Friday, November 28, 2008

::Thoughts on Bleeps, Blips, and Blunders::

As hard as me and one of my closest buddies clowned it this past weekend, your man just might be having a change of heart.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

.::Upscale Magazine::December/ January issue::.

In the latest issue of Upscale, check my review of the new album by Ludacris, Theater Of The Mind!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

.::XLR8R Magazine::Issue 123::.

In the year-end issue of XLR8R magazine, Sean Marquand and David Collas give me the scoop on their latest sonic incarnation, The Phenomenal Hand Clap Band! And don't forget to check my bi-monthly column, Downbeat Diaspora, on page 87!

:The Stop Making Sense Files ::

Assailant: Lil' Wayne
Crime: lazy lyricism and bad metaphors

"To you 4-eva, from me to you.
I heard somebody say church, I'ma need a suit.
I'ma need a coupe, I won't need a roof.
Flyer than Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.
I got the floor, I'm tryna see the roof.
Didn't wear a bulletproof so I got shot, and you can see the proof.
Blind eyes can look at me and see the truth.
Wonder if Stevie do.
But I'm a leave it to God and not Beaver, neither you.
'Cause I'ma murder "Y", kill "O" , and even "U."
Man, I got summer hating on me, 'cause I'm hotter than the sun.
Spring hatin' on me, 'cause I ain't neva sprung.
Winter hatin' on me, 'cause I'm colder than ya'll.
And I will neva I will neva I will neva fall.
I'm being hated by the season
So fuck ya'll who hatin' for no reason.

-"Mr. Carter" featuring Jay-Z
from the album The Carter III (2008)

I'm sayin'.
Really, fam?!
How can you just get away with being such a mediocre lyricist...and be rewarded for it in the process!!
To date, The Carter III has sold about 2.6 million copies, which is damn good numbers for this era of music consumption.
But that doesn't discount the fact that this doubles as bad art and exemplifies the dumbing down of a culture.
The Beetle Juice line takes the cake, though.
There's no imagery or lyrical ingenuity here.
In all honesty, I can't see how anybody could read the above and still consider Weezy the tightest rapper in the game.
It's like McDonald's value menu rap: cheap and greasy with no nutritional value

Monday, November 17, 2008

::96-year-old Grandma Redefines Squatter's Rights::

It warms the heart to see the elderly get grimy for what they believe in. Providing that their convictions are morally sound, that is. And such is the case of 96-year-old New Yorker Editta Sherman.

Since 1949, she has resided in one of the many studios located in the towers directly above New York's venerable concert venue Carnegie Hall. She raised her 5 children there and made quite the name for herself as an esteemed photographer. Her lengthly portfolio reads like a who's who of high society, pop culture and all in between: Andy Worhol, June Carter Cash, Henry Fonda, Elvis Presley, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. More striking is the fact that most of her subjects were photographed right in the very studio she has called home for the past 59 years.

So the f*ck what, you say? The what is the fact that Sherman resides in one of the final six rent-controlled studios in the Carnegie Towers, and they want her OUT! Is she a loud and unruly tenant? NO! Does she throw raucous parties in her apartment steeped in debauchery and crunk shenanigans? NO! Does she outright refuse to separate the recyclables from her garbage? NO!! Her only crime is standing in the way of Carnegie's $150 million dollar big money scheme of revamping the studios above the hall into arts education facilities. The underlying story is that Sherman only pays a mind-boggling $530 rent on a breathtaking, high-ceiling 800 square foot studio...PER MONTH!!! She definitely hit the jackpot by both living directly above a NYC landmark and smack dab in the middle of prime real estate central. But she refuses to budge. She stated, part in jest, that she would be willing to move if Carnegie gave her $10 million. Let the face-off begin.

Dubbed the Dutchess of Carnegie Hall, Sherman has become the face of the fight to secure the Carnegie studios as rent-controlled spaces for those who have been loyal tenants for decades. Unfortunately, Carnegie won a lawsuit last spring which effectively evicted 30 tenants from the towers who were fighting essentially for the same right to remain. Though the future looks grim for the final 6, they refuse to go without a fervent fight. They've even gotten support from celebrities such as Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon, and John Turturro.

It appears that the sun is truly setting on New York City's Artist-In-Residence program. The true intention of the program was to buttress the city's thriving artist community by designating lofts and studios in certain city zones as living/ working spaces. The program also served to revitalize certain areas deemed deplorable, such as the pre-mid 1980's SoHo. Could it be that this was the first throes of gentrification? Maybe. But it's clear that today's interpretation and utilization of the phrase Artist-In-Residence is a 180-degree about face from its original intent: it's typically seen as a short run of one specific artist at a singular venue, be it art gallery or concert hall. Definitely a shift from literal to theoretical. And although the city of New York has owned the venue since 1960, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie built the towers above the venue specifically for working/ living spaces for artists. Taking the Carnegie situation into consideration, there's more irony than you can shake a stick at here.

As of late, many people across the city's 5 boroughs are fighting Sherman's fight. Wealthy land developers are moving into neighborhoods under false pretenses, yanking the rug beneath the feet of the working class in communities like Harlem, East Village, Lower East Side, Fort Green, and South Bronx. Affordable housing is probably on the top of the list of gripes of the average New Yorker, native or transplant. And with new rezoning laws on the table at city hall, many communities are biting their nails praying that they don't come home to an eviction notice after a hard day's work.

Now is the time to take to the streets and get involved with local grassroots organizations, particularly those with a focus on anti-gentrification, championing the right of citizens to be protected from such greedy real estate ventures seeking to redevelop areas at their expense. But this scenario is not specific to NYC. Many metropolitan areas across the country are also feeling the pangs: Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and San Francisco. Though the Carnegie situation is somewhat of an anomaly, ground zero for gentrification is typically public housing. Sounds like neo-liberalism strikes again. Here's one link to get you up to speed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

::Actors Ternt Sangas::

How do y'all feel about these albums so far? It's been about two months and I'm still trying to get my words together.

Wayne Brady
A Long Time Coming
(Peak Records)

Terrence Howard
Shine Through It
(Sony BMG Records)

I gotta give Terrence props for taking the least beaten path for his debut album, being that he could have taken the easy road and did a Jamie Foxx. Kinda reminds me of the left-of-center direction Darius Rucker's debut took. It's dope that Terrence can play guitar and piano, but the vocals are a bit whiskey-worn and uninspiring even for my taste. And while neither of these records are particularly my cup of tea, I'm just grateful that Terrence didn't have Three 6 Mafia droppin' hot 16's all over the place...and that Wayne resisted the urge to utilize a smack-a-bitch pimp interlude here and there.

Friday, November 14, 2008

:::50 Cent pontificates on the power of a dollar:::

This copy coupled with his image is just wrong on so many levels.
Next he'll be doing TV spot endorsements for the technical schools
that advertise during the commercial breaks of Maury and Jerry Springer. All jokes aside, the show is pretty much parallel to all the other "what would you do for a Klondike bar" prime time reality programs which depict moguls putting a motley crew of entrepreneurial hopefuls through the ringer via a series of challenges and the process of elimination. So...if you've seen VH1's I Want To Work For Diddy, NBC's The Apprentice, or CW's Stylista, you've pretty much seen this show. I'm guessing 50's angle is to instruct the contestants on how to shift into his hustlemode savvy from board room tactics? Yeah.
But to make sure that your opinion is fair and balanced, you can watch the full episodes at MTV's website here. You be the judge

::What do you HOPE for?::

Maybe it's just a misinformed premonition or just plain wishful thinking, but I get the feeling that the election of Barack Obama has ignited political awareness in U.S. citizens in some small way. Those who have been mentally dormant on the minutiae of politics seem to have been awakened and aroused. The demographics targeted over the last two presidential elections, primarily the youth aged 18-24, were no doubt crucial in Obama's election. In effect, it seemed to have been a brave and viable attempt at bridging the chasm of the generational divide. And in reconnecting wisdom and sage with energy and vitality, there is nothing short of a miracle that cannot be achieved.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson undertook a war on poverty at the behest of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Central to this initiative was the Economic Opportunity Act, which sought to instate social programs to aid the poor. One facet of the EOC, Community Action, essentially commanded that ordinary citizens in low income areas take an active roll in the progress and betterment of their neighborhoods by forming local chapters and committees devoted to this cause. In carrying out such anti-poverty programs, Community Action chapters were eligible for federally-funded grants. These chapters were the genesis of what we now know as grassroots organizations. Their example provides us with a template of organization for a common cause and community building. Their individual triumphs provide us with inspiration and initiative to positively effect change for the future.

I'm hoping that we tear a page from history and start to become more active in the political realm in some way. Whether it be joining an NGO or grassroots organization that piques your interest and represents your views, we have to get involved and rid ourselves of the messiah complex that this entire nation has been suffering from for so long. I pray that the lessons of the past coupled with our aspirations for the future galvanize us as citizens to actively bring about the "change we need."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

::Ancestry In Progress::


Your legacy has left an indelible impression on the world-at-large.
Thank you for the precious gifts you bore.
May your journey be peaceful and radiant.

::Ancestry In Progress::



Your legacies have left indelible impressions on the world-at-large.
Thank you for the precious gifts you bore.
May your journey be peaceful and radiant.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

:::A few words about Presidential Inauguration Tickets:::

Alright, alright. Calm down. Everybody who saw the post title and got excited thinking I had a congressional hook-up...fall back. I just wanted to rant a little about this situation that had me perplexed. After completing a long day of canvasing the Monday before the election and working the polls on election day, I found it hard to believe that tickets to the 56th Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies on January 20th were not only for sale but were starting at $895 a piece!!! I was about to go on a serious tirade. How could a government charge such exorbitant prices for tickets to a public ceremony for a political figure whose salary we pay with our tax dollars?! However, one of my more politically astute cohorts calmed me down and hipped me to the facts: INAUGURATION TICKETS ARE FREE! Even though only 250,000 tickets are released to members of the senate, house, and other government offices, they are NOT FOR SALE! Anyone who didn't request tickets before election night may not stand a chance in hell of getting one now, but you can always press your luck and contact your congressman or senator to be placed on a waiting list for tickets. I'm sure many of you are scratching your heads trying to figure out exactly who represents you in either part of our bi-cameral system. Be easy, I got you: House of Representatives and Senate. Just follow the instructions in the upper right hand corner of the Senate page and the upper left hand corner of the House of Representatives page to find your respective political representation. Remember: each state has two senators and the number of congressmen are proportionate to your state's population, so you may have to make several calls. Most of their offices, however, have a website which includes a ticket request function to make it easier on everybody.

So the next time you Google inauguration tix and the results give you a bunch of sites selling tickets for the price of a mortgage payment, give 'em the gas face! For more info on the inauguration ceremony, tickets, and the affiliated events, go here. For press releases regarding ticket release, go here or here.

P.S. For all my folks with enough paper to make Donald Trump blush, check Ebay come the first two weeks of January.

:::Upscale Magazine::November 2008:::

Check my reviews of the new albums by T-Pain and Ryan Leslie!!
On newsstands now!!!


Whoever came up with this copy deserves a pay bump and a bigger cubicle.
They just reminded me to throw my gym shoes in the washing machine and burn some Nag Champa.

Monday, November 10, 2008

:::Sex In The City: Legitimizing The Hoe Stroll:::

If you're a New Yorker, there's no doubt you've seen this piece of propaganda around and about. Strangely enough the advocacy group responsible for these flyers only credit themselves as "The Author." After wading through the various grammatical and syntactic errors, one may find that the idealist 5-step process to prevent the spread of the HIV virus outlined here is just a tad bit out of touch with human nature and contemporary human agency. Just a tad.

While the flyer has it's cons, it does however bring up an interesting conversation piece: should prostitution be legalized?
Apparently California has been thinking the same thing. In addition to the presidential election on November 4th, San Francisco also voted on the potential legalization of prostitution. The proposed legislation seeks to end the enforcement of prostitution laws and end the racial profiling associated with human trafficking for the intention of prostitution. Advocates argue that the legislation would enable an estimated $11 million normally spent on prostitution law enforcement to be rerouted to other sectors of the city's public programs. Contrary to popular belief, this new legislation will not grant license to anybody trying to sell ass from their backdoor. It seeks to regulate an industry that has been historically viewed as immoral and, more recently, dehumanizing. Hmm. Looks like if it goes through, San Fran will be the guinea pig for the legalization of prostitution.

U.S. states like Nevada and Rhode Island have strict laws which regulate the profession, but it's unclear as to whether these states have sought to expand the terms of these laws. It goes without being said that the legalization of prostitution definitely has its pros and cons. One pro would be that some folks could probably get a leg up on getting out of this hell hole of a recession we're in making some extra cash on the side. No pun intended. Also, it would essentially decimate the perilous human trafficking industry. One major con would be the potential rise in HIV and other STD cases, which would require more state and city funding for treatment and testing (BTW, the city is actually cutting HIV treatment and testing funding for this coming fiscal year).

Also, I'm not so sure how this would work out logistically. I mean, if street walking and soliciting is considered undesirable, would this introduce the brothel into the picture? Or would you have to just acquire a professional gentleman of leisure to "manage" your career? Would this be the start of a new kind of temp agency and a revamping of the duties of a gal friday? Are their earnings taxable and what would their pension plans look like? And if you outlaw pimps AND street walking AND brothels, then is it cool to place ads in the classifieds? Hell, the back pages of the Village Voice are already teeming with ads from "fun loving," "out only" females specializing in "bodywork," "heavenly grooming," and "massage therapy." And my last trip to Brazil showed me that if you're going to get into the game, you gotta promote yourself like you got a fu*kin' album coming out! STICKER EVERYTHING!!!

But on the real, we all know that the basis for victimless crimes such as prostitution are based in moral codes derived from Puritanical views. There are many sex laws on the books that are essentially antiquated and silly at best. But to legalize prostitution would be to call in to question the validity of our morals as a country. I haven't looked at the proposed legislation, but it seems that we should look at other countries who have more or less made amends with the quasi-legalization of the world's oldest profession:

*United Kingdom
*New Zealand

Saturday, November 8, 2008

::ZO and Tigallo::Staining Pillowcases and Rockin' Keytar Solos Since 1986::

Man, how in the hell did I miss this one! About 6 months ago, Phonte (of Little Brother and Foreign Exchange fame) teamed up with DC-based producer ZO and put out 2,500 copies of this EP of 80's covers. The songs are dope, but the cover had me ROTFL! It's almost as bad as the Ol' Dirty Bastard album cover for Ni**a Please:

Phonte & ZO was on some Jesse Johnson's Revue-meets-Timex Social Club throwback sh*t for this one! Something deep down inside tells me I should scream out "SEXUAL CHOCOLATE" when go see them in concert! Anyway...even though I'm like 6 months late, this sh*t is still noteworthy. Check the songs on their Myspace page. The Trackademicks remix of "Steppin' Out" is kinda fly. Cop the EP at the Fatbeats website.

Friday, November 7, 2008

::88-Keys::Album Release Party::

If you ain't heard of 88-Keys, you gets the #1 herb award. If his trackwork for folks like Mos Def, Blackstar, Pharcyde, and Musiq don't pique your interest, maybe the incessant co-signs from Kanye West might do the trick? All my folks up on this dude's production prowess need to be in attendance. The album is kinda dope and the guest features are tighter than pantyhose two sizes too small. NYC, LA, and SF will be host cities to the soirees in question, so everybody in between...don't get salty! If you are a denizen of one of the aforementioned cities and feel like tearin' the club up on a Monday, Tuesday, or Humpday night...just RSVP.

Don't forget to check for his debut album The Death Of Adam out next Tuesday, November 11th on Decon Records.

Psst...check the Adam's Case Files mixtape while you're at it.


For all you Obama junkies who haven't already accumulated enough memorabilia branded with his mug, here's a chance to cop some free stickers from Cali-based graphic artist Shepard Fairey (a.k.a. OBEY)!! He re-freaked his original design, retooling the original "Yes We Can" slogan into "Yes We Did." Each person gets one sticker per request, 5 for a contribution of $3, and 50 for a donation of $20. Click here for the offer.

This generous offer is brought to you by the lovely folks at Many of you may remember MoveOn as the political action organization that "gave away" the Obama shirts for donations of $12 or more:

That was a short lived offer, so if you got your shirt...hold on to it!

BTW...there's a limited run of 5,000 numbered posters of the sticker graphic going on sale in about an hour or so. Offered in both signed and unsigned form, these b*tches are kinda pricey either way. Click here for more info.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

:::A Night To Remember::November 4, 2008:::

Times Square transformed into a de-facto nightclub last night. People from all walks of life were huggin', cryin', screamin', and carryin' on. Though I'm well aware of the Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde tendencies of politicians and the sordid trails of unfulfilled promises they often leave behind them, and the fact that Barack in theory could also be "that guy," I just needed to rejoice in the sheer significance and symbolism of the moment.

The hopes and dreams of millions were staked on this very moment in time. On November 4th, it seemed that the fate of the entire nation hung in the balance. After voting took place at the polls, people watched intently in bars, living rooms, and restaurants from coast to coast as the state totals came in one by one. And when the victory bell rang, it was inevitable that a celebration would commence.

It was a celebration of the end of Bush's reign of error. A celebration of a theoretical transcendence of racial barriers. A celebration of the potential of America's future. From the South Bronx, to Broadway, to Brooklyn, NYC partied like New Year's Eve last night. And for what it was worth, it was one of the most memorable moments of my lifetime. In attempts to further understand the political process from a grassroots level, I served as an inspector during the general election at a poll site in NYC's Election District 99 and did door-to-door canvasing in Philadelphia the entire day before the election.

So I can definitely say that I'm elated that all my efforts bore fruits of victory. Still, it intrigues me to think of what this country would have been like had McKinney and Clemente won. In all honesty, I'm more partial to the platform of the Green party than any other. But I'm also fully aware than Green politics is far too radical for most in this country to accept. Even though it addresses many of the problems pervasive in our society and environment. And the Socialism & Libertarian and Socialist Workers parties are too closely linked to Communism and its pejorative connotations in the minds of many. Though we are in theory a Multi-party political system, we've essentially been polarized between the democratic and republican parties.

As much as I want to believe that Barack Obama represents the "change we need," I don't think the American public is fully ready to fight for it nor are the politicians we vote into power competent enough to deliver it. The separation of church and state has only segued into the union of commerce and state. And the neo-liberalism of the past quarter century is an example of the consummation of that union. However, with the recent quasi-meltdown of our economy and the federal government's foray into partial ownership of the banking sector seems to be debunking that premise.

But I digress...
As much as my faith in the political system is declining, I still participated in the voting process. Though I side with many of my more progressive (although politically inactive) friends, I owe it to my ancestors to rock the vote solely based on the fact that many of them fought and died for me to have that right. And I'm sure their spirits are dancing with a divine sense of vindication and pride. I'm in no way envisioning Barack Obama as a sociopolitical elixir or grand equalizer. I do not think that he is the Superman that many may want him to be. I expect that he will fall somewhat short of expectations and disappoint to some extent. But I am excited about the change that his election represents and will inevitably effect. I am also thrilled at the children of color living in lower socioeconomic areas who now have a role model holding the highest office in the land to look up to. In summation, I am excited for the future that this harbinger of a moment signals. Maybe not to be actualized in my lifetime, but in of those of my younger cousins, nephews, nieces, and my unborn children.

The First Family, 2009-2012.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Who am I voting for? As my Granny would say, "Nun 'yo damn bidness!" The important thing is that y'all get out and do the damn thang! November 4th is the day of decision and I don't wanna hear shit from all my folks on the fence who "don't believe in the democratic voting system." Git up, git out, and DO sumthin'!!!!