Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… BET

Today we celebrate BET and their inspirational programming… hold on, I threw up on my keyboard a little.  Let me wipe it clean, ;lkhjuyjikol;.,lmkjnbhujik

Okay, back to Black Entertainment Television, nice name.  Not an accurate name, but nice, there is nothing entertaining about it and what they consider Black borders on slightly embarrassing and a waste of talent.  I would rather see Malcolm Jamal-Warner selling oranges on the side of an expressway than watch him rot away on one more episode of Reed Between the Lines.  Only BET could take a good concept for a sitcom featuring a Black family and remove the humor and soul from it.  Some things should be left to ABC or CBS… only if they were interested in Black talent.  Sadly, you are our only hope for uplifting programming that features people who look like us.

To your credit BET, you have worked hard to avoid any drama you use to constantly associate yourself with and that can be called… progress?  Instead of being a ‘music video’ network, you decided to focus on actual programming, poorly, but you focused on it anyway.  Today on BET is mostly reruns of decent Black comedies, hood movies, and on Sundays 4 to 6 hours of Chit’lin circuit plays featuring talented Black actors dying slowly in front of our eyes.  Gone are 17 hours of videos, with one hour of ‘Black news’, followed by an hour of bad comedy, to be topped off with an hour of ‘mature’ music videos meant for adults but kids watched all the time… 3 hours of infomercials a half an hour of Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen ministries each and back to videos.  I miss the days when the only advertisements you had were that “Rough Side of the Mountain” Gospel compilation “WHO IN THE HELL LEFT THE GATE OPEN” and the classic “Hey Love” compilation that featured 3 Black couple belly rubbing in a living room listening to an actual record (no 3 Black couples actually did that)… “Hey man you got to let me borrow that?”, say it with me people…  “NO MY BROTHER!  YOU GOT TO GET YOUR OWN”.

How we miss the days of The Mayor of Rap City, pushing the envelope and providing a space for the voiceless to have their say.  We think we miss when you were introducing artists, comics, and covering events that were impacting our community.  We think we miss these things, but as the network that ‘represents’ what is good in our community if you are not showing it to us, we must not really miss it.  Who are we to crave substance and credibility?  You keep telling us what we must like.

You are an equal opportunity employer as well; you will make anyone famous, even if they do not have talent.  After joining Def Comedy Jam to introduce great comics to us.  When Russell Simmons realized that the talent was running thin on good Black comics, they shut down production where as you let every hack in the world fly out to any place you were filming gave them five minutes and paid them nothing for their efforts.  Even repeatedly airing their material and not offering them one cent in residuals, nice.  Your pimp game is strong!  It took white comics like Jerry Seinfeld to ask for comics to boycott your shows until you paid your comics fairly.  When you finally agreed to pay at ‘scale’ you finally went the Def Jam route and shut down.  Although, you claim to have made more Black people millionaires… outside of the NBA.  It is always nice to see Black people play into a stereotype, now that’s progress!

We must give you credit for the one thing you do well, the BET Awards.  You do know an awards show is not about the awards but about the music and the performances.  Unfortunately, you let untalented people walk onto your stage and treat them like they are selling records like Prince in 1983.  You are like Jesse Jackson, supposedly our voice but nobody remembers selecting you to speak for us.  We have come to accept that you will reward those that limit our culture, you are not Fox News you have never claimed to be fair and balanced.  August Wilson, arguably one of the greatest play writes Black or White of the 20th Century, passed away without a blip from you.  Even though his plays launched the careers of many of our finest actors, including Denzel Washington, but if Tyler Perry died we know you will shut down what you call programming all week-long in memory of great American writer/director/activist… I am sorry, I threw up on my keyboard again.  A lot this time, let me wipe this off again, ‘[;phyjumgtfbvnhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmhjmbjuki9867yugtbhjnuikmo897yuhjni9 043oilk-09.  Sorry about that.

Only you BET can present a show saying how much Black women rock right after airing 3 hours of videos where women walk around in G-strings, bouncing up and down around rappers lip-synching songs talking about how much they do not respect them. We all love that you tell our young men they can be more than rappers & felons then make Lil Wayne’s release from jail “breaking news”. Thanks BET for… All you do?  Oh Lord… I threw up again!!!  P’7yukjiop-0897uiljko09iojfhyupio6y89iojp0899709uiogjpu089yioj  Actually that is really symbolic… BET has been throwing up vomit on our community for over 15 years now.  Happy Black History Month BET!  Are you guys doing anything special for it this year?

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Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… A 2-Piece With A Biscuit

The 2 piece with a biscuit sounds so simple, two pieces of chicken with a biscuit but it is so much more than that.  It can bring a smile to the faces of many Black people; it can also get you cut.  Touch the second piece of chicken in a 2-piece without it being offered to you and things will turn into a Daniel Day-Lewis movie… There will be blood.

If you are not familiar with a 2-piece with a biscuit let me tell the rules that go along with it, yes rules!  A 2-piece with a biscuit is a very serious thing in our community:

Rule #1:  Two wings do not make up a 2-piece.  Wings don’t even come that small in the hood, the fewest wings you can buy is three.  The only thing that has two wings on the block are birds.

Rule #2:  That better be a buttermilk biscuit!  I swear on my granddaddy’s grave if their ain’t no buttermilk in that biscuit I am going to drive by your establishment and throw it through your store window as you start to lockup for the night.

Rule #3:  If you give me a roll instead of a biscuit, first of all I better be at Church’s Chicken and second I have the right to choke you out in the middle of the street.

Rule #4:  It can’t be two legs unless I ask you for two legs.  If you give me two legs, without me requesting it, I will eat one of them while you fry me up the breast that was suppose to go with it in the first place… that is after you remove the leg I never asked for up out your ass!

Rule #5:  Acceptable 2-piece combinations; leg and thigh, leg and wing (but we will look at you like “that’s fucked up, man”, wing and thigh, a breast with any combination of other piece of chicken is choice.  However, if you give us two chicken breasts we will assume either the chicken is going bad and you hope that since I have two big pieces of chicken that will make me look past that funny smell coming from them or you are sleeping with my woman and figure the least you can do is give me some more chicken.

Rule #6:  NO COLESLAW!!!  This ain’t a 2-piece dinner man!  The 2-piece with a biscuit is ghetto finger food, we do not need to bring utensils into the transaction.

Rule #7:  The 2-piece with a biscuit should be ready within 3 minutes of ordering.  Long enough to bag it and slide it through that sliding plexiglass window, that protects you from being robbed and the occasional 1 in the morning shoot out.

The 2-piece with a biscuit is the perfect meal; as long as the meat is cooked all the way through we ain’t complaining about it.  Complaints start when you introduce more to the 2-piece with a biscuit.  Give a brotha a 3-piece dinner, you will hear a complaint.  Give him 3 chicken breasts, “I can’t eat all this”.  Give him 2 thighs and a leg, “cheap muhthafucka, all this damn dark meat… really?”  Get the chicken right, there will be something wrong with the sides. The cold side dish,   “I ain’t eating that damn potato salad… I don’t know who made it”.  Spaghetti as a side dish, “my momma told me, you don’t eat nobody’s spaghetti except yo’ mamas and your wife’s”.  Take away the biscuit and add bread, “this hard ass piece of bread, you can slide this shit across the floor and play hockey with it”!

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams an African American surgeon who performed the first heart surgery, on Chicago’s Southside, should have thanked the 2-piece with a biscuit.  The combination of the 2-piece drenched in mild sauce with a biscuit on the side made heart surgery necessary on the Southside to begin with… Way to go Harold’s Chicken Shack, way to go!  But this is about the chicken today, Dr. Williams, you have been celebrated for years and Harold’s Chicken I celebrate you at least 3 times a month!  With that said… to the one thing universally agreed upon in Black communities this is for you. We could not agree on 2Pac or BIG, Prince or Michael, Kobe or Lebron… Heck the 5 Heartbeats could not agree on Flash or Eddie Cain Jr. But from Harlem to Houston’s 5th Ward, Chicago to Charlotte, A-Town to South Central LA we agree on a 2-piece with a biscuit.  Let the church say… amen!

Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute, White Singers Trying To Sing Black, Badly

One of the Super Bowls major moments is the singing of the National Anthem, let’s reflect back to last year’s Super Bowl where Christina Aguilera and her impersonation of a stereotypical R&B singer took center stage and performed the “Star Spangled Banner”… sadly.  Most upsetting to Black people about Christina Aguilera is not the ‘she sounds just like a Black singer’ statement people have mistakenly attached to her for her entire career, but that she puts a run on every note!  If you do not know what a run is, it that thing you notice black singers do when they hit a not and they control it by holding it but not steady it seems like it is going up and down… if that does not make you understand what a run is, it is that thing Christina Aguilera does all the time that makes you think she sounds like a Black singer.  For the record you do not have to put a run on every other note, Luther may have done it 3 times an album and he was the master! Luckily for you, Christina, security was tight at the Superbowl… Teena Marie (the white woman BLACK people say sounds like a Black singer) crawled up out her grave to slap the shit out of you, but the cops held her off.

Unfortunately it was a Black person singing the National Anthem that led to Christina Aguilera’s style.  Ms. Aguilera attended a high school basketball game when she was 8 years old and saw Spectacular Jones, her real name, sing the longest Anthem in history, longer than the game it was for. After ‘land of the free’ Spectacular screamed out ‘REEEMIX’ another first, the Star Spangled Banner monster mix.  A little Christina Aguilera, the only person in attendance that night who left impressed by Spectacular Jones, turned to her mother and said “mama I wanna sing”.  Her mother took another swig of the vodka she snuck in, now mixed with Hawaiian Punch purchased at the school concession stand looked at little Christina and said the words Black people have said to Christina for the past 15 years… “Do you ever shut the fuck up”?

Michael Bolton, yes ‘the’ Michael Bolton. Unlike Elvis, Eminem, and Hall from Hall and Oates (nobody gives a damn about Oates) who all listened to the songs of Black artists and borrowed the style to eventually shape their own personal styles, Michael Bolton borrowed the whole damn song.  Elvis saw Little Richard and wanted to move like him, Eminem heard Rakim and wanted to flow that way, Hall listened to the Temptations and wanted to sound like David Ruffin and Paul Williams.  Michael Bolton heard Otis Redding and said “if it works for him, my long flowing blond hair and extremely average voice can make tens of millions”.  We honor Christina and Michael because where would they be without Black people! I think sitting at an actual dock, at an actual bay, watching an actual tide roll away… penniless.

The Soundtrack To My Life

Track 1: “Fuck the World” Tupac

{They try to say that I don’t care}
I woke up and screamed, “Fuck the world!”
{They tryin to say that I don’t care}
Got up and screamed, “Fuck the world!”
Haha, fuck the world! Fuck it
I hear my niggaz screamin fuck the world!

They wanna know if I claim the click, that I’m hangin with
And if I’m down with this bangin shit
Well homie I don’t give a fuck if you Blood or Cuz
Long as ya got love for thugs
But don’t try to test me out, stall that
Homie this is Thug Life nigga and we all strapped
I been through, Hell and back, and if I fail black
Then it’s, back to the corner where we sell crack
Some of you niggaz is bustas; you runnin ’round
With these tramp=ass bitches, don’t trust her
But don’t cry, this world ain’t prepared for us
A straight thug motherfucker who ain’t scared to bust
Fuck the world!

Yes this is the first track on my soundtrack!  My life is not Love Jones, Nia Long is not coming back to Chicago with the hope we may kick things back off and it ain’t gonna end with Tom Hanks kissing Meg Ryan.

My mother raised me in a rough city but provided many opportunities.  She had the opportunity to move us out of the area when I was entering high school, but she believed I was better ready for the world by growing up in Gary, IN. She was right, I have been in slums and élite communities, fit into both.  It is easier to make the social élite feel comfortable with your presence than the hood.

I was a good student, stayed out of trouble, but my friends were thugs.  I was cool with the smart kids, had classes with them.  I was captain of our academic super bowl team, but I was a back of the bus fighting until I got to my stop kid.  I was going to college, but I fought, figured out my hustle to make some cash, and made more cash by looking out for the older dudes when they were breaking into cars.  I have lost so many friends; I am desensitized to random acts of violence.  Hell I shouldn’t even be here, sometimes I think about how a cop car drove past right at the moment some guy put a gun to my head.  I do not know if he would have shot me, but I grew up in a city called “Murder Capital” if you put a gun to someone’s head you finish that shit off.  So I can only assume…

I been through, Hell and back, and if I fail black
Then it’s, back to the corner where we sell crack

I have had a lot of good, I graduated from Indiana University, I have had some great opportunities, I have a good job, live in a great neighborhood.  But I still have “FUCK THE WORLD” pumping through my veins.  I have been through a lot, I have had way too many friends shot and killed.  My best friend killed during lunch on my 18th birthday, my little sister dead, sat up in lock-up while a cop wrote up some bullshit charges on me, held back for what I am perceived to be, family on dope, passed over for opportunities I am more than qualified for.  So yes FUCK THE WORLD and thank you for reading this, but catch me at the wrong moment, fuck you too!  It is nothing personal, it is me screaming… we all have to scream and Pac through this song screamed for me.

Track 2: “Healing Hands”- Citizen Cope

I will never forget your healing hands my love
I thought my heart had stopped
I swore I had given up
I will never forget your healing hands my love
You gave me daylight you gave me sunlight

Turn the tape recorder on
He just left Jackie O for Marilyn Monroe
We’re all bought and sold
For tobacco, firearms and alcohol
What’s a pocket full of gold
Without a woman that you could hold
Can’t afford to be on the back burner no more
Now I got a lot of places to go

After the rough opening and shoving my middle finger up your ass, I have to fall back quick.  What better way than to smooth the ride out with my man Citizen Cope (aka Clarence Greenwood) who I remember from the hip hop group Basehead.  Cope is the cat singing “Sideways” on Carlos Santana’s Shaman CD.  I will never forget some, sometimes there is a touch that you will be able to recall years after they touched you for the last time.  Hopefully you find and hold on to someone who can touch in such away for the rest of your life.  You can be rich, but lonely… you can be poor but with someone who loves you in your life you can feel like a million bucks.

 

Track 3-“Mother Pray”-Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama

Around the old homeplace her cherishing smiling face
Was always bringing comfort joy and cheer
And when she used to sing to her eternal King
It was the sound I loved to hear

If I could only hear my mother pray again
If I could hear her tender voice as then
How happy I would be
It would mean so much to me
If I could hear my mother pray again

There will be a few recurring themes in the movie on my life, one will be the joy I receive from a song written, produced, and performed by Prince, another will be I am not a very stable person, and more than anything else my love and respect for my mother has been the driving force in my life and her death tore me and continues to tear me apart.

My best friend kept this track from me, he knew I would eventually get to it seeing how I enjoy Ben Harper, my friend did not want to be the person responsible for me hearing this song knowing that it would move me tears.  When he saw I had the CD, he told me that saying “I wanted to tell you that was out but I knew ‘Mother Pray’ was too much for you to handle”.  It was.

I remember walking into my mother’s room and seeing her in prayer.  I could tell by her brow if she was praying for our protection or because she was appreciative of God providing for us when we needed His protection.  Those moments always ended with me throwing my arms around her and getting a look from her that seemed to thank me for understanding why we may have struggled at that moment.  More than anything, I loved hearing my mother sing… anything.  Her voice was beautiful, powerful, a rich alto that could make it to soprano with ease.  I have prayed to God to let me hug my mother one more time, I would give Him anything he wanted to let me tell her I love her one more time.  I keep a journal of hers kept tucked away, because she wrote in it before falling asleep and still smells like her perfume.  Needless to say, some days I take that journal a give it a good whiff so I can feel close to the woman who sacrificed everything for me.

Track 4: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”-The Beatles

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

My closest friends know I am a Beatles fan, since my high school locker, I have had a picture/poster of the Beatles or John Lennon in any space that was deemed ‘mine’.  At work there is a picture of the Beatles on my desk at home John Lennon sits in my living room.  They represent, to me, talent coming together with personal growth, hope for something better for something other than yourself and being all those things at the right time.  Then recognizing when it was over and being comfortable with letting the moment go when others thought you stupid for doing so.  I feel to know the Beatles you have to learn George Harrison, who wrote this song, his laid back style did not make him seem to be a leader.  He seemed comfortable letting John and Paul get the attention, but his wish to give his life greater meaning showed his place in the group because the other people followed his steps.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a beautiful song and sometimes you just need some beauty in your life.  I wish I could write something this moving and simple, something that when I am gone stands as my eulogy.  What makes this more remarkable is that George wrote this as a test to himself that all things happen for a reason.  He said he would write a song based on the first words he randomly looked at from a book he randomly picked up.  George grabbed a book, opened it and saw ‘gently weeps’.  I cannot say there is a reason for everything, but this story makes a strong case for it.  Though I do not think everything in my life was meant to happen, I do believe that everything that has happened to me has been an opportunity for me to learn more about myself.   Just like George, I want to take time to learn about myself.

 

Track 5: “Fool to Cry”-Rolling Stones

You know, I got a woman
And she lives in the poor part of town
and I go see her sometimes
And we make love, so fine
I put my head on her shoulder
She says, “Tell me all your troubles.”
You know what she says? She says
“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
and it makes me wonder why

Some songs speak to my soul, I consider myself a Rolling Stones fan own CD’s and if you were raised in Chicago or spent any time in the clubs here you know that “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden” still gets play from DJs here.  Chicago may be the one place outside of London where Black people run to the dance floor when a Stones song comes on.  The first time I heard “Fool to Cry” I walked into Potbellies on Wabash and Van Buren for a sandwich.  I knew it was the Stones but I never heard it and the song stuck in my head all day.  The song caused me to pause; I waited until the song was over before I ordered.  I will admit to my tears, but not every situation that my tears flowed were worthy of them and later I feel stupid for allowing myself.  It would be nice sometimes to have someone love you so much to be that honest and tell you how foolish you are for crying.  Can you imagine how reassuring that is to have someone believe in you so much that they feel a situation is not worth your tears?

 

Track 6: “Seven Nation Army”-White Stripes

I’m going to Wichita
Far from this opera forever more
I’m gonna work the straw, make the sweat drip out of every pore
And I’m pleading, and I’m pleading, and I’m pleading right before the Lord
All the words are gonna bleed from me and I will think no more
And the stains coming from my blood tell me go back home

The best guitar riff of the last 30 years aside (outside of Slash’s on “Sweet Child O’ Mine”)… “All the words are gonna bleed from me and I will think no more”… This line completely explains why I write.  I do not write because I am in love with it (I am), not to make a name for myself (I wish), but so I can stop thinking.  When I need to let something go, I write about it, so I can stop thinking about it.  I write about social ills so I can stop worrying about it, I write about women so I can let her go, I would like to have a day without thinking.

 

Track 7: “Sometimes”-Bilal

Sometimes, wish I knew life with no pain, yeah
Wish I held the keys to this game
Sometimes, I pretend ‘cuz I’m afraid to be, ‘friad to be
Sometimes, I hope I live to see twenty five
Sometimes, I wish I could be like Moses
Round up my people, move out the ghetto and live a better life

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t try so hard
Sometimes, who knows truth any way
They don’t know nothing, who needs that approval

The sun in your hands player
Move at your own pace, listen to your own mind
Do your own thing, yeah, yeah
I’m saying it because I love ya
And I wanna grow with you, yeah, yeah

But you wanna run in the other direction
So I got to stay on my path until I win, I win, I win, I win
I wanna win, I wanna win, I wanna win, I wanna win

When things are bad, I mean real bad, I mean grab a gun and think about bad things bad… I need this song.  I spend every waking moment of my life wishing I could change myself and the conditions of others.  Wondering if I will live another day, wondering if I even want to live another one.  To know pain much more than happiness is a horrible way to go through life.  What makes it even worse is to know that I could have changed this, I let these feelings happen because sometimes I did not do what was right for me or my people.  Sometimes, one time, just one muthafuckin’ time at the right damn time I should have done something with the purpose of getting the win.  Fortunately, with each day I realize that I am given more opportunities to get my win.

 

The next four songs could be called the Paisley Interlude, Prince is my favorite artist.  Honestly I could “Girl 6” this soundtrack and every song could be performed, produced, and/or written by Prince.  I should “Batman” soundtrack this, have Prince lay down 9 tracks of music that sounds like what he was doing five years earlier, give Sheena Easton one last shot at the pop charts, and get him to give up his publishing in the process.  What I will not do is “Graffiti Bridge” this… because that would mean my movie sucks.  Although I snatch the first Prince song is from “Graffiti Bridge”.

Track 8: “Pink Cashmere”-Prince

Girl, can u understand
I never used 2 go dancing
I…I was the kind of man who rather stay at home

Now, when I think about
How much I miss u
I wanna jump for joy
And thank him I’m not alone (I am not alone)

Ooh, Im making u a coat of pink cashmere
U got 2 know how I feel about u baby
How I always want u near

Im making u a coat of pink cashmere
Im gonna count every minute of every hour
Until u r here (til u r here)

Shouldn’t every man feel this way about a woman?  Shouldn’t every woman have a man that feels this way about her?

Track 9: “She’s Always in My Hair”-Prince

Whenever I feel like givin’ up
Whenever my sunshine turns 2 rain
Whenever my hopes and dreams are aimed in the wrong direction
She’s always there tellin’ me how much she cares
She’s always in my hair

She’s always in my hair, my hair

Whenever I feel like not 2 great at all
Whenever I’m all alone
Even if I hit the wrong notes
She’s always in my boat
She’s always there tellin’ me how much she cares
She’s always in my hair

She’s always in my hair, my hair

9th Grade, English class, Mrs. James teacher… the first person to look at my writing and tell me I was good at it.  The first person, not my mother, to tell me to believe in myself, stand up for myself, to put me in situations to grow and show my talents.  I only had her that one year but she stayed on me all four years.  Senior year she pulled me into a program that she organized with guys from all over the city, that challenged me to perform and in the long run led to lifelong friends.  She was at my college graduation, visited me at my first job, came to my early shows, was at my mother’s funeral, found me in New York City… She is always in my hair.

Track 10: “Do Me Baby”-Prince

Here we are in this big old empty room, staring each other down
U want me just as much as I want u, let’s stop fooling around
Take me baby… kiss me all over… play with my love
Bring out what’s been in me for far too long
Baby, u know that’s all I’ve been dreaming of

Do me baby, like u never done before
Give it to me till I just can’t take no more
Do me baby, like u never done before
I want u now, I just can’t wait no more, can’t wait…

Here we are looking for a reason for u to lay me down
For a love like ours is never out of season, so baby please stop teasing me
What ya do, I can never love no other, ure the best I ever had
Whenever were not close to one another, I just want u so bad

Of course any movie about my life would have at least one gratuitous sex scene.  There are so many songs to pick from, but I am a freak!  There is nothing that lays it down, stands it up, bends it over, or rides the rhythm as hard as Do Me Baby.  “Adore” is lovely, “Scandalous” is sexy, but “Do Me Baby” is forget the bullshit take off your clothes and let’s catch our breath in the morning music.  This scene will feature the lovely Nia Long.

In my other gratuitous sex scene (the studio had to talk me down from 8 scenes) will have D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel?)” playing in the background and I would have broken up with Nia because I am the type of person that loves you until I find your physical flaw and by the time we get to this scene I would have found hers.  Though stunningly beautiful I would have had enough of trying to figure out of if she was cross-eyed or if her eyes are just set too close together and replaced her with the lovely Kerry Washington… HELLO!

I obviously have a ‘type’

Track 11: “Joy in Repetition”-Prince

Up on the mic repeating 2 words, over and over again
Was this woman he had never noticed before he lost himself in the
Articulated manner in which she said them.
These 2 words, a little bit behind the beat.
I mean just enough 2 turn u on.
4 everytime she said the words another one of his doubts were gone.

Should he try 2 rap with her? Should he stand and stare?
No one else was watching her, she didn’t seem 2 care.
So over and over, she said the words til he could take no more, (no more)
He dragged her from the stage and together they ran through the back door
In the alley over by the curb he said tell me what’s your name
She only said the words again and it started to rain (rain, rain, rain)
2 words falling between the drops and the moans of his condition
Holding someone is truly believing there’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.

This is my favorite Prince song and Rolling Stone called it the ‘perfect song’ in its review.  All lyrics are up to the listener to find meaning in.  Some people believe the repetition of the beat is where you can find joy.  Some believe it is the love interest of the song repeating ‘love me’ is where the joy lays.  Well, to me there is one thing that involves repetition that brings me joy… and that brings me to gratuitous sex scene number 3.  Which is an “8 Mile” style Eminem/Britney Murphy quickie featuring me and Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child, starting to see the type now?

 

Track 12: “Still Fly”-Big Tymers

Gator Boots, with the pimped out Gucci suit
Ain’t got no job, but I stay sharp
Can’t pay my rent, cause all my money’s spent
but thats OK, cause I’m still fly
got a quarter tank gas in my new E-class
But that’s alright cause I’m gon’ ride
got everything in my moma’s name
but I’m hood rich da dada dada da

There is always one song on a soundtrack that has no reason for being on there outside of the fact that it just sounds really good and kind of cool, “Still Fly” is my “Wanksta”.  There was no reason for “Wanksta” to be on the 8 Mile soundtrack except for the fact that 50 Cent was Em’s new artist and the track was hot as hell! Don’t lie, we all like to look like we can buy the bar even with 3 dollars in our pocket and 19 bucks in the checking account. Other examples of songs that did not fit, but so cool you did not question their inclusion on the soundtrack:

Moulin Rouge “Lady Marmalade”, question… does anyone have a version that does not include Christina Aguilera doing her impersonation of what she thinks a Black singer sounds like?  I assume the only reason why they didn’t bring Patti Labelle in to sing her parts again was because with Missy Elliott there could only be one other woman in the video nobody wanted to see in a bustier.

City of Angels “Mama You Got A Daughter” every John Lee Hooker song is cool!

Above the Rim Okay, every song on this soundtrack fits the category.  Considering it is a basketball movie based in New York City, at that time Wu Tang Clan and Black Moon would have been better choices.  However, the entire soundtrack is West Coast/Death Row, which was the ‘hot thing to do’ at that time.  Honestly, I love this soundtrack my all time favorite and unfortunately the beginning of songs on soundtracks having nothing to do with the movie.  So to pick one song that does not fit but is so hot you roll with it… “Afro Puffs”, ha you will not be able to get this song out your head today.

Garden State sure Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York” seems to be the obvious choice, but there is a really good reason why this song is included that I will not go into, because I have given enough clues on how big of a nerd I am.   The song that stands out is “Don’t Panic” by Coldplay, only because it is like every one of their songs.  You are afraid to admit you like it out of fear of being beaten to a bloody pulp by your really cool friends.

In my opinion there are only 4 perfect soundtracks that feature songs with lyrics, where every song serves a purpose:

Trainspotting

Superfly

Grease (another nerd clue, but you know the words too!)

O’ Brother, Where Art Though?

 

Track 13: “W-4”-dead prez

What a nigga gonna eat when the refrigerator empty?
Work all week let the bossman pimp me
Can’t pay no rent till the fifteenth, landlord call the police to evict me
Lookin’ for a job in the want ads
Have you ever been to jail? Know they gone ask
Ever took a piss test that you didn’t pass?
In between jobs in the past? How you get cash?
I done worked over hot ass stoves, I done picked up trash off roads
Winter time in the streets and the cold
Many times had to sleep in my clothes on the floor
What you know bout bein’ po’ seein’ most of yo kinfolk be on dope?

I been workin’ all my life but ain’t got nothin’ to show
I ain’t tellin’ you nothin’ you don’t already know
I been workin’ all my life but ain’t got nothin’ to show
Wanna run up in the white house and kick in the door, woh ooo oh

My J-O-B
Is just like a plantation
They owe me
But got me fillin’ out this application

I dig everything dead prez has ever done, from burning dollar bills during shows, to telling brothers how to cheat the system, putting Mary Jane in one of their videos, not waiting on record companies to press their CD’s to get music out to us.  I appreciate they live what they speak; they have the same hero I have, Fred Hampton.  Without a doubt dead prez is everything I wanted to be as a person but was too afraid to do.  “W-4” sums up my life, at moments, and my feelings about working to just pay bills.  I listen to this song often because I often question my life choices.  How am I walking into work at 9:00am every morning knowing this is never what I wanted to do in life?  This is that Andy Duphrane “crawl through a river of shit” moment in the movie.  The moment in the movie where the Kid’s father shot himself in the head trying to kill himself, somehow survives, and he has to go on stage and prove not only that he deserves his slot at First Avenue but that he is really the most talented performer there.  The even though Rocky loses the fight he wins the love of his life moment.  It could be the Denzel Washington in “Training Day” moment, where the Russians kill me at an intersection and instead of feeling sorry for me you sit there looking at the screen saying to yourself… “Yeah, that mutha fucka had to die”.

Track 14: “U Know What’s Up” Donnell Jones

Ooh, say what, say what, say what
Ooh, girl u know what’s up
Ooh, say what, say what, say what
Ooh, girl u know what’s up

I’m diggin’ u and I’m feelin’ u
U know what’s up
Said i’m diggin’ u and I’m wantin’ u
So tell me what’s up

Peep her thighs and I’m zonin’
Right around two in the mornin’
Lookin’ fly with a sundress on
Think I feel a bone comin on
Girl u got it wide open
Want all day and in hopin’
Baby don’t front
Back seat Jeep, u know what I want

My movie takes place mostly in Chicago; very few songs represent SUMMER TIME CHI like “U Know What’s Up”.  The vibe of the song is how we roll in the summer and this verse hits on exactly how it is on a summer night.  Leaving the club a little early, you either hitting one of the after hour spots or you hitting baby with that summer dress on.  I have never enjoyed winter, considering we get seven months of cold weather in Chicago, 2 and a half months of iffy weather, those 2 and a half months of nice warm weather must be pretty damn good to keep you here… those 2 and a half months are that damn good to make you put up with January and February they have to be.

This is also where gratuitous sex scene number 4 was, until the studio got me to agree to cut it out to avoid an NC-17 rating.  It featured Keri Hilson… sorry fellas.

Track 15: “U Don’t Know” Jay-Z

That’s another difference that’s between me and them
Heh, I’m smarten up, open the market up
One million, two million, three million, four
In eighteen months, eighty million more
Now add that number up with the one I said before
You are now lookin at one smart black boy
Momma ain’t raised no fool
Put me anywhere on God’s green earth, I’ll triple my worth
Motherfucker – I, will, not, lose

“You don’t know.. what you’re doing, doing, doing, doing..”
Put somethin on it

I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell
I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well
I was born to get cake, move on and switch states
Cop the Coupe with the roof gone and switch plates

This has been my theme song for the entire 10 years since it was released.  It came out right when I decided to go live in some other places and challenge myself to do different things and see where I stood against other people.  It was in the car rolling with me on my way to Miami.  Bought me up on stage through the Midwest, playing in the background when I was writing in Atlanta, banging in my ear buds when I landed in NYC and disturbing the neighbors when LA called for me to come out and write.  The song gets me on two levels, anywhere I have been I made it, may have been a struggle but I claimed more victories than L’s “Put me anywhere on God’s green Earth, I’ll triple my worth” and the very next line… “I WILL NOT LOSE”.  It has been on the display screen of every cell phone I have had for a decade and when I feel like quitting, that saying pops up in my head and I can run another mile.

Track 16: “Who Would’ve Thought”-Marvin Winans and Donnie McClurkin

I know You, Lord, since You’ve entered in
Oh yeah
I can’t believe the things You’ve done
You came and you saved me, changed me and forgave me
And then You took me in as one of Your own
As one of Your own

Now when I feel my world is falling apart
Oh yeah
I can just bend my knees and pray
You know what?
Feels so good to feel this love in my heart
Who would’ve thought I’d get to know You this way?
Say who would’ve thought I’d know You this way?
So glad I’d know You this way

This track serves two purposes, I think any CD/Album worth its salt should have 15+ songs, so here is the +.  Also, every Black movie is legally obligated to have one ‘inspirational gospel song’ on the soundtrack.  Well I am Black and this is the soundtrack to my life, so I have to fulfill my contract.  All Black movies have to give a mixed message, lots of sex, a little violence, drinking, cussing, and then we justify it by putting Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, or Marvin Sapp on the soundtrack.  Hey Tyler Perry does it and he is rich, so that makes it right… right?

Side note, I love this song.  Marvin Winans, Donnie McClurkin, and John P. Kee are my favorite voices and you can feel their joy coming through the song.  You can also get a feel for the brotherhood they share, which can be rarely seen between Black men.  It’s talked about in fraternities and on the streets but it is just that talk.  Hypocrisy is as rampant in the Black community as single mother households and under-employment.

Track 17: “September”-Earth, Wind, and Fire

Do you remember the
21st night of September?
Love was changing the minds of pretenders
While chasing the clouds away

Our hearts were ringing
In the key that our souls were singing.
As we danced in the night,
Remember how the stars stole the night away

Ba de ya – say do you remember
Ba de ya – dancing in September
Ba de ya – never was a cloudy day

This fulfills another Black movie obligation.  All Black movies must feature at least one song by Earth, Wind, and Fire and if using only one song by Earth, Wind, and Fire it must and can only be “September”, the original version with Maurice White singing lead.  If you do something stupid, like pull a “This Christmas” and allow Chris Brown to remake the song their attorneys will squeeze your nuts until you hit those Phillip Bailey high notes.  Also, you can only use the song during a family reunion or wedding reception scene and everybody must have a huge smile on their face while doing the “Electric Slide” and the scene fades to black and the credits roll.  Maurice White makes so much money off this one song he just sits his ass in Los Angeles while the rest of the members tour with some dude singing his parts.  Maurice said ‘F this, I’m rich… Let my brother Verdine hit the road.  He could use the money for relaxers and more skintight leopard skin pants.”

 

Bonus Track: “Roses” Mos Def featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow

I have found, just the perfect feelin
Finally cause I’m grateful
I can feel your spirit, comin closer on me
It is grand, just to be reminded
Reminded of the good things
Living in a new day, that no one can tear down
You don’t have to, cut up no roses
Please just leave them living
Got my pencil, got pretty paper
Please don’t worry we’re forgiven

Yellow for friendship, red for love
Black for the universal stars above
Pink buds that I bought her on Valentine
She said it was forever then she changed her mind
I said a little prayer then I cleared my eyes

 

Fin

(That’s that film school shit right there Joe!  ‘The End’ is for suckers)

 

 

As Snoop and Xhibit use to say… “B*tch Pleaze”

Soul Train Music Awards Sunday November 27, 2011

I would rather watch the Steelers against the Chiefs, I was able to break away and see the last 20 minutes of Family Guy.  I missed the first 10 minutes because The Soul Train Awards opened the show with The Time; I never miss The Time when they perform.  If they are in any city I am in, I am there (The Time and De La Soul love their music and their stage shows).  I have seen The Time perform enough to know one thing about them, as long as Morris Day and Jerome are on stage together, any other five dudes can play instruments on stage with them and you still feel like you are seeing The Time.  Tonight was different the original members of the group, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jellybean, and Jesse Johnson (I had forgotten how incredible Jesse was on the guitar, I use to wonder if he beat Prince when it came to playing funk.  He does, but nothing else).  They are going by the name “Original 7even” because Prince owns the name “The Time” and will not let them use it (so Apollonia or Vanity, if either of you thought about getting the women back together and hit state fairs around the country, think of a name ‘cause Prince ain’t having it).

So I stepped away to watch Family Guy and American Dad, with moments of the Steelers/Chiefs stuck in there.  I would step back to The Soul Train Awards enough to see “Mr. Chi-Town” himself Dave Hollister play a Pip in the Gladys Knight tribute, Anthony Hamilton lay down some straight soul which is always a treat.  Earth, Wind, and Fire (more Chicago representation) rips it every time.  Malcolm Jamal Warner introduced them; I believe he said he owes his acting career to them based on their music because he believed he could be whatever he believed.  I am sure Bill Cosby will slap him with a Jell-O Pudding Pop the next time he sees Malcolm (“Come here Theo, how many times do I have to pimp slap you frozen pudding until you give me the credit for your career I deserve? I should have followed my first instinct and cast you as Cockroach!”).

At another point while grabbing some water during a time out or a Family Guy commercial break, I noticed Lloyd and some other nondescript brother, named Miguel, singing.  After seeing The Time, Dave Hollister, and some other cats, watching these two dudes all I could say is what any other man would say at that exact moment, “these niggas look like bitches”!

Prince may have looked and even sounded like a woman at points and time in his career, but never that (although not letting The Time be The Time is a bitch move).  Lil Kim called herself the “Queen B”, Michael Jackson may have been accused of being one sometimes himself.  Hell, in the last 3 NBA Playoffs even LeBron James went out like one.  However, never did any of them look like one.  Let me clarify, this has nothing to do with manhood, looking or acting like a gender other than yours.  This is all about playing a role you have no reason playing (Example: LeBron when he tries to close a game/Mark Anthony trying to tell J-Lo to cover her ass up and stay home/Kanye trying act like he was knocking the stuffing out of Amber Rose).  Last year Lloyd was running around with the Young Money crew screaming how he could make the bed rock, this year he is doing splits surrounded by 20 dancers.  This other nondescript dude is singing a song about someone to play Connect 4 and I Declare War with.  Is this what’s hot? Short answer is no.  This is part of the reason record labels don’t think a Stevie Wonder album is a workable project in today’s market and why an artist like Van Hunt can be dropped from a label while he drops slow sultry joints like “Moments of Pleasure” and “Down Here in Hell”.  Babyface didn’t have much going for him and his name was “Babyface”, but when he sang “I’ll pay your rent/I’ll buy your clothes” damn it that was real and women wanted to hear it, even if they didn’t believe or think you could financially hold down that level of responsibility it was real and welcome.  Unless you are singing to 8-year-old girls, women do not have time for board games, unless it involves vodka and you created some different rules that get everyone drunk.

The nondescript brother jumped out into the crowd and nobody moved or reacted.  It is a law at an awards show or any event with more than 8 Black people in the front, that when someone with a microphone walks out into the crowd that people should stand up and treat that nigga like the pope.  This nondescript dude jumped into crowd walked halfway up the aisle.  Most people tried not to make eye contact with him and I could read the lips of one older sister in the fifth row saying “what the fuck is this bitch doing?”  Check your DVR’s tell me she did not say that, she had on a black dress and a silver wig, she looked like a negative.

It is not these two dudes were working their falsetto, that’s cool there is a long line of falsetto singers in soul; Eddie Kendricks, the aforementioned Prince, Maxwell, and the man who may have perfected it El DeBarge.  Even Robin Thicke (who looks more and more like his father) came on stage and showed you that a high pitch hitting the right notes can make women sweat and he is a white boy on stage in Atlanta surrounded by brothers, so it is not the voice.  Robin Thicke was doing his thing, he owns it with his background he has watched and learned the art of putting on a show.  He also understands the importance of being who you are and expressing yourself from where you are at.  He had been around for a while trying different styles and trying to please people.  When did he ‘hit’?  When did he connect with the audience he wanted?  When he wrote the song that dropped the mask he was hiding behind and expressed his honest opinion about his wife.  He forgot about a big name producer, told the studio musicians to go home, grabbed his guitar and told his wife he would be lost without her and damn what anyone thought about him for saying it.  Hello PLATINUM!

Men try to avoid ‘bitch moments’ and actually spend too much energy trying to not have one.  When it really simple to not have them, just be who you are and do not worry about the thoughts of others.  Again, this is not about gender issues or perceived masculinity.  In the Black community, what being a man is would confuse all involved in the conversation.  Nobody wants to be called a sissy.  The most beloved singer of the last quarter century for us was Luther Vandross, he was surrounded by rumor, the type of rumors that can kill a rappers career or make some teenage boys a target in their community.  I do not think he let the rumors stop him; I do not think he truly cared.  That scene at the end of Barbershop where Eddie was about to comment against Luther and the barbers and customers told him to not go there… written in the truth.  Luther was who he was, Luther was not a bitch.

Award shows have really fallen off, they were once must see events.  I believe the death of award shows can be added to the list of things the internet killed.  Why sit through 2 hours of badly read bad jokes from pseudo stars that can’t read a teleprompter, when you can wait until the next morning at work and see the list of winners on your desk computer at work.  When you hear someone gave an outstanding performance or someone had an embarrassing moment (look at that J-Lo gets 2 mentions from me.  How is that Fiat endorsement looking now?) you can pull them up on YouTube.  Question, are you going to pull up the performances of Lloyd and that one nondescript brother?  Answer, no.  How do I know that is your answer, because there is a written rule for both men and women… we do not have time for bitches.

Prince… He a cool N-Word

There is a something on Raphael Saadiq’s CD “Instant Vintage” that, for me, takes it from being a really good piece of work to being one the best 10 CD’s since start of the millenium.  Not even a song, a skit.  Raphael is back on his old block in Oakland see’s his friend, they kind of challenge him on his change in musical style.  Then his friends start asking him who he knows and who he can introduce them to.  One guy asks if he could introduce him to Janet Jackson, Raphael gives no reply.  The other guy says “you know who I want to meet, I want to meet Prince”.  Then on the slick Raphael says “yeah, he’s a cool nigga”.  Then tells the guys if they see someone they all know to let him know Raphael is looking for him.

That Prince statement and that there is a song on ‘Instant Vintage’ with a tuba solo.  How many Tuba solo’s have you heard in your life, if you have never listened to that CD the answer is none and stop trying to remember if you have you haven’t.  This has nothing to do with anything else I am talking about, but I always figured the guy playing the tuba didn’t believe Saadiq was actually going to let him have a solo until he actually heard his solo on a copy of ‘Instant Vintage’ that someone else purchased.  Either way tuba players in every band in the country should have a t-shirt with his picture on it.  Let me help you out, his name is Kelvin Wooten and here is the picture to put on your t-shirt and wear it to Band Camp proudly.

.

It has never been the coolest thing on the block for a brother as a Prince fan, even though every thug has a favorite Prince song and it is understood in the Black community if a woman is over a man’s place and he plays Adore while she is there she is now obligated to give up the ass.  Of all love songs in the last 40 years there is not better deal closer than Adore.  I grew up in Gary, Indiana, no Michael Jackson comments please, which made it less cool being a Prince fan.

‘Thriller’ was cool, not as cool as ‘Off The Wall’, but in my relentless quest to be a ‘different kind of brother’ Prince appealed to me.  My mom even played a part in it, early on in Prince’s career before he was household name my mom was playing his second album ‘Prince’ she looked at me and said “if you could ever sing like this boy, then you can really sing”.  Once I found out he had a 4 octaves range, I had to be able to have some range too.  In college choir I was a baritone, our sopranos were a little weak, our choir director asked me and one other baritone to sing with the second sopranos.  It had to be kind of funny to see a guy 6’3″ standing with the guys but singing the women parts as well.  At least I did not walk out on stage in a trench coat, bikini shorts, and heels.

Before biddy basketball games I needed to listen to “Delirious”, girl problems “Strange Relationship”, went psycho over a girl “Anotherloverholenyohead” (which I admit was kind of creepy).  Hell I did artwork based on Prince songs, my painting “Mountains” was actually displayed in my school hallway.  Thankfully, Public Enemy came along at the same time I read the Biography of Malcolm X or you could forget about walking on stage, I would have been walking into the principal’s office wearing a trench coat, bikini shorts, and heels.

It was cool to see artists like D’Angelo, Saadiq, Maxwell, Van Hunt, and others coming out that were obviously influenced by Prince.  Every time I heard them for the first time it was confirmation that I wasn’t the only brother in the country tracking down Prince bootlegs.  Difference is those cats picked up a guitar or sat down at keyboard and tried to figure them out.  Prince was so good I was afraid to play anything he did out of fear I would kick myself in the ass for not being as good as him.  Well that was stupid, I have come to realize I kick myself in the ass for everything anyway and everyone I know seems to get a nice amount of kicking me in the ass.

There were moments when I had to publicly back away from Prince.  When he showed up on the MTV Awards to sing Get Off and he was literally ass-out.  Coming to the American Music Awards with ‘SLAVE’ written on his face.  I screamed at the TV “Dude, we giving you a pass on the eye-liner but you can’t start spelling shit on your face with it!” Then there was, I guess you call it a name change.  By this time I was so connected to Prince in my circle of friends I was called upon to defend his actions.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain a ‘symbol’ as a name?

Then the music became questionable, The Vault was supposed to be the Holy Grail for Prince fans.  We all heard about this vault that was in his studio with all the unreleased songs, the midnight recording sessions with Miles Davis, the songs he made with random girlfriends just to get them hot… then you listened to it and thought “well there is a reason why they were never released, they weren’t even good enough to be on Grafitti Bridge”.  He dropped “Crystal Ball” 4 CD’s not all good, but the acoustic one was sweet and deep deep Prince fans finally had a clean copy of “Movie Star” (Environmental records DOUBLE CHECK).

But as the years moved on you got to see that Prince was making a power move and setting himself up to do what he was comfortable doing.  He pulled power moves on major labels.  It is one thing for Jay-Z or 50 Cent to make power moves, but no major label boss can feel good after signing off on a deal where a 5’2″ light skin Black man in high heel shoes is getting 75% of the cut.  I can see Clive Davis after that meeting in 2005 looking at his secretary saying “I think I just got ass raped by Webster”.

It was cool holding tight while Prince figured out what he wanted to do.  I found some other musicians that share his want to respect the past while making a new sound.  Unfortunately, I will never hear him sing some of his most risqué songs again as he has put them to rest for his religious beliefs.  I got to see him live once, drove to Moline, IL to see him had seats on the side of the stage raised, so pretty much front row.  In classic Prince form he climbed on top of the speaker in front of me and pointed in my direction.  My cousin (also a huge Prince fan was with me), started screaming “HE’S POINTING AT YOU HE’S POINTING AT YOU!!!” and as feminine and sassy as I have ever been and never been again with complete attitude looked at my cousin Brandy and said “Heffa I know”.

I had to deal with that moment of complete punking out for years.  Then a friend of mine who is a comic told me a story about when he performed on the Tonight Show.  He is going on soon, Denzel Washington is on that night, comes in to say hello to him.  They are talking along with another comic that is hanging out and the prettiest woman he has ever seen in life walks into the room… and it was Prince.