Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Billy Cobham, “Crosswinds.”

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” - Errol Flynn

L-R: me, Billy, me.
Head tilt, my dude. HEAD TILT.

Name: Billy Cobham, Crosswinds (Atlantic, 1974).

Is this title acceptable? Yes. Aviationally speaking, “crosswinds” are those that blow at an angle, um, across the intended line of flight of an aircraft, the course of a ship, or anything in motion that needs wind behind its back. Crosswinds blowing across the runway make plane landings and takeoffs more difficult than if the wind were blowing straight down the runway. It's a metaphor for being a jazz drummer/composer/arranger, you see. Musicians always think of dope and meaningful album titles (with the exception of Maybach Music, which is stupid).

Global events at the time of its release: Taking it back to '74, epic epic sexy songs on the charts included George McCrae's “Rock Your Baby” (!) and William DeVaughn's “Be Thankful for What You've Got” (!!). The Raiders' record was 12-2 (the NFL season was only 14 games). Shaw Brothers movies were on the teevee, sloppily dubbed and getting the blood flowing inside a whole generation of boys who'd grow up to be rappers. Big L was born. Dilla was born. Derek Fisher was born (FISH!). Kareem was playing for the Bucks and that was a big time-waster, just a stop along the way in his career--a prelude to his destined greatness in LA. Everyone wanted to see Raquel Welch naked. The Ramones got together. The Rumble in the Jungle between Ali and Foreman took place, which was just an excuse to fly the whole Fania crew and Bill Withers and James Brown to Kinshasa to do a concert (Zaire 74). I am almost positive there were lots of songs by lots of singers during the show, but the VOICE OF LAVOE drowned all of them out, as it was at its strongest and clearest and Lavoe was convinced he had the strength to shake off the heroin devil and if you were backed by Marrero on timbales in front of a euphoric crowd, you'd probably feel invincible too.

Produced by: Mr. Cobham himself.

Entered my life: August 2010. Grady's Record Refuge, in lovely Ventura, CA. $5. Five dollars, knucklehead. Five! HA HA. I rule. This record is simply unavailable in Los Angeles County; I know, as I have tried to locate it for several years with great lack of success. YEARS. Luckily, in Ventura, I am the only person who's been looking for it since nobody's a digger there. Everyone's either surfing or shopping at antique stores downtown.

Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): Please refer to the previous paragraph. In Ventura, it's a 2.4. In LA, it's a 10. Once again, LA-area dusty-fingered crate-digging boys who are my competition for good finds: HA HA.

Breaks contained: “Heather” is used in Big K.R.I.T.'s “Somedayz” but it's more well-known for providing the sparkly intro for “'93 Til Infinity” when Tajai is talking and introducing his buddies (We hailin from East Oakland, California, andummm...). “Crosswind was used in Gangstarr's “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” which is not Guru's finest lyrical moment but that bassline makes up for all his shortcomings. Plus it sounds so much like Ripple's I Don't Know What it is, But It Sure is Funky,” it would blend beautifully into Special Ed's “I Got it Made.” Email me if you want me to shut up about imaginary blends, and/or if you want me to draw you a diagram about imaginary blends.

Regarding the Souls who hail from East Oakland, indulge me for a second while I discuss. The whole “greenbacks in stacks” stanza is a great example of rhythmic wordplay, and “If you're really dope why ain't you signed yet?” is one of history's great devastating lines and feelings-hurters, a straight, painful shot right into the hearts of so many independently-minded rappers. Today's version would be “If you're really dope why don't you call out rappers who keep asking Ricky Rawss to hop on their tracks.” The best, though, has to be “So many females/So much inspiration,” a truth about life that packs so much meaning into 6 little words and makes you nod in agreement, even if you're a straight girl like me. It works in 2 ways: a) I find it flattering—because perhaps, as a female, I have provided or could hope to provide inspiration to a young man who may or may not be a rap professional; b) I find it to be the god's honest truth—females are inspiring, fuckin A, let's face it. Even if I weren't one, I'd mean that. Examples that immediately come to mind are Raquel Welch, all those street fashion sites with ladies who are naturally stylish (unlike myself), and Lara Stone's impossible face/hair/body/swagger.

Reason for this post on today of all days: 93 'Til Infinity came out 16 years ago this very day! Aw, that's sweet. Rap anniversaries are only going to become more frequent and more poignant as I get older. I'm especially looking forward to 2034, when I'll be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Mm…Food.

Facts of nerdy interest that excite me and might show up on Jeopardy! someday: Billy Cobham es panameño! I didn't know that; did you? This is because “Cobham” does not strike me as Panamanian-sounding, but then, Bernie Williams is Puerto Rican despite being named “Bernie Williams.” So, sure, Billy is of Panamanian descent - just like Ruben Blades, who started writing songs while working in the mailroom at Fania Records. Cobham was also in Jazz is Dead, a Grateful Dead cover band made up of jazz musicians. I tell you, this man is perfect in every way.

Sartorial accompaniment: shorts, tank, fabulous Wu pendant that protects me from all enemies like it's '93, and sandals, because it is approximately 157 degrees outside today. This whole outfit cost me $23. Buying clothes is not my thing; buying records is. Gross habits/net income, people.

Suitable activities while listening: Call up Bridget (she got friends). Think about Guru and get flooded with memories. Take a look in the mirror and wonder if you've gone a little bit too red with the highlights (as it turns out: no, it's just the peachy color of the tank top brings out the ginger in a girl's hair). Prepare to get street harassed upon stepping out the front door in that outfit (the flesh-exposing shorts! the flesh-exposing shirt!); really get that psychological guard up. Peruse pictures of the various Fashion Weeks and fantasize about the chocolate-brown Pucci number with not enough breast coverage paired with lace-up footwear that's perfect to add to my “Stripper librarian goes to Coachella” closet.

Life lessons, important messages contained:

- The whole album is just over a half hour long. That's the way to do it. Those of us afflicted with musical ADD appreciate it. Coincidentally or maybe not so coincidentally, Ramones was recorded the following year and is just under a half hour long. Obviously Joey and Dee Dee and the gang were influenced by Billy's fusion jazz.

Best YouTube comment: I listen to this tune at the great antiquity, and remain very much in the impression. And, I am glad to listen to this tune now. Thank you. I couldn't have put it better myself, sdpragit. Honorable mention goes to Dinso11's "really great song...it really make me relaxing."

Other notable things about today:

- The Kinks released “You Really Got Me” today in 1964. Dave Davies got his guitar to do those magical things by him cutting the speaker of his amp with a razor blade and poking pins into it.

- Dr. John and the Beastie Boys getting into any and all Halls of Fame is really great. Do we all no longer care about MCA's health, by the way?

- Maino + Joell's “Ask Me About Brooklyn” works because of that Morgan Heritage hook, despite it being a not very good song with verses full of references to individuals whose deaths will be avenged but whom I've never heard of.

- Freeway + Jake One's “Beautiful Music” works because Jake One exists and decided to go into music as a career. Freeway still has that dirty-lookin beard and that fatigue in his voice, but those are good things to me. I don't care for a pretty rapper. Those factors make up for the fact that the opening verse in which Freeway talks about himself like an actual freeway (“They said the freeway closin'/they said they saw the signs/but we done construction in preparation/we back open”). Groan. Sloppy songwriting.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eyes up here, buddy.

Whether a man is drawn to a woman's body or her face may depend on whether he sees her as a short-term fling or a long-term lover - LiveScience.

Men considering just a fling with a woman were more likely to peek at a picture of her body than men who were thinking about a long-term relationship, research found. The guys considering a long-term relationship showed a preference for looking at her face.

The findings may reflect men's evolutionary drives... Men who want a fling may be subconsciously looking to a woman's waistline to judge the woman's current fertility. Men looking for long-term partners, on the other hand, may be more interested in her face for clues of reproductive potential in the future.

Otis Ray Redding, jr. covering Samuel Cooke - “You Send Me.”
I don't want to hear your version of “B.M.F.” that you just put on YouTube, and I don't want to discuss Kolb v. Vick in Philly. I just want you to play this, darling. It's OK if you look down there more than up here, but only while this song is on.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Please tell me how I feel about this.

The Roots and Q-Tip doing “Straight Outta Compton,” via RapRadar.

The god Ruscha said, “Good art should elicit a response of ‘Huh? Wow!’ as opposed to ‘Wow! Huh?’.” See, the problem is that I do not know which one is being elicited here, Ed. I simply do not know.

How do I feel about this? Is it shockingly good? Is it awkward and terrible? Feelings are colliding in my soft little rapfan heart. Please help me sort through the emotional wreckage.

I love it!:

- Classic song. It makes me want to do inappropriate things with Dre's Akai. I mean, I'd really like to be hugged up with that thing in a dark corner. Then I'd like to stop for some coffee and have a cop ask me for my number, and say Sure!, and write it down but then slowly rip it up in front of him and his dumb cop face, then laugh haughtily as I stroll away like an ice queen. HA HA, officer. 5 points.

- It's melodic and mad, and it owns its duality. It's fun to sing along with, it's catchy. But wait, how can that be when it's so oddly industrial-sounding and impersonal? WOW. These gentlemen are really waving that around and throwing it in your face--here's a murder rap to keep y'all dancin. Anyone but Biebs or the Free Credit Score guys could do it and it would still sound amazing and have that energy to hypnotize and convince you to pull, I don't know, some kind of jack move. The D.O.C. co-wrote it; MC Ren co-co-wrote it. Both are tragically, painfully underrated. 4 points.

- A villain with a hat, and it's like that
I tied yo' moms to a motherfuckin train track

Flat on her back, I give her some crack


3 points, just by association.

- A bunch of rap-celeb east coasters know all the words! Everyone probably knows all the words, but c'mon. I come from a time when stupid geographic allegiances really meant something, and masculine bravado based on ZIP code was the popular thing, so these guys being familiar with the lyrics of men from a whole other coast is impressive. (I must own up to my bias here and remind you all that Ice Cube getting his songs covered by other rappers or even referred to by other rappers is a great thing to me--just today, in fact, there was Curren$y saying I think I'm Doughboy on my front porch/'63 Impala in my driveway, Saints gold.) Wow! 5 points.

On the other hand:

- It's so weird that it's these 2 guys doing it. Stylistically, they're just trying to keep up, and lyrically, the words coming out of their mouths coupled with their curated personae are comically mismatched. That's no disrespect to them as performers, since Ice Cube trying to get loose on “Electric Relaxation” would be equally weird. Ha, can you imagine? Still: -2 points, based for the most part on the cringe-inducing moments when the Abstract does that corny pantomine during the mix 'em in a pot like gumbo part, and when he actually says the words Here's a murder rap to keep you dancin/with a crime record like Charles Manson/AK-47 is the tool/Don't make me act the motherfuckin fool. Aw Tip, that makes the kids on Linden Blvd cry. To be fair though, Cube was never that tough outside of his song lyrics either--he's just a better actor. Also, Black Thought saying dirty ass ho. a) HUH? b) Nope. -6 points.

- Jerry Heller is probably making money with every YouTube play. Royalties n shit. -2 points.

- There's a tuba on stage. -2 points.

- I didn't hear either of the gentlemen on stage with microphones say You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge, a song intro that wrestles all other song intros to the ground and makes 'em say uncle. It could be that the filmer just didn't catch that part; maybe Tip said it just before the cameras rolled. But I just don't have time to entertain “what if” scenarios. I don't have time. And what's that thing that the idiots on the Internet say? “Pics or it didn't happen”?
-4 points.

It's a draw. I could do the math but this decision was based more on intuition than anything a boring old equation could tell me. Any attempt at substantial analysis never stood a chance, as it was buried under regional alliances, my fondness for Black Thought's Yankees fitted, and my giant wish that the city were flooded with music like old NWA. So that's it. After a series of melodic/lyrical highs and corny stage-antic lows, Huh and Wow are about even.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Everything named Watts is wonderful and a thing of quality.

Life is wonderful, fly living rooms, brass brooms
Catch me in the city of Watts, dusted out with Doc Doom

- Ghostface, “Belt Holders”

Essentialism is ridiculous, I learned in Lit 101. Identities are always in flux, changing with the times. Nobody is bound by their socially-constructed religious or gender or skin-tone tribe; that's ridiculous! Just pulling this random example out of thin air: you can be a woman feminist with a master's degree who is also a part-time studio apartment swimsuit model; these are not opposing things. The notion of “false universalisms,” that there are attributes that all members of a particular group share, is dead. Canadian white women aged 18-24 are like this, and Black men who wear suits are like that; ridiculous. Really. All of that aside, the truest thing in apt. 15 today is that if a subject has Watts in its name, it is a wonderful, high-quality thing. Everything with Watts in its name is amazing! Everything.

(The exceptions, because of course there have to be some since blog posts never go as smoothly as you'd like, is former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts, and the Watts uprising of 1965. Neither of those things is wonderful, and neither did any good for anybody.)

Alan Watts, philosopher, radio host, friend of John Cage and Gary Snyder and other sensitive white men of whom my parents are fond. Known for his radio show, for making Buddhist tenets easily digestible by white kids In Search of Meaning (my parents, ca. 1974), and for such snippets of genius as “No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart,” and “Saints need sinners,” and, regarding the use of psychedelics, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.” Oh. Word.

Hating ass individuals come in droves with this guy, like they always do with popular people; Watts was often criticized by fellow Buddhists for not interpreting Buddhist texts accurately. Russell Simmons relieving himself in his solid gold toilet before he goes to yoga knows a little something about that. But how can you fault somebody for wanting to spread some kindness and free us all from the rotten cycle of samsara? Get a grip, people. Watts saw a basic human alienation among Westerners that he felt the need to soothe, and his radio broadcasts are quite pleasant to listen to. I think Watts did more good than harm, and his place on this list is well-earned.

Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. They're the reason this whole idea sprouted in my brain, and the first Watts-related thing I wrote on the list. Charles Wright got his start playing in clubs where ladies took their clothes off, which is so funny because, years later, this lady enjoys taking her clothes off to Charles Wright! I'm sad to say Express Yourself is the only record from Watts 103rd in my collection; the reissues aren't hard to find at Amoeba, so there hasn't been that panic I usually feel when I'm missing an endorphin-swirling funk classic among my records. I could go get In the Jungle, Babe tomorrow if I wanted to, and if I had any money left over, You're So Beautiful (with the superfine “What Can You Bring Me?”* that punks jumped up and got beat down to in '93). Express Yourself was released in 1970, but even in 2010 it hasn't lost its sweaty power. You put it on and Charles and his boys are still bumpin & grindin like a slow jam, and Cali is still where they put they mack down; gimme love.

The Echo Park Eagles are currently 0 and 1. Opening week (last Sunday) I dressed in a cozy sweater, loungey underpants, and socks to watch various football games you can see on basic cable, and waited for someone, my pretend boyfriend like Pharaohe Monch, to join me. Nobody came. Evidently you people hate a skinny girl who can make good baked chicken and who has 10,000 records and a backyard weed farm. So I hugged Charles Wright (in 12" form) and documented my ridiculous pouty face to show the Internet, my actual boyfriend. Nobody gets me like he does.

“I'm Aware.”



Michael Watts, producer, label owner, deuce chunk-er, Screwston work put-er in-er. Texans from his neighborhood swear he invented the chopped and screwed term; since I have no reason to dispute that, I'm posting it here like it's the truth. Back in '05, I thought I was real cute and funny when I wrote in my “Music” section on my MySpace page, “anything as long as it's chopped and screwed.” 5 years down the road, ain't shit changed; I still represent Swishahouse* (*2005-2006). Michael gets a place here mostly because of all the one-liners in “Still Tippin'” -

Boss Hog on candy
It takes grindin to be a king.
I got the Internet goin nuts.

Another thing I like about him is that instead of “5000 Watts,” his nickname could be “5 Kilowatts.”

Reggie Watts, 21st Century Schizoid Man. Included here because he's post-comedy, post-weird, has a nice thick head of hair, and is probably deeply depressed—everything I need in a man. He's the smartest guy in the room and I always tag along behind the smartest guy in the room, hoping he notices me. And everything in his act sounds like something out of a Doom song.

Wattstax, 1972 concert. Just...oh god, it's the most amazing thing, I can't believe I even have to describe it here. Go watch the movie, motherfucker. Rufus, Isaac, Carla, the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, and numerous others lift ev'ry voice and sing at the mighty Coliseum. And it only cost $1 to get in!

Sweat plus bass plus absorbing the crowd's collective high from Jesse Jackson's call-and-response means I surely would've gotten pregnant at this event. “In Watts, we have shifted from 'Burn, baby burn' to 'Learn, baby learn',” Jesse says, without a trace of corniness. Later, Rufus Thomas comes on stage to do “The Breakdown”; “Ain't I'm clean?” he rhetorically asks, 30 years ahead of Kanye's whole Dear audience, please tell me how great I am and how fucking fresh my Junya Watanabe dunks are act. WATCH IT, I said.

The Watts Towers, tall, spindly, metal/glass/mosaic/mesh/mortar/porcelain creatures rising from south Los Angeles concrete, built by immigrant hands. Simon Rodia was a construction worker from Italy who built the thing over the course of 33 years and called it Nuestro Pueblo--our town.”

(Rodia) constructed a dream-like complex of openwork towers . . . and encrusted them with a sparkling mosaic, composed mainly of what had once been refuse,” said Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker, in 1965. Like the architectural, tangible version of the Dust Brothers and Paul's Boutique, kids! Soon there'll be a skatepark there, too.

“Watts Riot,” Kam feat. Ice Cube. Fightin the police with my peers/With head & shoulders, and no more tears. Shampoo raps! Love some shampoo raps. DJ Pooh produced this in '93, and the place and time from which it came is clear when you hear that beat, so crowded and filled with sirens. Kam had that serious voice like a university professor, making everything sound important. Cornel West in a clean white tee and Chucks.

Do people in Brooklyn actually say “What it look like”? I've heard that in song but I just don't know. I can tell you that when Roger Troutman sings “In the cityyyy of good ol’ Watts,” like that’s something that locals say, he's just repeating what Ronnie Hudson sang in West Coast Poplock. Ronnie himself made that up. Good ol’ Watts. Nobody actually says that in LA. I mean, nobody used to say that; now they do. It's been added to our lexicon because it was stated over a catchy melody, like Inglewood always up to no good. I've heard people say these things. Such is the power of song.

Naomi Watts. Straight men, you've seen Mulholland Drive, right? That's what I thought! Hi, straight men! She's on the list because everyone, everyone loves a blonde fake lesbian. Additionally, she makes good film choices, and her man is Liev Schreiber, San Fran-raised offspring of superleftists and foxy tall artistic strong-facial-featured man of Judaic extraction. She and Liev do it in sweaty and intense fashion every night, I'm certain. For the revolution.

Honorable mention: the Watts Prophets. Semi-honorable mention: Charlie Watts (meh), drummer for the Rolling Stones. He's so very meh (I'm not really a Stones girl), although the first 10 seconds of “Paint It Black” succeeds in its goal of making me feel like I'm surfing in the great blue ocean while also pointing a rifle out of a helicopter above the jungles of Saigon.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't use the term “snitching” unless you really mean it.

When Jimmy Conway grabbed Henry Hill's youthful face and said never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut, I nodded my head in agreement. Goddamn right, Jimmy! That was kid stuff, though--stealing furs, robbing truck drivers, bagging coke, then describing it all to a judge a few years down the road, pointing in the courtroom at the guy who used to be your fellow foot soldier, thereby making a disgrace of yourself like a filthy rat. Kid stuff! This here is snitching, pure and uncut:

“I don’t think that [this] changes the power of the photographs he produced,” said a smart man on NPR about Ernest Withers, and I agree. Unforgivable rat finkery aside, this new information about him makes his photos even more meaningful in context of what we just found out about him--people in the movement strongly suspected they were being tailed, trailed, spied on, and the guy taking pictures of them knew it firsthand and kept snapping away. He churned out thousands of pictures of kind-faced, sympathetic individuals on buses and in picket lines, adding a stunningly energetic Lionel Hampton photo or two along the way.

Why would the Feds be so inconsistent with their suppression techniques, though? They got valuable information from an informant, but let him keep taking pictures of men and women with kind, sympathetic faces? Since frontline imagery is one of the tools of informative persuasion for which the movement is best known, it seems like the FBI would've seen to it that negatives were "accidentally" destroyed, or brought the paranoid hand of justice down much harder on the man who was creating those images. They're now on display in museums, wordless black-and-white evidence of brutal times and brutal laws. Destroying the negatives seems like such an obvious way to go. But then, I forget sometimes that J. Edgar and his drones were not known for their intelligence.

And here, in contrast, some trifling type of behavior that's not really “snitching” at all; it's just an assortment of various attempts by a man with a dumb nickname to get out of jail a little sooner. I haven't seen this kind of penny-ante nonsense get the kids so heated* since Cam and Anderson made intense faces at each other and discussed the serial killer who lives next door.

* as of this writing, 30 comments from rap nation over at XXL.

The O'Jays, “Back Stabbers.” Because it's Gamble & Huff, with the god Thom Bell in charge of strings. And because “Rat Heads” by E-40 wouldn't upload, and the only other songs available about rats and snitches getting theirs in the end were, ironically, ones by noted rat employer Game and noted alleged rat Curtis Jackson. Oh the sweet, terrible irony.



Monday, September 13, 2010

Zip it, Joan.

When we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble.

Joan Didion.

Fast cash should be the last resort so make it last for the risk you took
Trick, you shook your ass for some hundred dollar heels and a designer bag
Now that's ass backwards
All you got in the refrigertator is bratwurst.

You too, Big Boi.

L-R: Elephant's Memory "Mongoose" 12"/Button kneesocks, Topshop/Small leather tote, several-years-old Miu Miu/Hooker librarian Mary Janes, 3.1 Philip Lim/Anita Bag, Alexander Wang/Whole ensemble, Free People/The Fatback Band "Put Your Love in My Tender Care" 7"/Sheer gray dress, Topshop.

I heard this was chopped & beautifully reconfigured by Premier for Gangstarr's "Lovesick." Initially this was confusing, since you hear no trace of "Lovesick" above. Then I heard it was used in something called the "Upbeat Mix," from the 7" released in the UK. Aha. I guess Chrysalis would think to release an upbeat mix of a song called "Lovesick" for the British, both because they are a dour people and because their sense of humor is more subtle and refined than ours.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Marryrichquitwork&dothisallday.jpg and other inspirations.

Me, in a daydream I had at work today.

Daniel Dumile, lyrically summing up my daydream like always.

Today's additional sources of inspiration: pictures of NYC books,

The Heptones - “Book of Rules.” Melody is the most important thing in the world. (00:28-00:34).


Deep Purple - “Listen, Learn, Read On.”


Joe Tex - “Buying a Book.”


RZA in Umbro,

Quincy and Peggy,

I'd overlook him being an awful husband and make myself forget that I'm just the latest in a strong of young blonde things too if my man produced “Outa-Space.”

melody wranglers,

Kanye, Pusha T!, and I think a couple other people, “Good Friday.” This was clearly supposed to have been released in June so it could ride the radio airwaves all summer. Industry politics, I guess.


annnd the realization that I would probably do French Playboy if asked.

(but only for tons of dough and after much deliberation and soul-searching. Exhibits A and B, respectively. Hi Mom!).



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Risky business.

- It's risky to invite Chris Brown to your charity event no matter what, but more specifically, it's risky to invite a whiny, blame-dodging batterer to do it real hard in the paint for charity just a couple years after you made a schmaltzy song about teenage girls getting battered. Explain yourself, Luda.

Chris is a free man, he has a right to be at events of his (PR people's) choosing, and he did have to take some legal/financial/karmic punishment for what he did, but it'll take me a while to forget The Incident and I have the right to keep bringing it up for as long as I want to. “Hop in the game knowing the risk,” the mighty Dante said once. The risk, in this case, is incurring the wrath of a nerdy blogger in her tiny Los Angeles apartment by daring to show up at a charity game with a goofy grin and some stylish no-look passes.

The event looked fun, though. And in some feel-good news, David Banner was there, and Nelly is still alive.

- DJ A-Trak doing one of the final performances at Fat Beats NY. A-Trak is ok, but he is just ok. He was the best option we had available? No Caz? 9th Wonder? BOBBITO? Maybe a Beat Junkie or two? Everyone else was out of town, apparently. A-Track was a risky choice because it brings Fat Beats' management dangerously close to alienating its fan base. Luckily, the new fan base with its mp3s and childish computer games far out-influences and out-spends me and all my crotchety old friends.

- Using the word “motherfucker” after finding out its disgusting history is risky, because everyone might hate you. Yesterday Toure linked to a review of HBO's Boardwalk Empire describing the origins of the word, and the entire Internet shook its fist in anger and said We’re never using that word again. My darling offended masses: before you knew its history, the fact that the word refers to someone fucking a mother was not enough to make it deplorable? We had to discover its connection to our history of slavery in order for everybody to pause? I’ll still use it (on the Internet, not in real life; I'm a lady) because I'll need some more information before I believe its history as told by some producer of some TV show, and because nothing else comes close to the purity of the term motherfucker. So I will clutch it hard and won't give it up easily. It is just so beautiful in its accuracy. Muhfuckaaa. Bulls-eye! Motherfucker. The thought of “Method Man” without it hurts me a little, right in my gut.

(The C-word is still never ever OK, though. I mean, it is, just not if you are ever hoping to see me without my top on.)

- Record companies putting out deceased rappers' music is risky. Album sales aside, this usually has tragic results, soiling a good man's legacy by flooding the market with every vocal snippet, every answering machine message left. I said usually, though. (RapRadar)

On the last episode of Mad Men, Peggy said, “I can't tell the difference anymore between something that's good and something that's awful.” That about sums it up for me too, sweetie. But right now I'm leaning toward this being gooooood since I cannot stop playing it. My ears hardly ever make bad choices.

Big E makes another beat suitable for snapping your fingers to. Pimp C says shit like sheeeit. Something called Gator Mane ends his verse with the words “tabernacle, holy water” and it makes perfect sense. E-40 coins the term “yay-per trail.” Feels like I'm driving a '73 Cutty when I hear this, even though it's really a late-'90s Japanese compact. Yes. It is good.

- Black Mountain, “The Hair Song.” Risky: being a rootsy woodsy earthy Canadian band with catchy hooks and beards. This band already existed once, and it was called The Band. THEEEE BAND, motherfucker (!). The name says it all.

(I love Black Mountain, though. “Lucy Brown” was my walking-down-the-street theme song 2 summers ago!)

Also risky: me, trying in vain to join the rag-tag girl gang introduced at the beginning of the video, a group of ladies armed with their thrifted-leather-cross-body-bags and old Dolly Parton records as shields (that's what they're looking at in the record store--I recognize that album cover! My darling nerd brain, you never let me down).

Becoming a member requires straight brown locks past the shoulders and a straight brown curtain of bangs. Girls with highlighted long unruly Celtic hair cannot make this look happen--some of us are cursed to look our best only with thick Farrah waves (please refer to the photo at the top of this post). I'd rather hang out with the boy, anyway--he almost landed that kickflip and he's way prettier than any of the girls.

- “Black & White Rag,” Maino and DJ Paul cutting loose over a Buck Buckley Band sample.

It's risky to use a slice of country music to build your rap song around. It doesn't translate well. The exceptions to this rule are Johnny Cash at the end of “The Magic Number,” Johnny Cash at the end of the Helloooo Brooklyn part in “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” and the not-yet-made Swishahouse musical beast that you'll play in your vehicle (is “slab” still the term, or do I need to update from '05?) which will get its melodic backing from “Houston” by the Gatlin Brothers.

- Gibbs plus Auerbach, Bun B, Chuck Inglish for some reason, and Chip tha Ripper, “Oil Money.” Here we have Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas--representatives from the Big 10 and the Big 12--meeting somewhere other than a college football field/basketball court. Oh dear! Regional beefery could ensue! It's a Big Risk (ha). But then you remember that all of these guys are making money, and you see Bun B with his Undefeated hat and big ass wedding ring and just overall foxy demeanor, and you can't help but SWOON. Don Cheadle will star in the Gibbs biopic coming in a few years, mark my words.

(I can't keep up with the changing standards for rap video girls--are the pale black-haired ladies on display here the new attractive? My own standard for female beauty was set by the "Next Episode" video--beautiful shiny skin, pole acrobatics, round body parts both real and fake, sequins, thighs, cherry-vanilla scented everything. Straight males, please advise as to whether this, below, is still the hottest thing in the world)


Friday, September 3, 2010

Odds are my Fantasy team will render all others broken and battered and winless this season.

It's early September so here comes the NFL. In the springtime, Ronald Artest has the power to make me forget that football even exists--but when fall begins and Chris Berman starts bellowing on the TV and all the stores start carrying boots and trenchcoats even though it's too hot in LA for any of that, I realize how much I've missed it.

I love and participate in Fantasy Football. I go at with my signature no-holds-barred style, I take no prisoners, I leave it all out on the field and I give it slightly more than 100% on any given Sunday. The fact that I always make fun of fake things should be disregarded. I hate fake rappers and fake nerds, fake NYC accents, fake rappers, fake producers, fake producers. The only good fake things are Biggie's Twitter and fake football, and so I'm jumping into this season's fakery with a full heart and a clear head. I just got my Fantasy roster, assigned to me by the robotic, soulless machine that is Yahoo! Fantasy Football automated system (I tried drafting my own guys last year, and it turns out I'm no good at it). I care about each of the randomly-assigned men below so much, but only to the degree that they remind me of a musical figure with a similar name or back story.

E-40's still rapping, Funk Flex still hasn't learned voice modulation. I'm still underdressed on the Internet. Rae's still rapping. Scarface, Ghostface, Metal Face: still rapping. People do what they're used to. The familiar is easy, comfortable, like they say on commercials for Wrangler jeans. Brett Favre, with his familiar face and his arthritic joints, is suiting up again this year, because Brett Favre still plays football. He retired a couple years ago. I remember, because Jay-Z was on his farewell tour at the time. But, you know. People just do things they're used to. It's hard to walk away.

Upon seeing my Fantasy roster, I started a spirited text conversation with my mom (also in my Fantasy league). "I got Bretty for QB!" I wrote on my tiny keyboard. "OMG, did you know he is old?" she sent back. Then I stopped playing. It started out as such a fun thing, and then somebody had to go and hurt my feelings. Fuck off, Mom. (sorry, Mom!) The concept of a (nearly) 41-year-old QB is the kind of thing everyone laughs at until everyone sees that it's just crazy enough to work. I have a strong feeling that Brett Favre, sometime subject in Weezy* and Jeezy** songs, shall lead my squad to victory.

Brett Favre's middle name is, like every good ol' boy from Mississippi, Lorenzo. Odd and fascinating, that's what that is. I'd like the story behind it, please. Brett Lorenzo has a 73-year-old body. He wears Wranglers, drives a truck, can't handle his booze--a real live walking stereotype, except lovable. He continues to be worn and creaky, but still very very clutch—the E-40 of the NFL, rather than the grouchy, bloated old KRS, thank the lord.

(KRS has no current NFL equivalent...if it were the '70s, maybe sad, elderly Namath when he played for the Rams? I don't know; let me work out the analogy some more in my head).

* And I never miss a game, no Shaq O'Neal/More like Brett Favre, just like Brett Favre
(“Get High, Screw the World”).

** Watch for goonies when you got it, n---as wanna rob/And pull a staff and quarterback 'em like Brett Favre (“Trap or Die”).

Santana Moss. In terms of music, who does his name evoke? Well, Carlos Santana of course, and that hideous creature who calls himself Juelz. But there's also Now for 10 years, we've been on our own/And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone (“American Pie,” Don McLean). Don really enunciates that F--ffffffat. It's unnecessary and wonderfully stylish. Anyway, a rolling stone gathers no something something; Santana, roll it back to '05 and let's have a thousand-plus-receiving-yards season, buddy.

Brandon Marshall. NO, not Marshall Mathers. The Marshall Tucker Band! The beautiful “Can't You See” was on the Blow soundtrack, but I was already familiar with it due to childhood time spent frolicking in my parents' record collection. It was released by Capricorn (of course) in '73 and it therefore sounds like weed, Jim Beam, big belt buckles, and getting hugged by my dad. And it's got a flute solo!

Ronnie Brown. Ronnie from New Edition, sure, but since I am a California girl dipped in honey and bronzed by the sunshine, I instantly think Ronnie Hudson and his “West Coast Poplock.” Worldwide, let 'em recognize from Long Beach to Rosecrans.

Owen Daniels. Owen Pallett, that weirdo who's obsessed with Final Fantasy. Charlie Daniels, that guy who used to be SO hip hop on account of his storytelling technique but then started showing up on Fox News to weigh in on foreign wars and the reasons Obama is leading us all down the big global toilet. On a side “everything's connected” note, however, Charlie Daniels did a lot of collaborating with the Marshall Tucker Band in the '70s. Let's hope that Owen Daniels does some collaborating with Brandon Marshall when the EP Eagles take the field--mostly I just want Owen to let Brandon get all the touches, since tight ends are worthless in Fantasy Football but the system forces you to play one anyway.

Devin Aromashodu. First of all: Who? Second: based on his name, I believe that he is of Nigerian descent. And third: NIGERIA!, now and forever. I don't understand how such a small county is so fertile in terms of epic humans, but I've worked out the analogy in my head that Nigeria is to countries what Georgia is to American states--unfairly, disproportionately rich in musical geniuses (Fela, Sade, + a hundred more from Nigeria; Ray Charles + a thousand more from Georgia), writers (Achebe, Wole Solinka; Alice Walker, Carson McCullers), and physically stunning people (Oluchi; T.I.). I've never heard of this Aromashodu fellow but the signs tell me that he will surely kill it every week.

Austin Collie. Barrington Levy, “Collie Weed.” Horace Andy, “Collie Herb.”

Jabar Gaffney. It's painful to admit, but the little elves that run around inside my brain piecing together music trivia and rap lyric ephemera came up with nothing when I saw his name. It evokes nothing music-related. Luckily, all's not lost because Jabar Gaffney is just a great-sounding name for a man. It's got an adequate amount of syllables, and the stresses fall in all the right places. Quentin Jammer is the current holder of the best name in the NFL (Earthwind Moreland had the honor until '05), and Black Milk is the current champ in terms of names on rappers' birth certificates that now only the DMV and their grandmas call them by (Curtis Cross). But Jabar. That's a nice goddamn name. Solid, with all those consonants. It makes me think of Kareem, and that's nice. And if I'm to believe what some man on the Internet whom I've never met says, Mr. Gaffney is likely to be a sleeper Fantasy point-getter this season. Denver's offense needs to make up for Brandon Marshall being gone (a real workhorse, Marshall now splits his time between the Dolphins and the Echo Park Eagles) and maybe Gaffney will get something thrown to him now and then. He's got seniority among the team's receivers and he's supposed to do things, big things, this year.

Cedric Benson. Also a great name. It's cinematic and comic-book-hero-sounding. Makes me think of George Benson. And Cedric Brooks, I think, was a Jamaican musician (?).

New Orleans' defense. Everything about New Orleans reminds me of music, I love the Saints, and their defensive squad is ranked around #8 or 9 at the moment, so I'm happy I got 'em. “Football is violence and cold weather and sex and college rye,” said the great sports writer Roger Kahn. Football is also, let's hope, teams from battered and beaten-down cities rising triumphantly in consecutive seasons.

No need to impede The High and Mighty mystique/That shit would be as ignorant as Jimmy the Greek. Soundbombing II hardly ever shows up on those stupid best-of album lists that clog up the Internet every 10 years. I think everyone's still mad at Rawkus and we're being babies by not giving it accolades. But we should. It's a great compilation and I wore the CD out that summer ('99). It's ranked in my personal stupid best-of album list that I carry around in my head. What/What, what, whaaaat.