Music Archives

January 5, 2003

Eff a Rap Critic (c) Method Man

Here's a little rant I wrote in response to this essay that assesses the proper role of a critic. I wrote this with comtemporary music critics in mind, so it might not apply as well to other forms such as the "Fine Arts". Or maybe it does?


1. In the trinity of Artist Audience and Critic, the critic's viewpoint will always be of least value. Passages like this: "Conversely, only a public ill-served by its critics could have accepted as art and as literature so much in these last years that has been neither" I find absurdly arrogant. This notion that the job of a critic is to be the Shepherd, and guide all us lost lambs to the safety of proper standards, is a delusion of grandeur.

The only relationship that matters is between artist and audience. If the critic and the audience are not seeking the same things from the artist, it's not the audience that is misguided, it is the critic whose criteria are outmoded. Critics like to imagine they are out on the field calling plays or assessing penalties, but the truth is they are merely commentators on the sidelines, and nothing they say has any effect on the outcome of the game. In short, there's nothing sadder than critics who think they matter.

2. Timelessness is not necessarily a relevant criterion.

3. "Can a standard of craftsmanship apply to art of all ages, or does each have its own, and different, definitions?" - It is the latter.

4. "The result of this convenient avoidance is a plenitude of actors who can’t project their voices, poets who can’t communicate emotion, and writers who have no vocabulary — not to speak of painters who can’t draw" - When critics say things like this it usually indicates a shallow understanding of what the audience seeks and what the artist is trying to achieve. Their stubborn loyalty to inapplicable standards blinds them to the levels on which this art is meant to function. It's like if you went to see Riverdance and said "well these guys didn't move their hands at all, so they obviously don't know how to dance."

5. Not to say I am hating on this essay. I think I can roll with "purpose and craftsmanship" as pretty good, broadly applicable standards, so long as our definition of craftsmanship is shaped by our understanding of the purpose. I think the most sensible method for a critic is to figure out what was the artist trying to achieve, and did they succeed at it. Usually, instead of this, critics are guided by their own tastes, and judge the artist based on what they think he/she should be trying to achieve. This places you in the illogical position of condemning artists for failing to do things that they had no intention of doing in the first place. I think a good critic knows the difference between "he is doing something badly" and "he is doing something I don't like

January 31, 2003

Jay Smooth vs. the Driving Shoe

I was in the newspaper today, in the last few paragraphs of this piece on Funkmaster Flex and his new "driving shoe", whatever that is.


Drivin' Fresh In Flex's Kicks
by Ellis Henican, NY Newsday, 1/31/03

Jay-Z can have his bling-bling sneaker deal with Reebok.

Nelly can rap about his undying Nike love.

"I like the all-white, high-top strap with the gum bottom," he declares, lest there be any confusion about his footwear preferences. "The last person that touched them, I been shot 'em."

Jam Master Jay, even in death, can have his memorial Adidas.

These days, pretty much any successful hip-hop artist can hype a high-priced sneaker. But leave it to Funkmaster Flex to come out with hip-hop's first driving shoe.

That's right. A hip-hop driving shoe.

"I'm big on driving," Flex shouted yesterday inside the giant Foot Locker store in Times Square, as fellow Hot 97 DJ Fatman Scoop nearly shook the building with his high-volume turntable scratches.

Big on driving: That is what is known as automotive understatement, urban-style. Funkmaster Flex is the living intersection of cars and rap.

"Your car is an extension of your personality," said the gregarious recording artist, club DJ, urban entrepreneur and host of the annual "Funkmaster Flex Celebrity Car Show."

"I had 30,000 kids at my last car show," said Flex, who was born Aston Taylor Jr. in the Bronx. "And one thing I noticed was no special footwear. Nobody was making footwear for driving in. I like wearing a nice shoe when I drive."

The result is the FMF-1 Driving Shoe, sold under the Lugz brand. For yesterday's launch, Flex, joined by artist-friends Busta Rhymes and Lil' Kim, was signing autographs, posing for photos and helping customers trying on his shoes.

The FMF-1's, which look like a cross between a sneaker and a country walking shoe, have tire-tread soles, "like a BF Goodrich," Flex said. They come in three colors - white, wheat and silver. They cost $69.95.

"The shoe is round and sleek, the way a new car is," Flex said. "And it's strong. It's not like it's gonna fall apart on you. It's made for driving."

And what about all those real city kids, whose main mode of transport is the MetroCard? "It's also a hanging-around shoe," Flex said.

Who better than Flex to put his toe into this market? His evening mix show on Hot 97 can sound like an urban version NPR's "Car Talk." Rappers drop by to discuss intricate hand detailing, custom sound systems and 24-inch rims.

And why not? Flex has his own auto-customizing club, Team Baurtwell, that has all but cornered the flashy-rapper car market. And his own fleet of tricked-out wheels is an undeniable eye-popper, emphasizing modern classics. A '69 Dodge Charger RT straight out of "Dukes of Hazzard." A '70 Chevrolet Chevelle SS. A '70 Plymouth Duster. A '66 Chevy Impala SS. But his main rides these days are a couple of gas-guzzling heavyweights, a 2003 Lincoln Navigator, which is featured in the driving-shoe ads, and a 2000 GMC Yukon XL, both wildly customized.

It all goes back to his first car in the Bronx, an '84 Oldsmobile Delta 88, which was repossessed when the struggling club DJ failed to keep up with the payments. It was, apparently, a deeply traumatic event. That humiliation, he has said, changed forever how he dealt with money.

And now, here he is, roaring onto the uncharted highway of the driving shoe.

Some hip-hop purists were asking pointed questions yesterday. They were wondering how broadly the commercialization of this great urban art form will spread, whether all this endless brand-extension somehow tarnishes the soul of a music that came up honestly from the streets.

"Run-DMC had a line," recalled Jay Smooth, who does the beloved "Underground Railroad" hip-hop show on WBAI. "The line went, 'Calvin Klein's no friend of mine/Don't want nobody's name on my behind.'

"That was around 1984," an eon ago in hip-hop, Jay said. "It used to be that if brand names were used at all, they were used ironically. Now, it's clothing lines. It's sneaker lines. Driving-shoe lines. It does counteract the image that black athletes and musicians can't handle their finances. And that's good. But I do wish sometimes these artists would focus on doing things in the community, focus more on their artistic endeavors."

A worthy suggestion, one that many hip-hop fans might embrace. But no one at the shoe store yesterday seemed troubled by thoughts like that.

Least of all Flex.

"This is not an expensive item," he said, before helping a young man in a fleece sweatsuit into a fresh pair of FMF-1's. "These aren't $150 sneakers. These are $70 shoes. Everybody doesn't own a Rolls-Royce or a Benz. Anyone can get these."

March 12, 2003

The Federal Bureau of Wack Emcees

I just discovered that the Federal Emergency Mangement Agency, one of the creepiest branches of our government, has their own official rap song! I'm not kidding. Check out the audio here, and read along here. Our tax dollars paid for this.

This is part of their FEMA for kids website, teaching kids about FEMA's programs that help America deal with various types of "disaster". Here is one such plan they developed in the 80s:

On July 5, 1987, the Miami Herald published reports on FEMA's new suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent, or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad. Lt. Col. North was the architect. National Security Directive Number 52 issued in August 1982, pertains to the "Use of National Guard Troops to Quell Disturbances."

The crux of the problem is that FEMA has the power to turn the United States into a police state in time of a real crisis or a manufactured crisis. Lt. Col. North virtually established the apparatus for dictatorship. Only the criticism of the Attorney General prevented the plans from being adopted. But intelligence reports indicate that FEMA has a folder with 22 Executive Orders for the President to sign in case of an emergency. It is believed those Executive Orders contain the framework of North's concepts, delayed by criticism but never truly abandoned.

Someone needs to make a parody of this site where the little cartoon characters teach kids about martial law. "Hey boys and girls, have you ever heard mommy and daddy saying naughty things about the president? Call this number and let us know, so we can give them a free trip to our Happy Funtime Internment Camp!"

March 28, 2003

Big Brother is Watching Your Mother

Our friend Amy Goodman talked to Michael Franti yesterday about the current climate of censorship and intimidation, as the government and media seek to suppress anti-war voices. He told a bizarre story of government agents visiting his bandmate's mother:

Well, what’s happened most recently is that we performed at a rally on March 15th in San Francisco and the next day on the 16th—that, that rally was out here—and on the 16th on the East Coast, a band member of mine who prefers to go unnamed, his mother received a visit from two plain clothes men from the military and this band member of mine has a sibling who is in the Gulf. And they came in and talked to her and said you have a child who’s in the gulf and you have a child who’s in this band Spearhead who’s part of the “resistance” in their words, and they had pictures of us performing the day before at the rally, they had pictures of us performing at some of our annual concerts that we put on that are in support of peace and human rights. They had his flight records for the past several months, they had the names of everybody who works in my office, our management office “Guerilla Management”. They had his checking account records. They asked his mother a lot of questions about where he was, what he was doing in this place, why he was going here. They confiscated his sibling’s CD collection that they had brought over to listen to while they were in the Gulf, and basically were intimidating—told her which members of the press she could talk to and which members of the press she should not speak to.

You can hear the interview in its entirety here

April 1, 2003

Photos: Prince Paul at Joe's Pub

Two of my DJs from the radio show, 3D and Avee, took over Joe's Pub last night alongside the legendary Prince Paul and Mr. Len. After my crew warmed up the crowd, Len and Paul started going back and forth on the turntables.

Paul invited his boy Superstar on stage to rhyme at the beginning of his set, but started out by cutting up "Good Times" and Superstar grimaced "what the f*** am i supposed to do over this beat!?" Then Paul started yelling at him "OLD SCHOOL, MAN! OLD SCHOOL!!" with a big devilish grin.

Paul wants you all to go out and buy his new album "Politics of the Business" on May 6th, and I don't think he is too happy about the bootleg version of that album circulating now, which is not the final version of the album. My favorite song title: "Chubb Rock, Please Pay Paul His $2200 You Owe Him".

prince paul 1
prince paul 2
avee, 3d, paul
lord sear, damali
mr len, prince paul

April 9, 2003

Babatunde Olatunji, 1926-2003

Olatunji dead at 76 in Salinas

His daughter says he died Sunday of complications from diabetes. Olatunji was living at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur.

Olatunji's 1959 album, "Drums of Passion," was the first album of African drumming recorded in stereo in an American studio. It introduced a generation to the power and intricacy of African music.

Our station, WBAI, will be paying tribute to him for much of the day.

December 9, 2003

Why Vice Magazine Sucks

Vice magazine has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I could never quite articulate why (other than the obvious debts they owe Ego Trip). This post at The Antic Muse, however, may have hit it on the head about Vice and their head honcho Gavin McInnes:

"...McInnes's play for hipster aloofness exemplifies a certain strain of cool "humor" which turns political argument into a rigged game: Say something offensive, wait for folks to react in their silly, earnest way and -- ha ha! -- joke's on them for taking you seriously. The whole thing is designed to reinforce ironic distance as the ultimate reaction; any attempt to engage with culture or politics at any level other than sarcasm is just, you know, square."

Too bad I discover this blog just it goes on hiatus. I found it via Sasha Frere-Jones, who offers no means of contacting him anywhere on his site, unless I missed something?

December 13, 2003

Live Music Marathon All Weekend on WBAI

The bad news is our show is pre-empted this week. The good news is our station is having quite a special fundraising event, well worth checking out and supporting:

Fri., Dec. 12th - Sun., Dec. 14th: WBAI's FIRST ANNUAL "RADIO-THON" From Fri. at 7 pm to Sun (going into Mon.) at midnight. Featuring community-based and internationally acclaimed musicians, poets and writers.

WBAI producers and guest hosts will ask listeners to call in at 212-209-2950 or donate online at in appreciation for live performance radio.

Kick-off on Friday at 7 pm: Veteran radio host, Imhotep Gary Byrd featuring Ashford and Simpson, Camille Yarbrough's Ancestor's House and after midnight, the reggae band, "Reggaelution" will showcase the island rhythms of Jamaica.

Saturday is a day devoted to music, the written word , standby for comedy, a poetry fest and live jazz.

On Sunday afternoon, featured performers include the Afro-Columbian group "La Cumbiamba" and Afro-Peruvian singer-guitarist Carlos Hayre.

There will also be a special performance of "For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuff."

Artists slated to appear include: Iggy Pop, Camille Yarbrough, Coffin Daggers, James "Blood" Ulmer, Garland Jeffries, Karen Taylor, Jeffrey Gaines, Jesse Malin, Ashford and Simpson, Danny Goldberg, Lisa Loeb, Pete Seeger, Dan Ingram, Judy Gorman, Antibalas, Michael Franti, Nora York, Trends, Stephen Smith, Randy Credico, Louis Reyes Rivera, The Gotham City Players, David Wright, Ras Moshe, Greg Tate, Peter Guralnick, Kali Hawk , Heritage OP and many, many more.

Open house at station during thon - share refreshments, bring donations. Come to 120 Wall St. (2,3,4,5 trains to Wall St. - walk down the hill past Water St.), 10th fl.; bring ID.

December 17, 2003

Today's Quote

This very essence of a man, his soul, which the artist puts into his work and which is represented by it, is found again in the work by the enjoyer, just as the believer finds his soul in religion or in God, with whom he feels himself to be one. It is on this identity of the spiritual, which underlies the concept of collective religion, and not on a psychological identification with the artist, that the pleasurable effect of the work of art ultimately depends, and the effect is, in this sense, one of deliverance....But both [artist and enjoyer], in the simultaneous dissolution of their individuality in a greater whole, enjoy, as a high pleasure, the personal enrichment of that individuality through this feeling of oneness. They have yielded up their mortal ego for a moment, fearlessly and even joyfully, to receive it back in the next, the richer for this universal feeling.

- Otto Rank

February 4, 2004

My Fellow Prince Fans

In case you haven't heard, the Tiny Purple Genius will perform at the Grammys this weekend. Rumor has it he may appear in the "funk tribute" with P-Funk, Outkast and others, as well as opening the show.

Also notable: Pharrell helping pay tribute to the Beatles' Ed Sullivan appearance, and the unlikely pairing of Chick Corea and the Foo Fighters.

February 5, 2004

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today..

Well, this month anyway. While researching my grammy picks this year I came by the complete list of winners from 1984. I'm surprised by how well I remember and like almost all of them (excluding Stevie Wonder's worst song ever). Compare that list to the '85 awards, when levels of crappiness had skyrocketed.

Didn't Want to Post About This Again, But

How the hell is Janet booted from the grammies, but not Justin?

As first described here by Alicia, and then in DWD as pointed out by O-Dub, if anything ought to trouble folks it's not the exposure of the breast, but how we were expected to be titillated by what basically amounted to Justin portraying a sexual predator, with Janet as his victim. Given that context, it's especially disturbing that she is taking the brunt of the blame while he gets a free ride, so far.

As far as Justin goes (and for the record I have been championing him for years), if he is any type of man he will bow out of the grammies in solidarity. But so far he seems too wrapped up in his own victimhood, practically sounding like he thinks Janet victimized him. Not very smooth, homey.

February 7, 2004

And Put Matlock Back On! No-Good Kids!

Jeez, when did Dave Grohl turn into Grandpa Abe Simpson?

Foo Fighters Singer Not Fond Of Bare-Breast Incident

Janet Jackson's breast-baring stunt at the Super Bowl was nothing more than self-promotion and "blatant exhibitionism," Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl said.

Grohl, 35, a former drummer for Nirvana, believes the music industry has been harmed by the recent skin-revealing exploits of Jackson, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

"Get them on the Playboy Channel," Grohl said Thursday at a pre-Grammy rehearsal party. "Keep them out of my MTV. I want to see bands and music."

As opposed to when you dress up in drag for your videos, Dave? Get off your high horse, dawg.

Janet Fans: No Roger No Re-Run No Rent

The backlash to the backlash is in full effect. First Jermaine Dupri resigns from his NARAS post in solidarity (never thought I'd say Dupri was showing anyone how to be a man, but Justin, you should be taking notes), now fellow Janet Jackson supporters have started a website to mobilize the resistance. Here's the info from Donald at anzidesign:

In response to the widespread hypocrisy surrounding the Janet Jackson controversy, Darrell Diggins and I have set up We have posted articles that support Janet and that challenge the hypocrisy of all the organizations involved. We have also posted contact information for each of these organizations and encourage visitors of the site to call, e-mail and write letters to voice their concerns and opinions.

41 42 Grammy Predictions

This year's grammy picks are hard to call. Grammy folks used to be straight-up about voting like the aging baby-boomer cheeseballs that they are, but now (especially since the Steely Dan-over-Eminem debacle) they insist on pretending they're hip and happening and down with the flippity-flop, or whatever their grandkids are saying nowadays.

Outkast seems to be peaking at the right time, as Norah did last year, but I'm still less confident than usual. But whatever, even if I don't have the have the best list of picks, I'm making damn sure I have the longest! And that's what counts.

Jay Smooth's Grammy Predictions, 2004

Record Of The Year - Tough call! Em's record is too old, and I can only assume BEP is here due to a clerical error. I'm very hesitantly taking "Hey Ya" over Yonce, because Grammy voters love a record that is regarded as innovative but doesn't actually challenge them too much, and is easy on the ears. It lets them prove they're not "The Grannies" anymore without being nudged out of their comfort zone. They also love to reward hip-hop without having to hear a lot of rapping. Dark Horse: Coldplay has a shot since they will monopolize the "fear of a rap planet" vote.

Album Of The Year - Outkast against a weak field, should be a lock.

Song Of The Year - Em's nod in the songwriter's category is a landmark, but he's up against dead Zevon ailing Luther. Em's buzz has cooled enough to let one of the fogeys through, and unlike Warren, Luther is nominated for a song people have actually heard. Dark Horse: "Beautiful," and yes I do like that song. Hating on Christina is mad corny.

Best New Artist - 50 Cent wouldn't usually be favored 'round these parts (his rap music has too much rapping), but this field is weak and he just sold too damn much to be ignored. Dark Horse: Fountains Of Wayne.. I just can't see Evanescence getting this.

Best Female Rap Solo Performance Nice to see Lyte and Latifah on the list! But this one belongs to Missy.

Best Male Rap Solo Performance Wow, tough as hell to call between Em and 50. Normally the anthemic "Lose Yourself" would be a much stronger Grammy song than conventional club-banger "In Da Club", but 50 sold so much and 8 Mile was such a long time ago... I'm just gonna flip a canadian quarter. Okay, Queen Elizabeth says Eminem.

Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group Hmm, no clear favorite here, but I think Missy will always be a grammy darling. and for the record, the omission of "Get Low" here is a gotdamn TRAVESTY!

Best Rap/Sung Collaboration - Hov and Yonce, no-brainer. Anything that's nominated for the "big" awards will always win the "little" genre-specific awards.

Best Rap Song - Is this a new category?? I'm intrigued to see how voters will judge the "songwriter's award" for a rap record. What is their metric for this? Does the beat count as songwriting? Gotta figure Lose Yourself is the favorite, I guess?

Best Rap Album - Kast, no brainer...

Continue reading "41 42 Grammy Predictions" »

February 9, 2004

Nostradamus of this Grammy Sh**

EDIT: After sleeping on it, gotta say the silence from Justin and almost everybody else regarding Janet leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The NY Times review summed it up best:

..that widely shared docility was perhaps the only shocking thing in an evening of pop entertainment that ran the musical gamut from OutKast to Andy Williams. On a night that celebrated both the pioneer rebellion of the Beatles and the truculent defiance of hip-hop, it was strange that no one spoke out in solidarity with a shunned comrade. No one even dared make a joke.

Strange. And boring.


For real, the final tally on my predictions is pretty damn solid, IMHO. My secret is thinking of the voters as bunch of Rosie O'Donnells: They never stop trying to convince you they're hip and au courant, but you can always tell deep down they'd rather be listening to show tunes. Making your picks with this WWRD strategy should give you the right answer at least 75% of the time, as it did for me here. Most of the ones I missed (especially best new artist) were because I disregarded the WWRD principle in favor of my own biases.

I should have known 50 would get completely shut out, he epitomizes the "conventional" rap that voters will always shun. They only vote for hip-hop if it has some element that lets them say "oh this is nice, not like that regular rap."

EDIT: MTV echoes my feelings here".

anyway here go the stats:

The Big Four: 2 for 4 (3 for 4 if you count my dark horse picks) I saw the Coldplay thing coming, but slept on Evanescence riding the same conservative wave.

Rap/R&B: 12 for 14 (13 for 14) - The only one I completely missed was the baffling and appalling nod to "Shake Ya Tailfeather."

Rock/Pop/Etc: 13 for 18 (15 for 18) - Please note how I pegged Jimmy Sturr-Hova for the Polka grammy. I told y'all you don't want it with Hov, ask Walter Ostanek he don't want it with Hov! NOOO!

Country: 1 for 6 (4 for 6) - Ouch. I guess knowing about the music actually helps your picks, who woulda thunk it?

Oh one more thing, I'd be remiss without noting this:

a friend: what is this picture??????
jay smooth: r kelly was wearing a zorro mask throughout the nite
a friend: why
a friend: why
jay smooth: it's the r!
jay smooth: ours is not to question why

February 13, 2004

Prince Fans, Brace Yourselves

It's heart attack time. Wendy and Lisa's website reports that Prince finally made that phone call:

eye on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS, and you'll see Wendy and Prince playing guitars together and singing a song!! They taped it today... Feb. 12th so check it out!! what could be more amazing!?!?!?! .... wellllll... maybe if the Revolution.... oh nevermind! ;-)"

I'm told it is scheduled to air Feb. 19th. ?uestlove also has the inside scoop on it, from his sessions with my future wife (as soon as we her pesky husband out of the way) Nikka Costa:

cat is outta the bag? i really really wanted to dry snitch this.... but damn.... i got beat to it. p came by the nikka sessions. nikka revealed that wendy's studio was next door tommorow came and wendy called nikka all excited about who called her today--a person whom she hasn't spoken to in 9 years. and that he called her to do an acoustic set in LA that is that shit. i was told not to tell--but i guess y'all know now.

Fans have been hoping the recent reunion of the Revolution, sans Prince, at this benefit show would plant a seed in the little big man's mind.. could the unthinkable be happening? My sources also report that that Bobby Z, Wendy and her twin sister Susannah were present at Prince's House of Blues grammy afterparty.. And we know Prince is slated to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies, not to mention rumors of an aftershow that night. COULD IT BE???

Either way, an acoustic performance from P and Wendy should be pretty damn amazing.

Sam!!! Frodo!!!

It might be time to nominate Nikka Costa for a nobel prize. Not only did she evidently play a role in reuniting Prince and Wendy (see previous post), but according to ?uestlove she helped to bring him back together with D'Angelo. Here is the scene ?uest reenacted on okayplayer, between himself, James Poyser, Nikka, Wendy, and D:

nikka: ahmir, come here one sec... (i leave drum booth)

nikka: wendy...

?uesto: blahblahablalaahlablasblsdlahlhdl ,asdlaslalajdljald.....

wendy: (lols) is such a pleasure!

?uesto: liar!

wendy: no for real....such a fan of yours

?uesto: huh?!?...i mean....

james: hahahahahaha

?uesto:i........i......i (think the retarded kid and bus driver in bernie mac's standup routine)....i.....i

james: breathe in....

?uesto:....i .......i...i mean....look---it gets on my nerves when a cat tries to go all over the top by singing the most obscure shit on my album. so i will spare you all the "erocia" talk and just say that i love you to death

nikka: dont feel bad ahmir.....i once sang the whole first side of "fruit at the bottom" to them when i first met them....

wendy: (lols)

?uesto: see....i'd get damn near stalkerish.....i got all the "Crossing Jordan" bootle---


?uesto: awww man i cannot believe this----i gotta cal

james: what?!!?!?!?!?

?uesto: nothing!

james: do it man!!!!

?uesto: no man!!!

nikka: do what?

james: call d'a--

?uesto: okay okay okay okay already! (dials phone---second it rings.....throws it to james)

james: yo d? you there?

d: (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

james: sup man!

d: (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

james: yeah man....hey i got somebody you should talk to....hang on

wendy: hello?


wendy: who's this?


wendy: oh....mike...(offphone to ?uesto: mike?)


wendy: this is wendy


wendy: yes wendy


wendy: yes....wendy "yes, lisa" wendy...

d:!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [exclamation points edited for space]

wendy: but who is this?


wendy: mike......

?uesto: man--tell that fool to tell you what his MIDDLE name is

wendy: okay michael....what is your middle name?

nikka (whispering to wendy)

wendy: gasp?!?!? oh my god! is this DANGELO?!?!?!? i have your babies?

room: lol!!!!!!!!

wendy gushed (yes prince heads she is still fine)

...nikka took the phone next...and then

(cue dragnet horns)

we talked, bickered, cried, and most importantly...made plans to come back stronger than ever.

friends again.

February 17, 2004

Everything Was Cool, Til the Camera Jumped Into My Bed

Jef Lee at okayplayer pointed out some cool Prince pics on, taken during pre-grammy festivities:

Prince and Nas - I'm dying to know what these two were talking about. The other guy is Prince's lawyer, who once sent this website a cease-and-desist order on Prince's behalf (proudest moment of my life).

Prince and Jill Scott.. Jill is so pretty. Hope she comes back strong with the next album.

Prince and Mary J, another convo I wish I heard.

Prince with Angie Stone.

prince and Danny Glover - note how different the body language is here, compared to the other Prince photos.. Prince really defers to his elders and gives them a different level of respect, especially if it's an elder Black male, I think.


And here's a few more:

Remember last week when I was asking who the heck that was with Bill Maher at the Grammys? I guess we have an answer.

I'm way past ready for this guy's 15 minutes to run out.

Marlon Wayans thought it would be funny to tell the photographer he was Flex.

The co-founders of the Jay-Z fan club

And while we're at it, here's an appearance on the same site by yours truly.

February 19, 2004

Alicia and Outkast to Induct Prince

This should be interesting.. I saw Alicia with Prince once before, at the aftershow he did last year after the Lincoln Center concert, and came away with a whole new fondness for her. Not from how good her performance was, cuz it really wasn't very good at all.. she came out while the band was rocking "777-9311" and had apparently never heard of the song(!!!), so she clumsily freestyled a verse over the groove. Then Prince stepped to the keyboard and accompanied her on "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore", which was aiite but nothing to write home about.

But it was still such a strikingly unguarded moment, watching the hottest pop star in the world in this intimate setting, beaming like a little kid and singing to herself "ok, i need to calm down," leaning over and studying Prince's every move on the keyboard, hoping to pick up a few of his tricks while she sang along. I just found it so endearing how awestruck and humbled she was by the moment.. it made me feel like we had really shared something special with her. I say corny things sometimes. But hey I warned you before I was a sentimental guy.

But anyway like I was saying:

Stars Set To Induct Hall Of Famers

Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and Tom Petty are among the artists who will be on hand to induct the 2004 class into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A longtime supporter of the Hall and 1999 inductee into the elite group of honored musicians, Springsteen will introduce Jackson Browne at this year's event.

Dave Matthews will do the honors for Traffic, while Petty and Jeff Lynne will induct their Traveling Wilburys bandmate George Harrison. Keys will be joined by hip-hop duo OutKast to welcome Prince, while Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, himself a Hall of Famer since 1989, will be on hand to enshrine ZZ Top.

Also don't forget Prince's acoustic jam with Wendy airs tonite on the Tavis Smiley show, here in NY it's on channel 21 (WLIW) at midnight.

I Usually Eschew Such Memes

But this one's kinda fun:

Your instructions
Step 1: Open your MP3 [CD] player.
Step 2: Put all of your music on random.
Step 3: Write down the first 20 songs it plays, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 4: Profit!

Let's see what comes up..

1. A snippet of me singing "Devil's Pie", for some reason
2. PJ Harvey - "Oh My Lover"
3. Vince Guaraldi - "Linus and Lucy"
4. Prince - "Controversy" (Live in Japan, 9/9/86 - his last show ever with the Revolution)
5. Oscar Peterson - "Volare"
6. Rosa Passos - "Inutil Paisagem"
7. Memphis Bleek w/ Freeway and Just Blaze - "Just Blaze, Bleek & Free"
8. Prince - "Lady Cab Driver" (same concert as above)
9. Wilson Simonal - "Nem Vem Que Não Tem"
10. Gangstarr - "Mass Appeal (instrumental)"
11. Jackie Mittoo - "Black Organ"
12. Dynamic Corvettes - "Funky Music Pt. 1"
13. Biggie - freestyle over Casual's "I Didn't Mean To" (courtesy of DJ Mister Cee)
14. Lewis Taylor "Electric Ladyland"
15. Brian Auger and The Trinity - "Tiger"
16. Prince - "Sex" (b-side on the "Scandalous" 12-inch)
17. BDP - "We In There" (downloaded so I could take that sample for my "Unicorn" song)
18. Antônio Pinto & Ed Cortês - "Estória da Boca"
19. Gilberto Gil - "Queremos Guerra"
20. George_Harrison - "Here Comes the Sun" (Live at the Concert for Bangladesh)
21. Dr. Dre and Royce the 5'9 - "The Way I Be Pimpin" (reworked into "Xxxplosive" after Dre and Royce had their falling out)
22. Peter Tosh - "Here Comes the Sun" (I DL-ed about 15 versions of this when George died)
23. Dan the Automator - "My Guru" (from the "Bombay the Hard Way" album)
24. Slave feat. Steve Arrington "Nobody Can Be You" (BEST SONG EVER)
25. Pretty Purdie & The Playboys - "Funky Mozart"

No way I could stop at 20 with all these dope jams popping up.

What y'all got?

February 20, 2004

"Major Announcements" from Prince on Tuesday

Pardon the glut of Prince items, he's unusually active these days.. here is a newannouncement for members of his website:


Members are invited 2 attend a special Press Conference Prince
will be holding on Tuesday, February 24th at 10:30AM at the El
Ray club. As Prince makes some major announcements 2 the press,
he wanted 2 have some of his closest friends in the house with

If u will be in the LA Area on Tuesday and can DEFINITELY be at
this event at 10:30AM, please reserve ur spot in the BACKSTAGE
PASS room ticket window starting Friday at 5pm PT. There is no
charge, just a reservation. Once u secure ur spot, u will b put
on the guest list, please bring a photo ID. Reservation limit 2
per member.

Prince fans are also encouraged to join in on our gratuitous Doug E. Fresh bashing here.

February 25, 2004

Grey Tuesday, Reconsidered offers a rather snide dismissal of Grey Tuesday.

Needless to say, his judgement is immediately called into question when he deems The Grey Album "unlistenable" (I do agree it is overrated. But then again so is Prince's Black Album.. overrated due to its backstory but far from wack). And he doesn't make it very clear, in the original post, what inspires his disdain for Grey Tuesday.. Does he believe that a protest's relevance is best gauged by the amount of effort it takes to join, and he considers this one too easy? I'm pretty sure I disagree with that.

But in the comments he does offer something more substantive:

The acts of protest being undertaken today speak more to the issue of *distribution* (making it easier to find these works) than it does to the issue of sampling and recombinatorial art. A more effective protest would be to encourage website owners to create their own remixes -- integrating and transforming artifacts from popular culture in order to make something new, on their own.

By turning the protest into an issue of distribution, Capitol/EMI gets to change the nature of the debate, and paint the civil disobedients with the broader "illegal downloading and distribution brush." The core message of the protest -- creating a change in the copyright law to allow for things like compulsory licensing -- will get lost in the noise.

His proposal would be far less inclusive, as most people don't have the means to make such a remix (or at least to make one that doesn't suck). But he makes a very good point, Grey Tuesday's protest did confuse two distinct and different issues: Dangermouse's right as an artist to reinterpret copyrighted material within his own work, and our right to distribute and download copyrighted material as consumers. They made it too easy for EMI to dodge discussion of the first issue by conflating it with the second.

I'd also agree that Grey Tuesday, by itself, doesn't amount to much. But to paraphrase what I was saying here, every journey is made up of small steps. Grey Tuesday (like the Grey Album) has been a highly successful publicity stunt, and brought lots of people to downhillbattle's website. The question now is what they will do with this newfound attention.. can they keep moving past that first step, or is this the extent of their vision? It may well turn out to be the latter, but I don't think it's fair to poo-poo their efforts just yet.

February 27, 2004

Prince on Leno: One Obsessive Fan's Review

I'm hard to please when it comes to Prince appearances but tonight's Jay Leno performance wasn't half bad. Goes to show the man is much better when he can stretch out on one song instead of rushing through a medley. Rhonda was really working it on bass, and that "Do the Tighten-Up" coda was on point. The Jam Master Jay shoutout is appreciated, though it was arguably within the context of an anti-hiphop manifesto.

But I still wish Prince would deliver some real, nasty, gritty, Movie Star/Housequake/Rebirth of the Flesh caliber funk in his live performances, instead of this funk-lite he keeps kicking. One problem is his latest drummer John Blackwell.. who is a big step up from his predecessor Kirk Johnson but always softens up the groove with that soft-hitting, showy, overly intricate Tower of Power-style drumming. Al Jackson and Ziggy Modeliste could probably hit the hi-hat 64 times in one bar, or twirl the drumstick around and catch it in their teeth if they wanted to, but they never felt the need to prove it cuz they knew that a funky drummer's job is just to find the groove, hit it hard and stay in the pocket.

Another thing is, though I hate to admit this, Prince has really never known what to do with horns. If you look over his career, there's only been one stretch where he successfully integrated horns into his show, and that was when he had Eric Leeds around to hook it up for him. Nowadays Prince's horn deficiency always rears its ugly head in concert, where (despite the frequent presence of Maceo Parker) the brass makes most funk numbers sound all bland and vegas-y, like they did for "Baby I'm a Star" at the Grammys.

The horns were better than usual tonight though, now that I watch it again. Can't really complain about this one actually, except for one thing: The first line of his new song goes "Heard about the party, just east of Harlem?" Uhh dude, there's nothing east of Harlem except a river. Have you ever even been to Harlem?? Doug E. Fresh is cringing right now.

March 26, 2004

Tickets for Live Screening of Prince Concert, Monday in NYC

Prince is kicking off his tour this weekend in Los Angeles, and Monday night's concert will be simulcast live in movie theaters across the country.. also, copies of his new album "Musicology" will be given to everyone in attendance.

I have two extra tickets for the screening in NY, at the Union Square theater, if anyone is interested.. $16 each, the concert starts at 11PM EST, this Monday. email me.

March 30, 2004

Prince Live in LA 3/29/04 - Union Square Simulcast

This is going to be very long and probably not well written or interesting to non-fanatics.

In a word, superb. All fun and sexiness, no more weird vibes or creepy religiosity. Gotta be the best show he's done in years, except maybe (maybe) his Paisley Park birthday celebrations.

Same band we've been seeing, minus Maceo. Set was fairly similar to his NY aftershow at Club Black on March 15th, and like that show it started off kinda slow, magnified by some spotty sound and lighting. At the aftershow he introduced the band with a bluesy rendition of Miles Davis/Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," but tonight they jumped right into "Musicology", which was aiite but seemed a lot funkier in person (where he stretched it out more and sang "I Like the Way You Move" over it).

Next (going from memory) came Let's Go Crazy and a weirdly disjointed When Doves Cry followed by I Would Die 4 U. Prince looking real happy and playful, doing lots of dancing. In general he seems to shine more on slow songs than uptempo joints these days, and the highlight of this early section was "Shhh." Voice and guitar in top form, as they were throughout the night, steady giving me chills. John Blackwell dropped a drumstick during his patented catch-the-sticks-in-my-teeth drum solo, that's what you get for being such a showoff all the time!

Somewhere in there was a so-so "I Feel For You", pretty funky "DMSR", even funkier "Controversy". He seems to shy away from doing the falsetto parts on these uptempo joints and stays in a lower register, which worked much better on "Controversy" than "I Feel 4 U". Then the band went into an instrumental version of "God," showcasing Renato Neto's keys and Candi Dulfer's sax while Prince went to change outfits. And just like at Club Black this was when things really heated up, as he returned to rip the shit out of the The Beautiful Ones. I guess he saves his falsetto for this part, cuz all of a sudden he's killing all the screams and high notes.

This kicks off a set of slow songs (all complete, no medley crap) that showcase Prince at his absolute best.. there is nobody, nobody who can come close to the charisma, the musicianship and showmanship, the total command of the stage that Prince displays when he's in the zone like this. Even after having seen him 10+ times, it is stunning. After "Nothing Compares to U" the band started another groove and jaws dropped thoughout the theater, just like they did at Club Black, as the crowd buzzed with murmurs of "I know he's not doing Insatiable???" Oh, but he was.

Then came a nicely funked-up new arrangement of Sign of The Times, then Question of U, worked seamlessly into a merciless asswhooping of "The One," with some Alicia Keys "Fallin" thrown in for good measure. Ridiculously intense vocals and guitar throughout.. at this point he'd done about 57 mind-blowing solos already, with another 58 yet to come (so I'll forgive him for not touching the bass all night).

Now without letting us catch a breath they start another uptempo set with Let's Work and U Got the Look, followed by an admirably funky cover of Hot Pants, with vocals from his new track "Life of the Party." This groove is the funkiest he's gotten onstage in years, finally not funk-lite but some actual fonk. Prince invited fans to come onstage and dance with him and pretty soon the stage was packed.

And not filled with a bunch of Plastic Beautiful People either, but just regular folks, which is what I love about Prince's shows. I've always hated how at MTV's award shows and most events of that ilk they pad the front of the crowd with models and such, to make sure everyone on camera is pretty. Prince has never been on that tip, his shows always bring such a diverse audience cuz he creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to everybody, just like his music has always provided a space where all us nerds and freaks can feel at home. Prince was having so much fun joking around and dancing with everybody.. His rep for being a jerky egomaniac is probably well-deserved but there's also a side to him that's so sweet and gracious, that comes out at times like this when he interacts with the fans.

After Take me With U and Kiss he said goodnight, but a message immediately flashed on the screen warning us "Don't go anywhere, Prince will be right back!" followed by 5 or 10 minutes of goofy messages like "Prince has had 19 pop hits in the last 20 years... Prince recently gave a Grammy performance that has never been equalled.." Uhh the grammy thing was cool but let's not get crazy.

Then he came out for the encore that was missing from NY's aftershow (dammit), which turned out to a spellbinding solo acoustic set, this time on acoustic guitar instead of the piano from past tours, with Mike Scott backing him up here and there. All complete songs this time, no bits and pieces like the old piano medleys. Forever in My Life, a little rap about "Real Playas," the hilarious blues number he did in NY about "something's funky baby, is that your breath or mine?" and a delicious blues version of his new track "On the Couch." Then Little Red Corvette (solo acoustic Little Red Corvette!) and Sometimes It Snows in April (!!!), which really got to me. Good thing the lights were down. The band came back in halfway through "Seven", then we came to the finale, which you can probably guess was Purple Rain. Normally me and my crew's cue for a bathroom break, but it hit the spot here, wrapped things up nicely.

Let me reiterate, this will be the best tour he's done in years. Don't miss it. Forty-eleven times better than that "Live at the Alladin" DVD, and utterly annihilates the New Years Eve pay-per-view a few years back, and whichever tour I saw at Jones beach (Hit and Run?), and so on. If you haven't seen Prince live yet, or know someone you want to turn into a believer, this tour is the one to catch.

April 5, 2004

The Weeping Prince Meme

Nice Prince profile in Newsweek, but this "Prince was crying!" moment during the LA encore gets more exaggerated each time I read about it. It was a wonderful moment, Prince taking a minute to stop and let the crowd know how much he appreciated/reciprocated their love, but if you think he was actually weeping and too verklempt to go on, you're greatly underestimating his mastery of the stage. It's called ac-ting! (to be read in jon lovitz voice)

Party Like It's 2004

Prince is back—with new music and a newfound faith. Sure, he's changed, but he's still the man.

A technician is sound-checking the trademark purple guitar, and the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince is growing impatient. The 5-foot-2 singer adjusts the long poet sleeves of his white blouse, strokes his goatee, fidgets with his diamond-encrusted pendant and taps his platform heel on the concrete of this sports arena in Reno, Nev. Finally, he leans over to me and whispers, "I'll give you 20 bucks if you yell 'Freebird.' C'mon," he says with a nudge, "25 if you shout 'Skynyrd, dude!' "

Prince may be joking about his biggest nightmare—playing rock anthems to lighter-brandishing fiftysomethings at county fairs—but he's taking no chances. On his first nationwide arena tour in almost a decade, he'll still be performing his own anthems, such as "Purple Rain" and "Little Red Corvette." But he's using the old Prince—who busted sexual taboos on such albums as "Dirty Mind"—to introduce the new Prince, a Jehovah's Witness whose new album, "Musicology," is an enticing yet odd mix of funk, faith and fantasy. A second coming? With Prince, anything's possible...

...But it's hard to believe Prince didn't at least miss the mass adoration. On his second tour stop last week, the sold-out 20,000-seat Staples Center in L.A., he got a standing ovation for a surprisingly moving acoustic rendition of "Little Red Corvette"—and he sat down on a stool in the middle of the stage and wept. The audience, a mix of older R&B fans, punk rockers, hip-hop kids and average-looking moms who knew every damn lyric, kept it up until he regained his composure. Even Andre 3000 of Outkast (likely taking mental notes for his next album) got to his feet for the man...

(via anil)

May 5, 2004

Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, 1932-2004

Thankfully yesterday's rumors of Elvin Jones' passing turned out to be false, but today comes news of another major loss:

'Sir Coxsone' Dodd is Dead

FOUR days after the City of Kingston honoured him by naming a street for his famous Studio One recording label, Jamaican music pioneer Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd died suddenly yesterday.

He apparently suffered a heart attack at his offices at 13 Studio One Boulevard, which, until last Friday's big civic ceremony in honour of Dodd, was Brentford Road...

...Born Clement Seymour Dodd in Kingston on January 26, 1932, he earned the nickname "Coxsone" after a Yorkshire, England cricketer, while attending All Saints School in West Kingston. He was considered a good cricket all-rounder.

But it was as a pioneer of Jamaica's sound system and popular music, from rocksteady to ska and reggae that Dodd was to find fame.

He started out playing bebop and jazz records for customers visiting his parents' liquour store on Laws Street, and later Beeston Street, in Kingston. During a turn at farm work in the United States he widened his knowledge of rhythm and blues music and imported numerous original 45 rpm records, which became the hallmark of his sound system, Sir Coxsone Downbeat.

He started the sound system in the early 50s relying on his imported originals to outplay his competitors, chiefly the late
Arthur "Duke" Reid of Treasure Isle fame.

He opened his studio at Brentford Road in 1963 and since then the name, Studio One, has become synonymous worldwide with the best of early Jamaican pop rhythms - ska, rocksteady and reggae.

Dodd is probably best known outside Jamaica for bringing Bob Marley and the Wailers to national attention and producing some of their most memorable hits, including the international peace anthem, One Love..

More on the man:

The name Clement Seymour “Sir Coxsonne” Dodd is synonymous with the development of Reggae music.

Clement Dodd shaped Bob Marley into the lead vocalist for the Wailers...

..not only Bob Marley & The Wailers, but also Lee Perry, Horace Andy, Bob Andy, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Frankie Paul and many others.

May 6, 2004

My Kanye West/Public Enemy/John Coltrane Double Mashup

Tonight I had an overwhelming urge to blend the beat from Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Encore" with the vocals from O-Town's "Liquid Dreams." But I couldn't find that acapella so I settled for mixing Kanye's beat with "Bring the Noise", and then throwing in John Coltrane's "Ascension" (AKA the "Finnegan's Wake" of Coltrane's discography) for good measure:

This came out rather nicely, but if anyone has that O-Town acapella please let me know.

May 19, 2004

Remembrance of ELVIN JONES, 1927-2004

One of the greatest of the greats passed on yesterday after a long illness. He deserves a better tribute than I'd be able to offer, so I reached out to one of his peers, my good friend and stepfather Warren Smith, a top jazz drummer in his own right and founding member of Max Roach's M'Boom. Warren offers his memories of Elvin:

ELVIN JONES, this name should always be capitalized when referred to in musical contexts.

I first met ELVIN in Chicago in 1959 while on tour with the West Side Story. ELVIN was playing at a local club "the Blue Note" (Chicago had one too) with the trumpet star Harry Sweets Edison. I had come to hear the organist Jimmy Smith and his drummer Donald Bailey. ELVIN caught me completely off guard. And he sat and talked with me late into the night. When he moved to New York in the next year or so we had a chance to hang quite few times. We found that we shared many common values apart from music. He spoke of his love for his brothers as I did for mine, and our common love of music and various drummers. Max Roach was equally held in esteem by us both. Then ELVIN came to sub for Charli Persip in the orchestra of Johnny Richards while I was playing Tympani. I discovered that ELVIN JONES was an excellent sight reader as well as a brilliant player. Then came the famous stint with the John Coltrane Quartet and ELVIN JONES was elevated to his present stature in Musical History. At this point he became for me the most influential percussionist in African-American Music. Even the brilliance of TONY WILLIAMS, the excellence of ROY HAYNES and all the great percussionists who preceded him to stardom failed to dim the beacon of light that ELVIN cast upon the field throughout the rest of his life.

It was painful to all of us drummers to read of his suffering thru a debilitating illness in various e-mails, and rumors of his ultimate demise. We could sense the inevitability of this occurrence, as we shall enter such a phase in our own lives eventually. But we all love and respect and admire ELVIN JONES and the gift he presented to us over the last 45 years of this great music misnamed "Jazz". ELVIN JONES was, is a great American artist and we shall never forget that fact.

Warren Smith

Just remember all caps when you spell the man's name...

May 20, 2004

More Remembrance of Elvin Jones

Here are a few more words on Elvin from the esteemed composer/scholar/multi-instrumentalist Bill Cole, who authored one of the most respected Coltrane biographies (which we've cited before).

Hi Folk,

I saw Elvin Jones play on numerous occasions during the sixties in the John Coltrane Quartet. There are three times that stand out in my head. One was in the late fifties when he was the young drummer in the trio of Bud Powell. Not only was he an excellent accompanist but also saw that Bud was okay and helped him remember what city he was in. This was in Pittsburgh. The second time was playing with the Quartet in a club in Pittsburgh called the Crawford Grill # 2. The first set was beginning but Elvin was no where to be found. I heard John say to one of the members of the group "where is the world's greatest drummer." Finally Elvin comes through the door with a large piece of ribs he had gotten at a rib place called the Silver Pig across the street from the club. He had his usual big smile and looked like he was having a great time. The third time was in the same Club, late in the evening, in fact is was the last set of the night. Elvin and John started a duet and played for the next hour and forty-five minutes. It was truly an astounding event with Elvin driving and pushing Trane, never relinquishing his power and his imaginative approach to the drums. He was the greatest drummer of that era. One of the greatest drummers of all time and the strength and pulse behind Trane's creativity. He took John Coltrane to new heights and kept him there.

Bill Cole

In case you missed it, Warren Smith's remembrances are here.

June 7, 2004

Even Tho Eye Know U Dont Believe In That Anymore

Happy Birthday 2 U

P.S.: If U do aftershows in LA, with special guests and all, U have 2 give NY some too. It's a law. (And please be aware that Doug E Fresh does not count as a special guest.)

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles, 1930 - 2004

In case you haven't heard, we just lost one of thegreatest of the greats.

Few artists have been so tragically underappreciated as Ray Charles.. he did so much amazing work and had such massive influence on American popular music, but so many of us in the hip-hop generation only know him for the somewhat softer stuff we've been exposed to in his later years (including the Diet Pepsi "Uh Huh" song that Prince wrote for him), and view him as someone might view Stevie if they only knew "I Just Called To Say I Love You," and had never borne witness to the Holy Grail he bestowed upon us from '72 to '77.

Apparently some people are taking tomorrow off to remember some other dude, but I for one will be setting the day aside to honor Ray Charles, one of the 20th century's foremost American heroes.

Here are some links with more about the man:

AP Obituary
AMG Biography - some good insight into his influence.

Please pass on other good links if you come by them, or your own thoughts of course.

June 11, 2004

The Filet Mignon is Cancelled. Here, Eat These Rice Cakes.

I woke up at 5AM today. Which is 5 hours earlier than usual. Stevie Wonder was doing a free concert in Bryant Park for Good Morning America, and somehow, after the news that Ray Charles had passed, getting myself down there for Stevie just seemed like the right thing to do.

But I had a funny feeling as I approached the park that something wasn't right. And sure enough, on the front steps I was met by a sign reading "Stevie Wonder concert Cancelled. Go f**k yourself." - with the latter part thinly veiled as "Come see Dido next week."

But that wasn't even the bad part. When I approached the hapless interns ABC sent over to hold these signs, and asked why their bosses had crushed my dreams, guess what answer I got...

The Stevie Wonder concert was cancelled because our nation is still in mourning for Ronald Reagan.

The Stevie Wonder concert was cancelled because our nation is still in mourning for Ronald Reagan.

Even in death, he screws us one more time.

August 6, 2004

Rick James, 1948-2004

Damn. Just when his name had become so big again thanks to Dave.

Farewell, Rick. We will be forever grateful for the funk. I hope Mary Jane will be there to greet you, wherever you are headed.

August 13, 2004

A Few Pics From Montreal Jazz Festival

Everybody put your hands up!

click on each thumbnail for the full-sized image

September 9, 2004

Source Award Nominee Fun Time!

There are three things you can count on in life. The earth will keep turning, the sun will keep rising, and the Source Awards will always have a totally preposterous nomination for Benzino.

And their list of 2004 nominees is out, time to see where Zino pops up this year!

This is my favorite time of year, I think of it as a annual ritual kinda like Groundhog's Day. If Benzino appears in one category, summer will only last two more weeks, but if he shows up in 2 or more, that means another 6 weeks of warm weather.

Ok, so let's see... hmm... wow... I'm almost at the end of the list, could it be that he's not on here at all, and The Source finally decided to stop embarrassing themselves like that??

Oh, wait.. :

Fat tape song of the year:

  • "Run," Ghostface Killah featuring Jadakiss and Sheek, produced by Rza;

  • "Snitch N s," Scarface featuring Z-Ro, produced by Mike Dean;

  • "Clap Back," Ja Rule produced by Scott Storch;

  • "Untouchable," Untouchables featuring Benzino, produced by Hangmen 3;

  • "Certified Gangstas," Jim Jones featuring Cam'ron and The Game, produced by Bang.

Whew! There he goes. For a minute I thought the apocalypse was at hand or something.

February 9, 2005

Jimmy Smith, 1925-2005

The unsurpassed master of his instrument. Which happened to be possibly the funkiest instrument in the world. So this is quite a loss.

Jazz pioneer Jimmy Smith dies

The world has lost one of its greatest musical innovators. Widely considered “the world’s greatest jazz organist,” Jimmy Smith died Tues, Feb. 8 of natural causes in his Phoenix home. He was 76.

Although Smith wasn’t the first to play jazz on the Hammond B3 organ, his virtuosity over the instrument combined with his brilliant infusion of gospel, blues and R&B riffs and melodies into bebop-inspired improvisations place him alongside other jazz pioneers, such as Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and John Coltrane – artists who revolutionized the way their respective instruments were played and who are continuing to have a profound influence of other instrumentalists...

Chances are you'll get a hefty dose of his music on our radio show this Saturday.

February 17, 2005

Reggae and Homophobia

The Voice's Elena Oumano adds pieces to the puzzle:

Jah Division

Free speech, cultural sovereignty, and human rights clash in reggae dancehall homophobia debate

Here in New York City, gays in clubs win' up to wildly popular reggae dancehall lyrics like "Fire fi de man dem weh go ride man behind," much as older gays pray in churches that condemn homosexuality. A mere dozen or so protesters picketed the sold-out Hot 97 "On da Reggae Tip Live" at Hammerstein Ballroom last September. Why pay mind to the words when the riddim and the vibe sweet yuh so?

But on Sunday, January 29, JAMPACT, an NYC-based Jamaican American civic group, held a panel at St. Francis College composed of Dr. Gordon Shirley, Jamaica's ambassador to the U.S.; Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch; Jamaican gay activist Larry Chang; and others. Schleifer was asked to address and defend points in her recent report issued by HRW in which she found that widespread homophobia in Jamaica endangers the welfare not only of those at high risk for HIV/AIDS, but also of HIV/AIDS outreach health care workers. Three days later, Amnesty International's OUTfront! program and New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center hosted a panel discussion at LGBT's Manhattan headquarters with representatives from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), as part of J-FLAG's campaign for support in holding Jamaican authorities accountable for failing to protect the human rights of their LGBT citizens. While dancehall homophobia has been fodder for international headlines lately, "at the Forum, J-FLAG made clear that reggae dancehall's homophobia merely fuels Jamaica's widespread cultural bias against homosexuality and bisexuality," says Alisa Wellek, of the LGBT center.

Following widespread cancellations of dancehall concerts, Sizzla was banned in November from entering the U.K., while he and seven other dancehall artists—Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, T.O.K., Capleton, and Bounty Killer—were investigated by Scotland Yard after gay activists asserted that their homophobic song lyrics constitute incitement to actual murder. In the U.S., where free speech is less restricted, "Stop Murder Music" had shut down only 30 or so Beenie Man and Capleton dates this past summer and fall, mostly on the West Coast. Meanwhile, U.K. gay activist group OutRage! shifted its "Stop Murder Music" campaign higher up reggae's food chain to retail outlets and record labels like NYC-based reggae indie VP Records. After months of negotiations, gay activist groups, the labels, and promoters announced early this month that they'd reached an agreement, and that the "Stop Murder Music" campaign had been suspended.

Reggae may have started out as a poor man's party—a turntable, homemade speakers, and a public light source—but it's grown into Jamaica's survival dream, one shared by politicians, businessmen, and scrawny boys rocking toothbrush microphones. Now that the worldwide debate over what should be a universal right—to love and/or sex the adult of your choice—is focused on that live wire of an island, the dream is threatened, big-time...

March 15, 2005

Lyn Collins, 1948-2005

Farewell to Mama Feelgood:

Lyn Collins, singer and James Brown Revue member, dead at 56

Lyn Collins, whose funky vocals landed her a spot early in James Brown's stage show and the nickname "Female Preacher," has died. She was 56...

...Born in Dime Box, Texas, Collins took up singing as a teenager. At 14, she married a man who worked as the local promoter for the James Brown Revue. Brown heard Collins sing and in 1970 she was invited to join his traveling show.

Her powerful voice led Brown to nickname her the "Female Preacher," and two years later, she cut her first solo album, "Think (About It)." In 1975, Collins released "Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me By Now."

Over the years, Collins' songs have also appeared in various compilations, but it was hip-hop duo Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock who exposed Collins' work to a new generation when they sampled one of her songs for their 1988 hit "It Takes Two." "She was surprised and elated by how it took off," Jackson recalled. "It really kind of spurred her. It really let younger artists know who she was."

August 3, 2005

The Fake Black Rock Manifesto

Handed down by Big Reg of Okayplayer, where it has struck quite a chord. I was unaware of this trend as I avoid all places where hipsters congregate, but apparently it is epidemic? What sayest thou, is his gripe legit or is he just hating?

Friends don't let friends 'Black Rock'

We all have that friend.

First, they started growing out their hair, invested buying a sh*tty casio keyboard and recorded fake demos with the worst neo soul had to offer. They quit after acute incense poisoning.

Perhaps they went through their mcing phase, where their fifteen year old cousin made them fisher price beats that they claimed they couldn’t find a market because they were too real, but couldn’t find a beat if it was broadcasted in Braille.

Maybe they changed their name to Orange Moon Flower Asata Mandingo X, started writing poetry LIKE….this to be HEARD…on the localpoetryslam CAFÉ, to LET out all the POEMS theyhadabouthow GOOD their VAGINA or PENIS tastes…..*twenty second pause for inflection*

Anyway, when you go visit your want to be artist friend and there’s an Afropunk sticker on his door.. You see a Fishbone cd where you didn’t see one before. And they have a brand new Fender Stratocaster in the corner of the room.

Please, break that sh*t. Snip the strings,, scratch up the pickups, piss on their amp.

I remember back when there was a heavy stigma involved in being black and liking rock music. It still exists today, but it seems that for many it’s a badge of coolness. Considering the current crap I ve been forced to listen to, I wonder if kids getting clowned for having a Nirvana tape was a bad thing.

Today, after stumbling on the last straw of this current black rock bandwagon on myspace by one of our very own OKP, I ask you to stop the madness.

It’s a horrible assault to mankinds ears. It doesn’t rock in a Metallica way, it doesn’t rock in a Nirvana way, it doesn’t rock in a Matchbox 20 way, hell, it doesn’t hold a candle to Kelly Clarkson.

Who could I blame? Saul? Pharell? Ive got no clue.

Stop rap-rocking. Stop playing horrible ska. Stop with the two chord attack, the horrible drum programming (you should really be ashamed of this one considering your hip-hop backgrounds) the god awful pseudo angry hooks. Stop prancing around in a f**ked up hairfro cut thinking your PJ Harvey. Stop not claiming hip-hop because you think it gives you cred. You f**king suck.

Afkap has raged long and hard about how current rock music can hardly be called black music. And while I disagreed at the time, you f**ks aren’t helping the argument. At least buy a rock cd before attempting to tackle the genre. The funny thing is, to make halfway decent rock music you don’t necessarily need ‘chops’. Name all the good modern rock singers. Exactly. Name the last interesting riff you heard? EXACTLY. But it does take an understanding of what makes good rock music, and what doesn’t. None of us can explain what hip-hop is, but we all damn well know when we hear it. Doesn’t take a genius.

Which apparently most of you Johnny Come Lately’s don’t have.

Luckily, most of you suck enough that you won’t make too much of a buzz above ground. But, for the sake of the Fishbones, the Living Colors, the 24-7 Spyz, goddamned Bad Brains who struggled for years to apparently have the path they laid out for be filled in by no frills artists trying the current cool genre, have mercy. For fans of all music, please stop being artists period. Go back to your corporate jobs, your college classes, smoke a bowl and watch Wonder Showzen and realize while your ambition is big, your talent is nil.

The madness must stop.

September 28, 2005

Stevie Wonder "A Time To Love" Album Review

Believe it or not, Stevie Wonder released a new album this week and nobody noticed. The actual "A Time to Love" CD doesn't hit stores until October 18th, but Motown quietly gave it a "digital release" on itunes last tuesday, presumably as a ploy to beat the Oct 1st deadline for Grammy eligibility. I got an advance copy right before my radio show on Saturday, and will now be able to tell my grandchildren about the time I world-premiered a Stevie Wonder album. (and on the same night that I interviewed the Skullsnaps!)

I've given it a few more listens since then, and I must say this is not a bad album at all, much better than I expected. It's also good enough that, like "Musicology", it will be overhyped by many fans and critics as a "return to form" that is "on par with his classics." Do not listen to these people. This is strictly a Phase 3 Stevie album.

Stevie's career has had 3 phases:

  • Phase 1: from "Tribute to Uncle Ray" to "Where I'm Comin From"
  • Phase 2: from "Music of My Mind to "SITKOL" (let's call Secret Life" and "Hotter Than July" Phase 2.5, and forget "woman in red" ever existed)
  • Phase 3: from "In Square Circle" to now.

    Phase 3 is similar to Godfather 3. Far, faaarrrrr short of the majesty that came before, but perfectly enjoyable if you block 1 and 2 from your mind, and judge it on its own terms.

    So don't get gassed. Keep your expectations realistic and approach it strictly as Phase 3 material, and you should me more than satisfied. I'd rank it way ahead of Conversation Peace and Jungle Fever (potentially his best Phase 3 album, had it not contracted a deadly strain of the New Jack Swing virus). Not quite on par with "In Square Circle" or "Characters," but close.

    Lately on his uptempo songs Stevie likes to spit big bursts of syllables in this RZAesque offbeat-onbeat flow, which I'm not always feeling, but on the better tracks here I can work with it. The best of these is the opener "If Your Love Cannot Be Moved", on which Doug E Fresh drops a beat that sounds a lot like "Freaks", and then Stevie builds a groove that sounds a little like "Another Star". This one keeps growing on me every time I play it.

    The first half of the album stays around this level, with at least three other tracks that compete with his Phase 3 hits (like say, "You Will Know"). "How Will I Know" is a sweet little jazz-lite duet with his daughter Aisha (the baby heard on "Isn't She Lovely"), whom I mistook for Alicia Keys. "Please Don't Hurt My Baby" is funkier than I ever expect Stevland to get these days, except for that one cheesy bridge thing.

    Honestly I kinda run out of steam during the second half, and the album loses me. But maybe this has more to do with my lack of album-length stamina after so much mp3-shuffling? Then again, I doubt I would ever run out of steam halfway through Talking Book, or Innvervisions, or Talking Book and Innervisions played 5 times played back-to-back.

    But of course this is breaking my own rules. Like I said, you don't want to think about that Phase 2 stuff right now. Just approach this as the album after "Conversation Peace", and leave it at that. You should come away very happy.

  • October 17, 2005

    Umm.... So... Prince Needs... A Hip Replacement?

    Never thought I'd come to and find that the top story is their "OFFICIAL PRINCE HIP REPLACEMENT THREAD". The only sources I can find are the Enquirer and the British tabloids... but then again the Enquirer's track record is about as good as most major newspapers these days..

    November 2, 2005

    Sony Installing Spyware When You Play Their CDs?

    Why must they always be so evil?

    Sony Ships Sneaky DRM Software

    Music giant uses spyware and virus writers' techniques to prevent unauthorized music copying.

    Mark Russinovich couldn't understand how the rootkit had sneaked onto his system. An expert on the internals of the Windows operating system, he was careful when it came to computer security and generally had a pretty good idea of what was running on his PC at any given time. And yet the security tool he was using to check his PC was pretty clear: It had found the rootkit cloaking software typically used by virus and spyware writers.

    After a bit of detective work, Russinovich eventually tracked down the source: a Sony BMG Music Entertainment CD titled Get Right with the Man, performed by country music duo Donnie and Johnny Van Zant.

    It turns out that Sony is using techniques normally seen only in spyware and computer viruses in order to restrict the unauthorized copying of some of its music CDs. Sony's software, licensed by Sony from a Banbury, UK, company called First 4 Internet, has become the basis of a dispute that once again pits computer advocates against an entertainment company experimenting with new ways to prevent the unauthorized copying of its products...

    The slashdotters already posted a fix for the Sony malware here.

    March 10, 2006

    New Law Enforced on MP3 Album Leaks

    Am I crazy or are a crapload of bloggers and message board posters looking at potential jailtime here? I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more attention:

    Ryan Adams file sharers face up to 11 years

    A pair of apparent Ryan Adams fans ran afoul of a new law making it a crime to publish songs before their release to the general public when they made portions of the singer's latest album available on a Web site frequented by his fans, federal authorities said Thursday.

    Robert Thomas of Milwaukee and Jared Bowser of Jacksonville, Fla., were indicted under a provision of the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (FECA) law that makes it a separate federal crime to pirate music and movies before they are released to the public, Memphis-based U.S. attorney Jim Vines and FBI special agent My Harrison said.

    The indictments are believed to be the first under the prerelease provision of the 2005 FECA law. The men are alleged to have posted portions of Adams' "Jacksonville City Nights" on a fan Web site about a month before its official release last September...

    I doubt this would ever go beyond picking a few off here and there to make examples of them, considering the legal expenses that'd come with each case. But even still, I wonder how many people know they are holding a ticket for that lottery right now..

    Can't believe they still haven't realized that this strategy of criminalizing the consumer will never work.. it's just dumb on numerous levels. I'm willing to bet that if you compiled stats for major label releases that did get leaked early and ones that didn't, the pre-leaked albums would turn out to have similar sales figures if not better.

    November 24, 2006

    AUDIO: Teemoney's "All Ways"

    I couldn't leave you after that kind of downer without something to make you smile and (hopefully) get loose to, so here's my most recent DJ mix:

    powered by ODEO

    October 2, 2012

    Kendrick Lamar feat. Dr. Dre - "Compton" (Produced by Just Blaze))


    Love seeing Kendrick Lamar and Just Blaze come together (And Dr. Dre with Just Blaze is pretty cool too). Kendrick Lamar's official debut major label album/CD, good kid, m.A.A.d city, is supposed to hit iTunes and stores on October 22nd.

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