Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Is Madness


A post on The Board Room inspired this post.

Recently, here in DC, a 21-year old woman named Ashley McCrea was murdered by a young man that was said to be her boyfriend; because it was rumored that she was talking to another man at a club. The story broke my heart. When a woman is brutally murdered by a man I feel deeply saddened. I meditate on the loss; I don’t need to know the circumstances surrounding the taking of the life to feel. I relate to the family and friends who are all victims and the cyclical effect that it has on all parties involved.

To further sadden an already sad scenario, a shootout took place at Ashley’s funeral that killed one young man and injured several others. This is Madness!

Ashley McCrea is another victim in a long line of women murdered at the hands of a misguided male. I believe that you treat people based on how you feel about yourself and some of these brothers have a twisted sense of what it means to be a man. Violence against women is a violation of human rights. Violence is not just physical; it includes emotional, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. The consequences are far reaching and yes it includes death.

As men, we should be the vanguards or our communities; we have a responsibility to protect our women. We should be dealers of life not death. I know some brothers think otherwise but we all have a mother. She allowed us to come through her to have this spiritual experience of life and to me that is reason enough to be respectful of our sisters, young and old.

I don’t want to see another woman die at the hands of an insecure, controlling and emotionally immature man and similarly, I don’t want anyone to die at the hands of another because murderers confuse themselves with god.

Sisters, please look for early signs of abuse. Control can be executed in subtle and unassuming ways. Let your spirit guide. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Get help and get out before it’s too late.

Emotional Abuse: Being insulted, intimidated, humiliated or isolated are some of the more hidden signals that a relationship may be abusive. Abusers often maintain power over their partners through behaviors that lower their partner's self-esteem and make them feel helpless. Abusers may use both emotional and physical abuse to exert control. Even if it does not leave scars that you can see, emotional abuse can cause serious harm. Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem can be lasting consequences of abuse.

Physical Abuse: Being slapped, kicked, punched, pushed or choked are more obvious, physical signs that a relationship is abusive. Bruises, scratches, welts, cuts, broken bones and abrasions may result, but abusers may consciously hurt victims in ways that avoid detection by the casual observer.

Economic Abuse: Being denied access to money is a more subtle sign of abuse. Taking paychecks and withholding bill payments are a few examples of economic abuse. This leads to financial dependence on the abuser, an effective method of power and control.

Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse can include a wide range of forced or unwanted sexual activity, including touching and suggestive or offensive comments. Being forced to have sex against your will is rape, even if the perpetrator is your partner.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Props Over Here: A Love Movement

I am excited (and very humbled) to announce, that my brother in ink Moanerplicities tagged me in a meme that originated at the Electronic Village Blog, which is a place that celebrates the work of Black Bloggers.
Out of his five blog choices, he selected my blog because: “Well, basically it’s because, I dig your blog, your writing steelo, the way you engage your readers, the title of your page and b/c you’re so damn cool! Aiight?”

So the rules of the meme are: Create five links about:

1. Link one must be about Family.
2. Link two must be about Friends.
3. Link three must be about me-who I am, what I’m about;
4. Link four must be about something I love
5. Link five can be about anything I choose!

Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better… Let us begin

Friends ( How many of us have them?)

I consider music lover and bi-racial angel Nicole, a very good friend of mine. She and I haven’t seen each other in a while but we communicate often through blog comments and email exchanges. She is adventurous, creative, hard-working and funny as hell. Also, she is an anti-elitist behavior crusader, so be certain not to piss her off. She is not heavy, she is my buddy.

My homie Kevin is the best hip hop producer that the world hasn’t heard. He is a technology geek, a budding multi-media mogul and a good, passionate brother.

My main man Rob is a producer on the come up, loyal friend and all around good dude. I’ve known brother for a long time and his loyalty and friendship is unwavering and unchanging.

About Me:

I am the funky feel one, a deep thinker and a feel good technician. I am the talking book whose topic and point is neurological nutrition. I am bullshit repellent, a student of the black arts and black power movements. I am religion breathing; believe in me, my words are sound wave sermons of faith and divinity. I am the keeper of the force, the revolting revolutionary. I am Garvey’s ghost, the protector of legacy. I am the straw that broke the racist’s back; I’m the flesh on the whip. I am the shotgun on the side of Harriet Tubman’s hip. I am George Jackson’s cellmate, the b-boy supreme; indigenous to the slums, the jester that became king. If you want less abstract facts click Here

I love the evolution of black folk and artistic expression of all kinds (music, poetry, art, photography, etc.)

I love education, especially history and specifically our history before and since arriving on the shores of North America. I’m talking about black history yall! Peep This

This is the hardest part of this entire process, choosing five blogs. There are tons of great blogs in the black blogosphere but these particular blogs stay on my radar. Click on the names to experience their greatness.

1. Moanerplicities: This is my brother of the pen and a kindred audio junkie. Lin is a good dude whose spirit is palpable and he is a shining vision for black men, I want to be like him when I grow up. He is like the popular cat in school that you just want to be down with. His pen game is extraordinary, read his blog and be moved.

2. Commentary by Val: Val is a crusader. Her blog is chock full of timely information about politics, fashion and pop culture. What she chooses to blog about speaks to what’s in her heart. She’s a very smart sister, she doesn’t back down from a good fight and she has great eyes.

3. Miz’s Write for Life: Miz has the ability to say so much in just a few lines of prose. She is a highly effective and passionate scribe. She is also a mother, deep thinker and fellow Libra representer. Her blog is a source of inspiration for me. Her words create worlds.

4. Mariposa Tales: When I want to get my Sonia Sanchez on, I visit Felicia’s blog. The sister has skills. Everything about her sings beautiful, from her short passionate prose, to the quotations she chooses for her blog. She is something quiet in a world of thunder (Jason’s Lyric reference, son!)

5. Anna Renee is Still Talking: Anna is like the older sister that only wants the best for you. Her blog is filled with spirituality, afrocentric knowledge and Yoda type wisdom. If you need some education in your life, Anna got it.

And there you have it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Morning Papers: In Dreams


I need to write more. I starred in two dream sequences last night. They both were about me being robbed by a group of dudes. One sequence involved me being in an alley in the back of some club while N.E.R.D was performing inside. I could hear Pharrell’s sweet crooning as I stood in the alley.

Suddenly, out of nowhere I was approached by four faceless thugs and some random chick with a Rhianna forehead and Fantasia lips. From that point on the dream got weird. You know how dreams can be.

I had a gym bag with Lou Ferrigno’s face on it that was green like the Incredible Hulk ( make the connection) so, I ran to the gym bag and stuck my hand inside like I had a blammy but, that didn’t faze the ugly thugs because they kept coming like they were bullets searching for brains. I was surrounded but somehow I ended up on the back stairs of the club with five faceless, nameless dudes wearing G-Unit tank tops and Karate shoes. And before you know it, it was all out war.

The nameless, faceless dudes helped me fight the faceless thugs, the song “Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins started playing and I remember the chick being thrown down a manhole. When she emerged from the depths of the sewer, she was dirty and smelled like shit and as she walked away her butt cheeks were hanging out from under her skirt, which was hiked up. One of the thugs was walking behind her pulled her skirt down, how considerate; the entire sequence was like a bad video game.

*Blank Space*

The other sequence I remember vaguely. I do remember being somewhere in public view and these two women walked pass me. Again, out of nowhere, some random dudes showed up but, these dudes were more aggressive pulling on my IPod ear bud wires trying to snatch my IPod away from me. I resisted their aggression and I screamed for help this time to the two women that passed me, they kept talking and walking.

Finally one of them turned around and I motioned for her to call the police. The dudes were hitting me but I didn’t feel anything and I was holding my own against them. I didn’t have anything but the IPod, these cats were relentless idiots. I don’t know what happened after the woman called the cops, I do remember the she had a cell phone with a rotary dial on it and the dream just went away at that point. I opened my eyes briefly, looked around and realized I was in the same place I fell asleep in. Then, I fell asleep again.

I sat up in bed this morning thinking about what those dreams meant, or if they have any meaning(s) at all. I was thinking that maybe they were about surviving in the face of adversity or something courageous like that, that sounds cool anyway. Or maybe, I listen to too much second hand gangster rap and the dreams were a result of my reality invading my subconscious (does that make any sense?) Maybe, the dreams were trying to signal me to confront my fears and not be afraid. I was faced with bodily harm and possibly death in those dreams but I made it out okay.

Maybe, that was the message, to confront my fears. But, what are the fears? How does being beat up and robbed in my dreams translate to what is happening in conscious reality? There is fear, with my writing and being criticized and not being good enough.

Sometimes I, think about decisions I’ve made in the past and sulk about them even though, there is nothing I can do about them. Sometimes, I spend time doing unproductive things and hanging with people that obviously are reflections of the fears that are internalized in me. Like the saying goes, the people you spend the most time with are a reflection of you in some way.

I think I rationalize it as being a good friend or maybe it’s because compared to them, I look like I am doing great in life. But, maybe I just hide it better than they do. I don’t think so, but, that could be the case. Our minds can play tricks on us with all the access we have to information nowadays. Some of us don’t know if we are coming or going.

I need to work harder and practice more. I don’t devote enough time making myself great at what I am good at. I know this and promise myself at night that tomorrow is going to be the day when I start going hard. Then, tomorrow arrives and I repeat what I did the previous day, which depresses me. Some days I numb myself by drinking light Bacardi rum because, when I am drunk I don’t feel guilty. I just laugh a lot and I’ll deal with the feelings of worthlessness later. Some days, I am a creative genius (funny how that works.) I look back at some of the stuff that I've written and think, Wow! This is really good. I captured my personality perfectly in a few paragraphs. And then I think about the last 10 minutes of Mo’ Better Blues.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Vent List

Just a few things that piss me off. Excuse my french in advance. *this post contains some colorful language*

People that block the intersection during rush hour traffic: Being in rush hour traffic is a pain in the ass as it is (especially here in D.C.) But the experience is always made worse when some ass head drives smack dab in the middle of the intersection and blocks awaiting traffic from going through the light. So now you have to sit at the light longer than you should have to. If idiots would just wait until there was enough room to drive across the intersection, all would be cool in the rush hour traffic universe. Have you noticed that people that do dumb shit in traffic never look over at you? They stare straight ahead like they don’t want your seething blank stare on their conscious or something…LOL!

Dummies that videotape themselves doing knucklehead shit on camera: Like the idiot that recorded herself teaching her 2-year old daughter how to properly smoke a blunt (Talk about child abuse.) Also, people that record themselves doing (what they perceive to be) sexy shit, but the house looks like a crack den in the background. At least clean up if you are going to tape your sexy time antics. But I guess they are keeping it real right?

Porn stars making rap videos: I believe that we all have a purpose in life, maybe several. Brian Pumper and Pinky don’t mistake your purpose for something that you do horribly. Accept the fact that maybe your purpose was to star in Edward Penishands or The Sperminator and to be an inspiration for aspiring horny wet butts everywhere. Leave the lyrical acrobatics to the professionals.

Rappers that think it is cool to be 35 years old and still thuggin: I’m not talking about the rappers that admit that they are entertainers. I’m talking about the rappers that are clearly one step away from the Geritol aisle in your local grocery store on Worldstar and a host of other hip hop sites in videos bagging crack, blowing their noses with one hundred dollars bills and looking ridiculous as fuck. I hate it when a rapper says “the street life is all I know” Really? That is all you know? Why the fuck are you rapping then? You know how to rap right? So that isn’t all that you know. If you are a trapper not a rapper shouldn’t you still be in any ghetto USA weakening the moral fiber of your community? Shouldn’t you be continuing to be an example of Willie Lynch for the next generation to witness? Fuck out of here. You expend all that energy and writing talent recording entire albums about the shit that smart people try so hard to get out of the ghetto to get away from. You are the real hoes and bitches, idiots.

Women that wear provocative attire and get upset when they get the attention they were seeking anyway: I love it when they say stuff like Damn, he all in my face! or what the fuck you looking at? I am looking at your big ass stuffed in those shorts from The Children’s place summer collection. That is what I am looking at. What I’ve learned is, it’s not that they are pissed about being stared at; it’s about who is staring at them. They crave the attention (why else would they dress like their stylist is a Luke dancer) but just from somebody that they are attracted to.

People that are just getting around to trying crack: After all the destruction crack has caused, you still want to try crack-cocaine? Is that right? If you are a Johnny come lately and you truly desire to try a drug that has destroyed millions of lives, you deserve to be out on the streets at all hours of the night selling your Blu-Ray player for $10 trying to recapture that elusive first hit again. Happy hunting cracky.

People that brutally beat their kids in public places: The funny thing is they usually flip out on their kids for doing shit that kids do, like asking for candy or acting erratically. Children are children; they haven’t been living as long as we have. They haven’t mastered the art of patience and obedience yet, they are still learning, jackass. You beating them like they have EverLast written on their foreheads will not speed the process up any faster. It’s not just embarrassing for the child; it’s embarrassing for you too. How about you teach them by example and calm your ass down.

Young women that aspire to be Video Hoes: I know it’s legal and all that but damn, what happened to our children? Just because your ass looks like The Great Pumpkin that doesn’t mean that you have to put it on display for the world to see.

People that are so smart that they’re dumb: Some people are in love with their own thoughts. So in love in fact, that other people’s beliefs and opinions are idiotic and non-sensical and just not on their level. I call these people intellectual elitist. Everything has to be intellectualized or philosophized and broken down scientifically, even shit that doesn’t require all of that. The shallow complexity of their thinking doesn’t enable them to have a simple conversation without them being offensive. And because of their perceived intellectual superiority; they end up saying things in an antagonistic and polarizing manner. Calm your smart happy asses down.

People that were pissed at Kanye West about the Taylor Swift interruption incident: Give me a break. Kanye didn’t commit a crime. He didn’t run up on stage and smack Taylor Swift and say “give me that mic bitch.” He even apologized before he took the mic. He was essentially right about Beyonce’s video. He didn’t say her video was the greatest of all time, he said it was one of the greatest of all time. I don’t recall seeing Taylor Swift’s video being parodied and re-enacted a million times on YouTube and on SNL. I don’t recall Taylor Swift’s video being performed at school assemblies and talent shows across the world. Everybody was on a Kanye witch hunt for a hot minute and I was like what? He was drunk off the gnac and his gigantic ego when he pulled that stunt, if anything it was inopportunistic at best. We fell in love with Kanye because of his unpredictability and his aforementioned brilliant ego and now Taylor Swift comes into the mix and she is victim…GTFOH!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For Colored Girls Trailer

I won't front, I got chills watching this. I hope Tyler doesn't screw this up. I hope he does Ntozake Shange's brilliant piece of work justice.

Greatest Artists of All Time?


If you follow my blog, you should know that I am a lover of music. Recently, Me and a buddy of mine got into a heated discussion about VH1's 100 Greatest Artist of All Time list. Apparently, VH1 gave a ballot to a bunch of musicians and they listed their top five artist of all time and that's how they complied the list. Some of the artist should be on the list, but some should not. Most notably, Jay-Z. I can rest my mind on Beyonce being on the list, I get that, but not Jay. Anyway, the argument started over Jay-Z's placement on the list. My buddy thought that he should be higher and I don't think he should be on the list at all. He also said Michael Jackson was the greatest artist of all time not The Beatles, I disagree with that. (don't stone me) These lists are all subjective anyway. (They are good dialogue starters though.) Personally, I can't pick a greatest artist of all time. There are many artists that should be number one in my opinion, so I'm on the fence about this one.

100 Alicia Keys
99 Hall & Oates
98 Depeche Mode
97 Pretenders
96 Journey
95 OutKast
94 Mariah Carey
93 Pearl Jam
92 LL Cool J
91 Green Day
90 Elvis Costello
89 Beastie Boys
88 Bee Gees
87 George Michael
86 N.W.A.
85 The Band
84 Curtis Mayfield
83 Earth, Wind and Fire
82 Steely Dan
80 Mary J. Blige
79 Eminem
78 Judas Priest
77 Lynyrd Skynyrd
76 Run-D.M.C.
75 Rush
74 The Cure
73 Van Morrison
72 Janis Joplin
71 R.E.M.
70 Def Leppard
69 Tupac Shakur
68 Otis Redding
67 Coldplay
66 Justin Timberlake
65 The Doors
64 Talking Heads
63 Notorious B.I.G.
62 Genesis
61 Cream
60 Whitney Houston
59 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
58 Cheap Trick
57 Iggy & The Stooges
55 Peter Gabriel
54 Public Enemy
53 Little Richard
52 Beyoncé
51 Billy Joel
50 Sade
49 Parliament-Funkadelic
48 Rage Against The Machine
47 Jay-Z
46 Ramones
45 Al Green
44 Joni Mitchell
43 Ray Charles
42 Metallica
41 Van Halen
40 The Police
39 The Kinks
38 Sly & The Family Stone
37 Fleetwood Mac
36 Paul McCartney
35 Johnny Cash
34 Tina Turner
33 Guns N' Roses
32 Black Sabbath
31 John Lennon
30 Aerosmith
29 Radiohead
28 Elton John
27 Aretha Franklin
26 Neil Young
25 Chuck Berry
24 The Velvet Underground
23 AC/DC
22 The Clash
21 Bruce Springsteen
20 Marvin Gaye
19 U2
18 Pink Floyd
17 Queen
16 Madonna
15 The Beach Boys
14 Nirvana
13 The Who
12 David Bowie
11 Bob Marley
10 Stevie Wonder
09 James Brown
08 Elvis Presley
07 Prince
06 Jimi Hendrix
05 Bob Dylan
04 The Rolling Stones
03 Led Zepplin
02 Michael Jackson
01 The Beatles

But I do know that somebody was smoking crack when they put Dylan at number 5 and not including Miles Davis on the list is just criminal.

What do you think of the list? Are any of your favorites missing? In your opinion, who is the greatest artist of all time?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Nasir Jones!


Creator of arguably, the greatest Hip-Hop album of all time.

As Miles Davis' Kind of Blue was to jazz and Marvin Gaye's What's Goin On? was to soul music, Illmatic is arguably the greatest hip-hop album of all time. It's been sixteen years since Illmatic was released, but in some ways, it seems like yesterday. But it also feels like long ago. It's a strange thing---time---especially in the always accelerated world that is hip-hip. On that existential lament "Life's a Bitch," Nas clamimed that "time is illmatic," and no doubt it has been. So much has happened since then. And so much has stayed the same.

Illmatic's subtle and powerful brilliance rests in Nas' detailed descriptions, dense reportage, and visually stunning rhymes of the underbelly of the beast. Like the 1965 landmark masterpiece film The Battle of Algiers, which captured the Algerian resistance against French colonialism, Illmatic brilliantly blurred the lines between fiction and documentary, creating a heightened sense of realism and visceral eleoquence for Nas' renegade first-person narratives and character-driven odes. And like The Battle of Algiers, Illmatic was about the stories of everyday people caught in the most horrific of circumstances, or as Nas referred to it, "the devil's lasso." Though Nas' narration of life in Queensbridge didn't have the explicit political project and radical liberationist thrust shown in The Battle of Algiers, Nas' lyrics captured an urgency and immediacy about life at the tattered edges of the American empire. Through Illmatic you could hear the echoes of secret wars and you could see the picture it captured of a particular moment, a photo that revealed, among other things, the brutal reality of the failure of the post-Civil Rights romanticism, the crack war bum rush, that COINTELPRO worked, and that the new prisons caged the rebel that may have proved to be that messiah. -Sohail Daulatzui from Born To Use Mics: Reading Nas' Illmatic

Driven- Part 1

Monday, September 13, 2010

Did My Eyes Decieve Me?


Last night, I was watching what everybody else in the DC area was watching, the Redskins/Cowboys game. During commerical breaks, I'd tune in to The MTV Awards.

Generally, awards shows don't interest me enough to watch one without my finger on the recall button, but I'll watch in hopes of witnessing an awesome performance or to see a WTF? moment by some drunk and/or drugged out musician.

I'm digressing.

Anyway, last night during a brief game watching hiatus, I switched to MTV at the moment that Lady Gaga won for video of the year. At first, I was like Ho-Hum...then she floated to the stage in what looked like an outfit made of porter house steaks. I thought to myself, I know this broad is not wearing meat?

Guess What?

That broad was wearing meat.

I love Lady Gaga's imagination and her commitment to her image, although I am not a fan of her music. But nowadays, it seems that these performers will do anything and try to pass it off as art. Walking around wearing a dress made of cubed steak could be confused as art to impressionable folks, but to me she looked like a self indulgent, pop culture weirdo, trying too hard to be different.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Question of Fate?


Is there such thing as a soul mate? Or is finding “the one” simply coincidence and/or a random occurrence? I thought of these questions immediately after watching the movie (500) Days of Summer.

The movie is about a nice guy that falls in love with a seemingly commitment phobic woman and the heartbreak he endures when she doesn’t love him back the way he thought she should. His confusion and feelings of rejection lead him to question everything he believed about love and relationships before she came into his life. It was pretty sad stuff, but very introspective at the same time.

The Expectations/Reality scene was particularly heart wrenching. Split screens showed what the protagonist expected to happen and what was really happening, to dramatic effect. I’ve personally been in that space where reality kicked my expectations in the ass and I melted into a large puddle of embarrassment and disappointment. Regina Spektor’s song “Hero” saddened the scene up perfectly.

When it comes to love, do you ascribe cosmic significance to earthly events? How do you define love?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Magical Music Portal: What's In My Ear

If you see me out and about with my Ipod, I'm probably listening to one of these albums.

Nas: Illmatic
My favorite rap album of all time. A 19 year old, 8th grade dropout from the Queensbridge projects crafted some of the most beautiful lyrics ever committed to wax. I never grow tired of listening to Illmatic, it is the genesis of lyrical genius.

Feist: Let It Die
Great Songs and a nice jazzy vibe.

Jay Electronica: What The Fuck is a Jay Electronica?
Jay is the nomad of the rap game, calling him an emcee minimizes his presence. Jay is a messenger.

Bun B: Trill OG
This record is a fun listen and great to drive to. Bun B is till going strong. RIP Pimp C!

Outkast: Aquemini
This is the album that cemented Outkast's greatness.Incredible fuckin record!

Joni Mitchell: Blue
I love this album! These songs are like campfire stories of love, loneliness, obssession, forgiveness and hope. Her lyrics paint pictures.

The Roots: How I Got Over
Another banger from Questlove and the crew.

Fiona Apple: When The Pawn...
This is album is a real gem. Lyrically intense and musically layered. Fiona Apple comes off wise beyond her years at the time of this recording and Jon Brion's production is incredible. This is Fiona's magnum opus.

David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust
Want to know where Lady Gaga got a lot of her swag from? Look no further than David Bowie's brilliant concept record. This albums satifies my weird gene, it's a dope collection of songs and the ziggy persona is legendary. Bowie was walking performance art.

Donny Hathaway: These Songs For You Live!
Calling Donny Hathaway soulful is an understatement. Filled with raw emotion, this live album captures Donny's ability to produce water works with his songs. You can hear the whole world in his voice. Donny was an excellent torch singer and great musical craftsman...Salute!

D'Angelo: Voodoo
"We came here to rip shit and make your spirits shout."

Ten years after its release this album still can't be touched by any other album in the soul/R&B genre. Sonically dense, with dusty drums and packed with funky audacity this was D'Angelo's soul music call to arms. Come back D!

Lee "Scratch" Perry: Super Ape
I don't smoke weed, but if I did, I'd do it listening to this album. This is true righteous dub from the original upsetter man.

Monica: Still Standing
I love Monica. That is all.

Meshell NdegeOcello: Bitter
This is a classic break-up album. I've listened to this album many times, drinking Rum & Coke in reflection mode.

Van Morrison: Astral Weeks
This album was on my last list. Everytime I hear these songs I can't believe they came out of somebody's mind. It's sonically sprawling and a stream of consciousness musical feast. An amazing collection of songs.

Stevie Wonder: Fufillingness First Finale
Pure Genius. My mind is blown whenever I listen to this album.

These albums get bump time also:

The National: Boxer
Sean Price: Kimbo Price
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
Regina Spektor: Begin To Hope
Nas and Damian Marley: Distant Relatives
Capleton: More Fire
Radiohead: In Rainbows
Young Jeezy: Trap or Die II
Jimi Hendrix: Blues
Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part II
Curtis Mayfield: Sweet Exorcist

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Nas & Damian Marley at the 9:30 club


I arrived at the club around 6:30, they started letting people in at 7:00pm. I went through security, received the club alcoholic’s scarlet letter--- the hand stamp--- and proceeded upstairs to the top tier bar and seating area. (The 9:30 club is primarily a standing room only venue but they do have limited seating.) I got Rum and Coke and a bottle water and waited patiently for the show to begin. At 8:15pm it was show time.

The opening act was reggae crooner Gyptian. His performance was decent. He did what Gyptian does; sing a lot of tunes about the ladies. His DJ had a lot of energy. He was shouting “Put your hands in the air” so aggressively, it felt like he was going to come from behind his Dj stand and punch each person in the crowd if we didn’t. Gyptian did his song “Beautiful lady” and gyrated awkwardly and did a few more songs and his set was done. I like Gyptian but I don’t love him. I came to see Nas and Damian. His set was short and that was a good thing.

The place was packed. There were people on top of people, but I was comfortable because I arrived early. After a brief wait, the musicians started to warm up and then a huge banner adorned with the faces of Nas and Damian Marley rose to the top of the backstage wall. A few minutes later a Dj took the stage and started to warm up the crowd busting off a barrage of hip-hop bullets at our heads, I didn’t realize it at the time but it was DJ Green Lantern, who you may know from his various mix tapes with popular artists. He dropped dope song after dope song, he even played “Product of the Environment” by 3rd Bass, and I’ve never heard a DJ play that before. After Green Lantern warmed up the crowd the band started to play and then a Rastafarian gentleman came out to introduce the headliners. Nas and Damian Marley appeared and stood back to back center stage. They soaked in the adoration for a few seconds and then it was show time. As soon as I heard those horn stabs from the intro of As We Enter, I knew it would be a good night.

They went from “As We Enter” into “Tribes at War” and then into “Nah Mean.” The format of the show consisted of songs as a duo and solo sets. I liked that concept because it pleased fans of the new material and fans of each individual artist.

Nas was first up to bat with his solo set which included familiar Nas staples; Nas is Like, Represent, If I Ruled the World, Street Dreams, Hate Me Now, and Hip Hop is Dead, which sounded incredible with a live band. I’ve attended many Nas performances and this was the best I’ve seen him. He seemed rejuvenated and happy to be performing the material I’m sure he’s performed thousands of times throughout his career. Nasty Nas was definitely in the area that night.

Damian’s set was energy filled but a bit eerie especially when he performed a melody of his father’s songs, it felt like I was watching Bob, like his spirit emanated through his son. He powerfully and charismatically ripped through Bob Marley classics like “No More Trouble” and “War” and he sounded great doing it. He started the song “Patience” from Distant Relatives alone and was rejoined by Nas shortly before Nas’ verse started.

There was never a dull moment. Their set flowed seamlessly; they get props for maintaining the momentum for two straight hours. They performed most of the songs from Distant Relatives including Dispear; Count your Blessings, and The Strong Will Continue. There was another brief solo set by Nas and then Damian rejoined Nas again to perform the song that inspired this union “Road to Zion” from Damian’s album Welcome to Jamrock. When the opening lines “Out in the streets they call it murder” dropped, there was pandemonium in that place as they went into “Welcome to Jamrock. I love to go to a show and the people go absolutely ape shit. I was sitting up top so I had a great view of the entire concert hall and people were under Nas and Damian’s spell. The floor area looked like a sea of bodies having rhythmic orgasms.

Damian’s breath control was incredible and Nas lyrically slaughtered each and every verse with conviction. There wasn’t a person in that place that didn’t have their hands up. We were putty in Nas and Damian’s hands. We jumped, we threw our hands in the air, we lit our lighters and illuminated the club with the backlights from our cells, we did what was commanded of us, we were all disciples and the bliss was evident. I haven’t been to many shows where people lost their damn minds and didn’t get those minds back until the show ended. There were Jamaican and Ethiopian flags been displayed from the upper tier by concert goers proud of their Caribbean heritage, it was diverse crowd. White, Black, Asian, Young, and old it was truly a melting pot all getting down for the funk of it. They ended the show with the anthemic song “Africa Must Wake Up” said goodnight and they were gone. Shout out to Nas and Damian for making good music and realizing the importance of putting on a good show.

Also, shout out to the dude that waved the Ethiopian flag on stage for the entire damn set. You may have seen him if you are familiar with Damian Marley’s live show. He may have gotten about 10 minutes rest total. Anyway, shout out to him and the backup singers, those sisters had a lot of energy and they didn’t even look physically like they were in the best of shape but they were getting it in and their voices were powerful. This was definitely a show to remember.