Most trained record-scavenging machines out there only need a big fat ATM withdrawal before a Beat Swap Meet. They’ll usually get coffee and a muffin too, time permitting.
This machine, however, is a lady machine, with long, misbehaving hair that needs to be smoothed down. Nails need to have a nice sheen like a pool of motor oil or candy paint; I know this from years of UGK listening. Coming through looking clean is the name of the game (UGK again), so I need to iron my clothes and “bring a pocketbook that matches,” according to my proper southern grandma. Coming through smelling like cupcakes doesn’t hurt either (cocoa butter-vanilla oil combo).
Laundry, an absolute must, is the foundation of my pre-BSM routine. (I’d take it personally if MCs ever stop rapping about the foxiness and Snuggle-fresh clothing of LA women.) I went off to wash clothes the morning of June 10, bringing along an iced coffee and that silly Parade “magazine” that comes in the Sunday paper. Normally I read strictly highbrow fare while I’m at the laundromat (WaxPo, Harper’s, Adario-era Source, Utne). I’m not embarrassed about reading Parade, though; I’m secure in myself. (Only God Can Judge Me, according to Pac, Master P, and Mike Bibby’s calf.) Besides, Parade sometimes provides pretty useful bits of information – like the fact that June 10 was THE GOD Saul Bellow’s birthday. Saul’s a great writer, known for Augie March, a white American male alienation classic, right up there with Nevermind, I suppose, and Labor Days. But Saul should be known for having a perfect name for a shouty preacher (SAUL BELLOW, c’mon), and for once saying, “Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door,” a phrase so lovely that it cannot be improved upon unless you put a squiggly bassline under it. I’m getting it tatted on my calf this weekend.
Honestly, guys. I don’t know what else to say.
It turns out, appropriately enough, that June 10, BSM day, new/old record-gettin day, was the god Howlin’ Wolf’s birthday and the g.o.d. The D.O.C.’s, too. (Not mentioned in Parade, though lord knows they should’ve been.) I came up nicely – spent around $80, got 13 records, and didn’t have to travel more than 5 miles round trip from my doorstep. The high in LA was 76°. I smelled good (cupcakes). And I exchanged smiles with so many people, because, you see, unlike the employees of Time Warner*, Beat Swap Meet sellers and buyers – music people – do not find it unusual that a woman enjoys record albums.
* “Whose records are these?” – 3 separate technicians during 3 separate visits, upon entering my apartment.
1. The New Birth, Birth Day (RCA Victor, 1972). $8.
It’s 2012 and everyone knows Queens and Harlem are the rapping-est boroughs. But it’s still fun to summon the spirit of someone jocking Brooklyn super hard in ’94 and exclaim: Biggie! Jeru! (Clark Kent and Premier both used the “You Are What I’m All About” pencil-tapping-the-side-of-a-mason-jar sound!) An automatic purchase because it’s an original pressing as opposed to a ’90s rapstalgia reissue, I saw Birth Day on display when I was walking out. It was the end of the afternoon and the end of my cash supply. The allure of this damn thing made me trot (ha, J/K; I sashay) across the street to the ATM to pull out more cash and come back. John was the seller’s name, I think. Thank you, John. The freshness of your Van Exel jersey was not lost on me.
Their cover of Womack’s “I Can Understand It” opens the album. Lovely. The New Birth version lacks the crucial “yeah-uh” that kills me every time in the original (01:11), but when a DJ at the swap meet played “Across 110th St.” while my weak arms were struggling with the weight of record bags during my exit walk to the car, it was a clear sign that I had to get something Womackian before I left. I was raised by leftist heathens in a weed den, but even I have to give in when God and all the angels send a message directly to me (“Womack, Logan. WOMACK”). And there was John, suddenly, with his clean copy of Birth Day to sell me. “You Are What I’m All About” (Biggie and Jeru) and “Got to Get a Knutt” (De La, PE, Doom!) are the rap-break superstars, but there’s so much material on this record to be mined. More use should be made out of “Buck and the Preacher,” for example. Current producers are scared to compete with G Rap and Large Pro, obviously, and this is why none of them have tried to chop and loop it. What an air-tight theory. Except that nobody but me and the Ego Trip guys and you currently reading this blog post even think about G Rap or Large Pro or anyone else in AARP anymore, unless there’s a lawsuit involved and we’re forced to care out of loyalty to the old dogs and our mutual hatred of Mac Miller. Twitter stuntery and ass injections are mostly the move in the industry now, with the scary, cold eyes of Riff Raff overseeing it all. Everybody get ready for my “Cashin Out” freestyle, which the world definitely needs.
Birth Day‘s other standout is “Easy, Evil.” (Sorry; no link.) It’s a better song title than actual song, a feat last accomplished by The Dirty Projectors’ “Gun Has No Trigger,” but it’s got this weird, sexy line “Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doin’ ’til I’m done,” which would be perfect as a UGK hook. It doesn’t matter that Chad isn’t around! He’s still around, kinda! He resurfaces every couple of years like a new Batman movie! (It does matter that K.R.I.T. is way more interesting when he produces than when he raps. What am I to do about this? Somebody, please.)
Person on this record around whom I’d probably feel most comfortable: Harvey Fuqua, New Birth’s producer and the uncle of Training Day director Antoine. Harvey’s got lots of music industry tales I’d love to hear, details about Berry Gordy making out-of-wedlock babies. And he co-wrote and -produced Edwin Starr’s “25 Miles,” road trip playlist heaven. Plus I might be able to get him to call his nephew so I can find out whatever happened to Alonzo’s stunning black Monte Carlo. I still send that thing love letters and naked pics of myself.
Suitable for bonding with: Clark Kent, Premier. And Daniel Dumile, provided that I can compose myself in his presence and not shake like a naked Chihuaha. (Unlikely.)
Free line for the taking: “Beatin down Joey Bada$$es/Cracks in stacks and masses,” my take on that one part from “Player’s Anthem.” It’ll turn up on a fake-diss track that Joey’s A&R suggests to Action Bronson’s people, to reignite the Queens v Brooklyn flame, with the end result of course being promo and profit. Remember where you heard it first! I’m also working on a post-iPad-world version of “My mind’s my nine, my pen’s my Mac-10,” a line that’s so old-timey, Big might as well be talking about his quill and inkwell.
Feminist points: Minimal. The New Birth had a strong female contingency, but the men were the ones in control of the writing, production, and marketing. And when it comes to The New Birth breaks-usage, there’s little to be thrilled about in terms of feminist deconstruction. Jeru’s voice is legendary; that authoritative tone really does it for me. Maybe I have a thing about being dominated, but maybe I just admire his ability to flow beautifully while looking bored with his own genius. Jeru’s judgment about the way ladies choose to dress themselves, however, is awful. “Skin-tight jeans, everything all exposed”; then the hook kicks in, blah blah, preach, not in my house, young lady. Groan. Dad raps are the absolute worst, even when there’s a Premier beat involved. The ladies of the ’90s apparently needed to be reprimanded for letting their asses show. Good thing it’s 2012 and I’m grown. Settle down with the slut lectures, J.
2. El Chicano, Viva Tirado (Kapp, 1970). $7.
Bullfighting, in the words of Chicago fetus Chief Keef, is that shit we ladies DON’T LIKE. For the record, we do not care for those Subway commercials with adults talking like little kids, being cold, Mitt Romney, Drake, or people coming at us crazy (which includes Mitt and Drake, politically- and musically-speaking) either. “Viva Tirado” is about a bullfighter. Cringe. I don’t like. However, it is a scientific fact that women love drums in general, and women with exceptional hips love congas. So when the god Andre Baéza enters the picture, bullfighting somehow becomes tolerable. Women with exceptional hips and great taste in music genuinely love the musical productions of Scoop DeVille – the son of the man whose hit song is based on “Viva Tirado” (there’s baby Scoop at 00:31 and throughout!). Tony G, an LA institution like Fred Roggin and dads at the mall in Kobe jerseys, produced “La Raza” and “Mentirosa” which means that, like me, he was cool with Mexicans and Cubans.
Feminist points?: I can’t think of anything overtly feminist about this album. Tangentially, however, I could point out that the liner notes mention that it was recorded at at 3840 Crenshaw. Formerly a restaurant, the address is now home to a Social Security office – which, in providing benefits that act as a safety net for thousands of LA women and their families, is a place with feminist/humanist connnotations.
Suitable for Bonding With: Houston Los Angeles old heads.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Baéza, the conga player. Drummers just understand me.
3. Pharoah Sanders, Thembi (Impulse!, 1971). $14.
Listen, the jazz cat knows women. “This album is dedicated to and named after Thembi Sanders,” it says in the upper-right corner of the inside (gatefold!) cover. This is a classic “I love you, wife” dedication and I am powerless against its charms. While nothing tops the Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess dedication from bookwriting cat Raymond Chandler, the jazz cat knows women. Create something, name it after us: become immortal in our hearts.
$14 is normally outside of my price range but I absolutely had to have this record. Thembi‘s got a KMD break and Lonnie Liston Smith, two things that occupy the “obsessions” part of my brain. It also boasts old-timey names like Cecil McBee and Clifford Jarvis on the credits (bass and “bird noises,” and percussion, respectively), both of whom sound like they were either quarterbacks for the ’52 Packers or members of the ’71 Globetrotters.
Feminist points:Lillian Douma, a LADY, was a co-engineer on this record, making her the Syd tha Kid of the ’70s jazz world! (This is how I explain it to my 13-year-old cousin, to try to get him interested in ’70s jazz). For extra credit, there were female pharaohs in ancient Egypt, so Sanders gets feminist points just by association.
LOL: “Production and engineering by Bill Szymczyk,” a man whose name’ll get you 500 points on Words with Friends. He produced people like The James Gang and Bill Walsh, and then right in the middle of his discography is this Pharoah Sanders record. Love it.
Suitable for bonding with: Weird old jazz guys who close their eyes when they’re talking to you and trying to remember details about that show at The Lighthouse in ’61. And Dante Ross, on account of the KMD factor – though Dante would not allow any bonding to take place because that would interrupt his constant name-droppery.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Lonnie Liston Smith, astronaut and boss – bosstronaut – whose credits on Thembi include “Fender Rhodes” and “shouts.” Delightful. There’s also an appearance by Chief Bey on this album. He is Mos Def’s uncle, maybe.
4. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, 3 Blind Mice (Blue Note, 1962). $4.
I recommend Tom Cat for true Blakey percussive loveliness, but 3 Blind Mice‘s personnel includes THE GOD Wayne Shorter, plus THE GOD Billy Collins wrote a poem about it, plus it’s got face sweat on the cover along with Art looking heavenward. I had to get this. The Muslim held most dear in apt. 680 is Ghosty. (He’s a Sunni.) But the Muslim with the best album-cover face sweat is Art Blakey.
The nursery rhyme about the mice has a truly horrific story of origin (a Catholic queen murdering Protestant dissenters), which just serves to make it more entertaining and tragic. This is simply the power of melody – it’ll make you forgive a horrible story that angers you, or just make it go down a little easier, in what feminists such as myself know as the He’s Not Talking About Me Theory (ho raps, violence-against-hoes raps, side-chick raps – they are pleasing and fun, because the MC is never talking about me). Today I’m referring to it as The Wham! Theory. “Everything She Wants” is a song about a greedy whore whom a poor, defenseless man marries. He’s captain-save-em. The man takes 4 whole minutes to whine and cry about it, the material is so morally repugnant, there’s really no point to the song at all, and it just fucking bangs so hard, with fun chord progressions and that great synth-y bass from what I’m told is the Linn LM-1? (Dave Tompkins with the future information-confirmation assist here. Thanks in advance, Dave!). I’m trying to think of a way I can draw parallels between Art’s hard bop (jazz influenced by R&B, with more hip-friendly, bluesy rhythms than bebop) and Wham!’s shiny, electronic, we’re-not-gay-we’re-just-British pop of the ’80s. Who says you need an profound reason for an “Everything She Wants” interlude, though? And how come George Michael never gets credit for his production skills?
Suitable for bonding with: Cornel West, Pete Rock, Madlib, Mark Gonzales, David Byrne, skate shop employees in Portland and SF.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Wayne Shorter, superboss and the Jazz Messengers’ musical director, who once said, “If all you have in life is music, then you haven’t got music.” I feel comfortable around music people who are secure enough in their musical-ness to say things like this.
5. The Sons (Capitol, 1969). $9.
This one’s got a break used by charming pornographic goofballs The Beatnuts, who’ll remind you that rappening is, in fact, what’s happening. Or at least it was back when Relativity Records was poppin. To get that simple, clean melody for “Straight Jacket,” the boys slowed down The Sons’ “Boomp Boomp Chomp” – a song with the satisfying one-two punch of a Dilla-esque title and a quick, sustained hi-hat that makes me file it in the same place in my head as the intro of “Boogie Nights” and that k-Os song, based on a “Hot Music.” Marsalis!
After forming the Sons of Champlin, then disbanding it, Bill Champlin became a member of Chicago. It was pre-“I’m a Man” and –“Street Player” Chicago, though, so that fact is a bit of a throwaway. He did cowrite EWF’s “After the Love is Gone,” which proves that just because a man looks like a cross between Huey Lewis and Ian McKellen you shouldn’t assume he can’t write a floaty ’70s makeup sex jam. Bill Champlin also convinced an entire band to call themselves his sons, a feat that I dare you not to respect. Champlin sonned his bandmates, then ordered them to do this song, best one on the album.
Suitable for bonding with: JuJu, Les, C-Rayz Walz. I don’t know how often I’ll listen to The Sons. If I clamor for white men who bleed funk, I’m listening to The Talking Heads or AWB or The Mothers. But it was a great find – a rare original pressing, including the lyrics booklet with pictures of unshowered Americans of European descent just like the ones who live next door and breathe up all my air at Trader Joe’s.
6. Gene Chandler & Jerry Butler, one & one (Mercury, 1971). $4.
Do you speak fluent Yancey? You are basically telling the world that you do if you bought this after 2005.
Gene and Jerry didn’t really dominate any hearts or ears with one & one, probably because it was 1971. Marvin and Sly and Funkadelic were doing it absolutely to death at the time. It’s hard to compete with Maggot Brain, you feel me. But Gene, the voice, had THE voice. Akon’s got Gene’s picture in his wallet like a prayer card. He stares at it before he goes into the booth to try to reach that upper-register sweet spot, solid and high (Barrington Levy; Frankie Lymon; the guy from Supertramp). Jerry, the songwriter, is from Chicago and has always insisted on putting his own voice on recordings despite its limitations, instead of letting his gifts as songwriter/arranger simply send his messages to the world. Jerry Butler’s the Kanye of Cabrini-Green.
one & one lacks any true bangers, but good lord: Dilla Dilla Dilla. It’s comforting to think that his beats continue to inspire the diggingest of diggers and the J Dilla Foundation continues to get donations because of this man’s beloved status – even if me buying a 40-year-old record on a lovely June Sunday results in no funds actually ending up at the organization. (I am also comforted to think that Nate Dogg’s family is maybe getting some extra money from the licensing of “Till I Collapse” from the Savages trailer that shows every 12 minutes on my television. The music industry is fair and nobody ever gets fucked over. Rainbows, kittens!)
Notes from an annoyed feminist: Women love the voice, according to Q-Tip, who is from Queens but is not Action Bronson, Nore, Simon, Garfunkel, or Monch, so I’m not all that familiar with his work. Brothers dig the lyrics. How silly! What a limiting thing to say! Linden Boulevard, you lost me with that one. Disrupting Q-Tip’s entire theory, I adore the talents of Gene (voice) and Jerry (lyrics) equally, even though I am a lady. My male buddies feel the same way about Gene and Jerry, enjoying each man’s contributions irrespective of anatomy. We all need to taste life, enjoying it fluidly, unbound by gender roles or societal constraints. Let’s be swingers, ok? But just when it comes to DatPiff and our record collections. Voice, lyrics: love it all. Kittens, rainbows.
7. Lou Donaldson, Mr. Shing-A-Ling (Blue Note, 1967). $11.
HOLY HELL IDRIS MUHAMMAD ON DRUMS, back when he was Leo Morris, went the shout of the outspoken lady who lives inside my head when I saw the unmistakable pink and green on the cover. The real-life me, however, said nothing, due to being raised right (taught not to scream like an idiot in public). I just clutched this one to my lovely bosom and asked how much. Original pressing; I thought it would be at least $20. Nope – just above $10! And all I had to do was trade sexual favors! FEMINISM, YALL.
“Ode to Billie Joe” is the reason for this purchase, with Idris’ Leo’s shuffly drums making me feel like I’m in the marching band if the marching band were made of Bond girls in bikinis who are librarians in their spare time, think about Wham! songs at work, and happen to love coke raps. Snare snare, shuffle shuffle shuffle, til it gets to that liquid center around 02:40, the hot magma. That’s when the bass kicks in and I realize I’m not meant to be in a marching band; what was I thinking. I’m meant to take Stage 2 at Magic City. Throb throb, bassbass throb.
Ignore the fact that the woman who wrote the song was not actually named Bobbie Gentry and probably didn’t have any working-class southern roots. Her father was definitely a senator, Republican of course, and she went to prep school and once kissed a black guy so she felt like she could write songs about struggle and heartache. She made millions. That’s just how the music industry works, sweetie. Even in 1968. Wake up. Bobbie was a semi-cold piece of work, however, with all that big black hair. Plus she wrote her own material and lived my fantasy life of lounging in some tight pants with nothing but her daydreams and a hi-fi to keep her company, and for this I must respect her.
Suitable for bonding with: Kutmasta Kurt. (“Ode to Billie Joe” begat “Sex Style”). Feminist points: KEITH THORNTON. Bisexuals on stage eating Fruit Loops, pornographic thespians, the ladyboys of Thailand: Kool Keith is accepting of all types of femininity, and he’s one of the top 10 most feminist MCs ever*. Raps by guys like Keith and El-P and Danny Brown will always be more inherently feminist than those by Drake, because they don’t pander to us.
* Just relax, think, let it marinate. I’ll do a full explanatory blog post in the future if you guys beg for it.
8. Cold Blood, Thriller! (Reprise, 1973). $5.
I clearly got a bad copy of this, because I see ZERO songs produced by Quincy Jones, hey-oooo. You’ve been a great audience! GOODNIGHT.
Impossible: The first 10 seconds of “Kissing My Love” has allegedly only been looped once or twice on major-label rap songs (??). IMPOSSIBLE. Im possible. Internet, you a goddamn liar.
I am not allowing my hips to reach their full potential because: I have yet to walk down the street to this. Too busy walking down the street to this. (The entire melodic structure and overall hotness of “Loco-Motive” makes up for the previous release from that new Nas album, the Rawse-tainted “Accident Murderers.” That’s the one with Nas’ line about dudes who “rubbed each other wrong like a bad massage,” which is terrible and should be relegated to that inevitable Bieber collab.)
Hustlenomics professor: ME. Finding Thriller! at all is rare; finding Thriller! for $5 in the middle of a major city, surrounded by record dorks who want it so bad, is the result of such a tight hustle that people assume I am tricking or have a record shop connection. I have neither; it’s just the patience hustle, sprinkled with a little dumb-luck hustle. Best hustle of all, though, is the one belonging to Cold Blood’s singer Lydia Pense. She got the band to name their 1974 album Lydia. TIGHT WORK, doll. This would be like Curren$y getting the 504 Boyz to name one of their albums Shante Franklin.
Suitable for Bonding With: Dudes who love everything embodied by Cold Blood – breakbeats, the Bay Area, songs about getting down, and yellow-haired ladies who show their midriffs. So, Danny Brown.
(Money disputes. Control disputes. Of courrrrrse. Berry doesn’t enter into disputes about anything else, silly.)
I’d also like to thank Berry for my girls The Honey Cone and Parliament’s Osmium – two things that directly resulted from the Great Holland-Dozier-Holland Middle-Finger-to-Hitsville Peace-Out of 1968. You have to assume that some of the Chairmen’s songs, exceedingly Motown-ish in melodic structure, sprang from the house of Gordy, though. “Men Are Getting Scarce” has one of those tense, panicky openings at which H-D-H-at-Motown excelled (“Bernadette,” “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” “Standing in the Shadows of Love”).
It’s not their fault, but Chairmen of the Board get feminist points deducted because “Give Me Just a Little More Time” is used on that goddamn mop commercial about a lady whose life is passing her by because she cannot stand living with a dirty floor. That fucking floor rules her entire world. Even when she gets the new, quick-use mop, allowing her lots of free time, she chooses to spend this time sitting on her front porch with a cold drink because the housechore goblins have stripped her of all life-force. Blaming Berry Gordy for this whole charade just feels right, so let’s go with that. Anyway, the lady should be using her free time having a super-hot love affair and then going through some heartache, with the closing move of walking away from her man in slow motion, looking at him over her shoulder while “Bittersweet” plays. Please erase any Kanye associationsfrom your brain and only acknowledge this, the one true version, complete with heavenly tempo change right around the 2-minute mark, hands in the air if you ever been in love of the hurtin’ kind, C’MON:
Also suitable for bonding with Lee Stone, who used a Chairmen break on Method Man’s “The Motto.” I wouldn’t be able to pick Lee Stone out of a room of people, but I love him for being Nyshiem Myrick’s production sidekick and somehow never becoming a member of The Hitmen and padding Sean Combs’ bank account. That’s some integrity, Lee Stone. A person still listening to Method Man in ’04 probably also has plenty of integrity, along with an intense loyalty I shall never possess. I’m pretty sure the rest of us gave up on Mef around ’99-? He owned ’94 and maintained his stats for the next 4 or 5 years, rap game Olajuwon. And now he is old and has the classic old-rapper-problems duo of irrelevance and unpaid back taxes.
E.L.O.’s got evil cachet but it’s that crazy-old-person concept of evil (Satanic backmasking). It’s a clownish, silly kind of evil. So it makes total sense that El-P, supergrouch and master deconstructor of concepts, uses “Fire on High” for a break in a song about the way life wears a man down to the point that he keeps razors and angel dust on his person, I mean the whole song’s so serious that it does a loop-back and somehow becomes clownish and surreal, two of El-P’s fave things, next to cigarettes, the word fuck, his cat, and Cipro.
E.L.O.’s also got the ’70s prog hair, and Jeff Lynne produced some pretty good Tom Petty stuff (though Lynne is no Iovine or Rubin when it comes to Tom Petty production). This is an impressive list of facts about E.L.O. Impressive indeed. It’s just that this doesn’t solve the case of my missing enjoyment. I own 3 or 4 of their records because I’m open-minded and willing to give anyone a chance. But they are terrible. I mean, in the words of headband aficionado and current global analysis object Frank Ocean, Sweet baby Jesus, E.L.O. is a terrible, boring band.
“Evil Woman” sucks, apart from that banging piano intro. On the feminist front, I cannot legitimately complain about the “Evil Woman” lyrics, because they are too stupid to entertain. “Ha ha, woman – what you gonna do/You destroyed all the virtues that the lord gave you,” goes this terrible piece of music written by professional songwriters with Romney-sized buckets of money, “It’s so good that you’re feeling pain/But you better get your face on board the very next train.” Just my face, E.L.O.? Or the rest of me too? I’m awarding “Evil Woman” Most Feminist Song of my record haul, just to annoy the band because this is the opposite intention with which “Evil Woman” was written. Ha ha, E.L.O. Women have all kinds of tricks up inside of us. You’re just scratching the surface, dummies.
I would not have purchased this record were it not for:
Also suitable for bonding with Curren$y. It says “Copyright Jet Music” on the credits, which is a 1975 nod to the empire Curren$y would build 3 decades later. Here’s hoping this post gets seen by one or both of these men, because I’d love a Curren$y x El-P something, and I am not referring to a song in which one of them gets a “featuring” credit by simply chanting the hook. I am comfortable and cozy around music people, but THE WORD “FEATURING” USED INCORRECTLY is lowdown and dirty. Until you can convince Premier to go back and re-title it “Mass Appeal (feat. Da Youngstas),”the Hook Chant shall cease to merit a “featuring” credit. Good day.
Suitable for bonding with:Josh in apt. 694, who works at the dispensary. Josh, like me, prefers live instrumentation to digi-riddims but Josh, like me, cannot resist the digi-seductions of “Hello Tosh.”
Jeopardy! fact that somehow I was unaware of before this post: “Sensimilla” comes from the Spanish words for “without” (sin) and “seed” (similla). “Coke” comes from the Spanish word for “knucklehead.”
12. The Verve, Urban Hymns (Virgin, 1997). Price classified, like that Sade record I bought a few months ago.
Contrary to what track 4 says, everybody knows that the drugs actually do work. They work nicely. Urban Hymns‘s strings make it fancy, the lyrics make it Caucasian-mopey, and there are just enough drug songs to satisfy. That song “The Rolling People” is about me and my slutty cousin Natalie hanging out with Juicy J and some yellow pokeballs backstage.
“Lucky Man” is the best song on here, prime material for an R&B god to do a version of that makes me cry and want to take my clothes off, but I’d be a fool to ignore the epic influence of walking-down-the-street banger “Bittersweet Symphony.” Rocky rapped over it; I don’t remember a single bar but I’m sure there was something about purple stuff and his stunning beauty. Though successful, this whole Pretty thing remains a tiresome branding technique. Anyway, thinking of Rocky in combination with hearing Naughty By Nature’s “Craziest”on KDAY yesterday has really crystallized my discomfort regarding the lack of a Treach-like flow in 2012. We have Texas flows from New Yorkers and ’90s flows from 17-year-olds, so seems appropriate that we should have a new, baby Treach on the come-up. Let’s go, random baby-voiced teenage girls in Florida with laptop cameras. Rap game’s yours for the taking.
Suitable for bonding with: the same jazz guys I bonded with over Pharoah Sanders and Art Blakey, plus Madlib, because they all think I mean Verve Records when really I’m talking about THEEE Verve. Sigh. It’s hard to talk to space cadets.
Also suitable for bonding with people who enjoy making fun of diminutive professional rapper Big Sean, who is like 5’8″, maybe 5’9″ at the most. Replace every one of his “swerve”s with “VERVE” and you can magically turn “Mercy” into one hell of a song.
Yawn: The boring courtroom-bitchery history of “Bittersweet Symphony.” The Verve v. The Stones is no Prince Paul v. The Turtles, trust me.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Ashcroft, the band’s chief songwriter. He doesn’t play bass or drums so I will not be having sex with him. We’ll just hang out and talk about Leonard Cohen.
13. Black Science Orchestra, “New Jersey Deep” 12″ [Junior Boy’s Own, 2003 (originally ’94, though)]. 99¢.
If this purchase needed justification, that justification would go in this space.
Suitable for bonding with: Other carbon-based life forms who have ears and a soul and are constantly dodging the wolves of insignificance.
My guiding philosophy of the day at the BSM could’ve easily been “I like nice shit and I know how to get it/Hustle, dumbass. It’s not rocket science or Quantum Physics.” Nobody likes a dude who brings 2 Chainz or Wiz along, but aside from that, Curren$y’s got that slurry charisma and he’s fantastic, my personal motivational speaker, a tiny Tony Robbins from the bayou who loves a classic Chevelle. His motivational speeches were in my car speakers during the drive to the venue; “Nice shit” refers to records available for purchase; “hustle” might mean Girl I would suggest you bring your hips, but because I am a feminist and I was raised right plus I’m just really shy, this is a corny as hell negotiation technique that I never employ. During the BSM, it was Bellow’s words that turned out to have more staying power in my brain, though. Do your best, wolves; new memories tied to these records are pending, as we speak. Music persons of Los Angeles and parts nearby: see you guys at the next one!
• Put the paper in the panties when you get that dance, goes the sign above the front door at apt. 680, just as a reminder when you enter. There’s no basketball court here, unlike at King of Diamonds. There’s a basketball court there, inside, which makes it an odd and wonderful part of the Miami naked-girl scene. There’s a basketball court inside King of Diamonds, I said. Inside. This fact is thirty times more interesting to me in my life at the present time than anything Tyler says or does in, on, near, or around MTV because…hell, it’s MTV. (I feel like people are kind of making fun of his mom for her emotional display, too, and I don’t care for that. And did you hear there was some sort of dust-up between basic bitch Rawss and a thin white lady not named Logan?). The basketball court fact is more interesting than anything, really, at the present time in my life, other than wondering to myself Is Curren$y’s leg healing appropriately?; does he need anything from me, perhaps a nice home-cooked meal and a round of Duke Nukem? and How in the world does Wayne keep his white Ts so clean and fresh? (He seems like a sweaty person).
• I believe the phrase in Miami is Don’t stop; get it, get it, correct? Anyway, I am too thin and awkward to be a nude dancing professional, but strippers and female rap bloggers are both regarded with a mixture of fear, patronization, and lust by males in our respective worlds so I feel like I’m an honorary nude dancing professional. Wayne – or, actually, the director of his video, with final approval by UMRG, all rights reserved – has some conflicting stripper feelings that this article sums up in a beautiful way. The only important thing that I would have included in the piece is the fact that the word hustle actually means “to shake to and fro.” The word hustle actually means that. And still, dudes are upset at/lusting over/giving fatherly advice to ladies using what they have to git what they want.
Also, still unclear: Wayne’s feelings about stripper librarians.
• Just as odd and funny, but not quite as charming, is watching Internet boys discover Dwayne Carter’s “recent” descent into terribleness. Energy levels are high in this regard, dudes just going crazy, dissecting all the bars, hating up a storm. I tell you it’s some enthusiasm like I’ve never seen. They’re also getting excited (in the opposite way) over Andre’s verse on “Interlude,” which is only remarkable by default (due to the terribleness of the rest of the album). Everyone, everyone, I say, Calm down. Andre is the coolest, a real swingin cat, but if you show your hand too soon, lap up anything he gives you, he’ll lose his fire and then we’ll be stuck with another 5-year absence. Every night he reads me the phone book while I look at him with my chin resting in my hand but you don’t see me getting all excited. I just wait til he leaves, then I write about how much I like him in my diary, and listen to his “Walk It Out” verse like it’s still oh-six.
• Internet boy Andy Nosnitsky, you annoy frequently but you charm more frequently. And I have you to thank for informing me that Phesto has a Tumblr.
• This photo of Bun B exists. SWANGIN, I hear his voice say in my head when I look at it. And as of tomorrow, Bun B Day exists. “Way to go Bun B, it will truly be a Trill Day in Houston!,” says the mayor’s website, adorably. (The mayor apparently hasn’t heard B’s Population fifty thousand, only 3 high schools, but 8 sets of low-income housing critique, but I’m pretty sure B was talking about Port Arthur there anyway. A huge city like Houston’s got to have way more than just 3 high schools, right?)
• #1 in sales/DLs at this moment: “I’m On One” (Khaled). Really, America? I didn’t realize it was still mid-June. Best moment in the song, still: Khaled’s Get em uuuup overlapping Stupid Jerkface Drake’s I’m onnn one during the squiggly intro. The song is big dumb fun (still, even though it’s no longer mid-June), and it’s nice to see a Palestinian and a Jewish guy make some harmony together, quite literally. The other best moment is all moments not involving the image in my head of Rick Ross bending some poor lady over in the kitchen, Sweet Jesus.
#1 in 2001 – “Fallin’” (Alicia, age 20), produced by Alicia (age 20!). Years later, these two ladies get cross-referenced in the Mos Def section of a certain bikini’d blogger’s brain (“One Step Ahead” as a break, and the “You Don’t Know My Name” video, SUH-WOOOON, DANTE, you give all shy, hardworking girls hope that dudes who don’t look at us will one day look at us).
• I’m not a Belieber, I’m a…uhh, JerryLieberber? Hearing the original “Spanish Harlem” in the Civic yesterday right when I started the engine means that some sort of deity exists and he/she is a fan of pop radio just like me. Best part: the syllabic stressing, the satisfying way the words ride the beat, during the It is a special one, it’s never seen the sun/It-only-comes-out-when-the-moon-is-on-the-run/And all the stars are gleeeaming part. Lieber’s heroic feats outside of actual music making include he and Mike Stoller insisting on getting producer credit on all of their work – unprecedented in the ’50s music industry. “Atlantic wanted to call us ‘directors’,” he said, “they said they were the producers because they put up the money.” But Jerry and Mike sealed the deal, ensuring that many years later a bikini’d lady blogger would hold Mannie Fresh in high regard for actually making the stuff that provides the soundtrack for her hustle, rather than one Bryan Williams for bankrolling it. See also: RZA rather than Steve Rifkind.
“Let a white cop shoot a black kid/You’ll see a few tweets, that’s it.” Cranky Dave’s got a point here but he’s also perhaps missing the point that all of Lil B’s songs are from the future, when words don’t mean what we think they mean only we haven’t caught up yet so we don’t realize it. And can’t I be complex enough to have a master’s degree and still have a folder on my laptop dedicated to snappin & trappin songs? Can’t I? Or am I deluding myself? The intensity of this debate makes me feel like I should stop blogging and working for the government and just go back to stripping.
Still, that V-Nasty reference made me scream out YESSS, THANK YOU in apt. 680 when I heard it last night. And Cranky Dave is better than no Dave at all, because even when he’s cranky and message-shouting he still makes it fun and King of Diamonds-ish. GET EM.
“Get Like Me.” YES I’ve fucking seen a Chevy with butterfly doors. Stop asking, about 87 songs since this song came out. I only want David to ask me.
Going through crates n’ stacks n’ leaned-against-the-wall random groupings of records (Super Cat, the Impressions, Yes, Love, the Chi-Lites, that Dr. Buzzard’s song from that Ghosty song (“Cherchez,” I think-?), the “We’re All in the Same Gang” 12″, something called Music for Astronauts, annnnnd Cheap Trick of course), you realize you have stuff you had forgotten about. In my brain I got a capitalist migraine/bassline/Bobbi Humphrey. Moving’s not so bad.
It’s a lot of psychological wear and tear to be a woman and carry around something that you know has been traded and sold forever and ever (a woman’s body). The female form is currency. It’s just ill. If you were a lady you’d think about such things too. Oh and is Magic City hiring?
3. I heard you did the right thing and donated some of your tax refund to Bryan Stow for his medical care. You’re a good person and now I’ll either let you see me naked or just do a blog tribute post to you (coin flip). The kindness hustle is the one you never hear about in mixtapes but it’s probably my favorite out of them all.
Well yes, sir, but
The article is called Ten Rules for Street Musicians, but it could just as easily be 10 Rules for Strippers, or 10 rules for anybody with any type of hustle, anybody who uses what they have to get what they need. 10 Rules for the Cardboard Sign Wearer on the Corner. 10 Rules for Those of Us who Expect Payment for Services Rendered. 10 Rules for People who Need to Eat. 10 Rules for Humans.
The street musician’s list of rules came about after he “explored the ideal circumstances for generating the funds to feed (his) food habit.” That’s a universal exploration, though. My food habit is a beast, as is my rent habit and my Amoeba habit. And goddammit if I’m about to let something prevent me from generating funds to satisfy all my habits even if it means I need to take it to the Magic City stage. The street musician’s primary means of securing ends to feed himself has been playing the cello on the streets, but for the girls in the club, just as it is for any professional, the advice on how to succeed is no different.
1. (Take Into Account) Day of Week / Time of Day.
“I make two or three times more money on Friday mornings than Monday mornings,” the street musician says. “Friday afternoons are second best. Tuesday morning is better than Wednesday morning although Wednesday afternoon is better than Tuesday afternoon. Thursday mornings aren’t so good but Thursday afternoons are.”
In a free market economy, people can choose the things on which they spend their disposable income and you better adjust accordingly, mama. The tightness and rightness of your game should be a given, but there are variables you need to consider. Stock market crashes, the latest with the Libya situation, a major sporting event on TV–try to predict the factors that will decrease or distract your audience so you don’t waste your time putting time and effort into something that won’t reach your best-paying customers. But then come extra hard when your audience returns so you can recoup your losses. They’ll return, luckily. “It’s like dope,” Frank Lucas said about money but it applies to anything pleasurable, “they always want more.”
I could never get hired as a stripper due to my innocent face and sassy mouth but I think Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the club would be deadsville. Thursday nights would be pretty lucrative, though–everybody psyched because the week’s practically over. Fridays and Saturdays would be good too, but it seems like the club might be full of too many dudes being rowdy for the sake of rowdy (i.e., weekend warrior types coming to gawk with their crew rather that to tip the performers). No day shift, ever. The day shift is for the ugly girls, we know this.
2. How to Prepare for the Job.
“I get up about 6:00 a.m., eat a solid breakfast and listen to the Market Place Morning Report on National Public Radio while I drink a cup of coffee,” says the street musician.
Other than a Teflon psychological shield and vanilla cherry perfume oil, it’s autopilot time for me at the club. There’s nothing to prepare for or think about. The shield one is exhausting, though. And dude we all listen to NPR, so stop.
3. What to Wear.
“I dress respectably but not too nice – somewhere between grungy and preppy. I wear brown leather suede shoes and dark pants. If it’s cold, I wear a sweater but t-shirts are fine. People don’t need to see a collar.”
I could never be a stripper because I am terribly shy; however, I’m not an idiot so I know that if I were a fantasy fulfillment professional I would dress accordingly. I’d dress respectably but not too nice – somewhere between librarian and hooker. And no, people really don’t need to see a collar.
4. Eye Contact.
“Eye contact is essential. I don’t wear sunglasses or a large brimmed hat.”
YEP. This one definitely applies to the seduction-arts specialist. People never talk about the importance of eye contact (music and outfits get more discussion time) but it’s of the utmost. I could never be a stripper because I’d get tired of people asking me Ha, yeah, so what’s your real name? when I tell them my name’s Logan, but if I were, I would master the “I enjoy pleasing you” direct gaze. At first I thought it would feel gross to fake such a thing–the “I’m thrilled to be here” thing that a girl at the club has to put on, like a jacket or a hat, except worse even than a heavy, hot and itchy jacket or a hat because it fucks with you psychologically. Then I remembered everybody at work is doing this constantly no matter what the job is, including me at my government job, except at my job I don’t get to hear any new Brick Squad or Grand Hustle stuff. Really, I’m thrilled to be here. Honest.
“The Charles/MGH Station is best for me as a solo cellist. It’s big, open and glassy, kind of like a greenhouse. I feel happy there so my music is probably better.”
Other than east of the LA River, south of the 10, or anywhere in the valley, I think I’d be fine with any club location. Obviously the ideal place would be next to the Starbucks at 2nd and Central downtown, so all my LAPD admirers could finally have their dreams come true. GROSS. Now I’m thinking about them! Moving on –
“Once I showed up at the Harvard Square stop before 7:00 a.m. and wasn’t able to get a spot because other musicians were already set up. I came back another day and found an empty spot. I start to play and another street musician with a guitar comes up and said, ‘Did you guys do the lottery this morning?” I said, “There was space. I started playing.’ He said, ‘Usually we show up before 7 and flip a coin to see who goes first.’ I don’t know what’s true. Street musicians talk a lot of shit. I don’t go Harvard Square anymore because people who play there are so territorial. And the money isn’t as good for me.”
The original meaning of hustle was “to shake, to toss.” And if it’s stripping we’re referring to here as the hustle of note, there is no competition for me if I do say so. Have we just met? Shaking it and nerding it up are the 2 things at which I am most skilled. I get my fondness for logic from Dad; hips from Mom. I have excellent balance and I did ballet for 8 years. Combine these qualities and you get pure practicality – I heard that people will pay me if I do this thing and that thing with my body, so I’ll go get a job at a place that will hire me to do this thing/that thing. Makes sense. I’d probably hold back a tiny bit on stage, though, so that my coworker with the young child would still be able to make a decent amount. We all need to get ours and the nature of the free market means that the girl with the most hips will get the most cash, but that doesn’t make it right. Women get stereotyped as being competitive and catty, the whole crabs-in-a-bucket thing, but that’s just a by-product of our culture’s fear of female sexuality. What can you do.
7. Selection of music / Weather.
N/A regarding that second thing, but oh yes, the first one is definitely important – Toomp, Nitti, Mannie, Lex, Collipark, Shawty Redd, Neptunes ’98-02, Rick Rock, DJ Paul who never gets any accolades but whose compositions are just amazing, 80% of David Banner’s catalog, 100% of Nickatina’s, that Minaj instro, the “Ha” instro, oh fuck it, really any rap instro from the states of Georgia, Florida, or Louisiana between ’96 and ’03, and in a surprising twist, some Jake One instros. The DJ might try to drive the particularly nerdy musicdork bassline-loving ladies who were raised on the Stax catalog out of their minds by playing something from Black Caesar or maybe some Cymande or something. Please, no. It reminds such ladies of their parents’ record collection, and therefore it reminds them of being a kid. Kid stuff doesn’t belong in the club.
Mr. DJ might also try to play “The Next Episode,” since it’s burned into our collective psyche as that song with that stripper video and it’s the perfect BPM, plus it has provided the image to open this post. That one blonde girl at the club with the hips who you came specifically to see and who you’re pretty sure would go on a date with you would not enjoy this coming out of the speakers, however. She would be thinking about David McCallum and it would distract her too much. She’s also thinking about the unadulterated epicness of the name “Kurt Vile” for a musical human, the catchy/sad accuracy of the words You only want me when I’m gone/You only want me when I’m fever dreaming, and how she just figured out that the “All of the Lights” drums sound like Hanna Barbera characters when they’re running in place. “Xxplosive” is perfect, though, a slow swangin one to balance out all the frenetic Waka stuff. Anything by him or Weezy I would refuse to dance to, just based on the triteness of such a scene; girls getting money to the sweet sounds of “Bingo,” ooh. Groundbreaking. I refuse to take part. (If “No Hands” is played, though, all bets are off.)
8. Bad situations.
“One day, two guys come up,” the street musician says. “They keep giving me a hard time. I say to them, ‘Can you please just leave me alone? This is my workplace. Don’t bother me. I’m just trying to do my job.’”
I wouldn’t get hired as a stripper unless I gained 7-10 lbs, but if I ever did, I bet I’d think about the possibility of bad situations pretty frequently. Getting followed after my shift is the scariest thing that could happen, I suppose. Bad tippers, although not scary, are a bad situation too. Dudes being visibly uncomfortable, resulting in me feeling sorry for them. Dudes bringing their girlfriends in to get cool points. (No cool points awarded, dumb dumb; you’re a cliche). I could never be a stripper and sometimes I feel inadequate because of that, but then I remind myself about the pitfalls of such a job and I’m fine.
9. Customer / audience demographics.
“Race and gender make no difference if someone is going to stop, listen and/or give me money,” the street musician says.
WORDEMUP, buddy. We speak the same language. Stripper Logan fully concurs with street musician’s assessment, as does Nerd Logan, Lazy Saturday Afternoon Logan, Bookstore Logan, Bikini Logan, Record Hoarder Logan and Grocery Shopping Logan.
10. How to measure success.
“One day was a bad day,” says the street musician. “Everybody was unhappy. I didn’t get much money. But when I got home, there was an email from a woman. She wrote, ‘Every time I see you, it brightens my day.’”
Is this one a trick? The answer to this is “REVENUE RETRIEVIN–money, in rolls or stacks, even though that’s impractical and we only store it that way because that’s how Gs and Henry Hill do it and it looks dope.”
There’s a reason an E-40 synonym for “hustling” is “grittin & grindin.” If I’m a stripper, I don’t make an hourly wage. I don’t get medical or dental. I have to pay the house at the end of every shift. My legs hurt. I felt on your private parts with my soft ladyparts but neither of us got any intimacy or connection to each other as humans. And nobody ever emails me afterward to tell me I brightened his day : (
• Paperrrr. Get it; chase it. Give me some of it, then a little more. I like it. Just don’t use Chris Brown as its ambassador, forcing himself into my car via Power 106, indulging his rapper fantasies all through my speaker system. That kid calls himself Breezy, which is what all my exes call me to their friends and I want to share no similarities with Chris Brown. Look at me now, he says, alongside Busta and Wayne (who’ll do a song with anybody), I’m gettin pa-perrrr. Sigh. Persons new to my inner world might think that this is the latest in my Magic City playlist, since it’s got squiggles and bass and it celebrates light-skinned ladies such as myself. Ah, but it is missing that special something. I cannot define or describe the perfect stripper song, which, if this were the Supreme Court, would make me just like Justice Potter Stewart talking about porn in Jacobellis v. Ohio – “I know it when I see it.” Can’t tell you what it sounds like, but you’ll know it when I hear it because first I will shake everything on my person that was genetically handed down to me from my mother. Second, I will lovingly craft a blog tribute post about it.
Everybody’s just trying too hard here, Christopher delving into some tired old lyrical territory (yellow-bone girls, his penis, suicide doors), Busta dusting off the old ’98 rapid flow, Diplo with the stupid spaceship beat like it’s ’98. Luckily there’s a wee clown with matted coils of hair to step in and add some depth –
I aint got no time to shuck and jive, these n–gas as sweet as pumpkin pie, Wayne says. Right, true, plus I love the use of shuck and jive, because it’s old-timey. Just like Nickatina’s constant use of “jakes” for the SFPD, and like when other rappers say hoodwinked, had, or bamboozled.
Ciroc and Sprite on a private flight/bitch I’m enticing, guiding light. Yep. And my pockets white and my diamonds white. Yes.
And my momma’s nice and my daddy’s dead. Oh dear! Really? Always this sadness behind the mask of Wayne, tiny town jester. Pockets fulla paper, let’s get it, stack/accumulate it, collect it, rubber-band it to keep it secure, dole it out to show women (your mom especially) how much they mean to you. But then you throw in something brief and tragic to ground everybody. That’s why he’s the GOAT*, children.
(*He’s not the GOAT; I just wanted to be controversial.)
• WHOA, like Stompin at the Savoy/get your paper, then holler at your boy, says Madlib on Jaylib’s “Louder” (not that song on Donuts; that one’s called “Thunder,” despite the fact that it starts with the “Louder!” from this). I tried to replicate Madlib’s line over coffee with Gabrielle. Unsuccessful. I don’t say it right, even though I’m from Ventura and that’s the same part of the world as Otis Jackson!, so you’d think we’d share a certain way of speaking. Alas, no. He’s got the power of syllabic emphasis that I lack. Holler-at-CHAboy, he says. It is a nice moment. The second-nicest moment is Put your hands together for some badder cats/Stomp the bass drum, then we add the claps. It’s meta and I love it, like when JB would always talk about the progression of the song while that very song is building, gaining steam like a choo choo train.
• Out for Daffy Duck bucks, Porky Pig paper/Bugs Bunny money or Sylvester Cat caper/Offer DAT tape of rap, country or deep house/And I’ll make mince meat out of that (beat) mouse.
Looney Tunes raps, courtesy of Doomsy on “Mince Meat.” Sure it’s about money, so it kind of fits in here, but I just wanted to point to the line that comes earlier in the song–She rocked leather and gold, a fat blouse/And need a brother with soul to let her cat out–which, oh god, perfectly illustrates just how masterful Doom is when it comes to understanding the female psyche. I’m going to see him and some Def Jux boys in London; have you heard?*
• You can hit it in the mornin/without givin me half of your dough, but I do need some of your dough because blogging and being cute doesn’t pay much. I need your dough, please sir, to be able to see *Doomsy and CoFlow on stage at the same show CANIGETAWITNESSSSSS.
• I use Moleskines (NO, not like Jay Elec, king of pretentiousness, he of the boring voice and overrated lyrical content) because I am grown-up and fancy. Still, the clean lines and lovely red/white/pale blue color combo in a classic Mead notebook sometimes inspire my fashion choices. I’m pretty much slender everywhere, especially through the middle—I’d say I’m definitely college ruled. In the hip area, though? Wide ruled.
• Roethlisberger’s got shifty eyes and maybe raped a woman, and maybe sexually creeped out another woman; he’s currently in the midst of an eight-year, $102 million contract. Rodgers is boring and tries to make up for with with a signature move (ugh, that belt thing); he signed a six year, $65 million contract extension through the 2014 season. In keeping with the theme of this post: that’s a nice chunk of paper, in both situation a and b. And more importantly: there are some nicely epic names on the Steelers’ and Packers’ respective rosters. Here they are in alpha order, with specific reasons as to what makes them epic, and, where appropriate, a description of each man’s side hustle –
Atari Bigby (!!)
Diyral Briggs (plays either drums or bass in Parliament)
Donald Driver (love that solid sound of all those consonants; the same number of syllables in each name is soothing; Driver is a good surname when your occupation requires stamina and strength as you carry an object to its destination. See also Quentin Jammer.)
Cullen Jenkins (solid, unflashy; author of westerns)
Howard Green (Diyral Briggs’s lawyer. Or accountant. Or executive at his label.)
Brady Poppinga (Lockinga and Dropinga; all things remind me of Magic City)
Tuff Harris (DB for a pro football team; T.I.’s cousin)
Ziggy Hood (Sly Stone’s barber)
Byron Leftwich (British lord)
Rashard Mendenhall (I don’t know; it’s just dope. Consonants galore!)
Ike Taylor (Stax session musician in 1966), annnnnnd
Willie Colon (“El Malo,” Lavoe, the whistle at 00:53). I haven’t been this excited since I found out Tony Allen plays for the Grizz!
• The 2 best moments in LA car radio occur several times each day, when “Fire Flame” is played. First it’s the blaaap from Birdy (the last word/guttural sound in his verse). Second it’s the hook–that cadence. Fireflame-flame, fireflamespitters. Bitch we the business, hundred million dolllll-ars. A hundred million dollars is what it cost to make Where the Wild Things Are. Teach for America just got a hundred million, too. The fact that Baby and Dwayne, 2 enterprising individuals from the 3rd and 17th Wards (respectively), are in on this conversation is a thing of Horatio Algerian beauty.
• Giant bitch of the universe Jeff Koons wants to copyright the balloon dog, clearly to protect his paper if not just an outright attempt to get some press (which will, of course, benefit his papermaking abilities). His wealth is only equaled by his need to shout about himself all the time, like everyone’s favorite giant musical bitch of the universe. And his ability to hoodwink and bamboozle people into thinking appropriation, pastiche, and endorsement, not to mention affirmation and reification, is the same thing as creativity is only rivaled by Fairey. The only good thing about this story is I know you all out there agree with me regarding the bitch factor at play here, and that kind of solidarity feels good. Plus every time I go to write copyright it makes me think of Copywrite, Asher Roth slayer.
• When I date back I recall a man off the family tree/My right hand Papa Doc I see. Every mention of Duvalier (Baby Doc – son of Papa Doc) coming back to Haiti for his paper makes me think of “T.R.O.Y.,” which is always nice. Is CL referring to an actual family member (non-biological who did bother) with a cutesy nickname, rather than an ousted (alleged) Haitian tyrant? Is it just a coincidence, or a reference to the Haitian diaspora? Is CL of Haitian descent? Considering that he grew up in the ‘70s and that’s when a large portion of Haitians emigrated to the US (the Duvalier era started in the late ’50s and ended in ’86, when Baby Doc was ousted), it would make sense. Feel free to email me the correct explanation, but only if your source is reliable – i.e., straight from Large Pro’s mouth during your last conversation, NOT some commenter at RapGenius.
• Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind, and Naked is the name of Malice’s soon-to-be-released book. I prefer my men to be Eloquent, Stunting, Entrepreneurial, Braided, and Chinchilla-Clad, so that’s a shame, but I do not like them Baped up at allllll, never did, so I’m glad Mal left that back in ’08. Blind and naked is silly and dramatic, but it’s still better than Nigo camo’d. I also prefer my men masked, which is why I strongly believe Doomsy should write a book. (And why I get slightly aroused during Friday the 13th.)
You’ll find that there’s a book called Havoc (Malice) when you do a seach of “malice book,” even when you add specifiers (“clipse malice book”). It is an okay piece of lit I guess, a hundred times better than anything Jay ever “WROTE” (airquotes airquotes), but shit it’s no Rae (Scarface).
• CRINGE re: this slice of “Portlandia,” but also
Ha ha, yesss and
Oh look, it’s you and me going toe-to-toe while sipping some fair trade Sumatra, except you’d need to add a little more sunshine, 2-3 Gangstarr references, and more hips and highlighted hair on the female to make it 100% accurate.
• Obesity is linked to economic insecurity, says science. The stress of living within a ‘free market’ regime with its competitive social system and lack of a strong welfare state probably causes people to overeat. One-third of Americans are obese, but the prevalence and affordability of fast food isn’t completely to blame; we need to take a harder and more critical look at our economic system, since financial “open markets come at a price to personal and public health which is rarely taken into account.” Shit’s deep. Countries with higher levels of job and income security (“social protection”) were associated with lower levels of obesity, so…
Wiz, in the same category as Jay Elec for his industry connections and insane luck with producers, 2 things that distract from the fact that he is not as good at rapping as the Internet claims, is clearly a resident of Sweden, Cuba, or Lenin-era Russia. Next mixtape title is either The Opiate of the Masses or Viva Fidel. (he hasn’t decided yet)
Billy Paul, “Let the Dollar Circulate.” They love me out in DC just like go-go.
J.M. Hendrix (Stevie on drums!), “I Was Made to Love Her.”
Name: Average White Band, Put It Where You Want It (RCA, 1975). AWB’s debut album, it was originally was called Show Your Hand in a jacket bearing different artwork. I approve of the re-release because the newer album cover is something I can easily copy and try to get all cute with. Alas, skinny white girl torso on album cover will never be as terrific as foxy Nubian queen on album cover, as best exemplified by the catalogue of the mighty Ohio Players.
Is this title acceptable? Yes. That title, it speaks to me, because motherfucking putting it where I want it is what I do every day (Keith taught me how). I live according to album titles. There’s always one that sums it up. Yesterday I was cranky so it was Ain’t That a Bitch that spoke to me.
And the band name, yeah. It speaks to me. They have members named Alan Gorrie and Malcolm Duncan, and a Hamish, so, yes, of course they were Scottish. An Alastair or a Ewan would’ve been a bit much. When I was doing a little Internet research on these men I got fooled into thinking you can look up something called “Scottish funk,” but that was a Wikipedia smokescreen. What you can do is click on the word Scottish and the word funk, but you cannot click on the phrase Scottish funk because this genre of music does not exist. Like the members of this group, I am descended from people who excel in the sheepherding and bagpipe arts rather than the art of funk, and yet look at me and AWB! Overcoming our very DNA.
Produced by: AWB and Robin Turner (who only produced AWB).
Entered my life: June 2009. I know the date because I wrote about it in my record journal, a real thing that exists in apt. 15 under my mattress next to my copy of Foxy Indie Rappers who Find Thin, Sarcastic Girls Unbearably Hot. There’s a big 4 on the cover sticker but I don’t remember it being that cheap, especially since I got it at Rockaway and that place tends to overcharge in my very humble opinion. I think of Joey Crack every time I walk in the door, though. Do the Rock-a-way. That’s the only time I think of Joey Crack, thankfully, because he’s awful and I hate him. Boys in my life always try to convince me to give him a chance, like they do with Joe Budden (who has been strangely quiet lately, what gives), but this is an ineffective technique and nobody can move me when it comes to my opinions about individuals who are handed microphones and record contracts and then fail to create wonderful results with such opportunities. I’m mad at bad rappers like I was Kool Keith in ’99.
Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): 6.8. All the record-digging boys in my part of the world love the ’90s production work of DJ Pooh and they love early-’90s Ice Cube* so there’s a lot of competition out there for breaks used during that era. It’s hard, you guys, leading this life for which I was chosen. I found the dang record, though, and didn’t have to resort to any gaffling to get it neither. Do you remember Kundera, how he wrote about the fleeting nature of our experiences given that we each have but one life, and that which occurs in life probably does so only once and never again. This perfectly describes my trips to the record store and my resulting internal debates about whether to purchase that record or to defer until later, risk it and just hope I see it again in the bins. Such is the unbearable lightness of digging.
a) Prince Paul – “Steady Slobbin‘,” BDP’s “House N—as,” annnnnd *“Steady Mobbin”! Not the “Have you ever seen such a sight in your liiiiiii–iiiife” on the hook – that’s from Parliament. AWB gave the song its bones, its whole frame upon which The Boogiemen hung a bunch of Doughboy one-liners. And if you didn’t know Ice Cube got drama hoes! is the line that’s fun to shout out, but that part where he describes how girls will always defer to the best sound system when it comes to a suitor is truly the highlight (Ice Cube had more amps; get in, bitch). The Boogiemen included DJ Pooh and Bobcat, 2 men with silly names who produced LL’s Bigger and Deffer as part of the LA Posse. I’m here to remind the kids of this as the annoying person always bringing up past glories of Los Angeles luminaries. Anyway, I love Cube’s old sing-song-y flow, him having fun, riding the beat. I also love that he and I have shared the same opinion of law enforcement officers for many years now. This blog is meant to be playtime, entertainmentville, dorkout fun, but once in a while real life has to be mentioned –
LAPD’s main concern on Tuesday seemed to be driving by and “checking” on a too-skinny pale-skinned social worker to make sure she was “ok” talking to her client, a tall black man who clearly wanted to rob or rape her on the sidewalk in front of his apartment at 1 PM. “Just making sure everything was all right here.” These are the perils of dressing like a librarian at work and having highlights in your hair, I guess. Uniformed annoying types think they need to roll up and show out.
“It’s fine just please fucking go away John Wayne. YOU DISGUST ME.” Then I threw “I got people who buy Tecs and weed from you” over my shoulder as I walked away.
(Didn’t really say any of that. Wanted to. Story of my life.)
(Do a search for “Steady Mobbin” and that Weezy/Gucci song is the first 20 results. That’s an OK song, despite Kane’s usual tinny video-game-sounding production work, because of the rappers who make up for the beat (“Toni Braxton sniper rifle make you never breathe again” – Gucci; “I am the hip-hop Socialist” – Wayne) but I’m still disappointed. Why are my expectations are so high? I should know better, because remember what hating ass Google had to say when I did an innocent search for “curren$y audio dope lyrics”?
“Yea. Yea yea yea/Yea yea yea/Uhh/Yea yea yea/Yea yea yea
Yea yea yea
Yea yea yea
b) Boogie Down Productions – “Ya Know the Rules” (AWB was obviously being listened to during the production of Edutainment); The LOX – “The Heist (pt. 1).”
Reason for this post on today of all days: Who knows. Perhaps I saw Friday on TBS. Or I thought about funk-proficient persons of Scottish descent such as my mother.
Sartorial accompaniment: Bodysuit, tank, thigh-high socks, all from the color palette of a wheat field underneath a dreary sky on a cold day or that piece I saw by noted Neo-expressionist Joe Boudreau. My aesthetic is “Flashdance extra applies for Ohio Players record cover modeling job.” Messy hair to finish off the look, as a way of signifying to the world that I am so busy with nerdery I don’t have time for basic grooming.
This outfit was hastily put together and is not my cutest, but I was not interested in looking cute today; I was interested in being soft to the touch and physically unconfined during my commitment to cold-day apt. 15 lounging today. I also wanted to remind myself that I don’t care about clothes and that I just throw stuff on despite my recent foolish purchase of expensive stripper/librarian heels. I don’t know what got into me for a minute there but I’m BACK, baby. Plus I think it’s fair that you only hold me to the same fashion standard as Sean P, nothing higher (“Dress sloppy, but my rap is dapper/Watch Rosewood, go outside and slap a cracker”).
Suitable activities while listening: Normally in this section I would describe some lovely activity involving a bookstore or record store. But I will not be wearing this outside!, IS YOU CRAZY. I do not have post titles called Today in Street Harassment and I’d like to keep it that way, although I certainly have lots to contribute here, a place that gives me hope despite the unfortunate fact that such a site must exist. So it’s just clean the apartment today, make lunch, roll some new nerdery* around in my brain and enjoy how good it feels, then put in my daily contribution toward my Gladwellian 10,000 hours of underlining beautiful passages in McSweeneys (check back in with me in 2020 and I’ll have mastered this and maybe even be able to perform it professionally!).
*Today’s nerdery, important thoughts, topics for likely further discussion: Human beings are fearless without the amygdala. “Shoot in the direction of your heart” is true about injecting junk into your body as well as injecting music into your body. If you are going to put out your album in LA in 1992, have DJ Pooh be involved somehow, someway. He’s the king. And if you are good at presenting yourself in a way that plays up the differences between your own woman’s body and the bodies of men, go ‘head and run with it. Play the hand you were dealt. In Texas the saying goes Dance with the one that brung ya, an old expression of loyalty usually applied to football and which is one of the few things Texas-related that I love (others: UGK, Rap-a-Lot everything, Screw, Joe Tex, the lyrical content of “Midnight Moonlight”).
Life lessons, important messages contained:
Nothing too coy or complicated here – just song titles tellin me to put it where I want it and to reach out for affection, and to let the funk guide me in all of these activities. Important messages, definitely, but nothing that I didn’t already learn from Eddie Hazel on that first Funkadelic record. “Back in ’67” stands out though, since that was a good year for driving around listening to pop music on your car radio, one of the great pleasures in life (“Daydream Believer,” “Tell It Like It Is,” “Cold Sweat,” and 2 Detroit-raised-minister’s-daughter beauties in “Baby I Love You” and “I Never Loved a Man the Way that I Love You,” OH ARETHA GIRL I KNOW OF WHAT YOU SPEAK and those song titles are the simplest and most accurate statements in musicdom since the Skull Snaps’ “My Hang-Up is You”).
My whole body relaxes when this starts. I adore the past. I adore Big Boi too (“Who gives a damn about the past?/I live for today, plan for the future, pack a lunch and haul ass”). So I convince myself Not now with the nostalgia, young lady; remember to stay busy with the future! Then I go back and listen to “Devil’s Pie” and I think to myself Aw damn, I love the past. That echo effect at “watch your back,” (02:23) oh lorrrrd.
Best YouTube comment:
There’s nothing entertaining underneath the AWB video, so I looked at the comments for “Steady Mobbin” – a series of people posting LOLs re: outdated rap song references (PacTel vs. SkyPager, white Ewings, “U Can’t Touch This”).
Other notable things about today:
– Owning a Buick Regal will not get you laid on a first date, according to highly delusional individuals who don’t realize it’s their non-car-related shortcomings that are preventing them from getting laid on a first date. Yes dear, it’s your car. That’s why she won’t. I can poke holes in this theory with the simple mention of a rap song by ass connoisseurs Three 6 (Act like you know me, cause I’m super serious with this evil/Act like you know me, in my Regal, chrome desert eagle), Andre (I got the Peter Bong and plus that Mary Jane/I’m rolling reefer out of a Regal, how could I refrain), my side piece WAKA (Let me hop back on the set with this brand new single/Million dollar n—as still ridin in a Regal), and Curren$y, who happens to be a Grand National Regal speeder. (As a woman and therefore someone in the position of being able to either give or withhold ass, I can tell you that Curren$y gets a lot of ass. He looks like a little guy in his videos which you’d think would cut down on the quantity he is offered but he gets an adequate supply. He’s comfortable.)
– There’s a story here and I wish someone would tell it:
Also ready to be delved into and expressed in beautiful narrative fashion: the whole calling card industry for people in LA with family far away – affordable rates for Guatemala, the Philippines, the signs out in front of liquor stores say. I know there’s some joy and heartache inside every time I drive past those places. And people who’ve actually met in real life after one of them placed a Missed Connections ad – somebody get on that.
– “There’s records that I hate (but) when I see a woman dancing I think, ‘It’s not that bad.’” That NPR story about songs being tested in Atlanta strip clubs combines like 37 of my favorite things in one beautiful thing. Plus they mention my future employer Magic City!
– My heart, as usual, is bursting with love for Ronald.
– In the current world of testosterone-fueled things, there’s Blake Griffin dunks and Lex Luger’s beats. All straight dudes have opinions about these things. Griffin goes hard in the paint, they say, which is that thing that Waka did with Luger’s assistance. Griffin’s boss Donald Sterling goes hard in the areas of housing discrimination and being an awful human, which isn’t as entertaining as going hard in shit-talking from courtside, but it’s still something I feel the need to bring up from time to time because the world seems to forget even though everyone in LA knows what kind of person he is. Anyway, would someone care to listen to this Juicy J/Luger mixtape for me and let me know how it is. J’s been on the radar recently and I like it. There’s that song my beloved alluring noted Neo-expressionist or perhaps Impressionist Waka is on, and then there was that time I heard 50’s “Mean Mug” and I got kind of indignant and reminded everybody that Three 6 already had a song by that name because I’m an annoying know-it-all, and now there’s this mixtape. Tennessee rap is always a go-to, my brain’s pleasure center really responds to its whole feeling and message. Tennessee music in general has pretty much been a go-to my whole life, and it all started with my dad playing a bunch of Nitty Gritty on road trips. Wish that I was on olllld Rocky Top, down in the Ten-A-Key hillllls.
– One Kanye West has a very thin, pale stylist named Cassius Clay (HIS NAME IS CASSIUS CLAY) who until recently worked at Opening Ceremony, a store known to you all as that place that sold me my beloved Alexander Wang bag during my brief Label Princess phase (winter 2010). People having the same name as certain other people who have reached iconic status makes me uncomfortable, like when parents yell at their kids in front of you at the store, when Marty tries to get all Chuck Berry steezy on stage at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, and when rappers who should stick to Alexander Wang and Lagerfeld raps try to brag about having sex with girls in their verses. CRINGE.
– Amnesty International’s art installations (Making the Invisible Visible) highlight the cases of the wrongfully imprisoned. That’s the face of Troy Davis below, a 42-year-old man who has been on death row for 19 years in Georgia. There are doubts about his conviction and no physical evidence links him to the crime (murder of a police officer), and most witnesses in the case have “changed or retracted their testimony, some citing police coercion.” Shocking.
“The posters are displayed on fence railings. Front on, you see nothing but bars. Troy’s haunting face only becomes visible from an angle.” Is it bad that I bypass the seriousness of this display and go straight to Ohshit is that Large Pro?
1. Things I would die without: the snare drum, Sennheiser headphones, Doom’s lyrics, stripper/librarian heels. Or I could just say “Stimulation in various forms, stimulation all day and night, and yet somehow soothing at the same time” and you’d know what I mean, you’d clearly realize how that’s a list comprised of snares and headphones plus ten thousand other things too. Stripper/librarian heels are the focus today, though. The ones above are called “Peep Show,” and I needed them so I bought them. (I would have died without them.)
Lately my life has been a whole lot of driving around town listening to Power 106 and old Kool Keith, dealing with grouchy people, and this frequent uneasiness, this strong feeling like I need more impractical footwear. As illustrated by the photos above, all those radio plays of “Throw it in the Bag” had their intended effect–THANKS, LOSO–except in my life’s version I play the role of both the kept woman and the keeper of the woman since I buy my own heels, which is obviously what Steinem had in mind for me as a postpostpostfeminist human. Sorry, Gloria. I’m I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, though, do you know what that means? DO YOU? I cook, I clean, I never smell like onion rings. Somethingsomething, flat-screen TV, good credit, blah blah.
That ankle strap is what sold me, lookin like one of Saturn’s rings. Just look at that ankle strap, darling. Phillip Lim, child of immigrants, Kanye-approved designer, yet somehow still Logan-approved designer, has crafted these for the discerning stripper/librarian in your life. They are 5-inch-heeled mary janes of Italian leather, a deep red shade that Barneys calls “bordeaux,” which recalls, I don’t know, the grapes in my backyard vineyard that I lovingly tend before I go to the library in the morning and that I lovingly tend when I return from Magic City at night?
Phillip thinks he disappointed his parents, who came from Cambodia and wanted him to be a doctor. They don’t understand fashion, because, really, what’s to understand. Frivolity and sex and overspending. Grand folly. Lack of practicality (teetering around on 5-inch spindles shortens calf muscles), but good-looking and well-crafted things for the body. Kanye-approved shoes on Barbie doll label princesses who have master’s degrees and nerdy blogs. “I’m shoppin right now, my ass off/You home writin some bullshit literature,” Kool Keith said. Dude I can do both, though. I can do both, Mr. Thornton. That ankle strap represents my life’s constant duality–the Dewey Decimal System and Toomp beats, new glasses (finally) and a thousand bathing suits. Before setting my alarm to wake me up to some Waka in the morning, I read every night in bed. There are Chanel and Diane von Furstenberg ads among the poems and essays in the Paris Review. Also contained therein is a story about Brazilian jiu–jitsu, an art form that teaches that a small and weak person can suddenly turn into something like a big and strong person using proper technique and leverage. The pleasures of duality, that’s the point I’m trying to make here. Oh and have I mentioned that ANKLE STRAP. Take another look and then tell me I shouldn’t have bought em.
In daydreams my American Gangster character is Eva, Miss Puerto Rico, who loves Frank at the beginning, and she especially loves her idea of who Frank is (classic Logan), and then 2 months into their marriage she finds herself on her knees, scrubbing blood out of the alpaca rug* and he’s screaming at her and she’s thinking Fuck what did I get myself into. That’s probably my fate, given my taste for masculinity topped off with smarts and a strong commitment to hustlenomics and an adeptness at charming my pants off (or my dress off, as the case may be, or even my black-shorts-and-Boy-Scout-belt-and-stripper/librarian-heels get-up).
In life I am the good girl. Even in daydreams I am the good girl. But these make me feel like I’m Ginger in Casino. At the beginning, you know—pre-haircut, pre-tailspin. Throwing the chips in the air, moving in slow motion. She wanted to stay hustling her little heart but Ace insisted on bribing her into wifehood and momhood. Wives and moms are boring, though. Remember how Malice said I even went by the book at first/Until I realized 9 to 5 wouldn’t quench my thirst. In response, I believe Ginger would say Sounds about right.
Yeah yeah, club soda. Sorry, Frank.
4. “Oh Word” was my cutesy etymology feature that I used to do all the time on here. Bikini enthusiasts didn’t care for it, but I loved it. It’s back today, and the word is SNARE.
“noose for catching animals,” c.1100, from O.N. snara “noose, snare,” related to soenri, “twisted rope,” from P.Gmc. snarkho (cf. M.Du. snare, Du. snaar, O.H.G. snare, Ger. Schnur “noose, cord”).
“string across a drum,” 1680s, probably from Du. snaar “string,” from same source as snare, above.
What can I do at this point other than say They try to Ron Artest me/They gon have to arrest me, in Gucci’s words (I had to quote him here due to my Brick Squad and Fetti Gang affiliations). I still keep it Berkeley too, though (I feel like Ron Artest/Championship swag).