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...