Saturday, September 22, 2007

Spank Rock tear the club up @ Apple 5th Avenue's Midnight Mix (9/22, NYC)

It goes without saying that the Apple store at 5th Ave. was jammed tighter than rush hour traffic this morning. Why, you ask? Guess you're just not hip enough. For the last installment in the Midnight Mix series, Apple decided to go out with a bang and bring the fellas from Spank Rock a little further uptown than they're accustomed to.

Apparently, Naeem destroyed it. Litterally. Some overzealous female patrons cleared one of the display tables used for iPods and converted it into an impromtu stage to shake some ass on (they were probably following Naeem's lead). Apple security was less than pleased with his table dance and tried to pull him down. But after a tussle ensued between Naeem's entourage and Apple security, Naeem supposedly yelled "Yo, everybody steal everything!" Whether he was joking or not, many took heed and began cuffing merchandise left and right. And with a crowd this size, it goes without saying that there would be some expected "casualties." In the midst of the mayhem, some sticky-fingered hipsters were even brazen enough to dismantle the following from the security wires and walk out of the store: one iPod Touch, several iPod Shuffles, two 80 gig iPod Classics, and 4 iPod Nanos. Nice. Just make sure to use plenty of Goo Gone for the adhesive residue on the back.

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Of course all in attendance were in their best hipster high fashion threads. Trust me, the amount of Supreme gear and SB dunks in that place could have kept an Asian labor camp busy for at least a year.

But, alas, I missed all the brouhaha (and only by a few minutes, too). Apparently, the performance was cut short at 1 AM due to capacity issues and an overly aroused crowd. Even though Naeem stepped off the mic and supposedly dashed off to another gig, the DJ kept rocking. Between insighting theft and a quasi riot, graffiti tags scrawled on the expensive imported Italian stone floor in silver and gold Sharpie, and performing an unadulterated version of "Put That P*ssy On Me," it's safe to say that Spank Rock need not worry about being invited back for another Apple function.

Spank Rock is an acquired taste. Either you love them or you don't. Their sound is like a mash up of Baltimore club trax and ghetto tech. I been lovin' Baltimore club trax since "Get the Hand Clap" and "Hey You Knuckleheads." WAY before the recent transplanting of club trax by the Hollertronix crew to hip cities across the country. In other words, I remember when it was uncool outside the Baltimore area. Does that make me an early adopter? Naw. I just grew up not too far from Baltimore, so I was informed by default. But more than anything that piqued my curiosity was how the largely white hipster crowd was jamming along with Naeem's socially provocative lyrics like "shake it till my d*ck turns racist" and "I create/ styles of a superior taste that/ some white boy's sure to imitate that." Guess I'll have to have a pow wow with Bakari Kitwana about that one. Not familiar with Spank Rock? Google 'em.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

.:Public access TV makes an ass out of you and me:.

Ya never ceases to amaze me how people sit and rant about how there's never anything good to watch on TV. Most of the time we just channel surf through the 100+ cable stations that are more or less predictable in content. After a while, that shit gets real mundane. So why not stop your bellyachin' and flip over to your local public access TV station. Aside from the obvious amateur camera work and drab sets, the shows on public access have more comedic value than the funniest episode of Family Guy. Don't believe me? Watch this:

John Daker is a soldier. For real. This dude obviously had no on-camera experience, yet Mr. Daker STILL managed to keep a poker face throughout his whole performance. Ok, maybe diarrhea face is more like it. And even though he missed a line here and there, it added to the overall effect. Seriously, this could have been a skit on SNL (when it was still funny). And let's not forget Mrs. Reva Cooper. Something about this lady strongly suggests she may have knocked back a few before she came on set. In short, this two and a half minutes of entertainment from this starched, church-going brood was more fulfilling than Britney Spears' MVA fiasco.

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Alexyss K. Tylor is one of a kind. Homegirl redefines the term "real talk." She embodies the straight forward candor of Lawanda Page and Millie Jackson, the research of Dr. Ruth, and the militant spirit of Sista Souljah, making for a very engaging character. Interestingly enough, she makes it work. And please believe this ain't homegirl's first or last video. Google her and you'll find out. Even though most of her research is probably grassroots (read: street) based versus academic, alot of what she says seems to ring true with most of my female friends who've seen this. Hell, some of them even said they'd rather watch her over Oprah. Some folks might say, "How did she get a show with such explicit content?!" Man if Robyn Byrd got herself a show, then ANYBODY can! BTW...the older lady on set with Alexyss is her mama...

Everybody's got an uncle like Darondo. You know the one that comes to the summer family cookouts dressed in a leisure suit accented with an ascot. Sporting a pinky ring big as a house and a gold tooth that blinds small children when it catches the sun. Ah, yes. The OG playa pimp. If you can relate, then your uncle was definitely cut from the same cloth as Darondo. This is an excerpt from his 80s public access TV show based in LA. Everything about this set up screams porno. At any given moment, you just know a menage trios is going to jump off. But Darondo keeps it playa. A suave, debonair ladies man for all seasons. It's safe to say that him and Bishop Don "Magic" Juan used to run together back in the day. All jokes aside: Darondo might be a trainwreck of a TV host, but he can sang his ass off. Check Ubiquity Records' website for the reissue collection of some of his funkiest 70s tracks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You should go.

Academy Records (Williamsburg Annex)

Stars: ****

I think this is what most hip folks wish record stores were like: sequestered off the beaten path in a trendy part of town, staffed with knowledgeable, approachable sales clerks, stocked with a vast selection of affordable vinyl, and working listening stations.

This Williamsburg annex of Academy Records has more vinyl than the W. 18th Street and E. 10th Street locations in Manhattan. Also a plus is the down to earth sales guys behind the counter. They generally have a good idea of their stock without even looking.

This is a true vinyl hunter's spot, with 95% of the sales floor devoted to records and only two small racks on the wall near the front with CDs.

Price wise, they're pretty moderate. You can cop most records there between $5 and $25, depending on the pressing, grade, and obscurity of course. And they're by no means stupid resellers. Believe me. There was an original pressing of the Malone & Barnes record going for $130 nestled right behind the counter. But what gave them extra points in my book was the long stretches of dollar bins on the floor.

Although 40% of it was probably stuff like "The Great Finnish Yodellers sing The Beatles," the number of bins gives more of a possiblility of finding some useable stuff. In addition to the dollar bins, the illsburg annex managed to catch me off guard with an authentic promo banner from Funkadelic's 1978 monster hit album, 'One Nation Under A Groove.'

After a few failed attempts to strike a deal with the clerk to buy it, he informed me that he'd seen a few on Ebay over the past few years for cheap. And not a hint of snobbery in his response either. So that concluded my shopping experience. I must say that it's probably the most enjoyable record shopping experience I've had in the city to date.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Yay, me!

You hurry-up-and-buy.

You hurry-up-and-buy NOW!

Fuck YO! couch...

I hate door people. They tend to have an abnormally inflated sense of self and take their job too fuckin' seriously. I don't know, maybe these are the outcasts we teased in high school come full circle that are now reveling in the phrase "the meek shall inherit the earth." Or rather "the meek shall inherit the guest list." At any rate, I experienced one of those dreaded revenge of the nerds moments last week at Puma's SoHo store. A buddy of mine was nice enough to hook me and my homegirl up with entry to Puma's soiree celebrating the release of their YO! MTV Raps themed line of kicks and gear.

Needless to say everybody worth their weight in retro gold showed up. There were the 21-and-under crowd dressed in their best late 80's gear, circa "Do The Right Thing," trying their best to emulate their Uncle Tyrone. There were plenty of graffed-out dual cassette deck boom boxes (D, Mickey-fickey, D!), flat tops, and dookie gold rope chains. And though the dope party was inside (complete with DJ Evil Dee on the mix, Black Moon on the mic, cocktails and barbers giving free line ups and fades), I was stuck outside with all the odd balls and side show contestants in the three ring circus on the sidewalk outside.

Interestingly enough, those scenarios are usually more entertaining than the event you're trying to get into. There's always about 10 people at any given moment on their cell phones with distress in their voice saying, "Yo, I'm outside...can you come get me!" Or the people who try to inconspicuously tag onto the end of an entourage with hopes the door people will just assume they're with that party and let them pass. But the funniest folks are those who beef with door people. For all those unaware, this is a no-no. NEVER pick a battle of wits or try to pull rank with a door person unless you really have pull. Trust me, these folks at the door have memories like elephants and will carry a grudge across a mountain top if necessary.

Anyway, me and my homegirl were thwarted by this little bite-sized door guy with policeman's shades and fitted black track jacket. For some reason, he did not like my homegirl. Although she was polite in trying to get his attention several times, he chose to ignore her. Finally, I was able to get my buddy's attention by waving my hands as he walked up to the door from the inside. He motioned for me to get the door guy's attention for him. After my buddy put up a peace sign to the door guy, indicating "two people," he gave me a signal that all should be good from there. But the rat fink of a door guy simply turned to me and said, "You got 7 people in front of you." So after an hour of waiting and watching 15 people go in ahead of us who just walked up, we bounced. Fuck yo' couch.

That was the longest I've waited in line for ANY event. And please believe me, unless Michael Jackson announces he's going on tour with Prince, it will be the LAST time I wait that long. Kudos to all those who were able to get in and partake of the festivities.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

::A requiem for the traditional record store::

It's official, folks. The record retail outlet, as we know it, is going to hell in a handbasket. Between the accelerated number of folks legally and illegally downloading music online and the shitty state of music, we may as well prepare ourselves for the imminent demise of the "record store." I remember when I used to work as a rep for BMG Distribution's NYC branch (pre-Sony merger) not long ago. Going to different record stores in the city with an armfull of P.O.P. and zeal. Beat Street, Music Factory, and Tower Records have all since bitten the dust. Used record & CD resellers like NYC's Midnight Records and Footlight Records (above) have chosen to shutter their storefronts and operate exclusively as online retailers. All these changes in the industry will no doubt have a profound effect on the way we conceptualize music as a product. After all, how many of us can remember when the 7" single was the standard way to bow in an artist's latest full-length album?

I'm sure that pretty soon, most of us won't even leave our funky little apartments to cop music (as if some don't already). In the interim, I wonder what type of intermediary music retail spot the industry will come up with. Maybe some type of highly interactive store where we can punch up our favorite artists and plug in our iPods like 8-track cassettes and download music from some sort of sleek, hi-tech terminal. And as much as I know it will come to pass, I'm really not feeling it. So over time, I'll be spotlighting some of my favorite little record shops in NYC. Stay tuned...

Ok, I'm done talking. Chime in, already.

::The old NYC is dying...get over it::

I think it's time for all of us in denial about this situation to take inventory. Ever since good ole Rudi Giuliani introduced his Quality Of Life initiative during his so-called reign of terror, NYC has been undergoing a discernable series of aesthetic and sociological changes. As much as we hate to admit it, the inevitable is in the making. In short, NYC is on a swift trajectory towards being an exclusive playground solely for the rich and elite. But, alas, all seasons must change. In 10 to 20 years, the NYC that we know and love will be no more. So who's to blame? Maybe James Q. Wilson and his stupid Broken Window Theory ( Who knows. But for now, here's a laundry list of the things that NYC will miss after all is said and done:

1. Rent-controlled housing

2. Starving artist communities and "cool" neighborhoods

3. Non-corporate owned concert venues

4. Shitty subway system

5. Peep shows and porno shops

6. Historic landmarks

7. Astroland

8. Skid row and other seedy areas

9. Confinement of tourists to Times Square

10. A city with balls

I'm sure I'm missing somthing, so feel free to chime in. I'll be posting more pics of the new, emerging NYC over time. Stay tuned...