Monday, June 29, 2015

Classic Corner: Such a Fiasco (Part 1)

Never one to to bite his tongue when it comes to social issues, rapper Wasalu  Muhammad Jaco, better known as Lupe Fiasco, decided to write a letter to the personification of white supremacy in response to the  act of domestic terrorism that took the lives of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina. I have decided to present his letter, in its' entirety, for all to view, digest and discuss. Next week, I will express my personal opinions on Mr. Fiasco's feelings. Until then, please stay reminded that Black Lives do Matter!

Dear White Supremacy,

First of all you are not really that supreme. While throughout history White Supremacy it must be admitted you have achieved some very dominant positions. These positions have been gained mostly through force or some biological agent such as disease that did a lot of the dirty work for you in advance. I mean anybody can use force on an unarmed populous and anybody can have smallpox. Not judging, just wanted to point out that having a disease that native folks aren't immune to because they've never seen it doesn't make you strategically smart or tactically superior, just kind of sick. And these dominant positions don't really stand up to the test of time that long either. There is nothing about you biologically or physically that denotes an innate mode of supremacy. For that matter there is also nothing about you psychologically, philosophically, cognitively, academically, socially, architecturally, culturally or even financially that signifies a higher position above any other group. And to be diplomatic there is nothing about you that denotes innate inferiority as well. So what you really are is something in the middle. You are regular. White Regularity is congruent to all other forms of regularity i.e. Black, Brown, Etc etc. But in regularity there is room for differences and this is where White Regularity shines! Each group gets the same essential universals. Dance, food, music, etc. and it must be admitted that the White Regularity take on these universal institutions has been unbelievably impressive and a great addition to the total world culture. I mean spaghetti and meatballs, Romeo & Juliet, Coldplay, The Tuxedo, lighter that air travel are all world class additions to the collective bucket but they are no less or more impressive than every other regular groups take on the universals either. And if we really wanted to get analytical every invention is built on inspiration from a previously existing invention so the claim of "The Supreme 1st" to do something is highly debatable and except for a few exceptions, impossible! All things human aren't born from a supreme overlord solely working in isolation.

Things are created in collaboration and in tandem with other cultures, knowledge structures and movements and more important, People. I mean if those Muslims didn't catalog all that Greek philosophy for research we might not even know who Plato was. Now whether this collaboration is forced, which is seen so much but not exclusively throughout human history, does not take away the fact that it is done with the help of somebody else. We are supreme as a spectrum of colors in collaboration. One color does not dominate the other nor can it. Sure Steve Jobs was white. But the guy who built the computer was probably Chinese. And the girl who wrote the programs for the computer is probably from Mumbai. And the raw materials that were used to make it where probably first pulled out of the ground by somebody in South Africa. And if you take this highly collaborated upon piece of high technology to an indigenous tribe in the jungles of Brazil they'd probably use it as a boat paddle. And we can go on and on down or up the rabbit hole all day long and you'll always find a regular somebody relying on the abilities of a just as regular somebody else that another regular somebody doesn't even care about. White Supremacy is a lie white regularists tell to themselves in hopes that they can get a one way ticket to the top and hope we other colors overhear it. Here's the bad news, ain't no top. Here's the good news though, ain't no bottom neither! It's just the regular ole middle where nobody is safe from being influenced by somebody else's extreme regularness. Is your swastika flag printed in Mexico? Did you know the swastika is originally from Asia and the subcontinent? Did you know black people had slaves in Africa too? Did you know in the world your considered a minority too? I mean you call us niggers and beaners but you gotta ship all your formerly Native American land, backwood sourced ginseng to China to get money to support your meth habit. Meth that's made with chemicals produced in India. I mean Hitler hated everything about the Jews expect every possession they had. It's funny how the things you hate so much you have to rely on the most for your survival.

And if you wanted to get really ironic and meta about it, White Supremacy has to validate it's own identity based solely on its relationship to other races! I mean now that's what I would call joined at the hip. Without us there is no white supremacy because there would be nothing to be supreme over! That sounds so stupid but sometimes the truth is stupid. Stupid like a fox. And no not stupid like a Fox News I mean the real fox. The animal. In closing white regularity (the race formerly know as white supremacy) I myself on behalf of my own black regularity salute you. Good luck with the northwest front I hear it's beautiful in the spring and probably a strategic death trap if and when Yellowstone finally decides to blow up! 
Yours Truly

Wasalu "Lupe" Jaco

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Retro Corner: The Day The Music Died

1971 marked the year that acclaimed song writer and performer Don Mclean released his highly regarded song “American Pie”. At the ending of each verse, filled with ambiguous pop references whose meanings have been debated since its creation, Mclean somberly refers to "The Day the Music Died". This reference describes the tragic plane crash that took the lives of the immensely popular rock roll artist Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper J.P. Richardson on February 3, 1959. Being that I was not even a mere twinkle in my mother's figurative eye, I could not witness firsthand the ramifications it had on pop culture. Little did I know that on June 25th 2008, I would soon experience such loss and despair.

I was returning home from viewing a mind numbing hodgepodge of a poorly developed characters, sophomoric dialogue and illiterate, jive talking robots in what some people call “Transformers 2: Revenge of The Fallen”. I simply will refer to it as "Man, that seven dollars plus gas could’ve gone a long way in this recession." Anyway, I turned on my radio only to be pleasantly surprised by the rhythmic sounds of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T”. After I shouted the exclamatory chant of "Aw Shucks", I proceeded to do my best set of dance moves that I had been practicing since the age of four whenever a MJ track would play. 

Immediately following that song, another in it’s’ place followed, then another and another. While I was definitely enjoying the Michael medley, an ominous feeling began to come over me. "Why are they playing all of these MJ tracks?" I sheepishly asked myself. When I decided to change the radio station, Thriller was already on its’ third verse.The once glee filled nostalgic trip down rhythm review lane begun to turn into a constricted dead end street. So I turned the station, all the while privately coaxing myself into believing that this is just publicity for his alleged “comeback” tour. When “Man in the Mirror” begun to play however, my ominous vibes were now coupled with eerie provocations topped with a spark of denial. "No, no! Nothing has happened to Mike,” A message that begin to drown out the melody of the introspective track. However, when the song had concluded the VJ sighed and preceded to utter words I thought I would never hear, “Michael Joseph Jackson has passed away.” The words that followed were nothing more than jumbled, white noise. I sunk into my seat and begin to swerve, speeding as if I was trying to out pace the announcement. With each frantic turn of the radio dial, I vehemently searched for some sort of relief, revealing that this was a hoax or more of the media conspiring against my favorite artist.

I became stationary in the parking lot of my grandmother’s apartment complex. As I walked up her stairs, with every heavy step bringing me closer to the burden of proof, I could hear my grandmother confirm the news. I began to quiver and told my "Nanny" that I had to go. When I got back into my vehicle, I began to unabashedly weep. At first, I was upset with myself. I would always mock those who could cry profusely over the death of a celebrity. What great emotional connection could you possible possess with someone that nine times out of ten you have never encountered? For the next three days that answer became more apparent as I was trapped in an undeniable state of melancholy and mourning. I would steal away into corners so no one could see my grief, nevertheless it was quite apparent. In no way could I register that Superman had passed. 

I have never known a world with out Michael in it. My earliest memories of music are embedded with his presence. My living room floor would transform into any given stage as I attempted to glide with an awkward precision that could only be alleviated if Michal was tutoring me himself. Sure I got teased by my other cousins, who were fully enamored with New Jack swing acts such as Guy and Keith Sweat, but Mike would always be the man in my book. 
For the past four days, I submerged myself into his music, connecting songs with postcard memories, weather I was arguing with my classmates in kindergarten about his musical relevance, asking advice from my friend Pedro about how I could pull off a show stopping rendition of “ Man in the Mirror” with assistance from our choir in the sixth grade (sparkles and all), exchanging verses from the Girl is Mine with my high school girlfriend, current confidant, into the wee hours of the twilight while reading her yearbook inscription quoting the Jackson 5’s “All I do is Think of You”, purchasing “Off The Wall” as my first ringtone or strenuously practicing Michael and Janet's'' Scream” routine in a dorm room, that lacked air-conditioning mind you, to entertain the incoming class of 2003 in one of the best summers of my life, Mike's music, which has been said by so many already, was the soundtrack of my life. 

But Mike meant much more to me than just an audio cue for memories. Someone asked me, “How can you aspire or relate to someone like Michael Jackson?” I replied, “How could I not?” Michael rose from the confinement of urban decay and transformed himself into a transcendent entity that would touch billions of lives. But on a more personal level, I empathized with Michael’s struggles, whether it was dealing with and breaking the confines of stringent, barnacle like religious ideologies, feelings of inadequacy due to a battered self esteem fueled by an unhealthy desire to achieve perfection and acceptance, or the strain of artistic endeavors that are not quite understood by your contemporaries. I related to Michael so much so that my moniker and current stage name D.S is taken from track six disc two off his album “History Past, Present and Future Book 1.”So I not only lost my favorite artist, I lost a kindred spirit.

The biased media will do everything in its' power to tarnish someone who they could not control. Whether it includes ignoring his business savvy, glossing over his immense charitable works or misconstruing his attempts to discover a lost childhood, one only needs to look at history and the efforts of this hierarchy to discredit one who is an anachronism, so advanced that it seems that he did not belong in this time. Did he engage in behavior they may have been interrupted as questionable? Perhaps. Was it ever proven that he engaged in heinous acts of child exploitation? Absolutely not! In no way am I exonerating the vile act of child molestation, but in my heart of hearts I have always found it difficult to believe that such allegations were true. Yet, despite the treacherous, unfounded claims heaved in his direction, not once did he retaliate with maliciousness.

To those who harbor resentment towards this man for allegedly “turning his back on his people” ,I implore you to read the article entitled “The Source Remembers Micheal Jackson: The Humanitarian “found on the Source Magazine’s official website.* Michael has donated millions of dollars and time to such organizations as The United Negro College Fund, Watts Summer Festival, Transafrica, NAACP, Minority Aids Project, and the Congressional Black Caucus. When others turned a blind eye to the devastation and decay occurring in Africa, Michael gathered over forty artists from all genres of music and created the USA for Africa coalition. Through the song “We Are the World” USA for Africa would go on to raise over 100 million dollars for Africans suffering famine and disease. 
Beyond his financial philanthropy, one should also consider the social messages, be it blatant or subtle in context, that Michael brought to the forefront. He depicted Egyptian royalty as dark skinned beings in his “Remember the Time” video, spoke of the racial injustices in “They Don't Care About Us”, tenderly described his love for his African object of affection in "Liberian Girl", proudly displayed the athletic ability of urban children in his video for “Jam” and courageously shouted” I aint scared of no sheets" in “Black and White”. Mike has always been an advocate for issues that affect individuals in the Africa Diaspora. Perhaps it was we that turned our collective backs on him.

My dear Michael, you can now rest. For forty five years you have endured under constant and public scrutiny. I can not imagine the courage and strength it took to sustain under such immense pressure brought upon all that surrounded you. No more do you have to suffer attacks from the soulless hate mongers whose decency and love has been sacrificed for sensationalism and profit. No more do you have to withstand against the unimaginative quips of tasteless comedians and anemic artist. No longer do you have to yearn for a father because you now have countless patriarchs and matriarchs along with a host of sisters, brothers and children who will cherish you eternally. You are our hero, brother, friend, and artistic inspiration. In your song “Childhood”, you meekly pleaded, “Before you judge me. Try hard to love me." Believe me; loving you is something that is not hard to do at all… at all.

Mile's Rendition of Human Nature patiently plays
As the words become escape artist from a captive disbelief
I read the headlines until they were in arms reach
Trying to grasp what had been announced. ...
The sunken feeling delivered by the anchor
You had gone,leaving footprints on the moon
That we all tried to follow in our space
I looked away, stiffen lip as if my masculinity depended on it
But This tin Man Could Not Return What Oz never Gave Him
Rusted Emotions screeched as they had never been moved
like this before...
You were taking too soon, but later still would have been
too early.... (D.S Williams)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reel Talk- Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Synopsis: Concert footage, concept videos and a career retrospective make up this cinema menagerie of Michael Jackson

Review:  Michael Jackson's Moonwalker is a surreal journey through the idiosyncratic mind of one of the most ingenious yet misunderstood artist of any time. You'll also be treated to claymation,  a pre Goodfellas Joe Pesci and MJ transforming into a car...well , I did tell you it was surreal!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Take 5: Unreleased Songs (The MJ Edition)

5.Satisfy You (Featuring Bryan Loren): MJ originally wrote this song for himself but decided to give it to frequent collaborator Bryan Loren. Bryan does a wonderful job supplying the bulk of the vocals, but MJ's presence on the chorus and background  makes this ballad complete!

4. She's Got It: I know my fellow MJ fans would hate to hear me say this, but this track sounds very similar to something  Prince would have released during his time with the New Power Generation. Don't believe me, Well, I'll let you be the judge...

3.Hot Street: It's amazing that most of Mike's throwaway tracks would be considered standout songs on the projects of other artist..

(Since I am the greatest artist of my time, 
why would I not make an appearance on an entry 
about the greatest artist of his time?)

Anyway, Hot Street, originally known as "Slapstick"...thank God he didn't keep that title, was suppose to be on a little known album entitled might have heard of it! With it's up tempo pace, and synth heavy vibe, it would have fit right at home with the likes of Beat It and P.Y.T.

2.Serious Effect (Featuring LL Cool J):Left on the cutting room floor during the Dangerous era, Serious Effect has MJ aggressively fawning over a mysterious woman. In true MJ fashion, some of the lyrics are quite hard to make out due to his signature tone, but a guest verse from Mr. Ladies Love Cool James himself adds some clarity to MJ's intentions,which are quite serious indeed!

1.On The Line: MJ has always had a knack for inspirational tracks, and they don't come more inspired than the opening song for Spike Lee's 1996 film Get on The Bus. For some odd reason, this song was not featured on the soundtrack or any other subsequent project. Luckily, this gem lives on in the realm of the internet and with today's current affairs, tracks such as these are needed more than ever!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Corner Spotlight: Daley- Look Up

I am a bit uncertain if this song made its' way around  the radio stations, I for one don't listen to mainstream radio that often, but if it didn't, then you are in for quite the treat today! Sit back and enjoy this birth of cool selection that would be the perfect backdrop for unwrapping that ribbon in the sky!

[Verse 1]
I know, I know, I know
That you're not happy here
You don't need to say it
It shows, it shows, it shows
It's all over your face
You can't erase it, no

I wish that we could face
The things that hold us back
Before we fade to black
Instead we choose to chase
The things we know won't last
There's so much we lack
But something keeps me hanging on
Yeah some feelings they never go, so

Look up...
And if the stars should fall from the sky
I will put them all back in time
So you know that when they shine
They shine for you
Oh oh, yes they do, they do

[Verse 2]
Those words that we don't say
They make the biggest sounds
They call us out, yeah
Cause there are quiet truths and pains
And we both feel them now
But still we love somehow



Believe me
I love you in my way
Ooh, what more can I say?
It's constant as the stars
Although we're lost in space
So if separate ways we go
I hope somehow you'll know
Whatever circumstance
You will be in my soul
In my soul


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reel Talk: Dope

Synopsis : Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who's surviving life in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure. 

Review: Like it's central character, Dope is indeed a complex movie. On one hand, it manages to add some fresh and inventive ideas, mainly the advent of social media, to the typical "coming of age" motif while still appealing to  movie goers who wish to hang their hats on nostalgia. However, the movie becomes problematic and a bit jarring due to the pervasive use of the "N Word". It is unclear if the director is intending to replicate modern, urban dialogue, or advocate its' use to reclaim and redefine its' impact. Whatever the reasoning, the script prevents it from truly leaving me in my B-boy stance! (B+)

-Dope hits theaters on June 19th

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Classic Corner: No Laughing Matter


Like many others, I was shocked to hear the news of Robin Williams' passing. He played an invaluable role in my childhood. Be it his fantastic portrayal as Genie in Aladdin, the raucous cross dressing father, who was willing to do anything to be with his children, in Mrs. Doubtfire or the re-imagined boy who never grew up in Hook, Robin put many smiles on my adolescent face. Of course, many of us were aware of his past struggles with alcohol and drugs and presumptuously assumed that those vices were the cause of his unfortunate and untimely death. However, when it was revealed that suicide was the culprit, due to depression, we all were  in disbelief. How could the funniest man in America possibly be depressed? This guy had fame, fortune, a loving family etc, etc, etc. So many questions  yet very little answers. In fact, that  seems to be the calling card of the illness known as depression. Robin's death sparked conversation on a host of topics, but it undoubtedly brought the subject of "depression" front and center and into living rooms across the world

Despite advancements of medications and  discussions dealing with the illness, depression still remains a mystery due to its' complex nature. And when it comes to the unknown, misconceptions and misnomers can reign supreme. So I would first like to take some time to debunk some of myths associated with this condition:

*People who suffer from depression are just craving attention:
I always find this one to be quite humorous due to the fact that one  of the most common symptoms of depression is withdrawal. Many individuals who suffer from this disease prefer to be  isolated. Some feel that they will be ridiculed or ostracized for expressing themselves. Others determine that they are strong enough to battle or cure themselves. Then there are some who wish not to be a burden to their loved ones. Whatever the reason, those who suffer from depression usually don't use it as a tool to garner special "attention".

*People who are depressed are simply "sad".
Although sadness may be a prominent, emotional symptom of depression, it is not the only negative feeling that sufferers endure: Frustration, aggression, irritability, anxiety and even
stoicism (the state of not feeling emotion at all) are all  stages that an individual can experience.

*Depressed individuals are sensitive and weak willed.
Depression is an illness that not only affects a person's emotions, but often times can negatively affect a person's mental and social state. Therefore, depression can be classified as a biological  plight! When someone has a cold or the flu, we don't label that person as being weak because they have contracted the illness. Depression should be viewed in the same manner. This is not a situational condition that individuals choose to have due to self-pity! Some of the strongest and most talented people, who have left lasting impressions, have battled this scourge!

The issue of depression becomes even more compounded when you add gender and race in the equation. The stereotypical, westernized  depiction of the  alpha"male" is one who is strong and impervious to pain (especially of the emotional sort). So if a man is depressed, it may be very difficult for him to express his feelings with out being stigmatized. This is not to say that females do not equally suffer with such reservations when dealing with these issues, but some males may refuse to seek help because their masculinity would come into question, therefore exacerbating the issue.

The world of mental illness is still one that is approached with  much trepidation in the African American community. Oftentimes, individuals who suffer from such maladies may be characterized as "crazy" or, even worst, not in God's favor due to the fact that faith and prayer could  not alleviate them of their "issues". Prayer can be a powerful force in dealing with  such problems.  However, not everyone subscribes to the same spiritual practices. And even if prayer is a tool that  the sufferer decides to utilize , it should not be the only method  used in combating this menace. Furthermore, in some sectors of the African American community, an ardent distrust of health care practitioners exists, thus preventing many people from receiving proper medical care. This may be due in part of the fear of medication , specifically its' side effects,  the possibility of dependency or  premature death. Whatever the reasoning, such a belief system does more harm than good in the long run.

Depression is such an expansive subject. Therefore, my intentions were not to create an "All in one guide".Rather, I wanted to give  a snapshot of this pervasive issue and spark dialogue. There is a bevy of reading materials, videos, and other resources that are readily available to aid in the understanding, treating, and ultimately,   the overcoming  of this sickness. To those who are suffering, if no one else has told you this, let me be one of the ones to do so: you are not weak, emotional, being punished, abnormal or worthless! On the contrary, you are strong, you are bright, you are gifted and you do matter! .Most importantly, you can  and  deserve to be happy ! There are ones who may not be able to fully understand what you are experiencing, being that we are all created differently, but can somewhat empathize with your pain and who are willing and eager to help you. Drag that anchor, one step or crawl at a time, reach out, and allow them to do so! To those who may live or know of someone who suffers from depression, continue to to be their support, exercise patience, avoid ridicule or patronization and educate yourself on their condition. These steps will enable you to help them best. -CN

Our words may be smeared..and our articles are tattered
The body of  our works coming off as being fractured
While language can be off..And the diction sounds broken
Where pennies for  our thoughts looses value when they're spoken
But what they have here,  it can never be enough..
To dishevel all of those who are diamonds in the rough
As we shine from heavens to  illuminates the hell
That we suffer on this plane..where the aviators failed.
A snail's pace, still equates to progress

-DS (K.O.S)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Corner Spotlight: Heartless Bastards - Only For You

I have always been leery of  live, comic book adaptions made  specifically for television because personally, they all have been subpar. (Yes, even Smallville! Sorry WB enthusiast). So I was not  thrilled at all  when one of my favorite heroes, Daredevil, was skipping redemption on the silver screen and being adapted into a  original, Netflix series. To my surprise, the show turned out to be very good! I was even able to come across this ethereal, garage rock ballad by the Heartless Bastards. They may be heartless, but this echoing tune surely doesn't lack soul! Bruh, that guitar solo!


Been a while since I felt this way about someone,
I'd really really like to know you, more,
Oh oh, know you, more

Oh, your eyes, they sing a song to me,
I'd really really like to go to it, oh, go, oh

And I will oh, open my heart 

And I will oh, only for you


All your lies are spinning round my head

And all, all this line of sorrow, ooh, yeah ooooh, yeah
All your lies are spinning round my head
And all, all this line of sorrow, ooh, yeah ooooh

And I will, I I ohh, ohh
And I will, oh, only for you

And I just don't know what to do, 

My head has such a cloudy view,
I'm so tired, of trying, ooh ooh ooh
And I just don't know what to do, 

My head has such a cloudy view,
I'm so tired, of trying, ooh ooh ooh


All your lies are spinning round my head
And all, all this line of sorrow, ooh, yeah ooooh ooh, yeah
All your lies are spinning round my head

And all, all this line of sorrow, ooh, yeah ooooh, ooh

And I will open my heart
And I will oh, only for you

(Guitar Solo Till End)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Corner Spotlight: Lenny Williams- Look Up With Your Mind

Happy Tuesday folks! Take time to enjoy this upbeat, throwback tune that reminds us that potential is limitless.Because,"When you look up with your mind, you see higherrrrrrrr!" That's right, I just hit that note! Why you mad?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reel Talk: Mad Max : Fury Road

Synopsis: Re-telling or continuation of a lone nomad, set  to make things right, in a post-apocalyptic future under tyrannical rule.

Review: The kinetic absurdity of Mad Max Fury Road is indeed the epitome of summer, blockbuster excess and although it is refreshing to get a break from product placement and meta dialogue, you still may have to write your senses an apology  due to the assault they will undergo upon viewing this film. (B-)