Sunday, October 24, 2010
Whenever I hear about fearless Black folks stretching out in the full range of their creative genius, I'm immediately interested. Whether I actually like the art or not is irrelevant. The fact that the some Black folk have the gumption to buck trend and push the envelope always inspires my higher self and gives hope for the future generations. Black artists have always been in a purgatory state, smacked from the right with the pressure to perpetuate the mainstream stereotypes and sucker punched from the left to "stay in your lane" and "get money." Black folks are a diverse and dynamic people. To be beholden to a monolithic consciousness and aesthetic is ludicrous. We express ourselves in a myriad of ways. None of them any less "Black" than the other.
Which brings me to GuSHee. When I first heard about the early sketchings of this duo last year, my ears involuntarily perked up. Comprised of the otherworldly beatsmith and Red Bull Music Academy alumni Pursuit Grooves and Toronto-based soundscape artist Pro-EF, GuSHee is definitely on some other ship! And even though they're a dope musical collaboration, that's only one aspect of it. They're also making inroads into the curatorial world. From the Western hemisphere and beyond. Their understanding and manipulation of electronic music production is unparalleled. So all you museums, art galleries, and festivals, GET AT EM!!! Check their music on the link above. And remember...GuSHee is the future.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
My good people! After a year of hard work, I give you We The People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Pictures + Words! An unprecedented photojournalism project!! I don't think I've worked on anything in my life! Photographer Shino Yanagawa and myself have been working diligently over the past year putting the nuts and bolts of this project together. The goal of the project was to investigate the myths and stigmas often applied to housing projects and the residents who live in them. Especially the Black and Latino population. And from the 50 + people we interviewed, we discovered some very interesting things. it brings us great joy and pleasure to finally cut the ribbon on such a breathtaking collection of photographs and interviews. Our goal is to exhibit this project as many times as the universe will allow, including internationally.
We've already been selected to exhibit the project at the Fesman 2010 festival of world Black arts being held in Senegal this December. In addition, one of the photographs from the exhibition has been selected to be a part of Danny Simmons & Brian Tate's Curate NYC exhibition project running October 21st through October 31st in New York City. We're also looking at expanding on the exhibition aspect of the project with a prospective book project. Yeah. Pretty ambitious. But hey, Putting this together has definitely been a labor of love, but it needs your support. In order for us to actualize this exhibition and the trip to Senegal, we're relying on the generous contributions of compassionate individuals, philanthropic organizations, foundations, and corporations. So do me a favor, if you will. Post our Kickstarter, Facebook, and webpage links to your respective social networking pages, websites, and favorite forums.
Spread the word to your friends, families, and associates! Help us debunk the myth!!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Taschen has always been the odd man out in the art book world. In recent years, they've been very liberal in their pursuit of the erotica genre. Let's see...there was the Big Penis Book, the Big Butt Book, the Big Book of Legs, oh...and the Big Book of Breasts. And that's just to name a few. Well, what can you say? Those Germans sure do know how to be controversial and artsy at the same time! Being that they're the new kids on the block (established in 1980), they have a lot less to loose in the archaic sense of rigid legacy.
At any rate...on Wednesday, September 29th from 7-9PM, they're having a book signing/ discussion event at their SoHo location for the book Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art.
The title should clue you in on the subject matter. They go beyond the pedestrian definition of street art in the major metropolises of the world. Sure, by the nature of the subject it's investigating means it will feature examples of works by the proverbial Banksy and Shepard Fairey. But hey...as "mainstream" as they are, you can't take away from the fact that they're pioneers. Still, the book is worth a gander.
Anyway, the book signing and discussion should be interesting. The book's author Carlo McCormick (Paper Magazine) and editor Ethel Seno will be there along with some of the featured artists. Wooster Collective's Marc & Sarah Schiller had a prominent hand in the creation of the book, so I'm sure they'll be there. Being that Shepard Fairey has been in and around NYC lately, I'm putting my chips on him showing up.
The only catch is I'm sure the event will get slammed with folks from all ends of the five boroughs trying their damnedest to stuff themselves into Taschen's aesthetically intriguing, yet small space. So it's best to RSVP. Like, now.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
HAW RITE NOW! Here's another corporate sponsored attempt to beat a subculture in the head with a brand name. Usually, I'm appalled at such blatant displays of f*ckery. But in certain instances, it can be a perfect fit. This is one such instance. Nixon's watches are ill. Hands down. I'm still lusting for their woodgrain Rotolog model. Timepieces have never looked so sweet in these modern times.
This Friday, Nixon, in tandem with Mountain Dew and Vice Magazine, are putting on an art show to snuff out all other art shows. The second annual one night only Art Mosh is a art exhibition featuring photography, film, visual art, and live music performances by the likes of Ninjasonik and 2 Mandy DJs. I'm looking foward to checking out this concept in person to see how the space functions with the event. RSVP at the URL on the flyer above. See you in Chelsea...
548 W. 22nd St.
Friday, September 17th
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Let me start off by saying that I'm a self-professed Jneiro Jarel fan. Nah. Scratch that. I'm a Jneiro Jarel groupie. I go hard, homie. Seriously. I think his sound is dope as all hell. So suffice it to say that I'm a little disappointed that this dude's output isn't nearly as prolific as I'd like it to be. He's right behind Flying Lotus and Madlib on my list of the coldest beat junkies of the first stretch of the 21st century. Various alter egos and side projects withstanding, his solo catalog could use a little creatine. But I know Fauna will whet the appetites of those like me who have been anxiously awaiting his formal return.
Now Kindred Spirits is on the cusp of releasing the first official follow up to Jneiro Jarel's 2005 gem Three Piece Puzzle. Fauna is a 12-track journey through Jneiro's splendiferous and long-standing Brazil fetish.
Not only that, but a little birdie told me that Kindred Spirits is selling the album in two different packages:
1. Vinyl album + 7" single ("Amazonica" b/w "See Them Cry") + poster.
2. CD + 7" single (same) + poster.
I'm going for the all vinyl package. With the closing of Fat Beats here in NYC, Hip-Hop vinyl shops are becoming more and more extinct. Anyway, I'm amped about this new record. Anyone who enjoys this man's work should definitely go out and cop. The indie scene needs our support the most.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Puma is cool. In conjunction with Hudson Urban Bicycles, they're sponsoring the first annual Downtown Upright Bicycle Ride this Saturday, September 18th! Beginning at 4PM, push you pedals in downtown Manhattan with other cyclists from across the 5 boroughs.
The past few years have been landmark for cyclists in the NYC area. According to legend, we've got more bicycle lanes than any other city in this country. In 2008, Mayor Bloomberg set a new goal to stretch our current stock to 1,800 miles within a 20 year span. That's...cool! Since I'm an avid cyclist in the spring and summer months, this is great for me. Hopefully he'll also pass legislation to fix all the sinkholes on the bike path along the FDR.
Yet and still, the past three years have been pretty good for us. In that time frame, to the delight of many cyclists, new and extended bike lanes have been popping up all over the city. Boomberg even gave the Department of Transportation the green light to sanction the Summer Streets program. And with the introduction of pedestrian plazas in Times Square, E. 23rd Street, and other spots in the city, I'm guessing - in the words of Howard Jones - things can only get better.
Come out and ride with me this Saturday. Should be fun. BTW...there's a free barbecue afterwards for the first 125 cyclists to RSVP!!!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Dash over to your nearest newsstand and pick up the latest issue of Upscale Magazine to peep my review of Bilal's new album, Airtight's Revenge (Plug Research)! Flip to page 20.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
This kat is definitely tapped into an exclusive celestial wavelength. I truly believe he's a chosen messenger. Not like Moses or anything sacrilegious. Just one of the Most High's special carrier pigeons that are entrusted with something delicate and ethereal that has the potential to have a grand and glorious affect on mankind. Yeah, he's a bit of a weed head. Ok...so he's a full fledged stoner. But I'm 99.9% sure this dude has snuck some healing tones in his tracks that we've yet to uncover. Maybe.
I do think that we've yet to really comprehend the full dynamic of his true genius. Maybe he'll be fully understood in retrospect. Hopefully while he's still here. I've heard some folks describe Flying Lotus as the new Jimi Hendrix. Hmmm. I think FlyLo is the future. Skip the retro reference points, please. Why do we always have the incessant need to draw historic parallels, especially with contemporary art? Geez. But seriously...for some reason, I feel like watching Space Is The Place...
Shout outs to anybody who shelled out $122 to see him at this past weekend's Electric Zoo festival. Recession, my arse.
I ♥ art. Especially art that gives us reason for pause, with the intention of making us both marvel at the skill entailed while contemplating larger society and the world around us. Hebru Brantley is definitely a creator of such art. If you caught one of his exhibitions around the country over the past couple years, you'll understand where I'm coming from when I say there's a method to his madness. He'll be exhibiting his new collection entitled Wait A Cotton Pick'n Minute from September 10th through October 10th @ the Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood. From the title, I'm sure you can already guess what time it is. Yeah. Exactly. Don't sleep. This kat was just at Lyons Wier last summer as part of The Fak'try, a prolific collaborative exhibition and ode to Warhol's renowned creative artspace with ATLien artist Fahamu Pecou. Go.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Anyone who knows me understands how fanatical I am about this flick. It ranks in the top 5 on my list of all-time favorite films. The Warriors. One of the best cinematic illustrations of the New York City of yesteryear. Crime was rampant, the Bronx was burning, SAMO channeled Confucius on building walls, 42nd street was a Disneyland of sex shops, Thompkins Square Park was a sprawling outdoor squatter camp, and Koch was the king of it all. Gang culture was also at an all-time high. The Warriors is a gripping document of the wasteland of a bygone era that many transplants still try to evoke.
The New York City of today is a far cry from the token turnstiles and economic meltdown of the late 70s. But something about the nexus of Sol Yurick, Walter Hill, and David Shaber makes us yearn for the dystopia of those dismal days. At any rate, Landmark Sunshine in tandem with WNYU and the Village Voice are putting on their yearly screening of The Warriors as part of their ongoing Sunshine At Midnight series this Friday and Saturday night. Click here for more info...
CAN YOU DIG IT!!!!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Yeah, I know. I'm the king of last minute sh*t. But hey, better late than never. Anyway, if you're in NYC and don't feel like indulging in after work cocktails (or worse), you should make the trek uptown to St. Nicholas Park. From 5-9PM, Tools Of War is putting on an edition of Digger's Delight featuring Bobbito, Jazzy Jay, J. Rocc, and Lean Rock (no relation). After the maelstrom of funk and dusty gems, stay for Maysles Cinema's mega mix of the Mochilla DVD boxed set Timeless. These are three concert films that you DON'T want to miss, featuring orchestral arrangement tributes to Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke, Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai, and the incomparable genius of J Dilla. Need I say more? Hustle your bustle up to St. Nicholas Park..not now, but RIGHT NOW!!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
As of late, the world of graphic art has had a strong gravitational pull on me. I think it was precipitated by my frustration in the search for a graphic designer for a project I'm currently working on (stay tuned). But mostly, I think it has to do with the fact that I'm a creative spirit in general. Also, the evolution of typefaces, fonts, and art in advertising and marketing has always intrigued me. So to feed my jones, I've hunkered down in my local Barnes & Noble (while they're still around) and thumbed through some rags. Three of them in particular have piqued my interest and will be on my ones to watch for list.
For the most part, the content of American magazines has been on the decline for the past decade. Utterly craptastic. Though I write for several publications, I'm rarely moved to venture to a newsstand to pick up current issues solely on the principle of thumbing through and keeping abreast. Very few are able to hold my interest for more than an issue or two (props to Surface and Adbusters). Most are geared towards prescribing you a new personality, making you feel insecure about your "lack" of possessions, and giving you beauty "tips." But my jaded indifference may change with the following three. Two of them are centered on the love for the discipline of graphic art in some form. The other is a theme based mag, which seems to be a burgeoning trend for mags trying to stay afloat in an inhospitable climate for print media. Check my selection:
Eye: The International Review of Graphic Design
T-World: The Journal Of T-Shirt Culture
Theme Magazine (pictured: Spring 2007 issue)
Today's subject is album covers. Album artwork has always been an integral part of the record buying experience. I mean, be honest, how album purchases over the course of your life were made solely on the basis of the artwork? A little extreme? Ok. How about this: how many times did the album artwork seal the deal when you were standing in the record store (remember those?) on the fence on whether you should buy an entire album for one hot song? Thought so.
I've chosen two groups to "pick on" for the first edition in this series: Double Exposure and Imagination. Before you dismissively relegate these guys to one-hit-wonder purgatory, understand and know that they've each had big hits.
Imagination Scandalous (1983)
Formed in 1981, the UK-based trio Imagination had already charted high on the charts in their native England before showing up on the Stateside charts the following year with their modest hit single "Just An Illusion":
Even though the U.S. never gave them much love, that same single was a top 10 hit in 8 countries around the world. Soon after, their success began to wane. And while their image was always on the provocative side (not unusual for the early to mid 80s), they jumped the shark with the cover art for their third album Scandalous. It's hard to tell what the art department at their label was thinking when they conceived this one. Maybe a more fitting album title would have been that of Brooklyn Hip-Hop trio Whodini's hit "Freaks Come Out At Night," which was released the following year.
I think even Rick James would have sobered up at the sight of these dude's outfits. The hamburger meat on the torso and the crotch area is a bit...frightening. The only thing that saved them from massive public ridicule was the fact that it was very much an under the radar release. But other than Cameo's front man Larry Blackmon possibly gleaning inspiration for his infamous codpiece, I don't think this cover inspired anyone to do much of anything...except cringe and vomit. C'est la vie.
Double Exposure Locker Room (1979)
Now I know what you're thinking: why pick on a group that seems to have a perfectly acceptable, themed album cover? Well, we'll get to that in a minute. Trust me. First, let's talk about Double Exposure's background. Based in the soul-drenched metropolis of Philadelphia, these guys have a history dating back to the mid 60s when they went by the god-awful name United Image. By the time they inked their deal with disco giant Salsoul Records in 1975, their harmonies were tighter and their name was a lot more attractive. The following year, they scored two consecutive gold singles with the hits "Ten Percent":
...and "My Love Is Free":
These were undeniable dancefloor burners that had a mainline to the remarkable Philly soul sound, taking them from Soul Train all the way to the top of the charts. Unfortunately, the gravy train began to run out of steam the following year. And in 1979...they, too, jumped the shark. Which brings us back to the aforementioned question I was sure you were asking yourself. And here's the answer:
Sometimes the "gem" is on the back cover or the inner sleeve. Here is a prime example of why using a second (or third, or fourth) set of ears and eyes is essential before making final decisions on releasing material. The jock straps are not a good look, fellas. Read: not. It looks more like an alternate cover for the Village People's mega hit single "Y.M.C.A." released the previous year. I mean...there's a side profile of an entire booty here. I get that artists typically have to exude a certain amount of sex appeal for the sake of sales, but this is taking it too far. Do we really need to see their junk hanging out and a side shot of dude's ass cheek to understand that they're great vocalists? I think not.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Life & Times of Sailor Jerry: Frank 151 X Rooftop Films present a FREE movie screening, August 7th (NYC)!!
Frank 151 has definitely been diversifying their brand over the past 5 years. Their theme-oriented mini mags have become collector's items in their own right. Now with a series of limited run fitted caps and a full-fledged barber salon, they've really redefined what it means to step your game up. This Saturday, They're hosting a screening of a documentary on the life of the sea-faring, spiced rum making, tattoo legend Norman K. Collins...a.k.a. Sailor Jerry. Even though his supposed political views were a little questionable...hell...one of his proteges is Ed Hardy. While Ed's Christian Audigier incarnations have become more than a bore to me, his pop culture influence is undeniable. Besides, it's always interesting to see the progenitor of a pop icon's style.
I've been passing by the Fine Line Tattoo parlor for years now. It's right in my neighborhood in the East Village, one block from the F train. Those guys have been there since before I was born. Literally: they opened in 1976. Being that most of them are old enough to be my dad, the tattooists all seem to always have some sort of war story or anecdote to share from decades of inking. I'm sure there's a tale about how Keith Richards stumbled in drunk one night in the late 70s and asked for his mom's likeness to be branded on his left ass cheek. Or maybe how they got their practice as newbies on unassuming, nodding addicts staggering on their way to Thompkins Square Park. Hmm. That would make for a great story.
But I digress. This Saturday, Frank 151, in tandem with Rooftop Films, will screen Erich Weiss' documentary flim Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry for $FREE.99!! Apparently, it was screened for the good folks at SXSW this year and got rave reviews (whatever that means). The screening is supposed to be followed by a live performance by a "special guest." Whoever that is. Wouldn't hurt to RSVP. You just might get in. Check out the trailer for yourself:
More info here.
Monday, August 2, 2010
So I opened up my email box and the folks over at Warp left me this nice little message. Can't say I'm not intrigued. Hell, it's Brian f%@king Eno! And although I wasn't a fan of the reunion album that he and David Byrne put out last year, I'm definitely looking forward to hearing this one. Stay tuned...
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Every so often, the most high will send you one of his messengers to let you know if you're on the right track or not. But it is up to us to recognize them and properly interpret their purpose for crossing our paths, irrespective of how long they stay. Today, the most high sent one across my own path. I was chillin' on the block with one of the elders having a casual conversation when this woman of wonder and surprise happened upon us. After her anecdote of miraculous fortitude rooted in an unshakable belief in her strengths and the will of the universe, she commenced to telling me about myself. She was direct and concise. She was also 100% on the mark. I was flabbergasted. I now know that I am treading firmly on my intended path and understand what I need to do to fortify my efforts. We exchanged information and like a flash, she was gone. Almost like an apparition. But what she said will forever resonate with my spirit. I thank the heavens and the universe for sending her. I am open, I am receptive, and I am listening. ASHE!!!
I love my folks. And whenever my peoples are in a position to shine, I do my best to further illuminate them in any capacity that I can. In this instance, I'm asking you all to help me do the same. My buddy Jeff is in a NYC-based rock outfit called I Love Monsters. Here's Jeff:
In an opportunity that could be viewed as the culmination of three long years of paying dues and lugging around amps and other assorted gear to a sh*tload of gigs, I Love Monsters recently happened upon somewhat of a big break. They're in a contest sponsored by FreeCreditScore.com. In attempts to broaden the awareness of their services to a younger, hip crowd, FreeCreditScore.com invited bands from across the country to submit demos for consideration in their band search. With a mountain of entries and a daunting task at their helm, they whittled the hundreds of hopefuls down to a final four (one from Chicago, one from Los Angeles, one from Detroit, and one from New York City), of which I Love Monsters has the honor of being one of!
Many of you may have seen the television commercials over the past month, each featuring one of the four finalist bands.
But the real ticket is the online component. On the site, you're given the opportunity to vote for one of the four bands. Up until August 9th, you can vote once every 24 hours for your favorite band. If you're in NYC, show some love for I Love Monsters!! Go to the site and vote here!! The three runners up get $7,500 each. The winning band gets $10,000, a full line of Gibson instruments, a Pearl drum kit ($12,000 value), a studio session with music industry veterans, plus a swanky stroll down the red carpet at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards! You're still reading this?!? GO VOTE NOW!!!!
For more info on I Love Monsters, hit up their website here.
Monday, July 26, 2010
This past year has been one of collaborations with folks who are equally, if not more, talented than the kid. At this point, I've got several projects on the table that I'm juggling. I'm really excited about this one. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm being vague for a reason. Let's just say I like to keep thangs under wraps until the time is right. Until then...
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Yeah. They're back. And they've got a reality show too (thanks a lot, Centric). Big surprise. I miss the days when artists got by on talent alone. All these gimmicks are starting to wear thin on me. Especially when everyone seems to have subscribed to the idiom of mimic the gimmick.
Even the groups with proven vocal chops have resorted to said gimmicks. Damn shame. Nokio...you a grown ass man, dog. Do better.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if the new Dru Hill album is any good and I'll most likely take my sweet time finding out. I'll probably tune in to the premier episode of their reality show for a few good laughs, but I'm sure it won't lead to me checking for their album any sooner. It must be terribly disconcerting being a moderately successful late 90s R&B group having to contend with all these whiney young R&B thugs. But hell, I guess if the radio station break-up viral vid didn't create a buzz...their next logical step would have been to secure a reality show. Bills come faster than checks do.
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Good luck, fellas. I wish you all the success in your quest to relive your youth and recapture your fame. But I can guarantee you, the fuschia mohawk will not be a craze. Yeah...will not.
BTW...they'll be at J&R Music World on Tuesday, July 27th for an in-store appearance and autograph session if you feel the need to laugh at them in person:
TUESDAY, JULY 27TH
J&R MUSIC STORE @ 12:30PM
23 Park Row
New York, NY 10038
Monday, July 19, 2010
I've always been moved to point out the various examples of how pop culture is in a perpetual state of recycle. Unabashedly tearing a page from my comrade in critical cultural analysis Tahir Hemphill's stolen creative series, I have found a mode in which to do so. Today's example is that of the cover art from legendary trumpeter and music educator Donald Byrd's 1963 hard bop opus, A New Perspective.
Blue Note Records is renowned not only for their incomparable contribution to the genre of jazz, but also their groundbreaking graphic design featured on their many album covers. The covers from the crucial first few decades were helmed entirely by graphic artist Reid Miles and label co-founder/ photographer Francis Wolf. As we all know, anything that is deemed legendary is typically bound to influence and be replicated. In this case, it is Wolf & Miles' iconic style. Their collaborative creations succinctly capture a specific moment in time with great panache and unmistakable precision. Here, the art department at Island/ Mercury Records overtly attempted to recreate such a moment with the cover art for Comic Strip.
To be fair, we can't fault the ever-charming, eccentric, and legendary French composer Serge Gainsbourge for this obvious bite. Comic Strip, a compilation album, was released six years after his death. And to be honest, because Gainsbourg was a recording artist that was active during the 1960s, the label could be forgiven for trying to recreate an "authentic" nostalgic visual (an aesthetic approach that saw a sharp rise in the 1990s). But in attempts to cultivate a "series" of posthumous Gainsbourg compilations that year, the label was one release short of beating a dead horse:
Yes, I know many of you may simply rationalize this as the label's right to utilize the ubiquitous helvetica font as they please. But there are obvious parallels to Byrd's cover that cannot be disputed. For all non-believers, I'll clue you in on one: typeface color scheme and spacing. Need another? Ok: record company logo placement.
In retrospect, the Gainsbourg releases aren't the first to try to duplicate A New Perspective. Amiright.com has taken the time to compile a short list of releases that have copied Byrd's now iconic 1963 cover. And don't be surprised when you scroll to the bottom of that list to see that Blue Note has taken the liberty of biting itself!! Check out Graham Marsh's tomes in ode to Wolf & Miles' creations here and here!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
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Wow. I love it when I see growth in an artist who has shown longevity. Especially when that particular artist's downfall was predicted almost immediately after they made their debut. Over the past 18 years, MJB has gallantly slain all the haters and naysayers. She's defied the odds and the biters alike. She has triumphantly walked down the long and winding road to glory, sidestepping the pitfalls and traps that have ensnared many of her peers. But I've always wondered what was next for her. As the music industry has increasingly been pushing its artists into diversifying and commodifying themselves at all costs, MJB has largely remained...a singer. And remarkably so. She's never had a clothing line, reality show, sitcom or situation drama, or feature film (save for the ill-fated 2001 stinker Prison Song and her cameo role in this past Spring's Tyler Perry film).
But now, the Yonkers native seems like she's ready to brand herself with the introduction of her fragrance My Life. Though HSN will probably do the groundbreaking honors for the initial release of the perfume, I'm sure it will be available in many local retailers and chains very soon. After almost two decades in the game, this was a subtle way of branding the MJB name. She's truly walking the path of an icon. I'm just glad she's still here and still making good records.
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When I saw this commercial last night, I couldn't say or do anything for about 5 minutes afterwards. I was utterly in shock. Seeing a suburban soccer mom throwing her school-aged kids and all their multi-culti friends a Chips Ahoy party with a funky, late 1970s jam as the backdrop was kind of...weird. At the same time, it warmed my heart and filled me with hometown pride to know that a genre of music from my native city was getting some play from Madison Ave. Thirty-two years after its initial release, the first official nationally-released Go-Go song has been immortalized in a television commercial. While "Bustin' Loose" doesn't embody the archetype Go-Go sound that came to fruition in the 1980s, it held the DNA of the nascent genre within the components of its groove. If Chuck Brown still holds the copyrights to this grizzly jawn, I'm sure he'll be smiling from ear to ear when that check comes in the mail. Huh, man!
If you scratch your noggin every time I mention the word "Go-Go," as people from outside of the DMV (D.C./ Maryland/ Virginia) area often do, I'm not in the mood for a history lesson just now. Sorry. Not trying to be crabby, but I'd rather give you a Vimeo lesson instead. Though I've been told that the Mike Cahill and Nicholas Shumaker's 2002 Go-Go documentary The Pocket was a more rounded depiction of the scene, it has virtually disappeared from cyberspace altogether. In addition, it has been said that Charles "Shorty Corleone" Garris, lead singer of venerable go-go band Rare Essence, is putting together his own documentary on Go-Go entitled Go-Go: One City. One Sound. One Movement. If all else fails, and you're somewhat of a bibliophile, you could always check out the superb book by Kip Lornell and Charles C. Stephenson entitled The Beat: Go-Go's Fusion of Funk and Hip-Hop. It's pretty comprehensive.
Check out the original video from 1979:
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010
It looks like POV is on fire this season. Brooklyn-based filmmaker Landon Van Zoest's latest offering Good Fortune takes a look into the latent downside of the myriad of humanitarian economic sustainability projects being undertaken in Africa. I won't tell you too much about the film, so you'll just have to tune in to PBS tonight and see what's really real for yourself. If you miss the broadcast, don't fret...you can watch the entire documentary on the PBS site from July 14th through October 12th. More info here. Stay informed. Stay woke.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Tomorrow at Prospect Park in mighty, mighty BKLYN, an event of epic African diasporic proportions will take place. Questo & crew (nee The Roots) will be headlining yet another installation of their Afro-diasporic showcase series Okay Africa! This is further testament to the fact that over the past 5 years, the Celebrate Brooklyn summer concert series in Brooklyn's Prospect Park has definitely given Central Park Summerstage a run for its money! Also on the line up are, Talib Kweli, Blitz The Ambassador, Dragons Of Zynth, and Zakee Kuduro (shout out to my man Marcus Price)!! The festivities will be hosted by the star of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical FELA!, Sahr Ngaujah! And the best part is...IT'S FREE!!! Gotta love NYC in the summertime!! More info here!
Friday, July 9, 2010
Basquiat is definitely one of my cultural icons. So much to say about this cat. Definitely an enigma. Director Tamara Davis is releasing her Basquiat documentary film The Radiant Child this summer. If I'm not mistaken, it has already made the rounds at the film festival circuit and is winding down to a theatrical/ DVD release at this point.
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DJ Spooky, in tandem with Salt Space, is hosting a FREE screening of the film on Monday, July 12th @ 8PM. RSVP now at the following email address:
Thursday, July 8, 2010
(embedded YouTube video)
At this point in the 21st century, it feels like we're witnessing the devaluation of art. In the music industry, as technology significantly became cheaper, home studios began to supplant the big budget recording studios. Auto Tune has been the preferred effect of the day, dumbing down the art of true vocal prowess. Some would even argue that computer pro apps like Photoshop and Illustrator killed a certain aspect of graphic art. However all of the above variables have produced some very innovative, inspiring art. The problem is that it has been more of an exception and less of a rule.
And now, as if the fact that everyone and their grandmothers are now conspicuously brandishing their shiny, new Canon and Nikon digital SLRs and calling themselves "photographers," Hipstamatic has developed an app for the new iPhone! Staying true to it's name, the Hipstamatic app creates those trendy, retro, Polaroid-esque over exposed, washed out photos utilizing different colored "flash gels" and "lenses." Including a host of filter effects to give you that authentic late 70s, early 80s look, Hipstamatic will make you the life of the open bar! And if that's not hipster enough for you, just download the Williamsburg Hipstapack! And to make sure that you're sucked into such a great deal, the Hipstamatic app is priced to go at $1.99!! That's right, $1.99!! You heard me, $1.99!! Sometimes I feel like technology has incrementally contributed to the dismembering of the tactile human experience. Real talk.
But seriously, I'm at a loss for words. My sentiments can be best summed up by Colcum, who left this comment in response to Hipstamatic's YouTube video two weeks ago:
"This is another step towards the death of photography. Every asshole suddenly becomes an artist."
Note: I refuse to hyperlink this crap. By hating on them in this blog post, I've given them more than enough publicity. Go Google them yourself.
Remember the days when BET made an altruistic attempt to represent the breadth of the collective U.S. Black community? Well, if you were born in the last 20 years, you probably don't. I grew up in the 80s, when the DC-based station was just a fledgling. Still holding fast to the upwardly mobile yet culturally rich ethos of Black America's 80s social paradigm. Amidst the battlefield of crack and AIDS, there were several shining pillars exemplifying everything from Black bourgeoisie to Afrocentricity. With Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey storming the Nielsen ratings, a new dimension of social and economic currency had been affixed to the Black image. And now we had a network to go with it.
I remember watching BET when I was a kid. When Donnie Simpson was the king of the network with his nightly music video program, Video Soul. Not only did Donnie facilitate the most insightful, personable interviews, he also played a broad variety of videos from the African diaspora. As strange as it may seem, I became politically aware because of BET. Whether it was the informative reports from Sabrina Dames on BET News (later Ed Gordon) or the selections that Donnie Simpson placed into rotation on Video Soul, BET helped me to form the basis of my knowledge of the Black diaspora. On Video Soul, I learned about apartheid in South Africa through music videos such as "Sun City" by Artists United Against Apartheid and "Free Nelson Mandela" by The Special AKA. I went to school, made a plaster Paris model of the continent of Africa, and started asking more questions in class. I was becoming a regular little Michael Evans at the age of 10.
Amazulu's "Montego Bay" was also one of the videos played on Video Soul. I knew little about Jamaica outside of the Kaya album cover my friend's ganja-smoking older brother used to roll his daily herbal supplements on. I remembered Bob Marley's face from the "Could You Be Loved" video BET often played, so I made the connection. However, Bob's video didn't allow me to conceptualize Jamaica, the country itself (I only remember the multi-culti kiddie version of this video, not the alternate version). The culture. The people. It wasn't until Amazulu shot this video for their 1986 song about the capital of St. James Parish that I fully understood. There were Blacks in other places around the world other than Africa and the United States?! Getouttahere!!! Anyway, enjoy this little piece of nostalgia from my youth. It brings back memories that I'll cherish forever.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
I have to be completely honest with you. Although I have grown to embrace and respect (somewhat) museum culture in New York City over the past decade, I had absolutely no idea that the Queens Museum of Art even existed. Real talk. So because of that, I can't say whether they're trying to follow in Brooklyn Museum's footsteps by signing on with Target to offer residents of the city a free day to explore their digs and frolic.
However, I have taken notice of their free Fridays program, being that they're screening a film that I've been wanting to see for some time: Streetball. If you remember my post about the Paley Center's World Cup centered events in tandem with the ADFF from last month, Streetball was one of their featured films that I'd missed. Well, if you were in the same boat...have no fear. This Friday, in addition to a host of other activities centered around South Africa, the museum will be screening Streetball! I'll definitely be there! More info here!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
What more needs to be said? At this point, Soul Summit Sundays in Ft. Greene Park during the summer have become legendary soul shakedown parties. He who knows it, feels it. This will be my 5th summer attending the festivities and, I must say, I can't wait! Get ready for a non-stop barrage of deep house, tribal house, Paradise Garage classics, and more! Additional info here!
I know I should have told you about this last month when I first got word of it. I know this makes me look extremely negligent and out of the loop. I know you're probably thinking why I don't just tell you about it already instead of throwing out all these sentences prefaced with "I know." Tonight, as part of PBS' POV series, documentarian Yoruba Richen tells the story of land reversion rights in post-Apartheid South Africa through the lives of two Black communities in the country with her film Promised Land.
If any of you remember the 2008 documentary Banished, you'll know that this story is but a strand in the fabric of the plight of displaced peoples across the African diaspora and indigenous peoples around the world. I urge everyone to tune in to PBS tonight and continue this discussion amongst your respective circles. Being that the world is focused on the 2010 Fifa World Cup being held in South Africa at the moment, it has the potential to give the impression that all is well in the host country. But there are still many wounds that have yet to be healed. Promised Land is but a mere example of one of those wounds. Check your local listings for air times for Promised Land here.
Friday, July 2, 2010
The ever eccentric, peculiar, and talented Cody ChesnuTT. It seemed like this quirky brotha was poised to be our next Black rock savior of sorts. But he came in and largely bowed out of our musical world in 2002 like a flash of light. Almost eight years later, he reemerged this past Spring with a new single and is now set to take to the stage in NYC tomorrow as part of the Weeksville Heritage Center's Garden Party event, commemorating Emancipation Day! I'm sure Cody will have copies of his new EP Black Skin/ No Value on hand to vend. In addition, the event features a film screening and a lecture on the history of Haiti.
More info here. Have a happy Emancipation Day! Have fun, y'all!!
Note: if you don't know about Weeksville or Emancipation Day (as it pertains to Blacks in New York City), do your homework.
Weeksville Heritage Center
1698 Bergen Street
(between Buffalo and Rochester Aves.)
Brooklyn, NY 11213
For the longest time, I could never tell whether these guys were a biker gang or a forgotten gaggle of rumblers that defected from the set of the cult classic 1979 film The Warriors. But I must say, the Coney Island Dancers LOVE House music and they damn sure know how to party! This weekend, they're kicking off the summer (albeit a little late) with their first house party on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Soul Summit has been known to rip it up during the summer months with their Ft. Greene Park Sunday soirees. But over the past year and change, they've been expanding to different venues throughout Brooklyn. And while I'm not certain if this is in conjunction with the popular Sandcastles event thrown by Preston & Friends, that shouldn't keep you from coming out to catch some seaside house vibes this weekend with the gang from Coney! I'm sure it will be a Saturday to remember!
West 10th Street @ the boardwalk behind The Cyclone.
B, F, N, Q to Stillwell Avenue
F, Q to West 8th Street.