Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Iron Solomon has always been one of my favorite battle MC's.From the first time I saw him in his bout against Math (one of the most hotly debated battles I have seen in a while) I have been impressed with his wit, ability to incorporate his written verses seamless into his impromptu bars, and general ability to entertain. In a medium overrun with braggadocio and graphic violence, Solomon brings an artful approach to the craft. He's an MC's MC, and I can't wait to hear a musical project from this guy. I know the jump from battling to the booth can often be a rocky one (e.g.Jin), but Solomon is cat I believe could really pull it off. Only time will tell. I'm also waiting to see him face some real competition (where is Serius Jones when you need him?). It's cool to see mediocre rappers get demolished once in a while, but I have grown weary of the one-sided battles he's participated in that are currently posted on YouTube. If you wanna be the best, you gotta beat the best. I haven't seen him do so.
In the mean time, enjoy this clip of Solomon destroying the aforementioned former Ruff Ryder in this Fight Club footage from a little while ago. Brace yourselves, this one is brutal.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sorry for the day off folks, had to take some time and finish up this research proposal. My project ended up being about Black male utopian stage performances (will explain in full detail at a later date once the paper is finished, and, hopefully, publishable), and in that vein I have decided to provide ya'll with some ill footage of my homie, Ion, the 2009 Nuyorican Grand Slam Champion, crushing this culturally subversive, absolutely hilarious piece about all things nerdy. Shout out to Mo Brown and the whole 2009 Nuyo team. Can't wait to hear about ya'll killin NPS this year. Second shout-out goes to Alysia Harris for writing a "Black nerds" piece with me earlier this ear. Third shout out goes to Obama and Urkel, the two flyest nerds ever.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Tender Forever is arguably my most random musical discovery this summer. While on my new favorite website, blogotheque.net, I decided to veer away from my usual faves like Sigur Ros and Patrick Watson and opted instead for the young woman you see playing the ukulele in this video. I don't even enjoy her voice that much, it's more the aesthetic created by the longing behind her words, this palpable desire to inhabit the vicinity of the distant lover she's crooning for in this cover of the well-known Timberlake track. I've got her EP, The Soft and The Hardcore, and was more or less unimpressed but definitely dig one or two songs on there. Most of the tracks are less than 3 minutes, so if you've got some time to kill check it out. I've been in a "anxiously anticipating falling in love" type of mood for the past couple of weeks, so this vid came just in time. Shout out to my homegirl J for echoing my sentiments earlier today. If I meet the wife tomorrow, I'm content. Keep holding your breath, love; I'll see you soon.
Friday, June 26, 2009
I heard of Michael Jackson's passing while riding on a bus in downtown Evanston. The news at first seemed outrageous, ungrounded...impossible. If nothing else, I have always imagined the King of Pop as a figure of indisputable immortality, a moon-walking mix of man and machine that would live as long as I did. MJ played a pivotal role in my life, he was one of the few artists that I could listen to in the company of my parents, and certainly the catalyst/primary inspiration for the love of dance that has stuck with me to this day. Much like many of my contemporaries who like to cut a rug occasionally, it starts and ends with Michael.
Usher, Omarion, Justin Timberlake whoever; show me a cat poppin and sliding across the stage who doesn't cite the King as their primary influence. Dude could flat out perform.
It's looking like my final research paper may in part be an homage to MJ. He was a radical in ways that are far too often left unexplored. I'm ecstatic to get the research underway, and sincerely hope it all comes together. I also want to send out my sincerest condolences to the Jackson family for their loss. Many of us were deeply pained to lose him as an artist, I can't imagine what it must have been like to lose him as a brother or son. My prayers are with you.
Let us dance in his memory, ya'll. A collective moonwalk to honor the memory of the baddest to ever do it; the smooth criminal who stole our hearts. RIP Michael, you will be missed by all.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Yesterday, I was brought nearly to tears by a conversation between myself and my oldest brother, Tirrell. Not tears of regret necessarily, but more so of epiphany. What I realized through our conversation (which ranged from discussions of what to look for in a wife to wild college stories and back) was just how much of a cornerstone my mother has truly been for my entire family. Growing up, I was never particularly close to my half-siblings (I have 3), and until very recently did not make it a priority to reach out and begin building the type of bond that I have always wanted. Through conversations with Tirrell, I have become privy to stories about my mother that I never would have known otherwise; narratives about the ways in which her undying love for all of her husband's children has helped keep us together over the years. For her endurance, passion, and commitment to walking through life with an open heart and sincere tongue, I wanna give Mom dukes a shout-out today. Love you, Ma. Never forget it.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
As many of you may or may not know (based either on knowing me or peeping one of my more recent posts) I'm spending this summer doing a research fellowship out here at Northwestern. Thus far it has been nothing short of amazing, and I have been moved beyond words by the sheer brilliance of the folks I'm meeting out here. There's about 20 of us (in my cohort) from schools all across the country doing research in fields ranging from Queer Studies to biochemistry to music cognition. In other words, this group of kids is uber-dope. My particular research project this summer is in the field of Performance Studies, and I will have the pleasure of working with arguably the foremost Performance Studies scholar in the country right now, E. Patrick Johnson. I've included a clip of his recent performance at Penn of a section of his critically acclaimed one-man show/ethnography "Sweet Tea".
In my honest opinion, Dr. Johnson is a scholar-artist without peer, and probably the best present model in academia for what I hope to do one day with my craft. It is my dream to find a way to combine my passion for education with my love for performing in a way that is politically powerful and thoroughly enjoyable. Videos like this assure me that such a future is not only possible, but within arm's reach if I stay hard at work. With that said, I need to get back to my weekly reading assignments. Paz!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
So, I'll admit it. When I first heard/read about the Dirty Projectors in Rolling Stone Magazine, I was left with a fistful of confusion and a dash of utter disbelief. Their sound was essentially categorized as (if you will allow me to paraphrase) indie rock meets futuristic R&B. I cannot readily recall ever hearing of an entire band referred to as R&B, and am sure I have never known that sort of niche genre specificity to be given to a group of really hip, quirky White people. I came to the table with high hopes and no reason to believe they would be met.
To say it plain, listening to Dirty Projectors is like having a carnival on the surface on your eardrums that occasionally makes it way to the innermost recesses of your brain and explodes into a flurry of vermilion snowflakes. It's that serious. Dave Longstreth has an incredible voice, and the production is unlike anything I have ever come in contact with before. It's a rush of blood, a blossoming dream, a first kiss and fresh peach cobbler all rolled up into a delicately gift-wrapped package of chikka-chikka-wow. Check out their album, Rise Above; it will change the way you perceive sound. Word to Brooklyn.
Don't believe me? Check out the video above and tell me different.
Monday, June 22, 2009
In the past couple of weeks, I've been doing my best to break away from this intense writer's block. Feels like a fog made of paperclips is sitting on my brain with no sun in sight. In essence, I need to write some new material and have been desperately searching for inspiration. During these tough times, the closest I have come to putting pen to page and making a masterpiece has been the moments in which I've listened to Andre Gibson's latest effort, Yellowbird. Best poetry album I've ever come across, hands down. It's not even that I love every poem on the disc (because I don't, though I am indeed enamored of almost all of the pieces given 2 or 3) it's that there is this raw honesty in Gibson's work that I aspire towards. Hopefully something comes soon. In the mean time, enjoy this live performance of one of the rawest cuts on the album.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
OK, so today is the official beginning of my Northwestern University experience. Already met some cool heads, blew forty dollars at CVS on shampoo and aloe vera (gotta keep that chocolate skin smooth for the ladies). In other news, I am in desperate need of a haircut. But, as many of you know, my lineup is dear to my heart. Truth be told I'm not sure how I feel about risking its survival by going to an Evanston, Illinois barber shop. Looks like a trip to downtown Chicago is in order.
Anyways, I've been doing my best as of late to get more bi-coastal with the musical taste. My homie EnMar put me on this video. Peep the kick game; I was thoroughly salty when I saw all these teenagers so much fresher than me and in a music video. Sheltered childhood and 4 years in private school. Smh.
Jealousy aside, the track is hot and it's about to be my new ringtone. Also, since it's looking like the rest of this summer is dedicated to researching and writing new pieces, expect a more steady flow of posts from yours truly. Paz!