Take Note!

Pictures and videos used on this site are all borrowed (well not all, some are actually mine) for everyone's viewing pleasure.  They are not being used in a malicious matter, it is all in good fun and most likely to promote the good stuff found.  Please don't threaten to sue, just ask me to take it down if it is a bother.  If not, thanks for the borrow!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Podcast for In NYC Vol #2 is here!

Hello my fellow Soulsters, Danalee and I have to apologize for the tardiness.  This podcast was hell and 'ish to post for some reason, however I would not let a little ol' technological blip keep me from getting it to ya.  Unfortunately you will notice that the topic(s) may be a bit older now since it was to post last weekend, but I am sure you will find it entertaining nonetheless.  So please enjoy In NYC Vol #2.

Here is a quick guide to the places and sites we discussed in the podcast:

177 Court St
Brooklyn, NY
PH: 718-797-6863  www.rapisarda.com 

Soul Commune - www.soulcommune.com

Billie's Black 
271 W 119th St
New York, NY
PH: 718-280-2248  www.billiesblack.com

Don't forget, feedback...feedback!!

Hear y'all soon...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do You Understand The Words Coming Out Of My Mouth!

"Nuttin' new, nuttin' new - y'all not sayin nuttin' new..."  Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New - The Roots

I promise, this will be the last mention of George Michael until I revive after his concert in July - ok truthfully I cannot keep that promise.  In hindsight, I forgot to let the George Michael fans out there know that he was on the TV show Eli Stone last night.  It was great to see him in all his hot glory, but unfortunately he cannot act and he was lip snycing.  HOWEVER, I will not complain because he was being George and I got a glimpse of what he is up to.  Very happy for him and my countdown begins!

Alright, so with all of the news coming from New York State's new Governor David Paterson and the media all in a tizzy, I wanted to take a minute to get my rant off of my chest even though the frenzy has died down.

A bit of an overview if you will:

The day after David Paterson was sworn in, he shared with the country that he and his wife previously had difficulty in their marriage.  This difficulty resulted in both of them having extra marital affairs.  Then a couple of days ago, he divulged the fact that he dabbled a bit in cocaine and weed when he was younger.  He stated that he has not touched drugs since then and that's that.   And here's my take on the situation.

Yes, I'm Canadian and we have our own problems across the border, nonetheless, I do take interest in politics all over as ridiculous, interesting and convoluted as it can be.  At the moment, the consensus in the media seems to be whether or not it was right for David Paterson to go public with these intimate aspects of his life.  Well my answer is - yes.  See the one thing about media that we all know, is that it acts like a rabid dog given a steak bone when personal information is dug up about a prominent person.  The media will stop at nothing to warp, perpetuate, slander and crucify the person's obstacle at hand.  They will take a situation and blow it so out of proportion, we usually end up totally forgetting the initial problem.  Once again, yes I do agree with David Paterson being upfront about his drug use and affairs.  If he didn't come out and say these things now, we all know they would have somehow surfaced later in the worst imaginable way from some overzealous journalist sitting on a hot story .  And the question from the masses would be, "Why didn't he say something before?"  There would be more emphasis put on the situation because it would look more than a secret, rather than what it really is right now -  a straight up admission.  So is it any of our business that the man had affairs and took drugs before he was in office?  I say no.  The affairs are a personal matter and the drugs were taken way before he came to office.  Both of his disclosures have nothing to do with running the state and getting his job done.  If he was snorting coke in the middle of meetings and meeting prostitutes on his lunch hour, then that would be a different agenda all together.  I just don't see what the big deal is with the whole thing.  He told us, now let's move on.  What do you think?

Another thing I needed to get off my chest, I have the need to talk about Miss O.  Yes, Oprah and her terrifying influence on American culture or should I say culture on the whole.  Now, I do respect Oprah immensely for the woman she has become - philanthropist, studio owner, actress, producer and I can go on and on.  I even wrote a thesis paper on her when I was in college.  What she has done for the book industry is indescribable, with her book club.  However, I would like to know when, just WHEN did Oprah put her foot into the music world as a proven artist publicist?  I do know that past artists who have been on her show have had a surge of increased record sales; Billy Joel, John Legend and Celine Dion - who are all certified artists in their own right.  But recently O had on Leona Lewis, a British singer who happens to be one of Simon Cowell's new projects.  Leona Lewis has been touted to be the next Whitney Houston (oh hell no) and from Oprah's perspective, Leona is the truth.  I haven't really been interested in the whole "wave" of Miss Lewis, but I did find myself looking for this song "Bleeding Love" and I have to say - my ears were bleeding and there was no love for the song.  And of course because Oprah said, "run and get it, it's FABULOUS!!" everyone went out and made the song a number one hit on Billboard.  And in turn, Leona became the first female Brit to top the U.S. charts in two decades.  Wow...I mean, don't get me wrong she does have a god given gift, but the song did not do anything for my listening pleasure.  NOTHING.  Hopefully the album has more to show for than this bleeeeeed-ing track.  Take a listen if you didn't get to see her on Oprah, but hey - I did warn you.  

For those of you asking, Danalee and I do have another podcast coming your way.  I am just having some problems posting it.  Do not fear, it's on its way.

On that note, here is the flashback of the day.  Before Mint Condition, this band did the damn thing in the 70's, 80's and beyond.  I still say that no one can replace J.T. 

See y'all soon...

Tha Connoisseur 

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mmm....Milk And White Chocolate With A Side Of Mint!

"I just hope you understand, sometimes the clothes do not make the man." - Freedom '90 - George Michael

And here we are, it is Tuesday all day long.  Hope everyone had a great weekend.
A few tidbits for the day:
  • I am a big India.Arie fan and I am always happy to hear when she is making movements.   Last we heard, the soulful brown-skinned beauty is to star on Broadway in the play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf."  Recently, India.Arie has embarked on the path to becoming a label owner.  She has signed a deal with Universal Republic Records to start her label called SoulBird Music.  The first artist signed to her label is the phenomenal Anthony David.  Anthony's sound is a raspy, gritty soul and his voice alone will wrap around you like your favorite down comforter on a cold day.  His last album Red Clay Chronicles was an extraordinary piece of work.  I look forward to the release of his upcoming album entitled "Acey Deucey" on June 17th.  If you don't know him, please do yourself a favor and check him out.  Listen to the live version of "Part of My Life" on his MySpace page.  The breakdown he does with "I Like" by Guy?!?!  Crazy.
  • In case some of you do not know as yet, one of my favorite bands in the world will be gracing NYC with their presence in May.  Yes, Mint Condition will be singing for my birthday pleasure on May 29th, 2008 at B.B. King in Times Square.  Ok, so my birthday is May 23rd, but I plan to celebrate for the week!  Tickets are already on sale and I am sure they will go fast.
  • En Vogue was to perform on March 28th at B.B. King as well, however that date has now been changed to August 23rd, 2008.
I do not want to get into the habit of listing concerts, there are just too many.  But I will mention the ones that I am truly going to make an effort to attend.  

And my last tidbit is about my original white chocolate - George Michael.  Those who know me know that I am a sucker for Justin Timberlake (yes, Justin - that Justin.)  But the ORIGINAL blue - eyed soul white chocolate in my life, is the one and only George Michael.  I not only love this man as an artist, but I also love him for the person he is.  He has never gone against his grain and always stuck to what he believed in as an artist.  He also never compromised himself as a person in this man - eating industry called the "music world" and always stayed true to what he believes.  I have been a Wham! fan from day one and still have my vinyls and 45's to prove it!  You remember the CHOOSE LIFE t-shirts that were a must have and those lovely white tube socks and short shorts.  But before then, it was all about the tight jeans and leather jackets (Does Wham! Rap ring a bell?)  And let us not even get into when he went solo, that opened a whole new world to us.  One of my favorite sites Soulbounce brought some news to my attention that made me feverish, excited and well quite...hot.  I knew a while back that he was in the midst of planning this farewell tour and a new album, but never saw anything come to fruition.  Well, that has all been swept to the wayside because my sweet darling - love - sugarbabe is coming to North America for his 25 Live Tour AND will be releasing a new album titled "Twenty Five" on April 1st.  Well it's not really "new" because it seems like it has already been released in the UK from what I read.  The last time I saw George Michael was in Montreal during The Faith Tour in '88.  I lost my voice singing each and every song that was sung and I still have my door size poster of Mr. Micheal that I CHERISH.  Let me tell you all, I don't know what to do with myself.  You can paint me green and call me Kermit for all I care, but I have a Kool Aid grin on my face that will most likely last until I plant my ass in a seat at MSG when he gets here.  And if I'm not here, you best believe I will be in Toronto to see this show.  You will see the blog entry - trust me.  So until then, check out the dates when George will be in your city and what not here @ www.georgemichael.com

So to keep it on a George Michael theme, here is the flashback of the day.  One of my favorite Wham songs:

Oh Georgios, how I missed thee!

See y'all later...

Tha Connoisseur 

Friday, March 21, 2008

Chicken Soup For My Soul And Then Some...

"Let me be patient, let me be kind.  Make me unselfish without being blind..."  Tell Him - Lauryn Hill

It's Good Friday for all the Christians out there (I being one of them), so I will be taking the time to spend the Easter Weekend with family.  But before I do that, I wanted to line my page with a few words.

First, I would like to shout out my girl Vivrant Thang, you can find her on her blog Songs In The Key Of Life.  Of course it was the name of her blog that caught my eye.  Yes, the title of one of Stevie Wonder's phenomenal works of genius.  Then when I started to notice I was anticipating her entries, she became a mainstay on my bookmark.  She is definitely listed on my blogroll and rightfully so.  Her blog is crucial, to the point and as her name states - Vivrant.  V - thanks so much for the shout out, I really do appreciate it!!  And girl, it looks like Mint Condition will be singing Happy Birthday to us both!  : )

I had no idea what I was going to talk about today, but my girl Vivrant came to the rescue.  On her blog, she mentioned that she was looking to loose 20 lbs by summer and that she's NOT playing.  I am right there with Ms. Thang.  I have embarked on another ambitious project and that is to tone up and look H-O-T for the summer.  Unfortunately, that project consists of subjecting myself to torture and punishment every second day of the week by working out or practicing my new religion as some of my gals call it.  Oh yes let's not forget revamp my eating habits and continue to do what makes me HAPPY.  I do believe that if you are going to do something like this, it has to be done inside out.  Believe it or not, I have started on my campaign since February and I must say, I feel superb
I used to be a pretty athletic person, well at least I thought I was.  I played basketball, netball and ran track in my younger days.  However after a knee injury, I stopped sports completely.  After physio, I started working out again and was in the best shape that I can ever imagine (in my 20's) - thanks to my muscle bound cousin.   Then because of health reasons beyond my control, I completely stopped working out again.  Only recently have I turned my attention back to my health (did I just show my age?)  I lost my Dad to cancer last year and an Uncle and Aunt to diabetes in the year as well.  It's been tough all around, but I have learned and seen so much.  Life as well as death always puts things into perspective.  I have always been the type of person to live life fully and do me.  However, I do dare to argue that we take so many things for granted - ESPECIALLY life.

Alright y'all, I'm not here to preach but here's my word.  Diabetes is no joke, cancer is no joke and neither is any other disease or negative additive that sucks away at your life line.  If there is something or someone in your life that is causing you harm - L.I.G.  If there is something or someone in your life that is causing you to doubt yourself or think twice about anything positive you do for yourself - L.I.G.  IF there is someone or something in your life that is in the way of you becoming or continuing to be the enthusiastic, loving, exceptional person that you are and need to be - L.I.G.  In L.I.G.  I mean LET IT GO.  And whatever change that can be done, whether it be a cross country move, quitting that job that stresses you to move on to bigger and better things or purchasing the pair of hot red bejeweled Stewart Weitzman pumps you saw in the store window (guys, it could be those fresh pair of Timbs you will wear with your new crisp jeans that DO NOT sag below your ass!) - whatever it is, EMBRACE it.  Do you!!  You only live once!  Give thanks for another day of life, watch a sunset, take time to gaze at the stars and watch the clouds go by.  Or listen to a baby or child laugh, it is one of my favorite sounds.  It's one of the most jubilant and innocent sounds on earth.  It is always...and I cannot stress that enough...always the simple things in life that count. 

On that note, here's the flashback of the day.  Here is Don Cornelius' fro' and Cuba Gooding Jr's father doing their thing:

Happy Easter to all of you celebrating, to those who are not - have a great weekend.

Tha Connoisseur

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In The Words of Marvin - What's Going On?

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds..."  Redemption Song - Bob Marley

I am a bit late this week with my entry, but nonetheless I am here!  I felt that it was time for a bit of a musical intervention on my part.  After witnessing the debauchery of artistry that Mariah Carey displayed on Saturday Night Live (lip syncing et al,) I remain speechless and in shock when it comes to the state of music today.  Why she is given a platform to share the mockery that is supposed to be a gift from the man upstairs, is beyond me.  The fact that Mariah actually had the nerve to go on stage and sing (ha!) that mess that she calls a song was really an insult to her fans (yes, Rhythmic my friend, we are *HERE* once again!!)  And then to whisper/talk that ghastly "Migrate" and feature of all people,  T - Pain...let's just say I did not watch the whole thing and that was viewed on You Tube y'all.  Too bad Janet Jackson was still sick!!!  And believe me, I can go on ranting shamelessly about it, but it's not worth my time - SERIOUSLY.  Today, I will stick to what I know best - Da Goodness!!!

On Saturday evening, it was an honor and privilege of mine to attend the 3rd Annual Indie Mixer at Billie's Black in Harlem.  What an event that was my friends.  This is a yearly event that is put together by Mike Ashley's Life and Soul Promotions and Dexter Myers Clever Strategies .  It was my first foray here in New York City into the indie soul movement scene.  Now I want to make this extremely clear, the indie soul movement is not something that just came about overnight.  This is a band of people who come together because they are clearly passionate about what they do and what they believe in.  Which unfortunately, is more than I can say for the major music labels out there.  There is much more to the R&B and soul world than Beyonce, Usher and R. Kelly, let's be real now.  I would call that more or less hip hop because the influences are dominating and unmistaken and that right there is a whole other conversation.  

This "band" of people I refer to, are a soul community.  First and foremost, they are a cumulative of fans who are - artists, producers, label owners, writers, promoters, DJ's etc who come together to continue spreading the word that there really is exceptional music still around.  And in all honesty, you do not have to go far to enjoy it or see artists perform.  And if we are going to sit back and have these major labels force feed us the regurgitative mess that they are calling R&B, then that's our faults.  ESPECIALLY if we choose to complain and do nothing about it.  In doing nothing, I mean sitting back not attending shows, CD launchings, purchasing albums etc all that are readily available at almost all times.  This is New York y'all, there's no sleeping here!  And for everyone else, there is no excuse - artists do travel you know!  

I had the pleasure of meeting Pam and Detrel from ONUTSS (One Nation Under The Soul Shack.)  The ladies are a bonafide team that continue to support and bring hot soul artists to the forefront.  Detrel has become my Soul Commune sista and a great friend all around.  Not to mention both of them showed plenty of love on Saturday evening.  Here is a pic of Detrel and I, please check out their website for more info on upcoming artist showcases. 

First pic is with the unparalleled Gordon Chambers who showed his love and also sang Happy Birthday to Mike Ashley.  Also on hand and one of my favorites, the always smooth and mellow Eric Roberson.


And lastly, shown below is a man who works tirelessly along with everyone in unison to push the soul movement to where it truly should be.  The Cool Cat himself, Mr. Terry Bellow.  You can visit his site regarding the International Soul Music Summit.  This is an event that all soul cats should try and attend.  Check out the info.

I must also mention that the phenomenal Angela Johnson and Monet both performed.  I unfortunately did not get to hear their whole set, however what I did hear was phenomenal. Eric Roberson stated that one of the most important things out of everything done, the meeting and greeting, the schmoozing and exchanging of cards - would be completion.  The importance of following through is why these mixers are done and he is right.  What good is it if you take a card and do not follow through with the person or at least keep in touch?  I plan on doing just that, I plan to keep in touch and make movements with the wonderful people that I have met.  I am a staunch supporter of good soul music, it is something that I don't take for granted or in jest.  And as music connoisseurs, I think you should too.  Support your indie artists, they are the wave of the future.

With that said, here is a blast from the past for the flashback video.  Today's pick is an 80's gem that was NO JOKE when it came out.

See ya soon and I promise, I will be on time.  Hope you checked out the podcast!

Tha Connoisseur 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Our First Podcast Is Finally Posted!! I Think...

I know, it's not one of my usual long winded rantings, but it is the introduction to a new project that I have been looking forward to sharing!  As I have mentioned previously, my cousin DanaLee and I have embarked on an ambitious project - producing a podcast.  Our podcast is called "In NYC" and the name says it all.  We will be giving you a weekly dosage of reviews on concerts, parties, clubs, exhibits, plays, restaurants and anything else that we can get ourselves into.  So take heed, this is our FIRST show and we tryin ah ting!  Sorry, got a little West Indian on ya.  : )

Hope you enjoy.

Tha Connoisseur 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dodging Procrastination To Remedy My Soul...

"You are an obsession, you're my obsession..."  Obsession - Animotion

Today I should be reeling about the concert I made an effort to catch on Monday night, yet to the best of my ability still managed to miss.  But instead of carrying on like a raging bull seeing red (aren't bulls colorblind?), I decided to dedicate this entry to one of my favorites - Raheem DeVaughn.


I did procrastinate on purchasing my ticket for this show, I knew 3 weeks ahead of time that he was coming through B.B. King's.  I detest waiting until last minute to do anything and missing this show was my fault.  I have absolutely no idea what came over me.  I knew that Raheem is not only my musical obsession (as my girl Vonnie from Honeysoul would say), but I had to share him with a whole room of screaming-nearly-out-of-their-mind women, scouring to the front of the stage for a piece of my man...oops sorry, I meant Raheem.  When I reached B.B. King, the place was PACKED, wall to wall and from stage to bar.  It was utter madness.  Raheem had just started crooning "Ask Yourself" driving those aforementioned ladies of unsound mind to the brink of delirium.  I was able to befriend the bouncer to catch a glimpse, but it was only a tease knowing that I would not be able to watch the entire show.  After 20 minutes I slowly made my way out the door with my tail between my legs, only to stay for a bit of his next track "Mo Better" before I left.  As I walked up the stairs, I realized that due to me dragging my feet for 3 weeks, I have missed out on one of the Cadillac of all concerts for the year.  Never again.

Now out of my utter jealousy and disgust with myself, I had to take someone else's video to show you what I MISSED on Monday night at B.B. King's in Time Square:

Now, compose yourselves.  Let us talk a bit about Raheem DeVaughn, shall we?

For those of you who are sleeping on Raheem DeVaughn, the "R&B hippie neo-soul rock star," you need to slow down and take in what he has to offer.  If you are looking for unforgiving soul music, you will find it in Raheem.  If you are looking for old fashioned sangin', you will find it here in Raheem.  If you are looking for sex appeal as well as a sexy voice for those nights with your significant other - you will SURELY find it here in Raheem DeVaughn.  And yes, he may be a bit on the young side although he never reveals his age, "I'm timeless, like my music" is what he says.  But believe me when I tell you, DeVaughn is wise beyond his years, which reflects in his writing.  And not to mention, he has that "it" factor.  I still remember being given his first album The Love Experimence to review.  I was mesmerized when I heard "Guess Who Loves You More" and this CD had a permanent spot in the #1 slot on my CD player for a good month.  Raheem's sound is reminiscent of soul music of the past, the type of soul that put you in the mood.  The type of soul music that would have you running through the house to set up your tape recorder to press record when that jam came on the radio.  The days of the quiet storm...oh yes y'all that is Raheem DeVaughn.

Raheem Devaughn had already amassed a large following in DC and around the U.S. as the underground king of R&B before he came onto the scene.  When The Love Experience entered in on Billboard's R&B chart at #9, that did not stop Raheem from keeping pace.  His album gained critical acclaim as well as exposure to a larger audience.  With stellar tracks like "You", "Believe" and the single "Guess Who Loves You More," this album was only the beginning of what Devaughn had in store.

Now with the release of Love Behind The Melody tearing it up: entering the Billboard R&B chart at #1, nominated for a Grammy for his track "Woman," and following up with his second release "Customer," Raheem is not sleeping.  I know some of you out there saw Raheem perform on the Jay Leno show.  I sat and watched with a devious grin as I read his shirt - Grammy Nominated was written on the front, while the back promoted his album.  I guess he learned on the indie circuit that if you want things done properly, you have to do it yourself.  Honestly, I think that goes for everything.  And we have learned and seen what happens when everything is left in the hands of the label.  For that self promotion alone - I love him even more.

So be sure to check out Raheem DeVaughn if he comes through your town, I'm sure you will not be disappointed.  Sorry that I don't have a review for you to read from Soultracks, but that will never happen again (well, never say never.)  

Now you all should know already that I hate MySpace, but this is for the good of the artist and usually their MySpace page is the best place to get any recent info.  So you can check out Raheem DeVaughn's webpage on the easy link I put here just for you - www.myspace.com/raheemdevaughn

On that note, here is the flashback video of the day.  I am sure it is one of Mr. DeVaughn's inspirations and it is also one of my favorites from this all time great band...Enjoy!

I'm off to catch up on my Raheem catalouge...see y'all later!

Tha Connoisseur 

Monday, March 10, 2008

Work And More Work...

"Control - never gonna stop.  Control - to get what I want..."  Control - Janet Jackson 

I am presently working on a new project to accompany my blog.  My cousin DanaLee and I have come together to give it a shot at podcasting.  Last night was our first foray into the land of GarageBand on my MacBook and what a night it was.  The idea was to get the podcast posted to the site today for your listening pleasure.  But right now, I am in the midst of trying to control the impatientness (I know it's not a word!) spewing out of me.  And believe me, I do not have patience on the regular anyhow, so this is quite challenging.  My music teacher used to always say, "patience is a virtue Madame!" and I would always cringe when she said it - today is not any different.  I thought that I would have an upper hand dealing with GarageBand because of my musical background.  But really, who am I kidding!?  I am trying y'all, so be patient with me!  A full write up about the podcast and an actual podcast post will be coming soon.  

A few things going around:

Besides the obvious electoral wrestling match between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Mr. Obama seems to be on the up side in the world of music.  Q-tip has asked Barack to appear on his new album The Renaissance.  No news yet as to what will happen, because there is no answer from the presidential candidate.  But for now, Spike Lee and Nora Jones are sure contributers to the set.

Also, check out the cover of Rolling Stone magazine:

This is the first time this magazine has ever backed a presidential candidate during the primaries.  Of course, he is also featured inside the mag, with a spread of pictures from his childhood to the presidential race.  Impressive cover.

I was also fortunate to attend a discussion at NYU a couple of weeks ago regarding race and politics.  The discussion focused on how people in America gage the candidates and how that will affect their votes - for Hillary, being a woman and Barack being a black man.  Excellent points were brought up,  such as -  what is going to happen to black movements.  Will blacks still be heard?  Or will the brash response be, "oh shut up, you have a black president for god's sake!"  And in Hillary's case - is she in a position where she is not liked because she is a woman or because she is simply Hillary?  The discussions and articulate sound offs were to the point, quite expressive and very educational.  

For those of you into fashion, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an exhibition entitled blog.mode: addressing fashion.  It is an exhibition that allows you to blog about the pieces on display.  They are exhibiting pieces from prestigious designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier to name a few.  I will be looking to include a review of this exhibit on the upcoming podcast.  Keep your eyes and ears peeled, but in the meantime, visit the site @ www.metmuseum.org

 I don't know about you, but I am very excited about the upcoming documentary on Bob Marley that is being directed by the almighty Martin Scorsese.  The only disappointment for me regarding the project, is that it is a documentary.  But with Martin's meticulous eye, I am sure it will be worth my hard earned money to watch in a theatre.  After hearing about the documentary, news of Rita Marley's biography No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley has been released.  Rita is looking to bring the book to life for the big screen.  Having said that, we all knew that she would want no one else but Lauryn Hill to depict her life on screen.  With Lauryn being her choice, the question raised is - will Lauryn be up to the challenge?  Since Lauryn is a Marley family member (she's said to be married to Rohan Marley) and will be under Rita's tutelage, the answer to that question remains to be seen.  We will soon find out what will transpire, won't we?  Check out the poll below and voice your opinion.

Here's the flashback video of the day, a little Bob for the soul:

See you soon...
Tha Connoisseur 

Thursday, March 06, 2008

If I Only Had A Brain...

"Where's your head at?  You have found yourself trapped in this incomprehensible maze..."  Where's Your Head At - Basement Jaxx

Honestly, I am all over the place this week.  For some reason, I am not sure whether I am coming or going.  With 101 things milling in that tiny spectrum of my head that doctors call a brain, who knows where today's entry will take us.  Let us begin...

A few tidbits:

I seriously cannot believe that I have waited THIS long to share this phenomenal find!  There is a great community that has been created for soul music lovers, called Soul Commune. Think of it as Facebook with a FUNCTION.  Those who know me, do know that it would take a really cold day in Hades to get me to sign up for Facebook or Myspace.  And yes, hate is a harsh word and I was only taught to use it in extreme situations - this being one of them.  But Soul Commune is a wonderful breath of fresh air.  Especially for those who are into amazing soul music from sensational indie artists.  Algebra, Heston, Kendra Ross, Mint Condition etc.  If you are up on those artists, then this is the place for you to network if you are in the industry and to be a fan and hear some amazing music.  Do check it out at www.soulcommune.com

Janet, Miss Jackson if ya nasty,  has done it once again, she has come in with the #1 album on Billboard this week.  Discipline happens to be Janet's 6th #1 album.  See, a little discipline can't hurt nobody!  Sorry, I couldn't resist.

My girl Erykah Badu is spreading the word on her album New Amerykah, Pt 1: 4th World War, which came in the #2 spot.  If you do not have it, get it.  Check out the country girl looking chic and doing her thing on the April cover of Essence magazine.  My cuz put me on to some Erykah info that I am sure Erykah will be talking about in the Essence article.  I had no idea (not that it's any of my business) that she was seeing Jay Electronica.  Jay is an artist who happens to be one of the best kept secrets in hip hop.  He has used the internet as his vessel to showcase his work and it seems to be working for him.  When Erykah was asked to describe him as Jay Electronica the person, her reponse was "I wouldn't even call him a person, 'cause he's a weird looking cat.  His ears are kinda pointy, he's got a square head,  he kinda looks like he's an alien from somewhere  - really.  But in a rare beautiful way."  Only Erykah can show her love for someone so eloquently.  Here's a clip of Jay Electronica (with Erykah present) at a photo shoot for URB Magazine.

Can you feel the love?!

Next on my list - a little ranting.  You didn't think I would write up a new entry without ranting did you?

There are two new songs that have caught my ear and for all the wrong reasons.  They both seem to bury themselves in my temporal lobe and it would most likely take a lobotomy to get it wiped out out of my brain.  The first one is "Love In This Club" by Usher featuring Young Jeezy.  Yes, he's back after his "family time" or whatever we would like to call the "commotion" in his life during the past year.  Anyhow, I am very perturbed when it comes to this song.  Usher's first line in the song is, "I gotta do it for the ladies/and I gotta keep it hood."  Really, the title alone bothers every fiber in my being.  For a grown ass man who just got married and had a child, I was hoping for a little something more and different on this album.  Yes Usher has his freakum moments, I just have high expectations that's all.  And like with every other song that I detest, it gets stuck in my head and I can't help but turn it up loud and bounce to the beat.  Yet on the contrary with this song,  the other one that is really driving me to wrench out my eardrums with a screwdriver would be Mariah Carey's new track "Touch My Body."  Turning on the radio hearing Mariah coo, "If there's a camera up in here, I'd best not catch this flick on YouTube" agitates me.  Mariah once said that all she can do is make music she believed in.  If this is a glimpse of what she believes in for her upcoming release, I don't know what to say.  "It's Like That" from The Emancipation of Mimi was fun and fearless, where "Touch My Body" comes across as remiss and strewn together.  Of course, it's going to be a number one song, you will see.  However, I cannot say it will be on account of the strength or individuality of the music.  Let us hope it is not a reflection of things to come.  And just a side note, I am not usually this abrasive when writing about music.  Music is something that I am passionate about and the whole movement right now is really causing me concern.  But that is a whole other rant.

This week, I decided to add another piece to my blog called "Tha Jams."  Tha Jams are a choice of 6 songs (that may change) that I will rotate every week.  They are songs that may be in my head, my blog discussion or in my iPod.  So for your listening pleasure, I did include the two songs discussed today and a few others that are on my playlist.  Hope you enjoy as we go along!

And on that note, here is the flashback video of the day.  Some good ol' down home soul.

See ya...

Tha Connoisseur 

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What A Tangled Web We Weave...

"Lies, lies - using lies as alibis..."  Lies - En Vogue

I am a person who is fortunate to say that I have worked in two of the best places in the world. One - a record store and two - a book store.  Besides the amazing books, I was able to make a lasting friendship with one of my coworkers as well.  And the books??!!  That was a big part of the joy of working there.  I like to consider myself an avid reader.  Although I must admit that it has been a while since I have held a jewel worth discussing in my hand.  With school reviving my thirst for literature, I find myself compelled to visit a Barnes and Noble very soon.  But the question is - what to look for?  What do I feel for?  I was fortunate back in September, to receive an advanced copy of "Them" by Nathan McCall.  Is the author ringing a bell?  He would be the author of the memoir "Makes Me Wanna Holla."  It was a memoir recounting his days as a young gang banger, right to his adult days as a prolific journalist.  That was a great read for me at the time.   And now here I am with his new novel, but have not passed page 35 as yet. However,  I am not sure that this is what I feel for at the moment.  

The lies seem to be flowing to and fro in the literary world lately.  Reading my daily listing of online newspapers, I came across an article about another author caught in a lie.  Apparently there is or should I say was a memoir by Margaret B. Jones called "Love and Consequences" that was released recently.  It was about the author growing up half-white and half-Native American in South Central LA.  She wrote about living with Big Moms - her black foster mother, loosing her brother from the bullet of a Crips' member's gun and selling drugs and possessing illegal firearms for the Bloods.  Now here's where the lie comes in - girlfriend is WHITE.  Not half white as stated, but Caucasian.  She was never raised in poverty, but grew up in a well to do area of San Fernando Valley, CA - with her biological family may I add.   She also lied about the university she attended!  And would you like to hear the kicker?  The person to tip off Riverhead Books (affiliated with Penguin Books), the person who put her on blast, was her SISTER.  How did she find out you may ask?  By reading an article in the New York Times.

The author then had to reveal to the Times that her "memoir" was fully fabricated (no, really?) Yet, she had the nerve to say "For whatever reason, I was really torn, and I thought it was my opportunity to put a voice to people who people don't listen to."  is what she told the Times. Well Ms. Jones, if that was the case, why didn't you just say that it was a work of fiction rather than lie to everyone and say it was a memoir?  Why lie time and time again, to the publisher, to the editors, to the book company and to the readers, about it being your life story?  You could have been straight forward and say that it was a fabrication on your part.  But it is a mesh of stories from people's lives that you have stolen to make your own.  Yes, they are true stories, they are stories from experiences friends had from an anti-gang outreach program that she used to take part in.  And now from all of your lies and deceit, there is no book tour for you (cancelled) and no book deal for you (book has been recalled).  Too bad, so sad.

And ladies and gents, she's not the only compulsive liar on the market right now.  Another author Misha Defonseca, claimed that she was Jewish and wrote her memoir "Misha: A Memoir of the Holocaust Years".  I think the title speaks for itself.  However the difference here is that the book has already been translated into 18 languages and was being prepared for a US release.  Because the genealogical researcher was finding discrepancies in his research, is the only reason Misha De Wael (her real name) came forth to finally admit that she is not Jewish and her whole story (living with wovles after her parents were abducted by Nazis and murdering a German soldier) was fabricated.  Her excuse?  She started to identify with being Jewish because of the mistreatment she received from her grandfather and uncle.  They saw her parents as traitors, because her parents where resistance fighters who were killed by the Nazis.  Ummm...SAYWHHAAT??

So obviously absolutely no one has learned from the James Frey "A Million Little Pieces" debacle, not that it wasn't a good book, because it was.  So much so, that I ended up reading "My Friend Leonard" too.  But what I am saying is, why the lies?  Can this be avoided?  Obviously in the long run, the truth will come out.  The truth, if stated right out of the gate could have prevented public humiliation, standing by hopelessly while your "creation" is being torn apart to shreds and massive recalls and apologies.  

Lies...they always have a way of playing catch up.

On that note, here is the incontestable video of the day:

See you soon...

Tha Connoisseur 

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Somebody Pass Me Some Smelling Salts!

"Right now I'm missing music..."  Music - Leela James

My people, you will have to excuse the short entry today.  I will get to the reason in one minute, however just a couple of points on this glorious Sunday (it is Sunday right??):

I really think it is a guilty pleasure, but I love Chris Brown's Stargate produced track "With You".  I say guilty pleasure because of a few reasons.  One - it's a pop song.  Chris' first album was more of a hip hop infused get-your-ass-on-the-dance floor kind of set.  But then again you may disagree with me in a moment.  My other reason for calling it a guilty pleasure, is because the song seems to be a collection of the left over guitar riffs from previous Stargate produced songs.  That takes a jab at my musical taste, it actually makes me want to re-evaluate it and that drives me absolutely insane!!!!

There's nothing wrong with guitars, I love guitars! (But not as much as a really nice drum set!)  However, with tracks such as "Hate That I Love You" by Rhianna feat. Ne-Yo and ESPECIALLY "Irreplaceable" by Beyonce out there in heavy rotation, didn't they think that we would catch on?  It may not be the exact riff, slowed down or sped up, but it's pretty damn close!!!  What irks me is that as a music critic, I have to sit down and question if these producers think that we, as the consumers, are that oblivious to their actions.  And not to insult anyone, but we really are.  We are the ones who go out and purchase these albums and support the songs.  Whatever happened to making a fresh new sound?  Isn't that part of the challenge of being a producer?  They are good at what they do, because I always complain when the song comes on the radio.  But I always end up singing the song word for word.  Isn't that what always happens?  Go figure.  I assure you this is not the first time this has happened and it sure will not be the last.  Listen to the songs and let me know what you think.  Of course, I could just be having one of my crazy over analyzing moments.  

Also, if anyone is in the New York City area, the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is running at the Broadhurst Theatre.   The powerhouse of actors listed on the bill are luminaries such as Terrence Howard, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose.  Support Black Hollywood at it's best please.  And just in case it does matter to you, Terrance will not be performing from April 15 - May 4th.  Boris Kodjoe will be filling in for him.  The reviews that I have read have been quite positive and that's amazing for an all black Tennessee Williams play.  Well the only successful one anyway.  I unfortunately have not seen it yet, however you will be the first one to know when I do get around to seeing it.

I thought I would finally get to the reason why this entry was so short.  Although looking back now, it doesn't seem short at all.  Anyhow - last week was a week to contend with.  Had a few roadblocks along the way, but such is life right?  For me, the only way to get out of that funk was to get into some funk.  I was in desperate need of a good ol' school soul party.  Being in the city, sitting in the car with my cuz, we both couldn't figure out what to get into.  So we ended up going to a restaurant, eating a fish that I absolutely HATE (that would be salmon, but ended up loving their dish), turned the car around because the night was already done to my chagrin and came back home.  That was last week, this is this week.  Well did I make up for it last night!!!

Last night my cuz and I ended up at a club called Hiro in Manhattan.  The line was long, but we all know it's always good to have a hook up.  So with hook up in tow, we ended up inside the beautiful Asian inspired club.  The club came complete with a winding orange wood staircase and Cirque de Soleil-esque women hanging from the ceiling doing acrobatics with white sheets.  Quite entertaining indeed.  However, the highlight of the night for me is when we discovered who was on the one's and two's.  One of the most influential dj's in funk and hip hop, yes yes y'all, the one and only:

Mr. Afrika Bambaataa himself!!

Ladies and gentlemen, did I get my funk ON!!!  With Bambaataa dropping tunes from Prince, SOS Band, Funkadelic and James Brown to name a few, the party had just begun.  But when he dropped "The 900 Number" by The 45 Kings?  It was o-v-e-r.  The party was exactly what I was calling on my musical gods for.   A night for me to break out in my best Kid 'n Play impersonation and do the damn thing!!!  I danced all night in my heels...well until Bambaataa was off the turntables that is.  It was a night of sweating, dancing and soaking in the soul.  And not to mention to celebrate a friend's birthday.   So here I am after walking through my doors at the wee hours of the morning (close to 6 am may I add, I am really getting too old for this!), plugging away at my blog.

And this would be the time for me to give you your shot of the video flashback, before I start divulging hot steamy secrets from my devilish past to you.  Anything is possible in this fog around my head.

Here is a true diva representing back when all you needed was a stage, stage presence, a mic and a VOICE.  I am sure that many of you will remember this:

On that note, see you soon...

Tha Connoisseur