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February 2006

Posts from January 2006

A Diatribe Called Quest

I stumbled upon this old interview with the Roots mastermind Questlove. It was conducted in 2003 by journalist-turned-BET personality Touré for online magazine Believer. I don't know if any other bloggers linked this interview up besides Soulmind, but it's recommended reading. This piece features Q offering some insights on the Roots' recording process, why D'Angleo is so damn fat overweight and Q's views on hip-hop. To keep score: "AT" is Ahmir Thompson (aka Questlove or ?uestlove) and "BLVR" is Touré (for Believer mag).

Some of the article's highlights include:

"That's dat crack music, nigga -- dat real black music, nigga":

BLVR: But when you say crack is partly responsible for hiphop, what exactly are you talking about? More money in the community in the pockets of young dealers? A higher level of determination in certain people because of the climate on the street? Great stories to tell?

AT: First of all, there's upstart money. Eazy-E wouldn't have developed Ruthless Records if it weren't for the crack game. So Dr. Dre would've just been a Prince clone. One of the greatest works of art, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back [by Public Enemy], would've never got made. Half the narratives of hiphop would've been erased, the street cred, the danger, so hiphop would've been more of a jazz thing with virtuoso rhyming, and it could've easily faded away.

BLVR: Crack makes the world of the street that much more tenuous and fast and dangerous and filled with money.

AT: Crack offered a lot of money to the inner-city youth who didn't go to college. Which enabled them to become businessmen. It also turned us into marksmen. It also turned us comatose. Let's not forget that people actually used the shit!

"Thought I was a juvenile stuck to the G-Code (Yeee-aauh)/ This aint a rap song, nigga this is my life/ And if the hood was a battlefield then I'd earn stripes (Yeee-aauh)":
BLVR: Does black art need social strife in a way that white art does not?

AT: Well, black music is often used as a survival tool. It's not an expression of art for many people. It's not, Yo man, I can sing. It's, I need help, I need to survive, I need to make money; if I can't do this, my life is over. So black art needs extremes. We can't be halfway crooks. The social conditions have to be so drastic that it brings the creativity out of us.

BLVR: So, following your theory, the reason why much of black music got a little stale during the nineties, all obsessed with bling-bling, is because of [former President Bill Clinton].

AT: I mean, the Clinton days were a collective sigh of relief, but what were we celebrating? Remember when Chris Rock said we're celebrating O.J.'s victory, but where's my O.J. prize? What did we win? That's how I feel with Clinton becoming president. We were like, "Whew. One of our own finally made it." We really thought he was black. My vision of Clinton is him in Kentucky Fried Chicken, soppin his bread, eatin his greens. I was like, we are finally in the White House.

"How Does It Feel" (Titled):
BLVR: Making music with D'Angelo is more than going to the studio and jamming?

AT: It's so much more than that. It's a whole lifestyle.

BLVR: Because he's a genius? Because he's troubled?

AT: H's all of that; but more than that, he's amazingly insecure. I mean, everyone's insecure, but he's insecure to the level where I felt as though I had to lose myself and play cheerleader. Some nights on tour he'd look in the mirror and say, "I don't look like the video ["Untitled," which featured nothing but a chiseled, naked D'Angelo from the waist up.]" It was totally in his mind, on some Kate Moss shit. So, he'd say, "Lemme do 200 more stomach crunches." He'd literally hold the show up for half an hour just to do crunches. We would hold the show for an hour and a half if he didn’t feel mentally prepared or physically prepared. Some shows got cancelled because he didn’t feel physically prepared, but it was such a delusion.

BLVR: It was the trap women often fall into, thinking they're fat when they're not.

AT: Yes. In the world of karma, it was sweet poetic justice for any woman that’s ever been sexually harassed, that’s ever had to work twice as hard just to prove she could work like a man. Literally. When we started this Voodoo project, we were like, "Man, we're gonna give a gift to the world, and not on a pretentious level. We're gonna create something that’s totally our world, and we're gonna bring people to our world and they're gonna love it, and it’s gonna be art." But the first night of the Voodoo tour the "take-it-off" chants started not ten minutes into the show. This is a three-hour show. But the girls are like, "Take it off! Take it off!" That put too much pressure on him.

BLVR: To be the sex god.

AT: Yep. And by night four he was angry and resentful. He was like, "Is this what you want? Is this what you want?"

BLVR: He was being viewed as a sexual being and not as a genius.

AT: They didn't care about the art, they didn't care for the fact that Jeff Lee Johnson was doing the note-for-note "Crosstown Traffic" solo in --

BLVR: They wanted to see the abs, the bod.

AT: They wanted "Untitled." He hated every moment of that.

BLVR: Everyone wants what they don't have.

AT: He was like, "They don't understand. They don't get it. They just want me to take off my clothes." So every night for eight months it was how to solve this Rubik's cube in one minute, before the bomb detonates. Every night. And sometimes I failed.

BLVR: And the show did not go on.

AT: The show didn't go on.

BLVR: How many shows did you cancel?

AT: Maybe three weeks' worth. We threw away at least two weeks of Japan.

BLVR: That's unbelievable. What's going on with him now? Is he retired?

AT: He's recording. I heard he's got, like, four songs done. I know him, he'll stop at song twelve. But what he wants is to get fat. He doesn't want his braider braiding every nook and cranny of his hair. He doesn't wanna have to have ripples in his stomach. He doesn't want the pressure of being "Untitled" the video.

"I love it when you call me Big Poppa":
BLVR: Everyone in hip-hop has a list of their top five MCs of all time. What’s your list?

AT: Five is Posdnous [from De La Soul]. The most untrumpeted hero of lyricism. Four is KRS-One. Three is Biggie. Two is Melle Mel.

BLVR: Wow, you went way back with him.

AT: Well, you have to. Everyone is derivative of Melle Mel. Number one is Rakim. He's the Christopher Columbus. There are people more complex than he was, but him being first, he has to have it.

Questlove, will release on Feb. 14 his second solo effort, Babies Making Babies, Vol. 2: The Misery Strikes, his follow-up to his original Babies Making Babies "Quiet Storm" compilation.


Break It Down

This 23-year-old Colombian bella is from Washington, D.C. and loves to Rompe, Rompe ("break it down") on the dancefloor. She currently pays the bills as a mortgage consultant and is an accomplished lingerie model. You can check her out in the new Latin lads magazine Fuego. She also has a page HERE and HERE.

And when you're finished, please read 4-time Black Weblog Award-winner HumanityCritic's wonderful essay, "The Celebration of the Female Body." Because that's what I'm all about -- celebrating the female form.

Ya dig?



Whose got the flavor?

Flavor Flav, boooyeee!

No disrespect to Mr. Flav, but after watching his reality show disaster VH1's Flavor of Love on Sunday, I had to ask myself: What the Fuck?!?!

Flav's new show is a twisted version of ABC's The Bachelor. The show's premise: 20 women are pitted against each other to win a chance to be Flavor Flav's girlfriend.
(You can read blogger Foxxxylove's exhaustive show recap, right HERE.)

And let's keep it real, folks: Flavor Flav is a very unattractive dude. Even Elizabeth concurs.

So I'm sitting on the couch and I'm just baffled by these 20 female contestants vying for a chance to be Flavor Flav's boo. And what's also shocking is that these ladies are beautiful, educated and have morals. Not one of these ladies is a crackhead. Although, I have to say, some of these ladies are major H.A.M.s. But they are cute in their own special way.

My favorite honey out of the group is Hoopz (Flav gave all the ladies "nicknames" so he can recognize them easily). Check out the photo above, she is the cutie on the right. This girl is a dazzling beauty and athletic (she plays basketball, thus the name). So what the hell is she doing on this show?

I can't find one woman to go out with me on a Saturday night, yet Flavor Flav has 20 15 catty ladies willing to stab one another with a butter knife just to be his dutiful lover.

Life is so unfair.

But I'm addicted to the show.
So I'll be watching it every Sunday at 10 p.m. ET to see this disaster unfold.
So will bloggers War Ministry and BColeman.

Yeah, boooyeee!


Five For The O-6

I'm finna to make some major moves in 2006. This year, I'm going to improve on my finances (save mo' money), my health (it's time do some tae bo!), my living conditions (buy a house in NYC) and my appearance (I gotta stay fly-I-I-I-I-I-I-I, eerrooww).

So I copped this meme from Music Memoirs:

My Top Five Musical Resolutions for 2006

01. "Stay Fly" (b/w "Poppin' My Colla") -- Three Six Mafia

02. "Fem Fems" (meaning "money") -- Asamov

03. "House" -- Elton John
I'm planning to buy either or home or condo/co-op in 2006

04. "Be Healthy" -- Dead Prez

05. "You and Me" -- Lifehouse
I gotta work on my love life