Sunday, August 31, 2008

This Election is OVER

Okay. I know it's not over until it's over, but it's over folks.

This pick is a disaster for McCain in every way possible. Don't let the breathless stories of "fired up evangelicals" or "die hard Hillary Clinton supporters" fool you. They weren't voting for Obama anyway. This 44-year-old, gun-toting, moose-burger-eating mother-of-five is an appalling pick by John McCain because it CLEARLY demonstrates his lack of judgment (and by default hers).

1. He had met her ONE time.
2. She is under investigation for trying to get her ex-brother in law fired and when his supervisor refused to honor her request, she FIRED the supervisor. Then she LIED about it to investigators. Then CHANGED her story when confronted with proof of her actions. My goodness - Who VETTED this woman? The investigation is CURRENTLY happening.
3. He undercuts his most EFFECTIVE argument against Obama - EXPERIENCE.
4. She re-emphasizes his 72 years of age (which is NOT a good thing for him).
5. She CLEARLY demonstrated a lack of sound judgment when she did NOT turn McCain's offer down.

This pick is not "maverick" it's "maniacal".

To watch "thoughtful" conservative pundits (that I politely disagree with but had respected) stay on "party message" and try and justify this pick, you've shown your true cards (shot-out to D.Brooks and B.Kristol in particular) and should be EMBARRASSED!

My prediction: Sarah Palin will not be on the ballot come November. She will resign from the campaign "on her own" and be replaced. It's happened before and it will happen in 2008.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Ha-Ha: The Onion

First of all, they call their coverage of the Presidential Race "WAR FOR THE WHITE HOUSE."

And then they only get funnier from there...

And here's one addressing the peculiar nature of Domino's Pizza.

Few in the comedy game do this type of humor any better...!

Friday, August 29, 2008

38 Million

Damn! From the news wire:

"NEW YORK (AP) - Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by more than 38 million people.

"Nielsen Media Research said more people watched Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final "American Idol" or the Academy Awards this year. Obama talked before a live audience of 80,000 people in Denver.

"Obama's audience might be higher, since Nielsen didn't have an estimate for how many people watched Obama on PBS or C-SPAN Thursday night."

And guess what. I and many others WERE watching it on C-SPAN.

The Sequel: Blue-Eyed Soul & The Inadverdant Death of "Black" Music

Well folks. I'd like to tell you I'm surprised, but I'm not. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Robin Thicke where he complains about not getting a cover on Vibe:

"Robin Thicke: When I did a recent interview with Vibe magazine I asked, "Why can't I get the cover? This is a magazine I love. If there's one magazine that I'd want to be on the cover of, it's Vibe." Their response was they don't have white artists on the cover; that the only white artist they've had on the cover was Eminem. I guess if that's what it is, it is what it is. And I respect that because I live in a house with a black woman.

I won't use the word "racism." I will say it's a tough -- but rewarding -- fight. I look at Mary J. Blige, somebody who has had only a few pop hits and yet has changed culture, generated new sounds and inspired leagues of artists. She's now a worldwide phenomenon. And it's because of what she stood for; she never gave up. She kept making great music, pouring her heart out to people.

You can't always expect people to be as color-blind or open-minded as you want. What you can do is keep giving your heart and soul, like Bob Marley did. His music became so overwhelmingly loving; it was a relentless love in a sense. Keep beating them down with love and they can't stop you.

Dear Robin:

You are not a crusader for civil rights. Stop it. Please do not confuse "preservation" with "discrimination". Please recognize ALL of the advantages that your skin color has afforded your career and ADMIT that they have outweighed the disadvantages. Please do not use your black wife as a race card to demonstrate your "connection" with the black community. Please admit that most acts don't sell 50k on their debut album and get a second chance on a major label. Please admit that (thanks in part to Jimmy Iovine's checkbook) you've opened for India.Arie, Keyshia Cole, Mary J. Blige and HOST of other black acts that gave you a CHANCE to be heard and as a result their fans became your fans. Please realize that you've played the MAINSTAGE at Essence Music Festival, something Anthony Hamilton, Rahsaan Patterson, Dwele & Bilal have NEVER done. Robin, you didn't make the cover of Vibe. Sorry. Many BLACK acts have never made the cover of Vibe too. They might be even more disappointed than you though, because Vibe is one of the FEW publications out there that champions black music and they KNOW that they won't have the opportunity to appear in some of the "mainstream" magazines in which you've been prominently featured. Besides, you're already on the cover of the "other" publication that champions black music...

Robin. Shut-up!



BREAKING: Republicans Nominate Tina Fey...!

"Bitch is the new black..."
And here's a report by the local Alaska news on her scandal.

I Am A Minority

I have this problem where, whenever the majority of people think one way about something, my gut always pushes me in the opposite direction. Contrarian? Misanthrope? Probably.

Still, maybe I'm the only one, but I think this McCain congratulation REEKS of sarcasm.



"Hip hop hooray!...and you tied your speech to MLK's in DC by having it on the same exact day. How fu*king original!"

Am I the only one?

also, McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate.

Is it...

(a) it's a cynical move that paints American women as idiots. A naked grab for disaffected Hillary supporters to migrate to another conservative who doesn't even share the values of Hillary supporters. Really, it doesn't get any lower than this. Plus Palin is under state investigation for corruption. Bad move, Mr. McCain.


(b) a brilliant move to ally with another Republican who's been (mis)labeled a "maverick". A woman who provides him with a similar "fresh perspective" shot in the arm that Obama provides the dems all the while actually breaking that HIGHEST of glass ceilings as opposed to putting "18 million" cracks in it. Good move, Mr. McCain

Your thoughts?

When she ran for Miss America...she looked very "1980's sitcom friend next door". Right?


...there was an episode of the Simpsons where Lisa is about to change the doll game by introducing a smart, witty, independent doll to compete with the MALIBU STACY that is destroying and warping the self-esteem of little girls...

...So Lisa comes out with this doll called LISA LIONHEART. It's formidable and destined to change the doll game AND contribute to more powerful young women.

Worried and shaken, the makers of Malibu Stacy giving Stacy a hat.

And they win.

Sarah Palin is the same old Republican platform to fail with hat!

Flashback Friday: Birthday Edition, Pt. 2

I live in DC and like many people here, I'm a transplant. When I first got to town, I had to quickly learn about the local culture.

I'm from Michigan and there, we listen to house/danceable electronic music. I love it.

DC is all about go-go. Outside of a brief go-go based hip-hop song period in the late '80s and early '90s, most of the country knows nothing about the go-go FONK, as my dentist has called it, unless they went to Howard or remember School Daze.

But once you get to the District, you're bomarded with that sound and you realize the reason why DC is the only major city that really hasn't had a significant hip-hop act come out of it.* Everyone's in a go-go band.

And while there are numerous go-go bands, there's only one go-go artist that truly matters. He is Chuck Brown.

Wind me up, Chuck!

Local folks, 'Bamas and otherwise, love them some Chuck. I saw him when he was an opening act for The Roots. When Chuck hit the stage, the place got electric. When it was time for The Roots, a lot of people had already hit the exit. That's how revered Chuck and go-go are in the Nation's Capital.

This said, I'm not the biggest fan of the music; it moves a little too slow for me. But I have to give The Godfather of Go-Go his props. After all, he's responsible for one of the most recognizable breaks in hip-hop (Hint: "Fish, which is my favorite dish")**.

Mr. Brown is celebrating his 74th birthday this weekend and he's still going strong. Thanks for some great music, Chuck. Now tell us what you feel like...

*= This isn't to say there isn't hip-hop in the District. Kev Brown and his Low Budget crew are some of my favorite artists, not to mention a bunch of others. Problem is, they get more play in Japan than they do in DC. While I'm thinking of it, please check Wale. He did a verse on The Roots' "Rising Up" and put out a really good Seinfeld-based mixtape.

**=UMC's also used a piece of it for "One To Grow On".

Flashback Friday: Birthday Edition

Three of the 1980s biggest stars have hit the big 5-0 lately. Prince, Madonna, and today, Michael Jackson.

I'm not going to recap everything that's gone wrong for him in the past 20 years. You all know that already.

Just enjoy.

Happy Birthday, Mike.

DAMMIT. WHY, Michael??? WHY???

Get Your "Dream" On

I really think I've heard and read the word "historic" too much over the past few days but I'm going to use it anyway.

I'm willing to guess most of the folks reading this saw Senator Obama's acceptence speech tonight and understand it's historic nature. And to ramp up the historic angle, it fell on the 45th anniversary of the "I Have A Dream" speech and the day after the 45th anniversary of WEB DuBois' death.

Definitely major.

But it's also Labor Day weekend, the great capper to summer. So, accordingly, it's time to PAR-TAY.

Fritz Hahn at the WaPo's City Guide captured my sentiments.

Nothing rubs me the wrong way more than seeing Dr. King's words or image exploited. Whether it's the Right's attempt to co-opt his rhetoric to promote the "color blind" concept or even King's own family offering up film to the highest bidder for commercial placement, I think there's a danger of diluting his moral authority through gratuitous use of his likeness (if those FBI files hadn't done that already).

Plus, it's Love. Maybe if it were back in the days of Dream, but this club has run its course. King would never pop bottles in their VIP.

But seriously, am I overly sensitive?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack's Speech: Open Thread

Feel free to post comments.

Three Unavoidable Spokespeople

I'm watching more TV these days (I blame the Democratic Convention and TiVo's convenience).

But there are three people I don't need to see anymore.



...(until now - here's the song she's talking about)


Lord, I know you don't like me to use the word "hate," but "really dislike" doesn't begin to describe the way I feel.

The Best DNC Speech That You Didn't Hear...

I have been "guilty" of watching MSNBC and CNN (Did anyone else see The Message Blog's own "Crescent" looking bored on the convention floor in HD? LOL!) incessantly over the past couple of days. Upside, lots of opinions and interviews with leading political and thought leaders. Downside, too many talking heads and they rarely show any of the speeches actually happening on the floor.

So when John Kerry spoke yesterday, I flipped over to "old-reliable" PBS to see him give a pretty darn good speech and I think he was the PERFECT one to give it. I hope you agree...

Yes, No, Maybe So?

New Common

Announcement feat. Pharrell


Why I "Ain't" Worried At ALL...

Watching the "microcosm" that is the DNC convention, a simple mathematical observation just "re-occurred" to me that I have believed (and continue to believe) to be true from the beginning.

When Kerry ran for President in 2004, An estimated 13.6 million black voters participated, making it the highest turnout of black voters EVER. Specifically, the black voter turnout increased by more than 3 million voters, or 25 PERCENT, since the 2000 (Gore) election.

Although my rational side said, "fear not!", my paranoid "conspiracy-brother" side was on FULL-ALERT these last 48 hours. But now it's official. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. So can the media please turn the narrative to this?

"John McCain has a black problem."

Why is that you ask? Real simple actually.

You'd have to be a FOOL to believe the African-American vote WILL NOT TOP 2004's number. As of 2004, there are 36,000,000 African-American's in this country. Taking into account children, there is still enough African-American voters to significantly improve upon 2004's number.

Here are some essential battleground states that have significant African-American populations that Obama can EASILY activate: Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia.

So while I agree with Diallo that the map can be re-drawn, let's not forget the that there are "sleeper" votes out there. And for a LOT of African-Americans, this election just became REAL, today. An African-American is on the ballot for President of the United States. We only have to VOTE to get him there...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Barack's Path to 270

Now he's the nominee. Now what?

Been waiting to post about this for a while, but I crunched the numbers and by my estimate, NATIONAL NUMBERS BE DAMNED. It's a state by state contest for electoral votes.

Most states are not swing states. We already know who will win most of them.

In my (Diallo) opinion, Barack can lose ALL the traditional swing states so long as he wins 4 states:

1. Virginia (this is the big one)
2. Colorado (second most important)
3. New Mexico
4. Nevada

Throw in the other states already leaning heavily his way (Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota) and he is at the magical number of 270.

That means he can lose everything else - Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Arizona and the entire South! And still win.

That's not to say he WILL lose those other states. It's just to say he can afford to. If he wins the four above.

So if I were Obama, I would pour ALL my assets into those four states, while not neglecting my leaning states. Just my call.

Build your own electoral map here. It's fun.

All Hail The Coulton

Jonathan Coulton is the man.

Diallo and I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with him at last years HBO comedy festival in Aspen. He introduced himself to the audience as someone who quit his day job to pursue his music.

Having not heard anything about him prior to seeing him perform, we were amazed at how easily he connected with the crowd with his melodic song writing which covered the most modern aspects of modern life...namely man's connection with computers and new media.

He performed his internet hit acoustic version of Sir Mix-a-lot's Baby Got Back. Just killed it. Even though we've seen this "rap performed in a different genre thing" done many times (like the aptly named Dynamite Hack's cover of NWa's "Boyz n the hood".)...his take was refreshing and hilarious.

It helps that he's a great songwriter. Further, we hung with him some backstage and he was very chill.

Still the most interesting thing about Coulton is what I discovered about him AFTER we had met.

1. He did an awesome song based on random images from Flickr. A genius composition that he somehow makes work based on totally disconnected images.


2. His most profound hit, Code Monkey, was based on his life as a programmer. He hated his day job and wrote a song about it.

The song was so popular fans made their own videos of it. One of the most popular is below.

Code Monkey

3. I'm an avid gamer. One of the greatest games I've played in the past two years is "Portal" by the good people at Valve corporation.
The game is about as clever as they come. You have to create portals and use momentum to solve tricky movement puzzles. Sounds actually amazing.
A display of the the basic physics of the game PORTAL, momentum down is translated into forward hang-time. Just damn Brilliant.

The best part of the game is the very end...where you hear this amazing song that contextualizes all the secrets the game held. The song, Still Alive, plays as the closing credits roll. (the actual end of game credits, which are brilliantly presented as a screen of a mid-80's computer display, are below)

Still Alive

I loved the song, and got online immediately to see who wrote it.

Jonathan Coulton.

The game manufacturers were aware of his work and sought him out. They just wanted to work with him on something.

The moral of the story...sometimes it's good to quit your day job and just go for it. Especially if you have talent.


ps - wasn't gonna post it but, what the hell.

Baby Got Back

ps2 - Unfortunately, Jonathan went to Yale, but we won't hold that against him.

Sass Mouth



A little of both?


Did That Do It?

What do you think? Did Hillary accomplish what Obama needed her to?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

His Royal Rudeness

The Rude Pundit is one of my favorite blogs.

I started reading him around the 2003 run up to war. Being that I have a low tolerance for bullshit, his on-the-nose analysis was part of a diet of writers on which I fed to stay sane. (along with Paul Krugman, The Onion, Eric Alterman and Bob Herbert)

In his hyper-reason based political posts, he says things that most blogs won't and shouldn't. He is crass, his analogies are near pornographic and he uses offensive language like it was a class he aced in college.

Also, he's an excellent writer.

To Wit:

But let's be clear here: the purpose of [Michelle Obama's] speech was to say, "Don't fear the black people." And it was directed at Idiot America, that demographic comprised of rednecks, racists, and/or retards who still think that blacks want to rape their white women while shooting them or stabbing them or beating them to death with a comically large bone, all the while receiving welfare checks and getting hired ahead of them.

Everything Obama said was calculated to announce, "No, no, really, we're just like you." Which is, of course, true, and it's a pathetic statement on just how driven into racial backwardness we've been that it needed to be said at all...

However, by bleaching their story, Michelle Obama was forced to leave out those intrinsic things that form her and her husband's identity. Yes, she did occasionally drop a racial code word or phrase ("south side of Chicago"). But one of the triumphs of the Obamas is in overcoming the very racism, the very idiocy, that she led her to make this address. To erase that part of the story is as conspicuous as painting over the Mona Lisa's eyes. Sure, everyone talks about the smile, but it wouldn't mean as much without her eyes. Obama placed their story in a larger context of the nation, but consciously took it out of its other contexts.

Still, that's okay. Because the speech wasn't for the Rude Pundit. Or most of you. It was for Idiot America. And Idiot America needed to see that Michelle Obama and the whole Obama family were non-threatening.


Oh No.

Was at the Radiohead concert last night.

Had a disturbing thought.

Are Radiohead just a bunch of hipsters?

No way in hell. Right? (Right?!?)


An Open Letter To Hillary Clinton Supporters:

Dear RABID supporters of Hillary Clinton,

You're voting McCain? Really?

That's what you came up with?

You lost fair and square. No one cheated. The rules weren't changed.

Barack hasn't slung the mud on Hillary that she slung on him. He never questioned her patriotism, elevated someone who doesn't share your values, or suggest she would be murdered in June. Yes he called her judgment into question for supporting Bush in Iraq. Over 70% of the country thinks that war is a mistake. So...I'm failing to see how he's wrong about that.

And yet...since you lost, you want us ALL to lose with you.

Even though Barack and Hillary admit they share 90% of the same domestic and foreign policy platform. At this late date, you think McCain is better than Barack for your future? For the future of your daughters and sons?

You might wanna think this through a little more. Just sayin'. Forest, trees, etc.

kind regards,


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Tragedy Of Jodeci

What ever happened to Jodeci?

I was listening to a local station play an "all Jodeci morning" one Sunday and was shocked at how many BANGERS this group put out. Literally, every song for like an hour was a bona-fide hit.

What's the Jodeci True Hollywood story? And...if the lives of K-Ci, JoJo, Devante and Mr. Dalvin were made into a reality show would you watch it alot or all the time?

At any rate, I hope (please) that our resident urban-soul/R&B musical historian Craig will write a LONG post about Jodeci...

In the interim, here's recent video of JoJo passing out during a performance. It's tragic...and mildly funny.

But mostly tragic. (1:50 mark)

(thanks for the tip, Nef.)

Ten Years Ago

Hard to believe it was ten years ago this album came out.

Harder to believe how much has changed since then.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Louis Armstrong and Betty Boop

They were contemporaries, and her creator (Max Fleisher) and Louis apparently got along. So much so, that they did a cartoon together.

Believe it or not, I don't think the overtly racist humor in this cartoon was viewed as such at the time. I have heard from people our grandparents and great grandparents age that black people of that period actually enjoyed almost ANY depiction of black people (so long as the blacks weren't truly evil bad guy types - i.e., Birth of a Nation).

Still, it makes me realize why shows like I Love New York and House of Payne are popular today. Most black people are like any other group. They'd prefer to see themselves represented in any fashion rather than not at all.

Again, I say "most black people." I would prefer to watch reruns of Cheers (which never had any blacks) than something that I feel is coon-ish.

So 80 years from now, how will blacks look back on NewYork, Flavor Flav, or even Lil Wayne? Maybe how we look back on Step N Fetchit. Don't rule it out. Because Amos N Andy was popular in black households.

And Louis Armstrong did cartoons with friends...

Orson Welles' Wine Commercials

In his later years, the great director Orson Welles started doing ads for Carlberg Lager and Paul Masson Wine.

They were unintentionally hilarious. Like this one...

And this one...

Drinking all that booze, unfortunately, takes its toll...

Derrick Ashong

Has a video up at today. He's blowing up...

Flashback Friday

The past several days on The Message blog have seemed like a constantly updated obituary page for black entertainers and athletes.

Too bad the death theme hasn't quite run its course.

Back in the mid-90s, LA hip-hop was defined, for better or for worse, by the Dr. Dre sound. However, there were other folks--The Pharcyde and Freestyle Fellowship to just name two, who weren't cut exactly from that mold.

Enter The Nonce. They had two tracks I would bump in my Walkman, "Bus Stops" and this one...

Unfortunately, group member Yusef Afloat died in 2000 but at least he and Nouka Base made an indentation in the game.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rest Well, Mr. Upshaw

Gene Upshaw was the HEAD of the NFL players union, the NFLPA.

If you followed the Michael Vick drama, the Pacman Jones drama or any of the other dramas in football over the past few years Mr. Upshaw was smack dab in the middle of it.

All your favorite NFL players currently still wearing a uniform have Mr. Upshaw to thank for their retirement/end of career injury packages which, in a league that doesn't offer guaranteed contracts, have become substantial.

He was also one of THE most powerful African Americans in all of sport.

He was 63.

A Tax On People Bad At Math

(a rant)

"About one out of every three people in the United States think that winning the lottery is the only way to become financially secure in their life."
- some website


Every day millions of us Americans go to convenience stores for simple items. A cup of coffee, toiletries, to pay for gas, get blunts or zig zags to get through a hateful job, buy some diapers so our baby mommas will stop harassing us....etc.

These are things we wanna just get in, grab and be on our way in our lives.

But we can't get in and get out. Why?

Because of you goddamn people clogging up the works and playing the lottery!

It's the same every time, you're late for work or, even worse, you left ten minutes early so you could stop and grab a muffin and still get in with enough time for you boss to dress you down before you start your day, you double park, get yelled at in Thai by the elderly woman you almost hit, rush in, grab your food, head to the line and....

Lottery Player: "Ummmm....hummm...what DO I want today....okay, don't rush me now. Lemme get a quick six, two 'bingo madness' a couple of them 'cherry dollars', and then gimme the change on 'bad at math's'."

Us: Aargh!!!

Mark Of The Beast.

They're always there. They aren't investing in their future They don't believe in sound planning.

I hate the lottery and everything about it. Not only does the money NOT got to the schools, which is how it was sold in the first place, but the odds of winning a substantial amount of loot is less than the odds of DATING A SUPERMODEL...and yet, if you went up to any of these schlubs and said:

You: Hey, Lartrell, I think you should try dating a super model?

Lottery Lartrell: Man, you crazy. And you slowin' me down. (To Cashier) Lemme get a 'lucky duck', a 'funny money' and three of them 'failed statistics class'.

You know who I'm talking about: Usually someone not familiar with the gym, leaning against the counter arms folded beneath their torso, faded gray "Lakers World Champions" t-shirt featuring Kurt Rambis, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Magic Johnson, ashy heels smothering the backs of their Ice Cube from Boys In The Hood corduroy slip ons, sweat pants snug against the cellulite with the tattered "elastic" waist barely sparing us a sight to take to our graves...and a blue tooth in the ear. know.

But they keep on playing every day while you just wanna buy your stuff and get out of there. And they never win, and they keep playing. They spend probably a thousand dollars a year on lottery tickets. Extrapolate that over five years to 5k and you got yourself enough to take part in a low yield mutual fund or even by some bonds...but no, they want the lottery. All or nothing. And mostly nothing.

There's a guy I see every day in my 7-11 where I buy my morning coffee. He's slow moving, decrepit and odorous. And every morning me, six Mexican dudes wearing paint splattered white coveralls, two over-worked teachers and this one really angry middle aged white corporate guy constantly huffing and puffing... have to wait for him to finish his long slow road to ruin so we can go back out and pay taxes.

Oh he's also super friendly, which somehow makes it more enraging.

Odor Jones: "Hey hey! Another day, huh? Morning chief, off to work, huh?"

Me: (grumble that sounds vaguely like "where yo ass need to be.")

Rest of Line: Stab him so we can get out of here!

But then, If I don't go in the morning but in the afternoon, there's even more of this human cholesterol. It's even worse when I'm back home in Chicago. They're everywhere. Lottery Locusts: Those who don't believe in savings accounts.

Look, I get it that life is hard. And short. And the lottery seems like such a great way to ease the pain of modern life...though it probably won't work for you even if you win.

And I know you wake up every day, hoping to play as a way to finally, have something to show for your time on this planet.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

RIP - Sho'Nuff

Everyone's dying. This might be saddest of all.

Actor Julius Carry III has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 56.

Rest In Peace, Brother Leroi

Leroi Moore played sax in the Dave Matthews Band.

Continuing the time honored black male tradition of dying WAY younger than they should...he passed yesterday due to complications from an accident.

I always loved the band. Loved their collective back story. But more than anything, loved the music.

I originally got into DMB during the fall of 1994 after seeing them perform live on SNL. I had heard "Ants Marching" on the radio and liked it, but when I saw them and saw that the band was 60% black, I was all in. This amazingly rich southern jam bandy bluesy folk funk was done by a group of disparate troubadors. Love that kind of thing.

I was lucky to have been a college fan RIGHT at the moment they owned college radio. Trading bootlegs and concert vids with friends, wishing I had money to go to Charlottesville, was great. Many bands that "mix media" end up with cacaphony or with a member who does't belong...but DMB made sax work with violin work with acoustic geetar work with drums work with electric bass. And my life was richer for it.

For a sample of his talents, Leroi's honking on the song "Drive In Drive Out" was the kind of blustery, shaking funk meets bluegrass that made him an integral part of one of my favorite bands.

Rest well, sir.


I try not to let events of the world trouble me. But our new missile defense deals in Europe are worrisome.

Imagine if Russia signed a deal to put missiles in Canada, Greenland, Mexico, Jamaica and Cuba...Which would intercept our nukes making them useless.

What would we do? Would we let that happen?

I know Condi is a Russia specialist and all. And she's been a useless Secretary Of State in the age of terrorism. But we're trying to make Russian nuclear weapons impotent and:

(a) missile defense still doesn't work.

(b) the biggest nuclear threats are a Nuclear Iran and "loose" nukes from the cold war.

So why are we harassing Russia again? How can this possibly end well with a character like Vladimir Putin at the helm?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who's In The Hell Is Paying For This?

The music industry is a mess.

As much as I've always felt like music was crucial to my life, it's never been an industry I've wanted anything to do with. Just seems too damned shady, no guilds, no protections, people getting dangled from windows; there's not a lot of gunplay at the SAG awards after parties and we like it like that.

At any rate, there was a time music videos dominated the landscape as crucial sales tools. But that's over right? In a time when labels want a cut of EVERYTHING to make ends meet and are downsizing and cleaning house, I thought the era of the expensive music video was over.

I mean, I personally know people in the music biz running for their lives, trying to make heads or tails of the future. SO...more than anything, I know that overhead has to be LOW nowadays, unless you get lucky and have some product tie-in, "iPod Presents" or something like that.

For example, since I've done a lot of production, I can tell you the video for "Buy You A Drank" is cheap as hell. One location...a few models...a few cameos.

On his blog Kanye posted the video for "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream" by My Morning Jacket and I was like, "that shit does NOT look cheap at all."

And speaking of Kanye, his video for "The Good Life" looks simple, but animation costs a TON.

So who in the hell is paying for these videos?

Artist out of pocket?

Blue-Eyed Soul & The Inadverdant Death of "Black" Music

"As long as I keep my nose clean, nobody will ever notice the fact that I'm not black!" Robin Thicke

So, I've been going back and forth on weather I should write this blog item for the longest time. But last Thursday a friend of mine invited me to a Robin Thicke concert at the House of Blues and upon leaving, I decided that the time is right...

You see, I have nothing against Robin Thicke. In fact, when Robin was a struggling musician gigging all around Los Angeles singing really interesting and musically complex songs, I was usually in attendance. I felt like he was my personal secret even though I gladly evangelized him to my friends with similar musical tastes.

But I wasn't stupid either. Robin was managed by Overbrook (Will Smith's company), signed by Andre Harrell (formerly of Uptown records) and appeared in magazines, such as "Flaunt", that had never DARED placing an article about a BLACK soul musician (particularly whose subsequent debut album would go on to sell an astonishingly poor 50,000 units). The thing was (and still is), his debut album was VERY good. That's all I cared about, the MUSIC.

Therein lies the rub.

A former colleague once asked me, "Do you know what white people like?", a question to which I did not have a ready answer. His answer, "White People!" Broad statement for sure, but with it, let's take a hard look at this particular "blue-eyed soul" phenomenon.

"No matter how many times I fuck-up, I will always have a record deal! Questlove loves me too!" Amy Winehouse

Robin Thicke - Platinum
Joss Stone - Platinum
Amy Winehouse - Platinum
Duffy - (The record company is working REALLY HARD to make her) Platinum

Here's the thing. I think all the musicians listed above ARE talented. BUT I don't think they're the MOST talented when compared MUSICALLY to their peers irrespective of color. That's the thing. Can anyone tell me why a white person singing "black" music is "Pop" for ANY other reason than skin color? And why is it that the black community TIME AND TIME again supports these white acts (Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, Wham, etc.) based upon the QUALITY of their music only to see their black counterparts languish in relative obscurity?

Let's be really real. Are black acts even ALLOWED to make "black" music anymore? Joss Stone is discovered and goes into the studio with Betty Wright, Raphael Saadiq and Questlove. Ciara is discovered and goes into the studio with Lil' John and Jazze Pha...WTF? Seriously, am I the only one that notices that Beyonce can ACTUALLY sing when given real opportunities to do so? (see - Dreamgirls and her Academy Awards singing performances)

"I don't fuck for tracks. Raphael was well compensated by my label. Besides, Obama says I'm one of his favorite artists!" Joss Stone

On Thursday night, Robin Thicke had a 7 person all black band (with the exception of his guitar player). The concert was just "all right". The Robin on stage had nothing on the Robin five years ago playing in front of 300 people. And this Robin (sorry Robin) had NOTHING on the "live" falsetto stylings of Maxwell and/or D'angelo. As I remarked to my friend, "It is Maxwell's/D'angelo's extended absence that allowed Robin Thicke to become Platinum in the first place".

That's when I really got scared. Folks, if you've seen Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Robin Thicke in concert, you might THINK that you've seen a soul music show BUT the sad reality is, you probably didn't. There may have been lots of black people on stage and the music probably hearkened back to a bygone era BUT it probably wasn't "soulful". The sadder part is the most of these aforementioned acts "fans" couldn't tell you who their "black" counterparts ARE!

Am I saying that these acts shouldn't be successful? No, I'm saying their success should be dependent on the quality of their PRODUCT, nothing else. Joss, Robin, Amy are standing on the shoulders of (black) GIANTS whose body of work was largely influenced by their individual struggles as well as their COMMUNITY's struggles. I'm not saying Robin didn't have it tough because his dad was a television star, I'm just saying it's highly unlikely there's an equivalent depth of experiences for him to mine.

I welcomed these acts into my life based upon their TALENT but what has rapidly become apparent is the reality that diversity ain't a two-way street. If you don't believe me, then take this test: List all of the platinum-selling black rock bands from the last three DECADES.

Exactly. There aren't too many. Several paragraphs above, I named three blue-eyed soul acts that went platinum in 2007 ALONE.

Meanwhile Donnie, Bilal, Maxwell, D'angelo, Amel, Adriana, Angie, Leela (and MANY others) are teetering on the edge of their artistic abyss, NEVER to be heard from again and it's ALL our fault:
  1. All of you who said there will be nobody better than Aretha, Chaka, Luther, Stevie, Donny & Al Green; well they're going to be dead soon and you smothered out their RIGHTFUL heir apparents to see Earth Wind & Fire in concert for the 500th time.
  2. All of you who said that they were color-blind but pretty much every artist in your music collection has a "similar" hue; grow up. That's like saying you're into punk, but only like Devo.
  3. All of you that didn't buy that album of "substance" and opted instead for musical "fast food"; you deserve every horrible music act that bombards you ear-drums on radio and television that you incessantly "faux" complain about.
Just admit it. We've been duped. Black music got gipped...AGAIN.


PS: For the ultimate gender/race/genre-bending soulful good time, peep a RECENT performance (yes, he's still alive) by Maxwell at Holly Robinson Pete's charity event in Los Angeles:

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'd Like To Think This Was Real

I'd like to believe that LaDainian Tomlinson and Kimbo Slice are really just new friends who bonded over a mutual hood background.

But I've been in this industry too long. And something about this just smells a little too fishy and too real. It's too clean by half. The framing is too correct. The sound too clean.

Dollars to Donuts this ain't nothing but some good old fashioned viral guerrilla marketing.

Have to admit...Nike is getting creative. At least they didn't have 'danian jumping over a car.


ps - what gives it away the most is the guys in the background continuing to "work out" despite having cameras and two of the biggest sports stars in America in a few feet away. Really? So they'd just ignore that? Not stand around making noise? your research, guys, that's just sloppy.

You've been warned...


Phonte (of Little Brother) and Nicolay have re-united once again to bring us a new Foreign Exchange album, "Leave It All Behind". In stores soon, but check out the thought-provoking promo video in the meantime.

Hat tip to Phonte...LOL!

I will never ever get tired of this.



it's fairly perfect.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In A Perfect World

Everyone would read this article about John McCain by Frank Rich.

To Wit:

What is widely known is the skin-deep, out-of-date McCain image. As this fairy tale has it, the hero who survived the Hanoi Hilton has stood up as rebelliously in Washington as he did to his Vietnamese captors. He strenuously opposed the execution of the Iraq war; he slammed the president’s response to Katrina; he fought the “agents of intolerance” of the religious right; he crusaded against the G.O.P. House leader Tom DeLay, the criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff and their coterie of influence-peddlers.

With the exception of McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, every aspect of this profile in courage is inaccurate or defunct.

SEE...That's what I've been saying all along.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chicago Stand Up!

Hollywood Holt: fresh new kid in the game.

Kanye is promoting him on his site with this vid.

Love it. Did some homework on this guy...he's from the South Side.

Here's a longer intro to him.

What I love most is these cats are they straddle the line between hip hop and punk in a way N.E.R.D first explored. They realize it a little more since all they wanna do is rap and tear shit love songs.

Just big fashion from the Santo/M.I.A/Kanyeezy meets Run DMC camp. A focus that seeks return to the beginning of hip hop when it was an interesting art form.

God bless 'em.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Power Of The Games

Can't front. Love the Olympics.

I was gonna post about all around gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Luikin's family. I even found video of her dad and mom in their heyday as gymnastics gods from 1987. Her dad was a technician on the aparatus, her mom was a rhythmic gymnast with long lean legs. There was no way, genetically, Nastia couldn't have been the best.

Yadda yadda.

But Youtube directed me to some other videos.'s some awesome videos of amazing wipeouts on X-Games' "Big Air" competition. Holy crap. The best part is the look in dudes eyes right before they go on the ramp. Some small part of them has to be thinking...

"Am I about to make the biggest mistake of my life?"


Yes you are.

Danny Way

Jake Brown (best part is his shirtless cheering section at the top) wipe those images from your brain. Here's Jake smiling and dancing two days later... (Diallo, listen closely to what his friend'll appreciate it more than most)

Hmmm...unbreakable spirit. I wonder where ol' Jake Brown is from?

There truly is something in the water down there.


ps - while watching Nastia I couldn't help but notice that the song she performed to sounded very familiar. Then it hit's the same song the creepy looking blonde dude sings in EASTERN PROMISES.."Dark Eyes". So...she was showing a little love to Mother Russia on the low.

Hot Sh*t Showcase

Sorry the YouTube image isn't more interesting, but Kids in the Hall have a good record out, and though this song runs frighteningly close to being an homage to Camp Lo's Luchini, the beat and guest verse by Phonte make this a song worth copping.

Flashback Friday

One of my favorite TV shows is First 48.
Why? I've always been intrigued by how incredibly inhumane folks can be towards one another. And it doesn't get much more inhumane than murder.
The last episode I saw was shot in Memphis and was ridiculously troubling. A guy killed six family members, including two kids.
But it got me thinking. I've visited some rough/fu*ked up neighborhoods/cities:

*Orange Mound in Memphis
*K-Town and Robert Taylor Homes area in Chicago
*Anacostia in DC
*Benton Harbor, MI
*Flint, MI

The irony is immense.

All the disparaging remarks aside, I have to marvel when folks overcome a gang of negativity to do something remarkably upbeat.

H/t Flint's own Melvin Riley & Co.* and everyone else making their 'hoods and cities proud.

*=Why for the longest time did I think they were British?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bernie Mac in FRIDAY

Someone has compiled Bernie Mac's scenes from Friday.

Crazy how every line in that movie is a classic.

Modern Marvel

At 5:54, it's got the longest intro in hip hop history.

But the producer (Minnesota, has anyone heard from this cat since?) really flipped the sample in a way that stays true to hip hop AND the Marvin classic.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hatred, London Style

One of the biggest Hip Hop personalities in London is DJ Tim Westwood. A tall, lanky, white guy who looks like he should be teaching Calculus.

"f(x)dx = get at me, dog"

Still and all he has one of the most entertaining radio shows in all of London.

Diallo first introduced me to his show years ago and I've listened ever since. He's fun and funny and he get the BEST interviews particularly with American rappers who love his humor and shameless respect for their craft. He lavishes them with praise on his widely heard show and loudly asserts how each track is the best thing ever.

So every rapper that stops in London just has to pay a visit to Tim Westwood, and in return, they probably have a good time and see a spike in UK album sales.

He's a total character. Here he is with T-Pain:

I was in London recently and discovered something that doesn't come across over the sea or translate in his interviews.

Almost ever single black Londoner I met HATES TIM'S GUTS.

It's hilarious.

There wasn't one person called a "wanker" more in my presence than when I brought up Tim Westwood. Even GW Bush was called the word less. Now, to my American ears, that word didn't pack much sting. But the more I was there, the more the edge of it seemed to sharpen.

Me: Yo, I love the music scene here. You guys got great house and we listen to Tim Westwood back in LA.

Londoner: Westwood? That fu*king wanker, you listen to him?

Me: Nevermind. Let's order more edible food...Indian okay?

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they hate him so much. I mean, we in the states just think he's a funny cat with an over-the-top personality but who clearly loves hip hop. Yet the opinion so many friends there had of him was pervasively negative.

I had two theories:

1. Maybe its racism. He's white and they HATE that he's the face of Hip Hop in Britain for the rest of the world. Especially since his act and speech is so affected.

2. See #1

There could be more to the story than I realized. Maybe something happened in a club. Maybe he dissed the local artists in favor of the Americans. Maybe he's was a dick to too many people. But I think my theory above seemed the most correct.

You Londoners (aka Caribbeans and West Africans) take their identity pretty seriously. They didn't have a proper Civil Rights Movement, but they still put a lot of energy in self-definition. They still wanna be connected to a larger diaspora and, as was my observation, have a TON of affection for black Americans. So...

...I don't doubt it pisses them off when they work hard to carve out a respected identity on their homefront...only to they see black Americans travel 10 hours...just to give props to some, well...tall Calculus-teaching-looking wanker.

"As A black londoner, I, too hate that tall wanker."

As fate would have it I actually had the pleasure of meeting him. I was at an after-hours...well, everything in London is I was at a hop hop spot and he ambled in. I recognized him immediately. He walked to a corner and posted up. Despite the fact that the place was full, a grand total of THREE people went over and said hi. I almost felt bad for him.

Me (to the random dude next to me): Yo, man, is that Tim Westwood?

Randon London Black Dude: Yeah, so?

Me: I listen to his show in the states.

RLBD: Really? Why? He's a fu*king wanker.

Since I was essentially a tourist, and since I'm a grown ass man and don't care what people think, I made my way over too him.

Tim was very nice and very cool. His over-the-top affectation was gone. I told him I was a fan of the show and he told me about a few spots he was spinning later that week. (I didn't tell him that given the conversion rate of 2.12 dollars to the pound at that time...I was leaving the next day and couldn't wait to get the hell off that expensive island)...still we talked a little more and that was that. And no one said anything to him the rest of the night.

Truly amazing.

Any English blog readers wanna further enlighten us about Mr. Westwood?


ps - Fun Fact: English people refer to hip hop as "R&B", and R&B...they call "R&B" as well. I'd love to know why that is. But when you ask what's gonna be playing at a club you get three answers: Ragga, R&B or House.

ps 2 - The conversion rate is now about 1.87 dollars to the pound. FU*K. I should have waited to go.

ps 3 - Mark my words. He's a walking talking reality show. Expect to see im on American TV very soon.

One of the Best Songs Ever

From the instrumentation, to the mastering, to the vocals, to the lyrics (damn, those lyrics). It's almost painful to listen to knowing what we know now. Play it too loud, and you get chills.

(Flyin' High) In The Friendly Skies

I'd argue that that album is the most complete R&B album of all-time and will probably never be eclipsed for all it meant at the time of its release in the Spring of 1971.

I Know These Guys!

Yo...I LOVE when people stop waiting for the industry to tap them on the shoulder and just do their own thing.

For Your Consideration: Rundown & McCree, about two cops on never-ending stakeouts

I know and have worked with both these actors (you might recognize Lamont from our Soul Boat sketch and Phillip was in our stage incarnation Cleo's Apartment)

I'm gonna shamelessly promote this. It's wry and funny without being goofy. A nice mix of writing and Improv. And their rapport and interplay is easy due to their strong chemistry. The entire thing is just banter driven

On of my fave eps: SteakOut

This idea has a TON of potential. It's Reno 911 meets The Office.

Need Talent?

So our good friend Amber has a great site where she promotes unknown actors of color.

Talent Overstock

Not sure any casting folks read this blog, but i think this is a great idea. Also, for the life of me, I can't understand why most auditions aren't virtual at this point.

Why can't an actor just get the script, prep it, and email their audition in using their macbook camera or other such device.

Why isn't Hollywood doing this?

Why do actors still have to drive and find parking and then sit in a room with 30 people, none of whom wanna be there and all of whom hate you guts?


Am I Just Jaded?

Saw this on Media Take Out, aka, the site that's always yelling at you for some reason.

Poak Chop

Surprisingly, I didn't find it disturbing.

Do you?

Have I just seen too much?

I mean, after Ms. Peachez...

Fry Dat Chicken

Can anything really startle you again?

And what's up with all these transexual singers being from the South? I thought it was LESS liberal down there?

Ahhh...America, sometimes I just don't get you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monday Morning Geo-Politics

Russia is punishing Georgia for their relationship with the US. That's why Putin hasn't backed down despite Georgian capitulation; that's why he hasn't signed the cease fire.

You see, the US and NATO wanted to put anti-missle technology in Georgia. Georgia agreed.

So Moscow was looking for a reason, any reason, to punish them. And they found it.

That's what this is all about.

1. A former KGB guy, and leader of the second most armed country in the world, still mad Russia lost the cold war, still unwilling to accept US global hegemony, still filled with disgust at the democratic advances of Gorbachev and Yeltsin...still full of Soviet Pride.

2. A breakaway Soviet republic, looking to strengthen its ties to the west...who foolishly believed we'd come to their aid if Russia got angry with them. Who foolishly believed allying with us actually meant something.

3. A US unwilling to come to their aid. Even McCain and Obama have sounded the same note for empty threat diplomacy. Because everyone knows the real deal:

No one wants to start WW3 over Georgia.

And Vladimir Putin knows it. And he's sending a message to any other former Eastern Bloc countries that think it's okay to get in bed with the US...or, heaven forbid, allow NATO to use their territory to contain Russia:

You do so at great peril.

This Georgian conflict will be over when Vladimir Putin wants it to be over.

Fu*k off.


ps - this is also about oil. SURPISE!

Seriously, I can't wait til we develop affordable energy alternatives to oil. That black gold is the new number one killer of humans; pollution, war, getting on Daniel Plainview's bad side...oil sucks.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

RIP - Issac Hayes


This has to be one of the worst weekends in the history of black entertainment.

In short, he and my mom both call(ed) Memphis their hometown and, as a result, my parents had an impetus to collect his albums (that and Issac Hayes records were the only way two black folks could survive going to grad school in the rural Northwest, I guess). They introduced me to his music and the rest is history.

Whether it was his roles as Truck Turner or Hammer, his performances of the "Shaft" theme or "Chocolate Salty Balls", Ike held it down. We won't even go into the numerous other compositions he blessed, especially in those Stax days.

I'll just block out all that Scientology stuff.

Enough for now. I'm tired of this site being an Obit page.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

RIP - Bernie Mac

It never occurred to me that there were two men named Bernie that were so critical to our genesis as The Message...

But to lose both Bernies inside of 48 hours is just bizarre. Brillstein had been sick for months, but Bernie Mac had been doing better up until this pneumonia thing hit a few days ago.

Like Bashir said, he loaned our fledgling sketch group some money when we had none. And his relationship to our own Nefetari Spencer was more than close enough to call Bernie Mac a member of our family.

Like Bashir, I remember putting on a special performance of our material on the set of his show. On the set of his show, he was more than a father. He was THE figurehead, the one everyone looked to for "what came next."

He was the boss. He was kind, and un-pretentious, and he really loved young guys trying to do their thing (just like Brillstein). Not sure why we had to lose Bernie.

He was only 50! That's too young. We'll miss you. Nothing but love and respect, Bernie.

Close To Home

The passing of Bernie Mac and Bernie Brillstein both hit close to home for Diallo and I.

He explained earlier that Brillstein was our manager and a relied upon voice of assurance in a crazy city.

But Bernie Mac was also one of the first supporters of our comedy.

Years ago, we performed a few sketches for him when we were just launching our sketch troupe Cleo's Apartment. At the time we needed every penny to try and get a stage show up and running in LA. And Bernie, encouraged by what he saw, gave us some money. A feat of generosity unmatched by many in Tinsel Town.

He wasn't like MOST of the celebs out here. He was a real man who felt eager to extend is many blessings to those around him. I remember bringing my brother to a Bernie Mac gathering and the two of them yelling eagerly about the Chicago White Sox winning the world series to the chagrin of those north side Cubs fans. They talked a ton despite having just met.

You seem Bernie Mac wasn't just approachable...he sought you out if he didn't recognize your face. So if you were at a gathering of his, you could be sure to walk away with a tale of meeting a true comedic giant.

He was very nice, very generous and much beloved.

There's a sadness stretching from southern California to Chicagoland. I'm at a loss for words.

RIP - Bernie Mac

You undoubtedly heard about the joke he made at the Obama fundraiser. And maybe you heard about the erroneous death notice that went out earlier this week. Unfortunately, this time it's real...

I wish I could've found a clip from the Bernie Mac Show he did shortly after 9/11 where he talked about fear and coming together as a nation, but I didn't. Instead, here's one that's kind of ironic considering what would happen shortly thereafter.

Thanks, Bernie. You really grew on me.

Get Your Kwame Kilpatrick T-Shirt

True true

Friday, August 8, 2008

RIP - Bernie Brillstein

This one hits close to home. He was our manager.
He signed us after we put in a very good live show at the HBO Comedy Festival. He loved to say we were going to be his "last big discovery."

I'm sure Bashir can leave some comment about this affects him. I can't say too much right now, as I truly did consider Bernie a surrogate father (he and my Dad were roughly the same age, and despite the difference in race, they held many of the same interests and former vices). I'm just kind of choked up about it, but I know he's at peace.

I'm really gonna miss ya, Bern. I will not forget all the stories you shared and the advice you gave. God Bless.

I don't mean to laugh, but...

Does anyone out there remember The Chappelle Show "Law and Order in Reverse" sketch? (One of my all-time favorites). A brief synopsis: the cops raid a white couple's home, shoot their dog and arrest (and ultimately convict) the husband of trumped-up drug charges. Oppositely, Chappelle's (classic) character "Tron", the african-american neighborhood drug dealer, is allowed to surrender on his own for questioning, avoids charges and ultimately pleads out with a (wink-wink) promise to "stop selling drugs to the community".

Now let's fast-forward to REAL LIFE!

A small-town Mayor in Maryland, Cheye Calvo, got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch, and brought it inside, putting it on a table. Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple's two dogs and seizing the unopened package. In it were 32 pounds of marijuana. But the drugs evidently didn't belong to the couple. Police say the couple appeared to be innocent victims of a scheme by two men to smuggle millions of dollars worth of marijuana by having it delivered to about a half-dozen unsuspecting recipients.

Okay. Now watch the Calvo's tearful interview on CBS (It's worth tolerating the commercial at the front of the video, TRUST ME!)

To prove that I'm human. My heart goes out to the Calvo's and the loss of their dogs. I'm sure they went through a traumatic experience. THAT BEING SAID, several things about this incident and its resulting coverage "chafe" me somewhat:

1. This happens on a fairly frequent basis in the inner-city. Sometimes the bad guys get caught, sometimes innocent people get snagged. That's "law enforcement" in the 21st century. I get it, but that being said...

2. It's AMAZING how quickly this has become a NATIONAL story. I suspect that if this happened to a black middle class family in the middle of Maryland, I sincerely doubt they would be presumed innocent SO QUICKLY following the raid.

So my question to readers, is this an adequate example of the "two-Americas" that some find difficult to provide examples of?