Thursday, October 30, 2008

If I were a Boy

So there's a rumor that one of the dancers in Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) video is some sort of dude. Oh, you know, the darker one. Even if there wasn't a rumor before I'm gonna go with it.

Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)

I actually really like this song despite my tense relationship with Mrs. Knowles-Carter. I will say that for what she is and what she does she's very good at it. But I get annoyed when speculation that she is deep or really really creative begins to surface. I'll save the hate for another day however and get back to this business of the male dancer.
Upon reviewing the video a few times in several picture qualities I would have to say the jury is still kind of out but I'm leaning toward 'Oh my God! That's a dude!'
And you know what? More power to him. He's dancing on point, and looks fabulous. it's not beyond the realm of possibility. Sasha Fierce is a diva and as such gets and shows love from the fairy section. I could totally see her being on board with 'homegirl' in her video. And, why not?
Some would say, "Well come on now. How could a man have the phattest ass in a Beyonce video?"
To that I say "Y'all might wanna look a little bit closer at what you're trying to bring home from the club."

I'll leave y'all with some words of wisdom from the great Luenelle:

Go sit in a corner and think on it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Watch More South Park

South Park Fun

Barack Obama

Michelle Obama

John McCain

Sarah Palin

I couldn't resist making one for that Ashley Todd girl. If this is the thing that sends me to hell, so be it. I'll take one for the team.

America's Best Dance Crew '08 - Watch more free videos

Obama and McCain - Battle Dance

Yeah, I think I've reached my exhaustion point on politics for this year. We're all boned either way. This video however is the stuff of fantasies and nightmares.

I'm going to have to announce McCain as the winner of this battle. Just because he brought in Sarah Palin who held down her G status and was poppin that ass like a bad chick. Not to mention Barack Obama WISH he could dance like that. I saw him callin himself tryna shake somethin on Ellen a while back. He could have benefited from a few more barbecues with Michelle's peoples.

Obama - 4 McCain - 1

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Not

I've been taking in bits of new music here and there to ease my economic woes. I've discovered some new loves (Ms. Jazmine Sullivan) as well as hearing bits and pieces leaked and released from some old favorites.

Marshall- Most of you have probably heard the freestyle 'Relapse'. I suppose it's silly to even pass judgment on something like that, or even Eminem for that matter. I mean he's talking Jamaican again. Vibe magazine has recently announced him the greatest rapper of all time according to an online poll and more fights have broken out over this decree than they do over a spades tables (I had the misfortune of witnessing both disputes occur simultaneously). I think the 'best' title is always going to be impossible to determine particularly in a genre as diverse as hip hop. You can generate a 'top' list but there will always be confounding variables. Are we talking lyricism? Are we talking influence? Are we talking popularity? Hit making ability? Slim Shady has all of these things but he, like most rappers, owes credit to some of them to elements outside of his control. The verdict will forever be out on who the greatest is but if Vibe wants to say its Slim for now I suppose I won't argue too much.

50 Cent - Get Up. Dope meaningless shit from ya boy Curtis. (image unnecessary)

Mr. West- I hear Love Lockdown, I hear Heartless, and most recently I hear Coldest Winter. Well, hmm. His singing has improved between the first and the third. I actually like Coldest Winter a little better than I like Heartless. Not because I prefer singing Kanye to rapping Kanye but I just feel like Ye should be able to make a better rap song than Heartless if he's like, supposed to be a rapper. But, if you want to add an interesting twist to it, he's really supposed to be a producer. But let's not go there.
Coldest Winter has the same strengths and weaknesses as Love Lockdown in my opinion. It sounds more like what it feels like, but his lyrics ring of high school poetry. I suppose he's trying to say something. And I think we all have the right to judge it but I'm reaching the conclusion that this album isn't even for us anyway.
Lack of knowledge or information didn't prevent me from speculating before so why stop now? -On a human level, maybe he just needs to wail and get these things out of his system so that he can progress to something less miserable.
-On another level... I was watching the tube and some pop culture analyst popped up to say that slow meaningful somber songs become hits when the economy is bad whereas upbeat up tempo songs usually don't chart as well when people have no money. Maybe, Mr. West is a marketing genius. In any case, he's bound to have us all depressed and even more broke by the time he gets through with us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Def Comedy Jam

McCain Roasts Obama
..ignore the propaganda at the end. McCain was funny but all that wasn't necessary.

Obama Roasts McCain

...neither of them wrote any of this shit but it was definitely funny. Funny thing is my verdict on their routines is identical to my opinion of the last debate. McCain made some good points, started off better than I expected but Obama performed a bit better even though he started off weaker, and he spoke more smoothly, and basically delivered.

Obama - 4 , McCain - 0

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama on Foodstamps

I'm so broke I would probably use these if it came down to it. I am, alas, but a Dollar Menu-naire.

Yes, there's a story.
Indiana McCain supporter whips this up in a newsletter, claims she's 'not racist'.

PSA: You ever had a white friend and you got into a racial argument with them, or even just a discussion that got out of hand? Then you try to break things down for them, rationally explaining the differences between their experiences and yours. And you call on every African American studies class you took, and very special (insert black family sitcom) episode you seen, or black militant pamphlet you ever read. And instead of just digesting it and understanding it they..they start fucking tearing up and crying. And their all like 'Oh, I never thought about it that way. It must feel terrible to go through (blank) everyday.'
Now, you don't even know how to feel. On the one hand you're glad that you may have made a breakthrough. Then the idea that somebody could start crying just from hearing about your life is like..depressing as shit. Then you get angry that somebody could live in this country and not understand or even consider important aspects of life here that you and many other minorities find inescapable. What the fuck do you mean you 'never thought about it that way'? How is that even possible? So, then you get mad and you hate her for the rest of the day but, you can't act like it because her mom is picking both of you up from the mall.
That story kind of had its own tangent, but the point I was trying to make is that although one may think it's progressive to 'not see race' it's not helpful. At times, I feel I prefer discussions with racists because at least we have the commonality of both seeing race instead of conveniently pretending its not an issue, and getting appalled when it's brought up.

Okay, to end with some levity.

Obama prepares for the debates

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Long time coming...

Former Secretary of Defense, Gen. Colin Powell files paperwork to get his negro card reinstated.

Powell -- who has yet to back a candidate -- told the audience: "I stand before you as an African-American. Many people have said to me you became secretary of state of the USA, is it still necessary to say that you are an African American or that you are black? And I say yes, so that we can remind our children."

"It took a lot of people struggling to bring me to this point in history," Powell told the audience. "I didn't just drop out of the sky. People came from my continent in chains."

I, like most black folks, got mixed feelings about the General but I always felt like one day he would come around. Time will tell what this leads to but this image reminds me of the scene in How High when the Dean gets a hold of the sticky and starts bustin' out to Parliament at some bourghie costume party.
This is like that but better!

As much as I hate to throw the 'election headquarters' at Fox News any ad revenue (even from my insignificant effort on this blog) I have to link the article, just cause they have the pictures, the info, and the most brazenly ignorant, amazing headline to this post that I couldn't even imagine.

Hip-Hop-Dancing Colin Powell Fuels Speculation He'll Endorse Obama

Colin Powell showed off his hip-hop moves at an 'Africa Rising' celebration in London Tuesday, fueling speculation that the former secretary of state is about to endorse Barack Obama for president...


Friday, October 10, 2008

The Weirdo: Kanye (Love Lockdown)

Anyway, I've had an abundance of Ye posts lately most likely because I've been intrigued by Love Lockdown. To be honest I don't really think its the best song ever but I like analyzing shit so that's what ima do. In my last post I was discussing whether or not I felt that Mr. West uses a mask. To cut to the chase I think he does a lot of hiding in plain sight but yes there is a mask. He uses cadence and emphasis to disguise that he's rhyming in platitudes. And it's a technique that makes the mundane seem significant and the personal, impersonal.

As I mentioned before, Kanye has suffered some personal upsets and tragedies this year, the likes of which one would expect an artist like him to discuss. But, anyone with an ego like his is going to have a hard time laying himself completely bare for his audience(remember we want the suit zipped closed.) His verse on 'Put On' was powerful and has been lauded as intimate but what is more interesting is the vocodered smoke screen of it. He starts off silly/obnoxious and then the brief emotional reveal ("Lost the only girl in the world that know me best"), then back to bullshit and in and out. It fits his take on the song which is essentially the reality and art and necessity of fronting. Pretending your good when you're so not.

But 'Love Lockdown' is supposed to be a heightened level of intimacy. It sounds like the monotone forlorn depression, interspersed with the racing thoughts one has when watching their relationship slip through their fingers but, the lyrics don't say much or reveal much even to that effect. Obviously rhyming is not Ye's strong suit but the generic vagueness of the lyrics in my opinion reveal that Kanye isn't able to be revealing about the topic. Reading the song lyrics is like reading a teenager's Myspace Blog entry about a breakup. The author has a lot to say, a lot of emotions, but doesn't want to say anything specific because to do so would leave them feeling naked...and because the person the entry is about probably still reads their shit. So they try to use metaphors and flowery language that captures the essence of how they feel while disguising the reality of what they mean. This song must have made Kanye feel very naked because he cloaks the actual meaning in turnarounds and obscure metaphors and of course, the fucking vocoder. Anyone who has heard the original studio version knows he even went as far as to mumble the chorus (I was not amused.)

So, I really do like the song, and I even like the video even though it does the same trick of feeling like something but not saying anything. But, it seems like Yeezy doesn't have enough cognitive dissonance between his person and his persona to go too deep without hurting himself.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Got em!

I know that Keith Olberman has fantasies of Obama draped in nothing but the American flag but that doesn't prevent me from enjoying him discuss Sarah Palin and her recent remarks on the Bill Ayers terrorist nonsense.

I'm so fuckin fair and balanced!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

Shit, even I'm a day late in congratulating myself.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Weirdo: Kanye

"We're all actors. Don't fear no rappers, they're all weirdos, DeNiros in practice, so don't believe everything your earlobe captures..." -Jay-Z

Hip hop is genre that is authentic and false all at once. Lately, as mainstream rap has become more commodified the falseness of it has prevailed (as it has in almost every other form of music). That is not to say that there isn't excellence and creativity in the fiction of it. You can liken a rap persona to that of a superhero's alter ego. (I know I'm treading in foreign territory here but, whatever.) It's a means of elevation and separation. You can be gorier, grittier, flashier, sexier, even more clever or pseudo intelligent from behind a mask because its a filter that protects the ego. These masks can be as concealing as full body armor or the disguise can be as minimalist as a pair of spectacles but they do the job of creating a curious but at times necessary barrier between the artist and the audience.

We think we want to see whats behind the facade but we also don't. It's like watching an action movie. You're excited to see whether or not the hero will be unmasked and the anticipation and wonder grows as some horrific circumstance leaves him in a situation where his guise begins to crack or shred or tatter. Our interest is piqued by those cracks and glimpses of flesh beneath the hard exterior but if some circumstance forced our hero to spill out of his suit to reveal that all along he was a regular- ass guy, we would be roundly disappointed (Note: When I say regular-ass guy I don't just mean not superhuman, I mean not even above average human. Think 'Joe Sixpack' or whoever the fuck that bitch was talking about the other night.) For perspective, think of how you felt when you listened to Young Buck plead uncomfortably with 50 Cent (textbook rap superhero) for financial relief. Even those who were admittedly sensitive to his predicament were decidedly uncomfortable with the whole business. No one wants to see Bruce Banner taken out with a round to the back of the head while he's taking a shit and reading the newspaper. Most artists realize this and their work tends to be a balancing act of projection interspersed with brief introspective turns. The talented among them can mine their pasts and present for stirring emotion to make the art piece complete.

Then there are the others. They tend to fall into the category of conscious rapper but there are variables to this rule as there are for anything else. Even if they have a rap name they appear plain by comparison to their armored, roided, counterparts (eg: Common, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, etc.,) However, despite their perceived normalcy these artists also exist fictionally and can be known to demonstrate character plasticity and lyrical prowess in the form of mild misogyny or violence the likes of which no Wasalu or Lonnie would ever involve themselves with (allegedly). "Murder niggas/step on my shoes I hurt a nigga/Kill a nigga/Fill a nigga with holes/Call women hoes" -Lupe on 'Switch: Science Project' *

This brings me to Kanye West. It would seem as though Mr. West had no mask or costume. Yes, there's a knack for bombast and primadonna drama but it also is accompanied by a heightened sense of his own flaws and insecurities. His alter ego is to a costume as your mood is to when you put on a nice suit. You look good, you feel good and important, you may even spend more, laugh more, and be more charming/obnoxious, but you're still you. You can walk into the building feeling like a million bucks but in the back of your mind your wondering if those P.Y.T's in the corner would still be winking at you if they could see your credit score. I believe it is this perceived lack of filter that makes Kanye interesting, and the fact that he may actually have one that makes him Kanye. His rap mask is similar to the one he uses in real life. He grew up as a member of the average middle class and on his debut College Dropout most, if not all, of his stories were about relatable aspects of everyday life, hating your job, swiping your vulnerabilities on your charge card, being pitifully flawed and jubilantly human and wildly inappropriate. But despite that, Ye seems as though he is something not quite like us.

Kanye, by his own explanation, is often misunderstood. Most assholes are. And the cause and effect of what comes first can be 'chicken and egged' ad nauseum. I briefly brought up this concept of the awkward genius/outcast in my Ryan Leslie post but I can revisit it here. Ye has a drive and talent that is above average, and also a uniqueness and sensitivity that has most likely made him different throughout his life. Ryan Leslie falls in this category as well however he seems to be struggling against his own personality to be received the way Ye had been. To try to understand the difference, and since I love analogies, we can liken the industry dynamics to high school dynamics. Kanye and Leslie are basically outcasts with symbiotic relationships to the in crowd. They are not respected for physical prowess, nor are they necessarily poetically attractive, and being bullied remains a threatening possibility (see Beanie Siegel). But they both know that if the star athletes want to play on the team this season they're gonna need someone to help them do their math homework. Using this leverage they got exposure to the popular lifestyle that more traditional talents will get you and they have managed to turn the benefits of their arrangements into something of their own. Here is where Ye and R. Les differ. Leslie feels he is better than the varsity in crowd and does not really bother himself with attempting to fit into their click. He wants popularity outside of what they can offer him and views them as a platform. It reads as disdain for them and their world. So whether it be a reaction to his inability to fit in or the cause of it he operates on an isolated wavelength and he does not make an effort to assign himself a role in their circles or begin humbly and move up their ranks. He feels he is superior and can not or will not pretend to be anything other than. He is more the elitist nerd.

If Kanye feels his brand of talent is superior to that of the jock he does not make that apparent. In gaining popularity he used his 'in' to gain a title. He could have just been the weirdo but he used the 'class clown' persona to gain their good graces and deflect some of the expected negative attention (she got a light skinned friend/ look like Michael Jackson...) For all of Kanye's bombast he is self deprecating and silly, especially in his introduction, College Dropout. He points out his flaws to prevent you from pointing them out as well as to make you more comfortable with his uniqueness. He has maintained this technique and it adds to his intriguing fragility. His ability to emphasize his relationship to the average despite being an 'other' is what got him his honorary letters (R.O.C.) and from there he developed a following of his own. As his popularity grows he no longer has to impress the jocks but can push himself and his own expression. He in fact, must do this, in order to get into the good graces of the next crowd, the eclectic Chris and Gwyneth, Karl Lagerfeld circles.

I'm gonna stop here for now and continue later when I feel like it (probably soon though). I had intended to end with my review of 'Love Lockdown' but I'll make that it's own post.

*used as an example because it makes me giggle.