Friday, June 26, 2009

The Thrill Is Gone

Michael Joseph Jackson
August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

There will be literally millions of blogs about Michael Jackson written in the coming days. There are probably thousands already going up. Some people will probably get tired of hearing his name. Well, guess what? Too fucking bad. Go dig a hole and climb in it, because the Greatest Performer In Existence just passed away.

My mind is in a million different directions right now. I guess right now many from my generation are reeling, trying to understand that Michael is gone. Now, there are a lot of people right now who can't help themselves, they are compelled to point out the controversy in MJ's life. We all know the story. The truth is, he was acquitted. Beyond that, we don't know what the real story was. No, I am not excusing it. What I am saying is that now, it doesn't matter. Because no matter what actually happened, that will not change the things that came before.

As I said, I'm a little angry right now. I wish there was an internet around when Elvis died so we could have blasted people for crying when he passed away, the big, fat, drug-addicted vampire racist that he was. Nobody was there to spit in the face of his musical accomplishments. His music that was symbolically and literally stolen from Black people. But I'm not trying to go negative. I got too much on my mind.

My Lil' Ace Killa Bill hit me up today, he couldn't understand what was going on with his mom. He said to me "She's crying like she knew him." He really couldn't understand what the big deal was... sadly, most children from nowadays will never be able to get it, because the very nature of celebrity has changed. Before all the drama of the past few years, there was no-one bigger than Michael. There will never be another like him. Michael could premiere his videos on national television at a time when there WAS no MTV. Hell, if there was no Michael Jackson, there might not even be an MTV, not in the scope that it is now. People forget there was a time when MTV wouldn't play Black artists. They WOUDLN'T. Hard to believe, huh? Until BET came along, we had no outlet. Michael was the person that made MTV change that policy. MTV had to play "Billie Jean", and play it a LOT. They couldn't afford not to. Every emcee who has a dream of seeing his video on MTV, you owe that dream to one Black man. Michael Jackson snatched the "No Coloreds Allowed" sign right off MTVs door.

I've listed my HipHop influences many times in my blog, and I've never mentioned MJ. There's a reason for that... nobody has to mention Michael, because he's a foregone conclusion. He influenced us all. I was shocked when I heard about his death, but as the day has gone on, I have become increasingly more depressed when I realized just how significant his music was in my life. The very moment I decided that I wanted to perform, that I wanted to sing, I was sitting in front of a record player, listening to a Jackson 5 album. Puff said it himself, "Michael made me believe that I could see the music." Michael Jackson started perfoming when he was five years old. His entire life, as soon as he was able to communicate, he did nothing but perform and influence. Without Michael, there would be no Beyonce, no Usher, no Justin Timberlake, no Ne-Yo, no Ginuwine, no Lloyd, no Missy Elliot, no Puff... no New Edition, no New Kids On the Block, no Danity Kane, Day 26, I could go on for days. The man influenced an entire generation of performers, literally by the thousands.

So many memories of Michael.

The night he totally wrecked the American Music Awards.

His "Motown 25" Performance.

The first time he Moonwalked.

The video for "Billie Jean"

The first time we heard "Beat It".

The premiere of the "Thriller" video.

When "Moonwalker" came out.

I remember being 11 years old, being in the 6th Grade, and having a crush on Kathy Driver. I had my first Walkman, and I had the "Thriller" album (on cassette) which I'd replaced for the 3rd time. I remember sitting on top of the church garage next to my house, I would climb up on top of it by climbing the tree in my yard and walking the 6-ft fence, then climbing up on the roof. I sat up on that roof and sang "Lady In My Life" and "Human Nature", just singing my heartache away. In the 8th Grade, my chorus class sang "Man In The Mirror", and the very first part of the song was a solo. "I wanna make a change, for once in my life.... it's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference... gonna make it right." I fought like hell to get that solo. Never cared about any other solo before that, even though I was the best in the class, I knew it. Just didn't care about any other solo until that one came along. I wanted it. I got it.

Another good friend of mine who accidentally killed himself (shot himself in the head with a gun he didn't know was loaded... I had to carry the sofa to the trash pile with his brains on it), Eldridge Cleaver. Huge Michael Jackson fan, and one of the most naturally gifted dancers I've ever known @ the age of 13. (That's a big statement, because I'm a former b-boy. I knew a lot of dancers. Hell, I can still moonwalk as good as Michael right now). He knew the entire routine from "Smooth Criminal", down to every hand gesture. I used to love to watch El do that routine. I'd make him do it for everybody, he was so good at it. Whenever I saw that video, it reminded me of him. I hope that Eldridge is doing that routine with Michael somewhere right now, and I mean that dead ass.

I loved Michael Jackson. I hated Michael Jackson. I was proud of Michael Jackson. I was ashamed of Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was a superstar. Michael Jackson was human. Michael Jackson was the soundtrack to my youth. The kids nowadays don't "get" it because they've been raised in a fast-food, on-demand, text messaging, point-and-click-gimme-dat society. Nothing can or will endure the way that "Thriller" did. Nobody will ever do what Michael did. 750 million records sold worldwide. Michael Jackson was a sacrificial lamb for the Cult Of Personality. His father beat success into him and his brothers, and then the world crucified him for his actions later on. Sins of the Father? Could be. We'll never really know. But right now I'm mourning the loss of the Man Who Would Be King. That's what I'll call him from now on. Fuck you, Elvis. Michael gets that name now.

The King is Dead. Long Live The King.

"If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change."

-ere'bodee's favorite mega

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jay-Z On D.O.A.- Holla If Ya Hear Me...

Okay, this is going to be a decidedly HipHop blog, so if this isn't your thing, you might want to stop now. But good music is good music, and sometimes a song is more than just a song. That's what this culture is all about...

Me and my lil' bro were talking Hiphop. He's been raised on it, and has a pretty good ear for the culture. We started to discuss Jay-Z impact on the game. While Hov is the poster boy for Hate, the man has distinguished himself as one of the All-Time-Greats. Some have their criticisms, I don't even consider myself a rabid Jay-Z fan, but I know a great record when I hear one...

This record just ended the careers of a million wanna-be-rap-fakers, and I ain't even mad at that. This record is a cautionary tale for those who are using technology to compensate for a total disregard of craftsmanship, and sometimes talent.

See, those like me who have been raised on Soul Food like Rakim, KRS-One, Wu-Tang, Notorious, Pac, Big Pun, J-Dilla, Digital Underground, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, N.W.A., D.O.C., Pastor Troy, Outkast, Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, Above The Law, Geto Boys, Scarface, U.G.K., 8-Ball & MJG, Slick Rick, Run DMC, Bo$, Suave House, 3-6 Mafia, Hot Boyz (when Wayne & Turk were good, and "Weezy" knew his fucking place), Juvenile, Poison Clan, I could go on forever. These people did THEM. Every one of these acts are different, but each one of 'em kept it 100, as we say now, and I'm just not seeing that out of many artists now. Rhymefest, P.O.S., B.O.B., Kid Cudi, Wale... I see that in them, but they are a part of a precious few. I'm sure there's a few more, and hopefully I'll find them, but they are buried in a din of shit. I have 7 pages of friend requests from bands on MySpace that I just refuse to accept until I at least give a cursory listen to their tracks. I'm just not in the mood to support bullshit.

(I didn't include Jeezy because sometimes his subject matter is something I find objectionable, and too many follow his example, but he's doing him. Him and Gucci need to get off that beef shit before somebody catch a toe-tag, and best believe in ATL it can happen. That place is every bit the treachery that is Duval, and that means the weapon of choice is the chopper. Only takes one round to send you to the Level 3 Trauma center and you become an episode of "ER".)

But I'm off-topic. The Death we should be talking about here is AutoTune. The reason I'm making a big deal about this is that a local artist put up a link to check out and support their song. I consider myself a fan of this artist's work, so I went to check it.

Wow. It was such a departure from what I had previously heard from them, it just threw me. I'm all about growth, but not about regression. I don't want to call anybody out, but truthfully, once Jay dropped this, HE called them out. He went on Hot 97 with Funk Flex and Mister Cee (more on that later) to expounded on it further. He said that he liked what Kanye did with "Heartless" (as do I) and he said that T-Pain comes up with some strong melodies that probably would stand on their own without the AutoTune (I can agree there, some people are good at writing pop hooks, a la Nate Dogg, and T-Pain is pretty much the Down-South Nate-Dogg Pied-Piper of AutoTune), but too many people nowadays are using it as a crutch. If you're an artist, writing melodies and lyrics, start there. Listen to the great hooks of years ago, find out why they are as infectious as they are. WORK ON YOUR CRAFT!! If you love your music, act like it by making it better! If you respect this culture, put something out that moves us to the next. It's like being a pro quarterback. You don't aim for where the receiver is, you aim for where he's going to be, you lead him to where you want him. If you aim for where he's at, he's going to have to reach back to catch the ball.

It's time to move on. Artists, unless you're paying homage to the originators like Lil' Kim did with "Download" (but for real, pump ya' brakes on the plastic surgery, Ma. Fo'real fo'real...), no more autotune. Every time you THINK about auto-tune, you go back and listen to this song. "Only rapper to rewrite history without a pen, NoID on the track, let the story begin... begin." Did you catch the intro to the 2nd verse where he says "This ain't a #1 record/This is practically assault with a deadly weapon/I made this for Flex and/Mister Cee, I want people to feel threatened..." The man practically told y'all "This is an underground record, strictly for the headz, the ones who know the real... the auto-tune crowd won't feel this." I'm like "Whoa." Jay-Z is seriously a living Icon in this game now. He can speak and turn the whole culture back into what it's supposed to be, that boom-bap... He went and got NoID, one of Chi-Town's great producers and made a beat that's just cerebal pal-sick. And he deaded the dreaded Auto-Tune for anybody that wants to be relevant.

As a true HipHop Head, I'm feeling the kcuf outta that... Pause.

-ere'bodee's favorite mega, blogninja

Auto-Tune is the 21st Century equivalent of the Jheri Curl. And I never wore a Jheri Curl.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Tried To Be Nice... (Blind Item)

There was a nice blog that I was trying to write, but I've labored over it for three days because I felt like I wasn't saying what I really needed to say. Sometimes things just get stuck in my damn head like a mental logjam, and until I let go of the first thing, nothing else of any real use is going to get through... so I'm just gonna go freestyle on this shit and try not to hurt too many feelings on the way to what I gotta say.

But dammit, sometimes the Truth Just Stings Like A Bitch.

Let me tell a quick story about how I ended up in New York...

I was in the county lock-up, and I met a dude from Bradenton. White guy, but was obviously a Hood cat. Not the kind that's trying too hard, the ones that have grown up in a predominately Black neighborhood. He was keeping to himself (what you do when you're from out-of-town and you end up in jail), so I asked him if he needed a book, or if he wanted to bust some spades, whatever. Anyway, we started talking music, I found out he was an artist. He was on his way to NY by Greyhound and ran into a problem in the Duval terminal (they ran his name and found a warrant in Bradenton, so they have to hold him until they find out what it is...), got arrested. He was working on a development deal from Epic and needed to get out of jail or risk losing his deal. Problem is, you can't bond out in Duval if you don't have a Duval County address. I was like "Wow. Totally coincidental that I ended up in a dorm with a dude that does music. Maybe I was put here to help this guy? I think I am. Win or lose, I'm going to be his blessing." I told him that I would see if I could bond him out once I got out. I knew I was going right in and right out. Once I got back to the Zone, I had Locc and Tza, once I explained the situation and the reasons, they would have my back (and they did).

Me and this dude really got to know one another in a short period of time, but I could see that while he liked me, he didn't know if he could trust me. When I said I would help, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "Man, are you serious? You're really gonna help me?"

I said, "Hell yeah. I know what you're saying... and I'ma be dead ass with ya. This ain't no jailhouse promise."

That man asked that question 1) because he really wanted to believe me and 2) so I would acknowledge the fact that we both knew:

A jailhouse promise ain't worth a motherfucker.

People will tell you all kinds of shit when you're in lockup. Dudes become kingpins when they got pulled over with a dime-sack of weed and a gram of blow in the center console. They know every hard-rock, dread, killaz, goons, etc. when we know they might stay up the street from them dudes but ain't said "boo" to then no way, no how. And if someone tells you they are going to do something for you, it's usually to get something off your tray or get a hit off your rip, or some of your commisary... but I didn't ask him for anything. Truth is, I didn't want anything. I did what I did with the full knowledge that he could walk away. But I think that's why he wanted to believe me, because I stuck my neck out first.

The JailHouse is a Pool Of Lies. You are treading water in lies. It's hard to find one grain of truth in there, but he was lucky enough to come across somebody who threw out a lifesaver. That's how I live... I do what I can, when I can. But he really had no reason to believe me, and to be honest, I'm the rare occurence. If somebody makes you a promise in jail, accept it as a lie first.

This really isn't an indictment of people who get arrested. Jail is a funny place. It's most certainly created to fuck with your head, and that's exactly what it does. You will say anything to get through that experience, and you will tell people exactly what they want to hear when you are there. This is where your character comes into play.

There's a tendency to feel sorry for oneself when you go to jail, and you reach out to those who you hope will not forget about you. In the system, you feel the disconnection. So you say a bunch of things. Whether you have any intention of following through with those things is totally up to you. Are you really learning a lesson where you are, or will this just be another rung on the ladder of your descent to your personal Hell? Are you really going to find the lesson in the experience?

Doing the right thing is as simple as making the decision to do so. Happens in a moment. You know if you're full of shit. You know when you're talking to someone who's full of shit. There's a light that goes off, your internal 'Bullshit-Detector'. Just listen to it.

In the words of Goodie MOb, "You don't wanna hear the truth, so I'ma lie to ya', make it sound fly to ya'." Lies feel good like sex. The truth comes hard like medicine. Lies slide down your throat like alcohol. The truth sticks in the back of your throat like you swallowed a cactus and cut all the way to your stomach. Stop swallowing that lie. You know it well. Let it go.

So if you got somebody that you know is lying to you, just stop listening until they start talking some truth. You'll know it just like you know the lies. It might not be what you expect. They may start saying some pretty mean shit. That's the truth. That's how they really feel. Take it. Accept it. And move the fuck on.

And stop hating on motherfuckers who been telling you the truth. Like I said, you know it when you read it.

Like the person that's reading this now saying, "Is he talking to me?" Yes. I am. I ain't even gotta say no names. That's the thing about the Truth. When you spit it, it sticks where it needs and applies.

So what do you want to do? Take the Red Pill To see how far the rabbit-hole goes, or take that Blue Pill and go back to sleep?

And I am exactly what I appear to be... the Keep-It-Real-Redpill-Souljah-Out-Of-Zion. Who the fuck are you?

-ere'bodee's favorite mega

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why Is Sarah Palin Stupid?

Okay, apparently I'm jumping into the recent controversy with My Favorite Yukon Hillbilly, Sarah Palin. I make it a point to follow people that I wouldn't agree with all the time in an effort to see the other side of things on some issues, but there are just some issues that I don't know that seeing the other side of is even possible...

@DarkKnight3565 accused me of being a Palin-Basher, just going after her and insulting her because it's easy. Okay, he might be right... a little. But I'm at a loss to understand what it is that people can look at in her and say "Yeah, that's something I can agree with."

I'm going to go at my single-biggest Palin-Point, the thing that really makes my blood pressure go up about her, and I dare anyone to come up with a reasonable explanation for this that doesn't involve pointing out similar behavior by a liberal. This is all on Madam BeautyBunny Of the Vapid Holy Yukon.

You are an ardent Pro-Life supporter, you teach abstinence... and your daughter gets pregnant. Your daughter is impetuous enough to get pregnant, but smart enough to say "abstinence doesn't work". Why? Because that much is obvious. She got pregnant. End of that argument.

Later on, after you've managed to torpedo the hopes of John McCain and everybody else by bringing the Circus that is your family down on the '08 Presidential Bid, you're trying to shore up your defenses later on when you decide to return to the political arena. So, you put your now 18-year-old daughter back out there as a part of an abstinence program, and she looks just as stupid as you did sitting in front of an interviewer going back on what she previously said. "Abstinence is the only way." Meanwhile, her Baby-Daddy, who is not a part of your Politico-Machine, speaks common sense "We need to teach kids more than abstinence." It's so refreshing to hear people who speak without political aspirations, and can expose Bullshit in all it's forms.

This, DarkKnight3565, is why Sarah Palin is stupid. She is holding on to a misguided belief that contributes to the further decay of our country, by believing that teaching sex education in schools is a bad thing, that ignorance can protect us the same way it protected her family. It didn't. God didn't keep her daughter from getting pregnant... and God wouldn't have kept her from getting an STD. But she will cite God as her reason for denying vital information in schools. And the problem is on her DOORSTEP, and yet her aspirations as potential presidential candidate mandates that she hold the party line. Abstinence is everything... teaching kids about condoms will make them have sex. If you don't see that as stupid... then... well, you're stupid.

At the rate she's going, David Letterman might have been prophetic if that joke would have actually been about Willow. I wouldn't be surprised...

-ere'bodee's favorite mega, blogninja