Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Santogold (& Lil Mama) @ Virgin Megastore

(Santi & friend Angela Yee)
I couldn't wait to get downtown yesterday to finally see Santogold (aka Santi White) do her thing live. I've seen her perform before and actually produced and hosted a Hot Grrrls Cool Music showcase that featured her when she used to front Stiffed so I already knew homegrrrl had the goods, I was just curious to see how she was gonna gift wrap it this time out the box.

And of course as things would have it, I didn't even get out of my office until 7:15 so I was only able to catch the last two songs of her performance-- Unstoppable and Creator. And of course that totally sucked as, I later found out, fresh from her late night stint on Conan O'Brien, Sant did a full set of new music from her debut joint that dropped the same day. The seven songs she unleashed on the massive crowd were:
1. You'll Find A Way (the remix)
2. LES Artistes
3. Say Aha
4. Shove It
5. Anne
6. Unstoppable
7. Creator

"Unstoppable" with its moody riffs and taunting chants put the crowd right in the palm of her hands as they cheered her on affirming their love and belief that Santogold will indeed rock on and on and on. The cheers of her fans, her friends and fellow bandmates got Sant's usually tough, wise cracking, goofy guise all moist and through tears and a cracking voice she thanked everyone for their support. It was a moment y'all. But as soon as the DJ dropped the track for Creator and those distinctive yelps resonated across the small stage, the tears quickly dried and the windows got even steamier. Folks were jumping up and down and cheering the grrrl Spin hails as "the next big thing." I felt proud-- like I was witnessing the evolution of something special, historic even.

So after mad hugs and kisses-- I saw Jayson Jackson who now manages Santogold (as well as Mos Def), Angela Yee who's now an on-air personality for Eminem’s Sirius Satellite station, Shade 45 and Darryl Philips (of NTZ & Blow! Mag fame) I headed into Virgin to see what was poppin with their $10 sale. I picked up Purple Rain (finally) and the DreamGirls DVDs. Scooped the new Radiohead joint when some dude was like "you need to get that Lil Mama joint too.” Then the chick by his side was like “yeah it just dropped today." Before I could even hide the shmirk on my face, I turn around only to discover it's the lip gloss poppin shawty herself. Talk about your street promotions!

Yep Lil mama was (strongly) urging folk to lay down their $15.99 and cop her CD. I give her mad props for having the mad hustle. I also liked her on that dance competition on MTV and told her as much. I didn't get the CD even though I do like Lip Gloss and the new single that's out. Maybe next time when it's $10.

Check my video of Sant ripping Creator (it's a lil wobbly cause your grrrl was standing on steps!)

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

BLK JKS in BK @ Harriet's Alter Ego

(Laini Madhubuti, Nicole Mason, Nneka Bennett, Kissa Thompson)

I just got back from Brooklyn. Harriet's Alter Ego to be specific. The small boutique was overflowing with all sorta bohemes trying to catch a whiff of this South African funk that’s got everyone from The Fader to Time Out NY runny nosed and wanting more. My mom (bless her heart) hooked me up with a ride all the way from her place up in the Boogie down to Prospect Heights. I just had to see if the hype surrounding BLK JKS was really that deep.

I got there around 5:15PM and at first the scene was cool and tranquil. The bartender had just started mixing her firewater concoction and there were a few folks milling around out back. Word had it that over 500 heads had rsvp’d and if anyone knows Harriet's, y'all know that joint holds bout 200...snuggly. And sho nuff at 6pm, right on CP Time, heads just started rolling in like cattle to fresh green pastures.

By 6:30 myself and about 50 other people had already made our way to the front of the store to secure our spots by the sound equipment.

By 7pm the DJ was moving from ATCQ to Radiohead to Jimi Hendrix. The crowd, like the music, was growing restless and frenzied. When the heck were these cats going to finally show us what they got? Everyone was asking around: "So have you heard them perform before?" Have you ever seen them live?" "Have you heard their single Lakeside?" No, No, No. It was crazy. Everyone was crammed in booty to body. Funky armpits up against racks of cotton fresh new t-shirts and pretty summer halters. Everyone had swallowed the hype and now we were rubbing our aching bloated bellies praying for satisfaction. I heard Happy Land mentioned. I felt uneasy. Queasy even. Soon some folks were grabbing their belongings and walking out the door. It was too hot to just stand around and listen to old school records. That's why we have iPods!

– Knox Robinson, the group's manager and hype-man extraordinaire finally got on the mic to introduce the band. Oh no wait, first they are going to play newly recorded tracks fresh from Electric Ladyland’s studios. Okay, so couldn't we have listened to them 30 minutes ago? Needless to say there was no applause after the selections played.

7:40PM — The DJ, or was it Knox, got back on the mic only to announce that they needed 10 more minutes to sound check. WTF?!? Folks sighed, sucked their teeth and many simply surrendered to their hunger for real food, for air and for activity and left. The DJ put on Nirvana's "Feel Like Teen Spirit." Ha, well it did two hours ago!

Finally I think it was almost 8PM and BLK JKS started strumming their guitars and singing beautiful melodies, saying all kinds of wonderfulness. Redemption was now finding its place in the air. Folks quieted themselves and things were cool again. If I hadn’t been so hot and mangled up in between folks and microphones and their cameras and bags for so long, I could be more descriptive. But check my video below and catch the flavors for yourself. I will say this though, their music is simple and in their simplicity they have found the key. Their songs are about the music, the pureness of music and that kinda made it worth the sweat and pain.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Shock & Awe

Even though I had just showered and it was cool outside, I sat in front of my television feeling the sweaty moistness move from the palms of my hands to the pits under my arms. It was 9AM. Where was the verdict? They said they would announce the verdict at 9AM! Now I knew in my heart of hearts that these cops were wrong. No return fire. No probable cause. 50 bullets? One dead man? You can’t even reason that away or find an excuse good enough. Or so I thought. I’m sure Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper thought so too and that is why they never took the stand. But I also know this is America. This is the country that when a Black man runs for President they say he is successful because he is Black. And that he is lucky to be Black. And this is a country that sent the owners of Studio 54 (where everyone including the Feds knew the snow was deep) to jail for a year for tax evasion, but sentences a Black man to jail for 3 years for the same crime. And I know this is New York City where a Black man gets shots to death for taking his keys out to open his front door or in this case has a bachelor party at a strip joint with his boys only to face a hail of gunfire killing him before he can even make it to the altar later that same day. Some luck. So I wasn’t expecting the judge to throw the book at these cops, but I did expect some sort of discipline. Some measure of intolerance to be voiced. But there was none and yes, I was surprised. Momentarily shocked. NYPD shows their as$ once again and yet we are reminded that their dirty, smelly blue behinds are still above the law and they matter more than any other booty that walks these streets. Was it just me or were you suprised too? Here are some comments about the verdict from today's NY Times readers:
The real question is why so many detectives were deployed from other precincts to go undercover in pursuit of perpetrators of victimless crimes. No good can come when armed officers are instructed to consume alcohol and pretend to be interested in the services of prostitutes. It is so problematic–as was demonstrated in this tragedy–that the practice should be forbidden.

— Posted by Rey Olsen

Well, I guess it's a good thing that the detectives are thanking God for getting a pass in the fatal shooting of unarmed black man in the hours before his wedding. But I have a feeling that higherups in the NYPD and higher courts will temper one judge's notion of mercy with justice.

— Posted by hedda

I am pretty pro-police, but I really was unsure as to how I wanted this trial to go. While I truly believe that the police did not intend to kill an unarmed man, I am not 100% sure that they should have been totally exonerated all all charged. But, again, I don’t want to see them lose their jobs/pensions/freedom. Lastly, why do people still listen to Al Sharpton. He never apologized for the Tawana Brawley mess, as I recall.

— Posted by MetMom

I'm a black professional man. This verdict is another step back for the black man in America. America is in trouble and look around and see what’s happening. Not just in NY but all over. Gay rights, Animal right, Women rights... but no rights for the man. Wake up and look around you.

— Posted by Robert

These reckless cowards never took the stand and were acquitted. they never had to defend their actions. they didn't take a blood alcohol test. they didn't even give a statement until days after the killing. so we’ll never know about the "inconsistencies" of their stories.

— Posted by freedome

The truth is the car was not a deadly machine, but the guys were just trying to escape a rain of bullets. It's easy to identify that the police acted wrong. All these is language confussion, drawing lines in whats criminal and whats wrong. Even if you like/support cops, it will be fair for them to go to jail. That will be justice. The rest is…call it what u want.

— Posted by chuto

To all of you who didn't understand why Reverend Whyte said "God Damn America!" Well, this is one reason why he said that... OK?

— Posted by Carlton

The timing for Colson Whitehead's editorial in yesterday's NY Times could not have been better timed. The piece is called Visible Man (an obvious reference to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). So apropos. It seems that the racism that once obliterated us to the margins of society through back doors and to back seats has now profiled us to the bull’s-eye center point of ready, aim fire. Black men are both target and tagline.

He opens:
Before the primary in Pennsylvania this week, Bill Clinton was doing magic tricks — now you see the race card, now you don’t. Geraldine Ferraro and Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, have been complaining that Barack Obama is leading in the Democratic presidential campaign only because of his skin color. Multimillionaire TV pundits are lecturing “the common man” on how outraged they should be about Mr. Obama's elitism.
Colson's got a great since of humor as the piece throughout drips with the wryness and wit he's known to accentuate throughout his books. Lines like this had me hollering... on the inside of course:
Guns? I wish I had a gun! Ever run out of truffle oil before a dinner party and have to go to Whole Foods on a weekend? It’ll make you want to spread a little buckshot around, that’s for sure.
For all this jibber-jabber about how I don’t understand a working man’s problems, you should take a look at my medical chart. I have carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, miner’s lung, scapegoat rash and vintner’s dropsy, and just last week I burned my thumb making horseshoes. The funny thing is, I didn’t want to be a blacksmith. But I heard they had an opening and I couldn’t help myself.
He ends though as he began-- right back to the ironic political point at hand, which at the end really isn't that funny:
It makes the head spin, this talk of who’s elitist and who’s not. I’m confused, myself. For years, they said you can’t have this because you’re black, and then when you get something the same people say you got that only because you’re black. I mean, here I am, The Guy Who Got Where He Is Only Because He’s Black, and yet the higher up you go in an organization, the less you see of me.

It’s as if Someone Out to Prevent Me From Getting What I Worked For is preventing me from getting what I worked for. If only there were something — a lapel pin or other sartorial accessory — that would reassure people that I can do the job.

Some people say Barack Obama and I get everything handed to us on a silver platter. But we don’t let it bother us. We’re taking those silver platters and making them our canoes.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Aries Woman

I think someone emailed this Aries description to me or maybe I just saw it on someone's site. I can't remember, but I do love what it says cause as an Aries woman it's got me pegged to an absolute T, especially the line about us not being insecure, but confident enough to know that we should be number one in our lover's eyes and when we aren't how this tends to get us shook.

So this post is for all of my Aries grrrls out there. If you can't figure out why you are feeling uneasy, angry and dissatisfied just maybe your significant other is not giving you Top Model status. Well tell em this is the season of the Ram and how it doesn't have to be about you all of the time (just most of it) and then to befuddle them into submission talk about how Saturn will not return to Aries for 28 years and how we are living out the best of our years and how that can only make whomever we are with that much better.

Happy Birthday Joanne, Vinita, Vanessa, Lisa, Barbara, AV, and Sena!

Aries: The Amorous Nature

If you fall in love with an Aries woman, you'll never lack for excitement. But are you the kind of man who can handle a full-blooded independent, forceful female? Because that's what Aries woman is.

This passionate, intense creature can't give a tepid response. She's a fully stocked fireplace, with logs, kindling, and paper, waiting for the touch of a match to set her on fire.

In her relations with men she is domineering. You can either accept it or leave. If you stay, you've made the first concession on a long road. At the end, you're likely to find you've been molded and shaped to fit her image of what her love should be.

What Aries woman wants, she gets. When a man meets an irresistible force like her, he tends to become a highly movable object.

She needs love and gets more than her share, but no man becomes her lord and master. She meets a man on equal terms. If he offers loyalty, she repays him in kind. If he is untrustworthy, she also repays him in kind.

In love she will be faithful, but she expects total fidelity in return. Her jealousy is rooted in possessiveness. She doesn't want a lover who has too many other interests. She wants all of him—or nothing at all.

There is an important distinction to make about her jealousy that may be useful in helping to understand her fundamental character. She isn't jealous because of a feeling of insecurity (the root cause of most jealousy, but because she has to be number one.

The Aries woman finds happiness in a long term relationship. She enjoys sharing everything with a lover and she is highly affectionate, even sentimental. She will be your staunchest ally, fight side by side with you, believe in you, encourage you. She's a marvelous companion for a man on the way up or fighting to stay at the top because she'll give him all the strength and determination she has. She's definitely ambitious.

When she does not feel she is loved she can become shrill and demanding. Above all, she won't tolerate being ignored or neglected. The straight road to perdition is a relationship with an unhappy Aries woman.

She wants to be understood and appreciated for her unique qualities. If you handle her with tact and give her the admiration she needs, this vivacious, active, mischievous, sensual, fascinating woman will do anything you ask.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Good Time, Good Wine-- Kedar Massenburg & Mondovino

I love wine. And thanks to an ex, now I've become a bit of a connoisseur. For many, many years I was a devout red wine sipper. It didn't matter if I was having salmon, fried chicken or beef Teriyaki I was drinking red. Merlots mainly. And then that wonderfully rude, but oh so smart comedy, Sideways, came out and made us Merlot drinkers look like the Budweiser badunka-dunks of wine and I just couldn't have that so I began experimenting with some Cabs, Pinot Noirs and what quickly became a fave, Aussie Shirazes. Trying to be cool and non-confrontational one past date night I decided to go with the flow and have a glass of Chardonnay. He said that Russian Rivers were the ish-- rich and buttery. And I must say that is one of the few times I've gone white and it felt just right! Now I'm even into some of the more citrusy varieties of Chardonnay and this past summer, I was surprised by how satisfying Domaine Ott (THE summer wine!) and other brands of Rośe were to me-- the former 'Red' head!

So of course I was delighted to attend a mixer this past Monday night hosted by NV Magazine that was being sponsored by K'orus-- the brand of wine developed by former Motown head honcho, Kedar Massenburg. Needless to say I was skeptical when I first heard the news. I mean who goes from being a record maker (and breaker) to a (good) winemaker. As soon as I spotted Kedar I walked up to him and asked him if his name was just tied-in for brand recognition or was he really about the grapes. Stunned he was like "No, this is not a Ciroc kind of affair. I picked the grapes. I'm for real." So I tried the Chardonnay and I have to admit, it is good. It's gotta nice crisp citrus bite.

I told him about my love for wine and about this documentary that I saw one night on pay-per-view that opened me up to the madness, money, discrimination and power that defines the business of wine production in France, Argentina, Italy and of course the US. Mondovino is about the commodification of wine and how, like the commodification of hiphip, wine making has lost much of its authenticity over the years. Watching this film I was captivated by the artistry, if you will, that goes into making a good bottle of vino and how like everything else nowadays it's more about the loot and getting a high rating than about family honor and most importantly "terroir". It's an absolutely fascinating film that I would recommend to anyone who has ever uncorked a bottle (or I guess it's now unscrew).

I'm always interested in trying new wines so please list your favorites below. Right now I'm digging Meerlust (South African/ Merlot), Cutrer (Russian River,CA/ Chardonnay), Pomelo (Lake County, CA/ Sauvignon Blanc), and Isole e Olena (Italy/Chianti).

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