Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dube, Lucas, Fire, Water & Records

They're weeping in Azania, We weep along with them.

Before the nation went rock, before the Sync Sound Revolution, before we took on the raging Bull of Life by the uncanny horns, fed on VoK drivel, as we ducked Saba Saba missiles and choked on Kamkunji gas, we heard visions in riddim.
  • Prisoner (1989)
  • Captured Live (1990)
  • House of Exile (1991)
  • Victims (1993)
  • Trinity (1995)

Without any irreverence to the other diadems in the 22 album Soundtrack to Love and Freedom, these I mention for I can testify with sincerity for them as being masterful expressions for a generation. We thank you.

Philip Lucky Dube. 1964-2007.


It had to happen. The Roc Boys have it on repeat in the studio, there've been pre-screenings for a good while now everywhere...the hood had to get it. Good quality too.

Initial response: Denzel and Russell do not disappoint. They did good to keep most aspects of the amazing Frank Lucas story in the film without slowing it down. How they connected Russell's character into the story was nicely done. Watched it twice in a row, had to trash a night recording session earlier in the week. The fam was bugging in the lab, we couldn't work after. This is definitely going to be the Black Gangster Flick that crosses over. Take somebody nice to see it.

First World Disaster Shelter style: the recent billion dollar Cali wildfires had started to create a Katrina type situation at Qualcomm stadium, but CNN reported acupuncture, yoga and child art modules at the shelters. From the frying pan into a prone position huh. While air quality is an issue, the scheduled NFL game at Qual is still on. Scuba gear on the Running Back?

30,000 strong at those recent Celtel Gospel events. Let them bang. Another weekend event is coming up in early November featuring Byron Cage, Trin-i-tee 5:7, Chevelle Franklin, Donald Lawrence, J Xavier, Junior Tucker, Dunamis among others. Interesting to see Reggae performers like Franklin and Tucker included. It's all very timely. This December we definitely need some Godly Shine through the polls.

Jigga's album's leaking in fits and sounding very promising. Let that b*tch breathe! Freeway and Beans round out the Roc Assault and Memph is also doing the rounds again. Beyond Reasonable Doubt, the scrapped tribute album is circulating.

Playaz Circle, DTPs latest vehicle of longtime DTPers Tity Boy and Dolla boy are also dumping. Luda, Rick Ross and Bub B air out a Clinton Sparks bouncy. Ransom and Buddens are switching heated bars. I loved the A-team. Nas has once again created buzz around his new album with some well placed controversy. Don't forget Facemob on the loaded December 4th and Weezy twice: in December and early 2008.

Some recent US Record sales if you care.

Stakes is high? Check how much water is in your glass.


Oh, to my man Kallous, Gun 'em Up.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Ja & Opium, The-Dream & Magazines

Aah, still balmy in the East. But the sun isn't the full story.

New albums are expected from Jay-Z, Styles P, Sheek Louch, Wu-Tang and Nas. In the first quarter of 08, anticipate new offerings from Pete Rock and Stack Bundles. They all have new music on the loose.

It's still bubbling here Up Top, Durty Souf Takeover and all. They gave Big Daddy Kane a Crying Ovation in Philadelphia recently. New Sony signee Jim Jones will be in town Sato.

Some lanes are getting official. Opium has a situation cooking.

And other lanes come back to haunt you.

Okay, so I've stated before that Ja Rule was washed up, but he's trying to gather some momentum especially in the wake of 50's (still not Platinum) recent non-stratospheric outing (For the record I was feeling Ja back in the Cash Money Clique era; It's the sing-along, new millenium dumbed down Ja that messed it up for me).

If "Body" is anything to go by, he's not shying away from what made him really popular at the beginning of this decade, the same style his nemesis took to the bank. He will be performing alongside Opium Black next weekend (I couldn't find Ja's side of the flyer, with apologies). Ja's been building his buzz since last April, and the scene is warming up to him way much better this time around.

This month's Vibe Magazine has a write up on new Def Jam artist, songwriter, producer and R&B pop tart Nivea's hubby The-Dream, who has easily done most of the heavy lifting in Urban Pop music this year with three catchy records: Rihanna's "Umbrella," J-Holiday's "Bed," and his own "Shawty Is a Ten." His album is expected in stores soon.

Online, Vibe chops it up with in vogue beatman DJ Toomp, while XXL is staying on top of Jigga's American Gangster gestation, just like they did with last year's Kingdom Come, with tantalizing peeks from the lab.



Monday, September 10, 2007

Bye Ciks, Radio & Records

Some sensations are best left unlearned, but you know the feeling. The one where the day starts off drab enough but as it wears on you quietly feel this looming dread, like something's off with the world. Without any explanation, you feel as if your emotions should be different from what they currently are. But it's impossible to put a finger on why. But you can't really dwell on the unknown so you try to play things cool and try to get your mind on another track...

The 27th of August was like that for me. My daily compadres could even sniff it off me or it was painted in my posture. I knew the feeling...something wild was up. Eventually early in September I got word that another magnificent person had dipped out of this existence.

Ciks, warm, loving, adventuresome, face like cool water in a Sahara noon. Wish I could've known you better. To Sweet and Crew, my sincere sympathies. We shall look out for The Gift.


It's been kitambos since I dipped through. Don't kill me I've started writing this particular entry so many times in the past few weeks, but keep getting pulled away. It's still hot outside. The grind continues. There's been some bossy things going on. We put together a brand for our region to make it distinct from anything else in the world. CTGC is the name of the movement at the forefront of a new eastern assault. It's basically a way to bring all the top talent out here to the masses. Initial buzz has been good, radio has embraced us and a small tour is in the works.

Speaking of radio, Friday Sept 14th at 10:41 pm things finally came full circle. For the first time ever I heard a song that I produced, recorded and mixed get spun on radio. It's a little reggae thing we did late in the summer. Special shout out to DJ Wrexx and DJ Phenom. Y'all go in!

While everyone has been excited about the return of the Greatest Waste of Sunday ever created, sorry, I mean the NFL, I've been more keen on the Rugby World Cup. Although I've only really watched a handful of games, it's a needed restoration of my sanity.

Caught 50 Cent at an impromptu performance the day before his album dropped. Onstage he's tight and very polished. Although the venue wasn't packed to the rafters, the crowd was jumping for the duration of the 90 minute set. A lot of people are making a fuss about the first week album sales but the more telling statistic: the second week numbers that fell by at least 75% for both Kanye and Fif. Who knew Talib Kweli (68k) would debut on top of Swizz Beatz, (28k) who seemed to have all the major media outlets on smash. The biggest loser though must be T.I. who has to deal with seeing former long time collaborator DJ Toomp throw his synth game with beautiful effect all over Kanye's album.

In the meantime you can all lament the burial of music videos as a mainstream tv format in the US. Viacom's BET, the last network standing as far as playing videos instead of alternative non music related programming, has ditched all pretentions of playing videos even for 3 hours a day. The once hallowed Rap City is now a late night afterthought.

Pray for the babies, and Free Jena 6!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pieces of August

Three Mondays ago, the good folks at finally caught up with Opium's early spring mixtape for one of their never-ending mixtape reviews. An early Monday blessing for me, with the honorable mention. I was able to sneak 5 beats this go-around and at least one stuck on the reviewer. Good fuel for the grind. New Opium music arrives in a few weeks.

August has bottomed out weatherwise. It's usually unbearably balmy for some, but not for me. So seeing the hoodies and longsleeved outerwear come out this early is not cool. Maybe it's fitting. I'm still black inside after I lost someone I loved to cancer earlier this year. Plus it isn't always glory in the summer: two block wheelies on the Hayabusas, mamis in impossible shorts, performances, cookouts and slow sliding down streets blasting Gyptian in the city. Stand up people get sent up no bail, ones who don't know how to man up suffer man-downs and the determined will forcibly yank your cake.Then again, there're moments when you see up-and-up situations and through the grind and the pitfalls you still feel the blessings.

Common debuted on top with 155K. A good number in these shrunk market days. Talib Kweli, who's enjoying a good look with his album, is feeding the streets along with Clinton Sparks. Check out the brand new mixtape.

I don't know about your hood, but around here Max B is riding that Dipset crest well. His second show in as many weeks at the same venue goes down this weekend. It's a spectacle how these more hardcore street-oriented rappers get celebrity status in these grimy northeastern cities with or without an album. Mobb Deep, D-Block, Red Cafe, Cassidy and others receive a lot of adulation. Being in a position to be behind the scenes and seeing the digi-cam flashbulbs going off at paparazzi rates when Max B pulled up to the venue by a mob of mostly women caught me off guard. And some of these ladies can be of an exquisite rare breed... can quote Styles P better than me!

Speaking of behind the scenes, reggae's premier recording band Morgan Heritage were in town recently, which is sort of a homecoming for them, and I got the opportunity to kick with them on the tour bus as well as take in an hour-long set from an offstage vantage point. World class professionals, easy going, deeply Rasta and the cali bud smouldering in the back of the bus was making the window panes gooey. And their music: it really does sound much better than the record. Outstanding musicianship.



Friday, August 03, 2007

Do You Know What Today Is......

If Klara didn't blurt, I would have forgotten that my first year anniversary recently came and went.

Hold on while I find that Tony Toni Tone cut....

It's been a year y'all, although the latter part of it has been largely silent (Coming soon: Top 10 Reasons I Dissed The Blog this Summer). But for utilizing your eyeballs on this space, you, whoever you may be, whatever flavor of ice cream you like, no matter who you have gagged and tied up back at home, I feel enormous gratitude.

It's the Bombay talking...
next up: Tanq


I'm really tired of the Michael Vick backlash, all these folks who give dogs kisses and hugs, let them ride passenger in their cars, and buy them birthday cakes, crying about dog fighting. While Dick Cheney couldn't even get a Police Report done when he mistook a hunting partner for a bird. If recreational hunting and fishing are okay, as in hunting or fishing for which the primary goal isn't to provide sustenance, then dog fighting should be palatable too.


I didn't believe it when I heard Ginuwine on the Walt Baby Love R&B countdown in 1998 talking about how he was unable to keep up with what music was on the radio or out on the market while he worked with Timbaland on 100% Ginuwine. This summer has been a revalation in that lesson, especially since I really haven't been doing the clubs or mixtapes, and hence without reason to keep up, while I stay in the lab cooking.

But I couldn't stay away for good. Chrisete Michele's Def Jam album I Am is a wonderful excursion in Jazz tinged soul with some hiphop thrown in to keep the likes of me stuck. Pharaohe Monch did pretty good with his album after a 8 year break, but SRC don't understand the kind of gem he brought to them. "When the Gun Draws" needs a video badly. Talib Kweli's new joint Ear Drum knocks. He gave Pete Rock a good look with all them beats. There is definitely some beautiful work in there as he expands and becomes more worldly, I dare say? T.I.'s joint was little worn for me. Nothing extraordinary.

Also trying to get with:

Mavado - enough already with that gangsta chant, riddim after riddim and no album. Finally!

Common - The hood talks, and he was recently around on tour with Lupe and Kanye. Word is he stole that show. I last saw him doing duty with his band Black Girl Named Becky a few years back and he was righteous. Definitely worth the effort to check him out, as should banging the new LP, Finding Forever.

Keith Murray - Def Squad cool. Worth the price of the Sermon beats alone.

Elephant Man - Five O is sickly to me.

Munga Honarable - a reggae revalation from Capleton's camp

Ransom - Best In The City Part 2. New Jersey dude is hardbody.

Somebody might pepeta me after this.
Opium Black - Black Plague. The mixtape. Take it.

A goodly weekend to you.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Top Eight @ 8


Waay past Fashionably late, more like tragically.

Short is sweet. Eloquence in the minimum is one of my current muses.

Smoky voiced chicks have a headstart with me.

Eternally I shall fiend for raw funk.

In my musical dabbling I haven't been really starstruck by anyone, but I was deeply humbled when I met reggae impresario Calvin "Cocoa Tea" George Scott.
it's majorly owed.

I love horror flicks, macab in becoup, but I shouldn't say that. It's been a black summer.

I can't gain a damn kilo. Ever since young boy high school rudgescapades, it's been mbweha season without a muscle to show for it.

To Bang out Tunes. Wished on being a fly on the wall, now maybe I can chisel the walls in. I'm Grateful for that shot.

Four plus four
I believe in guardian angels. Listen.

Now all that other mess about Picking 'Em and Bait. Bilaz. You Lost.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Elastoplast Cup

The names have been changed to avoid fingers being pointed directly at me.

Her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. Mugo was quickly enraptured by the white clarity in which her dark irises floated on and almost forgot to hear what she said next.

"It's you!" she hissed, instinctively backing away from him.

From a far away place, Mugo heard a gaggle of laughter from his boys and his mind zoomed off in fantastic rewind.


The Std 1 class of Mrs Phylis Ogot was his first exposure. The first few weeks of school had been fun, even more so because Mrs Ogot didn't know just how many other kids Mugo was already friendly with. Every other day he was reassigned a desk mate, and almost each combination of boys he was paired to sit with had brought on another installment of in-class bedlam. While Mugo was smart enough to pay attention and buckle down when necessary, his comrades were more blatant in their disregard for Mrs Ogot in class, a transgression for which Mugo would pay for as lead instigator.

"Duncan was not like this before he was sitting with you Mugo. He hasn't done his English exercises today and yet he was doing them last week. What are you telling him?" The harangue would always come before a six stroke whipping with a three foot piece of garden hose across the back of his legs. It wasn't his fault that Duncan didn't want to finish his work before they embarked on the more interesting rubber band wars. And Duncan only got four canes and a warning, while Mugo was stuck with six delicious ones and a threat to get Mummy and Daddy involved. The previous week with Philip and the week before that with William it was the same thing. Mugo would find himself walking back to his seat, back bowed, rubbing the welts on the back of his legs, hot tears lingering in his eyes on the edge of a shameful dispatch down his face.

Mrs Ogot was keen to tame Mugo's hyperactivity and to also channel his seemingly effortless ease at school work. There was a girl in the class, shy almost to a fault, who didn't seem to have grasped the alphabet fully, let alone write her name on top of an exercise book. She would prove to be the interactive brick wall that Mugo would not be able to get into mischief with. For now. Then when the turf got more familiar, Mugo's brilliance would rub off on her. Mrs Ogot smiled her knowing smile. She should've thought of that weeks ago.

"Catherine, I want to grab your bag and go and sit with Duncan. Mugo, I want you to go sit at Catherine's place next to Florence." Catherine rose gleefully as if she had been ordered to the playground forever, while Mugo tried hard to keep a straight face as he slowly shuffled away from his back-of-the-class suite with Duncan over to the desk that was linked to Florence's. Florence was oblivious to all this, her face stuck to the desk, fast asleep. She came to with a start as Mrs Ogot bellowed her name with one side of her face sweaty. The class chuckled.

Mugo got his first good look at Florence. If all the stories were true he was going to hate her. Catherine had been going on and on during breaks about how Florence smelled like urine and how she like to play with her spit, using it to draw on her arm and her desk, to the general disgust of her audience. Then when it became apparent that Florence didn't know her numbers or her letters, it got even funnier. Some speculated she was mad. It didn't help that she talked to herself but rarely spoke in class, was caught napping all the time and wrote in her book backwards like an Arabian. Mugo regarded her as he approached his front-of-the -class confinement cell: bony thin; disheveled hair with knots; the blouse, sweater and skirt combination that were twice her size; the sweater was already frayed at the cuffs; her upper teeth that peeped slightly from underneath a struggling upper lip and those big bulbous eyes, red at the corners, that seemed designed to fit a face on a totally different strain of humanoid.

There and then Mugo decided not to like the girl at all.

Three days later and Mugo still couldn't believe he was still sitting in front of the class with Florence. It never seemed to stop. Daily she would show up giving off a whiff of stale pee, hair still raggedy. All her books were dog eared and she like to deface the pictures in them with her pencil while she whispered to herself. When it came to schoolwork Mugo was not appreciating how she always seemed to get off the hook with Mrs Ogot. While apparently he couldn't draw a good enough car during art class, she drew a cat, and got the teachers approval. Cats were the only thing she knew how to drew, and stick figure men. Lots of cats, lots of stick figure men, all the time. Even when the teacher commissioned pieces depicting a Safari Rally Car. And whenever Mrs. Ogot wasn't looking, the fun happened without Mugo. He would watch with a rock stuck down his throat as Duncan and cohorts flipped through a new Jocks and Georgies comic book or launched paper jets out of the window. Events for which up to recently he had been the main steward.

Then one afternoon not too long after, while conducting a mathematics session in the class, Mrs Ogot wrote up some sums in the chalkboard, and then went around the class supervising and giving one-on-one instructions. Mugo wrapped his sums up and turned away from Florence as he usually did and quietly watched Anthony's work progress. Anthony sat directly behind Mugo and they had become quite friendly. Soon Anthony was done and both he and Mugo started whispering to each other. Suddenly the quiet murmur in the class was cracked by a shrill proclamation.

"Teacher! Teacher! Mugo and Anthony are talking!"

Even Mrs Ogot was amazed at Florence's unsolicited outburst. She dropped her other pupils and approached frowning, another caning looming for Mugo. But Florence's speaking up for the first time was probably the only reason why Mugo and Anthony escaped, or maybe also for the fact that Florence had also inexplicably done all her math sums, and they were all correct. Just like Mugo's. Mugo knew better, the wily wench had copied his work. When Mrs Ogot turned away she pulled out her tongue at Mugo and glared at him with her outlandish orbs. Mugo was amazed at this sudden escalation in hostilities. While before, he tried to totally ignore her and deal with Anthony and his more becoming desk mate, Janet, waging a silent war of ignoring Florence to the maximum, this was brand new territory that Mugo had not seen coming.

It got worse the following day, she copied his English exercises in the morning and started pinching Mugo on his thighs, where his lower limbs showed from underneath his shorts. Mugo, trying not to call anymore attention on himself, refused to let himself alert Mrs Ogot. Florence got braver that afternoon, pointing a thin finger at him and letting a warm flap of spit land spectacularly in his eye. Before Mugo could react, she spoke out again.

"Teacher, teacher, Mugo is pinching me!"

Mugo was flabbergasted, not knowing how he ended up on the wrong end of a set-up. Once again he found himself shuffling back to his seat, the back of his legs burning and Florence showing her version of a cheeky smile. Cold rage sat with him as he rubbed his legs, one word burning in his head: WANTED!

that Nairobi school version of the Mafioso's Black Hand. If someone placed a wanted on you it meant that that person had a score to settle and it usually meant fisticuffs of some kind outside of any adult jurisdiction. It could be through a gentleman's pact with a date and time for the fight penciled in, or it could be an unannounced guerrilla attack by one or many on the victim. Florence had just earned herself one.

The execution of the Wanted came easily for Mugo. He briefed Duncan as soon as the bell rang for the end of school that day. They both knew Florence waited for her father to come pick her up in a small fiat. She would be sitting alone by the parking lot in the shaded bay or in the sun scrawling some type of hex or hieroglyphics in the dirt. All Duncan had to do was divert Mugo's cousin who always came to pick him up from school with a story that Mugo had already left. While the cousin was distracted, Mugo would nail Florence.

Mugo's cousin, Rose got worried as soon as Duncan planted the lie and quickly began retracing her steps to see if she had missed Mugo down the street somewhere. Meanwhile, Mugo who had been watching for that exit, raced to execute. He had his sweater wrapped around his head in his best effort to imitate a ninja mask. Florence sat facing towards the parking lot her eyes directly in the path of the lowering sun, like she enjoyed staring into it. Mugo wondered about that odd behavior as he turned the corner and came up on Florence from behind, grabbing her by the shoulder and turning her so her face ran into the open palm that came down towards it with a resounding slap.

Mugo didn't even stop to admire his work, but he definitely heard her thin voice grow into a loud wail. He scooted off racing towards the school gate, mingling with the crowd of exiting children, grabbing his backpack from a patient Duncan who was waiting right outside his gate and they ran off to meet Mugo's cousin down the street.

Florence never returned to school the next day, or ever again.


The Kenya National Music Festivals for schools have always been a prime angling spot for high-school students to meet and mingle, under the guise of performance arts, to make some interesting connections that could be cashed in during the school holidays. Mugo was there with his three buddies and in the essence of keeping things interesting they had come up with a challenge. Each would have to approach a strange female that the other ones picked and try to make friends or make connection. Already one of them, Edwin, had made a pretty good case for himself, snatching up a part-tanzanian beauty's charms.

Mugo's turn. They picked out a slim but curvy concoction in a light blue blouse and navy blue skirt with hair that came down to her shoudlers. Mugo clapped in excitement, "Thank you so much. I know we can't tell what she looks like from here but I can tell you that she is flyer than Tabitha, Edwin." And he left his crew crowing happily at the expense of Edwin's portly girlfriend.

Mugo marched off, shoulders square. His target was ambling slowly with another accomplice on their way back to the plenary hall, to watch a performance perhaps. He was catching up to them speedily. They stopped as they ran into a group of boys in a maroon uniform and Mugo watched the engagement from a short distance. His target was indeed really pretty. Her smile flashed brightly, the pearls in her mouth brilliant in the sun. He waited to see if his quarry was lost to the boys in maroon. The ladies split from the guys and kept walking. Mugo saw his chance to swoop. He quickened his step and was on them almost immediately.

"Excuse me," he said in the deepest baritone his 16 year old voice could attain. The ladies turned around. "I was wondering whether you ladies are from my cousin's school," a cheap lie that had worked the day before on pretty much every girl Mugo spit that opener to. Mugo was solely tuned in to his attractive mark, whose smile faded and immediately looked at him inquisitively. Mugo felt a little hot at the collar in the four-fifty -something Nairobi heat, his mind trying to figure out why her face looked familiar. She needed to unleash that smile again, it was intoxicating to Mugo. An uneasy silence grew as Mugo racked his brains.

Her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. Mugo was quickly enraptured by the white clarity in which her dark irises floated on and almost forgot to hear what she said next.

"It's you!" she hissed, instinctively backing away from him.

From a far away place, Mugo heard a gaggle of laughter from his boys and his mind zoomed off in fantastic rewind.

He immediately remembered Duncan, Mrs Ogot, badly drawn cats and stick figure men, a whiff of stale urine and a wail that started low and built in cresendo and sad emotion. Mugo swiftly kicked back to reality with the cries echoing in his mind. In place of the the long lost euphoria of a Wanted executed perfectly was shame, at a Wanted executed perfectly.

"That was a long time ago Florence, we were only in class one."

He was talking to the wind. She had turned around with her accomplice and melted into the crowd, leaving Mugo watching aghast. His rowdy crew finally caught up with him, one of them in near tears. They had found their champion.

Mugo had to wear the Elastoplast Band somewhere prominent, like on the face or neck for the next three days.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hot outside, ebooks, 10,000 Watts & Drumming

A goody goody salute to you.

When it gets hot outside, it really gets hot outside. The young boys here go berserk with the deading. But there's nothing like a little perspective for that ass. Recent Mungiki vs. Police killings make Northeast Gutter City pop-off Shenanigans seem like an episode of Fraggle Rock. Who was down with Fraggle Rock? Yeah you know me! Leo Faya had a Buru Reminisce Piece that you may want to feel out. I might just be down for a back-in-the-day version of my own, like Faya said, before the dementia sets in. Some people never need worry.

Speaking of which, American Football has a case to answer as far as depression, dementia and general brain damage is concerned. I always knew there was trouble with those blunt hits.

Big up to my brother Sultan on the alert. The EA Standard had a piece this weekend about the cut-throat turf wars on the K.E. entertainment scene. On all levels, from Event Hosts to Bouncers. Pretty soon, even the bartenders are going to get in on it. The very interesting thing to me is that D.S. Njoroge is the go-to guy for all the big international shows, which I suspect is because of his well known 10,000 watt sound system. (I'm ashamed he ok'd Ja Rule... Richie Spice....more like it. Most definitely worth it to see that Dread live at least once in your life). Still, no new pretenders in the Biggest Sound in K.E. race?

It's a beautiful thing...when Namibia comes to Nairobi and falls. Now, they can nail up a new scalp at the RFUEA grounds with Morocco doing that now-dead Motorbike dance move formerly dearly beloved by my bredren Msanii....Going Dooowwn.

With ODM not finding a suitable Flag Bearer at this point in the game is telling. Raila is already looking to 2012! But that doesn't mean ODM is done with. Peep Alexcia's reasons. All the same, a stalemate now only means someone will end up being frustrated late in the game, and not entirely willing to yum up on the humble pie, and bail.

Nuff Respect to Akiey, who is grinding heavy in the Midwest, currently pitching a Barack Obama ebook, Best Speeches of Barack Obama, available for free download for a limited time. With New York City Mayor and I-don't-need-your-guap-rich billionaire Michael Bloomberg almost throwing his hat in the ring, the leading candidates on the both the Democrat and Republican sides must make their cases known before this turns into another year 2000 type fiasco, where the Dems were left baying for spoiler Ralph Nader's blood, as Ross Perot is back in a flashy NYC format.

Who didn't see this coming: he's portrayed God already, so what's a little Nelson Mandela going to do for him? Morgan Freeman is Nelson Mandela in a recollection of SA's 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph. Coming soon, White and Blacks united under one banner... White America will shed a tear. Wait...wasn't there only one black player on the 1995 Springboks? Chester Williams, I believe? Jonah Lomu. What a beast he was in that tournament. The memorable mismatch I recall was the one with those tiny Japanese team peeps trying to hold on to their dignity as Lomu trod them underfoot.

So what do I does on a fly Sato night like this one? The truth, I'm heavy in the lab, cooking up some new heat. No bashdowns tonight. The time hasn't arrived for me to speak on what's on the horizon. Still, the dirty work must get done, Monday to Sunday. Break time is over. Must go find my 808 kit and get busy. Thankfully the team is present and it's riot in here. I wouldn't prefer it otherwise.



Friday, June 15, 2007

Money, Gaza & Death.

Oh yeah that Time has come again....

The Time when I look at my tv and wonder what is going to happen to it now that the NBA is over....No more basketball on tv till it's cold again......

San Antonio are the testament to the Tortoise Way to Run Things. Phoenix and Dallas, the high flying (aka sunguch) teams in the West ran out of steam before the post season, while the Spurs had been easily choo-chooing at a steady clip only seeming to up the ante in the playoffs. The scary thing? The Big Three (Duncan, Ginobili and brand new Finals MVP, Parker) remain unchanged in the line-up until 2011. I wish that was exciting news. By the way, who's keeping count of how many rings Robert Horry has amassed? Look for trades to happen quickly in Cleveland.


On Madaraka Dizzay, Tony Thompson passed. Not to be confused with the late drummer from funk outfit Chic, this Thompson was the lead vocalist in the young boy group Hi Five.

The Gems: 1990, I Like the Way (Kissing Game) had smooch rookies in boarding school seeking out cute, willing guinea pigs for lip lock behind the girls bathroom at supper time on Sundays, while the rest of us hungry bastards were trying to miraculously acquire an extra piece of meat (incidentally, the resulting blackmail would guarantee some of us extra nyaks for weeks). FFWD>> 1992 She's Playing Hard To Get and Quality Time, the former being a quality New Jack Swing effort that lit up many a venue with masses united in the execution of the that dance they called the Pyrate, while I assume the lyrics from Quality Time found perfect use on a high school love letter or two. Or for simply yumming up the baby making....

Then came Sexsational, the solo LP in 1995 with a first single I Wanna Love Like That that stayed booming in matts for months, as well as in Bubbles and Visions; John Karani and crew hyped it up on the English Service drive time show (before the wide wonderful world of FM babies), and it definitely had my vote for one of the better R&B jams of that year, as if we were starving for good crack then.

Tony Thompson, dead at 31. Initial reports speculate it may have been a drug related death but the official word hasn't been released yet. In any case, for all the good flavas, my simple tribute. R.I.P. Thanks for the tunes and memories.


This is also blowing under the radar, but the East Cost Rap Fraternity is mourning Monday's shooting death of Stack Bundles. Most recently affiliated with Dipset's Byrd Gang Crew, he initially stormed on the scene with other Desert Storm alums Joe Budden and Ransom under that banner. Bundles had a unique slick, thugged out oh-so-New York flow. Gutter and outspoken, his fodder was the streets and all the non-fluffy things in them unless, of course, it was a spanking new Lexus LS 460h or similar artifacts of couture and grace. His immersion into Dipset along with Jim Jones brethren Max B is directly related to Jim Jones stylistic upgrade, which led to Jones making some mainstream noise in 2006. Bundles' debut Dipset mixtape appearance was in 2006, on the same mixtape Jones' banger We Fly High debuted on. Outside of Dipset, he was involved with his own crew Riot Squad (Bynoe, thanks for everything, we're with y'all). Stack Bundles has been a mixtape favorite since 2004, it's a suprise Papoose, Saigon, Joell Ortiz, Tru Life, Maino, Uncle Murder and Red Cafe were all toting major label deals before him.

Never heard spitting some sappy mess for the ladies, always spitting crack tales, gunfights or styling on them retardedly, this is definitely one rapper I was checking for in NY...he never took a day off in his rhymes. He will be missed. No street mixtape of mine was complete without a Stack Bundles contribution. Definitely, his passing is an alert for all rappers with one foot in the game, other foot in the streets.

Rayquon Elliott, dead at 24. Before his time in the sun.


It's not a movie, not 28 Days or Weeks Later. 5 Days later, Gaza Strip is owned by Hamas. In the same week, an anti Syrian Lebanese MP is assassinated and a suspected terrorist bomb goes off in the Green City in the Sun. A freaking cowinkidink?


The US Immigration Bill dead and buried? Coming soon....The next week soon.


Holla at Half n Half. Good thing you kicked them cigarette thangs to the curb, as the Jamhuri Budget attacks smokes and beer for the umpteenth time (Brand new entry at number 3... Free High School!!). Better roads, more teachers and coffee farmers get debt relief.




Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tuesday at the Training Camp

Mid-afternoon, early May 2007. Walking up Avenue A on a leafy sun-blessed Gotham afternoon. Tis a wonderful thing that it warmed early this year, as these NYU co-eds are keeping your boys open. With a more reticent and dignified appeal, this part of Manhattan is one I could get used to. Maybe I'm in the South Bronx and Brooklyn too much, I need to style up. But far from a lolly gag episode of fun possibilities (a shame, because dark haired queen posted up on the corner looks like the one for me. Me and her hand in hand through the park, what!), we head a block up away from the park towards a mob lined up outside a nondescript entrance. White tees and fitted hats, allover print hoodies, bapester and air force one sneaks and a slight whiff of piff. There are a few ladies sprinkled in the crowd but this for the most part is a heavily testosterone scene.

Every Tuesday night at this unassuming location in Manhattan the doors get flung open for New York to get a taste of what's next in the streets. The brainchild of Brooklynite Mental Supreme, the night is billed as Tuesday Training Camp, which also doubles up as the moniker for his nicely quorumed rap crew. Although it's only 4:45 in the afternoon, the sidewalk outside Club Pyramid is owned by these early birds. There will be no latecomers, especially when this is going to be a Tuesday more special than most. When Mental Supreme shows up to take count he only takes those he will see outside into consideration, otherwise you just might have to be really special. Mental's dark suv pulls in at about 5:30. He walks up to the chained doors holding a list, exchanging greetings with all and announces "Aight, who was first?"

In a suprisingly orderly way, the list builds itself. People go out of their way to point out who was there ahead of them. Even those who had been in line but had stepped away and were still missing at Mental's arrival are spoken for. Getting there this late in the game would mean looking at at least 20 people ahead of us, but coming from two hours away on a last minute call-up goes well with Mental. We find ourselves among the first six performers. Once the performances are settled, the crowd melts away to await showtime at 10:00pm.

While there are many similar forums all over the region, Tuesday Training Camp has built a reputation for being a brutally honest rapper showcase. No hoopla about cash prizes, celebrity judges or studio time up for grabs here. Just bring it. If the crowd isn't with it by the time the first hook is done they're obliged to clap you off. Maybe you'll luck up the following week. In a room full of backpacker-like purists and street honed lyricists, their fans, wannabe rappers, highly opinionated people somehow involved in rap music and label execs, the tolerance level is pretty low. We were hoping for a few familiar faces in the crowd but we had left our turf by ourselves, just the two of us, at the last minute scrambling to get out of work to make it there. The crowd that evening was a good mix of suits and baggy jeans, skirts and apple bottom slacks complete with a squadron of boisterous Brooklyn and Jersey dames. Where Harlem at? We make sure we hand out as many cds as possible.

The lights go dim as the DJ fades out his warm-up set of mid-90's boom bap. It's 9:45 but the building is already packed and there is a queue down the street. Mental and sidekick Biggs, who is a leading Training Camp member, get on stage as the Masters of Ceremonies. In the building that evening are executives from G-Unit, Atlantic, Universal and Interscope as well as scouts from D-Block and Def Jam. It's a networking bonanza. Then the reason why Mental had been adamant about us showing up becomes clear: MTV were set up ready to tape the event and there would be a special performance in the middle of the showcase by a brand new Interscope Records artist. The place gets hype. Due to the massive turnout for the showcase that week each act gets to do one song only.

First act, Ancient Scroll, an older, nay, middle aged West Indian with an off beat flow, but tonight he's just off beat and he's offstage in a rush. Act Two launches to the stage with a portable fog machine and polyester outfit like a leftover from an 80's funk band. His love song has an extra long intro and before he even lays into his song he's booed off. Act three is looking jitterish. Indeed, he's forgotten the end of his first verse. Gone. We're up.

Wait. We didn't rehearse, we are about to perform a song that we've never performed before, the crowd has tasted blood and no doubt they want more. Damn, we're up this early? So be it New York. Let's play.

"What up What up....I go by the name Smalls," my partner booms into his mic. "This joint is called Let's Go." With a slight eye cue from me the DJ sets track two off and I enthusiastically plow into my hype man role seeking to quickly find the zone. Smalls goes into the first verse. The crowd watches silently waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Being lyrically deft is a good thing in here and this uptempo club joint has heads bouncing. It seems to be going well with the ladies also. I latch on Smalls' punchlines accentuating them for impact. While Smalls tilts his mic upward rooted to the spot preaching, I venture to roam the small stage casually doing my romp nailing my cues. The second verse is wrapping up and I'm definitely feeling the heat rising from under my shirt, the words are getting throatier, the neck is snapping harder and our posture is confident. I'm channelling Freaky Tah tonight. Smalls is stellar as usual. It's the final stretch now, I spy a girl with a golden jacket and stunna shades getting atop a speaker to the right of us. That's the fuel I need. We've got them. Now we're right on the brim of the stage, words loud, spittle flying, right hand on the mic, left arm in the air body moving in time. "Let's Go!" The music cuts, and the crowd lightly claps. Props never come easy in The Rotten Apple or anywhere in the North East for that matter. And amid the clapping the rant goes up among that Brooklyn bevy, "Bullet! Bullet!" Bless them.

Post-Morterm: Phew... The first survivors of the night. I wonder if it was a good call going up that early, but better that than when the crowd gets weary ten acts in. And this new song we did sounds good live. Good pick.... Damnit Smalls, we forgot to shout out New York. We barely talked to them tonight. Not that it matters. Not as much as when the clapping was happening, as the gunfingers went up in the air, as my Brooklyn darlings saluted us, we proclaimed these words proud. Prouder words still. "Big Up all Africans."

Big Up.

Check out Smalls' brand new mixtape THE BRIEFING available for download.


Friday, June 01, 2007

Madaraka Dizzay!!!!

As I ride into the Nyayo Staduim in the ceremonial titties-out Land Rover with the the red guts.....white rungu in the air while the masses serve makofi za kilo and the Army Band toots that Presidential Funk....

I know, I know....I'm straight violating with the gross neglect of the blog, but for now I've promised myself less wwwing, more grindin, less new music, more 90's hewas and more sunshine. And it's been hot outside. May is always right, the month when the legs return from hiberbnation.

Many moons ago, courtesy of Half n Half I was tagged. Much obliged sweets.

---I'm self taught in a lot of ways. Taught myself to ride a bike, swim, dj, rap, making beats and production. I never really was anyone's understudy for these and other things. I need to study under a mack though. I kick game to chicks like a punk.

---I'm that jamaa they call the Anti-Flick. If I watch more than 10 new movies this year it'll be a brand new record. Don't even ask me the last time I was in the movie theatre. They already dropped Shrek 3 and Shrek 1 hasn't been seen yet. They just don't make movies edgy enough for me. Good winning over evil every single damn time is boring. As is that rapturous kiss that comes in the finale, and the villain's monologue before he takes the L.

----Few things rankle the kid, but I absolutely can't stand folks who see themselves better than the others. And those judgemental holier than thou I'm going to heaven while you flame in a sulphur diesel pit types. And bredren who will dismiss a skirt coz she's only an A-cup with a low fade like Fabolous. Allergic to all that.

----I have no problem being by myself. When I first hit the exile I never ran into another jamhuribody for over 2 years. Never felt the need to and I wasn't going to force it. Put me on an island with some books and some music and I'm good.

---I consider myself funny and all that, but I can never remember any jokes I've heard or been told to me. This is me: "Sikiza, a Rapper, a priest and an Irish man go to the bar and....wait... It's a Rabbi, A priest and a Polish guy...and then....wait....I'll be right back with more drinks."

---I like knowing all kinds of trivia. Like yesterday, I learned Giant Squid live between 1500 and 3000 feet under the sea. Or the AR-15 rifle was the precursor to the M16, which made it's disastrous debut in Vietnam. Or that none of you really give a frruqk.

----I write better than I talk. Like James Earl Jones or Wahome Mutahi, I was a born stammerer, learned my way out of it, but nothing ever comes out the way I want it to. If I could talk like a comic book character with conversation ballons right above my head I would. And every now and then I still st-st-tutter stutter.

I know I know....Say it, don't spray it. My fault.


I understand I must say something profound today in celebration. This has always stuck with me. From an old Cappadonna record. Slang Editorial. The very first line he spits.

'I came to a fork in the road and went straight.'


Happy Madaraka Day to y'all. Stay warm and enjoy Safari Sevens if you are up on the Equator, for those in the heat, warn me ahead of time where the cookout is at. I'm sick with meat on a metal grill over hot coals. And emptying your cooler.



Thursday, May 10, 2007

Planes, Hoops & Kisha

RIP to the KQ 507 Flight Victims.

But unfortunately, the Blame Game begins. Apparently even KQ isn't sure which pilot was in charge of the plane, a 20 year veteran or a 24 year old young blood. Reminds me of a recent trip where I saw two pilots in NY's JFK Airport looking at the departure screens trying to find the flight number for the plane they were supposed to be flying. You'd think they had been briefed before they even got to the airport. I was glad not to be on their plane.

The NBA Playoffs? More like a soap opera.

If you are missing the drama in the Western Conference NBA Playoffs, jump on the bandwagon. The first round Golden State Warriors - Dallas Mavericks series may have been the most entertaining hoops since the end of the Jordan era, and I mean when he retired the first time. Beat Em Down Jackson, Matt Barnes, BD, and Jason Richardson...stealing that first game in Dallas was magnificent. I was rooting for Denver too but they're going to need a third threat, or a deeper bench. I feel bad for the talented but young Chicago...Detroit is going to embarrass them. Lebron could finally put a respectable notch on his belt if the Cavaliers take New Jersey's scalp. The only hum drum thing about this year's playoffs: The play of the San Antonio Spurs. Their clinical not so exciting style may win them another championship at the expense of the high flying up-tempo Phoenix team. And the Utah Jazz may kill Golden State's Cinderella Story in it's second act.

And condolences also go out to the Chelsea folks. Big bad Man U happened.

American Idol's most recent reject, LaKisha Jones is the next Jennifer Hudson. She's not Melinda Doolittle, but she still has a powerful built-for-soul voice, sounding like wholesome Sunday cooking. Warm, righteous and filling. The way she killed that Whitney Houston song
I Have Nothing early in the game was ridiculous. Then how she blessed God Bless the Child? She better be signed already.

I'm going to apologize... I had intentions of posting up some brand new music for y'all but I'm time barred right now. I'mma have to keep this Badu to myself.



Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New Blog

Ladies and gentlemen, children, grunts, bastards, pimps, vagabonds and crack fiends of all ages,

You are invited to a special gala being held at The Badman Academy.

A pitiful selection of words and more words from two lunatics on the run from mental asylum.

Opinions that speak of eargasms and little else, for your general regard and amusement.

The presentations will be on-going and are expected to continue perpetually or until the capture of the aforementioned lunatics is afforded, so you may attend at your own convenience.

Couture of regal bearing is preferred for this gala. Attendees may not forget to bring their fifths of Hennessey.




My heart goes out for kids running the streets,
Ten years old with nothing to eat, playing in dirt,
Hair never combed, been the same since birth,
And they moms gets too high to change they shirt,
Pardon me this is my vision, the shit that I live in,
Crack heads,baby mothers with n_gg_z in prision,
Stack bread playing the dozens with liqour and izm,
Clap lead, spraying your cousin for sticking your Wisdom,

Ransom - "Hood Visions"
From the 2006 mixtape: DJ Lust Presents Ransom Is The Best In The City

The effigy has been burning for a while. But the long time apprehensions of black activists like Chuck D, Rev. Sharpton and others has taken on new impetus since Bill O'Reilly, Paula Zahn, Anderson Cooper and other mainstream (read: white) commentators have jumped on the bandwagon in the aftermath of the Don Imus fallout (Pitiful, that if it doesn't have White America's imprimatur it remains a fringe issue). And the hollerations are clear: blame hiphop!

Blame hiphop for the fact that influential white Radio Jock, Imus, called some high achieving Black women nappy-headed hoes and got crucified for it; that many of the images you see in Black Entertainment involve misogynistic and derogatory images of women; blame it for the subversive street messages like those that exhort all and sundry to stop cooperating with the police; that Inner City violence continues. Blame hiphop that words like Bling bling have made into the official American Lexicon. Blame hiphop!

Hiphop, like Blues, has always exhibited a blunt-force-trauma style of presentation. While Michael Dyson, Sharpton and others were trying to put together soundbytes for the media castigating the Federal Government as it wrung its hands early in the Hurricane Katrina Disaster, rapper Kanye West put it thus at a national telethon appearance: "George Bush doesn't care about Black People." You may have thought it, may have thought it was too contentious to say around the watercooler or at the supermarket checkout queue to the lady from next door, but there. Kanye stated without apology what he thought was the bottom line on a prime time national tv broadcast.

And hiphop has been saying it. Pinpointing the destruction that is part of the way of life of one of most endangered species on the Planet: the black man. Saying it in ways that the middle and upper class find uncomfortable to face. Jay-Z said "I can't see them coming down my eyes so I gotta make the song cry," rappers stunt like they're uberthugs in search of the next hapless victim to exact a 200 shot drive-by on, but beneath that, they are people wailing for a way out. Just like a drunk will stand up proclaiming he's fine to drive home and then totter dangerously on his feet quietly hoping the performance will elicit a volunteer from his audience to shuttle him safely home.

Before we blame the bearer of the unpalatable news, there are issues that have been ignored for far much longer than hiphop was born in 1974. The disenfrachisement of the American Lower Class - populated by a majority of the black population - in wealth generation and education is not a hot button topic on Anderson Cooper 360 ( "Tonight on The O'Reilly Factor...Libraries. Where are they in the Ghetto?"). The misogyny directed at the Black Woman is a long-standing blight. Think Hottentot Venus, or the scores of black women sexually violated during slavery. Was that perpetrated by Nelly with Snoop keeping watch? The glorification of the Barbie ideal as the standard of beauty that has led Black People to reject their own kinky-headed and dark skinned beauty for horse hair extensions and skin lighteners, was that Uncle Luke's fault? When civic actions by elements of the Los Angeles Black society grew into the nationalist Black Panther Party, the FBI got involved in shutting it down for good and put black people in jail. In the early 20th Century Jewish immigrants in New York, for example, uplifted their lot by forming socialist type groups that created businesses, housing and social support for their own. Contrast that to the demise of the Black Wall Street. There are 2.2 million black males in american prisions, which is directly related to consistent long term discriminate vicitmization of black men by the Police and the Justice system.

Against this backdrop, with dilapidated neighborhoods that are simply economic deserts, the resultant crime and the violence it creates, drug abuse, prostitution and the ultimate disaster,the dismemberment of the Black Family, Hiphop Culture lives. What do you expect rappers to talk about? And while it's true that the billions in revenue hiphop generates come from a mostly white audience, the the audience a rapper directs his music to is the people who are from or bear a similar background to the rapper, or understand it. The rest of the world simply dials in, like watching a gripping reality show.

Another major issue that all the commentators gloss over is the American Recording and Radio Broadcast sectors which bear similarities with professional sports. While Blacks excel as performers in the arenas, they are a small presence in the boardrooms where billion dollar decisions that affect the game are made. And the Federal Trade Comission has been a cheerleader as the recording industry has dwindled to four major players through mergers and acquisitions (Sony, BMG, Universal & EMI) and 80 percent of all the radio stations in America are owned by two companies (Clearchannel and Infinity). The radio aquisitions were initiated by a Clinton-era law that a Republican majority Congress approved. It eliminated the cap on the number of radio stations a single company could own.

Let's not forget the main music video outlets that broadcast urban music (BET, MTV, VHI) are all owned by Viacom. There are simply no avenues today for rappers with an alternative voice to reach the mainstream without going through these corporate gatekeepers. And they are not interested in these rappers. In the early ninties for example, when the marketing formula wasn't set in stone yet, it was possible to contrast the NWA guntalk with the positive philosophies of the Native Tongue Collective. Both perspectives were on blast on major outlets and thus the audience was able to get a more nuanced message out of rap music. At the very least, there was a choice available to listeners.

Similarly in Hollywood, the gatekeepers dictate the content of black films: comedies and action flicks that exploit the common sterotypes. That's what's proven to deliver favorable box-office returns. Any attempts at creating dramatic or serious films that don't make a play on the sterotypes is simply not on the table.

The profit motive will always reign, and simply, vice sells. Be it violence, lust, pride or prejudice. Training Day is feted before Malcom X. Similarly, the recording industry knows now after the trials of the 80's and 90's and the runaway success of some rappers who lived and died by the gun in their lives and music (RIP), that 50 Cent will raise more eyebrows - and hence generate more revenue - than Common Sense. The radio broadcast industry, long in bed with the recording industry through a system of payments-for-airplay, bows to the the will of its symbiotic partner. When the decision is made to promote crime and gunplay, empty antagonism, excess materialism, pimpery and rump shaking and the stifling of messages of upliftment and genuine explorations issues in the ghetto, the rappers have no say. The ones that want to move from Hollis to the Hamptons, from Bankhead to South Beach, from Long Beach to Palm Springs, they have to hop to the masters organ tune and make music along these lines. Radio obliges and plays the same 30 or so songs the record companies want to sell the the most over and over, all day long. The playlist on a hiphop & r&b radio station in Boston is similar to the one in Chicago or St Louis or San Diego with few variations. Independent Labels that currently support messages alternative to the status quo in rap simply have no pull on mainstream networks, and therefore, their records never reach the larger part of the listenership.

And there is the problem, O'Reilly, Anderson Cooper et al. First, the opportunities for Rap and other Black music to fully express its First Amendment Right to Free Speech has been slaughtered at the altar of the Greenback Temple. The corporations involved do their best with marketing blitzes that leave the listenership no option but to swallow the drivel that is force fed to them.

Secondly and most important, the destructive issues that plague the ghetto haven't changed for generations, and thinking banning certain words from lyrics will change things in the ghetto, where these messages hit home the hardest, is window dressing. Parking the blame in front of the Rap driveway is myopic and futile. Integrated solutions that address the socio-economic issues as well as harmful messages in rap music are in order. So burn the Hiphop effigy. Paint it as the Bad Guy. Find Killa Cam and ask him why he won't snitch. Boost ratings, work up a lather among the Leafy Surbub Set whose kids buy the music and solve nothing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Indulge Responsibly

Horrorscene Hollywood Crack.

Zero calories.
100% source of essential Savage Music nutrients.
Regular users are advised to utilize a neck brace or enjoy this product from a relaxed or laying down postion.
Has an Automobile Association 5 Star in-cab entertainment rating.
Also interacts well with other intoxicants.

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Contents are highly habit forming.

24 Tracks. Heist International/Street Corner Ent Release. April 2007. Expires: Never.

Get high.

Is this what is feels like to be a proud daddy? Opium Black is the current Breeding Ground Artist on Past alumni include Joell Ortiz, Papoose, Stimuli and I believe Saigon. Some of these dudes are in major level situations. Ortiz just got signed to Aftermath last year, 'Poose is Mr. 1.5 million dollars and Saigon has an enviable unbeatable access to beats by Just Blaze courtesy of being signed to Blaze's Fort Knox imprint on Atlantic.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Picture Me Grindin

Aint nuthing to talk about pay me,
N_gga we go 'head and spark it out early,
When I'm gunning for your head,
I'm riding, you dying my gun go

Opium Black & Sam Scarfo - Bang (you can hear it here. You're late, you'll have to scroll down and search a little)

Riding in a nondescript two-seater at 11 am on a Saturday morning and it feels wrong to be outside right now. I mean, here I am barely five hours after I crept into my domicile for a hot meal and warm bed covers....chilling outside the theater, about 900 people inside getting the best of a Stepshow and we're waiting for them to come outside. It's no time to hunker down and wish for more slouch minutes, we need to be ready for them. Baaang.... that song gets me for real.... can I hear that one mo 'gain before we hop out the whip?

Something's wrong in the Northeast, it's April and the weather hasn't broken yet. This frigid nonsense makes the job harder. Taping up posters to walls and light poles with trembly and numb fingers. Oh well. Get those 5'X5' cd inserts in hand, make sure the grab bag has at least thirty cds in it. It's 11:30, let's revist what the rest of the team has done. Walk up to Don-Don and his homie finishing off a pungent dutch. It's looking good. Those posters are unmistakable up and down the street and in the parking lot. The City's going to hate us. When this crowd gets outside there's one thing they're going to see:

DJ Kurupt & Opium Black. Black Plague. In Stores Now.

12:15, the early birds start trickling out of the building Don-Don, his buddy and myself position ourselves by the main entrance. Every walking stiff gets handed a cd insert and an obligitory appeal is sounded for them to support the brand new mixtape 'in the streets now'. The cuties get a free cd if the sound excited enough, and the real dudes if they with it. The hobnobbing in the home city is usually easy. The dimes light up "Oh Opium! I met him before!" or "I've heard him on the radio!" or "I saw him on stage last summer! Where y'all at tonight?" And based on the misinformation served you might be copping some really utilizable digits from a pretty thang.

It's looking good. Don and his mans seem like they could handle what's left. I'm off with my my right hand man to handle some other work. We're heading towards the genesis of the whole movement.

The Northside.

An area of roughly 12 city blocks by 12 blocks. The reason why this city is a perennial feature on the top 25 most violent cities list in the The States. A wasteland of old colonial style two or three family houses and tri-level apartment blocks mixed in with corner stores and run-down shopping areas. Mostly of Black - with a heavy west indian bent - and Latino makeup. Streetcorner drug sales, late night gunfights, crazy parties in hole-in-the-wall joints and drug fiends walking up and down the main strips in broad daylight. Zombies trying to come back from the undead, if only for a while. That's jsut a small part of it. Many are just trying to get ahead and live good.

I get dropped off at the end of a busy thoroughfare, what we call The Ave, with a stack of posters and scotch tape. My partner is off to put cds in the stores. 45 minutes later I'm all the way up into the heart of the shopping area on the strip, putting up posters in and outside barber shops, hair salons, clothing stores food marts, convenience stores and liqour spots. Placement is key, trying to prominently position the posters for maximum reach both in and out of the premises. Not all stores are with it though. Some represent ah yard, them no want no Yankee nonsense dat. And some are christian. No hiphop grafitti on their walls.

An hour an a half later, slighty cold all over, my fingers definitely feeling frozen and abused, I'm back in the whip again feeling like it's a job well done. Son, gimme track seven again,

They gon put the chalk around you,
N_ggas is scared to walk around you,
When I'm gunning for your head,
I'm riding, you dying my gun go

We circle the strip again double checking the work. Then it's off to another area, Killa Hill to bombard the stores in that area with posters and drop some cds in the music stores and bootleggers that do business in the area. An hour later with a little more cash in the pocket we head to the 'hood to pay dues. Don-don sounds off bouyantly over the nextel walkie-talkie saying he managed to off half his stash of discs outside the stepshow venue. Lovely. We pull up to the hood and my partner is immediately met with cat calls and hollerations as dudes on the corner spy on one of their own respected bretheren outside.

"Aay Opium what it is kicko, where my joint at?"
"Whooo, That intro is bananas, had n_ggas dummin last night."
This shit just dropped last night? I just went by The Ave I seen the poster in the bodega. That shit looking sick. Who did that? That shit look crazy, for real."
"Eey Inf, man I want beats man, and stop bullshittin me, I want them type joints you gave Black n_gga. What the f_ck hiding that crack from n_ggas huh..."

As warm handslaps and hugs go around, dudes stay wary of the two black and white police squad cars that pulled up at the end of the block effectively curtailing, for who it may concern, some drug sales for a little while. The fiends are put on alert and told to hold tight and wait for the situation to change. Meanwhile the word is spreading. The intersection is getting piled up as o.g's gone legal and street kingpins on the low bring their maximas, beemas and suvs out to the corner. The street mainstays are also outside. Early saturday afternoon in April starts to look like July. The traffic into the liqour store on the corner starts to thicken and the fifths of Hennesey start flowing. The doors on the vehicles stay open and each vehicle is booming some type of track off the brand new mixtape we've slaved over for a few months.

Seeing this reaction in thie neck of the woods is a good sign. Later on in the month there are mixshow meetings at radio stations, meetings with influental hiphop website execs and a few A&Rs at the club performances we have inked for the rest of the month, and they all need to be impressed. And there are out of town trips planned to promote where the people wont be as easily excited, but once they hear the crack we're serving they must show some respect and buy the mixtape or come to a show. And the gatekeepers must offer us some opportunities. We want in.

Creating buzz for an artist is such a tall order especially for independent bugdet goons like we. But this month alone has justified many of the things we've been through. Riding out to the Apple, seeing the artist chilling on the set of a new Kel Spencer video, or just getting love from a big-time dj at a big time club at some big time album release party, or when an heavyweight puts his word on it that we can expect a serious look on that heavy traffic site...some work is getting done. They're starting to know about dude....

The grind continues.



Friday, March 23, 2007

More Miseducation

Indulging in mind-bending soul has been a pet fetish for the kid for a while, okay, forever. And the worst thing about being stateside is that it's so much harder to feed thyself on audio art that exists on the fringes, or isn't of Yankee origin because if it's not on corporate Radio or TV, it might as well not be made, because you will hear it nada. Which is why it saddens me that I've been late to this party. I'm usually early to the hanyee...I'm getting sloppy...damn.

When it comes to soul the Brits have always been unafraid of putting together work that would make any 'normal' american record executives throw themselves out of a 5th Avenue office perched on the 26th floor. That Brit-Soul has, time after time, taken chances is an understatement. In my mind, Neo-Soul's daddy is none other that funky, avant-garde Northern English heathen, Acid Jazz; the bastard child of soul that refused to play it safe, that embraced Disco and Jazz and took them to another place. It could never have been born on US terra firma. It would have been forced to meet quarterly sales quotas and sell toys to suburban 12 year olds. Before the world embraced D'Angelo there was the Brand New Heavies. Simple.

In that vein of taking soul music to a different place cometh a white brunette who effortlessly channels the 60's refreshingly, fleshing out tunes that feel like you're tooling in a 1967 Renault listening to your AM radio with your gashungwa cozily underarm, until you realize you're solo and Downtown bound on the 8:36 shuttle, Ipod earbuds thumping.

Wakey wakey dreamer, you're quite adrift from Motown, or 1967, for that matter, but what's cooking doesn't sound dated. And it's far from the latest edition of shrink-wrap-shipped packages of cookie cutter dry hump love tune jesters meant to deter supplicants from realizing what they're missing. Baby girl's heart sounds like it lives on her sleeve on tracks like,
Rehab, the break up ditty Back to Black, Wake up Alone, Tears Dry on Their Own and Me and Mr. Jones (fuckery). Who's been doing this woman dirty?

And it turns out her management at the time really tried to make her go to Rehab but she said 'no, no, no.' One of the best songs that will be heard this year, whether radio plays it or not.

Well some folks have been dying for a Lauryn Hill revival, but who knew the next chapter in The Miseducation of soul music would come from North London.The album
Back To Black has finally hit US shores (UK got their fix last October). DJ Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi did their thing.


Amy Winehouse is her name.

Also, brand new music can be heard from Brit-girls Joss Stone and Lily Allen.



Friday, March 02, 2007

Bastards & Hudson

I finally got to watching some TV last weekend. I Caught this HBO documentary by Antoine Fuqua, Bastards of the Party. It's a look into how racism birthed the Inner City LA gangs, how the demise of the 60's black political movements - The Panthers and US Movement - seeded the notorious Crips and Blood Gangs in Los Angeles and how the Feds, Reganomics and the South American drug cartels pitched in to nuture them. There were chilling parallels for me with the situation back in the Good City with Taliban, Mungiki et al.

Msanii is back with a banging podcast. Fika hapo speedi. Great value for 77 minutes of your life.

And sexcapades at the Nation Media Group read like an unedited David Maillu script. Courtesy of Mentalacrobatics.

Was it me it, or did it feel good to see The Yonce get showed up by Miss Jennifer Hudson on Oscar Night? I hope her LP will be fuego coz I'm rooting for her, before she really goes diva.

Caught a few performances recently. Pharaohe Monch's new material is nice, we'll see what the market thinks. The new single Desire is fire. He still puts it down on stage. Sean P is always a treat. Doesn't really get any better for the those who want to see wordsmiths. Saigon has buzz and some good songs but his stage game is wanting. But he's only a hit away from all that.

A great weekend y'all. I'll be prowling the Planet of Brooklyn peddling beats. Mia mia! Beba na Soh!



Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh So Thickely

So here's hoping your V-day was sweet and popping. Mine, well in the words of Katt Williams, I had to make a pimp decision. So I laid low....maybe not the best thing for some of the dames who carry on in life thinking they've got my graces, but this pimp laid low enjoyed the V-day snowstorm that hit my yard solo.

But the day after, the flak hit. The how could you nots, the shame on yous and the we're not talking right nows, but a buddy (word to Musiq) was nice enough to share their free passes to see Robin Thicke. The Jon B of this decade. He has dudes around here kind of mad though because Ms. Paula Patton (pictured below) is his main squeeze. She appeared recently in the movie Deja Vu.

He lost the dirty hippie appeal, steered away from the neo-soul vibe and added slick production to his second lp, but the boy still brings that raw soul sound to his show. This one was at an upscale bar frequented by the 9-5 urban bourgie types. They were out in their grown and sexy gear. The sistas were out in full force. It was small for the 300 deep in the house and everybody was pressed in tight at the 11:15 pm show time. I prefer those venues to the arena shows where binoculars and other telescopic devices are needed. Don't bring your good shoes though.

Drummer, guitarist, keys and bass alongside Mr. Patton, sorry, Mr. Thicke on piano was the gang on stage. He ran through his singles: Shooter, Wanna Love You girl, Switch and the current falsetto hit Lost Without You. He also auditioned a new song, a slow player that was also pretty good, although the name escapes me. He definitely got me at the end with his rendition of Al Green's Let's Stay Together. A low blow, but one that will always work.

A quick set but not bad. Catch him if you can.



Friday, February 09, 2007

Back Behind Enemy Lines

Yeah, yeah, so my much prided lifetime supply of Lifebouy soap recorded a snafu in mid-December. And that pretty much was my pretext to retreat from a frosty North East hustle for the so, so, sickly sumptuous Nairobi Heat.

The place has grown, as evidenced by the increased level of hustle. When thinking about economic trickle down effects, that's the biggest one for me. Even Mama Samaki in my hood stays outside till 10pm nightly. Its was good to see the old haunts, my peoples showing growth, the guns still popping and the ladies are still the flyest. I admit, I had forgotten how ridiculous the mami game is. Hwhat....

It was a blessing to experience the hip-hop movement there. Radio isn't showing heavy love but it's in the streets, and hip-hop is the streets. It ariseth.

Just put up some new music on the jumpoff page. Back on the grind again the mixtape will be here soon.