Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Momma, I'm So Sorry

Not just a trademarked segment of Le Show

The Easybeats - "Sorry"
(Purchase here)

YZ - "Thinking of a Master Plan"
(Purchase here)

Whoa. Reparations, I've heard of. Disambiguation, related but hardly the same ballgame. And though there is precedent for basic apologies, there are still enough unresolved ones to make Virginia's apology for its role in slavery notable. The public acknowledgment that government-sanctioned slavery "ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history" is remarkable not so much as a resolution, but as a progression in the conversation about this country's history and present ramifications.

As the resolution notes, "the abolition of slavery was followed by systematic discrimination, enforced segregation, and other insidious institutions and practices toward Americans of African descent that were rooted in racism, racial bias, and racial misunderstanding." Don't get it twisted, as the present is hardly peaches'n cream. Biochemical Slang pointed out this recent poll on American attitudes toward Black History month (unsurprisingly, most every non-Black person found the month to be a token gesture as opposed to raising awareness; although, in fairness, those two options seem rather vague, in spite of the bluntness), suggesting that we need a lil' more to keep the conversation on race rolling.

So, you ask, what did I do this past weekend?

A couple documentaries have been on my mind: Byron Hurt's Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes and Raquel Cepeda's Bling'd: Blood, Diamonds and Hip Hop. I'll save the full spiel as I go into greater detail in my upcoming Popmatters column. However, I'll say this: kinda meh on both efforts, but happy they're out there, token or not, to keep the convo going. And, most important, both make clear that hip hop/blackness is not the boogieman; the blood of commerce and social ills is on all of our hands.

So, as another Black History Month passes, I am thinking of a master plan for everybody, not just my brothers and sisters, man.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Last Night a Design Saved My Life

This ish be Thisish

Thisish sampler (streaming audio)
(Purchase here

It's been a while, since I've just blahgged, so here's a quick shot about the au courant isht.

A couple weeks ago, an LP-sized box with a familiar tank logo found its way into my mailbox. Enclosed was, simply, a CD (I know, lots of space to breathe) in a baroquely adorned digi-pack design. I took a moment to consider the matching magenta-yellow camo-style designs on both the box and CD before popping the CD in and reading the press release. Hey, they got me.

The folks at Thisish, at the risk of redundancy by quoting myself, can be described as a "lifestyle company." They deal in fields tied together through entertainment, especially (but not exclusive to) design, apparel, music, and special events. In other words, they're probably like (a lot of) you and I: they "wear many hats"/"multi-task"/do a lot of shit.

I suppose most of my peers are in this situation out of necessity. After all, not-for-profit lives up to its namesake by being a thoroughly unpaid field -- of course, there are always exceptions to the rule -- that encourages many to, uh, explore other job options.

I would hardly call the situation sour grapes, though. Just as the record industry merged into the present day Big Five, product and service companies across the globe are finding collaboration/mergers and cross-marketing to be quite lucrative. Therefore, a broader skill/experience set opens opportunities in the current job market.

So, don't call it grinding for grinding's sake: Thisish has pulled together a cohesive, marketable package. On the macro level, they want to expand into the music market. On the nuts and bolts micro level, they spruced up a comp with unknown producers to get the word out.

Which, I know, belated newsflash: is the industry's new thing. To review:
  • Consistent (tank) and current (baroque) design for branding purposes? Check.
  • Limited edition bells and whistles (collectible box) to maintain post-shelf-life buzz and create collector's appeal? Check.
  • Established artist co-sign and hosting of compilation (Large Professor) to boost credibility? Check.
Looks like Thisish is about to set up shop and drop its next degree.

I'll be back tomorrow with some semi-soft cheese and semi-formed thoughts. Gotta get the most out of Black History Month 2007's waning hours...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ashy Wednesday

Courtesy Talya D.

Jane's Addiction - "Mountain Song" (mp3)
(Purchase here)

Beastie Boys - "A Year and A Day" (mp3)
(Peep Oh Word's fantastic recap of my favorite MCA track; purchase here)

Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions - "Keep On Pushing"
(Purchase here)

"The sustainability of social change movements... is not a function of personalities; it's a function of process and organization. And when we understand that, that is when we will really begin to put our house in order."
~ Bruce Gordon, State of Black America 2007 (via Notes, via Prometheus6)

Coming down the mountain, one of eight children, I found myself reconsidering opinions, cashing out, and tuning in. See, this President's Day weekend I traded two Jacksons (thanks again, bee) for minus 13 degrees and a break from the rat race. See what a little subzero weather and reduction of priorities to basic necessities can do for the soul? And Clemens had the gall to call Annie Sullivan a "miracle worker" ~ just give me the freeze...

While driving back to thoughts of a Swedish massage shower, I put it together with a fellow hiker: the multiplicity of identity, the length of the average modern resume, and the unimportance of ego. Case in point? Urban Word, an organization that may actually be about its constituency: the keeeds. By enabling, coordinating, and promoting the teenager's creative process, the organization takes direction from its own students. In order to have a future, the group recognizes it must be mutable and know when to let go.

Granted, UW is a small organization experiencing growing pains and adjusting accordingly. In other words, its size almost permits flexibility. So, imagine my exhilaration to return home and watch Bruce Gordon, President and CEO of NAACP since August 2005, articulate the same thought at the State of Black America conference. As Prometheus6 says, regardless of one's opinions of the man or his organization, you can't step to what he's saying:

Friends, this is real talk that applies to all of us. Awareness of action. Release of the self/ego. Consciousness of being. The danger of the Fuck You, Pay Me ethos is, well, you're telling someone to shut the eff up and pay you. Compensation trumping conversation. No conversation means no relationship. And without relationships, how are we to build that coalition to save our funky azzes? Fortunately, this paradigm is available to all from the top to the bottom. So even when George and Trent stray from the path to the promise land, that doesn't mean we have to sulk and gasface. People get ready, there's a meeting out yonder...

A couple shouts for the weekend:
  • The First M.E.E. (Media Expression Education) Festival runs from February 23 (tomorrow) to February 25. Lots of performance, including the annual slam at BAM on Saturday February 24, run by the aforementioned Urban Word folks. Also loads of workshops and panels, including "When the Gun Draws: Addressing the Epidemic of Gun Violence and the Propaganda Behind It." Simon says, "Attend!" because Pharaohe Monch will be on the panel (and dude has something to say on the topic):

    Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School (BCAM) Auditorium
    70 Tompkins Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206
    Friday, February 23

  • The Fourth Annual NYC Grassroots Media Conference:
    Media and Movements Beyond Borders
    is poppin' on Saturday, February 24 over at the New School. Of note, "BGirls, Battles, & Breakin' Barriers: Young Women's Hip Hop Activism in Brazil and Beyond" is a session being co-led by Leah King from 10-11:30am that will melt your face. For full schedule, peep at the jump.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

You Send Me

Do you get what he's sayin'??

sintalentos - lovely day daze (mp3)

Wilson Pickett - I'm in Love
Lou Rawls - You’ve Made Me So Very Happy
Staple Singers - I'll Take You There
Joe & Ann - Gee Baby
Ray Charles - It Should've Been Me
Brenton Wood - Gimme Little Sign
Dennis Brown - Things In Life
Cornell Campbell - Ten To One
Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
Donny Hathaway - What A Woman Really Means
The Muscle Shoals Horns - Addicted To Your Love
Greg Perry - Love Is Magic (this and the Muscle Shoals were swagger jacked from Matt Africa and B.Cause. cop that Soul Boulders magic here (scroll to the bottom), if you haven't already)
Lauryn Hill - Tell Him
Al Green - I'm Glad You're Mine
Linda Lyndell - What A Man [Ed. - you'd think I'd know what's on my own blend, eh?]

happy day, tricks.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Peace to the Gods

Do you get what I'm sayin'?

sintalentos - dumbo drop (mp3)

The Headhunters - God Make Me Funky
El Michels Affair - C.R.E.A.M.
Donald Byrd - Wind Parade
Armando Trovajoli - Sessomatto
Juice - Catch a Groove
Fatback Band - Do the Busstop
Roy Ayers - Runnin' Away
A Tribe Called Quest - Go Ahead in the Rain
EPMD - Time 2 Party
Stevie Wonder - All I Do

So much for my idea of a week of man-boy love.

First, a belated new year greeting. Once again, I've been busy. Sure, it seems paltry. But '07 is about to get hectic...

Returning to that apparent NAMBLA WMD dropped upstairs, I wanted to spend the week exploring man love. Not this sort. Nor that sort. But, to use the parlance of my day, the spirit of giving daps. The art of showing your propers. 'Nuff respect, dig?

Be it because of (sub-)conscious homophobia or unchecked aggression, man love rarely gets any recognition itself. Which is ironic, or backhandedly hypocritical, considering that one of the recognized promoters of the high five, that iconic and appropriated gesture of exchanging greetings or respect, was Glenn Burke, an openly homosexual pro baseball player (and yet another reason why I will find it difficult to hold the Lost Angels Dodgers in any regard). Also a shame, considering the restrictions it places on male expressions of emotion: it's either a passive acknowledgment of another's existence ('sup) or brokeback (nullus).

I'll explore male exchanges of daps in hip hop for an upcoming Call & Response feature. For now, I will keep the chatter abbreviated and just let loose some random, mental loogies.

* * *

I want to kick this theme off with a blahg roll of sorts, because it's been a while since I've shown propers to my peers:
  • Joyce: Or should I say Moyce? Joyce Quitasol opened a lovely bakeshop in the heart of Prospect Heights late last summer (with the help of her photographer husband Mo Chin), but hasn't slowed a bit since. Though I loved her baking from the drop, she has continued to surprise and impress with new tricks, like chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting or cranberry bread pudding. And, because she's so gangster, she even started baking bread for the weekend crowd; brioche never melted in my mouth like that (hint: it also holds up well even after a week in the fridge). The big kids have already shone some press, but do yourself a favor and show some love. Stop by and EAT.

  • Internets Celebrities: It seems like DP is the frequent recipient of my mighty five (no Jacko), but a solid congratulations to Rafi and him for going Hollywood Jones at Sundance. Chea, indeed!

  • Essential Tridentials: Although this is my boy's boy's blend, it features a couple of my boy's tracks... including a killer B'more Bowie mix that melts my face. Feed Me Bass is running this mix shit.

  • O Archduke's "O Archduke (Campeão do Bundão)": Sure, Brasil is the latest third world heartthrob and baile funk the latest love child of world music and 4080, but Louis Katz introduced me to a beautiful culture. And he has a sense of humor about it. Keep your eyes peeled on Comedy Central this year...

  • Leukemia Research/Awareness/Cure: The other day, I watched New York Doll, the documentary about the late New York Dolls bassist Arthur "Killer" Kane and his conversion to Mormonism and band reunion. I was struck by the man's calm and peace, even though he passed away from leukemia shortly after the Dolls' reunion show in the UK. Grace under pressure (though he did not know he was ill until a couple hours before his death), indeed. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's webpage, "the relative five-year survival rate has more than tripled in the past 46 years for patients with leukemia." That said, "an estimated 35,070 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed in the United States in 2006." If you'd like to learn more or help support the organization's efforts to research, educate, and cure, a friend is co-hosting a worthy event tonight:

    "Aileen Castro and Glenna Palley will be hosting; 'If You Think You Can Run It' a Silent Auction to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The event will take place on Thursday February 1st at Maker¹s in New York City, 3rd Avenue and E. 29th Street from 7-10pm. Music provided by DJ Tony Rico.

    "Admission is free! 100% of the proceeds from the silent auction go to LLS. We will be accepting cash, checks & credit cards."

  • You: Lastly, I want to thank the small circle of friends out there in the innernets and beyond. I'd promise to make a more concerted effort to stay on top of my blahging, but I'd be letting loose my M.U.M. Kidding. You'll hear plenny from me this year. Enjoy the quick mix above, just some fun ol' beats from the boys making noise in my head.