Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
This morning I couldn’t sleep; I woke up at 5 AM and figured I would get to my polling office by 6. To my surprise the line was bananas!! I would guess that more than 800 people on line before me at 6 AM. The lines were so full of black people, it was amazing!!
Okay, I must admit; and I am not sure how I feel about it, but a friend came up to me and let me know that there was another entrance that was designated for handicapped voters that no one is checking. He said that he went right into that entrance and voted. He walked me in and boom, I was in; it took me 20 minutes. I cut the line to vote for Barack Obama; was that shady? Should I feel bad? Nah, I got my vote in and I feel wonderful.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
In my opinion the greatest shift in urban music after the 70's was the advent of crack cocaine's arrival in the urban community in the early 80's. Crack cocaine took historical urban issues and put them into hyper drive; at the same time crack created a hyper urban economy. So you had hyper violence, hyper materialism, hyper childhood neglect, hyper moral decline, and a hyper rich criminal youth. Not even heroin would take a mother from her child, but crack did. Crack caused urban blight unlike anything else in urban history, in my opinion. It was said that crack was first introduced in Oakland California around 1982; I don't remember crack hitting the east coast hard until around 85, 86. On the east coast, crack culture didn't start entering into the musical lexicon until around 87. The west coast had experienced it's affect for much longer and combined with gang culture it had seeped into the urban music dialogue faster than it did any wear else. I'm showing my age, but I remember when I was a senior in High School in 1988 and I first heard NWA "Fuck the Police," my friends and I couldn't believe it. The use of hyper violent imagery and the free use of the word nigger was completely startling and new to us. 1988 in NY was the year of Public Enemy's largest success and the introduction of the Jungle Brothers and later De La Soul and the Native Tongue movement, it was Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J. It was Rob Bass. Later that year in the fall I started my freshman year of college at Morehouse in Atlanta and NWA and Too Short was blasting through the dorms from our West Coast peers. I also remember that first week a kid from Oakland jokingly called me a nigger; and I remember being almost provoked to violence. In New York at the time if someone called you a nigger that was a huge insult. 20 years later, things are a whole lot different. I find myself using that word all the time now, like a filthy habit that I love but need to break.
10 years ago we were experiencing the height of the benefits of post crack epidemic culture in full bloom with the most hyper violent, materialistic, and misogynistic musical content in urban music history. Now that the crack epidemic is long past and we could possibly be moving towards the end of a hyper gangster black male cultural aesthetic (noticing the skater and rock star aesthetic taking off in the urban community prompted by Lupe Fiasco, Pherrell Williams, and Kanye West and the arrival of Barack Obama as a cultural icon largely promoted in urban fashion), I wonder what the next movement to be created out of the urban community will be. We must acknowledge that we are running into some very interesting financial and political times. I wonder what the urban response will be. Here is an interesting documentary trailer that I found recently that I think brings up some interesting points.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Thank God for Netflix; what a brilliant business model. The way they are able to make data mining associations with your film renting history in order to make suggestions of films that you may like is what makes it such a brilliant sucessful company. Netflix recently suggested the film The Visitor and I took them up on their offer. I finally watched the film this morning and though it was largely predictable it was amazingly charming and visceral. I’m not embarrassed to say that I found myself welling up with tears several times and began to delve into the relationships between the characters and suspending my disbelief very easily.
The Visitor is about Walter Vale, a divorced economics professor from Connecticut who struggles with feelings of lonliness and frustration due to an inactive non-inspired life. A lecture that he is forced to make at NYU brings him back to New York City where he lived with his deceased wife and the apartment that he owns but virtually abandoned in Greenwich Village. When he arrives at his apartment, to his suprise a couple is living there illegally. The couple reacts in absolute fear that they of this instrusion and we learn that they are illegal aliens so they fear that this man will call the police, so they quickly leave the apartment. The couple is Tarek from Syria and Zainab from Senegal; Tarek is a purcussionist and Zainab makes hand made jewlery and vends on the streets on NY. Walter ends up inviting to stay for a few days until they get themselves together. A few days becomes weeks and Walter finds himself staying in NY for a while and involving himself in the lives of these 2 young illegal immagrants. An unfortunate mistake gets Tarek arrested and sent to immagration and Walter is wrapped up in this immagration drama and a new found friendship that changes his life forever. I recommend this simple charming film, its subtle and beautiful.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I have only listened to Keziah Jones’ new album Nigerian Wood one full time; but I must say that I am fully enjoying it. I must admit though that the album starts off a little bit slowly for me. Normally artists pack there best songs at the top of the playlist, the first 2 songs of the album are not my favorites. Normally if the first 2 songs of an album aren’t cool I never get to the third song; but I really wanted to dig this project. First of all, Keziah and I in the last 4 years have become friends and second of all for me Keziah’s last album Black Orpheus is a classic LP. I first heard Black Office after taking a meeting at Atlantic Records with an A&R about an artist that I manage. The A&R gave me the record and asked me to get back to him and tell me what I thought. My business partner Jeff and I but it in the car stereo on the way back home and we remember remarking about how great the mix of the album sounded. I learned later that it was mixed and Engineered by Russell Elevado; who also mixed D’Angelo’s Voodoo album.
I first met Keziah Jones in LA in late 2004, a friend of mine tipped me to a solo show that he was having at the Temple Bar. I thought that Black Orpheus was a beautiful sounding and very interesting album before that, but after being blown away by his live show; I mean Keziah is a “bananas” rhythm guitar player and performer. I paid more attention to his music after that show, and after a conversation with he and his manager after that show we kept in touch and we would hang whenever he came through New York.
I would Nigerian Wood a 6.5 out of 10 overall and would suggest that if you haven’t listened to Keziah’s Music before that you start with Black Orpheus. If you are an audiophile and absolutely love music, you will dig the audio tapestries of Nigerian Wood, but don’t expect “typical” or melodic progressions, this is a music lovers album. Stand out songs for me are My Kinda Girl, Pimpin’, Lagos vs New York, and Uninteded Consequenses.