The King of Pop, Tributes, Minstrel Shows & The BET Music Awards

I admit that until last night I had never watched any of the previous 8 episodes of the BET music awards.  I’ve had no use for BET since they sold the soul of the original premise of the network from being a place where black folk can go for varying forms of entertainment and information, to that of mere entertainment (if you want to call it that) of booty shaking videos.   In the past perhaps I saw a clip or two of some performance or controversial moment after the fact, but since the focus of the show was to change in honoring the late Michael Jackson, I decided to tune in.

I appreciated the decision to change the show around and in such short notice it that said about about BET’s management and staff, specifically Janet Rolle the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.  She also happens to be a black woman.  I thought for the most part the producers and artist did a good job of honoring Michael’s fans and family.  Michael’s father Joe, was there from the start and sister Janet gave some heartfelt statements of gratitude in her own words.

Unfortunately, what started as an honorable show hosted by Jamie Foxx couldn’t  sustain the necessary class it takes to honor Jackson’s musical legacy and instead went to what I can only describe as utter niggerdom.  (By niggerdom I don’t mean color.  I mean ignorance) Lil Wayne and Drake  got on stage and made mockery of the show with their misogynistic over sexed rants within their so called performance.  That ruined the entire show.  What made these punks think it was proper to drop so much profanity that their words were blocked out every few seconds is beyond me. And that little reference to Michael Jackson afterwards was weak too.  I mean what the hell?  I just don’t see Mike figuring that to represent what he stood for musically.

Here are the lyrics to one of the songs.

What is really bothersome to me however; is the fact that the same black woman I mentioned above who was in charge of the performances and okaying the content allowed this to go on.  What is even more disturbing than that were the women in the audience who were singing and dancing along as these punks disrespected their very worth as women.  And we wonder why a Chris Brown can beat a Rhianna.  We participate in our own demise far too often.  That is another story.  I felt good watching the program all the way up until then.  And ever afterwards, there was nothing that could be done to revive what was dead. 

I tell you what.  I will never and I mean EVER watch the BET Awards again.  BET has failed the black community a long time ago.  And even after I stopped watching any of the programs almost 15 years ago, it’s clear that I didn’t miss anything at all.

Lil Wayne, Drake, you guys suck and you’re a disgrace.  You give minstrel shows.  Check your history!   In the words of Terrance Howard in crash.  “You embarrass me.  You embarrass yourself.”

Advertisements

Thriller! Celebrating the Life of An Icon

It didn’t take me long to figure out which of the many lasting memories that I wanted to share upon hearing of the death of Michael Jackson.  I could have gone with the time the Jackson 5 had four consecutive number 1 hits of “ABC,” “The Love You Save”“I Want You Back” , and “I’ll Be There” in the early 70’s.  Or the way I tried to do “The Robot” like he did in the middle of “Dancing Machine.”  Those were great. 

But one of my favorites was the time The Jackson’s (the older version of the Jackson 5) were on American Bandstand one Saturday morning.  The year was 1978 and I had gotten their latest LP “Destiny” for my 11th birthday. I was familiar with all of the songs and new them by heart.

Normally, when Bandstand came on, I would peep the opening to see if the musical guest would be worth my time.  There would be two bands or groups on any given show.  You may get the Bay City Rollers for instance with KC & The Sunshine Band.  But this time The Jackson’s were on.  The guest list included…..

wait for it…..

The Jacksons.  That was it.  There were no additional guest or second act.

As Dick Clark tried to open the show with his usual monologue, the crowd was screaming so loudly that you could hardly hear him.  You knew it was going to be a wrap. 

The first part of the show was the usual dancing and stuff.  We all waited for the brothers to appear.  It was mundane at best.  “Let’s get on with it, ” I thought to myself.”  Even the dancers looked impatient.  Finally, after the first two numbers and the first customary commercial break, it was that time. 

As Dick sat in his usual place with fans behind him waiting to witness the show.  He once again tried to introduce The Jackson’s to the TV audience.  The crowd wouldn’t let him as they screamed and screamed continuously.  There was no curtain on AB so the group was obviously already visible to the live audience on the set.  Clark just gave up and hurriedly exclaimed, “Ladies and Gentleman, The Jacksons!”

Now at the time the hit that radio stations were playing was “Blame It On The Boogie.”  If you had the album you knew “Shake Your Body Down (To The Ground)” would be a mega hit to come.  But do they jam either of these as an opening?  NOPE!  These cats come out with “The Things I Do For You.” 

After that signature intro – Michael goes off!

People all over the world are the same everywhere I go
I give in to this, I give in to that
Every day it bothers me so

Am I in a bad situation
People taking me to the extreme
Am I being used
I just need a clue
I don’t know which way to go

So I took my problems to a doctor
So he could check it out, he don’t know
Took it to a palm reader so she could
Read my hand, she don’t know
Five minutes later I started to understand
I started screaming, shouting, acting mad
No one could help me but myself
But I gave everything I had

Chorus:
It’s things I do for you
In return do the same for me
It’s things I do for you
In return do the same for me

Destiny

Right off the top it was a show stopper!  The song, (arguably the best on a GREAT album) was not even released as a single.  Talk about confidence!  They killed it!  I sat in front of my 13 inch black and white television with my mouth agape.  Michael sang his ass off and moved like the wind.  It was surreal the way they opened the set.  The energy, the positive vibes.  I mean you couldn’t just sit in front of the television and merely observe.  You couldn’t listen without moving.  Ha!  Man I was like, “Damn!”

You got to understand that at that time, there was no Prince to compare Michael to as it were in the 80’s.  In terms of groups and musical icons it was Michael with the Jacksons and everybody else.  Nothing else was even close.   Michael had the best voice, the best and most innovative moves, he was a pin up star and teen idol.  He had the entire package even then.  This was before “Off The Wall” let alone “Thriller.”

Now don’t get me wrong.  Michael had his own style for sure.  But all great artist take from the foundations laid before them.  Some merely copy styles, but the great ones can take what you did and put their own brand to it and make it their own.  Michael was a great student.  As a friend of mine who saw the Jackson 5 perform in Gary Indiana, told me today, “We grew up on James Brown, but we grew up with Michael Jackson.”  James Brown and Little Richard laid the foundations for Jackson.  Mike just took it to a new level.

He also borrowed from former Shalamar member Jeffery Daniel who did a dance called “The backslide,” which Michael turned into The Moonwalk.  It was no shame to it.  Mike was secure with himself in terms of performing and loved to watch others, and learn. 

It was common knowledge back in the day that Michael Jackson and Prince used to sneak in and view each others concerts during the 80s.  Though their music was totally different, they were the heartbeat of the 80s.  When Thriller and Prince’s 1999 were out at the same time, the music on both albums dominated the radio and party scenes.

I will most definitely mourn Michael.  I am not ashamed to say that.  He is the greatest entertainer ever… period.  He’s the original MJ.   Elvis made the ladies cry.  But Michael is the only dude I’ve ever seen who made other dudes cry.  I am glad to have lived during the early and glory years. 

I’ve got more to say about MJ.  I just have to get it off my chest.  It’s a cleansing for me. 

But for now I will just say to Michael, “Rest in peace dear brother.  You gave a lot musically, gifts from your soul for a lifetime.  We around the world received those gifts.  And we will be forever grateful.” 

Michael Jackson

It Was The Heat of the Moment~

I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods.  But here in the Midwest it’s hot as all get out.

I did a double-header baseball game on Sunday for instance.  The first game started at 10am.  I was the home plate umpire for the first game and it was blazing then.  By the time we did the second game, as I patrolled the bases at each half inning I either drank or poured water on my head and body.  I soaked my cap in cold water and within a half hour it was dry. 

Before the game was over my partner who was behind the plate passed out from the heat and had to be rushed to the hospital by an ambulance.  Before the medics arrived he had a puluse but was totally unconcious.  His doctor told him he was very close to having a heat stroke.  I saw him hydrate a lot too though not quite as radically as I was. 

Though I did not pass out myself, I did feel weak and nauseous a couple times.  There were also players who told me later that they too felt sickness at some points of the game.

I say that to encourage you all to be careful in this heat.  Wear the proper clothing and keep yourself hydrated.  Pay attention to signs of heat exaustion or worse.  If you know of any loved ones who don’t have air conditioning, check on them and better yet invite them over for some air time relief.

And my GOD please parents don’t leave your kids and pets in the car while you run in the store or wherever to take care of your business.  This same tragedy happens every year where kids die while abandoned in their parent’s or someone else’s vehicle and it just doesn’t make any sense for it to continue!

Be smart people and don’t sleep on the heat.  It can overtake you quickly.

Saw This Coming…

Sanford: 'I have been unfaithful to my wife'

Anytime a man just takes off for damn near a week and his wife don’t know where he is, it’s a straight up creep move.

That bit about hiking “to clear his head” was pretty lame too.  Did he actually think that anybody believed that? 

I don’t judge or laugh at anyone’s calamity.  I’m just saying he must have really been caught up to skip off like that.

Uncle Thomas Does It Again

There is definitely a such thing as self hatred.  This guy is in a league all by himself.  Normally old Clarence votes the way his pappy Scalia does.  But this time in voting against the Voting Rights Act he even out did his massa!

How in the hell do all of the other conservative judges say that the act is still needed in some degrees and the only one who doesn’t think it’s needed at all is a black man from Georgia?

Clarence obviously lives on his own planet.  I don’t even want to imagine what his world must be like on the inside.

What’s Wrong With The Christian Church?

wiley-drake.jpg

Well that would take all day.  Not that the church has the market cornered on ungodly beliefs and actions.  Every religion I know of has its flaws.

But since this is a mostly Christian nation and many Christians sects especially those of the Evangelical modes like to pontificate loudly when it comes to certain “choice sins”, I am always amazed when a preacher like this one can…….

here it comes…..

wait for it…..

pray for the death of the president! 

Now this is a little surprising to me but certainly not shocking.  The fact that Rev. Drake – the little ball of hate said what he did is one thing.  Neither Christianity in general nor the church specifically can be responsible for one preacher’s words. 

The question I have is why is not every Church in and out of his peer group calling for this guy on the carpet?  Why is he allowed to stand in the pulpit and preach the “Word of God”?   Where is the leadership?  Where is the righteous indignation? 

And some folk like to say that the President’s election has made us post racial?  There will be foxes and wolves in any organization.  I get that.  But the church has to police itself.  And silence on the part of those who don’t believe Jesus is calling for the death of the president is just as harmful as an endorsement.

I believe it was a Christian who said something to the effect of,

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing.”

Personally, I tend to wonder how good the good men are these days who are leading the pulpits and allow one of their own to spew this kind of rhetoric.