Friday, August 29, 2008

Qualifications Required: Class, Substance, and a Nice Left Hook

The shadowboxing session is officially over, and the fight is ON. Thanks to software issues, I missed most of the video from the Democratic National Convention, including this wonderful memory on video. Push for the top, Obama. I feel happy to vote again.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Common ft. Pharrell: ANNOUNCEMENT (Reupped and Playing)

I know what my man Rich is thinking right about now: I stop by your spot sometimes and see nothing new, and then you suddenly have 50 MILLION posts!


Common's INVINCIBLE SUMMER project has not received an effective release date, but new tracks and videos are showing up on every decent music site and blog. This Little X-directed collaboration with Pharrell, "Announcement," premiered on Okayplayer today. Enjoy, and I THINK I am done with blogging for the day.

By the way, the chocolate lady who gets in the "Lincoln" with Com--MAAAAAAAN! High-five for Jesus...

We Still Have a Duty

During the last local election here in San Diego, I broke the cardinal rule of the Harris-Wilson-Maine-Morgan family:
Vote, lest ye deny your duty.
Sadly, I had little choice; EACH of the candidates for city government posts placed a brother's "spidey-sense" on high-alert vibrate. How sad this truth is, and how shameful it leaves me even now, that I felt powerless to choose someone who could best lead this city. Voting, at its very kernel, is meant to EMPOWER people, yet I felt civilly limp, impotent, and Viagra-less. That feeling was worse than any childhood nightmare.

I pray that I never feel that way ever again. The current President of the United States was able to get into power a second time thanks to voter apathy and a purchased vote, and the nation has been living with the constant abuse of our collective hope and intelligence since the first day of his second administration. Election time is coming 'round again soon, and I pray that the candidates who follow "Tricky Dubby" show more poise and civil respect than Bush has during his entire presidency. I am non-partisan, but I support Barack Obama for president because I feel he is what he displays. I don't agree with his every policy position, but I see a man who understands the need to renew the soil of American hope and and to restore global confidence in the United States again.

In the only words Jesse Jackson speaks that actually stand for something, "keep hope alive."

The opinions expressed on this blog are just that--opinions--and are the sole proprietary thought of the writer. If you happen to agree, please accept a soul shake; if not, so what?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Welcome Back to the Soul in Music

Raphael Saadiq is back, and he brought his A-game in a smooth way. His new project brings fond memories of the first time I heard Tony Toni Tone's SONS OF SOUL album, with its beautiful gritty/smooth mixture of classic soul sounds that haunted and moved the course of my love life for a few years. This new CD, THE WAY I SEE IT, promises to be a step in the right direction for every listener who loves REAL music, true love songs, and musicality that sets quite a high scale for the music industry today. Thanks to my lil-piece-o'-musical-paradise-online, Okayplayer, you can enjoy four tracks from the project AND this cool new video. Enjoy, and dance close to someone you love if you can.

Mmmmm...Sweeeeeeeeeet? Where's my lady love? Come here and dance with your man!

Another Knowles Experience?

I will not compare Beyonce to Solange; talent stands on its own. Beyonce's style grew on me, due in no small part to the fact that she's built like a Commodores song and that she sounds like a force of nature. Her talented sister Solange is growing on me, too. Listening to Solange's new project, SOL-ANGEL AND THE HADLEY STREET DREAMS is akin to taking a tour through a museum of sounds. Touting SICK vocal range (turns out Beyonce ain't the only killa in the family), Solange's sophomore CD may take a patient listen on some tracks, but it will grow on you. She mines great sound fields--Shuggie Otis, Diana Ross, TSOP, and other legendary influences--to make a surprisingly unique and impressive project. Just don't try to figure out the choreography/song combinations as you watch her live...

Check out her performance of her new vibe, "Sandcastle Disco," on David Letterman's show. Enjoy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Look What a Polite Request Can Get Ya!

Before I begin this post, let me say something for the transgender people in San Diego: pay your plastic surgeons well if you want to look like your fantasy image of yourself, and don't get mad if I call you by your OBVIOUS gender's title of respect. I don't care if you have enough silicone to fill an E cup; that Adam's apple is too easy to notice, bruh. Man, when did Starbucks become Drag City?! Thank God that my wife is sitting here to remind me to keep my mouth shut.

But I digress...

Okayplayer laced my eyes and ears with some recent footage of a surprise weekend Erykah Badu performance in Dallas. Lady Badu's "Tyrone" is a favorite of rock/psychedelic soul/country/a ton of other music group My Morning Jacket (I don't make the names, I just report them), so much of a favorite that the group covered the tune on their recent project (click here to listen) and respectfully requested Sistah Badu's presence at the Dallas show to put some stankonia on the track. According to the Okayplayer story, Badu initially opted not to show, but the band and the fans got a great surprise when she strutted onstage just as the fellows started their version of the song.

Who says politeness is never rewarded anymore? Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


OKayplayer featured this video, which debuted on Pitchfork, in the Music section of Okayblog recently. Toronto has some of the dopest, most imaginative, and most musically eclectic artists in hip hop (shout out to Kardinal Offishall and K-os...and Saukrates) and some of the strongest b-boys and b-girls on the planet. This young man Shad gets love from America for the concept video and forgiveness for the subject matter. Enjoy, and pay close attention to the "credits" throughout the feature (lol).

Andre 3000 to the Rescue (Or, How a Hip Hop Artist Turns an Okay Song into a Prize-winner)

DISCLAIMER: That was a long title. Blame the length and the sarcastic overtone on my personal belief that the music industry in America and much of Europe owes its very survival to hip hop.

"Rhymin' is more like coal-minin'"-- Mos Def .

This is a John Legend song, a John Legend-penned lyric over a John Legend-written track, but Andre 3000 set it off like a movie about some sistahs who robbed a bank. Share your thoughts, and feel free to disagree.

I have to say, the freestyle that Andre spits is the highlight for me! Now, would someone please explain the bike?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Get Close to Music History: Public Enemy

Welcome to the new edition of an old hip hop vision. Pitchfork TV has posted a three-part documentary that covers the seminal years of one of my favorite group of artists, Public Enemy. Though this documentary focuses mainly on Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" album, it covers an incredible amount of history and explains the processes and mindset that forged a sound that blew the every sonic limit set on music off the map. As detailed as this story is, it flows quickly and smoothly. Enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts.

I almost forgot: Peace and love to the city of Chicago (my favorite city) and Pitchfork for hosting what I'm told was a great music festival.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

For My "Diamond Girl"

Ryan Leslie is a talented fellow. I know very little about him, but a few Youtube performances show that he has a knack for live music and Sammy Davis-homage performances. Featured here is the video for a nice little ditty dubbed "Diamond Girl," a tune that definitely knocks in the truck. Listen, enjoy, and tell me how you feel about it.

New Music: Rhymefest's STOLEN

Perhaps you should read the preceding post FIRST. I posted this video because the imagery and the message stunned me, prompting me to write the missive in the last post. Watch, listen, and please leave your thoughts.

Reasons Why I Am Thankful (Inspired by CapCity)

All of my limbs are fully functioning.
My slightly overweight body is still strong, agile, and [somewhat] flexible.
My knuckles are not disfigured from fighting for my life.
My mind may feel sugar-riddled at times, but I have full use of my faculties.
I know the difference between caring and tolerance.
I love and am loved.
I know that God exists, loves me, and holds my every need and concern close to His heart.
I have family.
I have friends.
I have the beautiful ability to combine the two.
I can love one woman, two cats, and the man God makes of me--and I still have love to spare.
I have a habit of telling the truth.
I stopped lying to my soul, and it appreciates the respect.
I have never been poor.
I know the difference between "broke" and "poor" is love and the heart's condition.
My mind can develop more than "I" statements.
Selfishness and I officially divorced this year, and I was wise enough to let her keep our children, Anger and Depression.
The Middle Passage was only a stop along Time's journey for some of my ancestors.
Ignorance does not like me very much; I never leave him room at my table.
I am not afraid of my neighbor.

*Picture: Screenshot of Rhymefest's "STOLEN" video, which will be featured in the next blog posting.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

And Now...Prepare for the End

Whoa! This is not some apocalyptic notice of doom and gloom, true believer, so keep your happy face shining. The Olympic ceremony, incredible as it was [the sky-runner lighting the torch blew my mind], reminded me that summer is nearly over. Even SoCal, where the rain is [normally] scarce in the summer months, enjoys the prettiest sunrises and sunsets in the summertime. In tribute to the seasons' changing, I present to you my favorite ode to summer gladness and madness, Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince performing "SUMMERTIME." Enjoy it, and cherish every remaining day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ecoutez et parlez--Or, How to Relearn French After a Nine-Year Hiatus

I am revisiting [struggling to remember] conversational French since I haven't had a conversation en francais in nearly nine years. I owe much respect, love, and appreciation to ma professeur Mme. Ford, the Cajun high school teacher who managed to teach how to "listen humanly to speak naturally": listening to the words, the cadence, the pauses, and the accents as you watch the gestures and facial expression. It worked; I confidently had conversations with native French and Canadian (Vive la Quebec!) speakers with ease--until I stopped maintaining my newfound talent.

The desire to resume my bilingual days (the only "bi" I will EVER be) has led me to French websites, free online language classes, and a renewed interest in French music. Jazz and hip hop have long benefited from the wit, musical textures, and smooth-as-silk flow of French musicians, singers, and rhyme artists. Guru of GangStarr fame introduced me to French hip hop in the early Nineties with a collaboration (the first of many) with French MC Solaar on the first installment of the JAZZMATAZZ music series, a series of projects that included some masterful joinings of classic and new jazz artists with fresh new (and now legendary) acts from the world of hip hop. The circle remains unbroken: I am once again learning how to speak a beautiful language and finding equally beautiful music. Enjoy Hocus Pocus.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Tension Is Building--Something's Got to Give

Tough as times may be right now, do not allow the pressure cooker of stresses, strains, and inflation to push you past your limit. Some of us are feeling the effects of recession like a vice grip closing on our heads even as others of us are more comfortable yet no less concerned, but the bottom line is that we are all in this together.

Now more than ever, simple human kindness and some good manners can go a long way. People are angry over food and gas prices, tricky politics, unwanted war that is constantly claiming our sons' and daughters' lives, and much, much more. Can you think of a better time to show some simple kindness to your neighbor, some love to your friends and your friends' friends?

Do not let the tensions of trying times and governmental absurdity kill your God-given humanity. Something has to give; God never allows us to endure more than we can handle. Peace and blessings from San Diego, CA, go across the nation to you and yours.