of the movie... and it wasn't for his tactics. He was vilified as a ploy to take the fall for a true villain. The people of Gotham BY AND LARGE had no problem with his tactics. Many even mimicked his work as a sign that he was getting results they liked. For 99% of the movie he was universally viewed as a hero...

...Whereas Bush had a 9/11 bump...but has maintained a constantly declining approval rating for the majority of his Presidency.

2. If Bush was using savage tactics in Afghanistan against the terrorists who attacked us...(and embargoed Saudi Arabia where the terrorists were from and got money from, AND bombed training camps in Pakistan instead of giving them new jet fighters), there could be a comparison...

...Instead, Bush underfunded and undermanned the war in Afghanistan and went after Iraq instead. The more apt analogy would be if Batman, unnerved by the terror The Joker was unleashing...wrote a strongly worded letter to The Joker...and bombed The Riddler's house.

3. Even if one squints really hard... and assumes Klavan is referring to using torture to get "suspected terrorists" to cough up some usable intel....ummmm....TORTURE DOESN'T WORK...

...yet Batman was highly effective. So again, Bush fails the comparison.

4. Lastly, Batman took great pains, and even lost his edge over The Joker many times, in an effort to spare the innocent...

... Whereas Bush...well, let's just say when he bombs a country and sends people to Guantanamo Bay and tortures people...an accurate assessment of the culpability of the victims is something our government doesn't worry about.


"Conservative? I don't even vote."

So...in conclusion, we have yet a thousandth example of a conservative columnist making a claim unsupported by the facts...then just running as far as that misdirected beginning will take him.

(Like the pundits who claim that Wall-E hides a deeply conservative message.)

Maybe Klavan should just compare Bush to himself. It would be more apt.

(h/t DJ Q for the link)

---

ps - speaking of jets, when are we gonna stop arming unstable countries, then acting surprised years later when a new, fully armed and hostile government declares the United States an enemy? Can we PLEASE stop doing that?

On Snitching...Finally!

I have often thought to myself, "why has NO ONE made it clear to black people what types of snitching are acceptable and which types are unacceptable?"

Thankfully, Prodigy of Mobb Deep steps up to the plate.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Marvelous Waste Of Time

(reader AMANDA sent this in)

Are you at work?

Are you bored?

Wanna watch good looking, well dressed black people on an interactive web series?

Something...paid for by Toyota America perhaps?

IF LOOKS COULD KILL

I usually hate everything that's too high concept, but, dammit, I spent a ton of time watching these and even "playing along".

If you go you'll see what I mean.

---

ps - If anyone from Toyota is reading this and wanna pay us to do something like this in Los Angeles. The answer is hell yes.

(of course, our version will be funny and mildly stupid...and there may or may not be a evil wizard somehow worked into the plot...but still, hit us up)

This Makes Me Proud Of My Country

Sean Tevis, a Kansas architect, is running for state legislature to unseat an entrenched arch conservative and reactionary incumbent.

He's a David to his rivals Goliath. And he sucked at raising cash...so he came up with a comic strip to both explain his process and solicit funds.

He needed about $26,000 to be competitive.

Then he did the strip.

His war chest is now at over $90,000.

Read it here.

We need more innovative young Americans running for office, taking chances and being bold.

The Rick Ross Scandal

Listening to Shade 45 on Sirius Radio this weekend, I couldn't help but notice that they kept quoting the chorus of Ross' single "The Boss" as "I'm the biggest cop that you seen thus far..." And whenever they would talk about Rick Ross, the song "Deep Cover" would play ominously in the background.

Trick Daddy has gone so far as to issue a press release saying he did not put the rumors out there.

Byron Crawford has weighed in on the issue, drawing a line between Ross' current dilemma and the current CNN special "Black In America" (aka the Black Man's anti-Zoloft).

Like I heard Craig say, the line seems to be drawn between those who see rappers as needing to live the lives they rap about, and the rest of us, who realize hip hop is a form of music and entertainment.

The line "I never knew that hustlers confessed in stereo..." comes to mind (shout to Jeru).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Craig's ODB Redux

I'd like to give props to Bashir for his ODB post. Normally, I'd add-on in the comments section, but ODB means that much to me. Let me explain:

ODB, in my opinion, is one of those rare artists that if you did NOT come of age right at the EXACT same time he piqued artistically, you don't REALLY understand this man.

I started college in the Fall of 1992. In my opinion, The Fall of 1992 ushered in hip-hop's greatest run of quality music EVER. The sun was finally setting on new-jack-swing and into our lives were ushered Dr. Dre & Snoop, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Souls of Mischief, Biggie Smalls, 2Pac, The Roots, Digable Planets, Pharcyde - it was flat out UNREAL. I would go to the record store every Tuesday and walk away with something of quality that I would play for MONTHS on end. I haven't been able to make a statement like that in over a decade...

I will never forget, my best friend Anthony Ugorji presented me with Wu-Tang Clan's first cassette single "Protect Your Neck b/w Method Man". We played this tape until it jumped out of the tape deck and committed suicide. There was NOTHING like it.

We found out that Wu-Tang was going to be the OPENING act for The Alkaholics when they came to Frisco on tour, so we HAD to be there (I was a huge Liks fan too). Except for us, NOBODY in the audience knew who Wu-Tang was. They had no airplay. No music video on The Box (God I miss The Box!) Nothing.

So the whole "Clan" comes out on stage to perform and they place a chair at the end of the stage. Turns out, ODB had a broken foot and was on crutches! So they start their act and ODB is sitting down, but when it's time for his verses, he jumps up and goes BEZERK! Like a man possessed. Everyone in attendance was MESMERIZED. He stole the show. I knew right there, he was going to be HUGE. Ironically, the next night Anthony and I ran into ODB outside of a nightclub in Frisco. We had a 5 minute conversation with Russell Jones in which he made ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. Seriously. In 5 minutes of conversation, I did not understand anything he said. It was official. He was the craziest thing in hip-hop by a MILE. Onyx was just acting. This dude was the real deal. You don't believe me, watch this BoxTalk interview (again, God I miss The Box!):



A couple of months later, I waited outside of Leopold's Record Store BEFORE it opened so I could be the first on the U.C. Berkeley campus to own "The 36 Chambers". It was amazing. Period. Nothing like it had come before (and dare I say sense).

After that it was all a blur, solo albums from almost EVERYBODY in the clan. Just a Wu-Tang onslaught that seemed unyielding and impervious to wackness ("Liquid Swords, Cuban Links, Ironman). A complete aural tour-de-force.

But all good things must come to an end and Wu-Tang eventually fell-off and P-Diddy changed hip-hop as we know it (for better and for ultimately worse).

P.S. The music video for Brooklyn Zoo that Bashir posted was actually the SECOND version of the video. The Box aired this version briefly (For the third time, God I miss The Box!) but according to Wikipedia, more mainstream outlets would not so a new version was made:



P.S. #2. Also, "Brooklyn Zoo" was NOT produced by The RZA (believe it or not ODB and True Master are credited). Bashir was somewhat right though, there is NO sample listed BUT that doesn't mean it's NOT a sample. It just means that no sample expert could determine where the sample came from and no copyright owner came forward so they just went ahead and used it un-credited. At least that's what I think ;-)

P.S. #3. Almost EVERYTHING RZA did in Wu's hey-day was based on samples. It was how he chopped them up that gave Wu-Tang their unique style.

ODB's career ultimately ended in drugs, violence and erratic behavior. But at his "zenith", nobody was on his level. Nobody.

cmB

P.S. #4. If you're wondering what happened to The Box, let me answer that question. MTV bought it, killed it. Renamed it MTV2, which played the same BULLSHIT on MTV1. God forbid the audience actually determine which music was worthy of being played? Oh yeah, that would be called YOUTUBE.

Russell Jones Saved My Life

Ol' Dirty Bastard.

That name tells you everything you need to know about the man. And yet it falls short of how he came to be and came together.

I wasn't initially a fan of Wu Tang Clan for a few reasons:

1. The New York kids at college were on them way to much. New Yorkers have a way of liking something so aggressively, that they make you feel like a dumb ass if you aren't up on it.

(Side Note: If you're from the south or the midwest, remember the first time you met a bunch of New Yorkers in college? Didn't you hate their arrogant guts? Why were they so loud and so very unimpressed with everything that didn't originate in Brooklyn, Harlem, The Bronx or Manhattan...and sometimes Queens? Didn't they make you feel like a bumpkin?...we got skyscrapers too dammit!)

2. The other reason I didn't like Wu Tang was that they were too hard, too grimy, for my taste at that time. I was a huge fan of Native Tongues and 60's Jazz. Nothing about Protect Ya Neck spoke to those tastes.

But, slowly...and having all the New York kids play the shit in their dorm rooms EVERY DAY ALL DAY...I came to realize Wu Tang were great. And that Ol' Dirty Bastard was, in my eyes, the jewel in the Wu Tang crown.

While other members were desperately trying to branch out...


Congratultions, Meth...I guess this is what you wanted.

...
Russell Jones just kept it GRIMY.



And that's what I marvel at most about the man. He was one of the very few AUTHENTIC rappers. He didn't live one way and rap about living another. He was an astounding combination of ghetto outcast, wretched whore-mongering man-slut and forcefully ignorant stereotype despite being in a milieu of ever growing opportunity.

He had problems and they destroyed him...(like many great artists, see: Basquiat, Jean Michel)

Yet he has never truly received the praise one deserves for elevating and changing the game. Isn't taking something that's been done before and flipping it on its head to produce an equally spectacular result pure artistry?

I watched this about 10 times yesterday. It's a tour de force of flow, unique technique and imagery that manages to be brutal without showing one drop of blood.

Brooklyn Zoo



No one on earth had a brain that could produce musical flow the way his did. His work on this song is reminiscent of Dave Chappelle's description of Thelonious Monk...Ol' D B was "off time but perfectly on time." Who else at this time wasn't just trying to beat and/or be Biggie and/or Pac?

No one was doing what Russell Jones was doing brilliantly.

And doesn't that sort of make this guy a genius?

Were you a Wu Tang fan?

Why do New Yorkers strive to make everyone else feel like they were raised in a barn?

---

ps - Without looking at Wiki...wasn't it true that the beat on Brooklyn Zoo is actually NOT a sample? If forget, but I think RZA produced it and I think that's the genius of Wu Tang, most of their beats didn't use samples. Right?

ps2 - Brooklyn Zoo has a bizarre structure. Chorus - verse - long chorus. Not a lot of songs like that.

A Problem With Voters

This is the kind of stuff that drives me crazy.

John McCain was asked point black by George Stephanopoulos if he supported gay adoption. McCain rambled on and on...basically saying no. But not really saying it, just refusing to not say it.

Watch it here.

As Diallo frequently points out, one can learn alot by reading the comment section of blogs.

A commenter on HuffPo replies to McCain's rejection of gay adoption with:

"He's really in a bad position. He is really for gay adoption but he can't say it. He has to please his right wing base. So he keeps praising the tradinional family to skirt the issue.

The he's throwing around the "Family Values" right wing buzzword to try to cover it up and make them happy. (As if Gay people don't have or raise families and have no values. Please)

It's sad watching him betray all his ideals to try to win the election. It's sad the Republicans are making him do that."

Et Voila!

That's what passes for integrity in 2008. Lying about your position and having people on the left or right say "that's not what he really means". This happened about a thousand times when Bush ran. I kept hearing people defend "what he really meant".

So it's okay to lie, as long as supporters understand what you really mean and who you have to pretend to agree with.

The other really maddening thing is that this furthers McCain's strong media narrative that he's really a good guy who has to say certain things to get the votes of his parties least progressive members.

But he's really a good guy. Just like Bush was saying all that stuff but he's really a good guy.

How did that turn out for us by the way?

---

Has anyone ever done a study on children raised by a gay couple? I mean, what's the fear? That they'll turn out gay?

Last time I checked 100% of gay people were born to straight couples...so...if the people really wanna lower the gay ranks, maybe they should tell straight people to stop having kids. Just sayin'.

Tanya Morgan

I want to personally thank whichever regular commenter on the blog recommend I check out Tanya Morgan.

I'm feeling a LOT of their songs right now ("Stay Tuned" is ridiculous), but check them out for yourself...



Love to see cats like this come up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

John McCain Is Our Frankenstein

Frequently, when problems arise I try and look inward for an answer as to their cause.

So when our good friend (and awesome young writer) Caille asked on her blog why this Presidential race is even close...I thought long and hard about the answer.

How is it that the person who is inspiring a nation and the world...

...is in a statistical dead heat with a man who's foreign policy is shaky, domestic policy non-existent, command of economic issues troubling and stance on everything far to the right of most Americans?

Simple.

JOHN MCCAIN'S MEDIA NARRATIVE IS FANTASTIC.

For eight years...he's been reported as a Maverick outsider trying to bring change. That media narrative went unchallenged.

For eight years...he's been called the good conservative who SHOULD have been elected over Bush. Bloggers and writers citing this time and again, then failing to notice how much he was still down with the man who did him wrong during 2000.

For eight years...he's built a rapport and sense of "he's a good guy" with liberal establishments, The Daily Show, Newspapers and the public. Unchallenged in the main stream press.

For eight years...he's been called a true patriot and war hero who loves America and wants to put it back in good, respectful conservative hands.

For eight years...way before Barack was on the national radar, McCain was touted as a man with a sensible environmental leanings and who wasn't opposed to some immigration leniency...and compared to Bush, that was seen as revolutionary. And it went unchallenged by us or our papers.

For eight years...McCain paid partial lip service to Bush's failings, while completely toe-ing the line on his agenda...and no one batted an eye.

For eight years, Democrats went out of their way to have photo ops with him, cite him publicly as someone who they loved working with and supported the idea that he's "a great Republican". Even Hillary implied repeatedly during the primary that McCain was a patriot who'd made a good Commander-In-Chief. 

And for EIGHT LONG YEARS...our media never once felt the need to point out that McCain is more conservative on more issues that even Bush is. That he's not "Mr. Integrity" cuz he dumped his crippled wife for a rich young hottie, that he thinks the Supreme Court is too liberal, and that he's okay with our destructive habit of unfettered war and unchecked corporate influence. 

His media narrative has strong roots; which dug ever deeper into the soil of American journalism and conventional wisdom over the course of eight...long...years.

And we, the public, never challenged them on their assertions about McCain. Partially because he wasn't seen as a threat, and partially because we didn't know we could have a Barack Obama.

We just wanted ANYBODY BUT BUSH...well, we got him.

His name is John McCain, and there's a very good chance he'll be our next president.



"By God, they think we're different. And it only took eight years."
---

ps - i didn't feel like citing all the stuff i said. sorry for the laziness, but it's Friday. 

On Kraftwerk...

Putting things in perspective, from a leading British Journalist.

"Kraftwerk, whose name translates into English as 'power station', are nowadays regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 70's, heralding the electronic age, which would subsequently have such a major impact on dance music.

"[In fact], it wouldn't be until the early 80's that the full extent of their influence came to light, when black musicians in New York and Detroit, cited them as a major inspiration behind the Electro and Techno movements. 'Trans-Europe Express' wasn't a big track in the UK clubs, but was played on the specialist Roxy / Bowie nights of the time (the forerunner to the British Futurist scene of the early 80's). It was the type of record I'd put on early evening, because I personally liked it and it sounded so interesting, but wouldn't have fitted in peak time (it never made the UK chart). Little did we realise that this track would have such a massive bearing on the future of black music. This was down to the open-mindedness of Bronx 'master of records', Afrika Bambaataa, who'd begin to feature the track at Hip Hop block parties, where it eventually gained essential status (Bambaataa would refer to Kraftwerk as 'those funky white boys from Germany'). He would eventually use 'Trans-Europe Express', alongside a later Kraftwerk track, 1981's 'Numbers', as the template for his seminal Electro opus, 'Planet Rock', which would alter the course of dance culture, whilst helping to bring Hip Hop out of New York and into worldwide focus. As such, 'Trans-Europe Express' must be viewed, with hindsight, as one of the most significant records in the history of popular music."

("Telephone Call" was staple on Atlanta's booty-bass scene)

In many ways, black people MADE Kraftwerk. Like he said, they didn't even chart on the UK charts back in the day. I remember when far more people had heard of Chemical Brothers than Daft Punk. Now, there is no question who is the bigger act.

Again, it's when hip hop samples you, that your reputation grows by leaps and bounds.

Flashback Friday

This weekend I'm preparing to hit the "Rock The Bells" tour as it rolls through the DMV (for those who don't know, that's D.C., Maryland, and Virginia). If you look at the lineup, I'm sure you'll drool just a little. The forecast says it's going to be 90 degrees but I think the quality of the acts in the show will help dissipate the Kinshasa-esque heat (plus, I have access to the VIP tent. HA!)

With this, coming across a review for The Wackness, and scrolling down to a post on "The Message" with Nas, I was taken to a mental happy zone. I couldn't help but feel something that is ever-present in my musical life: Nostalgia for 1994.

I have to admit, though, I don't really remember Dred Scott from those days and I only bought his CD about a year ago (for a pretty penny, I might add). But still, the vibe this song creates takes me back to a simpler time and I believe it's a quintessential track for that era. Drink it in, people.



*P.S.- Adriana Evans, please come back with your mid-90s goodness!

Rick Ross vs. Lil' No Flow - You Decide!



vs.



Your thoughts in the comments section...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nas on Colbert

Colbert is consistently the funniest man on TV. And gets away with the ballsiest political jokes on any major show.

The Protected

I want to be a made man - well i guess in my case a made woman but you get my point. I want to be "protected", untouchable - no matter what i do.





ROBERT NOVAK
Hits a pedestrian, drives away from the scene of the crime. He is "cited" by the police. Article






DICK CHENEY
Accidentally pops a friend in the back (and countless other transgressions that we may NEVER find out about)







KARL ROVE
1. alleged involvement in the firing of 93 U.S. Attorneys
2. refuses to testify before a House Committee citing executive privilege
3. just plain shady










DONALD RUMSFELD
wanted for war crimes









GEORGE W. BUSH
sigh






and just so i'm not accused of engaging in yet another "us" vs. "them" diatribe, I point to a few non-whites who in the face of OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE have managed to skirt the law.








R KELLEY
engages in perverse sexual conduct with a minor and spends 0 nights in jail










KOBE BRYANT
so maybe it wasn't rape but he should have been locked away for extreme stupidity












O.J. SIMPSON
i'm not saying he was guilty but this just goes to show you what excellent legal representation can make happen.




Who knew Lady Justice was so malleable? Yeah yeah innocent until proven guilty yada yada - how about it pays to be any one of the following: rich, powerful, well-connected or just plain above the law.

*of course there are others i could have added to either list but i am beyond frustrated by the actions of the Bush Administration so screw that crew. And Novak can spout freedom of the press rhetoric all he wants but he was simply a pawn in their relentless campaign to squash all legitimate anti-war conversation.

damnation

Alpha to Omega

First Appearance:



Last Seen:



Notice any differences?

(hint: it's got nothing to do with GO GO music.)

What The Hell Is This?

(thanks for the tip, Q)

Craig...this smacks of the bay area.

I like Roger Guenveur Smith as much as the next guy, but damn.



I NEED ANSWERS!!!

Rick Ross Is A Police

HAHAHAHAHA

(Craig sent this to me)



I love the internet because someone took the time energy and patience (and had the talent) to put this together...like quick.

New Gnarls

Who's Gonna Save My Soul



Awesome?

Bizarre?

Both?

---

ps - how awesome that they used an interracial couple...and it's not even important to the story line. I wish more media would wake up to the fact that with good writing, no one gives a damn what color the characters are.

In Defense Of Tyler Perry

Since I'm not a Tyler Perry acolyte, I'd never thought I'd be doing this...but one of my favorite websites, Defamer...and LA/industry gossip blog recently referred to Tyler Perry's work as "Crossdressing Minstrelsy".

I hate that choice of words. I disagree with that choice of words.

There is an argument to be made that the words are accurate to our contemporary usage. But I think that contemporary usage is flawed and bandied about without careful consideration.

"Minstrel" is most popularly used two ways:

1. To mean a medieval traveling singer. Like this dude:



"Lute is my sh*t!"

2. Or, it's accompanied by "show"...as in Minstrel Show. In which a person or persons in black face do a high energy musical, dance and comic performance based on negative stereotypes of black people. Like our friends here:



You can admit the tune is catchy...we won't judge you.

NOWADAYS that word is used anytime a black person sings and dances with a smile on their face...or just smiles too much...or does any kind of physical comedic performance...it's just bloody inconsistent.

And since that word MINSTREL is so loaded one has to be careful with it.

I would argue, just as I did in my post about the "Cooning"...that if we're gonna use it so inaccurately in 2008, which I'm okay with, at least intention needs to play a part.

Does Tyler Perry's Medea character "use black stereotypes as a basis for a high energy performance"?

Of course she does.


I actually saw this movie. It's looooooooooong.

But:

(1) it has comic dialogue, but there's no song and dance so it's technically inaccurate to call it minstrelsy...

...and (2) MOST MINSTREL SHOWS are designed to make fun of the stupidity and laziness of black people. They're designed to elicit laughter based on perceived and exaggerated and fake shortcomings. They're designed to be funny while inflicting maximum damage. Like this guy:


"Seven Year Itch eat your heart out."

Tyler's character makes fun of a hypothetical "over-the-top" grandmother paradigm. But she is not designed to make fun of all black people in my opinion. Neither was Martin Lawrence's or Eddie Murphy's.

I am not arguing that those characters aren't troubling:

i. They are offensive to many people. Those broad brush strokes hurt.
ii. Most people, like Defamer, don't get the difference between that and other negative black imagery.
iii. They're frequently used to get cheap laughs at the expense of the truth.

What I am arguing is that they are NOT designed to tear us all down. Minstrel shows are designed to rip us to shreds.

Say what you will about Tyler Perry...but ALL his movies seek to build hope and strength and community and understanding.

In fact, my only issues with Tyler Perry are:

a. I think the execution could be strengthened with writing that takes into account more dimensions of both his stories and his characters.

b. I'm not convinced, as he is, that every good-looking garbage man/cop/plumber/mechanic is actually and automatically the best guy for a successful woman...way better than those high-earning, manicured douchebags.


"What I don't have in money, I make up for in braid length, girl."

c. I'm also not convinced that EVERY woman just needs a good man AND Jesus to make her life better.

(quick aside, wouldn't it be great if his next movie was about Jesus coming back as "a good black man" who has to "save" Nia Long both romantically and religiously...what would be the title of that flick?)

d. On a personal note, I despise "message movies".

(I swear if I have to watch one more person overcoming some damn odds, or some sports team triumphing in the face of adversity, I'm gonna jump off the Capitol Records building)

But Tyler isn't trying to tear down black people the way minstrel shows are.

Give us SOME credit...if Tyler were truly trying to tear down black people, he'd be penniless.

BUT....what do you think about Medea?

---

ps - For an excellent counter point PLEASE READ blogger, journalist and friend of ours Jasmyne Cannicks EXCELLENT entry on this topic...and her battle against a racist comic who's name I refuse to print here.

ps2 - what if Tyler secretly WAS trying to tear down black people and I'm totally off. How funny would that be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Black Google

Our own barber shops? I get it. Our own gossip sites? Sure. Even our own History Month? Absolutely.

But our own Search Engine? Apparently Google wasn't black enough for some of us, because now there's RUSHMORE DRIVE.



It describes itself as follows:

Launched in April 2008, RushmoreDrive is a first-of-its-kind search engine for the Black community. We deliver a blend of mainstream search results plus a layer of more relevant search results influenced by the Black community. RushmoreDrive is where the Black community goes to find the best search results.

At RushmoreDrive you will also find a feature-rich job networks community where members can create a professional profile, find job opportunities, and create job networks online. RushmoreDrive’s easy-to-use job networking tool will help members unlock the power in their professional connections.

RushmoreDrive News enables the Black community to find news headlines from the entire World Wide Web, including well known Black media, blogs and countless relevant online voices, as well as recognized mainstream news sources.

RushmoreDrive is the starting point and the destination for its users to find what is most relevant to the Black community.


I don't want to make it seem like I am knocking a unique black enterprise (in fact, I think they will be quite successful), but I am kinda asking....really?! Is that what we needed?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Drama Queen Battle: Wendy Williams v Omarosa

So one Over The Top Woman with a talk show interviews another Over The Top Woman who craves the spotlight in any form in which she can get it. Why it's a perfect storm, setting the stage for "Black Woman Showdown" #4589. Woo hoo! Fox will get their ratings any which way they can.

First half of the interview

Second half of the interview:




Both of these women get under my skin for different reasons.

But at the end of the day I actually have an ounce more respect for Wendy simply because I do not find her to be a hypocrite. If you subject yourself to her company via radio or as of late via tv then you know EXACTLY what the hell you are going to encounter.

In this instance I actually have to give her some props because she has been known to tear flesh from bone with her barbed tongue and the Big O should consider herself fortunate that she got off so lightly. I think Wendy is just trying to make sure her show gets picked up and doesn't want to go FULL CRAZED on anybody just yet.

As for Omarosa - I find her sickeningly fascinating. She's like a psychopath. Aggressively pursuing the almighty quest for fame and fortune with seemingly little remorse for how she really comes across: just a touch off her rocker. Or to quote Wendy "delusional and pathetic."

And yet she maintains these claims about her political and charitable work. I'm not questioning whether or not she actually does do some good in the community (somebody's community anyway) I just find it extremely difficult to reconcile the behavior I witness on tv with the behavior I would imagine it takes to be taken seriously in another setting - i.e., political and charity work.

If the person the viewers know as Omarosa is really a finely crafted character taking the world of method acting to new heights then so be it but somehow I find that extremely difficult to believe.

Angry black woman, buffoon and bitch. I hate that these were the labels exchanged between these two. I guess intelligent, witty and confident were not on the teleprompter. Sigh.

Stupidity Is A Virtue


How do you argue against this?

(keep in mind you can't use logic or reason)

Not So Great Moments In Black History

Street Performer Edition

I was rolling down Hollywood Blvd with my friend Derrick Ashong* this weekend.

The same street that displays the literally star-studded Walk of Fame boasts street performers; tons of them in fact. Most are just badly dressed as super heroes (fat Batman, fat Spiderman, eerily tall Yoda)... but some actually perform.

Many get lots of fans for their ACTUAL talents, like this guy:


"I have an actual talent"

And then there's this dude.

Just a half-naked brother on a stool holding up some snakes:


"Snakes, motherfu*ker! Snakes."

Yes, you're seeing correctly.

The people are keeping their distance...some in abject horror.

---

*Soulfege, Derrick's band just dropped their second album. Grab a copy here. It's a thumping reggae/Fela meets bass-heavy hip hop musical treat.

My fave song by the group:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Feist and the Batman

Two things happened this weekend that really opened my eyes about entertainment.

1. Saw Feist at the Hollywood Bowl last night.

Filled to the gills with people. (And 5 black dudes...me included). It was a breath-taking performance. Very rock focused though her strongest material is the melancholic and bittersweet. I'm much more a fan of her slow stuff. And she didn't even play my favorite song:

Intuition



Still and all, the draw of Feist is (1) her voice, (2) the music and (3) the actual intricacy of the lyrics, in that order. No one has a voice liker her right about now; a Joni Mitchell-esqe instrument that easily mixes raw power with whisper quiet hums and moans. She probably has more pure vocal power than Joni while being a less adept musician.

(What's in the water in Canada, BTW? I thought those people just produced hockey players and "American" comedians)

We were all there to hear that gifted voice live and she didn't disappoint.

2. Saw The Dark Night.

Loved it a ton, though Diallo and I agreed alot about the movies failings.

(not to give anything away but Gotham needs to fire its entire police department and prison administration...and if you're black in Gotham, watch your ass.)

I still wanna see it again for the same reason I saw There Will Be Blood several times while only seeing No Country For Old Men once, despite my belief that No Country was a better movie overall: Performance and cinematography.



If I can watch some balls to the wall acting and see magnificent photography, I'll watch it again and again.

(see Lars Von Trier's "Medea" if you enjoy a visual and acting feast for the senses.)

THE POINT I wanted to make is that both Leslie Feist and The Dark Night are better enjoyed with a few thousand of your closest friends. Something about mass entertainment has and is and will always be sustained. There's no certainty to anything in entertainment, except if you can do something that makes people want to travel somewhere and sit together, you'll always be successful. Television is shaking in its boots about loss of market consolidation and artists are seeing less money for stuff they put out...until they put themselves out.

These things are enjoyed alone. But they're better with friends. Like the NFL playoffs.

---

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings opened for Feist.

I knew nothing about them, except that the Dap Kings apparently had something to do with Amy Winehouse. Though their music was wildly different from Leslie's, they killed. I don't know how a person can give as high an energy performance as Sharon did and still ACTUALLY SING (unlike our current crop who dance to playback cuz they're out of breath)...

...but it just made me wonder what it must have been like to see James Brown in his prime, or even after his prime...or even WAY after his prime.



RIP, sir.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Emmy Snubs

This is why it's so hard to respect the Emmy Awards for "excellence in TV."


No Emmy nom.


No Emmy nom.

No Emmy nom.

I mean, seriously....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Feist on Sesame Street

Feist was on the season premiere of Sesame Street this week, and she did a special version of "1,2,3,4" for the kids...


Now if that doesn't cheer you up, kill yourself.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Flashback Friday

Today's flashback is brought to you by the first female rapper to ever be signed to Def Jam WEST, Boss.

I remember buying her album, Born Gangstaz, mainly because its lead single had a really sick beat (Gwen McCrae's "90% of Me Is You).

But the album itself kinda scared me. It was gangsterdom to the nth degree. Boss painted some vivid images of life in the 'hood.

Too bad her childhood in middle-class Detroit probably didn't stack up to the stories. Even worse, the Wall Street Journal killed her street cred for allegedly creating her gangsta persona out of thin air.

The WSJ story, renal failure, and other typical industry rigamarole effectively stopped her career but a few years back it seemed as though she was trying to get back in the game. For now though, we just have to enjoy the song that made her famous.

You're Trying Too Damn Hard

Hollywood types rack their brains trying to figure out how to make consistently "high view-count" ORIGINAL* content (ie shows, shorts films, etc.). If you can consistently get lots of views, you can sell ads...and make money.

So far, it hasn't really worked.

The reason is simple; outside of something pornographic, there's no way to tell if something is gonna get views on the web.

So a team of writers, with the support of a network and studio, will bust their ass and spend thousands to make a short movie or sketch...and get scant attention.

Then some dude sits around his dorm room while his friends laugh and does something like this...

...and gets over two million views.

It ain't rocket science. In fact, it ain't science at all.

Nobody knows what the hell it is...

...but LOTS of money is being spent right now trying to figure it out.

---

*not clips of stuff from tv, movies, videos or songs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What If The Shoe Were On The Other Foot?

Vintage Black Cinema Anyone?

New US postage stamps honor early black cinema


Well that's kinda cool.

Is it just me or has Obama ushered in a new awareness of Black American culture - like in a good way? I mean I know we get these 'token' gestures every now and then but they just seem to be coming a bit more frequently this year: CNN's "Black in America", CNN's "Daughters of Legacy" - alright maybe its just CNN. Regardless there is a lot of attention right now. It's like every month is Black History Month. Wouldn't Dr. Carter G. Woodson be proud?

I just hope no one does anything stupid like display how haterish we can be amongst ourselves - oh wait its too late for that. Oh well.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Eddie the Second Biggest Star in Hollywood?

Like Jay-Z said, "men lie, women lie, numbers don't."
I love The Hot Blog for this analysis...

"Eddie Murphy has made thirteen movies since 2000. Only THREE have opened to less than $15 million. SEVEN have grossed over $100 million domestic and one more was at $96 million. FOUR were outright bombs... Showtime, The Adventures of Pulto Nash, I Spy, and now, Meet Dave.

"In the same period, George Clooney has made fourteen movies... nine have opened to under $15 million... four have grossed over $100 million domestic… six were outright bombs.

"Ben Stiller has made thirteen movies… three have opened to less than $15 million… five have grossed over $100 million domestic… three were outright bombs.

"Johnny Depp has made sixteen movies… eight have opened to less than $15 million… four have grossed over $100 million domestic… five were outright bombs.

Name – titles / under $15m / over $100m / bombs
Murphy – 13 / 3 / 7 / 4
Clooney – 14 / 9 / 4 / 6
Stiller – 13 / 3 / 5 / 3
Depp – 16 / 8 / 4 / 5
Damon – 15 / 6 / 7 / 3
Pitt – 12 / 5 / 5 / 3
Hanks – 8 / 2 / 5 / 0"

Wow. Pretty telling. Only Will Smith has a better track record.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Instant Oragami

I stole these from Kanye West's Excellent (and sometimes over the top) blog. This actually made me Laugh Out Loud:

Instant Oragami:

The Frog



The Dragon



The Orca



The Octopus



Refreshingly funny.

Too Clever?




Let us know your thoughts in the comment section...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Trivia

(PLEASE NOTE: Crescent and Invisible Woman are not allowed to try and answer until Tuesday.)


Who is this?



And This?



And This?



And This?



And This?



And This?

Kinda Funny

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Trivia

Who is this?




And this?



PLEASE NOTE: Diallo is not ALLOWED to try and answer until Monday.

ANSWER: Thomas and Guy from Daft Punk.

Ok, a few of you got it...but, if you're so smart...

...then who the hell is this?



Diallo, wanna help them all out?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nas: "Goodbye, Jesse"

Escalation

The Not So Friendly Airport

We all know things have changed significantly since 9/11 and to be honest I can't say that I necessarily feel any safer however I can say that I definitely feel more annoyed by all the extra bells and whistles AND I most definitely feel a lot more paranoid.

Not paranoid because I'm worried about some sweating 'foreign' looking dude thinking only of the glory waiting for him on the other side but paranoid because of the odd markings, squiggly lines and random pattern of letters and numbers TSA writes on my damn boarding pass. Please oh please can someone tell me what that is about?!

Unfortunately I find myself flying frequently this year (extra costs have made the experience even more unpleasant) and I swear each time there is a different notation made on my paperwork. Granted I have the distinct honor of carrying (as a surname) the most common name in all of Islamic culture but so what?? I am a little black girl from a corn fed midwestern state and ain't no terrorist ish jumping off 'round here. AND I certainly don't roll into airports cussing people out and throwing things


I mean that would just be asking for trouble wouldn't it? So all I'm saying is it can't just be me receiving these unintelligible markings and I just wondered if any one had any answers. 'Preciate it.

Flashback Friday

I don't know how many times this song has played in my head since I first heard it years back.

And I'm willing to bet you've felt this way, too.

To Sagat:
Thanks for letting your internal monologue out in to the open.

The Katt Williams Conundrum

Katt Williams is a lot more conscious and conscientious than he's given credit for.

I saw him do standup in a small venue in LA about two years ago and his set killed...and was all about family and society. This is a guy who, if you watch his set, you'll realize must watch CNN religiously. News matters to him, black people's treatment really matters to him. And the theme of his sets are more often than not about self-improvement and taking control of ones life...

...and yet...

...money changes everything. So he's known more for pushing a pimp aesthetic than for his darkly comic mocking the effects of Ritalin on children, known more for weed stories than for his great dismantling Bush's reasons for going into Iraq.

Here he is talking about racism in Hollywood. A funny and harrowing story:



And here's the offending incident: (start at the 6:55 mark for the actual entrance and comment)



Honestly...Katt is a puzzle. I don't doubt for a second his private desire to see improvement, but his public persona is a mixed bag at best.

Still and all, who cares what I think...

...what do you think about Katt Williams?

---

ps - the most offensive thing about the second video is that they play Fight The Power during Flav's entrance. I know his past doesn't matter to him, and I know he has more right to the legacy of the song than I do...

...but f*ck him for that. That song meant something wonderful to me and still does. Seeing him disgrace the song was like watching someone take a massive dump on the hope you had as a teenager that you COULD actually change the world. Bastard.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Top Shelf Sketch Comedy

Mr. Show With Bob & David remains a benchmark for excellent sketch comedy. In just four seasons on HBO they changed the sketch landscape.

The writing was usually brilliant: This is one of the most clever "lo-fi" sketches they ever did

THE AUDITION



But for me...the stuff I most love are the pieces that were 100% wrong as hell; just trampling on the conventions of society.

1. Wrong beyond words:

LARRY KLIEST



2. The most famous wrong sketch:

WYCKYD SCEPTRE



3. The second most famous wrong sketch:

THE FAN



4. My pick for the wrongest of all time:

PRENATAL PAGEANT



yes. yes. yes. and yes.

...you guys got a fave?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Comedy's Fine Line/Real-Life's Divide



While I still can't believe it, MediaTakeOut has (unbelievably) brought something (of actual value) to my attention that I'd like to share. The video above was made by Loren Feldman for 1938 Media - a company owned and operated by Loren Feldman. 1938 Media recently signed a deal with Verizon wireless and a boycott of Verizon is being called for unless the deal is terminated.

All of you Verizon readers out there will have to decide for yourself whether your "network" is too important to give up for my people's dignity, but I'm switching from Sprint to AT&T (3G Iphone - FINALLY) on Friday, so I'm exempt.

Watching this video two thoughts came to my mind:

1. There's a fine-line to all "good" comedy and Mr. Feldman ain't even CLOSE.

2. To quote Ice Cube, "Here's what they think about YOU".

Ironically, I was reading the Freakanomics Blog (this should be required blog reading - econometrics provides REAL answers to many of life's important questions) on the NY Times this morning and came across their latest entry regarding the economic disadvantage of "speaking black". In a nutshell:

"blacks who 'sound black' earn salaries that are 10 percent lower than blacks who do not 'sound black,' even after controlling for measures of intelligence, experience in the work force, and other factors that influence how much people earn. (For what it is worth, whites who 'sound black' earn 6 percent lower than other whites.)"

Growing up as a black kid, I was teased time-to-time for speaking "white", but my parent's spoke "white" and so did I. Thank-god! If I spoke "black", I never would have been able to afford those 22's for the Escalade!

(not kidding)

cmB

At What Point Are Polls Pointless?

I think I found it.


"Yez Weez Can!" Paid for by LOL Catz For Obama

This morning as I did my Web article perusing, I came across the following piece.

While the insights such as how pet owners may tend to be more compassionate, trustworthy, etc. are mildly interesting, I just wonder why we need to know this. What bearing does this have on anything?

Not to mention, the sampling error was 2.3%, which is respectable. However, the article states it was larger among subgroups. So, in a sense, there's a high likelihood that, statistically speaking, the poll is pointless (at least on those levels. Any margin 5% or higher renders a poll useless.).

So again, I ask why.

If you have an idea about why I or anyone else should take into consideration Bessie The Cat Lady's opinion when I'm voting in November, please share it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hot Pharrell Sh*t

Well, technically, it's N.E.R.D., but this track is hot.


Play it loud. It sneaks up on you, but once it sticks, it'll be in your head for days.

Cinema Review: Wall-E

What's all the hub-bub-bub about re: Wall-E?

It's a cute movie. It panders to the kids less than most animated movies. And I only recognized one "celebrity" voice, which is a very nice change from the Kung Fu Pandas of the world.


But there are people claiming this movie should be nominated for Best Picture?! Look, I appreciate the visuals, and the story-telling, not to mention the challenge of telling a story with almost no dialogue (I just saw a screening of three classic silent features just a week ago - trust me, I'm a fan).

But this movie is only "cool", and even lacks the emotional resonance I got from Pixar's Finding Nemo. I liked Wall-E, it was cute, but as far as a Best Picture nod...?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Unsigned Hype

Internet is talking about this new white rapper who Akon is pushing.
A kid from PA now based out of Atlanta, he has just become the first white MC to front a Gangsta Grillz mixtape (DJ Drama and DJ Cannon).



I love Cannon to death, and the Gangsta Grillz mixtapes are my current standard bearer of excellence (Justice League is up there with them).

But I'm sorry, this kid is just annoying (IMHO). I don't know what Akon is thinking.
Also, note the Jay bashing (apparently, Jay passed on Asher).

Professor Obama

For the life of me I've always felt there was something vaguely familiar about the way Barack Obama spoke.

Watching his patriotism speech it finally occurred to me: He sounds like every college professor I ever had. Watch the below...



He sounds like he's lecturing in a "Government and Society: 101" course. The way he frames his arguments...doesn't it remind you of college?

He sets up the history and context first, then introduces his thesis, then mentions the challenges of the thesis, then proves his argument with examples and facts.

I know he switches up styles from time to time, especially when he does the shorter speeches...but when he does the long speeches, the influence of his years as an academic come shining through.

YO...we gotta convince Americans he's not that smart or it's over.

(HAH)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Black Music Review: "One Mo Gin" by Play-N-Skillz

Someone on this site is telling me this song is a hit.

I am not convinced...


Your reviews in the comments.

Movie Musings: "Love Jones" Edition

I rant and rant about bad black movies. It's like a hobby of mine.

Love Jones is one of the exceptions.


It's a phenomenal film. Excellent production values, fine acting, finer dialogue. The director, Theodore Witcher and his production team not only set out to make a good film, but one that had distinct thematic and aesthetic touches that seeped in a milieu of a bygone era; people ride trains, race through the streets on motorcycles without helmets in blue hues and type on old Smith Corona's from the 50's.

These touches add up to a collective sensibility that the film is peopled with adults, not kids (like nowadays). It's also very true to how Chicago still is, as a city 30% black, you can literally go to nice jazz clubs and poetry spots and see Buppies and Beatnicks gathered for getting down. We Chicagoans just love old Sh*t. I can't explain it.

(Me and my friends in high school listened to as much Isley Brothers as Hip hop.)

Further this flick's soundtrack dominated 1997 and part of 1998, broke a few artists, made us all go buy John Coltrane records and was our first taste of Lauryn Hill's power as a soloist:

To Wit:



...(a power later solidified by her rendition of "Killing Me Softly" AKA "How To Make Your Bandmates Expendable With One Song")

So the movie was dope.

(Whatever happened to Mr. Witcher? Anyone know? He hasn't done any movies I've heard about...I guess no good deed goes unpunished.)

Black women tend to love this movie and having watched it recently I understand why...

...okay, wait a second...

...um. I'm about to disparage part of this film, so let me say this loud and clear again.

Love Jones is a great film and we need more like it. Period.

However,

THE MEN IN THIS MOVIE ARE THE SOFTEST CATS EVER!!!

O M G. I have never seen such a collection of sensitive thugs who need hugs. Let me break it down for those who haven't seen it.

1. Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate)

Our main character is the king of the sensitive boys. He mopes, he whines and he holds it in. About eight times in the film someone gets in his face who for whom he should turn into O-Dog and whup ass...but no, he turns the other cheek...then complains behind their back. Nice. Nia Long treats him basically like crap for most of the movie, she goes back and sleeps with her ex, she then almost sleeps with his friend and she makes him sleep on the couch AFTER they've had sex 50 times in order not to "ruin a good night" (W T F?!?, and since she claimed the sex was so amazing, how does having it RUIN a good night? 'Splain?). Anway, how does he respond to being treated like a simp...He just want to play her a song. She steps on his nuts...his rebuttle, "let's slow dance."


I hate everything you stand for.

2. Savon Garrison (Isaiah Washington)

Darius' best friend who insists that women are better than men and that God is a woman and that women rock and that...you get the picture (guys, he's THAT dude, and you know what I mean). Long before he used his jaw-clenching acting powers for destroying easy jobs on hit shows, Mr. Washington played a man whose wife leaves him for no apparent reason despite is vago-worship (he was bad with money? It's not clear). As she's going he doesn't put up a fight and instantly starts dating someone else...then...she comes back...and...he lets her right back in. No worries, baby. Let's keep this train of soft rolling on through the station. What's worse, despite his own doggy ways, he gets mad at one of his boys for being a dog and expresses it with...wait for it...a stern look. He's the stern look king.


Women are the best thing since women.

3. Hollywood (Bill Bellamy)

He's the bad guy, only it's not clear why. He tries to take Darius' girl, then is all rude and mean to him friend after the act...except, Darius was never rude and mean to him so I still have no idea for his motivation. Also, he gets up in his boys face a few times...to exchange some lightly coded quips about sex, but that's it. He gets in fighting distance...for no reason at all.


I'm. Just. Confused.

4. Eddie Coles (Leonard Roberts)

I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be the gay character, but the producers got scared at the last minute. He's basically pointless in the film. Oh, wait, he wears his hat backwards alot, which makes him tough or stupid, not sure. He's the only one you don't see with a chick and he's constantly encouraging the other men express their emotions. If I had a friend that was constantly doing that we'd kick him in the kidney.


I am trying...wayyyyy too hard.

AND YET...The worst offense of this portrayal is how the men behave when they're alone. They talk about poetry, express their true feelings about life and have honest communication about their relationships.

Really...cuz that's not been my experience. Usually when men are alone they:

- Talk about sports ("I made to the practice squad for the Vikings, but politics kept me off the roster")

- Brag about stuff that may or may not have happened ("Halle walked past and let me touch her booty, it was amazing")

- And try to one up each other with fu*ked up hypotheticals. ("Okay, say you were in prison and you had to choose between getting raped by 10 guys at one time, or getting raped by the same guy 10 nights in a row...which would you choose?")

Childish? You betcha...but damn accurate. And far more true than the lives of the soft brigade in Love Jones.

Ladies....DEFEND YA FLICK!!!

---

ps - If you wanna see a movie about how men REALLY act when they're together, try this one on for size: