And The Beat Goes On! cont.

It’s been a while but its that time again.  I’ve gotten some music over the last few months that I’d like to share a view on.  Without further adu: 

Let's Do It Again

We can start it off with Leela James, “Let’s Do It Again.”  This one is a Don Cornelius ‘stone cold’ thriller.  When you think of this CD, think of Seal’s, ‘Soul’ where he takes R&B classics and turns them into his own.  Leela not only puts her own signature on these hits, like Seal she has a band in the background that sounds as if they are playing in a smoke filled room big enough to fit 50 as opposed to a mere studio.  Its a jam session where she sings her heart out.  Right out the box she teams with legend Betty Wright on “Clean Up Woman.”  Then she dabbles with The Rolling Stones, “Miss You.”  One of my favorites is Womack & Womack’s, “Baby I’m Scared of You.” 

I enjoy listening to this album because it’s totally not safe.  Leela performs these songs from the heart and if you can feel it then feel it.  It has that feel of a live session and it’s full of energy and what seem to be ad libs.  This is real music and a decent musical tribute to some classical tunes rather than something packaged for quick consumption.  I’m all good with it.

Silky Soul Music: All-Star Tribute to Maze Featuri

Speaking of tributes, if you don’t have it already you got to pick up, “An All Star Tribute To MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly.”  This is one of my favorite CDs to thrown in on any occasion.  All star is indeed correct as you have the likes of Musiq Soulchild, Kem, Joe, Mary J Blige and Raheem Devaughn.

They hit many of the classic Maze cuts that only a dope can mess up.  Musiq performs Silky Soul, the tribute to Marvin Gaye.  In it he does what Musiq does, keeps it simple yet adds his distinct sound to it.   And while I’m generally not a big Mary J. Blige fan, her version of, “Before I Let Go,” is quite funky.  My favorites are Joe’s version of, “Can’t Get Over You,” which he sounds so smooth with it, it’s as if it could have been his own song, and Raheem Devaughn’s, “We Are One.”  Devaughn has so much talent and his voice is so silky suave.  He is really comfortable doing the song it compliments Frankie’s while again able to stand on it’s own.  In a happy twist on the last song of the CD, “I Wanna Thank You, is performed by J Moss, The Clark Sisters and Kiki Sheard.  They sort of church it up without making it churchee if you know what I mean.  I don’t think there is a group of sisters who have been able to harmonize quite as beautifully as the Clark Sisters.  “They seem to really enjoy doing this piece.  Anyone who loves good soul music and care for these artist will enjoy this piece of work.  If I was a disappointed with anything here it’s Mint Condition’s “Back In Stride.”  If they were on American Karaoke Idol I would say, “Perhaps you picked the wrong song.”  Compared to the other cuts, it’s just really ordinary.  By no means is this a deal breaker.  Pick up this CD.  It’s great!

Hot Buttered Jazz: Celebrating the Genius of Isaac Hayes

Smooth Jazz is BACK!  Back in the day when smooth jazz artist started doing cover tunes in jazz/instrumental format, you had some really good stuff out there.  So good that many hard core jazz artist got in on it too and started to do their own cover pieces.  Then it all went down as people put out stuff that seemed to have little effort thrown in it.  There was a smooth jazz tribute to this artist or that.  I would listen to them and want to puke.  It was as if cats just started putting together crap in their basement to try to make a buck.  This is not the case with, “Hot Buttered Jazz, Celebrating the Genius of Isaac Hayes.”

A fitting celebration it is as they not only hit on the theme for Shaft, but they hit cuts like, “Cafe’ Regio,” which just took me all the way back.  (Such a wonderful melody).  There are others too but I just have to hurry up and say that Phil Perry put his foot in, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix!”  I’m just sayin.  Pick this one up!

Star Power

Norman Connors, Star Power, is stocked full of other cover tunes.  And Connors brings a lot of energy, imagination and creativity to sign these hits.  The Sweetest Taboo, Rock With You, and Walk On By just to name a few makes for a CD you can ride to, chill to at work if you sit at a desk like me, or even clean the house with.  This CD is contains enjoyable pieces of music that people who enjoy rhythm and melodies will love.  Norman has a great ear for instruments and how to bring a fresh flavor with them.

Family Time

Want to hear a really cool and uplifting piece of music?  Pick up Ziggy Marley’s, “Family Time.”  This is a set of simple songs that just make you feel good.  Ziggy has a who’s who of musical legends sharing the mike with him on a few of these numbers.  Willie Nelson on “This Train,” Paul Simon on, “Walk Tall,” and even Jamie Lee Curtis help with a reading on, “My Helping Hands.”  Also along for the ride are Marley family members who participate on songs, “Family Time,” and my favorite, “I Love You Too.”  What you will get here is a series of songs that put gives one the simplest forms of music in a way that always manages to get through to the musical soul.  None of the pieces are complicated but the simplicity is overwhelmingly satisfying.  I love it!  Ziggie rocks!

Wachu Lookin At?!! The Stare Down!


The other day I was at the gas station filling up the ride.  After putting up the pump I had to go inside to get the receipt.  Upon returning to my vehicle parked at the number 5 pump, I noticed the guy on the number 6 pump opposite my car putting gas in his vehicle.  The man about 6’4, medium build with a beard was staring me down right in the face.  I kept towards my car as his eyes seemed as if they were trying to pierce my soul.  And being the kind of guy I am I gave the soul brother nod and said, “What’s up?”  The man didn’t budge a bit.  Instead he just kept his gaze fixed on me as if he were a crip and I were a blood and somebody was about to smoke a fool. 

I said to myself, “Ahh another pissing contest among black male strangers.  Perhaps I’ll mean mug him back.”  Then  I saw his other male partner opening the passenger side of the door and pictures of a shootout flashed in my mind.  Not much of a shoot out mind you as I don’t carry a weapon.  I looked away and towards my car as I approached the door.  As I opened it I looked back and found the mean mugger looking at the gas pump with a matter of fact look about him.

I walked away from that exchange baffled.  Not because it hadn’t happened before.  There are times I have been at a gas station, a grocery store, or simply walking down the street when another black male approaches me and give me, “the stare.”

From talking other men from time to time, I’ve learned this kind of confrontation and staring down another man is not uncommon at all.  Guys walk or drive the streets looking for other men to stare down.  In this battle of eyes, the objective is to fix your gaze on another and if his eyes meet yours, stare and mean mug with your best NWA “what the f*&% you lookin at” glare.  The winner is the one who can keep the gaze going the longest.  The loser is the one that looks away first.   He’s the one that got punked out.  That would be my distinction at the gas pump since I looked away.

Anyway, this phenemenom is rather interesting to me.  I mean, where did this start?  Did it originate with gang activity?  And what are black men feeling inside that they have validate themselves or their masculinity with such a primitive expression of machismo?

I remember talking to a man who told me the story of when he was in the Marine Corp.  On night while walking the streets of downtown Memphis, he and another brother engaged in this stare.  The marine kept on looking and so did the stranger.  Finally the stranger spoke and said, “How are you doing?”  The marine told me,

Man that f*&%ed me up.  I couldn’t believe it and didn’t really know what to say.  I was completely thrown off.  We ended up having a great conversation and hung out several times after that.  But all of my life coming up in St. Louis thats what we did.  You see a MF walking down the street and you stare him down and see who looked away first. 

I asked him if he knew where he got that came from.  He said he didn’t know.  It was just what they did growing up.  Well it seems that it’s still going on today.  When it happens to me, the few times I tried to speak to break the ice the other man just looked at me as if I stepped on his brand new pair of Air Jordans. 

I don’t know what to say.  But if someone out there can riddle me this;  What is that all about?  Is this a St. Louis thing?  Generally speaking black men in St. Louis tend to carry a heavy spirit of competition and its more rare to find men, especially young men who can just relax and chill out when they meet you.  It’s more like a battlefield.  I find it a huge turn off.  Not that I was ever that way anyway, but I’m just a little too old for the BS.  I can fight a cause or stand on a principle with the best of them, but otherwise I’m pretty much a flower child.  Live and let live. 

Certainly there are things to ‘go’ over.  If your family is in danger, your woman is disrespected in public in some ridiculous over the top fashion.  But otherwise I’d rather put my health/life or anyone else’s in jeopardy over some stare down.  Folks, what is the deal? 

This is Some Stupid Shit!

Guess this is how they do police work in some places in Florida.  They do a drug bust and within 20 minutes of the raid some officers break out the Wii.

That make sense!  What the hell else are they supposed to do?  Collect evidence? Look for guns or money?  No it’s about who can get their Wii on and be the top bowling scorer!  That’s fresh!

And to think folks are tearing their clothes in satcloth and ashes about what the president wants to handle their tax dollars.

Weekend of Activity

Lots going on over the weekend.  I wasn’t around to experience much of it but I’ll hit what I know and ask for clarity on the rest. 

Sunday Morning Obamathon

President Obama discusses the economy and other topics with CNN's John King.

After a late night watching the Mayweather fight over my cousin’s house, I totally slept in on Sunday morning and therefore missed Obamathon.  I undertand he hit up all of the major Sunday morning talk shows.  Saw a few clips this morning along with the standard Republican responses of how ineffective he was in stating his plans etc.  It will take some time to catch up to see if anything substantive was there.  If anyone cares to comment (intelligently) then let it rip. 

Intelligently – Doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the president.  Only that the comment is free from hyperbole, lies and name-calling.

May is Money!

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

It was amazing the way Floyd Mayweather dominated Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night in spite of being out of the ring for over a year.  Marquez, a well respected fighter who many believe defeated Manny Pacquiao who is considered by many to be the best pound for pound looked like an amateur against the speedy and slick “Money May.”

Mayweather is a “change the game” kind of fighter now.  By that I mean he makes us alter the standard in which we view the sport as it relates to the competition.  Tiger Woods did this.  So did Lou Alcinder. (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)   In other words, when the NCAA doesn’t allow dunking because one guy is going to kill the rest of the sport, he changed the game.  Shaq did it too in that the NBA allowed zone defenses to be played in a  league that prided itself on promoting ‘one on one’ competition.  May has now done that in boxing.  I know this by the hate he gets from the media. Surely they don’t love him like they loved Oscar.   And also the way Marquez acknowledged that he was dominated, but was reduced to feeling that he is now a legitimate fighter after being in the ring with Mayweather.  This was Marquez’s comment in the post fight news conference.

“I proved that I can fight.  I gave it my all and I tried.”

What?  This man, a world class fighter of almost 20 years now thinks he can fight cause he “tried” against Mayweather. 

Hey man, whatever.

Mayweather is old school talk the talk and walk the walk.  He said all that needed to be said on Saturday night.

Quick Hits

My Steelers lost a tough game!  Jeff Reed had one of those forgettable days kicking the ball.  Hey, it’s early.  Be like that sometimes.  Love the way Mike Tomlin handled it after the game.  He doesn’t run from the truth but he sticks with his guys in a positive “can do – will do” attitude.  True professional and this is why his guys respect him and will continue to play hard for him.

Trojan Horse

It’s been said that Pete Carrol never loses a big game, only the small ones.  With or without the true freshman QB, they had no reason to lose to Washington on Saturday night.  Perhaps its early enough for them to work their way back into a BCS championship game should they run the table from here.  But who knows.

Joe McKnight

Fight Time!

Once again it’s on! 

I have not quite gotten the MMA bug as of yet.   I hear names of fighters like Silva

But there’s nothing like the ‘sweet science of boxing.’  I love the sport especially when we get to see the best of the best.  This will be the case tomorrow night in Las Vegas when Floyd “Money May” Mayweather Jr. takes on Juan Manuel Marquez.

The fight we REALLY want to see is Money May vs. Manny Pacquiao.  But thats part of the aura of boxing.  Sometimes we have to wait and the build up and ancitipation makes the showdown even more exciting.

  As a Mayweather guy though, I know he needs to win this one and he’s been out of the game for a minute.  He is a great fighter that’s for sure.

Floyd Mayweather, left, and Juan...

Carter Debate Sets Blog Ablaze!

Since CNN was kind enough to share my blog as a link to their story yesterday I received quite a bit of feedback from readers on both sides.  Passions ran pretty hot but one question in particular prompted me to respond.  That was the question by my blogging friend Jim Thornber.

“If I disagree with you, must it be racially motivated, or could it simply be that I disagree with you? You are African American and I’m not. So what? If you disagree with me, does that mean you don’t like white people?

Is it possible for me to disagree with President Obama simply because I disagree, or must there be, in you opinion, some inkling of racism mixed in there? Just wondering.”

I would like to answer my friend Jim’s question.

Jim, you ask a great and wonderful question.  One I am happy to answer.

Let me frame it this way.  You are indeed correct that they call me African-American and that they call you white.  It is also true that as an African-American I disagree with other African-Americans all the time.  I have disagreed with liberal and conservative African-Americans in politics and in media.  I disagreed with Kanye West and Serena Williams over the last few days.  I don’t consider myself racist by any means towards African-Americans.  So the short answer to you my friend is, “No.”  Certainly in this great nation of ours you have the right to disagree with black folks for whatever reasons your principles compel.  However, you are not the person I was talking about in my post.  You are not the person Carter was referring to in his comments.

The people we are talking about started making their voices known after Obama won the democratic nomination.  When it became apparent that he had a chance to win the presidency, folks like Sara Palin got the racial party started when she said that Obama was not an American like she and her followers are.  (code language to be sure) This continued with congregant rants during town hall meetings and speeches by Sen. John McCain when folks shouted things like, “He’s a Muslim!, or “Off with his head!”  Americans mind you. 

The people we are talking about are like the guy in Florida who had on the T-Shirt that said, “Nigger please! It’s called the White House,” during the election.

The people we are talking about joined and increased numbers for hate groups.  They bought guns and assault rifles at an alarming rate, so much so that places like Wal-Mart ran out of ammunition.  The people I am talking about get their que from Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to name a few.  These guys fan the flames of racism like no other.  Then quickly hide their hands as if they did nothing.

I am talking about are the ‘birthers’ who questioned the president’s citizenship as yet another reason to attempt to delegititimize him and his holding the office.

Jim let me tell you.  I had occasion since the election to visit a couple federal buildings since January.  When I see that picture of President Obama it trips me out.  I saw all of the election results and the inauguration.  But seeing that picture of the president in that official federal format is still quite unbelievable to me.  I am so serious when I say that.  Well likewise many other American can’t wrap their brains around it either.  But it affects them differently.  I may say, “Wow!  Unbelieveable.”  They may say “WTF?! Oh hell no he ain’t my president.” 

With that as a backdrop here is where I agree with Carter.

I argue that race is what made Joe Wilson comfortable making his remarks.  Certainly I knew that Bush was lying about 9-11 being related to Iraq.  I was not unique.  Other House members knew this.  They knew it would cost billions of dollars and thousands of American lives and yet while he made those speeches neither of them thought it righteous to shout the man down and call him a liar. 

I didn’t agree with a lot of what Bush did.  I didn’t watch most of his speeches because I felt they were mere lies and propaganda.  But I’ll tell you what.  If the man while he was president walked in the room I’m standing up and giving him the honor the office is due.  I’m addressing him as ‘sir’ and ‘Mr. President.’

If you’re not familiar, and I am sure you remember some of my blogs before that detailed some of the pictures and cartoons that have been put on the internet.  For example, one show the president dressed in Muslim garb while the first lady totes an assault rifle as they fist bump one another.  Another show the front lawn of The White House with watermelons planted abroad.  Another depicted the president as a witch doctor.  Yet another show two police standing over a dead monkey they had shot.  The police then make references to the stimulus package.  I could go on but you get my drift.  We got wind of these pictures as politicians on the right passed them around to each other in email.  Each time they were caught they claimed, “What me, a racist?” 

The same people who create and promote these cartoons and caricatures are the same people who believe these stereotypes.  These are the same people who tried to turn out the healthcare town-hall meetings.  These are the people who are making the most noise;  not people like you who may or may merely disagree and take the president to task intelligently.

These people are like the ones who sent Rep. Scott of Georgia a letter saying,

“To: NIGGA DAVID SCOTT / You were / You are / And / You shall forever be a nigga!” It added, “The Ethiopian cannot make himself white.” 

As far as Joe Wilson goes, we have enough evidence of his own work and words where he fits the description of a racist.  As Maureen Dowd wrote in a recent column:

“The congressman, we learned, belonged to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, led a 2000 campaign to keep the Confederate flag waving above South Carolina’s state Capitol and denounced as a “smear” the true claim of a black woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond, the ’48 segregationist candidate for president.

But let me say this.  Let’s say Wilson isn’t a racist for the sake of argument.  He feels comfortable in doing what he did because he knows that he comes from a constituency of people who believe that his actions were justified.  He like McCain/Palin early in the campaign against Obama rode the racist base with as much momentum as he could muster.  McCain later backed off and tried to quell that base when it became bad press but by then he couldn’t close that barn.  Republicans know full and well that a large part of their base is racist and furthermore they are easy to scare and rile up.  These politicians at best play on the hatred and fears of such people.  It’s a strategic easy sell.  The Right is not willing to challenge or risk losing that base.  So at the very least they are ‘accessories to racism’ if they don’t personally agree.  What you see now is a result of said tactics.  Carter, a white man from Georgia no less, is merely calling them out for who and what they are.  I happen to agree with him.

Finally, I understand that many are fatigued at the mention of racism.  I fit that description as well.  I am often reluctant to even discuss this because most won’t even admit that there is still a problem.  (Just read some of the comments on yesterday’s post.)  Others are perfectly comfortable saying, “Sure racism exists,” as long as we don’t address anything specific that happens.  If cops shoot a black man in the back shouting the “N” word many whites and a few conservative blacks will say, “Hold on now, this doesn’t necessarily mean its racist.” 

Look, I am not trying to lecture you on race Jim.  I know you are a better man than that.  I am answering your question still believe it or not.  The healthcare debate for you and others like you who may disagree is different from the rants going on out there.  I have a few issues I disagree with the president about.  I expected to when he won the office.  I expect that of any president.  Who am I?  Still my behavior is in tact. 

People like you are not the ones drawing the pictures, carrying guns into meetings, calling the president ‘Hitler’ and ‘socialist.’  In the healthcare debate the name ‘socialist’ is the new ‘nigger.”  People like you are not keeping their children from class because they don’t want the president to ‘put his agenda on them.’   This is a different breed and they are making the most noise.  They get the most media coverage. 

These  people don’t disagree with the president.  They hate the president for who he is.  They feel the country is slipping from their control and, “My God Obama is going to help lazy black people get healthcare.  Pretty soon we are going to have to swim with them and then they will sleep with our women.”  Trust me it always goes back to that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If white Americans want people like me to stop talking about racism, all they have to do is police themselves and other whites who step out of line.  Check those who speak lies and promote hateful stereotypes.  But unfortunately I don’t see the rage in white folks in trying to do that.  They rather I just shut up and be glad slavery is over at least.   

People can call Carter ‘peanuts’ or whatever.  That’s certainly easier to do than to grapple with what the man is saying. 

What is that saying about “De-Nile” not being merely a river in Africa?

Well anyway, I hope I answered your question Jim.

Former President Keeps It Real!

Former President Carter tells NBC Nightly News that racism has surfaced in opposition to President Obama.

Former President Jimmy Carter is keeping it real here.  Unlike many others who would like to act as if the majority and intensity of the opposition of now President Obama is not racially motivated.  It absolutely is! 

This is why Joe Wilson was comfortable saying what he said.   This is why he has raised over a million dollars since. This is why teachers, principals and parents, (especially in the South) kept their kids away from school for a ‘stay in school and be responsible and accountable’ speech from the president of the United States.  This is why there has been such an uproar in the town hall meetings and folks have said things like, “I want my country back.”  They just can’t wrap their brains around a black man being in charge. 

Too bad as a nation we are not addressing this head on while we have yet another opportunity.

Jay Leno Rocks!

The Jay Leno Show

I was not a big Tonight Show fan at all.  I wasn’t when Carson did it either.  Late night television shows were never was my thing except when Arsenio was on, or if there was a really special guest like Prince musically.  But as I flipped the channels between Monday Night Football commercials I came across the much anticipated new Jay Leno Show that will be on 5 days a week.

The first show was flat out hilarious.  I started with the tail end of the interview with Jerry Seinfeld.  I never thought the cat was that funny in the first place.  I wondered was why was he wearing a tux.  But as I said I was late in the interview so it could have really been funny.

One thing is for sure.  The ‘interview’ he did with the president was flat out hilarious.  Please go to YouTube and check it out as it has to be up by now.  When Leno went Sen. Joe Wilson on Obama I almost spit my Widmere on the floor.  He also covered ‘tort’ reform and ‘stimulous’ too in ways you have to see for yourself.

The Kanye West interview before the performance with Jay-Z and Rhianna was surreal.  They rocked their number though.  Rhianna’s outfit was off the hook!  I know somewhere Chris Brown was saying, “Damn! I F’d up!”

My schedule is far too busy to get caught up on a weekday television show every evening.  But I will be keeping an eye out here and there on Jay’s show.  I know this idea is not something easy to pull off.