Friday, June 10, 2011

Random: A Couple of Things Happening This Weekend Besides the Finals

While I've been watching the Finals with the rest of the nation, since this is arguably the best series in forever and has actually made me like basketball again, there are a couple of other things happening this weekend that might deserve our attention.

1. Johannes Mehserle, the BART copy that murdered Oscar Grant in front over numerous witnesses, is likely to be released on Monday. He shot Grant in the back while he was handcuffed, yet he was only made to serve 11 months in prison. According to Davey D, there will be a rally in Oakland at 5 p.m. on 14th & Broadway on Sunday at Fruitvale Bart where Grant was murdered.

2. The Bilderberg group will be meeting this weekend. Of course, American media has yet to admit the group exists, but according to, the Swiss media is covering it. Check out more info here:

That is all folks. Stay woke.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Geronimo Pratt: Finally At Rest

I learned about Geronimo Pratt by listening to a Tupac song, "White Man's World" to be exact. That realization makes me sad when I think about who today's most popular rappers are. Pac was at the height of his career making songs about, or at least mentioning dude. These popular rappers nowadays... But that's another story for another day.

When I heard that he died last week at his home in Tanzania, my first thought was, "wow, first Gil Scott Heron, now Geronimo?" My second thought was, "Damn, dude lived in Tanzania? Can't say I'm shocked."

Of course, I had to refresh myself on Pratt's history. I dug up a few old articles from the L.A. Times and found myself immersed in the late history of this legendary freedom fighter and survivor. I say "late history" because of course, the paper focused on the events that immediately led up to his unjust arrest and the what followed very shortly after his release in 1997. A few of the things that stood out to me were:

1- He did eight years in solitary confinement. Anybody who knows somebody in prison or has been to prison themselves, knows that this is no joke.

2- The man that responsible for his set-up, a Panther "member" and FBI informant named Julius Butler, went to become...get this... a chairman on the First A.M.E. Church's board of trustees. Yeah.

3- Geronimo Pratt never became president of the United States. I say this because Nelson Mandela also spent 27 years in prison for freedom fighting. He became the president of the very country that had spent years oppressing him, South Africa. I had an opportunity to tour Soweto, SA almost two years ago, and visit the Apartheid Museum. The liberation movement in South Africa was closely modeled after the black liberation movement here in the states, (thanks to Steve Biko and Robert Sobukwe). At any rate, Mandela became the face of oppression. Pratt, however, did not. I know the cases are different, since Pratt was accused of murder, but the basic reasons for both of their imprisonments were the same-- fear, politics and hatred.

At any rate. I felt that I should say something about his passing. Although I'm glad that he finally got some kind of justice, and received over $4 million from the L.A. police department after his release, I can't help but think-- he lost a wife and child (she was murdered in 1971 when she was eight months pregnant), and was only free for 14 years before his death. All in the name of justice for a people who, by and large, no longer even know who he is. Meanwhile, Lil Wayne, TI and the like go to jail on gun and drug charges and expect sympathy. But that too, is another story, for another day.

RIP Geronimo Pratt.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Video: "Get Involved"- Small Eyez

Jamming new video from my good buddy, Small Eyez, "Get Involved" (directed by Ryan Lifto). I love any video that showcases Fred Hampton, who, all political inclinations aside, was so damn cute. I really have a thing for dimples. Is that bad that I said that about a revolutionary? Do I now sound shallow? Probably.

Oh well. At any rate, Eyez will drop his new project, NWORDS on July 5th. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

5 Things I Learned from Watching Beyonce and Kelly Rowland Videos

Alright, so clearly I've never actually written about Beyonce here, beyond maybe a few references. Not that I'm too cool for Beyonce, it's just, she gets written about a lot and I really haven't ever had much to add to the conversation. Lately though, I've been hearing a lot of discussions about Beyonce's new single versus Kelly Rowland's new single and when I ran across Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" video today on TSS, I was inclined to check them both out and see what all the fuss was about. Here are 5 things that I learned while watching their videos.

1. I believe Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Rihanna are actually all the same person. They pretty much make the same annoying, techno-driven songs, clamor around in black leather in the desert while climbing on top of, and gyrating on strange industrial/Mad Max-like architecture and often feature strange animals that they hold on leashes while trying to look hot. Really, dude. Were those hyenas Beyonce was holding in the video, or ligers? The point is, they're all pretty damn weird. They're like androids. And now, Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson and Kelly Rowland have joined in the strangeness. I expect to see Ciara next, if she hasn't already.

2. The Mad Max themed videos are old and stupid. From what I understand, the world is ending on Saturday, so maybe that has led some of our coveted poplets to re-hash scenes from the old Mel Gibson movie about the world going to hell in a hand-basket. But if they understood how stupid they actually looked, perhaps they would stop. I know men like for women to look all greasy and sweaty and whatnot, but seriously. The grimy-in-the-desert-or-abandoned-warehouse thing is begging to be laid to rest. Besides, didn't Pac kill that back in like, '96?

3. Beyonce pretty much does the same dances in her videos. I will say that she added a few new moves to "Run the World (Girls)," but mostly I felt like I was watching "Deja Vu" or "Baby Boy" in the Mad Max-ian desert.  Maybe she needs to diversify her choreographer roster. LaurieAnn is on E! Just sayin.

4. Being sinfully slutty is not at all sexy. Kelly Rowland has always struck me as a good girl, if not a little air-headed. I guess that now she's trying to be super-duper sexy, but it just came off as strange and disturbing. There are more than a couple of scenes in her "Motivation" video that are freakily similar to the part in the Devil's Advocate when the paintings came to life and started dry-humping and rubbing all over each other. It was creepy as hell, and frankly, I was scared both times.

5. The new R&B sound is to use Drake-like production. Which, all things considered, is kind of tolerable, actually. Honestly, Kelly's song (produced by Jim Jonsin) is pretty jamming. But I'm sure that the minimalistic production that Drake and his producer, 40, or whoever (why was I hoping he was referring to E-40 the first times I heard him call out his name on tracks?) have made popular. "Motivation" definitely sounds like something Jhene Aiko would do, or the Weeknd, or someone of the like. I'm sure we're bound to hear more of that sound, until eventually, we are all properly nauseated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oh, Killer Mike...How I Love Thee!

I'm quite sad that I haven't been in Atlanta and therefore have missed all of Killer Mike's events surrounding the release of his anticipated PL3DGE album. Mike is absolutely my favorite guy to interview (alongside Scarface) and one of my favorite rappers. Why? He's so damn insightful and unafraid. We pretty much agree on every subject he speaks on--- from disdain for the black elite, to our thoughts about the realities of class and race in American and how to address them. 

The thing for Mike, aside from having a hard time finding beats to compliment his abrasive rhyme-style, has in my opinion, been his struggle to balance his hardcore political content with music that is going to draw in average listeners-- you know, the cats that listen to Jeezy (who is featured on the album) and Gucci. It's a delicate balance that cats like Big Krit have mastered, but Mike has struggled with. Frankly, I think it's because more than just offering valid social commentary about the way things are, Mike is outright political. To be honest, to really ride to him, you have to have a certain level of awareness. Not saying you have to be a genius to understand him, but you damn well better be concerned about politics, society and the oppressed, otherwise you will likely be left behind with dude. The times when Mike attempts to lighten up and make what I guess is labeled "street music" he loses me, to be honest. It come across bland and forced. This is not to say Mike is only capable of being "political" it's simply to suggest that he's much more interesting when he is.   (Randomly: he seems to be referring to himself as "Killer Mike" again and not "Mike Bigga" which is a relief).

At any rate, I just came across this piece written by Maurice Garland for TheLoop21. Basically, Mike is breaking down some of his tracks from the album, and of course, he has much to say.  Here a few of my favorite quotables from the interview:

Speaking on education and the black elite ("That's Life II"): I have a general disdain for the black elite, just like how they have a disdain for the black poor. I've seen both sides. I grew up immersed between both sides, and both of them are on some bullsh*t. I'm not for black elitists trying to place blame on the black poor for the state of our community. That was my problem with Bill Cosby. If you have the money to donate $25 million to a college, don't you think it would be better suited giving it to a kindergarten class and seeing them all the way through school? If we really going to call black people to task on education, shouldn't we be starting at the seed and not the fruit?
Speaking on Pres. Obama ("Burn"):  "I can't get a job but I can get arrested, thought things were changing with this Black President sh*t." I don't think anyone has the balls to say that. That's not a condemnation of our president, but, people really thought the sea was going to part when he got elected. I'm telling people that he is not a myth, he is a decent politician at best. It is beautiful to see someone who looks like you leading the country, but at the end of the day, I can't get a job.
Speaking on black churches ("Burn" & "That's Life II"): "I'm going at the church because I really don't think they are doing their people right. Churches should not be in ghettos and have the money buy cars and have the church beautified, but no one owns the complex across the street.
Speaking on drugs and politics ("American Dreams"): I have an adoration for the Bush family. From what I read, the father of George Bush didn't come from money. He married up and schemed and connived to get to the top. In political circles people are fond of Joe Kennedy for making the transition into politics from getting rich off whiskey during prohibition. The Bushes and Kennedys are looked as our Royal Families. That said, you're not going to tell me to not admire a drug dealer. I don't admire what happens to our communities because of drugs, no way. But, the same moral character it takes to run a criminal ring, it takes to organize a labor union or set up a system where you can switch votes and redistrict zones to your favor. I admire dealers the same way they admire Rumsfeld and Cheney.

Here's hoping he gets his own talk show.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Random Thoughts: At Least Sales of Like Water for Chocolate Have Gone Up

Well, one good thing has come out of this whole Common at the White House debate-- sales for Like Water for Chocolate have probably gone up.

What's funny, is that for most of Common's fans, the song under intense scrutiny by Bill O'Reilly and the like, "A Song for Assata" featuring NBC's newest star personality, Cee-Lo, is among his most forgettable. Sure, us so-called conscious listeners certainly appreciated the sentiment, but to be honest, most of us agreed that, as fellow rapper/fan Phonte said on Twitter, it sounded like a "long ass book report." 

Thank goodness for good ole Jon Stewart. To be honest, I haven't watched the Daily Show regularly in a while, but he's really stepped up in Common's defense on this issue, and has had some pretty funny commentary in the process. Who cares that Jon Stewart himself clearly knows very little about Common, or Mumia Abu Jamal and Assata Shakur for that matter (in his discussion with Bill O'Reilly he refers to Mumia as "Mummy"). If he knew a little more, he probably would've added that Mumia and Assata are probably the two the most famous political prisoners in black America, maybe even America--a simple google search proves it.

Of course, I suppose the issue here isn't whether Assata and Mumia are genuinely regarded as political prisoners. The idea of supporting them and bringing awareness to their plights is somehow anti-American, ignorant and unworthy of the White House. Unless of course your name is Bono or Bruce Springsteen. I'm not even going to delve into the thinly veiled racism that's being purported here. It's old and pointless--we've consistently being whining about racism and Fox News/Conservatives for how many consecutive years now?

But back to Jon Stewart. The fact that he's gotten involved legitimizes and gives legs to the argument for the slew of liberals out there who wanted to join in, but simply didn't have enough info to join in the debate because they, like the far-right, are pretty removed from hip-hop culture, and on a larger scale, black culture as well. (This is not at all to equate hip-hop culture with black culture).

It's times like these that make me again wish for a black version or Latino version of Jon Stewart or Bill Maher. Even in the Obama era, we know that ain't gonna happen. But wouldn't it be great if there were? You know, someone on mainstream television who articulate about issues with humor and a uniquely ethnic perspective.

Oh well. Here's Jon Stewart on the Common issue.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wagging the Dog- We Can All Sleep Better Tonight

American's can sleep better. Osama Bin Laden is dead. As Brian Williams waxed poetic about how every American would "remember exactly where they were on this fateful day" I kept having a nagging feeling.

As shots of the illuminated White House gleamed from the darkened sky, mingled with old footage of Bin Laden shooting weaponry or sitting Indian style in a large tent filled my television screen with the caption "Osama Bin Laden is dead" imposed at the bottom, the feeling increased.

When the Commander and Chief (a term which, let's face it, hasn't been used to describe Pres. Obama in a while) strolled to the microphone, I waited with anticipation, even as the nagging feeling drummed in my body.
What color would his tie be?

I've read countless times that the president's and presidential hopeful's tie color is significant in inciting feelings and making subtle statements about their ability and stance on various issues. Of course, Pres. Obama's was crimson red. Ah yes, blood red, how appropriate for the announcement that the world could rest easier knowing that it's number one Boogeyman was finally dead, his body disposed of in a sea somewhere off the coast of Pakistan. And on the same day that Hitler's death was announced.

And while I was certainly happy that Pres. Obama was able to capitalize on this undoubted political gain-- taking credit for hunting Bin Laden down and giving the orders to fire on him (with no American lives lost in the quest, and smack-dab in the middle of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, no less), the nagging feeling persisted. Here we were, expected to celebrate the murder of a man-- a terrible man by all media accounts, and all of the translations of the hundreds of tent-videos he's released over the years--- but a man, nevertheless. It felt a little, Roman. Barbaric even.

As I watched Pres. Obama stroll efficiently away from the mic, after giving yet another memorable, poetic announcement (smoke "billowed," the sky was "cloudless and still"), I pinpointed the feeling. I immediately remembered the 1997 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Deniro, Wag the Dog.

So, are we wagging? Who knows. One thing is for certain though, with the Boogeyman officially dead, we can all sleep better tonight. And that is indeed, a victory.

God bless America... and no place else.