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May 2007

Posts from April 2007

Word Up!

Stop! It's Meme Time!

I swiped this from Music Memoirs. Play along if you like.

RULES: A bit of word song association . . . I'm going to give you some words and you tell us what song best describes them.

The Weather: "Summertime" -- DJ Jazz Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Yeah, I know it's spring, but I can't wait for the summertime -- barbecues, women wearing booty shorts, July 4th, women wearing booty shorts, Miami Beach, outdoor concerts, women wearing booty shorts . . . HA!

Your State of Mind: "New York State of Mind" -- Nas
Hey, I work in New York so I'm always on the grind.

Cheese: "Throw Some D's" -- Rich Boy
This is my "Get Money" anthem for 2007. I need some cheese, scrilla, money, dead presidents, ya heard me?

Wine: "Red Red Wine" -- UB40
Let's get drunk, shall we?

Sports: "Boys of Summer" -- Don Henley
It's baseball season. Go Yankees!

Spring: (same as weather)

Road Trip: The entire Popular Demand CD by Black Milk.
I could listen to this disc for hours on the road.

Radio: "Bring the Noise" -- Public Enemy
It's time for radio to start cranking out the jams. I'm tired of hearing "Lip Gloss" (by Lil' Mama). Can I hear some hot shit, please? (no more Mims, dammit!)

Yawn: "Lullaby" -- Musiq Soulchild (from Luvanmusiq)

Your Favorite Movie: "A Father's Way" -- Seal
This song is from Will Smith's flick, The Pursuit of Happyness.

TV: "Lost Without You" -- Robin Thicke / "We Are the Champions" -- Queen

ABC's Lost and NBC's Heroes.


Real Ass Life

"I live, I die/
I laugh so I don't cry/
I work hard/
I bust my young ass to survive/
Ain't no rap video/
This is real ass life . . . "

-- "Original King," Brother Ali

First, I would like to send my prayers and condolences to the victims' families of the Virginia Tech tragedy. God bless you all.

Brother Ali is one of the most captivating voices to emerge this year with his latest effort, The Undisputed Truth. I haven't heard anything this worthwhile both lyrically and musically in the last four months since the release of Black Milk's Popular Demand.

But on a serious note . . .

In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Brother Ali, who is a devout Muslim, recently offered his thoughts on the nation's most gruesome mass murder and, in particular, inside the mind of the shooter Cho Seung-Hui. Yeah, he was a nut case, but it goes way beyond that generalization of him.

According to reports, Cho was indeed a loner (a nerd, if you will) who was often teased by his peers. And subsequently, after years of torment he decided to lash out with devastating consequences. Brother Ali was a "thugged-out nerd" who was also the target of bullies as a youth because of the way he looked. He had three strikes against him -- he is an albino, chubby and legally blind. But while Cho went on a warpath of violence, Brother Ali took solace into his music and Islam.

"I didn't have a whole lot of a choice, and I did have a period where I lashed back out at people," he told HipHopDX. "I did have a period where I learned how to punch people in the face. But I was blessed to have people around me putting it all in context so I can understand what I was up against."

"I think that [the circumstances] says a lot about us as a society. We focus so much on ourselves that we don't have a communal view or anything. We don't reach back and pull each other out when we're down. We don't make sure that everyone's taken care of. We just focus on what we need, personally -- the individual. Helping other people is only done when it's good for us."

On Brother Ali's The Undisputed Truth, the rhyme-spitter does an exceptional job narrating how he overcame many of his life's obstacles. Some of those included being a first-time dad, going through a messy custody battle with his baby mama and seeking spiritual redemption in Islam. When I'm listening to Brother Ali's disc, I often think about the Va. Tech tragedy and play those horrific television images in my mind.

Some have called Brother Ali's music emo-rap.

I call it unadulterated hip-hop. This is real ass life.

Check out Brother Ali's thought-provoking video for "Uncle Sam Goddamn," right HERE.

Further Reading Material:

Rampage at Virginia Tech

Anatomy of a Murderer

Dr. Hokie: A surgeon had to treat 17 victims of the Va. Tech tragedy. It was a humbling experience and a sad honor.


Old Black Magic

Yeah, I know I'm late. But . . .

Can we please have a moment of silence . . .

For veteran actor Roscoe Lee Browne (1925-2007).

The classically trained actor died on April 11 of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 81. The Emmy Award-winning thespian -- who was born near my neck of the woods of Woodbury, NJ -- has appeared in over 200 films, most notably in blaxiplotation flicks like Superfly T.N.T. and Uptown Saturday Night. Browne was also an exceptional television actor who often played snobbish but dignified black characters on various celebrated sitcoms. Among his most memorable TV characters included:

The astute butler Saunders on Soap.

The uppity attorney Hugh Victor Thompson III who got stuck in an elevator with the cantankerous Archie Bunker on an episode of All in the Family.

And my favorite:

He portrayed the bourgeois loverman Osgood Wilcox who was trying to steal Fred Sanford's girlfriend Donna on a 1972 episode of Sanford & Son. Now that was a classic episode and performance by Roscoe and the late Red Foxx. [Someone put that on YouTube immediately!]

Roscoe finally won an Emmy in 1986 for his guest appearance as Professor Foster on an episode of The Cosby Show and nabbed an Emmy nomination a decade earlier for a performance on the 1970’s sitcom, Barney Miller.

He also was a gifted theater actor who garnered a best supporting-actor Tony nomination in 1992 for his performance in the 1992 August Wilson-penned play, Two Trains Running. "He was one of the most remarkable presences on stage, on film, on television," said fellow actor Sidney Poitier. "However, when he was in person, he was particularly impactful."

Actors Laurence Fishburne and Tyne Daly both held memorials in Los Angeles and New York, respectively, on April 22 honoring the beloved actor.

For those of you wondering, why I called this post "Old Black Magic," check out this classic episode from All in the Family, which features Roscoe at his best.

Rest in Power, Roscoe Lee Browne.