Thursday, December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt passes at 81 | BBC News

In her day, they did it all and couldn't be touched!

Synopsis: (BBC News) - American singer, dancer and actress Eartha Kitt has died at the age 81, her friend and publicist has said.

Kitt died of colon cancer on Thursday, Andrew Freedman said.

She was one of the few artists to be nominated in the Tony, Grammy and Emmy award categories and was a stalwart of the Manhattan cabaret scene.

She famously played Catwoman in the Batman television series in the 1960s and was known for her distinctive, feline drawl.

She also had a number of hit songs, including Old Fashioned Girl, C'est Si Bon and Santa Baby.

Kitt was blacklisted in the US in the late 1960s after speaking out against the Vietnam War at a White House function.

She also caused controversy when she toured apartheid South Africa in 1974, arguing that she had helped wean the regime by raising awareness of racism.

However, she returned triumphantly to New York's Broadway in a 1978 production, Timbuktu!, and continued to perform regularly in theatre shows and concert halls.

From the 1980s onwards she appeared in numerous films, and her 1984 hit Where Is My Man found her another generation of night club fans.

Big break

Kit rose to the top of the entertainment world from humble origins.

Her mother worked on a cotton plantation in South Carolina and was just 14 when she gave birth.

Kitt was then given away at the age of eight and sent to live with an aunt in New York.

Her break came at 16 when she got a job as a dancer with a professional troupe touring Europe. She later sang in Paris nightclubs and appeared in several films in the 1950s.

Kitt, who had one daughter from a brief marriage in the 1960s, lived in the US state of Connecticut.

(Source: BBC NEWS | Americas | US singer Eartha Kitt dies at 81.)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beyoncé: I Am... Sasha Fierce

BeyoncéI'm going to forego any jokes about split personality disorder in reference to Beyoncé's new album as not to upset half of the people out there with the affliction. Well, wait... oops. However, I will split this review into two parts accordingly. Marketing gimmick or not, there is an inescapable division within the concept of this release.

I Am...

"If I Were A Boy" kicks off Beyoncé's half of the album with an open-hearted role-play fitting her in the shoes of an increasingly distant lover. In the verses she explores the vantage point of her counterpart in various scenarios, making choices as a supposedly wiser consciousness. Ms Knowles reaffirms her vocal prowess as if battling detractors, effortlessly moving from near whispers to uncompromised belting across the breadth of her range.

"Halo" and "Disappear" take barely innovative approaches to the mainstream tunes heard on popular radio. Whether it be a subtle removal of superfluous synthesizers or the addition of acoustic guitar accompaniment, the focus is clearly on delivering the 'Beyoncé: singer-songwriter' persona. Though her stories/songs fall short of compelling, they will still entertain those hungry for anything from Queen B. As well, "Broken-Hearted Girl," with it's trudging piano and synthesized drums, will no doubt become the anthem of romantically abandoned adolescents across America and abroad.

The album returns to task with "Ave Maria". In it the Houston native mixes the contemporary and the classical, weaving the third song of Schubert's "Ellens dritter Gesang" (better known as "Ave Maria") with an original ballad. From there Beyoncé channels her indie rock side for "Smash Into You" and "Satellites." She seems more comfortable on these tracks than the previous mid-tempo numbers which sound like Rihanna reject songs; fitting since some feel that way inversely about Rihanna's music in general.

Unfortunately, while I respect Ms Knowles's sincere attempt to create a substantial album and re-establish herself as a singer/songwriter, the first five songs on I Am... blend together slightly too well; the rest, however, could grow on the masses. Regardless of the explorations from track to track, Beyoncé consistently asserts her musical talent as not to be bumped from anyone's list of prominent contemporary vocalists.

Sasha Fierce

I'm sure the second disc, Sasha Fierce, will please the bulk of Beyoncé's fanbase. Supposedly "Sasha" has served as Beyoncé's stage presence since her solo debut, if not before. Thus the throngs of those that usually hate it when their favorite artist tries something new will happily chant along with Ms Fierce.Sasha Fierce

"Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" immediately breaks away from the style of the first disc. Upbeat, club/radio friendly, 'commanding-not-demanding' Sasha tells it like it is and how it's going to be. Her "your loss" attitude is quick to walk out of your life, each step more brazen than the antecedent; in much the same manner the song has strutted its way up and down the charts.

"Radio" idolizes the hit song mentality and falls right in line with the current new-wave resurrection in beat production. A sort of revitalized electronica experiment one might associate with Euro-pop or strobe lights. Stateside though, prominent producers TImbaland, Danjahandz, Kanye West, and Ryan Leslie have been toying with the triplet sixteenth-note pattern in padded synthesizer strings for the better half of the recession.

Moving on, we learn the new definition of "Diva" on the so-titled track. Sasha lays out the guidelines for the female equivalent of a hustler and the her activities. Garnering comparisons to Lil' Wayne's "A Milli," her diva feels perfectly at home over the track's southern-style booming bass and kick drums. While "Sweet Dream" merely flirts with the electronica sound a bit more, "Video Phone" furthers the division in personas as Fierce seduces all with sultry suggestions involving a mobile device--a side of Beyoncé I'm sure few behold.

Overall this disc of the pair is as playful, rebllious and naughty as Sasha Fierce is reported to be. Even if the entire release were on one disc with the same song order, the contrast between the two personas is undeniable. If Beyoncé is Jekyll, then Sasha Fierce is her Hyde in both music and lyric. Understandably, there are things you do on stage that express inner creativity/lunacy and resonate with various audiences but don't necessarily align with how you define yourself. Trust me. Complexity keeps an artist interesting and while I have no doubt that a Sasha Fierce will rise again, I'm definitely curious about the future/sound of Beyoncé.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama named 'Person of the Year' | BBC News

Time magazine cover of Obama$100 bucks says he wins a Nobel prize before he's done.

Time magazine has given its annual Person of the Year award to US President-elect Barack Obama.

Mr Obama was awarded the title "for having the confidence to sketch an ambitious future in a gloomy hour," said the US-based magazine.

It said he showed "the competence that makes Americans hopeful he might pull it off".

Recent winners have included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the American soldier and the online public.

Time told readers it was "unlikely that you were surprised to see Mr Obama's face on the cover".

"He has come to dominate the public sphere so completely that it beggars belief to recall that half the people in America had never heard of him two years ago.

"He hit the American scene like a thunderclap, upended our politics, shattered decades of conventional wisdom and overcame centuries of the social pecking order."

Mr Obama has featured on the magazine's cover 15 times in the past two years.

"We would have had to have had some pretty compelling reasons to not chose President-elect Barack Obama," Michael Elliot, Time's international editor, told CNN.

"His is an extraordinary story which has captured the imagination of people from Jakarta to Dublin to Iowa to New Hampshire.

"There is a degree of excitement surrounding Barack Obama which we tried to capture in our choice," Mr Elliot said.

(Source: BBC NEWS | Americas | Obama named 'Person of the Year'.)


That's not surprising. Now if this brotha wins an Oscar... that'd be impressive. Hell, he already won a Grammy. I think he should go ahead and vie for every award possible. Nobel, Peabody, Pulitzer, Emmy, Tony, etc. Why not?!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

NFL star Burress faces gun charge | BBC News

Couldn't we make it the rest of the year without a Fail?

Synopsis: (BBC News) - The US football star who scored the winning touchdown in this year's Super Bowl faces criminal charges after shooting himself by accident.

Plaxico Burress, who plays for the New York Giants, has been charged with possession of a loaded firearm, which is illegal in the city.

Monday, December 01, 2008

US recession 'began last year' | BBC News

Gasp! You admit it?! Who told you?

Synopsis: (BBC News) - The US entered a recession in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Its business cycle dating committee, which is considered the arbiter of whether the US is in recession, met on Friday to make the decision.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dear Ex-Girlfriend: You Can Do Better

Dear Ex-Girlfriend,


You can do better. I was trying to think of a more gentle way to say it but I don't have to, I'm not your man. Granted, enough time has passed that I am in no way upset that you are seeing someone new (nor is it my place to be so). Honestly, I'm just happy that you aren't dwelling on the past. It's not good for you. But then again, neither is your new dude.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jackson gives up Neverland ranch | BBC NEWS

Synopsis:(BBC) - Pop star Michael Jackson has lost ownership of his Neverland ranch in California after transferring the deeds to a company he has a share in.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Will…

President-Elect Obama

(CNN) -- Barack Obama told supporters that "change has come to America" as he claimed victory in a historic presidential election.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

John Legend: Evolver

John Legend: EvolverMay I throw an ‘R’ before that album title, sir?

John Legend’s new album Evolver is what I like to refer to as mainstream soul. In fact, John Legend in general defines mainstream soul. He draws upon all that greatness that could make an artist iconic, but for some reason it never quite manifests into new greatness. Thus every time I hear about a new John Legend album coming out I get excited, but when I go to listen to said album I lower my expectations as not to over-hype myself. Somewhat like an M. Night Shyamalan film, there are things to appreciate if you skew your expectations, but don’t expect to be blown away.

The track most noted already is “Green Light” which you may have heard over the last few months on the radio or other such outlets. A commendable effort to "get out from behind the piano” for which Legend has expressed a desire. Another critic would go into something about an artist having to grow and reflect where they are through their music, but really… John is bored. Simple as that. It’s understandable, remember when Alicia Keys went through the same thing. “Green Light” is definitely a new side of Legend. A side which everyone (listeners and critics alike) seem to welcome, especially since Andre 3000 is in tow sprucing up the effort. So with a grandiose title like “Evolver” and lead off single vastly straying from the Legend we all know and … tolerate (hoping to love one day), I let my curiosity run through the new tunes to see what’s new with I Am Legend.

Though the intro raised my hopes, halfway through the album I’d say it is hard to even describe the growth in this album. With his last album I could say “Oh, John Legend is doing this Black Tony Bennett thing…” and back it up with tracks like “Save Room”, “Where Did My Baby Go” and “Slow Dance”. Once Again brilliantly drew in the lucrative Norah Jones crowd while not alienating the 'G.O.O.D. Music' fans. Evolver would be an attempt at the reverse. However, I don’t know that this album will succeed in retaining the baby-boomers (unless they start midway through) and, speaking for the next generation, the last thing I want to hear is John Legend taking production cues from T-Pain (”Cross The Line”). The sing-song chorus of “Everybody Knows” while best suited for the audience participation part of a live show is otherwise forgettable. As well, the artist features on the album are pretty superfluous in the scheme of the album as a whole. Essentially, John Legend exemplifies the rule about why you only feature someone more famous than yourself (though, Estelle holds her own on “No Other Love” but I still stand by the comment - let that marinate).

The second half of the album takes a dramatic turn for the better. If each of his albums contain an “Ordinary People” ballad, then “This Time” is Evolver’s reincarnation just as “Again” was Once Again’s. I figure the titles of these emotive croonings progress predictably so expect a tune called "Tomorrow" on the next LP. “This Time” fails to debunk the fact that lightening never strikes the same place thrice. Even still, it stands among the stronger cuts from Legend’s third LP with G.O.O.D. Music/Columbia. “Satisfaction” harbors a more modern swagger in its production and almost does all of the work necessary to liven up Legend. It should definitely be in the running to be a single. Meanwhile, “Take Me Away” and “Good Morning” revisit that niche sound in which Legend excels and sophistication that divides him from the mainstream R&B personalities though leaving him slightly more noticed than his soul contemporaries (and I’m sure his association with Kanye West does not dim the spotlight).

In summation, Evolver probably works best if you see John Legend in concert. He really must be tired of sitting at the piano and the tunes here can at least let him stand behind a microphone (even walk around). However, the album overall may be slightly underwhelming if hoping for more than the John Legend you’ve heard before. Though why shouldn’t it be? Same artist, different day… er album. As previously affirmed, John Legend is mainstream soul possibly aspiring down to R&B. While lacking those few undeniable hit songs you can’t help hearing on repeat, Evolver at least holds you over until that next John Legend album for which I’m already starting to be over-hyped.

Courtesy of | John Legend: Evolver

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Woman jailed after 'killing' virtual husband | Yahoo News

You know... if i had to be the victim of anything, I'd want it to be this.

Synopsis:(MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press, TOKYO) - A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday.

The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.

"I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman, a piano teacher, had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison or a fine up to $5,000.

(Source: Woman jailed after 'killing' virtual husband - Yahoo News.)


I understand why she's being jailed. And really, I acknowledge her frustration. But that sh*t is still so funny that I had to share it. I'm glad the authorities prosecuted this correctly, by which I mean omitting the virtual actions. It would be messed up if you were liable for trespasses in games like "The Sims" or "Second Life". How much would that suck?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jazmine Sullivan: Fearless

A review of the debut album from Jazmine Sullivan…

I know you be asking yourself who Jazmine Sullivan is right now, but let’s just say you should get familiar with her. Finally releasing her debut album Fearless on J Records, Jazmine stands up and reminds us what mainstream R&B could be right now.

I first noticed Jazmine online a while back singing jazz standards like “‘Round Midnight”. Her gritty alto is easily among the cream of the crop among the artists currently out in the spotlight. One wouldn’t expect any less from a former child prodigy on the gospel scene. What one would find surprising is Jazmine’s writing ability, penning tales with fresh introspection and observation. However, most referenced work is the hit “Say I” which went public under Christina Milian. Regardless, Sullivan’s debut album has been long awaited. Not since Teedra Moses have I been this hopeful about an artist changing the R&B game.

From the very first orchestral flutter in “Bust Your Windows” you notice her music is familiar but harboring a delectable twist. Whether it be replacing the usual synthesized rhythm section with a string section worthy of the Rhode Island Philharmonic or actually acknowledging the childishness of the otherwise cliché broken-hearted vandalism, Jazmine holds it all together with skillful melody. The beauty of the minimalism behind her is that it allows you to acquaint yourself with the subtleties of her delivery for which you are richly rewarded if listening.

Radio hit “Need U Bad” twists the norm with a smooth reggae groove under Jazmine’s soulful ballad. Missy Elliot appears sporadically throughout the track, understandable since she co-produced the album, but mostly leaves room for Jazmine to shine. And shine Miss Sullivan does. The following track “My Foolish Heart” throws a retro soul turnaround on a bass line fitting the mighty Mos Def. But, comes together less obtrusively than the nouveau British invasion. Other tunes explore the retro sound more specifically but again play out into a fun romp (”One Night Stand” and “Switch!”) or funky realization (”Live A Lie”) rather than a heavy-handed effort at a trend.

Standout tracks like “Lions, Tigers & Bears” and “In Love With Another Man” showcase Jazmine’s ability to entertain with her vocals alone, also known as talent. Though I doubt either will be released as a single, the last time I liked a song with no drums (on a mainstream album), everyone was left singing “ordinary people”. With either a few pizzicato plucks from the string section or Donny Hathaway worthy piano accompaniment, Jazmine evokes emotion and the kinds of honest queries with which we seldom confront ourselves.

Overall, Jazmine Sullivan’s debut exceeds all the expectations you didn’t even know you had of someone whom you hadn’t heard. In a time when most of us are scared of drop bills on another album of three mediocre singles and a plethora filler, Jazmine raises the bar for the mainstream artists with exposing lyrics and masterful vocal control that one would expect more from an academy award winning Dreamgirl. I mean, this young lioness has garnered comparisons to Mary J. Blige and others but if she remains so fearless in her singing/songwriting, we may be dropping more legendary names alongside Jazmine Sullivan.

Courtesy of - The Right Side of the Truth

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell endorses Obama | BBC News (fix)

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell

Four more years?! Ha ha... Powell don't play that!!

Synopsis: (BBC News) - US President George W Bush's first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has endorsed Democratic election candidate Barack Obama for the White House.

Backing Mr Obama over John McCain, the Republican Party's choice to succeed Mr Bush in November, he said the Democrat had the "ability to inspire".

"All Americans... not just African-Americans" would be proud of an Obama win, he argued.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

US Presidential Debate #3 |

Debate #3

Synopsis: HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) -- A majority of debate watchers think Sen. Barack Obama won the third and final presidential debate, according to a national poll conducted right afterward.

Fifty-eight percent of debate watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Democratic candidate Obama did the best job in the debate, with 31 percent saying Republican Sen. John McCain performed best.

The poll also suggests that debate watchers' favorable opinion of Obama rose slightly during the debate, from 63 percent at the start to 66 percent at the end. The poll indicates that McCain's favorables dropped slightly, from 51 percent to 49 percent.

The economy was the dominant issue of the debate, and 59 percent of debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job handling the economy, 24 points ahead of McCain.

During the debate, McCain attacked Obama's stance on taxes, accusing Obama of seeking tax increases that would "spread the wealth around." But by 15 points, 56 percent to 41 percent, debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job on taxes. By a 2-1 margin, 62 percent to 31 percent, debate watchers said Obama would do a better job on health care.

Sixty-six percent of debate watchers said Obama more clearly expressed his views, with 25 percent saying McCain was more clear about his views.

By 23 points, those polled said Obama was the stronger leader during the debate. By 48 points, they said Obama was more likeable.

McCain won in two categories. Eighty percent of debate watchers polled said McCain spent more time attacking his opponent, with seven percent saying Obama was more on the attack. Fifty-four percent said McCain seemed more like a typical politician during the debate, with 35 percent saying Obama acted more like a typical politician.

"Independents tend to prefer debates that are dominated by substance and light on discussion of personal characteristics," said Keating Holland, CNN polling director. "The perception that McCain attacked Obama gave red meat to GOP partisans, but it probably didn't help McCain with independents."

"There was a notable gender gap as well," Holland said. "Women thought Obama won the debate by a 62 percent to 28 percent margin. Among men, Obama's lead was narrower, 54 percent to 35 percent in Obama's favor."

During the debate, McCain demanded to know the full extent of Obama's relationship with William Ayers, a 1960s radical. But the poll suggests that line of attack may not resonate with Americans. Fifty-one percent of debate watchers said Obama's connection to Ayers didn't matter at all to them, with 23 percent saying it mattered a great deal.

The audience for the debate poll appeared to be a bit more Democratic -- and a bit more Republican -- than the U.S. population as a whole. Forty percent of debate watchers in the survey were Democrats and 30 percent Republicans.

CNN's estimate of the number of Democrats in the voting age population as a whole indicates the sample is about 3 to 4 points more Democratic than the population as a whole, but also about 2 to 3 points more Republican than the population as a whole.

Eighty-eight percent of Democrats questioned in the poll said Obama did the best job, with 68 percent of Republicans saying McCain performed best. Among independents, 57 percent said Obama did the best job, with 31 percent backing McCain as the winner of the debate.

The candidates first debated in Oxford, Mississippi, on September 26. Fifty-one percent of debate watchers polled by CNN and the Opinion Research Corp. said Obama won that debate, with 38 percent saying McCain performed best. The second presidential debate was held in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 7 and 54 percent of debate watchers polled said Obama won, compared with 30 percent who said McCain did the best job.

(Source: Poll: Debate watchers say Obama wins -

Editorial: Loved this debate. As I have said, it was the one stacked most against McCain and the one he needed most to dazzle independent and "soft" (aka undecided) voters; especially since he essentially lost the first two debates. If those last two were swings and misses then mighty McCain hath struck out.

Favorite moment: Obama summing up that McCain's campaign focusing on distorting facts about the democrat rather than expressing McCain's policies, says more about his failing campaign than it does about the Illinois senator.

Most important, however, is that Obama supporters not get cocky. I'm sure there are many suspect things waiting to happen between now and November 4th. So make sure you can at least say you cast a ballot, regardless of whom for which you are voting.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

US Presidential Debate #2 | BBC News

Obama v McCain in Debate #2
Swing and a miss.

Synopsis: (BBC News) - On paper, the format should have favoured John McCain, who conducts lots of campaign events as town hall meetings, in which he prowls the stage taking questions from anyone who wants to ask one.

In fact, I thought Barack Obama did rather better, measured in manner and clear-minded in content where Mr McCain seemed to spend too much time attempting to score points directly off his rival, with what felt like carefully-rehearsed digs that didn't seem quite to find the mark.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

OJail Simpson convicted | BBC NEWS

Simpson convicted of multiple charges
Strangely, I was shocked. Inexplicably so.

Synopsis: (BBC News) - OJ Simpson has been found guilty of 12 charges of armed robbery, conspiracy to kidnap and assault with a deadly weapon by a court in the US city of Las Vegas.

The former US football star and actor was accused of robbing two dealers of sports memorabilia in 2007.

The armed robbery charges carry a mandatory jail sentence, and kidnapping carries a possible life term.

Simpson, 61, who denied the charges, was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his former wife and her friend.

That was dubbed "the trial of the century".

Conspiracy to commit a crime: guilty

Conspiracy to kidnap: guilty

Two counts of first degree kidnapping: guilty

Burglary in possession of a deadly weapon: guilty

Two counts of armed robbery: guilty

Two counts of assault with a deadly weapon: guilty

Two counts of coercion with use of a deadly weapon: guilty

The charges in the latest trial centred on an incident in the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas in September 2007.

Simpson was accused - and convicted - of kidnapping two sports memorabilia dealers and holding them in the hotel.

The former National Football League running back seized the pair in an attempt to reclaim items in their possession related to his sporting career, which Simpson claimed still belonged to him.

(Source: BBC NEWS | Americas | OJ Simpson convicted of robbery.)


Let this be a lesson. You really only get one "Get Out Of Jail Free" card with stardom for your felonies.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

McCain complains over Ifill | Yahoo News

Moderator Gwen Ifill
C'mon Johnny. You have it pretty nice outside of politics right now.

[via: Yahoo News]

Synopsis: Hours ahead of the vice presidential debate, Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized the selection of PBS's Gwen Ifill as moderator because she is writing a book called "The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama."
Poll: Biden wins debate, Palin exceeds expectations |

Biden vs Palin

Hey, I told you so...

(CNN) - A national poll of people who watched the vice presidential debate suggests that Democratic Sen. Joe Biden won but also hints that Republican Gov. Sarah Palin exceeded expectations.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

US Presidential Debate #1 | BBC NEWS

Obama, McCain square off in first debate

"All things considered, it's about a draw"
~ Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress

Synopsis: US presidential rivals Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have attacked each other over foreign policy and the economy, in their first debate.

Mr Obama said a $700bn (£380bn) plan to rescue the US economy was the "final verdict" on years of Republican rule.

He said Mr McCain had been "wrong" on Iraq and tried to link him to President Bush. The Republican senator described his rival as too inexperienced to lead.

Neither landed a knockout blow but polls suggested Mr Obama did better.

An immediate telephone poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp found 51% said Mr Obama had won, to 38% for Mr McCain.

A poll of uncommitted voters by CBS News found that 39% gave Mr Obama victory, 25% thought John McCain had won, and 36% thought it was a draw.

Both campaigns claimed victory, with Mr McCain's team saying their candidate had shown a "mastery on national security issues" while Mr Obama's aides said he had passed the commander-in-chief test "with flying colours".

Tens of millions of Americans were expected to watch the debate on TV, with only about five weeks to go before the 4 November elections. (Source: BBC NEWS | Americas | US rivals spar in first TV debate)

McCain Obama shake after debate


Yes, the debate was a technical draw. The thing about that, however, is subjectively the debate will thus be a win for the Obama camp. Why? Because this was supposed to be the debate that John McCain won. It's his strength. And there is no doubt he has experience in issues of foreign policy. The loss is given that Obama held is own and, overall, appeared more Presidential than McCain.

McCain was wise to try and hammer the "naive" point, however he did it to an almost patronizing degree, which came off as him losing his composure. However, any time he attacked Obama, the Illinois senator corrected him making McCain seem divisive and out to spin the facts. Unfortunately for McCain, he did not notably correct Obama on any attack against the Arizona senator thus legitimizing the Democrat's authority on the facts.

McCain was right to focus on "the surge", but that's about all he could say in terms of the "War in Iraq". As well, Obama was able to one-up McCain pointing out that the decision-makers on the strategy there essentially agree with his plans for future military action in the region (basically that Afghanistan is the real battleground). McCain was at his best when explaining the fragility of the situation there, but did not follow that by appearing the most prepared to handle the matter. In fact, Obama nailed him on handling delicate matters citing McCain's "Bomb Iran" song. However the junior Senator then gave away that advantage overemphasizing how wrong McCain was in his decision to go to Iraq rather than solidifying points that not only his past but his future judgment regarding the "War on Terror" have been most wise.

In terms of foreign policy overall, McCain was able to parade his experience but Obama matched that with foresight, unveiling that even the Bush administration is starting to enact policies that the Democratic Presidential nominee championed throughout his campaign while McCain leans toward the failed ways of the past. They also argued different points of the fact that Kissinger did promote talks with Iran without preconditions (Kissinger later said "non-presidential" talks - something the Bush administration is currently pursuing).

In terms of economic policy, the debate kicked off with that, which is inevitable given the situation. Neither candidate could comment on whether they were going to vote for the bill that was out at that time, however Obama laid out four core principles he thought should be in the bill. The third debate between them will address the economy more. Obama will be going into that debate as the stronger candidate given that McCain has previously acknowledged his weakness on economic issues. And given the fact that the new economic bailout bill is (according to Sen. John Kerry) founded around the principles Obama laid out in the debate and supposedly better for the American taxpayer.

I've been reading a lot about people being disappointed with the first debate, but this is how debates always are. As well, they are MUCH more subtle than people seem to remember every four years. As they should be, both candidates know better than to shoot off at the mouth and sink their campaign. In fact, a portion of this election will come down to who can keep the most level head and restore America's relationships across the world. Surely we've seen what a faux maverick can do in the White House.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Here he comes. Here comes OJ..."

See what had happened was...
OJ Simpson robbery trial begins...

Defense lawyer Gabriel Grasso and OJ Simpson in court (15 September 2008). OJ Simpson's trial is expected to last around five weeks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Giving up on Musiq... |

Musiq Soulchild

“Don’t front. You know you loooove it.” Not quite, homie.

As if soul wasn’t already an underground genre, now Musiq is trying “Radio”. I expected this one day, but thought there would be a few more singles signaling the inevitable end between then and now. Nope, Musiq dove head first into the mainstream. Can he swim though?

Now, I’d like to excuse this faux pas as a one off error but “Radio” is like strike three for this cat. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put his sound in a box. Quite the contrary, I’m all for artistic freedom. Besides no one wants to hear reworkings of the same song for three albums (unless it’s a really smooth song, e.g., Kem). On the other hand, people will accept multiple artists doing the same song repeatedly and even accept listening to hours of these Goldberg variations on the radio. As long as it’s meant to be a “new joint” then folks don’t care. I could rework a Rick Ross or Usher tune tomorrow and no one would really mind. All I have to do is stay inside the “formula” and I’m set. [I'm not going to define the "formula" here. Eventually I will. You've heard it, though. You may even love it. Why should I ruin that for you?] Unfortunately for those artists compromising their substance to pursue said formula, the range of things acceptable in the formula is becoming more and more narrow. Even the time limit has dropped from 4mins to 3mins-and-change (go ahead, time your latest radio hits).

But I digress, if a Jill Scott or Erykah Badu wants to switch it up to keep themselves (and maybe their fans) entertained then do ya thang, booboo. But, you have to stay authentic to yourself. If you don’t do that then that track better be the jam, because everyone will know your faking it and it’ll be a while before they forget/forgive. Happens all the time in pop music because they are already at the mercy of the public. It’s a scenario similar to a jester that has to guess what best entertains the king/queen or lose his spot in their castle or worse, face execution. Not like he could get up there and speak his mind, no matter how funny. That acquiesce to chase the mold (rather than sculpt it) is what makes you mainstream, ironically for Musiq the mainstream is the most defined/confining box. You hopped in the stream, now you have to follow the bends/trends or be washed out.

Tell ‘em why you mad…

The atmosphere has almost reached the point that trying to make actual music is officially like putting a contract out on yourself. Not the literal definition of music which is the purposeful organization of sound, but rather the artistic definition including a theorized form with A,B,C even D sections, an inspired melody, and meaningful lyrics hopefully expressing some observation - easier than it sounds. Sure, that uncompromising artist may get a Grammy nod, and if the people who blindly buy whatever the Grammy’s nominate notice them then he/she might survive long enough to build a lasting legacy, but more-likely-than-not they either fade away or bend over for that rape-over.

Why the headphones w/ those huge speakers?

Now it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Musiq Soulchild has been walking that thin line for a while now. Remember when he dropped the “Soulchild”. Remember “Buddy”. But it’s been a while since a video made me shake my head as much as MC Hammer’s “Pumps and a Bump”. First thought, was “haha, that’s hilarious… right?” As I realized Musiq wasn’t joking, I started to hope no one else saw/heard “Radio” but then I simply began to mourn the loss. Musiq defected. I mean he’s had all this time that Maxwell and D’Angelo were MIA to helm the movement and really cement his standing, but he left that to Dwele and Raheem DeVaughn (both of whom followed his line more than D’s or Maxwell’s - hence why folks know them… as opposed to Bilal, Van Hunt or Esperanza).

If you are puzzled then you might not have realized there is somewhat of a war going on between the mainstream and the underground (more so those who use the formula and those gifted souls rebelling against it). Clearly the mainstream is winning but that’s because the industry is the foremost sponsor of the formula (and soon the 80s baby anti-formula). Sporadically, the Rebel Alliance has a star rise up and steal some spotlight, but then the minions of the Empire clamor to work with that artists until a string of underwhelming collaborations mar the respect we had for them. Understandably though, mainstream acts crave that “new & creative” credibility and the result is best described using terms like vampires and new blood. Maybe that’s why we hear so much about cats biting. Following the seduction to the dark side, that “best new artist” is merely forgotten collateral damage of the stream, most likely to be immortalized on a late night infomercial compilation.


For my fellow musicians out there struggling between the fame/fortune and creativity/integrity, realize that they aren’t mutually exclusive. I mean it’s perfectly possible to be a respected mainstream artist. About a good third of folks will assume you are overrated but you can live with that. I mean, you wanted some attention, right? Best case scenario, you capture that Norah Jones audience (essentially the Grammy audience) who are great because they really don’t care what you do so long as they can wrap their head around it. Also, you don’t have to do half the work a Chris Brown does to keep your audience entertained. Look at John Legend. He was quick to don that Black Tony Bennett vibe on his second album and capture a whole new crop of jitterbuggers. We’ll call them the “mutually-funded”. And they buy albums (not too keen on computers/downloading yet). So why not have ‘the man’ patron your Black-owned business with all that disposable income? Sounds smart to me. Makes almost too much sense, maybe that’s why folks don’t do it. Of course, this is in the case that you don’t need to stay true to some self-defined idea of yourself and your art. Point is… J Am Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, hell even Queen Latifah are banking right now while the rest of the field is wondering how they can best emulate T-Wayne.

Now, provided you don’t want to show up to the VMAs on an elephant wearing a chain with your moniker on it, nor want to stare into a sea of faces that don’t really understand your message whilst crooning on The Today Show, then you could pull a Batman. Meaning, up front be the artist you want to be but on the side cop a pseudonym and crank out all the “heaters/fire/hotness/blazing tracks” with which you never wanted to be associated. For instance, Musiq easily could have passed “Radio” on to someone who needs it’s small bump (e.g. Trey Songz) and sat back and let them do all the work for the attention/money then bring him his cut. “Ho’ hard and bring it home to us, f#cka!” Maybe he’s pulling a Tweet and has this one mainstream joint on an otherwise very soulful album. We’ll see. Granted, for that trick, you would have to put out a home-run to bait the typical listeners into your album. Alas, the Soulchild didn’t do that. Instead, Musiq stepped up to the plate and tried with all his might for a smash hit.

Swing and a miss.

~ Courtesy of | Giving Up on Musiq

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Is that yo' chick?!

Palin hugs McCainReaction(s) to McCain's VP selection.

So I just finished The Paragon's post [link] and spent about an hour skimming through the world's reaction to McCain's VP nomination on BBC News [link]. Thankfully most of the world sees the choice for what it is, a desperate move to try and draw Hillary zealots and traditional conservatives. Which I assume McCain didn't expect anyone to pick up on, so now the world is insulted - especially the women.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Goodbye Olympics...

I made time for you. Far too much time. I put my life on hold, almost eagerly, staying tuned in. I somehow incorporated you into my conversation and other gatherings. I narrated and recounted your stories to those still detached from your clutches. Not me, I was devoted. But now I know way more than I ever wanted and far more than I will ever need to know about Michael Phelps, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and Usain Bolt. Yet, somehow I feel lost without you. I guess I have a month to try to kick the habit, through the cold shakes and shudders of the remainder of summer reruns, but you and I both know that the new fall season will pull me right back in this tubed addiction. You could say I live 22minutes at a time, if you call it living at all. I don't. No, every time I sit/lay down to get my fix, I tell myself I could be doing something more productive. Sure a list of things springs to mind, but the weight of them compiles until I feel I need get away. Only a brief get away, maybe to a place of levity, where I don't have to worry about what's going on because it really doesn't affect me. Even thinking about trying to get away is becoming a bit burdensome. I wonder what's on TV now that the Olympics are over?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Names Biden as Running Mate

Obama selects Biden as VP Obama + Foreign Policy clout!

Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama selected Senator Joseph (Joe) Biden of Delaware as his Vice Presidential candidate around 12:04 PM EST. Speculation has been mounting for some time about the Illinois senator's choice and the announcement was delayed from the expected Friday disclosure.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Badass of the Moment: Usain Bolt

World Record Holder Usain BoltThat's right, I said it!

Having set the World Record in both the 100 meter and 200 meter races, Usain "Lightening" Bolt would already be a contender for Badass of the Week. However it was the manner in which he won his Gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics that is most badass. And even more so considering the brief backlash he faced.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes found dead at age 65

Isaac Hayes

Never can say goodbye...

Musician and actor Isaac Hayes' wife called police to their Memphis home after discovering him unconscious. Taken to a hospital, he was pronounced dead at 2:08 PM (EST). The cause of death is not immediately known, but family members believe it was a medical condition. Hayes was hospitalized for exhaustion in January 2006 and reportedly suffered a stroke that year.

Bernie Mac passes away at age 50

Bernie Mac RIP

He left them wanting more.

U.S. comedian, film and television star Bernie Mac died Saturday morning at Chicago "from complications due to pneumonia" according to his publicist, Danica Smith. Mac had long suffered from the ailment, sarcoidosis, and was admitted to the hospital days prior for pneumonia.
Are you ready for the new D'Angelo?

D'Angelo on set of THAT video..."This is my MTV diary. You think you know..."

So my boy texted me the other day asking if I read the Spin Magazine article on D'Angelo. "Of course (I haven't)" I replied. Thus, priority one was finding this article. Supposedly folks were scouring the internet for this article but to no avail, complaining that it was nowhere to be found and being pulled down from sites. Meanwhile, the Gent found Spin Magazine's free digital version and read the article at his leisure.

Friday, August 08, 2008


50 Cent: Blood on the Sand "It ain't hard to tell... " or is it?

My best friend was perusing a gaming magazine recently and noticed a short blurb on a new video game coming out… you ready?…wait for it…wait for it… 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. Oh! I kid you not. Essentially 50 Cent murdering mofos in the Middle East. Now I will give Vivendi the benefit of the doubt that the premise (and it’s proclivity to alliteration) is pure happenstance but one can’t help but wonder… who would ‘Fiddy’ have beef with in the Middle East? Oh wait, given the current bogeyman status of terrorism in the U.S., why not allow youths to “spread democracy” as their favorite chunky rapper against… I dunno… probably Al-Qaeda. No, that would be just too blatant. One could already make a small leap and view the game as an accidental allegory for the belief that the government is sending young Black males focused on improving their economic status to handle its political stumbles as one would send a janitor for a mess. I’m not making that leap, I’m just saying someone could see it that way. However, it turns out the game is a sequel to 50 Cent: Bloodmoney and IGN reports the game is described as a mix between Three Kings and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. (Seriously, IGN?)

Anyway, the game sparked a new theory for me though. We'll say conspiracy theory to make it easily laughable and dismissible. So... ::exhale:: what if the mainstream was trying to make black folks republicans? Give it a second. And I guess I should say "republicans again". Now throw on your best Oswald Bates impression and 'propose the question again!' Using rappers to represent mainstream thugs and politicians/lobbyists to represent mainstream republicans, let's just look at three signatures of each...

Lil Wayne kissing Baby No Homo: Rampant throughout the hood, homophobia has swelled to the point that you can't even talk about your male friend (pause? ... no, exactly) because now you need some sort of qualifier disavowing any conceivable erotic/romantic connection. For the grand old party (GOP), it goes without saying the lack of tolerance for such a stereotypically liberal orientation. Most hypocritically evident in how disconcerted Vice President Cheney gets whenever his lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney is mentioned. The usual justification/excuse being "it's in the Bible". Which brings us to our next signature...

Morgan Freeman portraying God The Original G: Even the most hardcore, weight-moving, whore-mongering, cold-blooded street disciple has a desperate need to cling to his faith. On wax, you hear the "thug" rapper with that one religious track talking about a higher power's omnipotence/omniscience or thanking Him for allowing said rapper to be where he is now (and thus do what he does - which makes you wonder if they think God condones the hustle). Either way, they love Him. And though they may not be in the pews on Sunday, they make no hesitation in expressing their faith. Most stereotypically through a tattoo or jewelry, such as the ever-popular 'Jesus-piece'. Again, I doubt we even need to note the political alignment of the bible belt and beyond. Shoot, nowadays if you're not touching a Great Lake, the Pacific Ocean, or New England your probably in a red state. I whole-heartedly expect to see Gov. Schwarzenegger with a Jesus-piece one day. Give him time, he was the Terminator. And that shoot-first-ask-later persona brings us to the last signature...

Pistol Pistol Grip Pump: "From my cold, dead hands" exclaimed past NRA president Charlton Heston. The right-wing's embrace of the second amendment has grown perversely near to a religion as well. Who goes hunting? Who joins the military for sh*ts and giggles? Not thugs, but they still tote them burners. Can we count the number of arrests including firearms? Hell, even D'Angelo was charged with carrying a concealed weapon in January 2005. Wasn't T.I. recently jailed for attempting to purchase three machine guns not to mention his man-size safe of assault rifles? Imagine John C. Sigler (NRA) showing up in his defense to protest his conviction.

Scrooge McDuck Bonus signature: MONEY! They 'bout they paper. And neither is afraid to do crime to get it. "Do thangs, do thangs, do thangs, bad things with it... "

Now that I think about it, The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac recently did a segment called "Rapper or Republican" where he described an individual while host, Jon Stewart, was supposed to "guess" whether it was one or the other. As a viewer I assumed it would be clear, but in actuality it was amusing how similar certain aspects of the two groups are on paper. Apparently I'm not the only one picking up on this congruence. Anyway, I'm not saying beware I'm just throwing it out there lest it transgress 'excuse me, I mean transvestite our colonic threshold.'

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Obama opposes "reparations"...

Barack Obama fields questionsInstead advocates... reparations.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama reiterated his stance of opposition to offering reparations to the descendants of slaves arguing that the government should 'combat the legacy of slavery by improving schools, health care and the economy for all.' Meanwhile, two dozen members of Congress recently co-sponsored legislation to form a committee to study reparations (meaning 'payments and programs to make up for the damage done by slavery'.)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Slapping Miss Daisy

Slapping Miss Daisy

Gee whiz, Beave. How can I best backslap the rest of your people and slightly exclude you?! Maybe if I say "no offense".

Growing up I remember using the huge box of crayons with the names you knew someone was overpaid to create (we're looking at you "orange-yellow"). In that box, the one that always pissed me off was "Flesh". Especially since my flesh wasn't "flesh" colored. What were they trying to say? How self-centered do you have to be not to realize the ramifications of labeling one hue "flesh"; dangerous not to just yourself, but your company? Do you not consider how you may be inadvertently offending... oh... say... everyone else? Go find this crayon... if you are around that color, this sermon is for you. Why the "flesh" colored people? Because they are the main perpetrators of the non-compliment. I'm going to use the most recent example in my life but please recognize that "...this type of sh*t happens ev-ery-day!"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Reclaiming the Drizzle Dizl…

Moderator and CNN Journalist Soledad O'Brien “Yes, we can?”

So… I watched Black In America: Reclaiming The Dream . Ye-e-a-h… so much I could say, but I will hold back. I will say they asked the pseudo-tough questions… but that’s about it. As well, I think my self-esteem was tested by all the statistics they kept lobbing before each commercial break letting you know just how far back Black America is versus … well… the usual suspects. Also, my first reaction to the airing was “wasn’t this originally slated for February?”

Oh, I noticed how every month Black In America got pushed back. Was this supposed to be CPT for Black programming? Might there actually be something in the show that the ‘powers that be’ had to cut out because it might trigger some uplifting movement amongst Blacks that America just wasn’t ready for… whoa… was I actually starting to get intrigued? Actually, yeah, come Cinco De Mayo, I was anticipating this event. [Sidenote: Nothing says "back of the bus" like programming that was delayed until the summer repeats. Let that marinate.] Well, Black In America is finally here. And I sat down for the first installment (Reclaiming the Dream aka Keeping Up With The Kardashians ) and took notes point by point, so that you could come to and find out that YOU DIDN’T MISS A THING! Here, let’s just start with a run through of how things went. [Sidenote: The program was like a Harvard reunion too. Not hating on my Ivy League homeys, just letting 'em get ready for their two degrees of separation.]

The initial panel (which later rotated) started with:

Bishop TD Jakes Bishop T.D. Jakes - Famous pastor. 30,000 multi-racial congregation in Dallas. Not to mention the plethora of folks that consume his message through media.

Ed Gordon Ed Gordon - 60 Minutes , Black Enterprise Magazine and a former BET correspondent (when they had news). Many remember his “Unless you got a real twin …” to R. Kelly about the “Pied-Piper’s” remarkable resemblance to the buck in the “R. Kelly Sex Tape(s)”.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux Dr. Julianne Malveaux - President of Bennett College, Author, Economist. “One of the most influential Black women in America,” as declared moderator Soledad O’Brien (…ah…Soledad O’Brien ).

Professor Cornell West Professor Cornell West - Author and professor at Princeton University. Essentially every time we need to know the official Black opinion on anything we go wake up Mr. West, Mr. West, Mr. West, Mr. West . If you don’t know… ask somebody.

Family: “Marry yo baby daddy…”

“Seven out of ten (7/10) children are born to unwed mothers” reported the program. My first thought was “d*mn, i thought we were at least half and half,” which, when you think about it, isn’t acceptable either but is sadly something to which we could aspire. “Enter Maryann Reed… she started the ‘Marry Yo Baby Daddy Program’” [::sigh::] which aims through counseling and a culminating marriage to re-establish these couples and kids as role models for other disjointed Black families. [Right then the head-shaking began, think about it, they just said we're in remedial "home-ec" - but let me hold back.]

Moderator Soledad O’Brien posed the question “To what degree do you think, Professor West, that [the situations of] unwed moms or single-parent families are at the root of a lot of problems in Black America?”

Professor West kicks off saying marriage was really a side point whereas the lack of “mature love” between two individuals has severely diminished. He quickly explained that love requires a “sense of responsibility and the temper to master the art of intimacy” beyond today’s focus on pleasure/power/property. Explaining further, West professed that “intimacy” entails allowing yourself to be vulnerable to the other person, thus in today’s focus on pleasure/power/property how many would actually risk loving another person maturely? Thus it’s not a matter of having more marriages but figuring out how to nurture more “mature love in a community that has been taught to hate itself”.

Bishop Jakes was asked how the church can help, replying that the church has to move beyond solely preaching ideals and move toward addressing realities. He added that the church can help people get back on track to creating family through supportive infrastructures as opposed to just saying “you were wrong”. [Then -not even 9 minutes into the discussion- Bishop kicked off the same ole same ole. ] “The problem is not unwed mothers but that men are not stepping up to the plate.” Jakes essentially said there was no father-role-model for these men so fatherhood is “asking them to play a role for which they have no script”.

Ed Gordon said the men should be responsible because each of their kids is “yo baby too”. Adding “C’mon now people” at the over-acceptance (and even pride) toward the “baby mama” situation. Then he promoted his website.

Soledad O’Brien asked how finances come into play using the example of one of the couples in which the man said he hadn’t married the mother of his children because he wasn’t where he wanted to be financially.

Dr. Malveaux questioned marriage (as well, the societal conditioning of women toward marriage) as the ideal for a single mother, particularly if the woman could economically provide for her children.

Ed Gordon jumped in saying ideally you need both, adding that for too long ‘black men have sat back and simply let women carry that burden.’ Then he promoted his website.

Cornell West corrected Gordon’s point saying it takes more than the parents in the ideal situation. The community serves as a “backdrop” for the two parents, stopping short of a cliché “it takes a village”.

Bishop Jakes adjusted all the previous points adding that money isn’t the only thing the man brings into the relationship, arguing that his presence is influential on the self-esteem of the children. Preaching that we don’t have the same communities we did 30-40 years ago, noting “Frankly, I don’t want my neighbors saying anything to my children!” Suggesting that we nurture our kids amongst our own families and friends. Lastly suggesting to unwed mothers that because their sons will be someone’s father/husband one day, “raise him to be the man you wish you had”.

[Okay that play-by-play was way too long so we're going to summarize editorially henceforth.]

Family: “We have got to…”

Hill Harper So the panel then rotated tagging in Hill Harper (actor/author) for Cornell West.

Moderator Soledad O’Brien asked ‘how do we break the cycle of single-parent children growing up to have broken families?’ After most everyone moved linearly from ‘holding friends with kids “to [the] task” of actually parenting’ to ‘fostering community around the child’ to ‘not praising unwed mothers but accepting them’ to how ‘expectations have deteriorated’, Hill Harper finally hit upon the fact that most everything discussed tonight will be at naught if they ignore the underlying issue of Black self-worth. To which I was like “BOUT TIME?!” Harper worded it best pointing out that the solutions are “future-based ideas” and that most of the expectations presented thus far (better education, getting a good job, marriage, raising a family) are dependent upon these kids believing they have a future to work toward or else lose. As well, Harper noted that most of the younger generation’s deviations from the aforementioned “expectations” are attempts to attain/feel they have value. Daughters wanting to be mothers for the love of the child or a man. Sons wanting to be athletes, entertainers, hustlers for the esteem from peers. So the goal is to instill self-worth in the kids so they don’t feel a need to be noticed in a more precarious manner. Everyone agreed with Harper and for a minute there you thought the discussion might vary from the conventional outcome of these panels until the very next person changed the subject. Why? Maybe they weren’t ready for that discussion. Maybe they wanted to offer generalized summations of the problems coupled with vague solutions like “we have got to do better” whilst plugging whatever they were torn from to be there. But essentially the rest of the program was no different than these types of forums ever are: Raising a plethora of problems in Black America (with statistics to make you go “we f*cking up”). Telling you things you already know, unless you are the least self-aware of us. Then running out of time before any implementable solutions are actually offered. In fact, I thought about splitting this recap into parts (even put it aside for a day or two to set it up right) but really… why bother?… let’s just knock out the rest of the program while we’re here.

Education: “Brandon, we come here to get you back in school…”

…door in the face. See after a video segment about our dropout rate, in which they actually showed Brandon Gully (a senior) refusing to go back to high school - actually, “refusing” is too strong. Brandon just turned and zombie-walked back in his grandma’s house as if Vice Principal Keys and his peers on his porch wouldn’t notice. ["and if you fee-eel me put your hands up... hoo-oooood" ] Which is sad, considering I went to the same inner-city high school. Yep, according to a 2007 Johns Hopkins University study, Brandon’s and my high school is a “dropout factory”. ["Lowered expectations..." ]

Musical chairs time:

Roland Fryer Roland Fryer (Professor of Economics at Harvard) swapped in for Bishop T.D. Jakes

Jabali Sawicki Jabali Sawicki (Principal of Excellence Charter School) swapped in for Ed Gordon

Tom Joyner Tom Joyner (National Talk Show Host) swapped in for Hill Harper but soon swapped back for Cornell West

Cutting back to the discussion, the panel essentially talked circles around how to get kids interested in education. Everything from emphasizing their futures to actually paying kids for good test scores was mentioned. [::sigh::] Notably, Sawicki’s response to Joyner’s question about youth’s incentive was that his school only speaks of college as a “when” as opposed to an “if” thus battling any nascent low expectations. However in the 45th minute, Dr. Malveaux finally brought up the 2nd cliché I’d been waiting for all night: the images in Hip-Hop. Cornell West, though, quickly backhanded her point and kept things moving. Then he went and called Lil’ Wayne a genius. Why? I dunno, maybe he meant on the business tip (see Lil’ Wayne Sells One Million ), maybe he needs a verse on his next mixtape, who cares?! Anyway, as far as discussing incentives to redeem our zest for eduction and present examples of successful scholars as role-models for youths, they essentially settled on “we have got to do better”.

HIV: “Know your status…”

Sheryl Lee Ralph Tagging in Sheryl Lee Ralph for Cornell West. The panel addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS.

Apparently in non-televised/sponsored discussions around the nation, the panelists found that Black folks don’t realize how deadly AIDS is still. Why? Magic Johnson. No really. Not gone lie… cats think he has the cure. When in actuality, Magic has great health care (or “platinum health care” as Ralph put it, but i doubt you will here that phrase amongst your favorite rappers next 16 bars). Sadly humorous, even in the best case delusions folks act like they have the same bankroll Magic has to afford the myriad of pills he takes daily were they to contract HIV. To waylay this pipe-dream we say, he might be “ok” but you will die. Fortunately, Sheryl Lee Ralph pointed that out … in very dramatic fashion. ["Dumb it down" ] The topic was closed on her simple “know your status, people”.

Sidenote: Sheryl Lee Ralph, I appreciate your passion, but your approaching the line of “scary” and just past the line of “I hope no White people can see this”.

Leadership: “Be the dream…”

Surprisingly Tom Joyner finally suggested that we as a people stop waiting for that next Dr. King to make the changes we want to see. BOUT TIME! Besides, that hypothetical leader would still need you to become motivated and start/join/do something to fix what you need to correct in your life and community. 01.20.09 ain’t gone solve everything either. So let’s just skip the wait and get on it.


Most of the problems really do come down to self-worth. As much as I like to blame the current policies and centuries of conditioning us to strip ourselves of dignity, pride, self-esteem, value, education, rights, wealth, family, etc, we have been “free” for about the last 45 years. You think we might at least have stopped being our own enemy; which is part of why I’ve been so lenient in my critique of Black In America: Reclaiming the Dream . Some of us are still f*ckin’ up and we do need to look at ourselves. But no one can make you want ‘better‘ for yourself and no one is going to give it to you. If you continually focus on what another man has, you will miss out on what you have and could have had. Yes, we were denied education (as in you read, you died) but then some of us seized it like wealth regardless. Others not so much. Yes, we were turned away from their businesses, so we started our own (which would be the only positive of segregation) . Others not so much. Some choose to be men for their families and help raise their children. And others… by now you get the point. As well, I do mean only some of us are f*cking up (well, according to the statistics a majority of us) but yes, some of us are wreckin’ shop . However, we all have the potential for excellence - though we may need to tweak our definitions, stop all that “ghetto fabulous” BS. Most of us came from nothing. And it seems their is still little difference between those of us that become CEOs and those of us in (or seemingly hoping to go to) prison. The biggest difference in those of us from the bottom is what we think we can achieve and what we try to achieve. But then again what do I know, I’m a young Black man raised by a single-mother and went to the same dropout factory as Brandon.