Here's a track that I made a little while back after coming off a long hiatus of making music. I may change a few things here and there but it's pretty much complete. Take a listen.
It's been far too long since I've posted some new music. Listen to this track I came up with. It came about as I was playing with the pads on my MPC and I got a cool piano riff going. Everything else just flowed from that:
"What'd you put in this?"
To understand the context of this dialogue, you must go see The Help. You will not be disappointed. This touching film about the lives of black maids who take care of white families will cause you to examine what it means to have courage in the face of adversity. This film shed light on an observation that I often encounter since I moved to the Upper East Side of New York City: black women taking care of white children. Just about everyday I see a black woman pushing a white child in a stroller or walking one of them home from school, something that I almost never saw in my hometown in western Pennsylvania.
I could imagine that these woman today come to love the children as their own, and the children love them just the same. The difference now, of course, is more racial acceptance and most people have nannies instead of maids. This was not the case in Jackson, Mississippi, where the maids, having raised and loved white children as their own, had to do so while having racist bosses.
The film (and the book on which the the film is based) shows the audience the emotional complexity that woman of this era had to endure to provide for their families. What's more, the casting is spot on: each player made their character believable, adding to the allure of the film's plot. There is a 360 degree scope to story, as the characters of of several white women develop; Several woman befriend their maids, while others devise scheme against them. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard does a wonderful job of creating tension with her character Hilly Holbrook. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is brought to life by actress Emma Stone. Stone does a great job in portraying the bravery and vulnerability of Skeeter.
My favorite scene occurs near the end when the protagonist of the story deals with the antagonist head on. The strength of actress Viola Davis (Aibileen Clark) really shows here. While Aibileen provides most of the depth, Minny Jackson (played by Octavia Spencer) provides the comedic relief and keeps the pace of the film moving forward. This is an insightful and entertaining film that you will enjoy.
Sign on the Jazz Walk of Fame in Algiers
One of my favorite shows on TV right now is Treme´. So, having the recent opportunity to go to New Orleans was very exciting for me. Not only was I excited about seeing the city where my favorite show is set, but more so, I was excited to be in the birth place of American music. As a musician, I saw this as my pilgrimage to Mecca. Standing in Congo Square where slaves once roamed and and played instruments, I was surprised that there weren't more people in that section of Louis Armstrong Park, but then again we really don't appreciate Jazz in America like we should. I also walked around the Basin St. area that was once known as Storyville. During the evening on Canal and Bourbon St. a youth jazz band played some of the best music that I heard during my stay. Bourbon Street was alive during the evening, and lived up to its reputation. I ducked in and out of various venues and bars to listen to different bands play everything from jazz to rock and RnB.
My time in New Orleans wasn't all about music, however. I also was interested in experiencing the infamous cuisine of city. I had all of the staple dishes: po-boys, beignets, gumbo, muffalettas, and jambalaya among other things. But the thing I anticipated most was the acclaimed fried chicken from Willie Mae's Scotch House. Well, I was disappointed in Willie Mae's – after making the trek up to Treme´ on Monday, I found a note on the door saying they were only open on Tuesday through Saturday during the summer. I went back to Treme´ the next day, to check out another New Orleans legendary spot called Dooky Chase's. It was fantastic. I had the buffet that included red beans and rice, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, greens, some delicious green beans, and some of the best catfish I've ever tasted. Did I mention the fried chicken was top-notch. The desert was incredible! I'm not even a fan of peaches that much, but the peach cobbler they served for desert made me a believer.
On my next visit to New Orleans I'd like to listen to more jazz bands and maybe catch a second line in action. Also, I would like to hang out more in the neighborhoods. Sure, taking the trolley down St. Charles through Uptown was fun, but I wanna see whats poppin in the Magnolia–or do I? Lol.
July 2011 Cover of PCWorld
I really need a new phone. I think that I am going to join the Android revolution–goodbye Black Berry. I was all set to get the Thunderbolt, but then the Charge came out. Now, I’m considering sticking it out with my dying Black Berry Storm until the Motorola Droid Bionic is released. The latest issue of PCWorld has an article on the best phones. I read the article in hopes that it would help me reach a decision. I also got a chance to read-up on some other cool phones. Here’s the top 5 according to PCWorld:
New phones to watch for included the aforementioned Motorola Droid Bionic, the HTC Evo 3D, Samsung Infuse 4G, and the HTC Sensation. Here is a rundown of the best phones for certain categories:
"Cause this is what happens when bad meets evil, and we hit the trees til we look like Vietnamese people, hes evil and I'm bad like Steve Seagal , against peaceful, see you in hell for the sequel!"
The wait is over for the sequel–Eminem and Royce Da 5'9" have dropped their Bad Meets Evil project Hell: The Sequel earlier this week. The two caused quite a buzz in 1999, with release of The Slim Shady LP containing the song "Bad Meets Evil." Since then, much has gone on between the two Detroit mc's: beef between D12 and Royce, Proof of D12's death, Eminem's drug woes. Now the two have patched up their differences and are back together to deliver something that should have happened a long time ago.
I'm excited about this project because when I think of Bad Meets Evil I think of that song on The Slim Shady LP when Em and Royce went back and forth lyrical acrobats. I believed this project marks Em's return to Slim Shady, and not the more pop Eminem sound that we've heard on the last few releases with songs like "Love the Way You Lie." Eminem made quirky pop songs since the beginning of his career, but I feel he became progressively more pop since the Slim Shady LP; that album is still his best, in my opinion. Royce has maintained his lyrical prowess throughout his career, so It is to be expected that he would maintain that on Hell:The Sequel. There is a pop song on this project, "Lighters" featuring Bruno Mars, but the EP as a whole is filled with lyrical intensity from both Royce and Eminem.
The EP has received good reviews for the most part, so can expect to hear a solid EP. what's more, Eminem signed super group Slaughterhouse (Roycee is a member of the group), so I'm sure the chances of hearing more from these two in the future is very likely. For now, just enjoy a trip to Hell: The Sequel.
I read an interview that Vibe Magazine did with Luther Campbell, better known as Uncle Luke. Many of you may be familiar with Luke for bringing bass music out of Miami and into the music world at large with such hit songs as "Me So Horny," but Luke is looking to be known for more than his Miami bass sound; He is running for Miami-Dade County Mayor. He and 11 other candidates are looking take the seat of unseated Mayor Carlos Alvarez for the remainder of his term
I have to say, after reading the interview, I am rooting for Uncle Luke. He impressed me when asked, "What made you decide to jump in this race?" His answer:
"I've been involved in politics pretty much all my life. From Djing at the park and then you find out you need a permit, and then the police officers come and harass you, then it becomes a riot, then you have to go downtown. And then getting into the music business and trying to be productive, and Djing in buildings and now you dealing with the nuisance board and sound. So you find yourself getting involved in politics, and you're just trying to make a living. And then dealing with controversial lyrics, and before you know it you have governors and vice presidents and chiefs of police and commissioners speaking out and using that as part of their platform–understanding that whole process. And before you know it, you're caught up in a legal battle going to the Supreme Court, defending the constitution and my right of free speech. All these different issues eventually put you in a political process even when you're not trying to be in one directly."
It seems that Luke's heart is in the right place; he want's to truly effect change in the Miami area. Being a native of the city, he understands firsthand what the issues are.
Luke's background may not be that of the typical mayoral candidate, but he certainly has enough experiecne with the law to be looked at seriously. As he puts it, "...if Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzeneger, Steve Largent, Ronald Reagan, Sonny of Palm Springs–If they could do it, I could do it!"
Check out the June | July 2011 issue of Vibe and read the full story:
Last night I went to see the musical Sister Act, and I thought it was great. The musical is based on the early 90's movie and produced by the movies star, Whoopi Goldberg. It is the tale of an aspiring disco singer looking to make it in the business, but everything changes on night after witnessing her boyfriend murder someone. She then must go into witness protection in a convent—the most unlikely place she would be found in Philadelphia. At the convent, she builds a special bond with the nuns and brings new life to the convent.
Sister Act was held in one of the nicest theaters I've been to so far. The Broadway theater is spacious, adorned with a hug chandelier hanging form the ceiling, and draped in red velvet. Unlike many other theaters I've been to, there were virtually no obstructed view sections. I sat in the mezzanine and had a great view of everything on stage.
The stage design was one of the first things that impressed me about the musical. It was simple yet tasteful. Also, there were many stage changes that helped move the play along, in a sense. The changes happened effortlessly with the help of the rotating stage.
I thought the actors in the play, especially the nuns, were cast very well, matching closely to the characters from the movie. The lead actor Patina Miller (Deloris Van Cartier) is a fantastic vocalist, with great attitude for the character. Miller has great vocal range and great rich tone to boot. At times I felt that she was holding back vocally—I wanted her to take me to church on some of the vocal runs she did—but she still delivers a powerful performance. Also, her charisma on stage is something to be noted.
The music was catchy and the arrangements were well-done. There was everything from Disco numbers, to hymns, to comedic songs, and a nun even rapped. Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, the composer and lyricist respectfully, have both done work in Disney films. This is evident in the melodic lines of some of the songs, but I'm not complaining; I love Disney songs.The beginning of the show seemed to be a little too big, but after the first number the rest of the musical unfolds nicely.
If your hoping to see a Broadway show anytime soon, Sister Act will answer your prayer. Here's a little taste of one of the numbers being performed on The View:
Hip-hop phenom Eminem is suing car manufacture Audi for illegal usage of his song "Lose Yourself." When I first read this story on AllHipHop.com (click here for the story), I first thought about the legal implications. After watching the Audi commercial, I feel that this will go down as one of the classic legal cases regarding copyright law.
A copyright gives the originator of a piece of intellectual property the right to produce and authorize others to: make recordings, print, perform, make derivative works, and to display the work publicly when regarding movies and visual art.
For more on copyrights, click here.
There are, however, certain limitations to the copyright owner. The government has put in a place compulsory license, which allows someone to create and exploit their own version of a recording as long as the compulsory royalties are paid to the originator and notice is given. With each original recording, there are two rights to be considered: that of the actual recording, and that of the composition itself. Record companies usually hold to rights to the recordings, and the songwriters and composers hold the rights to the compositions. Since the Audi commercial did not use Eminem's actual recording, we are dealing with an issue regarding the song itself, and Audi only has to deal with the music publisher and not the record label. Musicologists should be called in as expert witnesses to make arguments on each litigants behalf.
The advertising agency who produced this commercial probably sent a commercial music house the "Lose Yourself" track as a reference for the composers, in order to give an example of the feel they wanted for the music. This is common practice in commercial music. After listening to the final song submissions, the ad agency probably felt that the song was similar enough to "Loose Yourself" to fit the direction of the commercial, but dissimilar enough to not be infringement. Take a look below. You be the judge:
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel
There has been much talk in the sports world regarding one of the most successful coaches in NCAA football history. Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, has resigned because of his involvement, or lack thereof, with some of his athletes engaging in illegal activities.
Click here for the full story.
The student athletes were trading their conference rings and other memorabilia in exchange for tattoos and cash. This is what disturbs me. Trading your conference ring for a tattoo — who does that!? I guess achieving excellence in football at the collegiate level and having a ring to show for it means nothing to these gentlemen. I know these guys need money and all, but it's not like they don't have all the perks that come with being on a Division I football team: scholarships, room and board, tutors. I just find it disrespectful.
It's too bad that Tressel got caught with his hand in the jar. I still got love for Jim since he was at Youngstown State, even though I'm a Michigan fan. It's a shame that situations such as this happen more times than not in these college programs. I guess it was time to make an example by lowering the boom on one of the most successful coaches. The athletes know that its illegal, but it's common practice and the powers at be usually turn a blind eye. That's one of the perks that I alluded to earlier. At some point, you have to smarten up. At least get a car out of the deal like Terrelle Pryor. I bet most of the guys who did it were on the bench and had little bargaining power to get a car.
Hopefully Tressel can bounce back soon. Maybe even come back to coach the YSU Penguins. What's more, I hope these student athletes develop more character and class off the field, develop there bodies and skills on the field.