Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Favorite Albums Right Now!

If you see me and I have my ipod, I'm probably listening to one of these albums.

Tegan and Sara: The Con
This is a fantastic album, higly addictive melodies and great songwriting.

Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
I know Bob has a gazillion albums but, this one is my favorite.

Bunny Wailer: Blackheart Man
Bunny made this album after he left The Wailers, songs like "Fighting against Convictions" and "Reincarnated Souls" are essential for any lover of real roots. A blackheart man means a rasta man in case you are wondering.

Grizzly Bear: Vecktimest
Grizzly Bear
I don't know what exactly it is that I like about this album, I just like it. Listening to it can be a beautiful and frustrating experience.

De La Soul: Stakes is High
De La
This is De La's best album in my opinion, dope lines for days. "Gun control means using both hands in my land."

Midnite: Assini
The best reggae band not from Jamaica. This album is good from beginning to end.

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
A lyrically sublime, sonically sprawling collection of mystical meditations, has to be heard to be believed.

DOOM: Born Like This
What can I say about Doom? Listening to this album is a wonderful, whacky and dope hip-hop trip.

JDilla: Discography
J Dilla
I have about 600 Dilla tracks on my Itunes. I listen to Dilla a lot.

Tom Waits: The Bone Machine
Tom Waits
It's difficult to describe Tom Waits. He is music's most beloved vagabond poet. This album is a totally eccentric and unpredictable piece of art. This album is more than just music. It's like an abstract car crash.

Camron': Boss of all Bosses
I find Cam highly entertaining. Camron says the most ridiculous shit and makes it sound dope, an inflated sense of self is a strange thing. The new kid Vado is nice..Killa!!!

Raekwon: Only Built For Cuban Linx 2
This album knocked me on my ass! The Wu are still on the swarm. Cinematic in scope and conceptually dope! The tribute to ODB is touching.

The Black Keys: Brothers
If you enjoy gut bucket, funky, guitar rock, The Black Keys got it. Brothers is dope like The BK's other joints.

Nas and Damian Marley: Distant Relatives
Great collaboration album. Great songs. Great lyrics. Great cause.

Nneka: Concrete Jungle
This is freedom music, her style kinda reminds me of Lauryn Hill and she's a cutie pie.

Janelle Monae: The Archandroid
Everytime I listen to this album, I feel like I've been sprinkled with happy dust. This is just an outstanding record. Janelle Monae makes my ears smile.

I bump these albums also:
Elvis Costello: My Aim is True
Jeff Buckley: Sketches For My Sweetheart the Drunk
Esperanza Spaulding: Esperanza
Fiona Apple: When The Pawn
Georgia Anne Muldrow: Olesi
Madlib: The Beat Konducta series
Mos Def: The Ecstatic
Radiohead: Kid A
Ray Lamontagne: Trouble
Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Morrissey: Everyday is like Sunday

Yeah, I like Morrissey. And what!? Before George Michael and Maxwell made women’s panties wet, there was Morrissey. Before I discovered Nas and Bob Dylan’s ability to paint pictures with words, Morrissey was my lyrical hero. I don’t remember how I was introduced to Morrissey but, I remember being drawn to his unexplainable magnetism, his voice, his flair for theatrics and the imagery in his lyrics. He was the reincarnation of James Dean and Rimbaud. He’s was a living and breathing surrealist poem, a singing and dancing Shakespeare. I came across this video and it brought back all of those memories of listening to The Smiths and Morrissey’s solo work for hours on end. I chose this particular video because of the enthusiastic crowd reaction and the affect that he still has on his audience well into his fifties. Enjoy.

Nas and Damian Marley: Distant Relatives


Distant Relatives is a great concept record. When I first heard about this album I became amped. Everybody knows that Nas is a lyrical god to me. And I respect Damian Marley’s contribution to roots and culture reggae. To some, Nas hasn’t been consistent over the years after the release of Illmatic. One of the arguments against Nas is that he puts more emphasis on lyrics, than on the overall song, which leaves the listener with a less than satisfying experience.

Distant Relatives is a perfect combination of lyrics and music. The majority of the tracks on Distant Relatives are infused with afro-beat, afro-jazz, reggae and African tribal rhythms. Nas and Damian Marley make these songs their bitch! It is a complete listening experience from beginning to end. Songs like “Dispear”, “Tribes at war” and “Nah mean” knock so hard. Damian Marley with some help from his brother Stephen (Marley) handle the production chores, on each song Nas sounds revitalized, probably because he could focus on what he loves the most, creating images with words. The son of a reggae king and hip hop’s enigmatic lyrical genius came through with this album. Salute!

Monday, May 24, 2010

R.I.P Boondocks

I was a huge fan of The Boondocks first season. I thought Aaron McGruder’s satirical approach to race and race relations was brilliant. I thought his characterizations of Gangstaliscious and Uncle Ruckus was genius. I particularly enjoyed Huey and Riley’s subtle moments in that suburban landscape that they were thrust into. That is how I felt the first season and half of the second season.

After last night’s episode, I declare that The Boondocks has officially made a mockery of itself. I find it tedious and no longer a fresh face on race and race relations. I am disappointed because The Boondocks presents itself as a satire; therefore it must be satirical and if the satire fails, so goes the message.

This is The Boondocks final season, as it should be. It seems McGruder has run out of fresh perspectives. I guess genius is fleeting.

Babies - Movie Trailer

I saw "Babies" yesterday at E street cinema. It was pretty good. The movie was shot from the babies' perspectives. It chronicled four babies from four different cultures, from birth to thier first steps. There was no dialogue, except for the parent's chatter and some baby talk, that's it.

Toxic Juice


Mother Earth wept.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Janelle Monae's The ArchAndroid: Musical Bliss


I am not a fan of post Notorious B.I.G, Diddy. So, when I heard that Janelle Monae signed to Bad Boy records, I thought that her music career was over. I am happy to report that I was wrong. Janelle Monae’s album The ArchAndroid is absolutely fantastic! I give Diddy props for three things, recognizing the talent of Biggie and Janelle Monae and for staying out of Janelle Monae’s way. I salute you Diddy!

The ArchAndroid is a Soul, funk, rock, gospel, folk, swing jazz, hip-hop, show tunes; Roger Corman meets Blade Runner mash up. Janelle Monae has a beautiful voice that blends seamlessly into the songs that were selected for this record. The eighteen tracks on The ArchAndroid satisfy different musical palettes. And it seems that the producers crafted each track to represent Janelle Monae’s hyperkinetic persona. My personal favorite songs from the album are “Oh, Maker” and “Tightrope”. I love those Joints.

Also, I like the fact that Diddy seemed to have had nothing to do with the recording process of the album. There are no unnecessary ad libs or any samples from popular songs from the nineties found anywhere on this album.

The ArchAndroid is a solid full length album from Janelle Monae. She is really heavy with the Science fiction themes and chauffer suits but, the lady is extra heavy on talent. Get the ArchAndroid; it’s worth the download or the trip to Target or Wal-mart, depending on how you get your music. Ah, man. Just get it!

Check out her performance of Tightrope on Letterman

The Morning Papers


Every morning I do a writing exercise called The Morning Papers. The point of doing the exercise is to write or type the first thing that comes to your mind, this helps to unlock the well of creativity that exists inside of us. I write three full pages of unedited thoughts each and every morning. These are some of my stream of consciousness meanderings. Welcome to the randomness of my morning mind.

There is dust on this desk. Where does the dust come from? I know there are millions of particles floating in the atmosphere. Do the particles get tired from floating all day and rest on desks, counters and lamp shades? There is a mug on this dusty desk with ink pens coming out of its guts. There is a lonely phone on the dusty desk that screams but is unanswered. There is a Dictionary and a Thesaurus on this dusty desk and a Stevie Wonder box set that wants to be played. There lies a puncher of holes on the dusty desk that feels neglected. The dust rests there because pre hole punched paper is its enemy. There is a lamp on the dusty desk with weird shaped feet and a pot belly and dust rests there too. The lamp has a wooden face and a avocado colored head that lights up when you touch its neck and turns it on. There is a picture of Fatin and Aja on the dusty desk. There is information on trees and millions of words in stacks on the floor beside the dusty desk waiting to be explored.

There are two pillows on an ugly couch nestled beside the dusty desk. The pillows rest side by side underneath the view master. There is a family of trash cans inside of the view master; trash is trying to escape so it can get freedom on the pavement. There are cobble stones under the silver fence inside of the view master taking a beating from strange feet. There is life inside of the view master, dead but still living.

This dusty desk where particles rest and a weird footed lamp and a neglected hole puncher and a lonely telephone and a wounded mug and a Stevie Wonder boxed set has a cell phone that blips and beeps from emails and tweets. The red light flashes a warning signal. Check this text at your own risk. There is a television behind me that wants to be turned on so that it can program me. I show it whose boss by leaving it turned off. This dusty desk holds weight like spirits. The sharpie wants to high light. The pens want to make letters into words. The dictionary is a discovery tool waiting for you to open it up and open your mind. Then using pens, makes sense. It makes perfect sense because it is a stream of my consciousness. I am writing the first thing that enters my mind from the pre mind entry place. Thoughts wait there until the mind needs them and, then they enter the mind and do their job. I’ll keep writing until I run out of words and I know a lot of words.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Memories Live: 1994

Nas 2

In the summer of 1994, I was 21, staying in D.C. for the summer, I worked at The National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington Va., stayed at my mom's place on Benning Road in Northeast DC in the Langston Terrace projects. Also, that spring, Illmatic by Nas was released on April 19 and the highlight of that year for me was seeing Nas live at the Ibex nightclub on Georgia Ave.

The first time I heard Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones’ lyrical magic was on Live at the Barbeque, track 10, on Main Source’s debut album “Breaking Atoms”. Nas’ verse on Live at the Barbeque introduced a new generation of emcees to a dope lyrical sickness. That one verse by a seventeen year old kid from the Queens Bridge projects marked an influential, stylistic change in hip hop. The line that sold me on Nas’ lyrical prowess was “When I was 12 I went to hell for snuffing Jesus.” Dope. The way I listened to rappers was different after I heard Nas spit. In my opinion, he single handedly raised the bar for lyricism in hip hop.

On a warm summer night in June of 1994, a few months after Nas’ debut album Illmatic dropped, me and my crew piled into Maniac’s green Durango (I think that was the model, I’m probably wrong) with forties of St. Ides, a bottle of Boones farm and a fifth of Hennessey. The destination: The Ibex nightclub to see our lyrical hero. The night was friendly and the air was filled with excitement. When we entered the lobby area of the Ibex, the main hall was already packed. We walked upstairs and positioned ourselves on the top tier. There was a lot of mystery surrounding Nas at the time. He was heard but rarely seen outside of his close circle of friends, at least that's what I read in Rap Pages and those other early hip hop rags. The anticipation in that room was on a hundred thousand trillion.

After listening to the club DJ play hype track after hype track, the music stopped and Nas’ Dj (I think it was L.E.S) appeared on stage and asked the crowd “Are yall ready for Nas?” the crowd of hip hop heads screamed back “Yeah!” in unison. “The Genesis” the intro on the Illmatic album played and then it was time for Nas. When New York State of Mind dropped and Nas walked out everybody lost their fuckin minds in that place. He was wearing a green flight jacket and some black jeans if my memory serves me correctly and proceeded to rip the mic to shreds, there wasn’t a head not bobbing or a hand not in the air. Everybody in attendance hung on his every word as hip hop’s Buddha monk treated us to five joints from the East Coast street bible “Illmatic”. We were galvanized, mesmerized and dazzled at what we were witnessing that night. He performed New York State of Mind, The World is yours, Halftime, One love and It Ain’t Hard to Tell (the Pete Rock remix) in that order. He didn’t talk in between songs, he came to bless us with the music, when he finished his set he said "Peace and Respect DC!" and he was gone.

The show was over but we all stood there like we had just seen Jesus in Air Force Ones. I couldn’t articulate exactly what I was feeling at the time. But now I know that I witnessed a legend in a dank, smoky club on a warm summer night in Washington, D.C.