Sunday, May 21, 2006

Back Rubs and Hand Jobs:

Back Rubs and Hand Jobs:
The Politics of Diss-cussin’ Black in the Age of Cosby

It’s time for some real talk. For the last couple of years
Bill Cosby has been touring the country castigating black folks – in particular ghetto black folks about their behavior. The reactions have been stunning: A whole lot of folks silently agree with Cos. Not surprisingly a whole lot of other folks are pissed. Ok so what is he saying that has folks in an uproar?

Well, he says black men have failed as fathers and as heads of family and community. He says that too many of us know the words to every difficult rap song but refuse to read a book or go to school. He says that mothers do too much crying after their child has been shot or arrested, and questions where they were before their children got into all of that trouble.

Yo my man, let’s be real here, Cos is not saying anything new. I’ve heard Malcolm X and Minister Farrakhan say the same things. Hell, I’ve heard Elijah Muhammad say far worse. The reaction from the folks that don’t like what he’s saying is pretty much a “where does he get off” kind of thing. When reminded of things Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X and Farrakhan have said, many say, “Well, when they say it, I know it’s out of love.”

Get da fuck outta here.

The days of telling folks stuff to make them feel loved is over. Enough with the verbal hand jobs, truth is truth. Grown folks need to grow up and keep it real. You want love
stay in the strip club or better yet go to Craigslist. You get no back massage and wack off over here buddy.

Let’s start with this: “I have no problem with Jesus or God," he said in the afternoon as he addressed an audience that included many foster parents and grandparents and social service providers. "I have a problem with people sitting there and saying that Jesus and God will find the way.”

That’s real talk. We are a God fearing people, but one too many of us are looking for either a heaven in the hereafter or a mystery God to come down to Earth and change our circumstances. It’s that kind of thinking that puts people in a reactive mindset instead of a pro-active one. How many times have you heard someone say, “We just gotta wait for the good man in the sky to make things right”…? Those words are used when people have given up trying.

I believe in God just like you do, but in this world, if you don’t back your faith up with action: you’ll be stuck like Chuck somewhere, up the river with no paddle, or life jacket. That’s real. Prayer is healthy and it’s good for the soul, but if your present circumstances entail an environment that isn’t healthy for raising your kids, you’re a fool for doing nothing but praying.

Here’s what Russell Simmons has to say about all of this: “Judgment of the people in the situation is not helpful. How can you help them is the question.”

How about this, let’s start with two words: personal responsibility. We are all responsible for our own actions. If your house is a mess, it is no one’s fault but your own. You can’t fault white people cause your ass is too lazy to bend down and pick the crap up off of the floor of your home.

One too many times I have heard and seen young brothers and sisters say, “they need to stop building jails and build some schools.” Yep, that’s true. But why is it an Asian kid can go to the very same schools and walk out with an education and black kids walk out with nothing? They get the same books in the same settings, but, one group of folks are ‘too busy’ to learn.

My first job was delivering newspapers when I was 13 years old. After that at 15 I worked at McDonald’s. Granted, when I worked there, the crew was predominately black. Go to places like California and New York and tell me who’s behind the counter now? Even when I was working at Mickey D’s there was a set of brothers back then, that said, “How much you makin’? $3.35 I never would work for that.

Those are the same fools filling jail cells today.

One reason some folks are mad at Cosby is because he is airing out our dirty laundry. Well, I have news for you, are you ready for this? Are you sure? Ok. Here it is. Our dirty laundry, which you are so upset about, gets aired out everyday. All you have to do is turn on the TV or radio. But it doesn’t stop there, go to the magazine stand, our dirty laundry is on full display there too. Bill Cosby ain’t making this stuff up.

A lot of folks say Dr. Cosby is out of touch; he’s a rich guy that has forgotten what it’s like to struggle. I think not. Once you’ve come up the hard way you never forget it. Remember this is a man that worked his way up out of the ghetto of Philadelphia. You don’t make up characters like Weird Harold and Mush Mouth and all of them if you didn’t grow up knowing people like that. But you know our folks, if we didn’t see you struggling, in our minds; you came from out of nowhere.

Never mind the fact that the brother has earned the right to say what is he is saying. I can only imagine the behind the scenes battles he had to wage with television network executives, in order to get his shows produced. Keep in mind that he is the first black man to portray a character on television that wasn’t a butler, or a slave, janitor, jive talking pimp, or butt-scratchin’, head-scratchin’, jig-dancin’, eye balls bulging buffoon. He did a show in the ‘60’s called “I Spy”. His character was a Rhodes scholar as well as secret agent. That was a huge accomplishment for a black man back then. Hell, that would be applauded today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Got What It Takes

So things have been really crackin' on the voice over side of things, FYE has been showing a brother mad love the last couple of months. I've done Mobb Deep, Jagged Edge, Ghostface, DJ Quik and a few others.

I started voicing spots for them back in February, the first one I did was for Ne-yo. If you ask me, sonically, it's the best one I've done so far. And I've been crazy busy with those spots the last couple of months. I've only hit two bumps in the road: LL Cool J and Ice Cube.

With LL they wanted a female with a sexy voice to do his spot, the Poetess from LA ended up gettin' that gig. I wasn't mad - she's been doing her thing for a minute anyway, knowI"msayin?

Now Ice Cube was some other shit, I put in a lot of work on that spot ie; late at night and early mornings recording the vocal. And what happens? That nigroid decided he wanted to do it. What the fuck...stick wit actin' and rappin'. I ain't too mad, cause I still get paid a little somethin. But you know, it's the business, the client gets last say as to their product.

My man Aundrae from KJLH called me up and said he's got some work for a brother to do. I'm looking forward to it, I like voicing promos that shit is fun - especially concert promos. They have Keith Sweat, Ginuwine and Joe coming up in June. I gotta stay on my hustle so that i can get more clients - voice over work is hard - but it's fun, once you have the finished product.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Last of the Great Slow Songs

Time to talk about some grown folks music. If you're under 35: prepare for an education.

Back in the days before booty-shakin', pole dancin' and Crunk. Hell, before hip-hop was a million dollar industry, singers sang in sweet falsetto voices. Groups wore color co-ordinated outfits on stage and did sycnopated dance steps.

But the cornerstone of every group was a great slow song. The Dells had what may be one of the best slow records ever "Stay In My Corner". From what my father and uncles (and anyone else with salt and pepper hair) told me that song was the ultimate 'blue light' party record. Junior Marvin probably holds the record for holding the longest note on a R&B track.

"If you stay - stay darlin'.
Stay in my corner.
You'd make me oh so proud - stay darlin'.
Stay in my corner."

My best buddy Rod Loche once told me what his older brother Lionel said about that song: "Man, when that song came on you had to find a girl to dance with, or you were weak."

For a cinematic example of what I'm talking about, please refer to my good buddy Eric Monte's groundbreaking classic film 'Cooley High'. In the scene at the house party Smokey Robinson's smash hit "Ooh Baby, Baby" came on and everyone - except for Pooter, grabbed a girl. "Stay In My Corner" had the same effect.

"I'm just about at the end of my rope,
But I can't stop tryin',
I can't give up hope."

That's how you know when a man loves a woman, when he can't give up hope - that's deep.

Anyway Al Green has made more classic love songs than any artist you'll find today. But by the late '70's early '80's soul music was no longer 'soul music' it was starting to miss something. Peabo Bryson held it down for a second, but the last great slow song was by three kids from LA.

The year was 1981. Two of them had been Soul Train dancers for many years. The other one, I don't know where he came from, but he made the group better. They were called Shalamar. The song was called 'This is for the lover in you'.

Now you gotta be old school to love this joint. I remember when they did that song on Soul Train, the camera panned to the silhouette of Jeffrey Daniels 17-inch long afro. Howard Hewett was rockin' a shag. Jody Watley had braids (I think).

"This is for the lover in you" was the last great slow record that people requested at house parties. After that I don't really remember people going crazy over slow songs anymore. When that song came on: it was time to grab a girl. If only I could remember the girls name I danced with back then. Oh wait, it was Monique, I was at camp in Virginia and we had a light weight crush on each other. There was some kind of dance at the camp one night when that song came on. She made me dance with her. She didn't have to talk too long, mind you. She must've had C cups back then, I had no problem rubbing up against that girl.

That song remained popular until somewhere around 1984. I had a crush on a girl named Eugenia, we danced to that song at a party at the Boy's Club in Hayward.

After that song got too old, is when you stopped seeing people slow dance. Mother fuckers wanted to do some freaky ass shit after that. You can't even play a slow song at a club anymore cause everyone would rather freak all over each other than to take their time and whisper some real smooth rap shit into a girls ear. No wonder hooking up is so hard to do now. Love is lost.

Monday, May 08, 2006


America's Funniest Home Video's has got to be the corniest show ever. Rarely, if ever, does someone with an outright funny video win on that show. It's always the corniest, stupidest shit that wins.

Now I don't watch the show that much - just when the cable is out.

I remember the first time I saw it someone had sent in a video where they were walking on a brick wall or something and fell off and busted their head. Now that was funny to me.

Do you know what won though?

Some cornball went to go meet his girlfriend at the airport and he wanted to propose to her. So what did he do? This idiot had six of his best friends walk up to her one by one and give her a rose and there he was at the end of the line with a rose and got down on his knee and asked her to marry him in the airport. Disgustingly corny right?

Last night I'm watching it and someone sent in a tape of a squirrel running through their house. Now that is some funny shit, cause the squirrel was tearing that house UP.

Do you know what won?

Some lady trying to get her daughters attention by doing the 'Running Man' and the 'Cabbage Patch". Get the fuck out of here.

I know one reason it's corny, is because they gear the show to attract 'Middle America'. All I have to say to those folks in Middle America that laugh at that corny ass shit is: Go buy a better sense of humor.
Can you tell me what this guy really does?

He doesn't rap. He doesn't sing. What is it about this dude and his music that people in the Gospel world are going crazy over?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

This One's For You

Hey I just wanted to take time out to thank you for reading this blog. I try to share as much with you as i can about myself. Yes, I am a hip-hop journalist - but I find that to be too limiting. I am an artist, a man, a father, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a son and a friend; defining myself as just a "hip hop writer' for me, doesn't fully encapsulate who I am. That's why I throw stuff in there about my kids and all that kind of stuff. I want you to see the real person.

I believe if I share things with you like my views on any given subject (hell read through this blog I think i'm pretty honest about where I stand on everything) you get a better sense of me as a person and an artist. Now lets get one thing straight though - I will not be devulging every little thing about my life, my sex life with my wife is off limits (previous encounters with women before my marriage are open for discussion).

I like Howard Stern - I don't think he's a racist, I admire how open he is about his life with his audience. But unlike Howard, I ain't tryin' to put my marital business out there cause, I ain't trying to see divorce court. Nope not me.

Not many people leave comments and I understand, it's cool to lurk. I just wanna say thanks for lurking around, when you get a chance spread the word. I might say things here and there that will piss you off. Sorry if I do. I try to be as responsible as I can while still being honest.


It was the fall of 1986, I was young and impressionable, the Black Nationalism that my parents preached and tried to indoctrinate me in seemed, at that time in my life, to had been a million years ago.

Hip Hop was to my childhood what Motown had been to my parents generation; it was the soundtrack of my youth. It was the depository that encapsulated the sounds of a generation in transition. Ok, no, there were no real great love songs made during my youth that captured the innocence of young love. No, there were no soulful breakup records that could've mended my broken 17-year-old heart at that time. Why? Because a strange thing happened in my youth, Black music was no longer soulful. There was plenty of rhythm but no blues. We didn't lead protest marches against the man; we bought into the system and wanted to reap the same benefits that white folks had for centuries.

I once heard Isaac Hayes talk about what the civil rights movement meant to he and his generation; he said that, "Somewhere, somebody dropped the ball [when it came to civil rights]."

And he was right, we did, but I think we picked up a different ball.

To say my generation was lost in 1986 was an understatement. The Jheri Curl, which had replaced the Afro, was on it's way out of style, but was hanging on like Vanilla Ice being dangled over a balcony by Suge Knight. Three to four finger rings, trunk jewels, sweat suits, and beepers were status symbols as well as cultural statements back then. How did all of that make a cultural statement? You know what it said? It said: I'm Rich Bitch!

Black male singers, in the 80's, were androgynous-Jheri Curled wonders to which the term "soul" could hardly fit. Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and Otis Redding had real masculine images; they were men of self-determination and pride. The guys that were supposed to inherit their mantles 30 years later were sissified excuses for men. For real they were. They wore lingerie and worked day and night to make their race as ambiguous as their sexuality. They were not good images for young black males.

If the R&B singers of the 80’s were poor examples of black masculinity then the music emanating from the streets of America was going to totally flip the script. Street fashions and lingo were slowly working its way into the American lexicon, slowly seeping out of the Black paradigm and into the cesspool of mainstream America that was once inhabited by Wally and Beaver Cleaver.

Just when white folks caught on to bad meaning good: bad became def, then dope, then stupid dope, and dumb became cool too. Who could imagine, that all those years that Black folks fought for equality that “dumb” and “stupid” would be cool. Who would’ve guessed it? Not only was “dumb” and “stupid” down, but also the culture of the drug dealer was now the order of the day. Before cell phones were a necessity, beepers were the thing to have – but you were automatically singled out as a drug dealer if you wore one because they (drug dealers) were the one’s that popularized them.

That was until a few guys from Roosevelt, Long Island came along and totally disemboweled that mind-set. At a time when no one wanted to be black – most popular Black musicians back then wanted to be mixed – and gay - this group that called itself Public Enemy came along and declared the unthinkable – We’re Black! And not only were they Black but they were Black and proudly militant.

Militant? What’s the big deal about being militant? Well, back then all of the militants were gone. There was a time – in the 60’s and 70’s – when you’d see these guys on the news and in the streets carrying papers, wearing sunglasses, preaching on stepladders, yelling into bullhorns, and carrying signs that said: “Fuck Whitey”. But by 1986 those guys were on the endangered species list, you saw militant brothers back then like you see American Indians today: rarely, seldom and never.

The leader of the group, this guy named Chuck D spoke of strange things, things I hadn’t heard in years, like he talked about a “mind- revolution” and raising up 5,000 black leaders, and boycotting trunk jewels because the Africans that dug the gold up didn’t own them; he talked about “A Message to the Black Man” and that this guy named Farrakhan was the “Prophet that I think you ought to listen to”. This was heavy stuff. He had a song called “Sophisticated Bitch” that I couldn’t understand at all (back then), my 18 year old ears couldn’t comprehend the line: “Now she wants a man with an attaché”. It didn’t make sense to me until I tried to talk to a sister with a corporate job, then, BOOM it clicked: She thinks she’s better than me!

When they dropped the classic “Rebel Without a Pause” I fell off of my bed and sat on the floor in a state of shock for 4 minutes. The saxophone squeals that they lifted from the JB’s and layered over the break “Funky Drummer”, cemented the groups legacy amongst the giants of hip-hop. There were rumors that the sax squeals were metaphors for bombs being dropped on the racist white masses. That summer, Chuck D sounded like a prophet disseminating his message from up high.

Finally here was a group that spoke to issues much larger than my immediate existence as a teenager. Chuck D was the first rapper, that I knew of that could really do a stimulating interview. He talked about how the duty of young Black men was to grow up and be responsible to our communities and our families. These guys opened up a door that my parents had led me to 18 years before, but it wasn’t my parents holding the door showing me the way in, it was these guys who showed me that I could be a man, I could be a b – boy, I could be proud of being black and still be a man. I didn’t have to totally compromise myself and the values that I was raised with. That’s why I write what I write today.

Friday, May 05, 2006


When I got out of high school in 1987 there were two books that I was actively reading: The Autobiography of Malcolm X and a book called "Pimp the Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim". Both books had a profound impact on me.

After I first started reading his work I asked around about him "Oh, he's dead" people would tell me. "He didn't really write those books" others would say.

Long before I knew I was destined to write I was obsessed with the works of Iceberg Slim. So obsessed was I that in 1990 I wrote him a letter. I didn't want the secrets of the pimp game, nope, I ain't cut out for pimpin' yo, I wanted his secret: "Man, where did you learn to do that with words?" I asked.

In all of his books there were certain phrases and metaphors he would use that were absolutely beautiful to me, like this one: "As the sun decapitated the moons head with a golden axe", or this one: "He disappeared like a wisp of smoke."

That was poetry baby, pure poetry.

He never responded to my letter. I still bought all of his books anyway though - except for Mama Black Widow, I just can't read stuff about batty men like that.

Anyway, someday if God is willing, I will write the definitive Iceberg Slim article or book. I'm going to get Peter Muckley's book and see what he's done. I want to get to the real story, I fear that too much time has gone by for me to talk to old cronies or whatever have you but, there is a story there.

They say before he died in 1992 that he sold some six million books - that is incredible.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ya Could've Won Kid

Paris Bennett was kicked off of American Idol last night, while I was sad to see her go, I was not surprised.

Paris is an awesome singer I believe the full potential of her talent will be realized someday but as a performer she doesn't have it right now. I remember being blown away by her during the audition phase. She was incredible. But when it came down to the performances, I sat there watching her saying to myself "Where did all the magic go?"

For me her best performance was the Stevie Wonder night - she got down. Tuesday night she sang a Mary J Blige song and it was really good, but that first song she did "Kiss" by Prince was horrible.

Best of luck in the future kid you'll be okay.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Some Land of Our Own

Imagine advertisers beaming real time 24 hour satelite feeds into one lone tiny country: 'We Got Yo' Bling' the commercials would say. Overhead Goodyear blimps would bare flashing signs proclaiming: "Get Yo Mack On" at Anderson's Lincoln (make a right off of exit 3). That's what you would see in an all black separtist country.

Actor/producer/director Charles S Dutton is producing a 10 part mini-series for HBO it's a fictional story about a group of African- Americans who receive reparations and are given a separate state within the United States. HBO is leaning towards not developing it, but we'll see. Hey, anybody can dream.

The dream isn't new. Black leaders as far back as the 1800's advocated separation between Blacks and Whites. Marcus Garvey and Elijah Muhammad built their movements on the very idea. At one time I really believed in separation - I don't now and here's why.

No sane person can dare claim that we weren't bought here against our will. However, once here we helped (hell, we did the hard work) to build this nation. African Americans have fought in each and every war since this country's inception. We fought hard to be accepted into the fabric of this society, to turn around and walk away would not only be foolish, but it would be a disservice to the memories of those that fought and were brutalized and died for our cause.

There has always been (and will probably always be) a set of folks who get fed up with this country and its laws that say "Let's go back to Africa!"

First of all - there is no one to go back to. Let me rephrase that: There is no one there waiting for us to return to. And while we're at it, where in Africa would we go? The Congo? Oh hell no, they haven't known stability since before Patrice Lumumba. I got one for you, how about Liberia? Nope, nope, nope that's how they got into all that trouble over there in the first place. A group of us left here and went 'back' there - the trouble was that the people who were "there" didn't appreciate us coming there. Won't work.

Ok how about a separate Black state here? Ok where? How's North Carolina. Well, I live in South Carolina so it wouldn't be hard for me to move, but what about the white folks that live there now, what would happen to them? What about the companies that are there, where would they go? What about those folks that have married inter-racially or are products of an inter-racial relationship (there is alot of that kind of thing jumpin' off right about now, especially in the South) where do they go.

But for arguments sake lets just say there was a new Black state here, do you know what would happen? Forget about slave catchers coming for us, oh hell no, they would use modern day slave catchers to catch us and keep us broke. Do you have any idea of who I'm talking about? Madison Avenue.

They would beam all kinds of bullshit to us through the internet, our cell phones, TV - they'd invent new devices to sell to us so that we could buy whatever it is that they are selling. "Get Yo Grill Tight Padna" is what the signs would say along the freeway from our country to their country.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not In My House Ya Won't

So here's me: moved into a fresh pad, remodeled townhouse, new appliances the whole nine and them some. I've been feeling real good about this place until last night that is, I found a scout.

Now originally being from New York I am no stranger to roaches. There is a saying in NY: If your neighbor has 'em - you have 'em. It has been years since I've seen one of those things. In California we had to deal with ants - in New York, you know, ants ain't shit - roaches are some mother fuckers though. They will survive any act of terrorism. Nuclear fallout. Global warming all of it works in their favor. Those mother fuckers will adapt.

So back to the scene. I'm in my bathroom last night and happen to look up at the ceiling. "Is that what I think it is?' I thought to myself. "Oh hell no", I said, "not in my new pad!"

Now remember I'm from New York I know how to deal with these bastards.

I got my shoe out and creeped real slow into the bathroom - those little fucks can see ya know. I stepped real lightly onto the tub, and slowly - but gently, put my hand on the shower rod.

That little fuck moved quicker than moonshine through an alcoholics stomach.

But remember: I'm used to dealing with these fuckas.

He ran to the wall as I raised my hand - just as I was about to hit him - he did a back flip off the wall down to the tub.

"You think your slick" I said.

I give him credit he was quick - but not slick.

He hit the tub and was using the momentum of his fall to catapult himself upward so that he'd be able to fly away.

That was until my shoe landed on him BAM.

It was a red one. In New York those fucks used to come out of the walls and jump all over the place. You'd chase those things and they would run up your refrigerator and jump off the top of it and after it landed on the floor it would look up at you and say "Asta la vista" and be gone. Thank God it was a red one and not one of these countrified mother fuckers. Roaches here in the south are as long as your finger. If my wife would've seen one of them, she would've started packing right then and there.

But the south is different from New York. In NY if you have roaches you could call your super all day and he'd look at you and shrug his shoulders and say in his Puerto Rican accent, "So whadda ya wan me to do? You have a roach, I have a roach, we all have roaches."

I called my property management and told them: "Oh so sorry sir, we will have someone out immediately to take care of the problem."

Which makes me feel better, because just as I was killing that scout I told him: "Not in my house ya won't!"

Whoa was all I could say after watching this past Sundays episode of The Sopranos.

So after years of living a lie on the D.L. Fat Vito Spatafore has found a place where he can be himself. Where he can "express his true self" so to say. While hiding out from his family and fellow Cosa Nostra pals, Fat Vito has found refuge in a small town somewhere in New Hampshire.

"Can I have a stack of Johnny cakes?" He said as he heaved his 300 pound frame up to the counter at the greasy spoon.

"Tall or short?" The heavy moustached tatooed-armed waiter said.

After looking deep into the guys eyes he said, 'Tall".

Ok for those of you who don't know, the whole 'Johnny-cakes' thing was a metaphor the writers cooked up.

Back home the families are waiting for Vito's return. "So what's being done about Vito?" One wise guy asks Tony.

"To tell the truth that's none of your business", the boss says.

Is Tony going to defend a fanuck? That's what the Italians call them. Jamaicans call them 'batty men'. Here in the states it's damn near illegal to use the 'f' word anymore. So I won't disrespect them here.

Like the Mob, it is i-l-l-e-g-a-l to do those things in Jamaica. But we live in 2006 I say, hey, let 'em live, kick him out of the club - but let him live. "Nope, you are no longer a member of our social club buddy", is what I'd tell him. Killing somebody for their choice of lifestyle is a bit Stone Age, no?

My favorite character Silvio Dante said it best: "Tone, are you gonna be able to kiss this guy on both cheeks if he comes back?'

I know what your thinking...they're born that way...I don't doubt that many are, but a whole lot of people are choosing that lifestyle. When I was younger (and crazier) I subscribed to the whole 'put 'em on an island with a chain-link fence thing. Now that I'm older (and not as crazy) I know that that is stupid. So long as they don't disrespect me I don't care what they do.