Friday, February 24, 2006

Cleaning House

Found a Way

Jill Scott - "The Way" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Because this week became devoted to housekeeping and assorted errands, I thought to cap it off by addressing you, the fine readers, and what it is that draws you to this lovely site. While the vast majority are indeed in search of music-related biz (and, hopefully, are obtaining information of worth here), I've noticed a small handful of deviations. Instead of airing anyone out and cackling about "stoopid questions," I would like to address a few of the search terms from off-the-beaten-track that brought folks here and attempt to address their concerns:

  • " or or album or albums" ~ I don't post whole albums. Neither does the Nation. However, you-know-who (who?) knows you-know-what (what?), but just keep that between me and you for now.

  • "Anal" & "Anal sex" ~ I stand by its reference in the context of increasing incidences of at-risk sexual behavior. But no scoops on backwards poops here. On a related note, maybe this is more your flavor.

  • "Crunktastical" ~ Not sure if that is how I would characterize this blog, but here's one that certainly is.

  • "Fight Klub battle Jin scripted;" "Jaime Foxx feud with Mary J Blige" ~ Damn, I love the internets. Great place to find porn and gossip folks. Too bad most of it involves spam or H.A.M., in no particular order. So, hats off to Miss C&D and Miss Info for just providing the straight dope... and then some.

  • "Leon Redbone friendster clip" ~ Ok, I get the first part...

  • "'Zooey Deschanel' pronunciation interview" ~ Ooh, check out the brains on Mr. or Ms. Research Assistant. What an excellent idea, finding out pronunciation of a name through a first-hand source. I will add that Deschanel has roots in French (like, with this guy) and can subsequently be pronounced "Dāshänel." As for her first name, she was named after Zooey from Salinger's Franny and Zooey, though imdb says her nickname is "Zo." So, perhaps it's safe to say a long e? Ah, let the critics debate that one: just look at her!

  • "Kong squashing native" ~ Another seemingly random vittle, but completely justified. I really should get back into the deep analysis gig, eh?

  • "Angie Stone song on Jamie Foxx special" ~ Ah, I suppose this is the arena where I excel: useless nerdery. The song was "Heaven" from Foxx' Unpredictable.

  • "Jamie Foxx predictable sampled Bobby Caldwell" ~ First, Foxx' song is called "Unpredictable". Second, I am unsure what the sample source is on "Unpredictable." Third, if it was indeed Mr. Caldwell, I'd be a bit meh considering that Common already stamped that joint. But that's an excellent question! Someone get me them liner notes...
On a far more serious note, we close up the week and all loose ends with a heartbreaking article on Dilla's passing. Not just about his last days, as the title indicates, but really his struggle for close to four years. I woke up thinking about how many of my favorite Dilla productions are from this 'period' -- was this a whole 'era' of his career? I was heartened to hear how he made peace with his condition, though. For any fan of Dilla, I would highly recommend looking into helping out Mrs. Yancey in some form, considering the monstrous health bills the family has incurred over the years. Once again, for more information please visit Dilla's page on the Stone's Throw site.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Looking Out My Window

Eric B & Rakim - "Paid In Full" (Coldcut's 7 Minutes of Madness Mix) (mp3)
(purchase here)

Man Parrish - "Hip Hop Be Bop" (12" Mix) (mp3)
(purchase here)

Like, whoa.

First day ran long and I completely forgot about the Zulu Nation Emergency Meeting tonight. Hope some of you were able to go.

In other notes of forgetfulness, I have to pay respects for the loss of a true soldier.

Seems like a frantic situation, eh?

If I've learned anything from this cat, always check the b.

Dig Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, coming soon to a museum near me. Caught a preview and talk from her and it was all off the hook. Soulful and fulfilling for the soul. Her message of knowledge of self certainly seems to fall on a lot of deaf ears... but those who hear it, sing it. And those are the moments to treasure. Hell, if even LL can appreciate the niceness in niceness (however twisted it may be), don't we have the capacity to celebrate the beautiful things around us?

So, a peace twist to talkin' isht about the '80s -- here's a series that reminds us of the good music that came out of it. I don't care if you've all heard this Eric B and Rakim; if you know all the verses already, learn the sung parts, too. Man Parrish brings us deeper, it's ok to rump shake. We're only here for a minute.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Sampling's Red Period?

Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport (qt)

Spotted this via Zen: Copyright Criminals, a documentary covering the creative and legal implications of sampling in music.

I already sounded off on this subject from a couple perspectives, and the doc covers a lot of my opinions already. That said, the sheer interview list is a geek's paradise: Harry Allen, Pete Rock, Matt Black of Coldcut, Q-Bert, Miho Hatori, DJ Spooky, Bobbito Garcia, Matmos, Negativland, Kid606, Saul Williams, Bobbito Garcia, Greg Tate and Prof. Lawrence Lessig. Here're some 'sampled' highlights:

Harry Allen: "Sampling is like the color red... Is the color red creative? Well, it is when you use it creatively."

Bobbito: "It was always a culture of borrow and take because it was a culture that was fathered upon a lack of resources."

David Sanjek: "Sound itself has a historical dimension."

Matt Black: "Where there's a hit, there's a writ."

Brian Zisk: "What copyright law is really supposed to do is protect people from creating things and then having to compete in the commercial marketplace against an exact copy..."

Prof. Lessig: "All of Disney's greatest works were taking other people's works and doing something different with them... that's the way creativity has always worked... we should celebrate that... What's happened though is because of increasing intellectual property protections is that this free culture that we took for granted for 180 years... has been transformed into a permission culture."

M.C. Schmidt: "Another danger inherent in all this is the cop in your own head."

Saul Williams: "To take all the remnants of the past and to make something new out of that is perhaps the intrinsic power of our generation."

Posdnous: "I hope Premier cuts my voice!"

Burgeoning artist-types may want to check out the Zen link or CCMixter to learn about the contest to mix audio tracks using samples from the film. One winner will have their work included in the final cut of the film, while the eleven runner-ups will be featured on an accompanying soundtrack CD.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Epilogue for Alfie

Sky's the Limit

four tet - "Smile Around The Face" (video in real, wm, qt)
(purchase here)

"Good things come to those who wait." Certainly feels impossible and/or implausible when you're in the midst. Sometimes, the in-between can become positively negative and unbearable.

So, what is it that brings a smile around your face?

I had been meaning to post on four tet's DVD/CD addendum Everything Ecstatic: Films & Part 2. In truth, the "Smile" single from that last album was the only cut to catch play around these parts, but for worthwhile reasons. A steadily building break buttresses helium melodies that still engender the original loop's soul -- consider it Kieran's "Solitude" to Kanye's "String of Pearls." Director Dan Wilde (director of 2005's Alpha Male) gets "it," that elusive ability to interpret another's work, minus the self-absorption and plus the communicative ability. What he comes up with is a concise spin on the deceptive sadness of this cut. Although, I admit: a Happy Ending in the Modern World? Bah!

Back in the real world, the wait paid off: these guys will be paying me. Again. Smiles abound, but things here will likely slow down for the time being. That doesn't mean the roll will slow any! Look out for House of Flying Monkeys, House of Flying Asiatica and more mixes, coming soon...

Monday, February 20, 2006

What's Been Happenin'

Personally, I preferred Penny from Good Times

The Jacksons - "Can You Feel It" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Just got back into town -- boy, my arms are actually tired, mostly from the cold congealing all of my blood. However, no complaints because the gig was off the chain. Thanks to everyone that came, especially Rachel and the models who didn't stop 'til they got enough, and then continued to shook they bodies on down to the ground (don't worry, I have plenty o' Jackoisms). Of course, I managed to hit another gig without taking any pictures, slanging any product, or even picking up a program (no hofessional flyers here). If anyone could forward me images, footage or even the printed goodness (I am currently jacking mrs. dirtystylus' copy, and I am feeling hella bad about that...), please hit me at the contact info to the right. I would be more than happy to trade with a copy of my last mix monkeytude, signed, sealed and delivered!

Today is just going to be housekeeping, though there is an obvious abundance to discuss, laugh about, or at least pray for.

So, to make sure all our minds our right, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is sintalentos. I run this blog, sintalentos, though Ben, dirtystylus and Michelle often provide the juciest bittles. In all, it's a family affair.

I never mapped out a mission statement, though I still think my first post sums this spot up: "I hope to use this as a medium to look at art in its place. After all, I find it difficult to look at any art completely removed from context." While I often focus on hip-hop-related matters, I would not consider this site to be specific to the culture, nor any one culture. Rather, like Bakwari Kitwana, I consider myself a part of a generation that views contemporary affairs through a particular filter. Hence, the story behind some of the stories herein...

Every once in a while, I attempt to create a weekly theme or thread, but because I do not know of a way to organize posts by subject through Blogger I tend to drop this idea quickly. In truth, that's my lame excuse for not learning web design, let alone TypePad, so the goal is to update my skill-set for the 20th century at some point.

Yes, you can call this site an mp3 blog, because I host mp3s. They are there for you. Go ahead, clickity clack! Of course, read the disclaimer to the right. For those who are not familiar with YSI or Rapidshare, these are public sites that host files. In short, when you click on the mp3 hyperlink above and you see a white page with a "YouSendIt" banner and a funny hyperlink about your file being ready to download, it's ok, that's for you. Or, if you see an admittedly more intimdating page emblazoned with a futuristic "RapidShare" logo, some text in either German or English asking you if you would like to pay for their services of use their services for free, just click on the free button; this will send you to a page where, often times, there will be a message asking you to wait n-seconds before your download is ready; please, be patient, it's usually only a 20 second wait; a security verfication box appears (like when you purchase tix on ticketmaster and they ask you to type the letters from the distorted box to verify the purchase), so follow the instructions, press enter and the download will begin. Sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, trust me -- and, most important, it's for you!

Lastly, I would like to remind folks to please feel free to leave comments. This is a public site and I love dialogue and conversation, though friends may kindly remind me of my stand-offish moments (to which I respond, "Shh!"). Plus, I know most of you are coming for the mp3s, so the least you can do is say, "Thank you."

Anyway, thanks again to Damon, Joseph and everbody at R&B Coffee for all their hard work. And big ups to Alphonso and Trey for being stuck on the realness -- music do make you lose control. Today's selection is my favorite cut from Trey that night.

Remember how in Seven, you were supposed to feel bad for all the 'victims' of the seven deadly sins? But did you feel that bad for the morbidly obese dude? I mean, it sucks to be killed for being lazy, but, really, he was going to die anyway, right? Well, it's the same in life: No Sympathy For Sloth. No frontin' here, I pay for my laziness...

So, high-tail it to Dallas Penn, the first word in 'what's happenin'...'

Friday, February 17, 2006

B.A., Streetology

Brownie, you are doing a heckuva job

Dr. John - "Average Kind of Guy" (mp3)
(purchase here)

LTJ Experience - "Ordinary Guy" f/ Joe Bataan (mp3)
(purchase here)

A sheer deluge of avenues opened up last night. Finally caught Chappelle's appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio (I've been leery about downloads since the loss of v1.0, but you are welcome to take a stab) and followed up with the MTV special with Jay and Nas (Nah Right got you covered). The quick wrap, because I don't want to do a long post right away:

* Chappelle ~ Enjoyed this far more than the Oprah appearance, because Chappelle got more camera/speaking time. Perhaps due to the format of the show (Lipton asks a lot of rote, straight-forward questions which are open enough to allow the interviewee to expound) and the sheer length (2 hours!), this episode covered far more ground. That said, same story: Chappelle felt pressure, that his morals were being compromised and he, quite frankly, got "scared." Lots of funny moments and a couple jewelz, one of which is the subject of today...

* Jay and Nas ~ If this was so important, why was it aired at 11pm on a Thursday night? And, if you want to talk about show formats, this one certainly shot itself in the foot. 30 minutes, prob'ly more like 20 sans commercials. Nothing new: it's a business venture, no Queer Eyes at each other, just respect; squashed beef b/c "it's bigger than us.... y'know, it's about us, but not really"; their beef was justified b/c it was "real," but inappropriate comments were made (did I just write that?), notably the ones that their respective mothers pointed out (sort of a recurring theme today...); Nas has no beef with 50, but 50 does seem kinda jealous; no comment on the Jay-Nas record. I didn't really have high expectations, given MTV's track record of hard-hitting news coverage, so that's that.

Now, onto the nugget:

As expected, Chappelle trolled through his past quite a bit, but dropped one particularly poignant story. Upon graduation, Chappelle decided to pursue his acting/comedy dream. This was of some concern to his family, because he was the first person to not go to college -- both his parents have done extensive upper education work, his mother Dr. Yvonne Seon was personally hired by Prime Minister of Congo Patrice Lumumba and founded one of the nation's first African-American studies programs, and his father William Chappelle taught at Antioch -- so his father had a man-to-man with the young man. William warned Dave of the slim chances of success in the entertainment industry, to which Dave responded that this depended on one's definition of success. Dave explained that, for example, if he made a teacher's salary as an actor, he would still feel better than being a teacher. William laughed and thus encouraged his son to pursue his dream. However, he noted: if Dave were to set such a bar, he had to set it now. Because if he did not meet that bar, that would be a sign to get out of the industry and find some other work. And if that bar was ever compromised (say, to the tune of $50M?), he himself would be compromised. "Hence, Africa."

After a week of reflecting on integrity, I found the statement to be timely and well-suited. Not to say that ones values and perceptions cannot change through life. However, it helps to learn where one stands and to maintain that post. Certainly, watching the sudden rise of stars around us, especially through increasingly tactless routes, "values" seem to hold the minimum of dollar value. That said, I have been heartened by the outpouring of love for Jay Dee -- to me, an indication of the respect inherent in such a stance.

So, to close the week, some classic words from 'a couple of the guys.' Sweet Arm put me on to the first cut, a Doc Pomus nugget gettin' the Big Easy treatment. Rebennack slow rolls over the ivories with that drawl that oozes booze and hard living... but with such a light touch and sense of grace to belie the wealth of dignity. On a similar note, big ups to the extra classy Breath of Life for posting the LTJ Experience track recently, a 2003 update of Joe Bataan's wonderful ode to just being Joe. Similar to Bill Withers' earthy sentiments, Bataan's no-woes-for-Joe number exudes a uniquely effortless confidence, the absolute antithesis of Hollywood. My favorite line, of course, is about being "an Afro-Filipino, average sort of guy," an open nod to personal heritage, as well as rhythm and blues bloodline. While I'm all for being a dreamer, but "Ordinary Guy" is a delightful fantasy of sorts, of just being happy with yourself in a world that hardly celebrates... you.

Note: I couldn't remember which album the Dr. John came off, I just remember that it is not the version off his Brightest Smile in Town LP. I'll update the link if I find the proper source.

Oh, and a quick reminder, if you're in DC this weekend, come check me out if you can:

"The Happening"
R&B Coffee
1359 H Street NE
Washington, DC, 20002
Saturday, February 18
6:30pm (we go on at 11pm)
$20 advance donation/$25 donation at door

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ride the Monaurail

Travelling at the speed of thought

Five Deez - "When the Silence is Gone" (mp3)
(purchase here)

If we consider 'future funk' this week's quasi-theme, then Five Deez represents a traditional vision of it. The Cincinnati quartet have claimed mostly backpacker and deep music club status by updating past visions of the tomorrow. Meaning, they are doing the new hip-house. And I'm not talking about the current Jungle Brothers and their return to the dance circuit -- they've been more on the big beat, borderline Fatboy Slim end of things. Instead, consider Five Deez the sophisticated, progressive tech heads: lots of filters, washes, echoes and delicate attention to drum tones.

Peep the track in question: standard fare as the group creates movements within the composition, introducing both melody and rhythm as if they were echoes from a distant past, using a verse to bridge these two components to the future, then driving forward with a familiar, up tempo, on the and-of-two and and-of-four beat. Where Dilla and Spacek conjured ideas of the future, blurring rhythm and tone to create pura bossa nova, Deez dwell in its familiar notions: space travel, stars and Star Trek. This is the future that we expect, that is tangible and understandable versus the future that could be, that truly represents the unknown.

Personally, I don't have a preference. There's a place for both. Granted, Dilla's work is exciting to me for being so out there. Yet, Fat Jon of Five Deez has a terrific ear and crafts some of the most understated hip-hop pieces unknown to most. Except the Germans. Damn.

PS - My obit to Dilla is up on PopMatters.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ol' Yella' (I Got It)

Potential title for my debut single? Leave your thoughts in the comments box.

Sorry to hit you on the run, but here's a short film sent to me via supermo (get the knowledge to the right). What do you do when you attend UCSD and want to make a film that explores the Asian Sensation exploding across the (male) caucasian nation? Get in touch with ones inner Yellow Fever. 15 minutes, lots of buddhaheads, thankfully no paisley threads and even a cameo courtesy of Kanye. Now, who says I can't nail a marketing gig? In need of copy experience my eye.

For more information, hit the filmmakers at Wong Fu Productions.

And, yes, dating is difficult when you have small... confidence.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Odds'n Sods

Deep Concentration

Madlib - "Sir Bang" (mp3)

Madlib - "Black Mozart" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Keeping somewhat with the Jay Dee tribute, we turn to his one-time partner-in-beats'n rhymes, Madlib. No surprise that the prolific Otis has some more beats to sell -- peep how deep his discog rolls.

Not much information on his upcoming March release, Beat Konducta, Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes, except that it consist of instrumentals from his beat CDs. Fans will likely recognize snippets and ideas in his recent projects, such as Quasimoto, Madvillain and Jaylib. Although the format is incredibly erratic -- most of the pieces average about 90 seconds... and there're 35 cuts -- the disc perhaps best exemplifies his wandering mind. Much like the current method of information digestion, surfing, 'lib wanders through his crates, grafting ideas and snippets here and there into weird little Frankenbeat babies. Some of it sticks, like the clever "Sir Bang" (so, that's how M.O.P. could sound), some of it, well, just sounds like a bunch of records glued together.

While I personally prefer Jay Dee's work, simply because of the lack of apparent esotericism, I find Beat Konducta an appropriate companion piece to Dilla's Donuts. The latter feels equally incomplete, like a detailed sketchpad of ideas, but still reveals a considerable amount about Jay Dee's concepts of rhythm and how to manipulate beats with phased out and filtered sounds. Similarly, Beat Konducta is in many ways Madlib at his most maddening, but in crushing seemingly random records together and skipping beats left and right, one hears a comparable ability to push the idea of 4/4 funk. They are both immensely cerebral and deliberate efforts, though they breeze by quick enough to seem effortless and even callous. Maybe Soul Imperialist would approve of this signifyin'?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Craft

Steady Cultivatin'

Blackalicious - "The Craft" (mp3)
(purchase here)

By now, I am sure most hip hop fans heard about the sudden passing of James "Jay Dee" (more recently known as J. Dilla) Yancey on Friday morning. I hesitated to post about this over the weekend, because I wanted to make sure I said something helpful, especially after such a troubling occurence.

The truth is, I don't have any new revelations. And that is all right. Because it's natural to feel sad, shocked, or even outraged. Jay Dee was 32. His manager attributed the cause of death to complications from lupus, a disease of the immune system that "occurs 10-15 times more frequently among adult females than among adult males after puberty or after the emergence into sexual maturity" and which "[p]eople of African, American Indian, and Asian origin are thought to develop the disease more frequently than Caucasian women."

To leave so suddenly, or to even be pulled down so slowly like Billy Preston, the sympathetic can't help but feel that the stakes have been weighted unfairly. Even when they do receive recognition, as Les Paul did from Billie Joe Armstrong during the Grammy's, discomfort and disturbance remain.

Jay Dee's passing has been especially troubling for me because I felt like I was just getting to know his music. I remember initially disparaging his minimal style when I first heard Tribe's Beats, Rhymes & Life. The follow-up of the Slum Village record hardly swayed my opinion. However, over time, I found myself growing to appreciate his records. He branched out with greater enthusiasm than most artists ever imagine doing in hip hop, working with international folk like DJ Cam and defining the "future funk" sound with Spacek. His "Love Junkee" and "Eve" mixes are a couple of my favorite productions. Looking back on the short lifespan of this blog (5 months), I have referenced his music more than any other single producer.

Yet, I never really felt I had a complete grasp of his music. Which is understandable. I consider ones maturity with regards to a concept or skill as being equal to the number of years they have grappled with the concept or skill. Meaning, having played saxophone for 13 years makes me a pimply-faced adolescent on the horn. I first heard Dilla in 1995, so I'm still just a kid.

Instead of pledging to honor our heroes before they pass and to appreciate the here and now, uh, here and now, I will renew an old pledge: to appreciate the craft fully and completely. It's the common bond of all artists, right? So, eff the hearsay, let's keep talkin' 'bout what they dew.

Sincerest wishes go out to the ebullient Mr. Preston and the honorable Mr. Paul and deepest condolences to the Yancey family and friends. Oliver has a wonderful Dilla dedication, along with information regarding charity.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Asia One.
Get the knowledge

Slum Village - "I Don't Know" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Ok, it's the end of the week, so I concede to my own week's theme as I retreat behind the scenes... of my bedsheets.

I've been sick for a minute, so I'll stick with some PSAs for today.

My man dirtystylus (hit his link to the right) and I will be DJ'g in DC next weekend:

"The Happening"
R&B Coffee
1359 H Street NE
Washington, DC, 20002
Saturday, February 18
6:30pm (we go on at 11pm)
$20 advance donation/$25 donation at door
**get tickets in advance, b/c this will sell out**

The money benefits three orgs: East DC Fund and Rocket Guild, who support neighborhood artists and art programs; and Advocates for Justice and Education, Inc., who empowers parents on public education issues.

Holla if you're in the neighborhood.

So, in prep, ds and I worked out a set last night. Mind you, breakers will be in attendance, so we dug out the classics... only to remember that there are so many cuts that also reference the classics! Thus, the danger of hiring nerd DJs. So, I leave you with a cut from the only SV album I dig out on occasion. Can you name all the samples? "I don't / know!"

Also, make sure to hit the links to stage right -- I've updated them, so there are a gang of new members to the sintalentos fam. We keep rollin' strong!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Group Love

Phil Jackson-endorsed

Tanya Morgan - "Ode to Tanya" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Consider this week's de facto theme to be masks. Obfuscation behind the other while projecting the self through persona. Sure, it's a time old approach to the trade and transcendent of it, as well -- Clark Kent, anyone? And speaking of whom, what's up with him?

So, no new confusion over Tanya Morgan, the collabo of Brooklyn-based MC/producer Von Pea and Cincinnati-based MCs Ilwil (Ilyas and Donwill) and production squad Brickbeats. Nevermind the domestic Foreign Exchange comparison -- where Phonte and Nicolay just relayed beats and rhymes across the pond and through the wire, the TM cats have fun with the informality of their relationship. Loose structure abounds and humor fills the disc, just a celebration of a new way to make music with your friends. "Ode to Tanya" works the angles like "I Used to Love H.E.R.," an object of desire used to project their individual failings. As three guys argue over T to no avail, each finds futility in the solo route.

On a sidenote, even the gov'ment seems to be catching onto this neworking concept...

So, what's it gonna take Sly? I repeat yesterday's and John Legend's sentiment: "It was great — I mean, hey, he showed up."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blood is Thicker than the Mud

Pledge allegiance to the soul writer

Sly & the Family Stone - "Remember Who You Are" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Big Boi, Sleepy Brown and Killer Mike - "Runnin' Away" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Sly & the Family Stone reunion???

Well, kinda [BIG ups to Hip Hop Music].

If you don't want to read the whole LA Times piece, the short is that Sly is scheduled to participate in his Grammy tribute tonight. Lots of the kids from his recent tribute CD (hence, the Dungeon Fam/Purp All-Star cover) will be on hand to run through the hits -- "Dance To The Music" (w/; "Everyday People" (w/ Maroon 5); "Family Affair" (w/ John Legend and Joss Stone); and "If You Want Me To Stay" (w/ Devin Lima; who? interesting choice of song, tho). HOWEVER... there will be a two minute finale that features the original line-up sans Larry Graham.

I can't stress enough how important Sly Stone has been to my musical and philosophical life. So, to actually see him perform in my lifetime is, well... to crib Legend's sentiment: You'll catch me smilin' just to see him.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Talkin' 'bout freedom

Darondo - "Let My People Go" (mp3)
(purchase here)

In times of trouble, people often turn to art for comfort.

So, any artist should be damned if they didn't jump on that and respond!

While '60s flower pop is often held as the gold standard of this idealism, crafty artists from across time have proven to be no less responsive. In a classic case of Got To Give The People-itis, JB easily flipped between "Sex Machine" and "Say It Loud" (yes, I know, not in that order) at the turn of a heel. Even Ike "Choke a Bitch" Turner proved adept at running from "Getting Nasty" to "Black Beauty" on his A Black Man's Soul LP, hardly diminishing nor contradicting the intention of either cut. In this manner, artists seldom operate strictly within monolithic marketing terms (or, at least one would hope so). After all, would you consider these examples to be socially conscious moments of unconscious artists? The deliberateness of their actions would indicate that they were quite aware the entire time...

This spirit of do all/why not? wafts through Darondo's Let My People Go, Ubiquity's reissue of one of the Bay Area's best kept secrets. Known mostly to deep record collectors for his three rare 7"s of hushed-funk, the mystery man is presented here as a musical dandy, a pimp sauntering through styles with great style and self-conscious care. One moment, he channels Rev. Al to plead "Didn't I," the next he defiantly demands "Let My People Go." Sexy click rhythms like There's a Riot..., yet boldly intense like... There's a Riot..., Darondo conjures a being simmering between Sly and Syl... mixed with a lil' of Andre's salaciousness. Darondo is still the man about town (though not with a Rolls Royce with "DARONDO" plates that get props from the Chairman), but keeps quite on much of his affairs. Perhaps understandable -- keep 'em guessin'! Maybe it's time for a Crooked Lettaz post?

Peep Ubiquity's page for more speculation on the man, along with some hilarious clips from his public access TV show in the '80s.

Special thanks to Aaron!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dip it, Pop it, Twerk it

Checking it twice?

Jin - "Top 5 (Dead or Alive)" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Latest Popmatters installment of the column went up. I fouled up and sent in my second draft too late. I pasted the prefered version below. I've also included more images because pictures can be pretty.

My trouble with the version that ran was that it was an attempt to be half-serious, half-silly, and I think it came out more half-serious, half-bitter at times. For example, point two in the 'don'ts' section, "Odd Couples," was meant to be a joke about celebrity couples, but the version that ran drifts from topic to topic (production collabos? guest spots? celebrity hook ups?). The second draft builds the joke a little better and makes clear that I am NOT clowning on work that I in fact love and adore. In a nutshell, the key difference is that the second draft reconciles the fact that the piece isn't too funny, but a little more heartfelt. That said, I should be more heartfelt and timely, I suppose...

Another point: in doing this piece, I realize that I don't come across too many music journalists that list off their favorite music journalism pieces of the year. Funny, because that's all we do is read and write about music. So, taking a cue from the Da Capo book I recently reviewed, I also included a list of some pieces that I enjoyed this year (in no particular order):
And now, onto the column...

Call and Response: If 6 Was '06...

Dan Nishimoto

I actually loathe year-end lists. Not for particularly unique reasons: I find them reductive, unimaginative and to be a conflict of interest (for anyone that reads lists for shopping suggestions, please note that many of the endorsed products were not paid for by the endorsers). I am also aware of the counterpoints: lists can be convenient, imaginative and valid purchasing suggestions, depending on how the writer approaches the assignment. To each his/her own, right? So, chalk up my displeasure to the pleasure I take in preferring to speak specifically about music.

So, why do I draw up lists anyway?

In defense, my lists are different. Instead of a "What's Hot, What's Not" approach, I liken mine to a "What Happened, And Why" process. For example, a current thread I am running is a list of songs with sample clearance lawsuits (both settled in or outside of court), all for the purpose of charting hip hop's litigious history through a nerdtastic mix. Yes, it is myopic in scope and self-indulgent. But it is a great exercise for my sense of history. And, more important, it's FUN.

Which brings us to our topic today: how to have fun with hip hop. Not in the sense of, "Rappers need to learn to have fun" (although he could stand to lighten up), but rather in how to have an entertaining yet substantive discussion about hip hop. And while I enjoy wading through the deluge of hip hop 'scholarship' out there, at the end of the day I try to find digestible and engaging ways to approach such a broad topic.

So, at year's end I did what a lot of other folks did and reflected. And, like a lot of other folks, I found myself mulling over things that I liked about hip hop's accomplishments in 2005, things that I did not like about hip hop's accomplishments in 2005 and a random smattering of things that sounded funny in the context of hip hop in 2005. So, I present to you a list of 6 points that hip hop artists should leave in 2005 and 6 points that hip hop artists should continue in 2006. Some of them are serious, some of them are silly, but all are sincere and about as on point as I can be -- just like this hip hop thing I love so much, right? So, without further ado, here's If 6 Was '06...

Leave That Noise in '05:

1) Don't Believe the Hype:

Nakagawa says "No" to American beef

Once upon a time, a person had beef and said something. A crowd gathered. The person to whom the beef was directed didn't like what that first person said, so he responded. The crowd grew larger. That first person felt offended by what the second person said, so he raised his voice. The crowd swelled. This exchange went back and forth until the crowd lost interest and moved on to another person who just happened to say something... Media often singles out hip hop its excessive use of disagreement and violence, yet conveniently forget that no history remains immune from such irrationality. To hip hop 's credit (or discredit), it admittedly is one of the few arenas where conflict has its own DVD series. However, out of such competition, some artists have produced exceptional work (e.g., BDP's "Bridge is Over" v. Shan's "The Bridge").

That said, the vast bulk of beef has been relatively Grade D. UTFO's "Roxanne, Roxanne" inspired a number of responses, few of which rank with Shanté. Backpackers love to regale each other with tales of Casual/Hiero butting heads with Saafir/Hobo on KMEL, but anyone that actually heard that battle surely remembers better instances of freestyling from each party involved. Craig G and Supernatural's feud brought out the worst of their personalities as the unquestionable freestyle champs resorted to sneak attacks on the other. And to call "Takeover" or "Ether" the apices of either Jay or Nas' discography is simply ludicrous. There is a difference between "notable" and "best" moments.

Yet, hip hop in 2005 bathed itself in this unglamorous reputation. Taking a lead from the recent Eminem v. Benzino/Sauce and G-Unit v. G-Unot campaigns, the attention-hungry took it to the low road and racked up headlines: The Lox v. P. Diddy; B.G. v. the Hot Boys; Lil' Flip v. T.I.; Lil' Flip v. Paul Wall; Lil' Flip v. Slim Thug; Mobb Deep v. Nas (again); Benzino v. Ozone; Funk Flex v. Spinbad; Bow Wow v. Will Smith; the Game v. Some Dude and a Soccer Mom v. Chamillionaire. Oh, and 50 v. The World. In one of the most ig'nant developments for both the artist (for submitting to it) and the audience (for stoking it), beef has reached its logical conclusion as a marketing tool.

Unfortunately, 2006 has started with a disappointing bang. As Spine so eloquently wrote on 19 January, "Apparently unaware it's a trend that was played out nearly five years ago, a publicity-hungry Cam'ron makes a record dissing Jay-Z." While kids wonder whether Jay will respond or what Cam's next move will be, simple perspective proves more productive. Keep the beef in '05, no one here is looking for it.

Postscript: And it only gets worse...

2) Odd Couples:
Certainly, hip hop deserves credit for its humblest asset, the collaboration -- for a discussion of its pluses, check the next list -- but hip hop also has a tendency to abuse the hell out of it. From duets with dead rappers to Disco D producing a deadbeat dad, one yearns to periodically remind hip hop, "Really, you don't have to turn on the red light..." And while I love to see hip hop journalism gettin' its Star swerve on -- who doesn't enjoy a good C-lebrity airing out their odd better half? -- I hate seeing the Best Ensemble Award go to Gwen "That's my sh*t" Stefani. Really, hip hop shouldn't slip itself a roofie when Nelly Furtado walks into 2006 with one of the most anticipated albums. You'd think the hip hop generation would've learned by now that you just can't trust 'em (via C&D). The end result is always TLC: unpretty.

I actually don't have a solution for this besides being careful about how we represent hip hop in this country's eyes. That, and certain artists could attempt to challenge themselves (you know who you are) with their collaborations. How many Luda guest spots or Fatman Scoop drops does it take to make your track fiyah? Like a cowbell, Nate Doggs of the game can only be used sparingly. That said, maybe the answer lies in life experience. What better source for creativity than human experience? In the words of Chris Rock, "Why don't you go out and get kidnapped, have some new shit happen to you?'' But, really, I'm just sayin': use caution. But not too much...

3) Kidz Hop:

Jay and his latest protegé

The first time I heard "Straight Outta Compton", I got shook. Little boy in short pants shaking the piss right out of his body. Now, I turn on the TV and I see the Game, Eazy-E's motheruckfing heir apparent, tatted and t.o.'d... and carrying a toddler. I switch the channel and breath a sigh of relief when Three 6 Mafia announces their latest anthem... which features three kids playing the part of "Young Three 6." Shutting off the idiot box, I turn on the radio and tune into everyone's favorite rapping-producing-messiah, only to switch it off in disgust when he bleats that he's "for the keeeeds." Really, it's bad enough that this level of stupid-dumb-retardedness has to exist, but does hip hop need to subject itself to the Ewok effect? What was once revolutionary creativity has become alternately cuddly gimmickry. There's a difference between "So Fresh and So Clean" and "So Pleasant and G (rated)." Hate it or love it? "Hated it!" says Blaine Edwards. Maybe Spike Jonze should spearhead an intervention with Juelz and Mr. West. Nelly should also be included in that conversation -- that blue hoodied child felt desperate. For the sake of credibility, don't lose your edge. Otherwise...

4) Literal Hip Hop:

Insert your own caption

"This Saturday Night Live routine", Sasha Frere-Jones wrote of "Lazy Sunday: Chronicles of Narnia", "Is pretty much my nightmare, like people telling me they really like Danger Mouse, even though they don't usually like rap." While the sketch proved to be a highly adept satire, gaining enough popularity to even become an iTunes free download-of-the-week, the send-up also dwelled in a non-hip hop audience's perception of hip hop music: overblown drama, mundane subject matter and social deviance, all to the beat of cacophony. Josh Levin even went so far as to suggest that "Chronicles" was even better than the real thing. "People aren't forwarding this video because it's a parody of what's bad about rap", he wrote in his "The Chronicles of Narnia Rap" for Slate, "They're sending it around because it's an ode to what can be great about it." In this manner, "Chronicles" sticks to the stump speech mocking hip hop culture (though Oliver Wang cleverly pointed out, "J-Zone and Paul Barman are no doubt asking themselves why they never thought to write songs for SNL skits").

To suggest that this hackneyed parody ("Mack on some cupcakes?" Maybe I'll go pimp some pumpernickel next) fulfills some supposed void ("Maybe ["Chronicles"] points up what's missing in mainstream rap -- an awareness that it's OK to be goofy") is uninformed at best. What? Hip hop doesn't have a sense of humor? What were the catch phrases of the year? "What??" "Yeah!!!" "Bye, N*a!" Oh, I'm sorry, I must've been too busy taking myself so seriously that I forgot that hip hop music is still entertainment. For those still convinced hip hop is simply too downtrodden, I submit David Banner's "F*kin'." I mean, "Touchin'." A beat that turns you out in all the right ways while Banner sings with isht-eating glee -- who says hip hop doesn't wanna have fun? But, to paraphrase Louis Armstrong, "If I have to explain it to you, you will never understand it."

Perhaps a better illustration of this "cognitive dissonance" is the year's Mantan show, R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. While obviously overloaded with self-delusion and Springer imagery, thank the non-hip hop world for chiming in with rockist send-ups and a Cliff's Notes summary. Apparently the message was that the best way to interpret Kelly was to transcribe his work in a manner that everyone (...) could understand. I suppose this joke flew over my head because Robert Kelly has been funny and deranged for the duration of his decade-plus career, but it took a child rape acquittal and a midget crapping his pants for the rest of the nation to figure out there may be something funny in his brownie.

Ok, I know I'm being naïve in getting all in a huff and yelling at folks who don’t know about hip hop to shut the eff up... But that is what I'm sayin', ha ha. Hey, we all know where Weird Al discs wind up, right? Like everything in life, learn the knowledge first.

5) Trap Hop:
Guess what? It snowed all year long! And some people loved all that ice! Now, guess what? Crack sucks! And ice is out!

In a sign of hip hop's newest level of ig'nance, documentaries had to be made to remind folks of the ravages of concentrated cocaine hydrochloride (1 More Hit) and blood diamonds (Bling: Consequences and Repercussions). Hua Hsu posited an interesting theory for this latest surge in hedonism: "It's the 1980s again in the streets, all me-first, get-rich-quick flash." Which is an unfortunate delusion, because that is far from the case (links via Notes and Poplicks).

6) Stop Ig'nance:

The only accetable ig'nance
(credit: Mark

  • Stop Snitching.
  • Stop Stop Snitching campaigns.
  • Stop unsolved murders of rappers.
  • Stop sending rappers to death row.
  • Stop rappers from going to jail.
  • Stop saying "No Homo" -- it's gay.
  • Stop doing bar/t mitzvahs
  • Stop Ig'nance with a capital I.

    Keep Keepin' On In '06:

    1) Give the Drum Machine Some:

    If it ain't broke...

    As a devout fan of the Silver Age when MPC samplers and SP1200 drum machines fertilized production, I suppose it seems contrary that I would be so lax about legal clampdowns on sampling. Call it moving on, but I find it difficult to hate on production circa 2005. After all, when Dre and SA-RA share area codes and make such divergent and invigorating music, I can say with fair certainty the sky is not falling. From the club explosion of Lil' Jon's tireless laboratory of crunk to Jay Dee's blunted out drip beats for headphones, tones and sound effects have become our new cultural signifiers, our 'sampled' points of reference. Play this game: what Nintendo games do the Chamillionaire-Paul Wall beats remind you of? Even if you are stuck on those crispy classic breaks, hip hop's portfolio has diversified enough to offer choice: from ubiquitous session kit player ?uestlove to the explosive pads of Rich Nice. While OutKast's The Love Below still confuses some with its production excess, subsequent innovations in created sound continue to move hip hop music along. So bring on the Owusu & Hannibal matrix lover's rock and the snareless snap of Dem Franchize Boyz.

    2) Steady Mobbin':
    Just as collaborations in hip hop can easily become a point of predictability or ridicule, it can also be its source of strength and community. A strong counterpoint to auteur theory, thank hip hop for truly keeping it real by realizing that art for the public can and should not be made in solitude. While mostly fans pay attention to Rhyme Syndicates and Dungeon Families, this past year's mass collabos proved fruitful for all. Big Boi and the Purple-Ribbon All-Stars drank purp and sang about being on that "Kryptonite" while Luda reminisced with the Red Light District about "Georgia." Better still were the cross-record bin collaborations, such as Shadow showing his hyphy side to Keak da Sneak for "Three Freaks", Diplo turning out Gwen's "Hollaback Girl" and, of course, that whole West-Brion fling. Call it the new hootie hoo, see how beautiful it can be when we all just get along? Looks like 2006 is off to a nice start, too.

    3) Body Rock versus Bothered Rock:

    In the Bassment Booth with Jonathan Davis
    (and friends)

    Keep approaching rock collaborations with caution. Please. Case in point: appearing in the "Twisted Transistor" video as the members of Korn was a hilarious send-up of both rock and hip hop video tropes; however, having lead Korn singer Jonathan Davis produce a track on Biggie's Duets album? Time and place, people. Otherwise, don't body ya self.

    4) Take That, Rewind It Back:

    Grandmixer DXT: from originator of the scratch to pioneer in sound restoration

    As the hairline continues to lean back, older artists struggle to stay relevant... Oh wait, that's every genre. That said, hip hop has not exhibited the kindest regard for its elders. While Aerosmith still headlines stadiums, the remaining members of Run-DMC have been relegated to running the block. Perhaps taking a cue from rock audience's love of nostalgia, yesteryear's rappers took fans back in 2005. Foregoing modern missteps, Reverend Run preached old school aesthetics on Distortion. Meanwhile across media, VH1's midlife mess of a Hip Hop Awards show received a defibrillator shock when BDK reminded all the young ones the importance of entertainment -- was anyone hollerin' for T.I.'s pimp swagger then? On the b-side of the dial was Sadat X's Experience and Education, a heartfelt reflection on years of little recognition, sans bitterness and filled with the same ol' nasal flow. Granted, the resurrected Fresh Fest drew a sparse crowd and Heavy D and Craig Mack made only modest appearances on the mixtape circuit, each artist simply did what they did best in the first place. Hopefully both artists and audience recognize the breadth of the market and that both old and young can share its space. Better still, let both generations go toe-to-toe, like LL and Juelz. Don't stop the rock and put E-Fizzle back on top!

    5) Ask Not What Your Label Can Do For You, Ask What You Can Dew Fo' Sef':
    While GZA joked about diversifying portfolios, I imagined labels offering comprehensive benefits packages to their artists. Wouldn't that be a true indicator of commitment? Well, even the rockers couldn't catch this break, so Sheryl and Don took it to the stage with the Recording Artist's Coalition and subsequently lobbied on behalf of artists' publishing rights and backed the Future of Music Coalition's Musicians' Health Care Initiative. Unfortunately, word hasn't really spread to the hip hop community, or at least its living segment -- of the four hip hop acts on RAC's roster, two are dead ("Estate of Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes" and "Estate of Tupac Shakur"). And considering how old this hip hop thing is getting, wouldn't you agree it's about time to hook an MC up with an HMO? Frankly, I want to see Saigon taken care of properly, not so much a sequel to State Property. Holla, "We Want 401(k)!"

    6) Believe the Hyphy:

    Lick my funky eardrum, ya smell?

    Dre. Saigon. Jay and Nas. Nas and Primo. Hyphy takes Crunk. Snap. Kelis. Q-Tip. M1. Idlewild. The Coup. Count Bass D. SA-RA. Damn, and these are mostly old-timers -- I know the kids got something better (than crack) cooking...

    Once again, consider these as suggestions and opinions. As my yoga instructor says, "Don't think of goals, because goals are either met with success or failure." And I am not trying to make or break hip hop in any given year -- just trying to see it move along. So, here's to 2006: keep diggin', y'all.
  • Buddy

    Shame on the nucka who crack a Boo-Yaa joke

    Cass Elliot - "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" (mp3)
    (purchase here)

    Looks like Klosterman got his wish last night. And I suppose I am happy, for similar reasons. Feelings toward Chuck the writer and overstatement of random acts of kindness aside, I agreed with his last kernel from the aforelinked post: "Humanity deserves respect, rockers."

    See, his yarn about Pittsburgh Safety Troy Polamalu reminded me of one of my dad's stories back when the ol' man was a salaryman (or, at least the equivalent in the architecture business). One upon a time in the '70s, he went out with some co-workers to celebrate some work-related achievement of theirs at a low-key establishment in Hollywood. They had a rather large party, which worked out because the restaurant was relatively empty. Anyway, to properly liven up the mood, they ordered champagne and chatted each other up, congratulating each other on their achievements.

    One of the few other parties in the restaurant was a middle-aged couple sitting across the way. The man, a slender fellow with dark hair, peppered with the first traces of grey, took notice of my father's group for three obvious reasons: 1) they were a big group in a small joint; 2) they were making all the noise; and 3) they were all Asian (mind you, this was the '70s -- I still only see packs of Asians in certain parts of town). He sauntered over, and, like a complete gentleman, pointed out the champagne and asked them what the nature of their celebration was. My father, ever the social butterfly, explained that it was a business-related affair and proceeded with the details. The man listened, smiled and gave his congratulations to the group on behalf of his wife and himself. My father's group thanked the man for the kind words and he returned to his wife.

    Shortly thereafter, my father and his co-workers received another bucket of champagne -- the waiter explained that it was a gift from the man and his wife. Warmed by the gesture, my father invited the couple over and the extended party kept each other company through the night, talking mostly about nothing.

    Gradually, the group dwindled down to my father, one other co-worker, the man and his wife. The four closed out the place and finally parted ways, the couple walking up the Hollywood Hills toward their home mere blocks away, my father and his colleague back to their respective cars. Not until after this entire episode did my father learn who Bob "Gilligan" Denver the celebrity was.

    Which I suppose doesn't matter a great deal. What mattered was that moment when a couple strangers met and enjoyed each others' company. There was no talk of celebrity, life in the abstract or disreality; just human things.

    Which brings me back to Klosterman's final point about humanity. Perhaps it is crotchety and naïve to discuss such touchy-feelyness in the context of popular music or popular culture, arenas that stress product and processing of product -- anyone catch Chappelle on Oprah? No matter, youtube got you covered: Part 1; Part 2; and Part 3 (links via Spine). I bring up Chappelle because a similiar thought crossed my mind regarding his wishes and ideals. Wouldn't it be nice if BET could follow-up one of its Black History Month spots with something beside a shoot-em-up video game comercial? Wouldn't it be d'lovely if networks could get over chop sockyness? And for all of his complaints about celebrity and its associative anxieties, what was he doing on Oprah of all places airing it out? Then again, perhaps it is also a liberating and relaxing reminder to hear this. A reminder of what matters most.

    So, hats off to Polamalu and the crew. Just don't go and have this kind of celebration.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Rap Snacks

    Dilla endorses Fruit Gushers
    (photo by Roger Erickson)

    Jay Dee - "Time: The Donuts of the Heart" (mp3)
    (purchase here)

    I like food. Really, I just like Cinnamon Apple Cider Donuts. At the Grand Army Plaza market. From the vendor closest to Park Place West. Because their donuts are THE BEST: small and compact, light and fluffy dough with a moderate sugar content. The best part is the texture: as you set to sink your teeth into that chewy flesh, the brown sugar crystals coating the skin crunch and crumble to the side, a perfect counterpoint. The second best part is that the mild sweetness can be chalked up to a balance between sweet dough and the sugary goodness on the outside -- if you really like your sweet content mild, just stop reading. This isn't an effing food review.

    Dilla's newest are like my favorite donuts: short, sweet, on point. I like to get a lot of the donuts; he comes through with 30+ goodies. I like the subtle contrasts of each 'nut; he balances sugar, sweet soul with clipped, gurpin' beats (I'm having flashbacks remembering that word). And similar to that feeling of insatiable sadness when I finish a dozen of those donuts, Donuts sounds incomplete. These aren't compositions, so much as little nuggets. I never thought I'd say it, but at least Jay Dee's brain farts are far more digestible than Madlib's. To quote Cocaine, Blunts..., the problem with the latter is "the beats get lost in the ADD quick cut approach. As soon as he gets a nice groove going there's a needle scratch and he drops it in favor of some sample taped off the gong show or some shit. That's cool that [he] has a bunch of weird dialogue records to sample, but maybe he should just make a mixtape or write a book about them or something..." Dilla, on the otherhand, kinda gets away with it by giving you more palatable hooks.

    Oh, the point of this was that you can cop that baker's dozen Saturdays at GAP, Brooklyn. And that Dilla joint drops next Tuesday. Parallels between fragment sentences and post subject? Intentional.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Jesus Christ Had Dreads

    Still Saucy, Forever Classy

    E-40 - "Tell Me When To Go" f/ Keak da Sneak (quicktime video)

    C'mon, feel the hyph -- it's the dawning of the age of the bay gettin' hella raw, fa' sho, f'real... and those are just the words from my time.

    With all the commotion over all things Yay, it's nigh time for an update of the verbage. Perhaps this time the O, San Jo, the V, Sucker Free, etc. will finally get its daps?

    It is hard for me to not feel proud and excited; as a resident for close to five years, the Yay holds a special place in my heart. Its range of sounds -- from Mobb Music to Living Legends -- remained fiercly independent and remarkably unfettered, in spite of being a silent force, for years. That is all poised to change and the Lil' Jon collaboration with E-40 on the above hit is just the latest. However, a quick reminder of how old this story is. Let's just hope for some quality control.

    Ah, what am I trippin' fo'? This the Bay! We steady gurpin' off this!

    Behind the Scenes of "Tell Me When To Go" video
    (via E-40)

    Thanks again to Michelle -- good lookin' out!

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    I'm No Superman

    "Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States!"

    Purple Ribbon All-Stars - "Kryptonite (I'm On It)" f/ Killer Mike (mp3)
    (purchase here)

    It's that time of the year again.

    No, not that time. This time. Though it may feel like the first.

    While Joshua Holland aired out the wet blanket's weaknesses, Bush's failsafe legacy looked on.

    Another 51 minutes of smokescreens. At least they threw the dog a bone. I swear, every year a little bit of me dies inside. One man's failure is indeed another man's success. That's the American way. Now, ain't that a b?