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


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