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Posts from December 2003

Big Lists of 2003

The Top 10 Hot Joints Of 2003

I had to follow Jason and EJ and post my list. Well, here it is, my picks of the Best CDs in 2003. I also included links, so you can actually listen to the album (or singles) and judge for yourself.

A Hip-Hop Masterpiece!

01. OutKast :: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Hip-hop is about an emotional and musical experience. To listen to Andre 3000's The Love Below is to flash back to three decades of classic soul ("Hey Ya"), cross that with the melodic balladry of Steve Wonder, and then embrace the rich grooves of Earth, Wind & Fire ("Prototype"). The Love Below is a shock to the system that successfully fuses Andre's R&B recall and his hip-hop sophistication. He can make the ladies swoon on the Paisley funk of "Spread" and showcased his lyrical ingenuity on "Life in the Day of Benjamin Andre" where he raps for 6 minutes without a pause. Andre is sexual chocolate.

On the flipside, Big Boi's Speakerboxxx is downright stankalicious. The futuristic b-boy fullfills his music around the atmosphere of celebratory crunkiness. For example, there's "The Way You Move," a doo-wop-meets-crunk dance-floor trembler. There's "Church" a gospel-esque crunk fusion with Pastor Boi spitting introspective testimonials. There's "Bowtie," a player's anthem that gives a nod to George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic. And Boi shows that a big-time player like himself can have a social conscious on the anti-conflict sentiment "War."

There are a few idiotic music critics who have questioned whether or not Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is a true hip-hop recording. They also criticized OutKast for being too experimental. Whether 'Kast's double-LP is considered an R&B album; or a rap album; or an experimental album, or even a "crossover" album, it was simply dead on the money. OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is a hip-hop masterpiece.

A Listening Pleasure

02. Little Brother :: The Listening

Whether you love or hate what has become of hip-hop, one thing is clear: Hip-hop is the leader in artistic innovation in popular culture. Little Brother is on the forefront of that artistic movement. And their debut CD The Listening is a wonderful aural experience. The old-school hip-hop motif and production value featured on The Listening had some critics calling it a novelty record, but it's not. In fact, it's an essential album, and a long overdue evolutionary (revolutionary?) step into "classical" rap music. Drawing inspiration from the old-school -- A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Prince Paul, Pete Rock and EPMD -- the North Calackie trio (aka the Justice League crew) are modern-day hip-hop fusionists who have reinvented the lyrical and beat improvisations that once made rap music such a personal and musical experience. (Listen to the group's hip-hop ode "The Listening").

Threaded through a somewhat unoriginal skit -- we are listening to WJLR (BAAM! The Future of hip-hop music!) a fictitious Justice League radio show -- LB takes listeners on an endearing musical ride. A standout on the disc is the beautiful "Love Joint Revisited," where over a sound bed of fluttering acoustic guitars and a back-snapping snare, rappers Big Pooh and Phonte profess their undying devotion to hip-hop. The duo also takes the lingo "Yo" and utilizes it for a hooky record called "The Yo-Yo." But the disc's centerpiece is "The Listening," a 6-minute epic, featuring the two rhyme-slingers exploring hip-hop's past and future over a nicely placed sample of Pete Rock & CL Smooth's elegiac "T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You)." The group's beatmaker 9th Wonder (who recently blessed Jay-Z with "Threats" on The Black Album) has all the makings of becoming the next Kanye West on the production boards. The Listening is cohesive recording that yields greater rewards after repeat listens.

Kem, Love And Soul Equals Great Chemistry

03. Kem :: Kemistry

There were plenty of sexy soul men that released great albums in 2003. Anthony Hamilton's Comin' From Where I From, Javier's Crazy, Jahiem's Ghetto Soul and Donnie's The Colored Section (which was actually a 2002 release but was re-issued by Motown Records this year) all released noteworthy collections. But Kem's Kemistry CD was simply divine. Heartfelt, touching, romantic and upbeat describes this wonderful disc full of well-written bedroom ballads. "Say" is a tear-jerker; "Love Calls" is an aphrodisiac, and "Inside" is a perfect song to play while having a bedroom romp with your lover. In 2003, Kem has sucessfully placed himself as one of R&B's elite love balladeers. Bravo!

04. Jean Grae :: The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP

05. Seal :: Seal IV

06. Zion I :: Deep Water Slang

Zion I's second CD Deep Water Slang came out in January 2003 and was totally slept on by the critics. This Bay Area, Calif. duo -- poet MC Zion and beatmaker Amp Live -- have created organic music for the soul. Music that is tangible -- not too preachy or overindulged in musicality. One of the disc's standout cut is the benevolent rap ballad "Flow" (featuring soul newcomer/songstress Goapele). Also, check out "Sorry" and the anthemic "Rock, Rock Y'all."

07. 50 Cent :: Get Rich or Die Tryin'

08. CunnyLinguist :: Southernunderground

CunnyLinguist is another southern group with a New York accent (much like Little Brother) who produced a top-notch rap CD rich with sharp rhyming, sampling and b-boyism that are as witty as they are sometimes world-weary. The group seems to be preoccupied with stories of cheating ex-girlfriends that plagued their lives (listen to the melodramatic downer "The Rain"). Girl trouble aside, the group tackles other topical issues like politics, war and the music industry. CunnyLinguist have established a mature sound that is blessed with honesty and creativity that will take these guys to higher and richer musical plateaus.

09. Dwele :: Subject

10. Jeffrey Gaines :: Toward the Sun

6 (or more) "Honorable Mentions" that should have made my "Top 10 Hot Joints of 2003" List

1. Black Eyed Peas :: Elephant

BEP are a wonderful hip-hop group that finally broken the mold and secured themselves a top ten pop hit "Where's The Love." Unfortunately, urban radio refused to support the group thinking they sold out because they hooked up with Justin Timberlake on the track. It's a damn shame that most of the urban programmers at local black radio stations are so narrow-minded.

2. Jaylib :: Champion Sound

This project from producer-rappers Madlib and Jay Dee was thisclose to making it on the list. It's not a bad CD at all, in fact, I think this collection was the best thing to come out of Los Angeles this year.

3. The Souljahz :: The Fault Is History

I don't listen to gospel music. I really don't care for it because it can get downright sanctimonious and boring. That is, until I heard The Souljahz's second CD The Fault Is History. The spiritual trio are indeed the Fugees of gospel. With a little more work on the lyrical and production end, this group has a great chance to explode onto the R&B/pop market.

4. R. Kelly :: Chocolate Factory

Chocolate Factory is the guilty pleasure of 2003. If he didn't have child-pornography charges hanging over his head, the R. would probably be the toast of American popular music right about now. His workaholic pace this year on the production end (blessing tracks for B2K, Isley Brothers, Nick Cannon and others) was mind-boggling.

5. Smokie Noriful :: I Need You Know

6. Meshell Ndegeocello :: Comfort Woman

7. Jay-Z :: The Black Album

8. Freeway :: Philadelphia Freedom

9. Madlib :: Shades Of Blue

The Top 10 Bangers & Ballads of 2003

  1. "Hey Ya" -- OutKast
  2. "You Don't Know My Name" -- Alicia Keys
  3. "Find A Way" -- Dwele
  4. "Touch" -- Seal
  5. "My Crew" -- Jean Grae
  6. "The Yo-Yo" -- Little Brother
  7. "Say" -- Kem
  8. "21 Questions" -- 50 Cent
  9. "I Need You Know" -- Smokie Norful
  10. "No Letting Go" -- Wayne Wonder

6 (or more) "Honorable Mentions" of songs that should have made my "Top 10 Bangers & Ballads of 2003" List

  1. "Flipside" -- Freeway (Featuring Peedi Crack)
  2. "Far Away" -- Kindred The Family Soul
  3. "It's All Real" -- Pitch Black
  4. "The Red" -- Jaylib
  5. "Seenit You" -- Anthony Hamilton
  6. "Rain On Me" -- Ashanti
  7. "More And More" -- Joe

Also, check out Stink Zone's list of the Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of 2003. It's a very interesting survey.

And if you don't like any of the Top 10 lists, then click THIS to read a cornucopia of "Year End" Lists in films, music and television by writers from various music/entertainment magazines all over the world. [Spotted at Oliver Wang's blog]

Happy Kwanzhannakamas!

I'm Sorry 2004

I dedicate this to my Mini-Apple sweetheart ::

"I'm Sorry 2004"

I'm sorry for bruising your heart and making you shed tears
I know now what I did wasn't smart
But do realize that perfect love casts out all fears
I now realize that the love that you have for me is genuine
And I can't wait until our bodies are intertwined

From now on I will always honor you
In everything I do

Thank you for loving me

And, damn, I'm Sorry . . .

Trent's Big Post of Life List (Part VI) [Remixed]

I remixed this week's life list. I added a list that I robbed from Sherrón Renee who swiped it from Tired Little Girl who hijacked from Trishie with my usual list.

So, peep it >>>

Top 5 things wrong in my field of vision right now ::

  • Tom Cruise's epic film The Last Samurai ::

    Now let me try to understand this: The Last Samurai is a quasi-historical movie about a dashing American solider (played by Tom Cruise) who joins the legion of the Samurai and becomes the best of the best. Subsequently, he becomes torn between performing his duty to his country (he's a Civil War P.O.W.) and the Bushido ("Code of the Samurai warrior").

    Hmmm . . .?

    Hollywood loves to tinker around with other people's cultural history just as long as it's not American history. Would the white establishment in Tinsel Town accept a script of a quasi-historical story about a Civil War solider named Ulysses S. Grant (played by Russell Crowe) who surrenders to a top-ranking African warrior (played by Denzel Washington)? Subsequently, the two fighters form a lifelong friendship that transcends warfare and race. The movie would be entitled The Last Confederate.

    Hmmm . . .? I don't think so.

  • Rodney King 2003 ::
    Nathaniel Jones was viciously beaten by police as they try to arrest him at a parking lot of a White Castle restaurant for disorderly conduct. While Mr. Jones was wrong for attacking one of the police officers, the night stick beating that Mr. Jones got was unjustifiable. And afterward, when authorities had Mr. Jones in custody, they never sought to get medical attention when Mr. Jones STOP BREATHING! Thankfully, all of this was caught on onvideotape, which you can watch it in its entirety right HERE.

    There is probable cause here to say that these officers acted irresponsibly when arresting Nathaniel Jones. Legal action needs to be taken in this case, and it's needs to be decided by a jury of 12 on whether or not these officers were negligent. In addition, the police department needs to review their policy on subduing and arresting a hostile suspect.

  • Bootlegged throwback football jerseys ::

    I know the real throwback jerseys at Mitchell & Ness can set you back $300, but shame on a nigga who would buy a bootlegged throwback jersey. The other day, I bumped into a dealer and SHE showed me this nice O.J. Simpson throwback jersey for $150. At M&N, it would cost about $250. The brother behind me was like, "I want that shit!" and I basically step aside and watched the guy buy this jersey.
    Throwback jerseys are an expensive clothing item that I can't understand why so many men buy. Yeah, they are fly as hell, but paying $300 for ONE jersey doesn't sit well with me, or my empty wallet. If I was a millionaire, and I had some dough to spend, I would probably a cop a few jerseys. I'm feeling these hockey jerseys though, especially this ONE.

  • Eponymous, Eponymous! ::
    Fox takes comedienne's Wanda Sykes eponymous sitcom, The Wanda Sykes Show, off the air. And by looking at some of the critics' reaction to Tracy Morgan's eponymous sitcom The Tracy Morgan Show, it's looks like he's will be next to get canned. C'mon people! Stop watching Friends and support out African-American sitcoms. And our Latino shows, as well: The George Lopez Show is the shiznit!

  • Stop The Hating! ::
    It amazes me how the editors and writers at The Sauce magazine continue to be led into this bullshit vendetta by Wackzino to destroy Eminem's credibility and image. Do the writers at The Sauce have any journalistic integrity? Or are the paychecks so fat every week that it's easy for the writers to turn their heads and let Wack-zino be a hack journalist for their magazine? They can't be serious with this shit.

    Name four things you wished you had ::

    • $1 million in the bank
    • A spanking new house
    • A brand new laptop
    • Frequent Flyers Miles

    Name four smells you love ::

    • A woman's **ahem**
    • Cologne
    • Brand new crisp money
    • Mom's cooking

    Name four things you are thinking about:

    • My work week
    • My life
    • My upcoming New Years' Weekend getaway to Mini-Apple
    • Money

    Name four things you did today ::

    • Blog
    • Paid some bills
    • Shovel Snow
    • Sleep

    Top 5 songs of the right now ::

  • "Womanoply" -- Musiq
    This is a tight track from Musiq's new CD SoulStar. The neo-soulster is telling a story about a woman's life using the Monopoly board game as a metaphor for the song.

  • "Sorry 2004" -- Ruben Studdard
    I think Ruben is a talented crooner and one of the better singers coming out of the American Idol series. But "Sorry 2004" is a bathetic ballad, one that all but the most sentimental listener will find overly dramatic and believable.
    However, Ruben's CD, Soulful, does show that he has the potential to shine brightly among his R&B contemporaries. Unfortunately, you have to sift through the manufactured songs on the disc to find a gem or two. Ruben may be a shining star, but the songs on his disc are about as dull as a no.2 pencil after a SAT exam.

  • "Survival Test" -- Jaylib
    A hot banger from the Jaylib (beatmakers Jay Dee and Madlib) project, Champion Sound. Word to the mutha -- it's real out here!

  • "Come Get Some" (Featuring Lil' Jon and Sean Paul of the Youngbloodz) -- TLC
    TLC is gettin' crunk. Shake ya tailfeather!

  • "Andromeda & The Milky Way"" -- Me'shell NdegeOcello
    Is this love? Say yes. I'm feeling this song from the soulful songbird. It's from her new CD Comfort Woman. If you haven't copped this disc, yet, then please stop frontin' and get this very romantic album.

    Last thing you ::

    • Did :: Write
    • Read :: A book by author/music journalist/historian Mark Anthony Neal
    • Watched on TV :: 11 o' clock news

    Who do you want to ::

    • Kill :: Ignorant, rich, racist white folks who ride the NJ Transit train from Trenton to New York and back
    • Hear from :: My mini-apple sweetheart
    • Look like :: If you are drunk and stupid, Los Angeles Lakers b-baller Shaquille O' Neal. If you're sober, Charles Barkley
    • Be like :: I like myself

    Last time ::

    • Last song you heard :: Alicia Keys's piano-driven ballad "Diary" -- I love the song.
    • Last movie you saw :: She's the One starring Ed Burns, Cameron Diaz and Parker Posey. It's a nice romantic flick.
    • Last movie you saw on the big screen :: Tupac: Resurrection
    • Last thing you had to drink :: Green Tea
    • Last thing you ate :: Salad with fish sticks
    • Last time you cried :: Journo thugs don't cried.
    • Last time you smiled :: While talking to my mini-apple sweetheart
    • Last time you laughed :: Saturday night -- I was washing Coming To the Stage on BET.
    • Last time you danced :: Journo thugs don't dance.
    • Last person you hugged :: I think myself. (??)
    • Last thing you said :: "Bye, Baby."
    • Last person you talked to online :: nobody
    • Last thing you smelled :: My armpits
    • Last car ride :: taxi cab
    • Last CD played :: Alicia Keys -- The Diary Of Alicia Keys
    • Last item bought :: toiletries

    Albums playing on the regular right now ::

  • DJ Aries Ox :: Uncut Old-School Soul Mix-tape CD
  • Musiq :: SoulStar
  • Alicia Keys :: The Diary Of Alicia Keys
  • J-Live :: Always Will Be
  • Avant :: Private Room
  • Soul Position :: 8 Million Stories
  • Floetry :: Floacism (live concert CD)
  • Little Brother :: The Listening
  • DJ Aries Ox :: The Christmas Album -- Mix-Tape CD
  • L.A. Symphony :: End Is Now
  • Holla!

    A Blogger's Threat

    Apparently, a blogger/reader visited my blog and was in "shock and awe" by my "Don't Ass Me" post, which featured two glorified booty shots -- one ass, in particular, was jiggling. In my defense, I thought the two booty pics fit well with the post, which was about the latest trend in fashion -- the ASS BRA. This reader wasn't interested in the fact there's apparel on the market to lift women's flabby asses; no, she was dumbstruck by the pictures, especially, the one of the jiggly-wiggly butt at the bottom of the post.

    C'mon people, learn to love the booty.

    So, to help those who visit my blog, I want you to understand what BEATS & RANTS 2.1 is all about.

    Here's my threat . . . THIS IS A WARNING::

    My time, my patience, my love
    My blood, my sweat, my tears
    My burdens, my drama, my pain
    My life, my money, my home
    My ups, my downs, my fears
    And my hours, my work, my strength
    My fault, my bad, my error
    Nigga please


    If I don't stop
    (This is a warning)
    Someone's gonna complain
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna post their opinion on their blog
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna get offended
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna learn something
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna like the booty pictures
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna think they're slick
    (This is a warning)
    But I'm always going to check
    (This is a warning)
    Because this is a blogger's threat

    Baby, this is a blogger's threat

    My shakin', my sleep, my stress
    My days, my night, my rest
    My do's, my don'ts, my dares
    And my church, my pastor, my prayers
    My all, my faith, my powers
    And my kitchen, my sink, my towels
    My joy, my sad, my hate
    And my brother, my mom, my friends
    My lights, my gas, my bills
    My role, my way, my will
    My hollerin', my rants', my beats
    Nigga please


    My future, my hopes, my dreams
    My drawers, my socks, my things
    My flowers, my dress, my ring
    My woman, my lover, my queen
    My life, my chance, my fault
    And my guts, my courage, my wounds
    My fence, my neighbors, my yard
    My chains, my lock, my guards
    My win, my lost, my gain
    And my credit, my card, my name
    Myself, my freedom, my fame
    Nigga please


    (Whoa, whoa . . . )
    Have you ever heard of freedom of expression?
    About the First Amendment (freedom of speech)
    You see . . . I like to tell it like it is
    Kids today call it "Keeping it real."
    Been doing it for a long, long, long, long time
    And I won't stop writing the real
    Until I'm dead and gone . . .

    If I don't stop
    (This is a warning)
    Someone's gonna complain
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna post their opinion on their blog
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna get offended
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna learn something
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna like the booty pictures
    (This is a warning)
    And someone's gonna think they're slick
    (This is a warning)
    But I'm always going to check
    (This is a warning)
    Because this is a blogger's threat

    Baby, this is a blogger's threat

    This is my life. This is my blog. I can post whatever I want to post. You don't have to visit my blog. I don't have to warn anyone! It's not like I have straight-up porn on my blog. Plus, a bouncing ass never hurt anybody. [sic]

    Learn to love the booty.


    * * * Words lifted from the R. Kelly-penned ballad "A Woman's Threat."

    Coming Home . . .

    Lick My Bald!

    I love reading this article:
    A Slick Move :: A fully shaved head can make a balding guy feel bold

    On a mid-September day in Brooklyn, I had a tonsorial epiphany.

    I was sitting in a green room with Charles Barkley, the candid, witty and shaved-head basketball commentator for TNT. We were inside a soundstage in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, awaiting the final day of Spike Lee's filming of a promotional campaign for the new National Basketball Association season.

    "How do you shave your head?" I asked.

    "With a razor and shaving cream," said Barkley, who adopted the look in his mid-20s. "Why, brother," he added, "are you thinking of coming home? Because what you've got ain't working for you."

    He was right. What was left an inch or so above my ears wasn't much to work with. When the remnants grew, I looked like Larry Fine of the Three Stooges. I have been a vigorous pro-baldness advocate for more than a dozen years -- and a jealous observer of those with the guts to shave it all off -- but I had always shied away from the Big Shave . . . .

    I came home in 1991.
    When I was 21 years old, I saw that my hair was receding and decided to completely shave it all off. The newfound look gave me a sense of calm because I had some anxiety over the fact that I was young and was somewhat losing my hair.

    It was a no-brainer for me: Losing some hair -- shave it off. Why try to fight the aging process.

    So, one day, I went to the barbershop to get my hair "did," and told my barber to take it all off.

    "Everything?" he asked.
    "You made a close fade, right?" he responded back.
    "Nope, a baldie cut."

    When the barber finished he looked at me and said, "You're a new man!"

    The reaction was instantaneous. Co-workers at my job literally didn't recognize me, and said that I looked more professional with my bald-headed sheen. (I was working as a chef at the time.) When I showed my newfound look to my former girlfriend, she smiled and said I looked sexy. "Bald heads turned me on," she purred.

    For 13 years, I have maintained the "shaved-head" look. Every Saturday, after getting my "baldie" haircut at the barbershop, I leave the shop with a sense of empowerment. With my freshly clean look, cute saleswomen want to approach me. Men stare at my glistening dome. Older woman flirt with me. On the job, my co-workers tend to look at me differently. Well-groomed and glistening seems to put people at ease, then down-right and bummy with a 5 'o clock shadow. (On occasion, I have come to work looking disheveled and unshaven.)

    Every now and then, I would grow my hair just to see what I would look like with some darkness on the top of my dome. One time, a female co-worker came up to me and said, "Nope, it's not working. Keep it bald."

    Not to worry, I will always be a baldie for life!