Wednesday, April 30, 2008

wake up and smell the real flavor

My bad, it's been a while. You know how things, work, you go out of town for a minute... plus I just haven't had enough to say. There's a lot of stuff going on right now and it's literally painful to learn. I guess I'm at a point in my life where I'm really having to come to grips with that the "real world" is like, the harshness of reality. It's time to stand up and be counted. As we flirt with the realities of adulthood, each day is a struggle between innocence and accountability. How far am I supposed to go towards saving the environment, towards stopping my friends from drunk driving, towards saving America and the world? I sound like I'm being dramatic but I mean it. All of sudden you wake up one morning and it's too late.

You've probably heard by now that Sean Bell's killers were acquitted. You've GOT to be kidding me. Sean Bell was killed in August 2006 when 3 police officers shot him and 2 friends
50 times. He was unarmed. That doesn't even seem like it was that long ago -- that kind of crazy, over the top, disgusting violence sticks with you. 50 bullets seems excessive in all situations. 1 bullet kills. It's clear that these experienced, trained police officers were shooting with the intent to kill (not protect themselves, disarm the suspect, etc) and they sent a very loud message in the process. Now there are calls everywhere from Capitol Hill to every urban recording studio that something has to be done. I think that form unity is beautiful- everyone cries out injustice in their own way --government workers have the power legally to demand a second look while rappers can come out with songs deploring the situation to bring it to the attention of a wider public. A government's effectiveness is based on legitimacy -- when there is no justice, there is no legitimacy. NPR had a segment where they discussed this deepening mistrust. This verdict will have widespread repercussions as people come to believe that the police aren't held accountable for the same sins as the general public.

I came across this letter from the poet Saul Williams to Oprah regarding her incendiary comments about hip-hop. Read it. It's kind of long, but worth every second. It reminds me of my first times reading Sister Souljah, Tupac's poetry, hearing Common, or watching "Do the Right Thing." Through his defense of a hip hop culture he paints this picture of a love that transcends words and music. Highlights:
"As, you know, in this book she spoke of how she could not listen to the music of Miles Davis and his muted trumpet without hearing the muted screams of the women that he was outspoken about "man-handling". It was my first exposure to the idea of an artist being held accountable for their actions outside of their art. It was the first time I had ever heard the word, "misogyny". And as Ms. Cleage would walk into the classroom fuming over the women she would pass on campus, blasting those Snoop lyrics from their cars and jeeps, we, her students, would be privy to many freestyle rants and raves on the dangers of nodding our heads to a music that could serve as our own demise."

"No one wants to listen to a rapper unless they claim to be the best or the greatest. This sort of braggadocio leads to all sorts of tirades, showdowns, battles, and sometimes even deaths. In all cases, confidence is the ruling card. Because of the competitive stance that all emcees are prone to take, they, like soldiers begin to believe that they can show no sign of vulnerability. Thus, the most popular emcees of our age are often those that claim to be heartless or show no feelings or signs of emotion. The poet, on the other hand, is the one who realizes that their vulnerability is their power. Like you, unafraid to shed tears on countless shows, the poet finds strength in exposing their humanity, their vulnerability, thus making it possible for us to find connection and strength through their work. Many emcees have been poets. But, no, Ms. Winfrey, not all emcees are poets. Many choose gangsterism and business over the emotional terrain through which true artistry will lead. But they are not to blame."
He goes on to address the objectification of women, George Bush, Christianity, and war. I want to carry this around in my pocket.

In a similar vein, GrandGood posted this video last week. "It’s simply, 'Hip Hop', as defined by legends and prominent figures of the Chicago Hip Hop scene.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

been playin the same song all day long

The stunning A. Keys has a new video for "Teenage Love Affair" that just made it online. I didn't really cut for the song on the album but I like it a lot more after seeing the video! The whole School Daze vibe is hot and she's of course gorgeous. The setting reminds me of my Spring Break a lot -- minus that whole talent show portion, it looked more like a Motown full production than a college talent show. But maybe UT just isn't on their level...

Also out is a video for "Rising Up" from the Roots and Chrisette Michele. I've said it before, I absolutely love this song, it's the hottest I've heard from their upcoming LP. Chrisette Michele has a really rich sound and her album, "I Am," is outstanding. This video has a real laid back vibe that I'm feeling --but it pales in comparison to the Roots live! (Roots play Warehouse Live in Houston June 17 and House of Blues in Dallas June 18)

W_a_l_e - Perfect Plan via Nah Right
Mimi feat. Jay - Bye Bye (remix)
M_a_d_o_n_n_a feat. Yeezy - Beat Goes On
C_o_o_l Kids - Sup
U_s_h_e_r feat. Weezy and Bey - Love in This Club (remix)

That Burnt Orange Juice is from UT's own and, to my dismay, it popped up all over my Google Reader. I had no idea that many people were reading Burnt Orange Juice -- doing big things! Click on the cover for the tracklist.

Furthermore, in case you haven't been paying attention....

Mariah's E=MC2 debuted at number one and it's her 6th number one album. (She's now tied with Janet Jackson and Madonna for the 2nd most number 1 albums, behind Barbera Streisand

..... Jay-Z and Beyonce are officially married. Surprise, surprise.

....Hillary won Pennsylvania by 10% and so the fight continues. Truth be told I haven't even been really following the election coverage - I feel like it's getting petty and repetitive and by the time I get past the articles about the food crisis and bank failings I'm good on drama. However that apparently doesn't really change the math supporting Obama. Read more here.

....Bush's approval ratings are at an
all time low - a 70 year low for the Gallup poll - with only 28% of Americans approving of the job he's doing in office. This chart shows how approvals fluctuate with events in the economy - it's interesting how high the ratings were through 9/11 and even the invasion of Iraq. I wonder how his downward trend compares with that of other presidents. Bush has become increasingly disillusioned recently and, while I think supporting the government is important, I can't help feeling like he's a sitting duck and we're all just counting down.

...You know those Nalgene bottles you see everyone carrying around? The ones that are supposed to be better for our health because they don't use the same chemicals as regular water bottles and are similarly supposed to be better for the environment? Well,they're made with a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) which is used to make many hard plastic products (those unbreakable glasswares, baby bottles, etc) and studies have shown that the
BPA is leaking into the food/drink being contained. Nalgene has already announced they're not going to use it anymore and Canada may be getting ready to ban it and Wal Mart says they're expecting all baby bottles to be free of BPA by the end of the year. The issue is they're not sure if BPA causes developmental problems, especially in fetuses and infants. Just in case I'm throwing away my Nalgene bottle. I think the latest standing is those metal water bottles are the new "greenest" solution. *sigh*

Saturday, April 19, 2008

electric boots and a mohair suit

the title is a quote from Elton John's Benny and the Jets which has been on permanent repeat since I saw this:

I adore the original song so much that I'm even feeling this rendition. I can't figure out if it's supposed to be a joke though.... I'm inclined to think so...? Biz Markie literally staked his claim in modern music history by sounding like he has permanent juice mouth (I was going to try to link to some definition of juice mouth in case it's not self explanatory but it seems to be a Number One original). If you're interested here's the mp3 from o-dub.

A lot of blogs I frequent have a regular feature for "new MySpace artists," or something to that effect, where they basically hype up the next Mariah or Jay-Z or whoever they "discovered" on MySpace. 9 out of 10 times these selections are terrible, however once in a blue moon they're legit. Once you hear that rare, raw, extraordinary talent that has been left largely untouched (and therefore untainted) by the business it makes the search completely worth it.

Case in point: Anthony David via SoulBounce. New to me, but he apparently has a previous album, "3 Chords & the Truth," and recently signed with India Arie's new label (yeah, who knew?), SoulBird Music. Dude is outstanding if you like that whole underground/quality neo-soul/vocals that send your soul flying thing. I spent several hours with his MySpace playing in the background - "Lady" and "Part of My Life Live" (which turns into Guy's "I Like"-- whatchu know bout it?) in particular. "Words" is nice too and features India Arie. What got me initially is his cover of Estelle's "American Boy" which is catchy but not the best display of his talent. What a smart way to hook people though! My faithful readers (all 2 of y'all) know I gets busy - pause - with Estelle and especially that song. It's just infectious -- as soon as the beat drops my arms instinctively are wildly thrown in the air older-drunken-relative-at-the-family-reunion style. Gotta love it.

2nd MySpace page I support (yet another SoulBounce feature): Karina Pasian. 16 @ War is the single that's being pushed (which is alright) but her youtubes on the page and other featured songs show she has a nice little voice going for her. Hopefully she won't get sucked in with some music execs that churn out another bubblegum pop record and she'll be able to showcase the fact that she's cute and can hit the notes.

This marks the end of the good music endorsements part of the blog. Young Money Ent artist Tyga (your guess is as good as mine) has this song featuring Travis McCoy (of "Cupid's Chokehold" fame) called "Coconut Juice." This song/video represents all that is wrong with the music scene in 2008 and yet I found myself sitting through the video waiting to see if Travis was there for more than a cameo. Around 2:45 my wish came true and I hereby predict that this will become a club favorite.

...and does anyone care about Izza Kizza (Timbaland's latest artist) when you take the funny Family Guy clips away?

...and can we have a collective prayer that "The Wam" doesn't catch on?

Blu - G_l_o_r_y_u_s
Ross feat. Wayne, Fab, T-P_a_i_n & Red C_a_f_e - "The Boss (remix)"
C_o_o_l Kids - Oscar
Mimi feat. Robert Kelly - Touch My Body (remix)

shall we end with something of relative quality?

Did anyone else see the small child in the audience around 2:00 right before a string of cursing? Houston parenting is unparalleled in greatness (especially in the SW - Reliant area!).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

where every day is a struggle

UPDATE: NYT has a great article on rising food riots and the inability of millions to feed their families. Get familiar.

Also, check biocrime's photo stream for visual aids.

Okay so quick (ha) economic post. There is a lot - a LOT - of stuff going on in the world which, in isolation, could spell widespread suffering and disaster, but in conjunction with everything else may be something the world has never seen. Let me preface this diatribe by saying I'm taking some fairly advanced undergrad courses in development economics, international finance, and political and economic crises. It's a nice coincidence for all of my coursework to directly relate to what's going on in the world this semester and it's really helpful (and terrifying at times) to get perspectives on the events from distinguished professors. Pretty much everyone agrees this whole subprime mortgage - financial speculation - food/famine crisis - global warming combo could spell out enormous changes for our world order, financial/capital markets, and standards of living (especially for Americans).

I was just going to post about several points but this turned into a bit of a longer post so I'll just focus on ethanol and the rising food crisis for now - I think it's most pressing. We all know about global warming, the high cost of gas and oil (which just reached a new record of over $115/barrel), etc. There is a lot of talk about what we as Texans, as Americans, and as world citizens can do for the environment. How do we reverse the damage that we've done? There's a lot of hype about ethanol as an alternative fuel - how to harness ethanol to be used for cars, etc. America has put the biggest push behind corn ethanol but there is also sugar based and other starch based types (i.e. wheat) of production. In Brazil they've focused on sugar based ethanol and something like 50% of cars there can run on just ethanol. How many people do you know with ethanol run cars? The most widespread solution we've seen in the US is an ethanol-gas combination which is just going to be more popular as gas gets to be over $4/gallon...$ get the picture.

The US is finally pushing alternative fuel and they're pushing the wrong one. Why? Corn based ethanol requires a substantial portion of the US/world corn harvest to be earmarked directly for fuel uses. The US actually requires roughly 5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be used a year which amounts to a substantial amount of the US grain harvest (upwards of 20%). Supposedly the grains used would have been used for animal feed but as demand increases the amount of food going to fuel will only increase. Corn also requires a relatively high amount of energy to grow, irrigate, process, etc (especially when compared to sugar cane)-- Co-op America goes so far as to say 8 barrels of oil go into producing 7 barrels of ethanol but I'd be (mildly) surprised if that was completely correct.

Regardless, our reliance on alternative fuels in inherently tied to fossil fuels for production and transportation.
The main (?) issue is that the diversion of the corn crop (which is a major US export and goodness knows we need all the exports we can get right now) has already contributed to the enormous price increases in many food commodities, since prices of grains tend to move together,
especially corn and wheat. It probably won't hurt you much, depending on where you live, if corn increases 70% in six months or wheat up to 130%. Unfortunately not everyone in the world is blessed with such a long lag time from the harvest to the grocery store.

The Mexican diet, especially that of those in poverty, is
built around corn and corn tortillas as sources of protein and crucial calories. Food riots have already started breaking out there as well as in roughly 30 other countries over skyrocketing prices. Corn ethanol is not wholly at fault, there are contributing factors found from the government to the farm, but it's definitely making the situation worse and will only increase as American puts an even bigger push behind corn ethanol as the magical solution to all of our environmental and energy problems.

This food crisis is no small potatoes (pun intended - but seriously...). When people lose their shirt in the stock market it can lead to increased levels of suicide, heart attacks, etc. but basically that's not wide-spread. Hopefully if you're smart enough to play the game then you're smart enough to keep some change for a rainy day. I'm by no means saying we're not doomed for disaster with our financial situation -that's another post for another day- but if you can't feed your kids, then what? If it hits hard like it is for many 3rd world countries (where people were previously making it, although just barely) right now then that's it. It's literally fight or die.

I can't go three hours without snacking on something so I can't even wrap my mind around what widespread famine looks like. People are starving in America but it's largely unseen, and I'm talking in-your-face-everyone-around-you-your-children-crying hungry. If prices of food increase that much while your wages are the same then you're not going to make it where you were BARELY making it before. That's the type of situation these people are facing in Mexico, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti and more.
Google it.

Co-op America has more brief facts, although with a biased perspective.

Now I didn't have time to look up every fact and cite my sources but these are issues that I hold to be relevant and true so don't hold it against me if you read something else. The issue with our society today - living in height of the Information Age - is that there is SO much information that not anyone understands everything, how we're all connected, the interplay of the elements. That's one of the major questions with financial regulation: no one can tell what's legit and what's not because no one understands all of the super advanced financial derivative tools that have been exploded into the market.

"All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." --C.S. Lewis "Mere Christianity"

Saturday, April 12, 2008

all worth the wait in buried treasure

Latest video for Lupe - one of my favorite joints off The Cool. He's looking extremely dapper and it's a different feel from his other stuff. Plus the whole locomotive thing is hot (you gotta say locomotive when it looks all classy like that - you can't just say train, naw it's better than that). I like it.

p.s. Lupe recently came out and told MTV that "Hip Hop Saved My Life" was based on Slim Thug and also a kind of tribute to Bun B. When it first hit everyone thought they knew who it was inspired by. Let the speculation cease.

(last 2 from TSS)

TSS also had nice review of Estelle's Shine

Wayne - Lisa Marie

Kobe jumps over an Aston Martin? This video has been making its way around the web. Do YOU believe the hype?

This R.E.U.B. Remix of John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change" is nice. I love the song and I can relate to the message although waiting on something to happen probably isn't the message we should be sending out.

Yeah, I'll post more later. Lots of stuff happening in the real world but I'm exhausted from dancing with Redefined Dance Co in the Texas Revue. I'll get to it when I get to it. For the time being just don't throw all your money in the stock market.

kinda like W.E.B. DuBois meets Heavy D and the Boys

I had the extreme pleasure of seeing a Roots concert at 40 Acres Fest last weekend. The Roots put on a fantastic live show. They set the mold for what live shows should be like PLUS it was free! It took me a while to upload some of the files but I finally got around to it after a crazy week....

Here's "You Got Me" followed by links to some of the others and if you type in something like Roots/Forty Acres you'll find a ton more of the concert. Make sure you get their new album 4/29!

Roots - Mellow My Man

Roots/Go Get a Late Pass - Bob Dylan Masters of War cover

?uestlove on Drums/ Masters of War pt2

Masters of War pt 3

There was a good write up of the show and pics over @ Burnt Orange Juice

+ Alternate version of The Roots - Rising Down via The Rap Up
+ Another link to my favorite track thus far off of Rising Down: Rising Up feat. Chrisette Michele and Wale

and as a final comment, y'all know I love ?uestlove (and he delivered like I knew he would) but there are no words to describe the talent and hilarity that is Tuba Gooding Jr. We nearly lost our minds watching him play that sousaphone, you can't even understand without seeing it live. Number One and I decided it was the best concert we'd ever been to after seeing how they meshed, kept the crowd hype .... man you missed it!

Monday, April 7, 2008

NYT - Abandoned and Displaced in Kenya

"I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

mc baby sing it to me

Yes yes yes.

Mariah Carey recently surpassed Elvis with the most number one singles on the Billboard Top 100 chart with "Touch My Body" being number 18. I'm not a huge fan but hey whatever gets my girl to the top! Elvis' people are saying she tied but whatever. Next stop: The Beatles with 20. Letsgetit.

P.S. Congrats to Beyonce and Jay who reportedly get married Friday (04/04). Watch this is all an elaborate trick. But the numbers don't lie?

P.P.S. Want more Wale?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

fireworks at Lake Michigan

+original version feat. John Legend ("Home")

More Estelle.....

From 2dopeboyz:
You Are f. John Legend (prod. Tom Craskey)
Pretty Please (Love Me) f. Cee-Lo (prod. Jack Splash)

From Hip Hop is Read:
Shine (Prod. by Swizz Beatz)
Wait a Minute (Just a Touch) (Prod. by

From TSS:
Hi-Tek ft. Estelle – Life to Me

Go get Shine on April 29th!
Shhhhh. Or be quiet. Or shut your bloody trap. Shutting down quick so GO GO GO!

More singles....
L_e_o_n_a Lewis - Misses Glass
Dr. Dre Feat. Slick Rick, Eminem and Devin The Dude - Headrush (from Spine Magazine)
Luda - Stay Together
Bobby V feat. Wayne - Your Smile
Kidz In The Hall’s Feat. Bun B and Talib - Change (Work To Do) (Remix)
L_u_p_e feat. W_y_c_l_e_f - Fast Car Remix
M_a_r_i_a_h feat T Pain - Migrate

And as requested:

In the news (disclaimer: midterms week and the only news I've been following is what's in my Google Reader)....
  • Bey and Jay may (or may not) have gotten a marriage license which would mean they'd marry in the next 60 days. Rumors fly daily about them getting married but people seem to think this is more credible than usual. Love me some Bey and Jay. And their mini-couple Rihanna and Chris.
  • If you thought our 2004 election was contested just wait. Zimbabwe is in an uproar because they just had a presidential election and nobody knows who won yet so everything is suspended over there because that's all anyone cares about. Zimbabwe used to be on the up-and-up as far as African nations go but recently inflation has literally soared and unemployment has reached 80% (and we're worried about more than 5%!). Mugabe has been president since 1987 so everyone blames him which is why the opposition party right now is basically screaming from the mountaintops that they won. They say he's a dictator and was rigging the election by doing things like passing out new cars to government doctors. Hey, what you call rigging I call good politics. I'm just kidding, this isn't funny. You can read more about it here and here. It probably won't have a huge impact on anything you're doing in your life right now, especially with our own economic issues, but it might be relevant at some point. 80% unemployment is astounding. If you really care read this article about Zimbabwe's inflation. $417 for a single sheet of 2-ply toilet paper in 2006!