- Nautilus - Bob James
- Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman) - Joe Tex
- Like This Anna - J-Live
- All Falls Down - Kanye West
- Brass Monkey - Beastie Boys
- Sister Sanctified - Stanley Turrentine
- Bumpy's Blues - Isaac Hayes
- Reign of the Tec - The Beatnuts
- Booty - Erykah Badu
- Rumpofsteelskin - Parliament
The random playlist thing got corny to me. I kept getting the same artists over and over. I got too much music for that.
I must love Aleve because partisan commentary really makes my head hurt. I just read Larry Elder's opinion about John Kerry's statement, "I'm fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it, and I think you'd better listen to it pretty carefully, 'cause it's important." Elder then proceeds to highlight his case for the foolishness of such a stance. Now, Larry Elder is not the first person to mention this. I think Kerry was on MTV a few weeks ago, so that's when it happened. I just have time to talk about it now. What all these pundits fail to mention, or perhaps never even took the time to find out, was the context in which the comment took place. Before Kerry was asked the question, the video for Kanye West's "All Falls Down" had just aired. Here are some lyrics:
Man I promise, she's so self conscious She has no idea what she's doing in college That major that she majored in don't make no money But she won't drop out, her parents will look at her funny Now, tell me that ain't insecurrreor how 'bout
Man I promise, I'm so self conscious That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that versace! Then I spent 400 bucks on this Just to be like nigga you ain't up on this! And I can't even go to the grocery store Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team It seems we living the american dream But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem The prettiest people do the ugliest things For the road to riches and diamond rings We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us We trying to buy back our 40 acres And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coupeand just to close it out,
...We buy our way out of jail, but we can't buy freedom We'll buy a lot of clothes when we don't really need em Things we buy to cover up what's inside... lyrics (c) Kanye WestThat's not exactly gangsta, murder-murder-murder, kill-kill-kill material. Yet, if you listen to some folks, the gangsta element is the sum total of hip-hop and that Kerry is pandering or crazy to have even made it seem like there's something of value in rap. Simple-minded reductionist thought like that gets on my very last nerve. It should be obvious that this is not about Kerry. I'm not the least bit interested in what he likes or doesn't like, whether he likes hip-hop as a means to get votes or whether he really copped some CDs. I know I'm not gonna vote for him, so he's immaterial. What gets to me is that some people seem to think the world is binary. Everything is dichotomized and simplified for easy political consumption. And even though I just mentioned Larry Elder, who is a conservative, the same thing applies across the political spectrum. Earlier this week, I read a review of "A Man on Fire" at Africana.com in which the reviewer says that Denzel Washington is playing a "Mr. Bojangles" role. Made me mad. There were elements about the movie I didn't like, but that author missed the whole point. It's even worse to me when people who seem to have no interest in hip-hop or its primary creators/consumers spout off some pith about hip-hop culture or about rap music in general, like they know something. They may know what they heard on MTV, or on the radio, but that ain't much to know. That's like saying all Republicans are old white men because that's all I see on TV and that's what the people I know tell me. Then all that means is that I and the people I know need to get out more and expand our horizons. But I think it's totally disingenuous for a person who has little to no interest in a thing to try to assess the value of that thing. Just had to get that off my chest.
There are some things I find attractive about liberation theology. With its focus on the least-off, it avoids the trap that much of "mainstream" Christianity has fallen into, the preoccupation with wealth and success. In addition, liberation theologists place as much import on the corporate as they do on the individual; which I think is definitely a shortcoming of Christian thought in America. The only thing that gets me about liberation theology is that at its essence, it's not scriptural. To be sure, it's no more unscriptural than some strains of fundamentalist thought, but my error is not a free pass for somebody else's mistake. While the goals of liberation theology are admirable, its philosophical underpinnings and the way that it plays out on the street leave much to be desired. I don't think there's any question that we should be working to ameliorate the suffering of the poor. I'm not just talking about sharing the Gospel with them, although that is certainly the first and most important step. Without that, all the rest is a temporary stopgap. Governmentally-sanctioned faith-based initiatives or not, I think the Christian church should be at the forefront of any effort to improve the lives of the disenfranchised. (And there shouldn't be any argument from Christians on the left as if it's a bad idea just because a Republican President said it.) To that extent, liberation theology is on track. However, liberation theology loses its way because it places the oppressed at the center of the gospel instead of keeping Jesus there. A principal problem is that oppression tends to be defined in political terms so that the oppressed are not a powerless, marginalized out-group, but any group that is not represented by the "hegemonic" ruling class, i.e. heterosexual white males. Thus we have different liberation theologies for different groups; there's Black theology, Latino theology, feminist/womanist theology, and there's probably a queer theology somewhere out there, too. In every case, the goal is to render a reading of the Bible that affirms the experiences of the group in question by using the following syllogism: God is on the side of the oppressed: we are oppressed: God is on our side. The important distinction there is the "God is on our side," not "we are on God's side." This is problematic in two ways: first, because liberation theology is primarily concerned the Bible in a political context, it tends towards a long historical view. While an understanding of the past is necessary to properly contextualize and evaluate what has happened, it is not so good for moving forward. Sure, things happened; some of them are so awful that the English language is not equipped with the words to express the degree of evil or suffering or whatever happened in that particular instance. Still, knowing that does not really help us today. I hate it when people try to act like the past was some halcyon occasion, like people weren't suffering, or when they try to marginalize the events of the past like it wasn't that important, but when it comes down to it, the past has passed. It's not about what happened, it's about what you're going to do about it. In the biblical passage I used last time, note that Jesus told the woman to go forth and sin no more. He wasn't worried about what she had just been caught doing, or about all she had done before that. He just said, "Go forth and sin no more." What are you gonna do now? The second way in which liberation theology's political definition of oppression is problematic is that it leads to philosophies which run counter to the Word. I said last time that even self-styled fundamentalists are actually liberal when it comes to the interpretation of some scriptures. That is, the interpretation of Scripture is based, at least in part, on an understanding of the context in which the passage was written and the audience to whom the passage was written. The difference between fundamentalist theology and liberation theology is fundamentalists see the Bible as the inspired, inerrant Word of God even as they seek to understand it in the proper context. Liberation theologists see the Bible as the Word of God as perhaps inspired, but certainly not inerrant. That is, they look at it through postmodern lenses so that the real message is not in what's written, but in the ideas behind what's written, which can only be gotten at when the biases of the authors are revealed and accounted for. Barbara Essex writes in Bad Girls of the Bible,
The Bible is composed of words—chosen by human beings who have been shaped and influenced by the culture within which they live and work. Words and their meanings change over time and are shaped by events of particular eras. The same holds true for the words of biblical texts.(In the interest of complete honesty, I will say that I am sometimes curious about pronoun choice as it refers to God. Since God is a spirit and as such does not have a gender in the same way that a human would, why do we use a gendered pronoun? This is particularly puzzling considering that some of the names of God and some of the descriptions are feminine. Can't pretend I have an answer here…by and by when the morning comes, yahmeen?) One other thing to note is that liberation theology is ultimately a response to willful misapplication of the Word by individual and collective entities for their own gain. If people didn't try to justify unrighteous actions with the Bible, there would be no need for a separate "theology" to address the discrepancies. However, given that for as long as there has been an America (longer than that, of course, I'm just talking about America because this is where both my home and heart are) people have been using biblical passages, usually taken out of context, but sometimes not, to explain why they should be at the top of the political/socioeconomic spectrum and why those who are on the bottom belong there. While this does not justify leftist esigesis, there should be no misunderstanding of the reasons behind some peoples' skepticism regarding biblical interpretation. I think this plays out most sharply in any discussion of America as a Christian nation, past present or future. There's a certain element that likes to claim America's Christian "heritage." Like I said in my post on Americanity, I don't debate that there is an element of Christianity in America's heritage, as passed down by the Founders and other significant historical figures, but Christianity is not the only thing they passed down. Moreover, the degree to which they passed down biblical Christianity is arguable. My point here is that many of the battles in the "cultural war" that some Christians seem to feel we are fighting are skirmishes that the church let "walk." If the church is operating properly, Elijah Muhammad has no rap. Can't say it's the "white man's religion" if it's not complicit in the destruction of Black people. But it was. Gays try to use Loving v. Virginia as shield against the church's opposition to gay marriage because in many places, the church really was (and in some places, may still be) against interracial marriage-- not as a personal opinion, but as an edict from the Lord. Nowadays, there seems to be more of a direct effort to address social concerns, but let's not get it twisted: we as Christians are in this situation because we put ourselves in this situation, whether actively or passively. In short, liberation theology is a response to unchecked oppression theology, or perhaps more accurately, unchecked oppression under the guise of theology. However, not everybody who claims to be "oppressed" really is. For instance, nowadays, we have homosexuals claiming to be oppressed because they can't get married like heterosexuals. Personally, I don't see what the big deal is – from either perspective. If Butterscotch and I get married, the fact that two dudes in San Francisco got married doesn't cheapen my commitment to Butterscotch, nor does it change the spiritual concept behind our marriage. Really, marriage exists on two levels: one is civil, one is spiritual. On a civil level, what difference does it make? Two dudes getting together doesn't change marriage any more than two dudes getting together changes sex. I don't think gays marrying puts David's Bridal or Zales or any wedding planners or anybody else in the red. That is, heterosexuals aren't going to stop marrying because gays start. I think the only argument against gay marriage is that it's not biblically permissible. According to some Christians, neither is marriage involving at least one divorced person. To the literalist, it would seem to me that divorce would be more problematic than gays getting married. The gay thing is just more outrageous and gets more attention. Just like if I went to Vegas and got lit up and married somebody other than Butterscotch—that wouldn't be just as much of a desecration to marriage as Adam and Steve? At the same time, I'm confused by the gay marriage lobby. I've actually seen gay activists say that the push for gay marriage is not an attempt to make homosexuality "mainstream" or "normal." Then what the devil is it? What else could it be if you're going from "keep your laws off my sexuality" to "include my sexuality in your laws?" That makes no sense. Nor does it make sense to claim some type of persecuted status. I'm not one of those people who thinks that gays have it easy just because there are some gays in high places, or because there seems to be a proliferation of queers on the IB. Still, I don't see the connection between gay rights and the Civil Rights movement. Honestly, I can see where somebody would try to make the connection; if I had a mass movement, I would probably pattern it after the civil rights movement, too. That don't make it righteous, though. To keep it focused on the theological aspect, I don't think it's oppression to say that the Bible condemns homosexuality. The Bible condemns all fornication. If gays are oppressed, then we all are. No matter what the civil law or any "inclusivist" preacher says, gay marriage can never be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church (his Bride), so any sexual activity outside of that is necessarily fornication. Now, a person may choose to deny the Bible's authority on the matter, but all the rest of the discussion is irrelevant. Whether homosexuality is a genetic predisposition or socially constructed makes no difference. I don't know if I like women because I was born that way or because I always knew I was supposed to. Maybe it's somewhere in the middle (I know for a fact that I knew I liked women when I saw the cover to the Ohio Players album, Honey), but in either case, my natural tendency would have me fornicating. I don't get fewer demerits because it's not with a man. So where's the oppression? Same thing goes for abortion. I recently read where Planned Parenthood has a chaplain who…I can't really imagine what his actual purpose is, except to lie to these women and make them think it's all good. It can be, if the woman repents just like everybody else has to, but I don't think there's too much in the way of biblical justification for abortion. When I looked, I saw a lot of secular logic; lotta talk about patriarchy and holding women down, but not too much Bible. Overall, I think that's the weakness of liberation theology. By using postmodern interpretative techniques like "deconstruction," the result is biblical nullification. The witness of the text is held subject to the political leanings of the individual in such a way that when there is a disagreement between the two, the political wins out. Not like so-called liberals have the market cornered, by the way. Their variances from scripture tend to be more sensational, usually having some connection to sex, but I seem to recall Jesus pointing out one or two people whose greed and self-righteousness represented a problem for their relationship with Him. Greed and pride, unlike sexual sins, are all but impossible to identify in another person. Honestly, they're even hard to self-identify. The difference between appreciating what God has done for me and being prideful for what I did is gossamer. I have to be very conscious of my intents and motives. Focusing on myself makes it very difficult to worry about where somebody else may be going wrong, even when their wrong is different than mine.
"I say 'nigger' 100 times every morning; it keeps my teeth white." - Paul Mooney Before I got the Good Times DVDs, I bought Sanford & Son. Looking at the credits for the second season, I saw something that really tripped me out. Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney collaborated on two episodes. I never knew that Richard Pryor had written any episodes of S&S. It had never even occurred to me that he might do something like that. Anyway, when I looked back at the episodes Pryor and Mooney had collaborated on, I found a common occurrence. In both episodes, Fred said "nigger." For about 12 or 13 years, I've had serious ambivalencies about 'nigger/nigga.' Back in '94, I wrote a paper where I pegged out a specific instance in which it had a positive connotation without really dealing with the negative aspects of it. I'm not going to rehash all that here, but I will say that it's a very interesting word. Randall Kennedy called it "troublesome." It's that too. More than anything, it's whatever the speaker and the hearer make of it. If it only has currency as a negative, then it's negative. If, between individuals, it has the potential to be a term of endearment, then it can be that sometimes. To give this some perspective, last week, I did some writing on Blackness; what it is and whatnot. I didn't come to any firm conclusions because I think Blackness as an existential state is very liquid. I don't know that there is a way to be Black just like I don't know that there is a way to be a man. That is to say, in most people's vernacular, having a 'y' chromosome and achieving 18 years does not qualify one for manhood. That's the basis, but there are other variables in the equation. In my family, it's stuff like paying your bills on time and being responsible to get things that need doing done. I don't know that defines a man so much as it defines an adult; there is no gender-specific element at play. Some other people I know are hesitant to use the term "man" to describe a gay male. Likewise, there are people who seem to think that having conservative politics means that a person is not Black (or maybe not Black enough). Last year, after Rush Limbaugh (what was ESPN thinking in the first place?) made his pronouncement that Donovan McNabb is overrated (could be true) and that the Liberal Media Machine had an agenda to make Donovan look better than he really is (Limbaugh must have never been to Philly. There is no such thing as a free ride for an athlete in Illadelph.), Outside the Lines had Armstrong Williams on there with some Africana Studies professor from a California school (USC?) discussing the whole incident. Well, somehow, the word nigger came up and the professor cat spouted off that old line about how it's a term of endearment. So of course, Armstrong started talking about how he doesn't use it as a term of endearment, then the professor dude starts talking about how it's used within the Black family, of which Armstrong is not a part, and it just went downhill from there. Luckliy, for my stomach and Butterscotch's ears (I go off for 20 minutes at a time when I hear nonsensical arguments like that) I had somewhere to go. My whole thing is this: that word is totally contextual. Especially nowadays, with the prevalence of hip-hop as a global marketing force/product. So, for instance, people are quick to trot out that term of endearment story. Well, that's true, but that's not the whole story. The same two people can have a conversation and refer to each other as nigga five times each and some of those times it will be positive and sometimes it will be negative. I would even argue that sometimes it's neither. Sometimes, it's just a word. And that's just with two Black people talking. What about those times when it's a Latino cat and an Asian cat referring to each other as nigga in a friendly way? Or two white cats? (I've observed it with my own eyes and ears.) What then? For instance, Ambra has a post referring to another post about those t-shirts that say, "Jesus Is My Homeboy." Well, knowing the vernacular, that shirt could hypothetically read, "Jesus is my nigga." I don't think anybody would print it, but putting aside questions of blasphemy or whatever, I don't think the word 'nigga' in that context would a) reflect an overriding racial element or b) be construed as a pejorative. I think that some people would find it offensive on its face but in the same way that the word 'homeboy' is not negative, 'nigga' wouldn't be either. Having said that, I partially agree with the Nationalists who believe the word should be dead by now. To the extent that it's a relic of pure racism, I would agree that it probably has no place in the 21st century vocabulary. I generally try not to say it, especially in mixed company. (Sometimes I don't care, though. I think it may have something to do with sunspots.) Even knowing that everybody who uses the word is not necessarily using it in its racial context, I just get uncomfortable hearing white people using it. Especially when I hear some white right-wing types talking about, "They say it, so why do they get upset when we do?" On one level, that might be a legitimate question, but I tend think that question is disingenuous. Knowing that the word is contextual, there are certain contexts in which its use is just not permissible. That's one of them. Unless the Black person who you use it around knows you very well, I just don't think it's a good idea. Of course, that had me feeling awful funny when "Straight Outta Compton" was new and a white friend of mine was reciting the lyrics to "Gangsta Gangsta." (Do you realize that the -sta ending, which has now gained mainstream currency, was invented by an 18 year-old Ice Cube?) But what did I think he was supposed to do? Was he going to say "Here's a little something about a 'n-word' like me?" "...a 'n' like me?' "...a brother like me?" I didn't like it but there was nothing I could really say. He was just quoting Cube. And knowing that he really liked the record, it wasn't like I could tell myself that he was just looking for an opportunity to say 'nigga.' So I just had to deal with it. Even with all that, I still don't have that big a problem with it. It's just a word. Having been an English major, and a postmodern one at that, I know that words are not neutral. I know that words are one of the most fundmental means of exerting power and all that good stuff. I'm hip to all that. And I'll still say nigga if I get ready. In my own idiolect, it's gone through several uses. At one point, when I was in high school trying not to cuss, everything that had previously been "a motherfucka" became "a nigga." So if it was really cold, it was "cold as a nigga." In that case, I wasn't even using it as a euphemism. It was just a placeholder. And actually, I think that swap is a decent parallel. Every time somebody says m-f, it's not invective. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. It just depends on who's doing the talking, who's listening, and what they're talking about. But then again, I'm not a prescriptivist when it comes to language. Wait until I talk about cussin'. I think I'll probably formulate some more thoughts on this and write a little more sometime soon. Maybe I'll talk about cuss words, too. In a lot of ways, 'nigga' mirrors cuss words, so they make good running mates.
At the end of the semester, when it starts getting hectic (well really, it started getting hectic a few weeks ago), I like to think back and remember the good ole days. -Like that time my roomate, Clark, and I played Coach K basketball on the Genesis until about 5:30 or 6 in the morning. If I remember correctly, we had about 4 games in a row that went down to the last shot. Then, when we finally turned the game off, En Vogue's "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" came on. Now that's good television! But it got even better. The next channel we flipped to showed a dude we knew getting arrested in a drug bust. The fact that the dude got arrested was not what made it good television, it was just that we knew him. I don't think it would be as exciting now, but on that specific day, at that time, having been up all night and just played at least 5 hours of video games, it was surreal. Especially since we lived in a fairly distant suburb. Dude must have been moving some weight for his bust to get television coverage in Chicago. But that was a good TV day. Speaking of tremendous videos, when Janet's "Love Will Never Do Without You" came out, I think I was getting carpet fibers off my tongue for about a week. I remember there was a lot of discussion about what was real and what was bionic, but I was in 9th grade. Think I cared? On "Control" I thought Janet was cute, but on "Love Will Never Do," man, I was...I can't even remember. I just remember she bounced onto the screen then all the blood rushed from my head and that was it. Other Videos I Remember Fondly - The Humpty Dance - Who You Wit' II - Fight The Power (The look on Chuck D's face when the police came by was priceless.) For all my boys who think Jay-Z is not the truth, I have this freestyle with him and Big L from 1995. Man, Jigga is nice. Stop frontin'. And I still like "Takeover" better than "Ether." That doesn't mean I think Ether is wack, but Takeover definitely has a better track. Most people I know seem to think that Ether was better, but the Takeoer v. Ether comparison is what made me finally admit that I liked Hov in the first place. Before that, I wouldn't admit that I liked any of his songs. (Even though the video for Who You Wit' always cracked me up.)
Me and Butterscotch have a running debate over lime Kool-Aid. She swears that she never had Lemon-Lime, only Lime, but I've never heard of plain ol' lime. The only green Kool-Aid I've ever seen is L-L. So If any of y'all have ever seen or had Lime (no Lemon) Kool-Aid, please let me know. The only thing I can think of is that it was a regional thing. (Butterscotch lived in Texas, while I was in northern lllinois.) What got us into this whole discussion is that she said that green Kool-Aid is better than red Kool-Aid. I might be wrong about the existence of Lime, but she's outta her wig, talkin' about green Kool-Aid is better than either of the two main red Kool-Aids, Tropical Punch, or Cherry (with Tropical Punch being the best flavor of all -read down to the Kool-Aid epands section). (Speaking of the Kool-Aid Man, the only episode of The Family Guy I've ever seen had me literally rolling in the floor unable to breathe. They were in the court room and all the characters in the family were like, "Oh no!" then KAM came bustin' in talkin' about "OH YEAAHHH!" I thought I was gonna suffocate.)
Line of the day- "I got so much trouble on my mind/refuse to lose"- Chuck D Walking around through a neighborhood in Northern Virginia that I'm pretty familar with, I saw this car, an Infiniti with about 3 confederate bumper stickers. First of all, I don't think I've ever seen anybody put a bumper sticker on an Infiniti before, but again, what's with the confederacy? (note: I don't capitalize 'confederate' on purpose.) What's to celebrate? And I know there were some Blacks in the confederacy, just like there were some Black slaveholders. Like that makes it legitimate. Truthfully, that's one of the reasons that I can never go fully conservative. That flag is a deal breaker for me. No matter what else is going on, once I see that flag, there's nothing left to talk about. (Unless I'm trying to find out that the devil s up with the support of the confederacy.) And this is just me, bt honestly, when I see that emblem on a bumper sticker, or even worse, flying, it makes me nervous. Not so much because of what the flag originally represented, although I detest that, but I don't think people really realize that that thing had fallen into disuse until the Civil Rights movement. ('cept the klan. They used it fairly regularly.)Now, I'm not the type to start a ruckus, but if provoked, I will finish one. The confederate flag does not constitute provocation for me, but it does make me suspect that the flag flyer might start something. In cases like that, the extra weight of an Intratec 9 wouldn't be such a bother.
1. Vivian Green – No Sittin' By The Phone 2. The Temptations – Hey Girl (I Like Your Style) 3. Public Enemy – Do You Wanna Go Our Way 4. Del tha Funkee Homosapien – In and Out 5. Common – Stolen Moments, pt. 1 6. Fred Wesley & The JBs – Doin' It To Death 7. Jay-Z – Jigga My Nigga (remix instrumental) 8. Bill Cosby – Chicken Heart 9. Busta Rhymes – Party Is Goin' On Over Here 10. Richard Smallwood Singers – I Give You Praise 11. James Ingram – Baby, Come To Me 12. Herbie Hancock – Watermelon Man 13. Richard Pryor – Ass Whupin' 14. Funkadelic – Get Off Your Ass And Jam 15. En Vogue – Hold On 16. Run-D.M.C – It's Tricky 17. The Doors – Five To One 18. Bob James – Caribbean Nights 19. Sting – Epologue (Nothing 'Bout Me) 20. Billie Holiday – He's Funny That Way 21. Tha Alkaholiks – Can't Tell Me Shit 22. Davy Jones – Girl 23. Al Green – Look What You've Done For Me 24. DMX – Damien 25. Maxwell – 'Til The Cops Come Knockin' 26. Artifacts – To Ya Chest 27. Faith Evans – Keep The Faith 28. P. Diddy, feat. Biggie, Busta Rhymes – Victory 29. Mary J. Blige – Mary's Joint 30. James Brown – Oh Baby Don't You Weep At least there are no repeat artists this time.
I'm in the middle of a take-home exam in my Transportation Planning class. It's...very involved. Parablemania has this great racial classification test that I'm going to sink get down on sometime next week when I have some real free tme. Check that piece out pronto.
1. James Brown – Can I Get Some Help 2. Common – Cold-Blooded 3. Marvin Gaye – T Plays It Cool 4. De La Soul – Am I Worth You 5. Jay-Z – Allure 6. Jay-Z – Cashmere Thoughts 7. James Brown – Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose 8. De La Soul – WRMS' Dedication To The Bitty 9. A Tribe Called Quest – Word Play 10. De La Soul – My Brother's A Basehead 11. De La Soul – Dog Eat Dog 12. Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer Choir – Jesus Can Work It Out 13. The Meters – Just Kissed My Baby 14. Ice Cube – Turn Off The Radio 15. De La Soul, feat. B. Real – Peer Pressure 16. Jay-Z, feat. Foxy Brown – Ain't No Nigga 17. A Tribe Called Quest – Oh My God (remix) 18. Roy Ayers – What You Won't Do For Love 19. Living Colour – Under Cover Of Darkness 20. Marvin Gaye – I Wanna Be Where You Are 21. EPMD – Let The Funk Flow 22. Tramaine Hawkins – Changed 23. Leaders of the New School – Daily Reminder 24. Commissioned – If God Is For Us 25. Macy Gray – Caligula 26. The Meters – Cabbage Alley 27. Outkast – Wheelz of Steel 28. Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone 29. The Pharcyde – Oh Shit 30. Ice Cube – No Vaseline This is amazing. I've never had so many songs by so few artists unless I did it on purpose. What's weird is that I have more Stevie Wonder and James Brown on than anybody else, so if anybody was going to get multi-play, especially back-to-back, I would expect it to be one of them. Not that I mind getting a lot of De La.
Last time I talked about what constitutes Blackness, or more accurately, what doesn't constitute Blackness. Well, reading around as I do, I ran up on one brother who described what I'm calling Blackness as having three components: color, consciousness, and connection. There will probably be time for me to break that down a little later. For now, though, we're just going to suffice it to say that if you're really interested you can read the link. I may get to it, I may not. Depends on how I'm feeling. Anyway, when I left off, I was talking about Black culture and how it's intermingled with American culture. Sometimes, they're virtually indistinguishable. Depending on the context in which I'm speaking, that's not such a bad thing. One problem that raises, however, is the need to define Blackness as what "whiteness," i.e. mainstream American culture, is not. John McWhorter, in Losing The Race, describes this as a symptom of separatism. I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail about this. For a good summary, you can check out Parableman's post about that section of the book. What I will say, however, is that the whole "white=not-black" definition fails in part because we don't even have a solid definition of what Black is. It's color, but it's not just color. It's politics, but only vis-a-vis color. It's culture, but only within a certain context. So really, by the time you get down to what some people would define as Black, you're really only talking about a very small part of the Black community. But those who don't fit into that box are at best "confused," and getting worse, heading past "sellout" going to Uncle Tom-hood. And how are they supposed to be confused? Because they "don't want to be Black." Well, I'm still stuck on my original question. What the devil does 'don't want to be Black' mean if we can't even determine what it means to be Black? In other words, I could come up with this obscenely long list of "do I have to—" questions of thoughts and behaviors that some people think makes one Black. The answer to all the questions would be no. You can make up your own list, if you like. The answer is still no. But just to kick out a few, do I have to like Black music? (I'm not even gonna go into the whole discussion of rap vs. hip-hop) No. Do I have to eat soul food? No. Do I have to not-eat pork? No. Do I have to vote Democratic? No. Do I have to sound Black when I talk? No. (Now there's something I'll probably sink my teeth into at some point. Being a former English major, that's the stuff I talk about just for the sheer enjoyment.) Do I have to…No. All you have to do is be yourself. So what happens when there's a phenotypically black person who grows up around all white people? All of his "cultural" attributes will indicate whiteness. Some people would say that makes him an "oreo." (Which is still the best cookie on the face of the earth. Keebler soft bake chocolate chips are good, but Oreo is just the best cookie, bar none.) How so? It seems to me that there are two options: either deny that person his Blackness or expand the definition of Blackness to include that person. My opinion is probably obvious. The funny thing to me is that many of the Black-definers are postmodern when it comes to other thought processes. Ask them about Black people vis-à-vis white people and they'd be quick to point out the importance of naming and defining one's self and how doing so emphasizes agency as opposed to objectification. I remember talking to one sister about Lenny Kravitz and she was like, "That brother needs to find his soul." What, he ain't got no soul because he plays rock music? To quote Funkadelic, "Who says a funk band can't play rock?" Really, P-Funk is the perfect example here, because as we know, Parliament and Funkadelic were essentially the same band. The sounds of the music was very different, however. Funkadelic was a much more guitar-heavy, rock-sounding outfit while Parliament played music in the traditional R&B mold. Listen to "Maggot Brain" and tell me that's not a rock record. Ain't nobody in their right mind gon' tell me that P-Funk ain't Black! (not without gettin' stole on, at least.) Same thing applies when looking at celebrities. At the beginning of Barbershop 2, the conversation is centered around how Black people want to "claim" certain celebrities when they're doing well, and then distance themselves when that person starts to fall off. The funn thing is that for the celebrities, the process seems to be reversed. For example, remember when Tiger Woods first turned pro? Back when he was burning up the links, looking like he might win all but to or three tournaments a year, we were jumpin' out the balloon talkin' about he's Black. Then, when Tiger was like, he's "Canibalasian" or whatever, there was this big stink about how he was distancing himself from the Black community. Like, "he's Black because we say he is, nevermind what he want to call himself." Well what's that all about? How can I practice kujichagulia, or know and define myself, and deny that to somebody else? Conversely, ever notice how black celebrities who as a matter of course do not seek to embrace the Black community always seem to "find their way home" when trouble comes? Look at Michael Jackson. Back in '92, when he was still selling records in America, it didn't matter if he was Black or White. Fast forward to 2001, when his numbers aren't looking so spectacular, and he's in NY with Al Sharpton talking about how the recording industry is racist. Evidently, Al's coffee wasn't strong enough, so now when he gets in more trouble, he goes to the NOI. Not like Mike's by himself. O.J. did the same thing, even before Johnnie Cochran used it to spring him, going to restaurants in the Black community and whatnot. (And as an aside about Johnnie, how come people try to make Johnnie Cochran out to be this racially polarizing figure? Yeah, he defended O.J., but wasn't he also the attorney for Reginald Denney? I think that part gets lost in there.) While I try not to tell my self that so-and-so "doesn't want to be Black" because of some trait or action I observe that doesn't gel with my concept of what it means to be Black, some things just don't add up to me. Last week, when I linked to that Black dude who was marching through some SC town, carrying a confederate flag, I think that was my mentality, even if I didn't say it outright. But really, I can't say that he didn't want to be Black, or that he was trying to deny his Blackness. His stated goal was to educate people about the "reality" of the confederate army, which, like it or not, did include some Black soldiers. So for me, that's an easy case of "expand your definition of Blackness." On the other hand, I listened to Rev. Jesse Peterson's radio show last week. (Man, this internet is truly mind-boggling. When I think about the technological advances that have been made during my grandmother's lifetime...) Now, I've read a couple of his books and every once in a while I hike down to his website to see if he's talking about anything besides Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, so I'm pretty familiar with what he's got to say. Still, sometimes, I'm just amazed at the things that come out of people's mouths. When the show started, he was deriding the use of the term 'African-American,' saying that he was American. Okay. No harm there. But then, he jumps out and starts talking about, "Why would I want to be associated with Africa?" Like that's the worst thing somebody can say about another person. What got me was, he didn't just say it once and leave it alone. He kept on going, repeating it and embellishing it. Still, in the interest of letting people speak for themselves, I skipped to another part of the broadcast. There was a White caller on the line from Chicago, who was talking about the new Black fire chief. (The last one resigned because of the dust-up after some firemen were heard over FD radio spending the N-word, like it has some currency. At the crib? That's one thing. A public employee at work? No excuse.) J. Peterson, on hearing that the new Fire Chief is Black, is like, "Uh-oh. You better get out while you can." Now, I know all about irony and tongue-in-cheek and hyperbole and all that stuff. My natural language is hyperbolicsyllabic. The key is context. If a white conservative said that, even one who does not garner a lot of national attention, progressives would be at his door with a battering ram. And if a white liberal said the same thing, conservatives would be elbowing each other, giving knowing smiles, as if to say, "See how hypocritical they are? (Like they're doing now because of Senator Dodd) If a Black liberal said this, I think the assumption would be that it was tongue-in-cheek, but only because of how that statement would sit when juxtaposed with everything else that person said. Jesse Peterson? Having read two books and every article published on the website, I can't come up with 10 things he's said about Black people that are good. Now, I could be wrong here, but I can't come up with 10. Taken in that context, all that anti-Africa talk and the "get out while you can" comment don't come across as tongue-in-cheek, even if they are. Still, it's not my place to question that man's love for Black people. After all, he is out there working with some of the most troubled youths in his Los Angeles community. Maybe it doesn't matter what he says if he's doing what he does. But still, it makes me wonder, what would make a person say things like that? I know I'm an American. Nobody had to tell me or convince me or anything else. I don't think everything America does is right, but this is my home and I wouldn't wanna live anywhere else, even if I could. Even with all that, I don't have any animus towards Africa and I don't think it's ridiculous that people call themselves African-American. I don't use that term because I recognize the difference between myself and my friend from grade school, Aaron (who was phenotypically white), who was born in Africa. He's African-American but he ain't Black. My mom likes the term A-A, though; says it connotes a sense of culture where Black is just a skin color. Well, I think from all this typin' I've been doing, it's clearly more than just that. Still, if some people wanna use that terminology, I'm comfortable with it. (But it's funny to me that we have all these conservative Black folks who don't wanna use the term A-A and when they state their reason, it's what Farrakahn said in 15 years ago, almost verbatim.) Next time...we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it. Probably talk about Paul Mooney's toothpaste.
"...Flip Wilson said this, he said, ‘I reserve the right to be a nigger.’ And I absolutely do, at all times.” -Aaron McGruder If I didn't know better, I'd put that on my description line. Anyway, here's where you can find the article in which the above quote is contained. I got hipped to it first at Negrophile. But really, though, that's why I looove The Boondocks. I don't agree with all McGruder's politics, but then again I don't agree with all of anybody's politics. If I don't agree with my mama all the time, the rest of y'all can forget it. Anyway, in The Boondocks, there's gonna be some left-leaning humor, but then I can count on there being some critique of popular culture, usually Black within a couple days. The Boondocks was the first place I heard about R. Kelly and the NAACP. Long before any columnist had even thought about writing, McGruder had already done his impaling. I remember the first series I read, back in 2000, he was clowining Bush as a candidate. In the last panel, Huey was like, "Bush couldn't lead O.J. to a white woman." All politics aside, that's funny. You can change the name and it's still funny.
1. 3rd Bass – The Gas Face 2. Digital Underground – Packet Prelude 3. Masta Ace – Rollin' Wit' Umdada 4. Gang Starr – Mostly The Voice 5. Tweet – Oops...Oh My 6. Kanye West – Through The Wire 7. Jay-Z – S. Carter 8. Earth Wind & Fire – Imagination 9. Jazz Crusaders – Cool Brew Koffee 10. Bill Cosby – Driving In San Francisco 11. Patti Labelle, feat. Michael McDonald – On My Own 12. Goodie Mob – Guess Who 13. Akinyele – Outta State 14. Jay-Z – Dirt Off Your Shoulder 15. Al B. Sure! – Nite & Day 16. Gang Starr – F.A.L.A. 17. Busta Rhymes, feat. P. Diddy – Pass The Courvoisier (PartII) 18. The Emotions – The Best of My Love 19. Evelyn "Champagne" King – Love Come Down 20. The Beatnuts – Off The Books (Instrumental) 21. Ludacris – Stand Up 22. Minnie Ripperton – Baby This Love I Have 23. Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner 24. Harlem Gospel Singers – I Love To Praise Him 25. Redman – Da Bump 26. De La Soul – Area 27. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit 28. Earth Wind & Fire - September 29. J.B.'s – (It's Not the Express)It's the J.B.'s Monorail 30. Sly & The Family Stone – M'lady 31. De La Soul – My Brother's A Basehead 32. Pete Rock – Soul Survivor 33. Hezekiah Walker – Praise Break 34. Akinyele – No Exit 35. Aretha Franklin – Dr. Feelgood 36. Sade – Every Word 37. Mos Def – New World Water 38. Jay-Z – There's Been A Murder 39. Club Nouveau – Lean On Me 40. James Brown – Hot Pants, pts. 1 & 2 41. 2Pac – So Many Tears 42. Hall & Oates – Sara Smile 43. Lovin' Spoonfull – Summer In The City 44. Kool G. Rap – Poison 45. Talib Kweli – Good To You 46. The Roots – It Just Don't Stop 47. Fats Waller – Go Down Moses 48. M.C. Hammer – U Can't Touch This (don't front...) 49. Common – Retrospect For Life 50. Oscar Peterson – On The Sunny Side of the Street
Uncle Sam's Cabin beat me to the punch. I've been planning to write about Blackness for a good little while now, but I've been trying to think about what I wanted to say. For the last couple of weeks, I've been wishing there could be some kinda brain typer that lets your thoughts go straight from brain to computer, where you can then edit them into some type of coherence. Come to think of it, it would hot to see what people are thinking as they think it. Not for the purpose of being nosy, but just to look at the way people think. For instance, I believe that some people think in words while some other people think in pictures. Then too, I think it's just wild to see what stimulus triggers what thought. But I'm getting way off topic. Sam writes, "Blacks in the Americas have a new heritage born on the shores to the New World. To ignore it while pining over what was left behind in Africa generations ago is a dishonor to those who survived and thrived in the New World." Word. Now I'm 'bout to add some. W.E.B. DuBois wrote about what he called "double consciousness" 100 years ago. A hundred. Think about that for a minute. One hundred years. Sadly, many chapters in Souls of Black Folk are still relavant today. (Anybody who hasn't read it needs to leave this page and hop down to the used book store and get a copy. You don't hafta agree with everything he said, but you should at least have read it to know what you do or don't agree with.) Most problematic is that notion of double-consciousness. I, however, don't see it as many black Conservatives do. I don't think it's an anachronism to recognize the difference between my Blackness and the fact that I'm American. I don't think they're necessarily incongruent, and really, I don't even think they're all that different in concept. Black people who demand that other Blacks "toe the line" are actually no different than various factions who seem to believe that in order to be a real American one must espouse certain ideals or forgo any other identity. It's the same stuff. The ideologies may sound radically different, but it's really the same demand. "Give up that other business and take your place among us, your real people." That's why so much of what I hear and read gets on my nerves, people don't even recognize that they're saying the exact same thing they're ridiculing other people from saying. Some of the same people who say that Black people embrace their Blackness to the exclusion of their Americanness are just as busy embracing their American identity while trying to distance themselves from their Blackness. What is an American? Is it somebody who flies the flag? Is it somebody who thinks everything America does is right? Am I not a "real" American if I question the war in Iraq? (Just to pick an issue.) If I think all that God talk in the country's founding documents is just talk and had no relavance to the way people actually lived, then what? Would I be less of an American if I used a hyphen? Of course not. Some people might think so, but who are they to tell me that I'm not American? It reminds me of an exchange between Archie and Meathead on All In The Family. If I remember correctly, they were arguing about the war in Vietnam, when Archie broke out singing "God Bless America." Meathead was trying to talk over him, explaining how he protested, not because he hated America, but because he loved it; because he wanted to see America live up to its ideals. I think this is the unfortunate point we're getting to now. For some people, the only way to love America and therefore be a real American is to cosign on anything America does...as long as your party dictated it. Same thing goes for Blackness. What is Blackness? I know what "black" skin looks like...sort of. I think Jason Kidd is "black," but I'm not sure. I know some Italian cats darker than him. My usual litmus test is Jet magazine. If a person shows up in Jet, then he or she must be Black or at least black. Of course, melanin can't be the only determinant. There's some Indians out there blacker than me, (and that ain't all that easy to be) but that doesn't mean they're Black. They're just dark. So what other phenotypes can we plug in? Big nose? Full lips? Other "racial" groups have that. Nappy hair? Well, that's fairly unique, but is the ability to grow an Afro the only determining factor? That's pretty shaky. It's obviously not just physical. On "Welcome To The Terrordome," Chuck D said, "Every brother ain't a brother/cuz a black hand squeezed on Malcom X the man." So what's Black? Well, even as I'm saying that Blackness isn't just physical, it's obviously a big part of it. Otherwise, why fuss at/about Clarence Thomas? Many people who claim Black would deny that to Justice Thomas, but I don't hear those people talking about how Black Justice Scalia ain't. So this example leads us to the idea that Blackness has something to do with political ideology. But what? Is it solidarity for solidarity's sake? "Black people" think such-and-such, so I think it?" That makes no sense. At this point, we've pretty much moved past skin color as a divisive factor in the Black community. Not all the way, of course, but we don't deny light-skinned people their Blackness. Nowadays, the paper bag test is political or ideological, I guess. If a person doesn't see their connection to other Black people, or if they don't believe in some litmus test policy (Affirmative Action, anyone?), then they're not really Black. That's why black Conservatives get branded as race-traitors or whatever. Which is, of course, retarded. Just because a person doesn't believe in Affirmative Action doesn't mean they don't have Black people's best interests at heart. I know a couple friends of mine, pro-Black to the core, think that Affirmative Action has generally outlived its usefulness. So what, are they not Black because of it? Then there's the cultural element. This is probably the most liquid of all the definitions, because whatever "Black" culture is is quickly soaked into "American" culture. Really, they're indistinguishable from each other. "...the popular music that all Americans cherish, sing, and dance to today would not exist of Africans had not been brought to this country," John McWhorter writes in Authentically Black. A person doesn't hafta be Black to talk "black" or even better yet, sing "black." Ever heard of Teena Marie? Or to give a personal example, I remember when Lisa Stansfield first came out with "All Around The World," it didn't even occur to me that she might not be Black. A couple times, my mom and I tried to figure out her complexion, weight, and hairstyle. Needless to say, when I finally saw the video I was dumbfounded. Yet, we wouldn't call Lisa Stansfield or Teena Marie Black because they can sang. So what's the deal, then? I guess the first level of Blackness is some measure vis a vis physical appearance. Not that any of that is valid, of course. I'm not really critiquing it yet, I'm just trying to break it down into something manageable. Next time (next time I write about this, not next time I write) I'll see what's the deal with "wanting to be white." Is there really such a thing, and if so, what are the symptoms?
Butterscotch E and I kicked around some names for kids yesterday. Not for any reason in particular, just trying out the sounds. What was funny was that I bought this name book because it had interesting lists. I thought it might be good for developing names for characters whenever I start back to writing fiction. (I'm not to the funny part yet.) What amazed me about the book I bought was the fact that all...well maybe not all, but almost all the name definitions are wrong. They're in there assigning meaning to absolutely made-up names. It's bananas. Now I ain't gon' lie, I'm postmodern to the core, but I also know when to turn it off. This book is an exercise in postmodernism imploding upon itself. I mean, really, the fact that they're attempting to assign a meaning to names is probably more modern than postmodern, but the haphazard meanings they come up with suggests that there is no real connection to any other definitions. It's like they made them up as they went along; this is what the name connotes to us (the authors), so this is one possible meaning. My name, Avery, means ruler of the elves. Even websites that don't have that exact meaning either contain a reference to 'ruler' or 'elves'. So in this book, whose name I will not call, how do they have Avery meaning "softspoken?" Or better yet, how 'bout the made-up name, Deshette? The meaning? "Dishy." What? That's funny. Even when I talked to Butterscotch about this, I guess it sounded like I was more upset than I was. It's just weird to me, that's all. Just watched an episode of the Chappelle Show, where he showed pieces of skits they didn't actually use on the show. I bought the 1st season DVD of the Chappelle Show and I've been generally familiar with his comedy for a young minute, so I know that there's a definite political awareness there. It's fun and jokes, and sometimes it's just for the sake of fun and jokes, but a lot of the time, it's an invitation to think. In this case, the skit was a sendup of a Frontline episode in which they explored the two Americas: straight and gay. Not in the political sense, though. There's a 'gay' everything from DMVs with gay photographers to Don King promoting fights between two gay boxers. The skit was funny, but the larger issue is worth a thought. Is this the direction that we're generally headed in for real? At one point, I would've thought yes, but I'm not so sure any more. I think that there are some gays who basically just want to be left alone to do their thing in private, but then there is a more vocal faction that wants to legislate homosexuality into all our lives. They would want the (openly) gay fighter to fight a (we think) straight fighter, claiming discrimination otherwise. Maybe. It's a weird situation. Speaking of which, I was reading a forum on the topic of gay marriage, and one dude was like,
Frankly I don't give a sh-t. who or what a person chooses to f---, barring that it's a little kid, is their business. But my thing is Why is it that when it comes to the rump rangers wanting to bang out each other's a--h---s, all of a sudden it's "what two consenting adults do is their business", but that doesnt apply to a straight man who would rather just pay for some...?At first, I thought he was going to take a different tack, which is one that Thomas Sowell used a while ago, citing the reversal of position by gay activists. Not too long ago, it was "keep the government out of our bedroom" or "what two consenting adults, etc." Now, it's all about giving governmental sanction to homosexual relationships. That's interesting to me...in a detatched observer-type way. Personally, I look at the whole thing as none of my business. If a dude believes that he was born that way, that God made him that way, that's between him and God. I have not seen enough evidence to prove that homosexuality is genetic and I haven't seen enough evidence to prove that it isn't. People can tell me that God wouldn't make people like that, but if babies are born with three sets of sex chromosomes (xxy, xyy) and spina bifida and all sorts of other mutations, I don't see where it's so outside the realm of possibility that people could be born gay. I think that the most accurate thing anybody can say about the origin of homosexuality is that they suspect [insert pet thesis], but they don't know. In that respect, it's like hand preference. Don't know how it happens, but we know that it does. That doesn't mean that I think homosexuality is a valid lifestyle choice, but I do know the only person I have the authority to make the decision for is my mother's son. When it comes to anybody else, all I can do is point that man to the truth. What he does after that is on him. Speaking of which, not from a scriptural standpoint, because I understand that well, but from a legal standpoint, why is prostitution illegal? Like I said, the spiritual element is there, but that's not what I'm talking about right now. Because really, if we're going to take the spiritual aspect as reasoning for what should and should not be illegal, then why are cigarettes legal? Why is alcohol legal? So let's respect that we live in a place where 'not biblical' is not necessarily 'illegal.' Now. Why is it illegal for a man and a woman to agree upon a price and get busy? If fornication for free is legal, what's the difference if some money changes hands?
Today represents the most important day on the Christian calendar. It recalls the event that separates Christianity from Islam; the resurrection. I went to a sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetary this year. Being from a Baptist background, it was very different for me. The chaplain who gave the sermon(?) used mostly poetry and some prose. I think she did a fairly good job, but I'm not quite used to that style. Same thing with the music. I think hymns are important, but personally, I want to hear somebody who can sang too. I think that there's a degree to which the performance element can be distracting, but there's also a degree to which good singing can be an integral part of the worship experience. I'll probably try to break this down some more at some point. I'll probably really talk about those first two Love Alive records while I'm at it.
I finally got the 2nd season of Good Times last weekend. (I also bought that pop culture version of Trivial Pursuit. And let me tell you, the box opened and the beating commenced. If I hadn't had such a hard time with the dice, it would have been a full-fledged mauling.) As I mentioned last time, the first two seasons of Good Times were very different than the later shows. Going through the first season, however, it's getting easy to see how JJ started to take over. And really, as a character, JJ was probably the least interesting one on the show. Maybe this is me with a little age and education talking, but I'm much more interested in Thelma and Michael than I am in JJ. JJ can provide comic relief, but the strength of that character was as a foil to the more serious characters. He was at his best as a sort of in-house Willona. Come in, crack a joke, make a sociological comment, crack a joke, say Dy-no-mite!, put on a funny outfit, make a face, be out. Instead, what happened was, JJ gradually became the focus of the show. Now, a lot of people I know have played up the racial element, saying that JJ represents the 'coon' stereotype and that that character was emphasized in an attempt to diminish the social impact of the show. There's no question that there are certain stereotypes of Black people that have been prevalent down through the years, and there's no question that JJ pretty well fit the coon stereotype, but I don't know that his takeover of the show was all part of some insidious plot. The same thing happened on Happy Days. JJ is to Good Times as the Fonz is to Happy Days. If Seinfeld had been any less centered on al four characters, it's easy to imagine was about race so much as it was about the network trying to capitalize on a popular Kramer taking over the show just like JJ and the Fonz before him. In short, then, I don't think JJ's takeover character. Having said that, I think that Good times really suffered when the focus shifted to JJ. Like I said before, Thelma and Michael were infinitely more interesting characters – or at least, they had much more potential. Thelma, especially. If it were me writing the show, I would have made Thelma the centerpiece. According to the traits of that television character, I can imagine her turning out to be similar to Claire Huxtable if James had lived. She was good-looking, smart, and ambitious. Of course, those characteristics don't necessarily make for funny television. I mean, Thelma had her share of featured episodes, but it wasn't the same as with JJ. (Of course, I might only be thinking this because Thelma was fine. If Thelma had really looked like JJ's sister, I might not be so interesting in seeing too much of her, no matter how smart and ambitious she was. Thelma was the truth; especially when she was rocking the natural. Whether it was the fro, the afro puffs, or the braids (especially the braids) Thelma had it goin' on! Some of my friends have tried to tell me different, but I kick the truth to the youth: when it comes to the little sister characters, ain't no rap: Thelma was the best, hands down.) Of course, this trend just represents the problem of popularity. The question is, when you have a popular product/show/etc., do you go with what the "market" seems to dictate, which would mean emphasizing the popular element, or do you focus on quality, which may not translate to sales? This plays out in more than just television programs. Hip-hop is stuck in this conundrum today. So far, hip-hop in general is going the way of Good Times. Whatever element used to represent the 'James' element is gone. Like EPMD once said, rap is outta control. Back to Good Times, though, do they still make shows where the teenage girls are virgins and are not afraid to say that's it a good thing? Or where the father was in charge, even if he didn't make a whole lot of money, or wasn't highly educated? I don't think so.
I have a fairly decent music collection covering all media, from records to mp3s. Right now, I'm trying to get my hands on a copy of "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" by Joe Tex. The B-side of that 45, which I haven't seen in years, is "I Mess Up Everything I Get My Hands On." We'll see what happens with that. Anyway, spurred on by some blogs I visited this week, I decided to put my the MP3 player on the laptop on random and see what the first 50 songs would be. Sometime soon, I will do the same thing on my desktop. The results will be interesting for two reasons. First, I have a lot more music on my desktop than I do on the lap (because I have twice as much HD space). Second, I primarily use Winamp on the lap while I use Media Player on the desktop. So while there are no built-in controls for uniformity, that's not really that important. I just want to see what songs come up. Bearing in mind, however, that there are fewer artists on the lap, so they're more likely to turn up more often. Here's the first list from the lap: 1. Maxwell – Sumthin' Sumthin' 2. Roy Ayers – Red, Black, & Green 3. The Meters – Africa 4. Prince – I Wanna Be Your Lover 5. Common – Funky For You 6. Biggie – Niggas Bleed 7. Jay-Z – Friend or Foe 8. EPMD – Crossover 9. Beatles – Blackbird 10. Stevie Wonder – Living For the City 11. Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel 12. Oscar Peterson Trio – Yours Is My Heart 13. OutKast – Two Dope Boys In a Cadillac 14. OutKast – Snappin' and Trappin' 15. Ice Cube feat. Chuck D – Endangered Species 16. Fred Hammond – Our Father 17. Ray Charles – In The Heat of the Night 18. Tramaine – How I Got Over 19. L.L. Cool J – Fast Peg 20. The Temptations – I Could Never Love Another 21. Tramaine – What Shall I Do? 22. Prince – Alphabet Street 23. A Tribe Called Quest – Check The Rhyme 24. Jay-Z – Sunshine 25. OutKast – Ghetto Muzik 26. Fred Hammond – Willing to Follow 27. the Brothers Johnson – Come Together 28. Leaders Of the New School – Transformers 29. L.L. Cool J – Jingling Baby 30. Bar-Kays – Soul Finger 31. Lauryn Hill – Nothing Even Matters 32. Stevie Wonder – Ribbon In The Sky 33. EPMD – Can't Hear Nothin' But The Music 34. Take 6 – Delilah 35. Funkadelic – Back In Our Minds 36. Stevie Wonder – All Day Sucker 37. James Brown – Evil 38. Biggie, feat. Method Man – The What 39. Stop the Violence All-Stars – Self Destruction 40. Stevie Wonder – Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday 41. Ohio Players –O-H-I-O 42. Bob James – Caribbean Nights 43. Fred Hammond – Prodigal Son 44. Stevie Wonder – I Wish 45. Commissioned – More Than I 46. Biggie – Big Poppa 47. Parliament – Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk 48. EPMD – Symphony 49. Walter Hawkins – God Is Standing By 50. Pharcyde – It's Jiggaboo Time I was kind of surprised at this because even though I don't have as much on the lap as I have on the desk, it's still a fairly formidable collection. I didn't think I would have so many repeat artists. This is probably a decent little playlist, though. I wonder what I would write about a person if I had to make a personality profile based on what they're listening to. That's a good fiction exercise. I may run it in my notebook.
Somehow, I was foolin' around and I ran up on this. So far, I've been "Pimp Master Tooley Ice," "Professor Truth Avery Gates," "Funk Master Tooley Large," "Bishop Don Tooley Luthor," and "Fadeproof Avery Shizzle." This joint is crazy.
Living down here in the DC area, with Virginia being so close and all, I hear a lot more about the Civil War than I used to. One local paper even has a weekly column devoted to it. My question is, why? What's there to be gained? Wouldn't McWhorter call that victimology too? What brings this to mind is that courtesy of Black Electorate, I have seen the twin brother of that white "Black" dude I saw on the bus a couple weeks ago. Peep this. Unbelievable. I thought I had seen everything, but now...I'm one step closer. Seriously, though, I'm the main one talking about historical accuracy, so I'd be the first one to say the elements in the Civil War don't break down quite as simply as we've been taught. That goes both ways. Still, seeing a Black man carrying the Confederate flag...boyyy some things you just can't prepare for. Speaking of history, here's a quick history test...just to see what you know about.
"Americanity" is a secularized version of what Carl F. Ellis, in Free At Last describes as "Christianity-ism," which is the worship of Christianity, as opposed to the actual practice of Christianity. As I attempt to navigate that tricky nexus between religion and politics, it seems that there is frequently some confusion between true Christianity and the worship of America and/or the worship of the religion of Christianity. My first exposure to the idea of the differentiation came when I was 14. I read "Black Power and the American Christ" on the way to Philadelphia and right away, I knew I was on to something. Biblical Jesus would never condone slavery, particularly as it was practiced in the West; American Jesus was all for it. The essay didn't question Jesus but it did question his "followers'" commitment to Him, as opposed to their commitment to themselves and their way of life and their willingness to use Jesus to justify what they were doing. The following quote is from Mattias Gardell's book, In The Name Of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam
The religion of the Republic, alternatively known as "Americanity" or the "civil religion" of the United States, is the semi religious dimension of the notion of America as a melting pot. Immigrants from various European countries, adhering to different religions and denominations, were supposed to substitute their particular identities for their new identities as Americans. A child of the Enlightenment and the Hegelian notion of progressive evolution, the creation of the United States of America was depicted as a fulfillment of mankind's ambitions to create a better world. Multicultural tolerance was achieved through transcending the specific, by projecting unifying fundamentals on a higher level of abstraction. The separation of church and state was supplemented by introducing a religious dimension as a central rationale for the American project, making Americanity a creed and the United States an instrument of God's work in the world. As discussed by Robert N. Bellah in his classic essay on the American civil religion, Biblical themes and symbols are used in the historiography of the United States. The Americans are identified as the "chosen people", who through an "exodus" from Europe reached the "promised land" and there founded the "New Jerusalem"." American civil religion has its own prophets (Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington), its own martyrs (Abraham Lincoln, the Kennedys, all soldiers killed in war), its own sacred events (the Declaration of Independence, the Boston Tea Party), its own sacred places to which pilgrimage is made (Gettysburg, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Lincoln Memorial), its solemn rituals of commemoration (Independence Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, Veterans Day), and its sacred symbols (the Stars and Stripes, the White House, the Statute of Liberty). As the sacred expression of the American dream, Americanity preaches all the values, norms, and ideas associated with the American way of life. The United States is the defender of freedom, democracy, and moral decency against every form of totalitarianism, which during the Cold War was principally defined as communism but is now increasingly being replaced by Islam. In this fortress of individual liberty with equal opportunities for all, each man can reach success... The ideology of Americanism pays homage to the lonely individual with a trust in God and denies the existence of collective injustices.If anybody wants to question the veracity of what Gardell says about the exaltation of American individuals and documents as near-canonical, just look at the names of American history textbooks. For a math book, I might get "Statistics" or "Multivariate Statistics," if they get expansive. History? From McGraw Hill/Glencoe we get, "History of a Free Nation" and "The American Odyssey." In other words, we are expected to take the "official" version of American history as gospel truth; there is no valid reason to question the moral consistency of the Founding Fathers. Hence the consistent need to define the United States in Judeo-Christian terms. And really, I don't even disagree that there is a strong religious theme in the documents that define our country. I wouldn't even question that there is a definite Judeo-Christian foundation. That ain't the only foundation, though. For as much as America was founded in pursuit of religious freedom, etc., etc., it was also founded in pursuit of profit. America is now as it has always been, about the dollar. Of course there are always other considerations, but whatever the intention, noble or ignoble, the economic aspect provides tension. Everybody talks about the 3/5 compromise because of what it literally meant, but why compromise in the first place? If, as was actually the case, many of the delegates from the free(er) states did not want to allow slavery under the new government, why did they do it? Why include the slave-holding states? Can't tax 'em if they're not included. But that's not all there is to it. I just looked at a site called Accuracy in Academia, where the author of this article claims that Christianity is a neglected motivating force in American history. Luckily for me, he uses Christopher Columbus, which more than makes my case for me. Even as Columbus was giving thanks to God, he and his men were slaughtering natives for less than nothing. If Christianity is about talking it, then what's all the fuss about Bill Clinton? If it's about what you do, then America was never fully a Christian nation. That doesn't mean it's not a great place to live (now, at least), but it does mean that we don't need to make up stories about how great and magnificent we are while trying to ignore the parts of the story that don't fit that framework. Likewise, that movie about the Alamo is coming out. Wanna know one of the main reasons Texas wanted to secede from Mexico? They wanted to be able to keep slaves. Remember the Alamo. How about know the Alamo. I mentioned in my post on Black History Month that people don't really know American history. They know the version whose purpose is to inculcate them to the "Americanity." The most disturbing thing to me is that some people, when confronted with the facts of Columbus' actions, make accusations of "revisionist" history, like what's being said is inaccurate. My point here is not to venerate or vilify Christopher Columbus or any other figure in Amerian history but to say that if we taught history instead of Americanity, there would be no need for correcting the historical narratives we know. Seriously. If we're supposed to be representing Christianity, then we can't hold on to Americanity; we can't venerate the heroes without addressing their shortcomings as well. They were men. If the Bible details the shortcomings of every figure except Jesus, who had no shortcomings to detail, then why do we try to pretend like the Founding Fathers were flawless? David doesn't stop being Israel's best king because of the situation with Bathsheeba. Acknowledging that American figures had conflicts and contradictions wouldn't hurt them either. We still do the same thing, by the way. When I talked about Paul Robeson before, I mentioned that many people pay homage to Muhammad Ali because he was willing to risk everything he had earned for what he believed. What they don't realize is that if Big George had pummeled Ali in 1974, Ali would be an afterthought today. Furthermore, most of the people who write abut Ali these days attempt to gloss over his treatment of Joe Frazier, lumping it in with all Ali's other pre-fight antics. While acknowledging that Ali was pure-D wrong for his treatment of Frazier may diminish his legend somewhat, it's the truth. That's what we should be shooting for.
Bear in mind that this is just a first approximation. When I really have some time to think about this, I'll come up with a mathematical way ascertaining perfection, if there really is such a thing. These are just some albums that don't seem to have any bad songs. Maybe some people will disagree; I probably will in a few days. Also, I should note that there are some albums I don't have yet, but based on what I have heard of them, they could be strong contenders. • Walter Hawkins – Love Alive, • Walter Hawkins - Love Alive II
For those of you unfamiliar with Gospel records, the two Walter Hawkins records are fantastic. I don't know if they're available on CD or not; I would imagine that they are, or maybe in some type of compilation. Whatever. Find them and get them. I have a pet theory about Gospel music that I'll probably kick around at some point, but suffice it to say that for me, these albums represent the last era where Gospel music was pure.• Michael Jackson – Thriller
Say what you want about Mike now, but back in '83...(okay, now I'm feeling old) There is not a bad song on this record.• Prince – Purple Rain
Prince has a lotta good albums but this one is the best. Maybe one day I'll print the text of that backwards part at the end of "Darling Nikki."• Stevie Wonder – Innervisions • Stevie Wonder – Songs In the Key of Life
I thought about putting all the albums from Talking Book to SITKOL on here, but among those four, Innervisions and Songs stand out. The wild thing about Songs is that I literally grew up with that record. It came out when I was two and I remember listening to that at some point during every subsequent year of my life. It's kinda like my mother in that it wasn't until I got older that I really understood how amazing it really is.Near-Perfect • Public Enemy – Nation of Millions : Show 'em Wha'cha Got • De La Soul: - De La Soul is Dead: Kicked Out the House • Mos Def & Talib Kweli – Black Star : B Boys Will B Boys • Maxwell – Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite : Suitelady (?) Maybe
- Ice Cube – Amerikkka's Most Wanted?
- Marvin Gaye – What's Goin' On?
- ATCQ – The Low End Theory?
- Outkast - Stankonia?
Lookin' through some pictures, I think my mom is just about the only conservative Black woman I know who wears her hair natural. Granted, it's still not all that common in general, but she's probably one of a very, very few. Actually I said natural, but I should've said a 'fro. She's not quite up there at Angela Davis level yet, but it is boomin'. But really, natural is right because she doesn't wear it puffed out every day. However, she refuses to put any chemical in her hair that would change the nappy texture that God intened. I would expect to see this more frequently. Everybody else wears their hair the way it grows out of their head, why don't Black women?
I had all these grand plans for what all I was gonna write last weekend, and what happened? Nothin'. First of all, on that Fideles Quaerens Intellectum II post, I lost the main book I was gonna be critiquing. I don't think I left it in Philly, but I'm hoping it's there and not somewhere travelling on the Washington-Boston axis on Amtrak. Anyway, I did manage to sneak a picture of myself up there,although it was more work than it should've been. At this point, I'm just trying to make up some excuse to put a picture of my old lady on here. I need to just sneak and do it, though, or else it'll be 10 years before I come up with a picture that she thinks is suitable. She's just bein' modest, though. Speaking of my better half (or better 3/4, if I'm keepin it real), I got the song "Better Half" by Maceo and All The King's Men. I've said before how much I like finding a bargain, and this is just the type I like. I wanted the song because it's got a sample use I like, but then I found out that it's the source for another sample that I've liked for a very long time. Then, samples aside, the song is just wicked. No matter what name they recorded under, whether Maceo & the Macks (that's hot!), The Last Word, Maceo & ATKM, Fred Wesley & the JB's, or just the JB's, James Brown had the baddest band(s) in the land. At some point, I'll smash through the 2nd era, which saw the first permutation of a recording band called the JB's. There's an article at Blackelectorate.com called Americanity that I plan on writing about soon. The basic premise is one that I've believed since I was about 14: there's a weird amalgation of American history and the Bible that has some people thinking that the prophesies in the Bible are actually talking about us. Moreover, I think there's an unstated opinion that God is American. That is, nobody would actually say it if you asked them, but to listen to them talk about God, what He likes and dislikes, his concerns would be very similar to that of an American. But like I said, I'm on the top rope right now. In a minute, I'm gonna come swooping down from the sky and nail this one with the atomic elbow. Also, looks like the Sixers are pretty much mathematically eliminated from the 'offs. All I can say is...well there's a lot I can say. I would start with AI, but I won't. We'll start with how jacked up their salary structure is vis a vis the collection of stiffs they have. The NYK's have the highest payroll in the league, but at least they have a few people who are, or have been within the life of the contract, ballers, even if their play was never quite commensurate with their pay. The Sixers? They couldn't even be Maceo and the Macks. AI and the Ain'ts.
Cycling around the net, as I am wont to do, I found a very interesting question at the-breaks.com. Is there such a thing as a perfect album, and if there are, which one(s)? Now it's important to differentiate between a perfect album and a classic album. Nation of Millions is arguably the best hip-hop album ever, and it's unquestionably a classic, but is it perfect? No. "Show 'Em Wha'cha Got" gets on my nerves every time. It's more than made up for by the numbers 11, 12, and 14 on the CD (Night of the Living Baseheads, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, and the sublime Rebel Without a Pause) but it's enough to keep the album from being perfect. Same thing with De La Soul Is Dead. Up until "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa," it's all listen straight through. "Kicked Out the House" is not a strike. Most of the albums on my list will probably not be hip-hop albums. If I can come up with an absolutely perfect album at all. (Of course, greatest hits and compilations don't count.) I've tipped my hand on this one before, so I'll just come out and say that Songs in the Key of Life is a perfect double album: it's two perfect albums in one. Aside from that, I'll just keep my opinions to myself until I've had a chance to really think this one through. If any'a y'all have any candidates, I'd definitely like to see. One more freebie: Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite.