Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… 2 Dollars

2 dollars have helped more Black People get by than a police escort. You want to see a Black person at their best?  Give us two dollars and get the hell out our way!  Today you see on Yahoo, the Food Network, and other places “How to prepare dinners for your family on $10 dollars a day”.  For $10 a Black family can get through 2 weeks of dinners.  I have personally seen Black people (from my grandmother to people on the blocks I have lived) turn two bucks into a full meal with leftovers for the next couple days.  Bag of beans from the corner store for 75 cents, grab some salt pork for 30 cents, a small container of milk for 35 cents, and grab a bag of cheap caramel at 50 cents for dessert.  That’s $1.90 with room to spare for when the store decides it wants to charge tax today.

Some of you see the meal I am talking about and your mouth is watering now.  Those of you that are thinking “what kind of meal is that and what the fuck is ‘salt pork’?” are about to get a lesson in ‘making it work’.  Salt pork is just that pork cured in salt and it is very, very cheap it has also caused more heart attacks than shoveling snow and walking in your home finding your woman bent over and getting raw dogged by the deacon of your church.  Along with the salt it is loaded with fat, actually there is very little actual pork; it should probably be called ‘salt fat’.  As we all know, fat TASTE GOOD and when it sits in some boiling water with a nice amount of seasonings whatever you add to it taste like you should pay way more than 2 dollars.  Even if you have a six-figure salary in the Black community, you still find yourself eating a salt pork flavored meal a few times a year.  You’ll have a stroke one day, but if you are already left-handed what do you care.

Add the beans to the pot of salt pork, water, and seasonings and leave it alone.  With the small container of milk, you hook up some cornbread.  That’s if you have eggs.  If you do not have eggs and the corner store won’t let you buy just 1 egg (oh yeah in the hood, depending on who is working or how cute the store owner thinks you are you can buy just 1).  So what if you don’t have eggs, you are asking and don’t you need cornmeal?  A little secret about Black people, there are a few things you can find at every Black home, a bottle of hot sauce, cornmeal and a picture of Malcolm X next to Martin Luther King Jr. sitting with Jesus.  With no eggs, we do not buy the small container of milk and apply that change to buy the bigger piece of salt pork.  Then we make HOT-WATER CORNBREAD!!!  Heck we make hot-water when we get money.  It is exactly what it sounds like, hot water and cornmeal.  The hot water begins to cook the cornmeal when combined and then you put in a pan, fry it up like a pancake and tell everyone you know you are making hot-water cornbread because it means you are eating something tasty with it.

When dinner time hits, which is usually around 8 PM in a Black house (we don’t eat too early white people, if we have dinner at 5 or 6 it means we will be hungry again at 9, who has money for that!  We got two dollars to last us until our check comes and this meal needs to drag out at least one more day) the kids run in see a bowl of beans with little pieces of meat floating in a thick gravy like sauce with a side of HOT-WATER CORNBREAD!  When we find out mom bought us candy too, we don’t even get upset when we find out that the only thing she could afford for us to drink was one packet of ‘red’ Flava-Aid.  MMM… this is bringing back memories, PASS THE HOT SAUCE!  I bet you want some of this Malcolm and Martin.

It just isn’t a pot of beans that we can make happen… a cheap loaf of bread, a 99 cent pound of ground beef, some ketchup and mustard packets snatched up from the cafeteria (or from the last time you could afford White Castles) and now you have ‘Burger Night’ at the poor little Black family home.  If you live buy yourself, McDonald’s is your best friend if you only have to try to make it through the night.  Two McDoubles or McChicken with small fries, hold off eating it until you are really sleepy and you can fall off to sleep with a satisfied tummy and wake up to payday.

Man $2 dollars can be your best friend in hard times.  As Tupac said in “Dear Mama”:

Working with the scraps you were given’

This is a survival instinct that is just in us, it dates back to slavery.  We had to take what was not wanted and make something we enjoyed out of it.  Why do you think the intestines of a pig have turned into a holiday delicacy for our people?  You heard the saying ‘from the rooter to the tooter’?  Now it means ‘the whole thing’, but it started from Black people talking about the pig.  We would (and still do) eat everything on the pig from the ‘rooter’ (the snout) to the ‘tooter’ (the tail, yes the tail!  Walk into a corner store in a Black community and right next to the pickled eggs, there should be a big jar of pickled pig-tails and an assortment of other ‘pickled’ items… except actual pickles.  We like our pickles individually wrapped in plastic coming in an assortment of flavors and heat levels)… WE EAT THE WHOLE PIG!  If you eat hot dogs at a baseball game, so do you!

We have written songs about 2 dollars:

OH I LOVE THAT SONG!  I have been in many a bar on the South Side, drunk, at 2 o’clock in the morning (the only time that song can legally be played in Chicago, Detroit, and Mississippi) singing that song louder than the DJ could play it or the band could sing it.

Sadly, we have to pay a solemn tribute to a 2 dollar classic never to be uttered again.  When you said this, you knew you were about to have a great night or go get something you been wanting for a long time (like that girl you been chasing since 11th grade), “let me get 2 dollars on pump number fo”, in the Black community from 1955 to 1998 that phrase was second only to “let me borrow… 2 dollars” in number of times heard per day.  Here’s to you 2 Dollars!!! We love you more than this country, most of our cousins, every member of Destiny’s Child not named Beyonce… but not as much as Marvin Gaye and the 1st of the Month. We celebrate those last 2 dollars because when we get to those last couple, that is exactly what is next…

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Happy Black History Month!!! Today We Salute… The Hater

Today we salute the most controversial person of all the people we will honor in Black History Month… The Hater.  People say the best way to deal with the Hater is to ignore them, but Haters are not to be ignored, they refuse to be ignored, they will not let you ignore them, and you should not ignore them.  The Hater is confirmation that what you are doing is impressive.  So keep doing it!  Remember when you were good at baseball and everyone told you how well you were doing?  What happened?  You didn’t want to play baseball the next year, instead you learned how to smoke weed with your friends without getting caught.  Remember when your teacher told that you were good at Biology and that you should think about being a doctor?  Now you are pulling double-shifts at Wendy’s trying to keep a roof over your head and looking at those ‘you can still get a degree’ commercials they show during Judge Judy in the afternoon, like you still have hope.

You need the Hater; there was that time your brother told you that you would never beat him.  Within a year you were kicking his ass up and down the block, he started locking his door at night out of fear that you would walk in at 3 in the morning and resume the ass whupping.  Think about the time your friends said you couldn’t dance and laughed at you for hours, then days, then weeks about it.  That became a running joke on the block, so much so you stopped hanging out and stood in front of your TV watching Rap City and 106th and Park until you learned how to do the Bankhead Bounce, the Harlem Shake… the Roger Rabbit.  By the time the Spring Dance rolled up, you were killing it on the dance floor (if you did learn the Roger Rabbit, you were hurting the ankles of the person dancing behind you), man you were coming in 2nd and 3rd place at lunch hour dance competitions!  How about that time your ex told you that you would never amount to shit?  Well, the jury is still out on that one, but you are still trying to prove them wrong!  See, praise does nothing for you but a Hater can turn your whack ass into a star.

You think Barack Obama always wanted to be president?  Hell no, that brother wanted to be Dr. J, but you try being the only Black dude walking around a private high school in Hawaii, he got sick of being ignored by everyone but the basketball coach.  As soon as he could, took his but to the main land, started off in Cali, then finished up hitting the East Coast, finally settling in Chicago where a brotha has to be a brotha.  Before you knew it that dude was walking around the hood talking to people like he grew up on the South Side, eating rib tips, and eventually got him a big booty sista as confirmation of how you do the damn thing!  You see how he walked up to the podium after they killed Bin Laden?  You don’t “learn” that walk… you EARN that walk.  You earn it by putting Haters in their place.  He has Haters now, Mitt Romney, let the unemployment rate dip below 8% in the next couple of months, when people come to see Obama talk they are going to have to wait a couple of minutes from the time he gets to mic to when he says his first word.  Long enough for him to take off his hat, get a swig out his glass, and put on his sunglasses… so he can see what he’s saying!!

Remember how George Jefferson was walking during the opening credits of “The Jefferson’s”?  Remember how hard he was pimping as he escorted his woman into their new building up to their ‘deluxe penthouse in the sky-i-i’?  That was the first time George had ever walked like that, if you look really close you can see and lip read Weezy’s mouth you can see her saying “why in the fuck are you walking like that”?  He had no idea that was the first time he had ever walked like that.  People called it a ‘pimp’, that was not a ‘pimp walk’ that was George stepping on every Hater in his life.  With each step he crushed another Hater, “take that Archie Bunker”!

People focus on their ‘swag’ now; you cannot have swagga without having Haters.  When you see a 16-year-old kid walking around dressed like a fake member of Young Money, claiming that is their ‘swag’ they do not have it.  When you have Haters you do not need to dress a certain way, you just carry yourself a certain way.  You do not need skinny jeans that would just give the Hater another reason to hate on you.

You eventually realize there is nothing you can do about Haters, but appreciate their hate.  The Hater will talk about how your brand new, fresh off the lot, BMW 650i “ain’t all that”, then turn around and ask you for a ride to the ‘sto’.  A Hater will clown you about your new higher paying job, then send you an email at your work account asking if “y’all hiring”.  The Hater will disrespect your new home, tell you it is too small, that the neighborhood sucks, that they wouldn’t be caught dead over there, but they never miss a cookout and is the last one to leave.  The Hater looks at your watch and say “its a’ight”, then pop up 3 weeks later with a fake TAG Heuer and act like it the most expensive thing in the room.  Don’t get upset and challenge the Hater, you might beat the brakes off the Hater all the Hater will do is get up, wipe the blood from their lips and tell you his little brother and sister hit him harder than that when they were kids.

Let your Hater be your motivation, matter of fact any time you have spent too much time with your Hater go home and put on “Motivation” by Kelly Rowland.  Zone out for a few minutes and let your success show itself to you.

The saying ‘behind every successful man is a great woman’ is only partly true.  It should actually be gender neutral and more to the point “Behind every successful person, is a Hater… still hating on them”.  Keep doing you, you are fine and close to reaching your goals.  We need our Haters, so today let’s celebrate the Hater in our communities.  Call your Hater today and thank them for everything they haven’t done for you.  The only thing The Hater has ever done and will ever do is give birth to some hating ass kids. But if you do not know who The Hater is in your life… Hi Hater!

Happy Black History Month!! Today We Salute… The Thug ‘As A Fashion Statement’

As important as the ‘Jheri Curl’ or the ‘Zipper’ jacket Michael Jackson wore in the “Beat It” video.  Bigger than an Andre 3000 bow tie or Throw-back jersey with some S. Carter Reeboks and dookie gold rope chains, the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has lasted longer than the careers and lives of rappers. 20 years ago rappers started dressing like they were going to rob their fans.  NWA came on the scene and even though they looked tough, nobody could remember seeing their local gang member walking down the street in a black Raiders hat with matching $200 Starters jacket.  That changed after an arrest and eventual release from jail of Tupac Shakur.  Tupac emerged from a precinct after making bail, spitting on camera men and cussing… acting like a real G!  From that point on, people wanted to dress like they were ‘real’.

In 1994, a group out of Cleveland, Ohio emerged and changed not only the sound of rap for a brief period, but changed fashion… for a really long time.  When people became fascinated by the sound from the song “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”, they ached to see who these guys were.  When the video “Foe the Love of Money” appeared on BET (where else), people finally saw what a ‘thug’ wore.  Looking like they were in the same clothes they rode the Greyhound bus to Los Angeles wearing, young men began to dress like they couldn’t afford anything else, on purpose.  Bones Thugs and Harmony not only made Eazy E relevant again; they put iron and ironing board manufacturers out of business.  They also saved a lot of money on the wardrobe budget… MO WEED MO WEED MO WEED!

Schools across the country had to issue uniforms to offset a student body looking as if they would shoot you for getting a Master’s in Education.  This did not stop the thug ‘as a fashion’ statement, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is intelligent in his ignorance; “you want me to wear a uniform?  I won’t put on the belt”.  The thug ‘as a fashion’ statement never grew out of (or into) their choice of clothes.  They became 35-year-olds with a closet full of oversized jeans, 40 pairs of Nikes but not a pair of slacks or dress shoes for a job interview.  The thug ‘as a fashion statement’ helped society in one major way… it let companies know who not to hire.  The unemployment rate has been tied to trends in the economy, bad decisions by the Federal government, even the greed of Wall Street.  High unemployment rates can also be tied directly to a large number of people in the ‘hiring pool’ that don’t own a tie and think their whitest T-shirt is appropriate interview attire.

The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ has a hard time making connections.  He questions why the police are always stopping him when walking down the street.  He fails to make the connection that REAL thugs only wear hooded sweatshirts, in 90 degree heat, when they have something to hide… like when they are trying to hide their gun or their face, after they have used their gun.  Police are trained to stop people who look like they are hiding a gun, they learned this in class they took while in the police academy called “Characteristics of Individuals Carrying Guns” which has been retitled “What Thugs Wear”.  Those characteristics happen to be the style of choice for the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, oversized clothes to hide the bulk of a weapon, pants sagging from the bulk of a weapon, walking slow as if the they are being slowed down from the weight from the bulk of a weapon.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, thinks that looks cool… because the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is stupid.

Real thugs have learned that when a cop stops you, talk to him.  If you act like you have nothing to hide and not give a police officer a reason to arrest you, the cop probably won’t arrest you… cops do not like writing ‘arrest reports’.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ always runs and he is always caught.  Because he is not wearing a belt, so his pants fall to his ankles, causing him to trip and fall, allowing the fat cop to slowly walk over to him and place him in handcuffs.

Real thugs dress like this out of necessity or lack of money to afford better.  The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ can actually afford to buy proper and better fitting clothing.  Instead they shop at “Thugs Iz Us” and pay 200 percent more for a style a real thug gets from the Dickies section at Wal-Mart or from his older brother after he grows out of it.

The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’, believes that the world is against them and that everybody hates them because they are constantly being jumped and attacked by large groups of teenagers.  When in reality, the thug ‘as a fashion statement’ fails to realize that real thugs beat up anyone in a ‘thug uniform’ they do not recognize.  It is a defense mechanism for real thugs; they have come to learn that people they do not recognize that look like they are carrying guns are probably carrying guns.

What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, about the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not the embarrassment they feel when they see men from their community looking ignorant.  Not even the initial fear that comes across them when they see the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ until they realize they are not real thugs.  What is most upsetting to grown men, that act like grown men and dress like grown men, is that at least 3 times a week because the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ is not wearing a belt they look at another man’s ass to realize they have on the same pair of draws!

Because you are not going anywhere, reluctantly we honor you the Thug ‘as a fashion statement’.  Even though the rappers that influenced your style opted for $3,000 suits as soon as they could afford them (have you seen T.I. in a crooked hat and sagging jeans since his third album?  Nope), even though we tried our best to forget about you for some reason you held on until we had to embrace you.  Kind of like Betty White, you out lived everyone in your generation until we had no choice but to give you a Life Time Achievement Award… The Thug ‘as a fashion statement’ the “Betty White” of Black History Month.  Please accept this award, this job application, and this belt.  You can either put it on and wear it at an appropriate level or we can whup your ass with it, the choice is yours.

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.