Sunday, December 30, 2007
Earlier this month, my great-aunt, Paula R. Campbell, returned to the essence. There are people who you meet who have this presence without really striving for such. Aunt Paula had that kind of presence. Every time I interracted with her, she was sharp and engaging. One thing about my family is that the women in my family aren't meek. My mother, grandmother, aunts, cousins, all the way up to my 91 years young great grandmother (who is the strongest of all. She showed me you don't have to be loud to be strong) are all women of strength. Aunt Paula definitely fit the bill. Though I didn't get to see her as much as I would like (one of the drawbacks of having a big family), she will be missed.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
This man is Roger Kevin Flee of Akron, 49. This could be your friend, co-worker, spouse, cousin, et cetera. It just happened to be my son's great uncle and someone who I considered a friend.
Kevin, as those who knew him personally knew him, was a guy who always tried to give people a fair shake. He was a really affable guy. He and I would often talk about computer stuff. Sometimes he would call and bounce some things off that he could try. No one's really sure why the accident happened but it took the life of a good guy.
Rest in Peace, Kevin.
To you all...remember, love all of your friends and loved ones and show them as such. Life's too short to do otherwise.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
You know, if anyone else was saying what he was saying, people would be falling over themselves to support him.
Just because he's Dennis Kucinich...
Kucinich represents what's best of Cleveland. He makes me proud to be from the 'land.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Hip-hop has been international for a long time. Thanks to the Internet, it has only become more so. The Foreign Exchange is a collaboration between Phonte Coleman (1/2 of Little Brother) of North Carolina and Nicolay of the Netherlands.
Yes, the Netherlands.
This doesn't sound like Little Brother in style and in substance. Phonte even sings on some tracks of their initial CD, Connected, which has this song, "Sincere". A new Foreign Exchange CD is expected soon called "Leave it All Behind".
Hip-hop at its' best can bridge language and cultural barriers...like any good music can.
The independent MC. Many MCs decide, for many reasons, to go the indie route. Some are trying to secure major deals. Some enjoy the freedom that is part and parcel of independently produced music. Some want bigger creative control and/or financial rewards.
The brothers of the Justus League are some MCs that represent what's right about independent hip-hop. They are just regular brothers with wives, kids and a love for hip-hop. That's what it's all about.
Hip-hop heads are real people. We were kids, we hung out. We have relationships, some work, some fail. We have jobs, some we like, some we don't. We go to college (which is how much of the Justus League met each other).
I chose this song because Cesar Comanche is one of the founders of the Justus League. One of my favorite groups, Little Brother, is among the members of the Justus League and they have cameos in the video.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Hip-hop has dictated some good fashion statements as well as some more forgettable ones (think Kris Kross...). This video has a lot of things in it. A reference to Madden (for you non-gamers out there, Madden = John Madden Football, the biggest selling video game series ever. It's most recent iteration, Madden NFL 2008 is available for the PC, XBOX, XBOX 360, PlayStation 2, PSP and the Nintendo Wii -- not sure about the Gamecube). Also, you have a lot of blacks and latinos in...hockey jerseys? Before this, you didn't see people wearing hockey jerseys unless they were heading to a game.
This song is also one of my favorite b-sides ever. Ok, for the peeps that don't have or have never had records, sometimes an artist would put 2-3 songs onto one 12" piece of vinyl. This, in hip-hop parlance is called a twelve-inch. There was a popular song (or song that they wanted to garner popularity for) on the "A" side and a more obscure song on the "B" side, much like how it worked with other genres. See my post about the remix to understand why remixes and b-sides are a boon to hip-hop fans.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
1991...the key word in this post is yes.
Yes, that is Busta Rhymes along with Charlie Brown and Dinco D and yes, they make up the original line up of Leaders of the New School (Cut Monitor Milo/Milo in the Dance, cousin of Busta Rhymes, would join the group for the second album, T.I.M.E(The Inner Mind's Eye). Yes, Charlie Brown is wearing all Cleveland Browns paraphenalia. Yes, Chuck D of Public Enemy fame, christened this group, Leaders of the New School (known by heads as the LONS). Yes, this intensity while spitting rhymes that make sense is not seen enough today. Yes, this tape (yes, I had tapes) Future Without a Past stayed in my Walkman. Yes, this album helped me survive 10th grade...my worst year EVER. Yes, I still remember the words to this song. Yes, I screamed them when I saw Busta Rhymes perform last year. Yes, this was my second favorite group -- my first still being De La Soul -- until they broke up due to personal infighting.
The Remix...House music and club music did it but hip-hop took it to another level. Yes, this is the same artist and song that I just posted...but Nas decided, well, let me change some lyrics here and there and get a beat from Q-Tip instead of the Pete Rock classic. It's the same song but reworked enough to give it a different vibe.
I am starting a series that combines my love for hip-hop with my jones for YouTube...it's called Why I Love Hip-Hop.
Hip-hop is catching a lot of crap lately. Hip-hop is the music of my life. The essentials of hip-hop, the writing (graffiti art), the rhyming (rapping), the djing and the b-boying (breakdancing) are the cultural expressions of working-class black and latino youth...but, it has spread world wide. Some of this spread has been perpetuated by those who wish to profiteer off of hip-hop. But there are some that still believe in the power of words and a beat and believe in the core of what made hip-hop special: stories told with honesty and dexterity. The flair doesn't come from jewelry, cars, and scantily clad women...those are machinations of those that see hip-hop as a cash cow. The music is about the rhyme, the beat and the interplay between both. I will highlight some examples that I feel that merit mentioning. There are so many more...this is just one fan's opinion.
Whose world is this? It's mine, it's mine, it's mine...
This song was damn near my anthem summer of 1994. I had just graduated 2 weeks earlier and I was participating in my normal Friday night ritual. Yo! MTV Raps! from 12am to 2am. I did it before I took the ACT and the SAT and I did it after I got back from prom. This is the second single from one of the most highly regarded hip-hop albums ever, Nas's debut Illmatic.
As soon as that Ahmad Jamal trio sample (from the song "I Love Music" hits), it takes me back to the optimism I had back in 1994. This was before 9/11, this was before the petty east coast/west coast stuff, this was before Bush's robbery of the White House, before Monica Lewinsky, before Katrina, back when Pac and Biggie were tight with each other...those were the days.
This is how hip-hop should sound...it should have this kind of soul, this kind of personality. This is why I love this music.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
This video is about a travesty in Louisiana...no, not Katrina.
Chris (from Columbus) puts it extremely well.
While it's not right to meet intimidation with violence, our legal system doesn't seem to have come very far in the days of horribly lopsided and unfair trials that were consistent with the Jim Crow days. The legal system still dogpiles on people of color without the means to defend themselves. Speaking up for legal rights doesn't imply condoning of actions (the argument of many opponents to real judicial reform). It's just the right thing to do. If you are going to send people to jail, do it fairly.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Weapons of mass distraction...
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Why aren't there movies about black and latino teachers inspiring their youth other than Stand and Deliver and Lean on Me. I know Jaime Escalante and Joe Clark aren't the only educational role models for Latino and Black students. There are teachers, black, white, asian, latino, male and female that won't let kids fail without the drama and the schmaltz. I know some of them personally.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Maybe you're thinking "man, I haven't played that since elementary school". Well, some adults were playing kickball yesterday at Shaker Middle School...and I was among them. A fun time was had by all. Why were we playing kickball?
Because of WAKA: the World Adult Kickball Association. There are two Cleveland-area divisions: The Great Lakes Division, which is scheduled to start play a week from yesterday and the Rock and Roll Division, which is having a preseason pick-up game next Tuesday.
For more info, hit up WAKA . Yes, that's a working URL.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
All I could think of was Panera Bread (which, technically, is in Cuyahoga Falls)..and the Lime Spider late nights. ( Big ups to the bearded grill guy whose name I don't know).
I will definitely represent there a few times before it's last call for the Lime Spider.
Friday, August 03, 2007
People don't buy music because they don't feel music. It doesn't touch your soul, the essential part of who you are or who you are aspiring to be. Common's CD does that for me.
I hope you all find music that strikes you like that. If you don't have a relationship like that with music (or some kind of art), you are missing out.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
They don't make politicians or journalists like that much anymore.
He's been saying the same things for the last 29 years. It's all about the people and serving the will of the people not, as he put it, genuflecting at the altar of big business.
The video is here...
I also love the blacksploitation-esque music.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
This week's column is no different. Mr. Frazier makes some strong points about the complacency of councilpeople in areas that started to brown over the last 30-40 years. Instead of creating structures that promoted racial harmony such as Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights, they let the people in the neighborhoods (mostly white) see them as a threat simply because of their skin color. I partially blame realtors (I think that any realtor that said sell because "they" are moving in should be punished...and not in a nice way.)
The youth that Councilman Polensek railed against (which is quite unbecoming of a representative of the City of Cleveland) was acting up not just because his mom didn't raise him right. I don't know her or him so I can't really say. But, I can say this. Many kids, black and white are getting the short shrift from the city. Where is the rec center that was promised to the Collinwood neighborhood years ago? Where are the after school activities? When kids have nothing constructive to do, some become destructive. While personal responsibility should govern every young person's actions, they are more likely to make constructive choices when there are more constructive options are available.
This kid is an example of what neglect of neighborhoods has done to Cleveland. It's not just about black kids, white kids, Latino kids, Asian kids or Native American kids. It's about the green that these kids grew up without because if any of these kids had parents with green, they wouldn't be in this environment. The massive selling off of Cleveland's jobs, the expense of retooling and the inability for the educated to find jobs have created a downward spiral for all of us.
The mom of the kid threatened to sic Al Sharpton or George Forbes on Councilman Polensek? What are they going to do? Please, don't get me started on black "leadership"...if Councilman Polensek did make the race of a kid an issue, then black Collinwoodians should remember this when he comes calling for re-election and proceed to use their vote to get him out. As far as if he would do the same to a white ne'er do well, only Councilman Polensek can answer that one.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I grew up during arguably Cleveland's worst historical period. I am the product of black and white suburban flight. I am the product of Cleveland Public schools (post-Remedial order and pre-city takeover). I am the product of dedicated honors program teachers with short resources and good parents who didn't have either the resources or desire to move. I am the product of forced busing and tax abatements for Gateway, the BP Building, The Galleria, Tower City and other projects that took (and still takes) money from the schools. I am part of the first class of students subjected to the Ohio Proficiency Test which has become a tool to narrow the education of young Ohioans everywhere. I have taken all that Cleveland has thrown at me and I still exist. Cleveland owes a lot of people. Cleveland owes the next few generations more than it gave mine. People of my generation are used to thinking of Cleveland as less than a prosperous place because it hasn't been such during out lifetimes...and people wonder why I hate Reagan and Voinovich so much. Though there's much contempt and frustration, Cleveland was home when it wasn't en vogue to be home...so I can say whatever I want about it.
How do you feel about your hometown?
Monday, July 23, 2007
I think that's why so many bloggers experience burnout. The key? Write something little every day and, should I need to write something bigger, I think it may come out easier.
This is how people such as Jack can post for years straight. I ran into Jack again at the July Cleveland Blogger Meetup and he mentioned that he has been blogging for a couple of years every day. I realized, I hardly ever write. I always want to write these long pieces completely encapsulating my point of view. I don't have to do that. I put too much pressure on myself.
This is why slow and steady wins the race...
Friday, July 20, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
...oh, wait, we don't have these things?
Then, why are we wasting time with this?
I see the NAACP's publicity stunt (it wouldn't be a publicity stunt if it had relevance) as another bourgeois way to "pile-on" to hip-hop. Hip-hop has needed to be more responsible for what is said on the mic way before Michael "Kramer" Richards and Dumb Anus (excuse me, Don Imus) every uttered the words they showed their asses in the national limelight. But, why do they get to shirk responsibility and deflect it upon us. Imus essentially said "Oh, the rappers do it, so it must be ok." What happened to responsibility for the words that are used that folks have been preaching to hip-hop since its' existance? Responsibility is a bedfellow of the first amendment not something you can remove at your convenience like a comforter on a warm night. The public has left Imus alone since he decided to blame his malfeasance on hip-hop...and bourgeois and misguided black folk have jumped on hip-hop's case....again.
If only institutional racism or educational reform could elicit such a response from the black elite (I refuse to call them black leaders...who are they leading?)...
Friday, June 29, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Here is my bookshelf. It would be bigger if I hadn't lost some books while moving.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Now it's time to come home and even the score. Should the Cavs hold home court, it's a 3-game series. No need to think about the closeness of Games 1 and 2.
I still think that LeBron did the right thing in Game 1 because he trusts his
teammates. I always thought of him being more of a Magic Johnson than
a Michael Jordan. Magic came in the league thinking team ball. He was
fortunate enough to have two clutch guys in James Worthy and Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar and contributors like Byron Scott and AC Green to dish to.
I think that Michael Jordan poisoned team basketball because his
success led owners to think that the could pay one superstar and a
bunch of role players. It's better to pay a few really, really good
players and have them build some chemistry. This is why the Cavs let
Carlos Boozer go...and this is why Jim Paxson is no longer the GM.
Drew Gooden is solid but imagine a Carlos Boozer given a looser rein to
score as he has shown he is capable of in Utah? He could have been the
"Big Game James" to LeBron's "Magic" . Larry Hughes was supposed to be
that....Hughes isn't bad, just inconsistent.
The Cavs aren't pretty. LeBron isn't even pretty as much as the media would like. He likes team ball. He likes getting others involved. He cares about substance more than style. He and Mike Brown might have disagreements about that but they agree that winning ugly is more preferable than losing. Period.
Should the Cavs mount 8 more wins...nothing else will matter. The Larry O'Brien trophy will be here. No one can argue with that. I think they have a chance. Should the Cavs face San Antonio, we will see the Eastern Conference win the title for the third time in four years. Mike Brown knows Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and those guys (he used to work under Popovich). What Popovich doesn't know is LeBron and the hodge-podge that is the Cavaliers. Cavs in 5 in the Finals. You saw it here first...
...that is if we can make it through the D.
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Friday, May 25, 2007
It was amazing. I had heard him speak as a senior in high school at Cleveland State back in 1994. As a man, I have a stronger appreciation for his art and his viewpoints. I bought a couple of his books: Fight the Power:Rap, Race and Reality and Chuck D: Lyrics of a Rap Revolutionary.
Monday, May 07, 2007
"People complain that hip-hop stars use obscene lyrics and lewd music videos to demean women. Sometimes, so do even the most bourgeois women’s television shows."
Monday, April 30, 2007
Mother's Day is no exception. My friend, J, from Long Island sent me this article about the origins of Mother's Day in America.
Peace for mothers by bringing their husbands, sons and daughters home from war...a novel concept.
Friday, April 27, 2007
It also didn't help that she probably knocked Elizabeth Hasselbeck on her ass more than the Steelers did her brother-in-law Matt Hasselbeck in Super Bowl XL. If nothing else, the participants on The View must learn to stand up for themselves and their opinions.
Now, to find a replacement for Star Jones's replacement. Hmmm, Soledad O'Brien is available. If I were Barbara Walters, I would call her not now but right now. Why? Soledad O'Brien is a great journalist (I still can't believe she's not working?!) Here are a few reasons that I think that she should be considered:
- She's relatively young.
- Ms. O'Brien is only 40. She has a hip, world-wise aunt appeal. She's old enough to have experienced life but young enough to effectively explain it to those that haven't.
- She's classy
- On Today, on CNN, I have never seen Ms. O'Brien be less than professional. Sure, sometimes she would be silly but that was appropriate for the light mood of the Today show. Rosie was a little too...ok, a lot too abrasive for The View. I could see Ms. O'Brien putting Elizabeth Hasselbeck in check but doing so in a Claire Huxtable "I am confident because I am using facts and not rhetoric to argue with you" sort of way. I used to love when Claire would dress down anyone that came at her in a way that didn't show her the proper respect. She didn't get loud, she was surgical with her dismantling of her foe. Now, that's class.
- She's a working mom (she has 4 children)
- The View is about women. Some work, some are moms. Ms. O'Brien is both. Four kids is no joke even if you are married (which Ms. O'Brien is). I bet this would earn her stripes with The View's core audience.
- She is American diversity at its' finest
- She's Afro-Cuban and Irish-Australian...which is how you get a name like Soledad O'Brien. Only in America. Is she Black, white or Latina? She is all of them and she embraces it. Anytime an intelligent woman represents well (especially my women of color), I want to see more.
- She could take over for Barbara Walters if she hung it up
- Barbara Walters has been in the media for a very, very long time. The day is coming where she hangs it up. Who better than a strong journalist like Ms. O'Brien to pass the baton to?
And, I didn't even mention that she's absolutely beautiful. I say she's beautiful not solely based on her looks because with no personality, looks don't matter. When she smiled during the news, I couldn't help but do the same.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Though I don't try, sometimes men can be sexist (yes, male privilege is real). Why? Because, to me, it wasn't about the looks of the players (who cares about looks when it's time to play some ball? I know I don't.), it was about the game. The two best women's programs this year. Tennessee came out on top but both teams played their butts off and both Coach Summit and Coach Stringer are classy and great teachers/role models.
Since Imus's comments, both coaches have proven that they are the class acts they have been throughout their careers. The Rutgers women's squad has followed Coach Stringer in that path of class and they are to be totally commended. They have class, beauty (inner and outer)...and skills to kick me up and down the court.
But, what I am starting to grow tired of is people trying to tie rap music into what Don Imus said. Don Imus is no friend of hip-hop. It's insulting to be lumped in with him. The misogyny and violence that exists in some hip-hop is an effect of lots of issues, not a cause of misogyny or violence and certainly not the impetus behind Don Imus's comments. Some parties in America are good for regarding effects as causes of problems when they are attached to have-nots and marginalized groups.
But I didn't think that Cleveland would buy in. I read the CoolCleveland e-mail blast and above Mansfield Frazier's article (on a side note, I think it's funny that the column is called "Straight Outta Mansfield", a take on a seminal "gangsta rap" album, "Straight Outta Compton" by the group NWA - also, the late Eric "Eazy E" Wright, a leader within NWA took five guys from the Glenville area and put them on the hip-hop map. The name Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony should ring a bell), there was a quote from C. Delores Tucker that stated"
"It’s a crime that we are promoting these kinds of messages. The whole gangsta rap industry is drug driven, race-driven and greed-driven... it’s not healthy for our children."
Mr. Frazier stated :
"Didn’t we give anyone and everyone license to disrespect us by continuing to allow young, Black, empty-headed, no-talent performers posing as “artists” to continually disrespect Black womanhood? And I am as guilty as the next Black elder for not speaking out sooner. But enough is enough."
The answer to the question Mr. Frazier poses is absolutely not. It is not up to these "no-talent performers" to give license to anyone to disrespect women period. They are wrong for doing so but to insult a whole genre because some of its' practitioners lack of respect for various groups is ridiculous. Also, there have been many black entertainers that have degraded women either in practice or in lyrics before the creation of hip-hop (I suppose no one saw Ray or What's Love Got to Do With It?) so Mr. Frazier's argument suffers from a case of historical amnesia.
While I think that some of the more base and tawdry aspects of hip-hop are getting entirely too much light, attacking artists is like cutting off a leaf and expecting a tree to die. I believe that artists should write about what they know. Quentin Tarentino wouldn't remake Sarah, Plain and Tall. Violence and discrimination are, unfortunately, as American as apple pie. They must be fought but throwing rappers en masse under a steamroller (like Rev. Calvin Butts did with some of their CDs back in the 90's) and calling it the best solution is pointless.
Mr. Frazier is right about one thing: a problem is the major labels. As many of the independent music fans around here can attest, some really poor music is getting lots of press lately. It's no different in hip-hop. Groups that have a more positive and inclusive message get pushed by the wayside. Why? Because they don't sell. Why don't they sell? It's simple. If you have to market hip-hop that's not negative, that means that you have to say *gasp* that you can be true to what you believe and who you are without resorting to negativity. Placing black men in a positive light that aren't selling something is not a strong point for corporate America.
There is no singular black experience. I will say that again. There is no singular black experience.
Earlier, I said that "gangster rap" was an effect and not a cause of some of problems that plague America in general and disproportionately affect the black community. Crime and violence come from lack of educational opportunities. An educated kid has more options for expression and expansion of thought than kids without education. These kids without education aren't stupid (meaning, they have the capability to learn) but they aren't appointed with the proper venue. Once they become adults, they are left to their own devices and too many choose the lowest rung (the illegal life). Before the massive flight (not just white flight, black folks left in droves as well), higher-income black people and lower-income black people lived in the same neighborhoods. A storekeeper would live next to a mailman who would live next to a doctor who would live next to an attorney. You would have a very economically diverse neighborhood which allowed for strong connections. Then, many who saw moving out as moving up, left these community-rich neighborhoods for the 'burbs instead of using their new found, post civil-rights influence to improve their current neighborhood. This is why many predominately black areas of Cleveland are economically depressed.
Music in particular and America in general needs to be more respectful of marginalized groups. Calling one particular genre out and blaming it for problems in society that are caused by people IN NO WAY RELATED to the genre (Imus) is insulting.
Specifically, I am tired of the rap bashing. Hip-hop had been blamed for everything short of global warming (and I think Bush is working on that one). These artists are grown men and women. We should take each individual to task for what they say and see what they have to say...then, we should talk to their bosses. It's more about green than you think...
Monday, April 02, 2007
Boston 98, Cleveland 96.
It was probably the most horseshit call I have ever seen. It seems like the officials have it out for the Cavaliers.
Delonte West said: "Well, I didn't fall on my own, It was just one of my veteran moves. I drew the contact. I drew the contact and fell to the floor. The refs did a good job making the right call."
What a crock. A couple of years ago, he couldn't hold Jameer Nelson's jock at St. Joseph's. I still think Nelson's the better player.
Well, tonight's the night. Ohio State can exorcise all of its' demons this year with a win tonight. If the men's b-ball team fails, they can only go to the football team for consolation. Monday night. National Championship. Florida. But, unlike the neutral to friendly confines of the University of Phoenix Stadium (Cardinals, son!), they are in the Georgia Dome. Georgia. The state next to Florida.
We shall see in about 12 hours...
Thursday, February 08, 2007
If it's going to be this kind of year...life's good. Common's still my favorite solo MC.
This is insanity...Common and Kanye kill it.
On a side note, I think Taye Diggs could have a future in sportscasting. He's very cool in his improptu interview with Reggie "I do care about Black people" Bush.