Friday, November 27, 2009

Flashback Friday

If this one looks familiar, then you have a good memory or at least have one that recalls events from a year ago.

I just couldn't think of a more fitting video for this day.

For the THE MESSAGE readers in the U.S., enjoy the post-Thanksgiving Day food coma.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Love This Lady

Jezebel has a great mashup of Susie Essman who plays "Susie Green" on Curb Your Enthusiasm doing her classic rants.

She's never won an emmy...wonder why?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Jay Z Relevant?

"But I don't party and shake my butt
I leave that to the brothers with the funny haircuts
"

With that one line, in 1990, as Diallo will tell you, Ice Cube killed the high top fade.


Ironic that THAT'S the hairstyle I went after, right?

Oh sure, the style lingered on for a few more months but I distinctly remember a lot of bruh's rocking baldy's and simple fades around 1992 (then eventually dreads.)


Wait, what...no!!!

But that was the power of a young rapper who didn't give a fuck. He just obliterated a whole style.

Fastforward to 2009. Jay Z calls for the Death of Autotune...



...and no one gives a shit.

Beyond that More and more people are coming out of the woodwork to attack the guy. That's something you never saw a few years ago.

I think it became standard practice among hip hop fans that Jigga was on top and untouchable.

But I feel like that's changing for a few reasons.

1. He's just too mainstream America.
2. He's old (anyone else not buying that the dude is 39)
3. No one can live on rapping alone. And Jay Z is more of an iconic figure and a brand than just a rapper.
4. All the other rappers his age don't rap anymore. They got out. Rap is a game for the young and passionate. It's hard for an older guy to keep up. Most of Jay's contemporaries (smartly) got into acting. Acting is easier to maintain for years and years. It's hard being a 40 year old rapper trading diss tracks with some 20 year old upstart. Granted, Jay hasn't had to do that ever... but that time is coming to an end.
5. As with every rapper, it's just really hard to maintain street cred when you have something to lose.

Jay Z has too much to lose.

He can't just say or do anything he wants to. There are repercussions and consequences. Millions of dollars at stake. Plus, unlike 50 cent, he's not the anti-hero. He's the fucking star. Ironically...he's the Will Smith of rap. He's not Gucci Mane or even The Clipse, he's the man in charge, the lead, the point guard...

He's relevant to fashion, to media, to sports...when he talks white America and corporate America take note...but does black America really honor him?

Or do we defer to him out of habit rather than out of legitimately being impressed with his work.

Which was the last of his albums that you could recite word for word? (full album not song.)

Yeah, that's what I thought.

But now it seems people are picking the guy apart. And, frankly, it appears that it'll be come more and more ok to do so. To attack him.

Because at this stage in the game, Jay Z fights back at his own financial peril.


Troubled?

Is Jay untouchable?

Is his time at the top about to come to an end?

And what does it mean for hip hop if he falls? To some degree he's the guy acting as a conduit to hip hop for white America over 40. If he falls does he bring down the tent to some degree? Diddy doesn't rap and Lil' Wayne is one syrup episode away from being 6 feet under.

Who will be the new "face of hip hop" if Jay goes away? Drake?

Don't think it can happen? Don't think he can ever fall off? Or be called wack by someone who matters and have it become conventional wisdom?

I just don't know.

People forget that for a smooth 3 - 5 years Diddy was considered shit by many hip hop fans. Post-Biggie's death he found a way to resurrect his image. Now he's def the man but not nearly "the face of hip hop"...plus who has Diddy put on that's gone on to wild success?

Or...what about this guy:


Thank GOD I act for a living.

He used to be the undisputed king for a while. Then cats got at him....now he's on CBS.

Bottom line: We should not be surprised if things change quickly for Jay Z in the coming year.

And, I know his albums still sell millions. I'm not talking about sales here. I'm talking about who the streets are checking for.

---

ps - To be totally honest, I've always had an issue with Jay Z for different reasons. Despite the fact that he's arguably the best rapper on the planet, I thought he was the greatest rapper to never spit one verse about the upliftment of black people. Just my two cents.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Would Watch This Show Every Week

(via Bossip)

And not just because I'm completely out of shape right now...

King James Work Out


"You wasn't crying at that damn table when you were stuffing your fat ass face."

HA!

Flashback Friday

I couldn't help, given the sudden resurrection of Aaron Hall, making this the week's Flashback.

The Juice soundtrack was one of the best, if not the best, hip-hop film score and "Don't Be Afraid" was on it.

I think it might've been his best video, too. Have you seen the clips for "I Miss You"? That's one of the most depressing things I've seen on MTV. And then that other video where his kid gets hit by a car when he's arguing with his baby's mother. Man, that's just a little too heavy. Give me some dancers in Cross Colours any day.

The best thing about this video is that it confirms the fedora, zoot suit, and 'gators combo is one of the most timeless fashion ensembles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aaron Hall

I only wish we had come up with a sketch as brilliant.



But apparently, that really IS Aaron Hall in this video.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

South Park Is The Shit

If you're not watching South Park I don't know what you're doing.

Butter's Bottom Bitch


The show sucked for a few years after the movie. But it's back. Trey and Matt are the freest guys on TV. They do whatever the hell they want. Sadly, I don't agree with most of their political opinions. Not at all.

But I respect the way they've EARNED the right to say what they want. They're the only show in TV with that power.

And the show is funny as hell.

I like this one

As pop videos go, this one is pretty hot.

Finally, Someone Asks the Question...

...the question we've all been asking ourselves.

Friday, November 13, 2009

We Have A Winner!

We've been looking for a word to describe that feeling you have between hearing about a horrific/extremely stupid/callous act in the news and learning the racial identity of the suspect.

from reader Anonymous: Racial Trepidation Anxiety (RTA)- the small anxiety attack that precedes knowing the racial identity of a criminal(s) or a participant(s) of an embarrassing event.

RTA it is.

Co-Worker: "hey, Bashir, did you see that video of that woman singing on the toilet?"

Me: "Ugh...no."

Co-Worker: "what's wrong?"

Me: "nothing...got a little RTA."

nice.

Flashback Friday

Whenever I can find some classic footage of a song I dig, I'll post it. And I'm glad I found this one.

The bassline on "Movin'" is one of my favorites.


After checking this clip, though, I'm confident these guys would never get work today. For one, they're in a band and, at least in the realm of what's deemed "black" music, there are no bands. And two, these dudes look to be 30. That ain't gonna fly.

Luckily, Brass Construction came out in a period of time where talent seemingly had a better chance than today's pretty boy emphasis.

If only we lived in an age where us 30-plus folks could just pick up our instruments, get down, and get paid.

Too bad that window's closed.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Jamie Foxx

Not sure about that intro, but its a hot track once it gets into the song proper.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Um.....

Wow.

Is this for real?

Rasmussen

Any day of the week, Obama's polling suggests that he is about 10-15 points ahead in his approval index. That's due to polls taken by FOXNEWS, the AP, Gallup...you know, typical liberals.

Yet, also on all those days, one pollster - Rasmussen - shows Obama as 7 points down.



Associated Press 54-43 +11
Rasmussen Reports 46-53 -7
Gallup 54-39 +15
CNN/Opinion Research 54-45 +9
Ipsos/McClatchy 53-43 +10
FOX News 50-41 +9
NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl 51-42 +9


Rasmussen defends their results by saying that they are polling LIKELY voters, not just all adults.

This sounds defensible at first (politicians are ultimately competing for votes, why not just sample those who will most likely actually vote).

But then you read a comment on a blog like the one below and you realize how ridiculous it is to do a LIKELY voter sampling when Obama's not up for reelection any time soon.

"Rasmussen defends itself by saying that it's using only "likely voters", as if they have merely chosen a different philosophical approach to polling. However, even amateur political hacks like all of us know that people that are older, male, or Caucasian are more likely to vote than other groups. COINCIDENTALLY, these demographics also favor Republicans.

So, is Rasmussen merely approaching the polling with a different philosophy, or have they constructed a polling technique that favors their view while offering them a way to deflect legitimate criticism? I suspect the later.

Some might say that politicians want to know what "likely voters" think. Maybe they do, if they're primarily concerned with politics. But, they should have their own pollsters to tell them that (pollsters that they pay). You may call me naive, but I think that public polling should poll the broader public, because really, our governments should be governing everyone, not just those who vote.
"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things To Watch

1. The new Wiz Jhalifa mixtape is dope. He's one to really watch.



You should cop it.

2. A lot of you know Thomas Fraser, who has been a friend of The Message as well as a member of our old sketch group, Cleo's Apartment. He's got a new video out:



3. Tyler Perry NEVER disappoints. His trailer for the sequel to Why Did I get Married, entitled WHY DID I GET MARRIED, TOO? is out.

(by the way, does that title make grammatical sense? would it EVER be said?)

The great thing is, he has taken a complete left turn for the sequel. Do yourself a favor and watch the trailer below...and be...amazed...



Um...good God.

"If You Play The Shit That They Like..."

(quick! What movie is the above line from? What album co-opted it in its intro?)

One of our readers wrote:

"I'm still mad Great Debaters didn't do well at the box office"

People, look...the only movies that make money nowadays are movies that are exciting, hilarious or a chick flick. Period.

(And of course...kid stuff makes HUGE dollars, but we all know that and it's not worth bringing in for this discussion.)

I know we, and I'm guilty of this too, like to give great examples of quality black films that don't make as much as the more coonish or exploitative fare, but the bottom line is, Americans of all races wanna (a) be scared/excited (b) laugh their ass off or (c) have done to them whatever it is that chick flicks do.

So the reason The Great Debaters did poorly was because, at its core, it was boring. So was Akeelah and the Bee.

These are great films about great subject. But they're sleepy time, or as Diallo says, if you go to a movie and fall asleep...that's called editing.

Akeelah is not attacked by bees and has to fight for her survival of a crazy bee-infested island. Now THAT movie, would have made some money.

No one wants to spend their hard-earned money after week of working a job they hate...to be enlightened and challenged for two hours. They wanna be entertained. This shit is called show-"business" not show-"edu-tainment". If you wanna make a lot of money in this industry, you need to understand that.

Look at the big performers this year (via box office mojo):
  1. Transformers: Revenge of the Stupidity (exciting)
  2. Harry Potter and some more Magic stuff (exciting/kids.)
  3. Up (kids)
  4. The Hangover (funny)
  5. Star Trek (exciting)
  6. Monsters v. Aliens (exciting/kids)
  7. Ice Age (kids)
  8. X-Men: Wolverine is Incoherent (exciting though pretty damned stupid)
  9. Night at the Museum: Ben Stiller's PayCheck (funny/kids/exciting)
  10. The Proposal (chick flick)
So...the moral of the story is:

(a) people don't wanna have to think after work, they wanna be entertained. period.

(b) therefore: black filmmakers who wanna make some MONEY* with black films better make an action movie, a comedy or a chick flick.

(c) CLEARLY I need to be writing kids movies, holy shit I'd be rich.

To all my black filmmakers, stop making enlightening bullshit!

Instead, make something where a karate master has to fight another dude on an alien planet... with a flame-thrower on his back... all the while a robot is hunting them both...Call it FLAMEBOTS!


FLAMEBOTS ARE COMING!

You can laugh all you want, the guy or girl who writes that script is gonna get paid. And getting paid is the whole way to stay in a position to be creative. You see how this all works?

OR...keep writing that opus you're working on that won't make any money.*

---

* I have a feature script that I love to death that won't make a penny if it's ever made. I'm still going to make the movie because I love the story and it's about Chicago on the south side...but at least I have no illusions that the film will make any money...but it might win some festivals which ain't too shabby.

Barney and the Crapification of Music

I'm glad Google notified me.



Happy anniversary Sesame Street. Forty years is a long time.

I've expressed my gratitude to the Children's Television Network before for shaping my musical tastes. Today I stumbled across this vid featuring a legend (and no, it's not a young Tatiyana Ali).



The video is long but it did get me thinking...


Barney f--ked the game up.




I haven't run the regression models or done any in depth analysis but something tells me there's a tie between the rise of Barney and the increased crappy-ness of the music industry. Think about it. Barney launched in the late '80s, early '90s. At that point, a cute dinosaur started to become the entertainment centerpiece of a number of kids' lives. Why did he become popular? Hell if I know but for argument's sake, I'll simply say the general happiness of the show was appealing. Remember, that time period in which the show launched was glum, in large part. A stock market crash, Panamanian invasion, Persian Gulf War I, crack, AIDS, Kurt Cobain and so on. I can imagine a stressed out parent plopping their kid in front of the TV that, unlike the '70s and early 80s, has a multitude of channels but a lower percentage of programming made with young kids in mind (Nick Jr. wasn't in existence yet).

All of a sudden, a happy-go-lucky dino and his pals appear on the tube with a veneer of clean wholesomeness taking place in a typical suburban backyard. That's a lot more appealing than a bunch of folks hanging out on a city street talking to a cranky-ass monster in a trash can and an ambiguously gay duo living in a basement.


We see ya B & E.

So all seemed fine and good, right? Wrong.

Please review the Herbie Hancock video and then the Barney. Talk about devolution. There was a sense of boundary pushing (showing kids a computer illustrating soundwaves) in the Street clip that I'm not seeing in what I'd say was a representative sample of Barney. Jacking the "This Old Man" beat? C'mon, dude. But then again, it isn't that far a stretch from that to this or this.

And wouldn't you know it, around the time Barney was launching and gaining popularity, the Soulja Boys of the world were being born and persumably watching. Their initial introduction to music was essentially low-creativity knockoffs of nursery rhymes, which begs the question to be asked, how the hell can you make an even more simplistic version of an already simplistic song?

Well, Barney found the way and we're all worse off for it.


The only Purple One is from Minnesota.

And what say you?

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Will Never Get Tired Of This (p. 4)

Two Hype Brothers And A Dog



I first heard it in the summer of 1990. I was in Dade County with my cousins and there was this new channel called THE BOX.

Against My Better Angels

They're making this into a full length feature;

Shenehneh and Wanda


I wanna have some socio-cultural reasons why this sucks. But it'll probably be funny as hell.

---

ps - still preachin' at work.

Go See Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite is the best movie of 2009.

1. they didn't set out to parody a blaxsploitation film, they set out to make one. The attention to detail they showed in the execution of this movie is unbelievable. I've seen a million blax films and this movie hit all the tropes perfectly: too many story lines, a song sequence in the middle that's way too specific, pointless sex, machismo, and a long assed inscrutable plot twist at the end.

2. the acting in the movie is award quality. you can tell that Michael Jai White and his team really did the hell out of some homework. most people won't appreciate the small touches of the performance, but I recognized that these guys watched a ton of films and set a high bar for themselves.

3. a movie like this could be so easy to mess up, but nothing feels sloppy. everything in it feels pored over and deliberate. I mean EVERYTHING from the cinematography, to the casting to the shot selection to the choice of angles and coverage...like everything feels like someone put a whole lot of thought into it. the movie isn't just funny, it's intelligent.

4. it's funny as hell all the way through. and very quotable. college kids across America are currently saying Black Dynamite quotes to each other. that's a very good thing. I remember when my boys and I saw Something About Mary and Pulp Fiction in college. We spoke the language of those films for months.

the ONLY negative I have is...

5. there's too many cameos/stunt casting. the stunt casting has a negative effect because it's the first time it feels like the filmmakers are "winking" at you that they know they're making a funny film. everything else is played for authenticity, but when minor celebs start showing up in character it becomes farcical and a distraction.

go see it.

A job well done.

----

PS1 - a quick point about Michael Jackson's This Is It.

I liked it, didn't love it. the best parts are when Michael is talking. the songs I've heard a million times and didn't need to hear them again.

I've NEVER seen Michael explaining the value of letting a performance "sizzle" before bringing in the music. That kind of stuff was compelling and I wanted so much more. But that's only 20% of the film...

PS2 - My movies of the year are

1. Black Dynamite
2. Star Trek
3. 500 Days of Summer
4. Inglorious Basterds

Congratulations, ANTHONY FOXX

Another surprise on last Tuesday was the election of a Democrat for mayor in Charlotte, North Carolina, their first Dem mayor in over two decades.

On top of that, the majority white city elected a black guy mayor.


He seems like a very good guy. Check out his ad above.

Far Worse Than Precious

Someone in the comments on our Precious post was good enough to bring up the movie, THE BLIND SIDE, with Sandra Bullock.

The cringe-worthy trailer is here.


Really?!

Poll Results: A Perfect Bell Curve

So we asked you guys to "vote" and tell us what your age was and we were surprised to see that we have as many readers in grade school as above 34.

And the 20s is our sweet spot.

Thanks for voting and welcome to the new week. We're sure you will enjoy (a) homeroom period, (b) study hall, (c) your new job, (d) unemployment, (e) soul-finding, (f) the on-set of adult years, and (g) the realization you will ever make one of those "Top 30 Under 30" lists.

Thanks for reading us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hilarious

Jon Stewart rarely "acts." But here he does.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Another amazing clip, this one all about Beck's argument style.
I have no problem saying to another late night show - Well Done, Y'all.

Flashback Friday

Filed among those '90s R&B groups that made an impact and then seemingly fell off the face of the Earth is INTRO.

And that's too bad.

INTRO stood for Innovative New Talent Reaching Out, and these Detroit and New York cats were responsible for writing a share of Mary J.'s first album and a score of other tracks.

From what I remember they had four big songs on their debut, three of which were either remakes ("Ribbon In The Sky") or borrowed heavily from hip-hop joints ("Love Thang" and today's Flashback). I think I wore this tape out. There was just a lot of good production on it.

I really wish they'd been able to get more stuff out (I believe they had another album) but it seemed their talents were really found in writing and, unfortunately, lead vocalist/writer Kenny Greene died of AIDS complications in 2001.

We have to give a tip o' the hat to Ed O.G.'s "I Got To Have It" for this one. If you talk about hip-hop soul, this has to be considered one of the foundational joints.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Black People Don't Need Enemies pt. 34,533

Because no one can beat us... at beating us.

Sittin On The Toilet

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Precious - This Weekend

You better believe...

...we'll have some opinions come next Monday.

Some already have strong opinions.

Go out and see it. And join the debate.

UPDATE:
Wow! Film critic Armond White (who is black) reviews it in the New York Press - "Not since The Birth of a Nation has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as Precious. Full of brazenly racist clich├ęs (Precious steals and eats an entire bucket of fried chicken), it is a sociological horror show [...]Excellent recent films with black themes...have been ignored by the mainstream media and serious film culture while this carnival of black degradation gets celebrated. It’s a strange combination of liberal guilt and condescension." His full review is here.

I must see this film.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

FireDogLake says it right

I had been wondering how Virginia went from being safely Obama to Republican Red in 12 months.

Truth is, no one in the press is telling you much about the Democrat in the race, Mr. Deeds. In short, he was a Blue Dog Democrat, and his appeal was hence limited to the state's black, latino, and progressive voters (who, consequently are not expected to show up to polls this evening.

FireDogLake
has the whole rundown.

Key passage...

The lesson for candidates in 2010 is clear: do not depress your base when our electorate is already far less likely to vote than Republicans to begin with. Successful candidates in 2010 will find a way to engage young voters and minority voters so they come back to the polls–and AFTER they do that, work on winning over enough Independents to win.

Uwe Boll

He's known for making some of the worst movies of the last decade.

So why am I giddy that he's decided to make a "serious" movie.

I give you the trailer to DARFUR.



(Yo, why is there a typo in his trailer?! Did you spot it?)

Wow, Chris Brown

Really?

That's the new album cover? That's what's hot in the streets?

Monday, November 2, 2009

New Week New Music

To build on Bashir's post from last week, let me post some of the songs I've heard that have all come out in the last two weeks(!). "Sick production" them all:

Love the piano progression in this one off of Wiz's new mixtape...
"Weekend" by Wiz Khalifa

New song from Mark Ronson and DJ Green Lantern (via Wale) featuring friend of the Roots, Melanie Fiona. Glossy, not flossy:


Y'all know I was a huge fan of Gucci Bandana from his album last year - production wise, there is always something going on in Souljah Boy's minimalist beats.
"No Joke" by Souljah Boy

And for a bonus (ie, more than 2 weeks old), something for you kids who, like me, who are into cool ass indie music, the latest hit-makers off the DFA label, YACHT. This song sounds like Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" without being retro.

Must See Movie

Go see THIS IS IT.

I know what you're thinking - "Michael Jackson is overexposed, it's gonna be all the same songs, etc..."

Go see it. Here's why. You get to see Michael work. You get to see Michael Jackson AT work.

I was a huge skeptic going into the movie. Truthfully, I hadn't bought a Michael Jackson album since Bad and hadn't really listened to one since Dangerous, in 1991. Really, I think that was his last great album and with the exception of the UNDERrated Invincible album from early this decade, that was where me and Mike kinda parted ways.

underrated

Flash forward to the present Me. The creative Me, that respects the artist's process sometimes more than the art. That's what I love about this film.

You get to see a glimpse of Michael's process.

That process that led to songs that are big. Aesthetically speaking, I love things that are successfully "big." Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl made images that were "big." Orson Welles in Citizen Kane - "big." Jack Nicholson's acting in the glory years - "big."

Similarly, Michael treats no song in the concert movie lightly. The man released a single called THRILLER. Like the song arranger for the show says, Mike remembered every song, and also what he LIKED about every song. Every note was big, every rhythm was big to him.

And one dancer looks into the camera and says "what do I do after I dance with Michael Jackson?" and you feel the pathos. What do you do? Head out on the B2K Reunion tour?

One reason I love the film DAY FOR NIGHT is because you get to see Francois Truffaut's commentary on the director's process. (It was parodied, of course, in a Wes Anderson American Express card commercial some years ago). But the process of creating art is sometimes more interesting than the art.


It gives nothing away to say that some of the most amazing moments in the film are when Michael is singing to a completely empty auditorium. Singing his heart out, to empty seats. Its a fantastic visual. Especially when he finishes a song and all you hear is a smattering of claps from the ever-present crew of grips and dancers.

If I wanted to get deep, I would say it was a parable of sorts on his life. The ultimate showman, performing, all alone in an empty room.

But imagine if the seats had been packed with screaming fans. It would be distracting.

Part-James Brown, part-Oscar Wilde, part-The Joker. And in man-made fiction, the Joker is a psychopathic anarchist hellbent on destroying us and our civilization.
In real life, he simply wants to perform a song for us.

To be in the room with Michael Jackson as he rehearses, talks to stage hands, to the vocal coach, choreographer, lighting tech, and more, we see perhaps as best as we ever will the human nature of Michael's process.

It's also very funny to watch Michael work, but I don't want to give any of that away.

So I'll end with this - even if you never liked any Michael Jackson songs, go see THIS IS IT.

Because as wonderful as both his songs are and his showmanship is in this film, I guarantee you that you will be inspired to take whatever you create and/or do for a living (whether its writing, painting or bookkeeping)..you will want to take it to the next level.