Category Archives: Magic City stage 2

The Stylistics!

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” – Errol Flynn

“Picture me snotty nose sittin on my aunt’s lap/The kid like 5 or 6, shit I will curse back/I got it from the older folks sittin in the living room/Everybody had cups, Stylistics on boom.” – Ghosty. This pic is The Stylistics-era Stylistics, rather than the Hurry Up This Way Again Stylistics. But I had to post it because of the pants.

Name: The Stylistics, Hurry Up This Way Again (TSOP*, 1980).

*The Sound of Philadelphia.

Is this title acceptable? Yes! I like it. It’s sweet, but also kind of bossy. I like that combination. “Hurry up, girl. You sure are fine/brilliant/hilarious, but herry uppp.”

Produced by: Dexter Wansel, who arranged and co-produced “Love TKO” and made “Theme from the Planets.”

(“I Ain’t No Joke.” “We’re All in the Same Gang.” “Gutfest ’89.” “Castle to Castle.” “Not Your Average Girl.” “TKO.” “Spotlight.” )

Global events at the time of its release: In late ’80, the Gang of Four trial began in China. I had never heard of the Communist Gang of Four before this post; I just like that “Damaged Goods” song. In high school I found out about the Biafra region and was the last time I was similarly excited about world history as reflected in music names. Ronald Reagan was also just-elected in late ’80 and things were about to not go so well in my country, America. The only good thing that happened was that pic of PE in Minor Threat shirts. “Master Blaster” was #1, though, so things could’ve been worse, you know?

Entered my life: Last March. Amoeba. $4.99. It had been a long and arduous search. Then I found it. It just appeared. I was shocked and pleased. And the clouds did part and the birds did sing. It was my birthday and I spent just over $300 that day and all that vinyl weight was so hard on my poor scrawny arms. I have some regrets in life—should’ve learned to read music years ago; shouldn’t be so shy—but I will never regret 1) telling someone I really like him in whatever way is most appropriate (words, unbridled physicality) ’cause life’s too short, nor 2) buying records I must have, even though I’m broke. In both scenarios, my unstoppable enthusiasm always overpowers my normally level-headed and thoughtful nature.

Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): A quick eBay search reveals you can get a copy for anywhere from $7.50 to $12.00. Of course, cyber-diggers have no soul and will not be seeing me naked. In person, finding this record was probably a 5 before The Shining* came out. It’s now a 7. Also in recent years, the term broads for ladies started showing up in rap and all of a sudden there was a glut of songs asking if I’ve ever seen a Chevy with butterfly doors (I have, dear).

Breaks contained:

“Hurry Up This Way Again”: Jay-Z, “Politics as Usual.” Years later, it would also show up on that Curren$y album, which proves that from ’96 til 2010, Ski retained his love for Philly soul groups. Aw Ski. Me too, buddy.

*“Maybe It’s Love This Time”: Styles P, “Black Magic” but who cares because the breaks champ here is and will always be DILLLAAAA feat. Guilty & Madlib, “Baby”–still stopping me in my tracks, still, years later, and still making me enjoy delicious wordplay like The same day I met her, we backstage in the bathroom/She got a mouth like a vacuum/We them boys with the chains on our neck/Every five minutes we untanglin them. The first thing has nothing to do with the second thing–unless it’s the chains that compel her to do it?–but still. It works.

Reason for this post on today of all days: I heard Dilla as bumper music on NPR’s Morning Edition last Friday, unless it was just my brain getting all glitchy and daydreamy again while sitting in traffic-? Did anyone else hear it? The “Love Jones” instrumental?

Facts of nerdy interest that excite me and might show up on Jeopardy! someday:

Philadelphia rappers who have sampled The Stylistics: …..

Philadelphia rappers who have not, ever, sampled The Stylistics for some reason even though it’s a crime against humanity/music: Freeway, Beanie Sigel, the Roots, Bahamadia, Cassidy, Peedi, Gillie. Why. Whyyyy. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this.

Sartorial accompaniment: Pretty, soft, dark blue sleep thingie from H&M that was $10. Viscose/nylon. Wash with like colors, tumble dry low.

Suitable activities while listening: Get ready for church, then band practice.

OH WAIT, NO. What do you think, silly? I’m wearing a thin piece of viscose and nylon, so: lounging! That’s the only suitable activity! I lounged the heck out of this morning, drank tea, read the paper, then finally emerged from my bed around 1:30. Rise n’ grind, baby.

Life lessons, important messages contained:

Your body won’t move if you can’t feel the groove.
The god Leon Huff adds a Truth About Life to my bag.
Additionally, please keep in mind that If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense, and If you shoot my dog, I’ma kill your cat. I would also argue that If that ain’t good enough, you just ain’t hood enough as well as If you ban us from your clubs, it’s the right time, with the right mind. I think it would’ve been cute if they had tilted the heart in the logo, like a nod to Love Park. Aw.

Best YouTube comment:

There are lots of “Dilla dawwwwg”s and “Turn it up”s but I prefer the succinct, lovely, smile-inducing comment posted by TheJavierm7: bellisima.

Other notable things about today:

OFWGKTA all over the place. It’s a wonderful time to be alive and have ears, even though the ground is thick with perplexed and annoyed Pitchfork readers. OH SHIT, black kids and giggly rape fantasies! So of course this means people must make a commentary on what this says about ourselves and our taste for lyrics about rape fantasies. Listen, we all have our rape fantasies. WHO DOESN’T HAVE A RAPE FANTASY. But I’m not sure why we are analyzing our taste for Earl & crew’s emo rape fantasies said into microphones when John Boehner has actual power now and Sharron Angle almost got elected. I mean, why talk about Cholera outbreaks when there are depressed city kids talking about their emo rape fantasies, correct? Also, rap pundits are taking the crew more seriously than they take themselves and why is that. Everybody’s acting like Kool Keith never said anything into a microphone before, or that there was never a combination of charm and comical exaggerated menace before, and why is that. We are acting like evil raps are outrageous and why is that. Tyler is laughing at all of you dummies, his post-postpost-rap raps circling around themselves and eating their own tails (Odd Future is a very very very big…thing of animals. We have unicorns, and these unicorns are very talented, and they don’t give a fuck.)

Murder rates go up in the summer, it ain’t trickin if you got it, girls love taking Lil’ B in their mouths because he looks like ____, and people love cuss words and evil in their music. This is news? NO, it’s not news. And yet super annoying Zach at the Voice (sorry, Zach) and his
industry brethren feel the need to discuss their twinges of weird disgusted guilty feelings while listening to Odd Future’s raps about fucking and evil and then opening it up to message board commenters, a critical mistake, to duke it out and deconstruct it. The visceral pleasure outweighs the intellectual outrage, which is true, except for the intellectual outrage part. I am supposed to be outraged at fuck raps, I guess. But the most outrageous (in a good way) and impressive things about these ruffians are that they are good at language, they have a female engineer (!) who produces sometimes too (!)*, and they are trying to orchestrate the fall of mustachioed horseman of the apocalypse Steve Harvey. I enthusiastically support their entire platform.

Men online talking about the reasons why we like what we like as it relates to the cultural zeitgeist at large. They are like my very unhip uncle who teaches Sociology classes at the community college part time. Armchair rap psychologists trying to explain my own tastes to me! How annoying! I’m in that “Fuck you, I love it” blissful haze, these boys on Fairfax have temporarily distracted from my commitment to Jet Life, and the cultural critics on message boards are no fun, and Tyler and crew just want you to have FUN. Time passes quickly. Fuck roots, state life, rape, write, repeat twice! (sigh; it just sounds silly when I say it)


My underage girlfriend Syd, above. There is a tragic dearth of female engineers/producers, obviously, but why? Our bodies are shaped like guitars; we should be owning studios and coaxing out great performances from our artists and letting beats ride.

– Gotta have a fantasy to go along with each song that speaks to me on LA radio. Today it was “Go Girl,” featuring me as a stripper with a heart of gold, costarring E-40 as my favorite patron, putting bills in my g string. The song’s produced by C. Ballin but you’d swear it’s Nitti.

– Kanye is still tryin to hit me with that ol’ wopty on the radio, rapping about his sexual exploits with wild bitches on “Hell of a Life,” as if I am going to believe him. Unless the whole song’s a metaphor for the music industry or something, which is, just, ugh. Cliche city. I tell you, it’s a good thing he’s not an 18-year-old from LA, because then we would, of course, have to deconstruct his every verse and decide what our listening to it says about ourselves.

– Pacquiao! Maliit na tao na may malakas na kamao at isang malaking puso, sa tingin ko ikaw ay kahanga.

– “Pleasurable activities reduce stress” – Science, recently. Lounge around in my comfy bed on Sunday, listen to Messy Marv in the car, spread Nutella on toast; feels good. No stress, darling. Like how when I read MediaTakeout, I just feel so good knowing that Weezy punched Drake in his big stupid face, maybe?


The Main Ingredient, “Euphrates River.”

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” – Errol Flynn

Name: The Main Ingredient, Euphrates River (RCA Victor, 1974).

Is this title acceptable? Yes, because of that Pixies song and because euphrates is fun to say. Etymologically speaking, Euphrates probably means “good to cross over,” stemming from Greek or Persian roots. But then, it might not mean anything at all, yet I’m not upset about that. You know what I’m upset about? That they use “Smokestack Lightning” to sell Viagra. I look fine on the outside but inside I’m screaming.

Produced by: The Main Ingredient.

Global events at the time of its release: I covered this material already during my last post about a ’74 record (Cobham). But I would like to mention that, this week in 1974 on the R&B chart, Kool & the Gang’s “Higher Plane” was #1. It will depress you if I tell you that “Deuces” is #1 this week on the 2010 R&B chart, so I’ll shut my mouth. Let’s keep it moving.

Entered my life: October 1, 2010. Amoeba. $14.99; a steal. Almost daily on Los Angeles radio, I have to listen to Dorrough berate me by saying You ain’t got enough money. That’s true, but small victories like finding breaks-laden records for less than $20 make it easier to cope.

At the store, Andrew rang me up. He seemed excited and he chatted with me the whole time, commenting on my purchases (“OOOH, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”). I can’t criticize this because if I worked there I’d do the same thing while ringing people up.

Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale):Oh I don’t know–5.8? 6? It was never issued domestically and I’ve never seen it during my record store adventures so, honestly, I’m surprised it was so easy to find. I am truly blessed, and as usual, I must acknowledge the deity responsible for my good fortune.

Breaks contained:

– “Looks like Rain” was used in Tragedy’s True Confessions, a song notable for its awful singing chorus with a stupid reworking of that Luther Vandross song, all the boys I know freaking out over Imam’s verse, and for its adeptness in painting the simple and accurate picture of someone “shaking like a pregnant cokehead” in verse.

– “California My Way,” my future hit-the-dance-floor-at-my-wedding-reception-and-cut-a-fucking-rug jam, was used in Da Lench Mob’s “Guerillas in the Mist.” Despite attempts to be all cute and subversive by flipping and bouncing the LAPD’s racist words and using them in the chorus, the lyrics of the song lack the astute political and social criticism you’d think it would. Thus, I’ve deemed that the best part is I’m laying in a cut, I’m laying in a cut/I’m laying in a cut, bout to shoot me a mutt/With the boooooom, ping-ping/Listen to the ill shit that I bring-bring. I mean, come on, that’s just fun wordplay.

[1:02 until just past the 2-minute mark is the alpha and omega, the thing that gets me through the dreary workday. The drums at 1:39, and the part where all the cities on the itinerary are named–Here I come, Los Angeles! San Diego, San Francisco, here I come! A-Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywoooooood, yeah. All I can muster is an UUNNLLLLHHHH (pleasurable gibberish, almost like a moan) when asked to describe those 58 seconds.]

“California My Way” and the not-as-great “Summer Breeze” were both used in Biggie’s “Things Done Changed.” (By the way: no fucking kidding, Chris. They done, in fact, changed. If you were here we’d have a bitch session about the fact that a Chris Brown song is #1 on the charts.) When I first heard Biggie’s song I did not know what this thing called “skelly” was. I looked it up; it’s a New York activity. No wonder. Out here, we don’t play skelly. We also don’t say “jerkoff” and we don’t wait “on line.” It’s in line, dummies. (Jerkoffs.) Oh New York, your rappers are way better than ours but your colloquialisms are usually dumber. Plus I am almost positive The Main Ingredient never wrote a song called “New York My Way.”

Reason for this post on today of all days: It’s probably just because I found the record earlier this month at the store, and I liked how the colorful cover contrasted with my cream/white ensemble* when I brought it home and was thumbing through my collection. It’s that simple. I bet you it also has something to do with the fact that American Gangster was on basic cable again yesterday, which means I of course got upset all over again about the horrendous idea to cast Cuba as Nicky Barnes. Cuba’s dad was in The Main Ingredient, and there you have it.

Facts of nerdy interest that excite me and might show up on Jeopardy! someday:

Willie Hutch wrote California My Way. He was born in LA but raised in Texas. The song was therefore inevitable, because he missed the weather, women, and greenery.

– If you type “main ingredient” into the search box on Amazon, the “customers who bought ____ also bought _____” box comes up and says that people who buy albums by The Main Ingredient also buy albums called The Main Ingredient by a duo called Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Um, yes, Amazon. Thanks. And I’m almost positive that 1 of those customers is named Logan. (but not customer in a bad way, like in a Jay-Z way or EPMD way).

Cuba Gooding’s family history is one of sexy Caribbean adventures, murder, and Pan-Africanism. 2 generations later, Snow Dogs happened and Marcus Garvey wept. “DAMN. Shit done changed” – Chris Wallace.

Life lessons, important messages contained:

– The album is strictly cover songs and the very very good title track was originally by Seals & Crofts, with a “Many Rivers to Cross” kind of feel. Every day brings us closer/Every night, my soul sees/A worried mankind suffering blindly/Guess I’ll walk the Euphrates River. Rivers make a man think about life and his place in it, I guess.


Sartorial accompaniment: bathing suit and sweater, because what if I go for a swim and then the clouds roll in? Out in Cali we refer to this as “preparedness,” jerkoff.

Suitable activities while listening:

– Read about genius leftist attempted-poverty-ender Upton Sinclair and think about how amusing it would be for some rapper from Harlem to call himself Uptown Sinclair. (Did Jim Jones already do this? I don’t listen to the music of him or his crew so it’s unfair to expect me to know. If he did do it in song, I’m retracting the part where I said it would be amusing.)

– Watch the mighty Oakland Raiders actually get to .500! Bishop and me are both like Fuck yes.
(sorry, Mom)

– Fashion editorials for inspiration, always. Today’s collection of fantasy lighting/outfits/photos that I wish to someday emulate is that of Caroline Winberg in tiny underthings but also in cozy things like gloves and socks and sweaters…you know, in case the clouds roll in. Hmm. I should try that sometime. It would look far less classy and much more stripper if I did it, though, since the vulgarity of my hips makes me look like a stripper no matter what I wear. Magic City, stage #2, 11:40.

Best YouTube comment:lool sa me fait penser a des scenes d’avant the soul funky train lool…sa ferait plaisir a des gens que je connait ce son bien joué!

Ah! Oui, Firdaws1977! You have perfectly summed up my feelings.

Other notable things about today:

– Falling in love is coke-y feeling and only takes a fifth of a second to happen. I already knew this, because that’s just how it went the first time I heard Del’s voice.

– I just discovered Green Eggs and Ham read in patois, and, on a related note, the Baddis riddim mix some kind soul put on YouTube that goes nicely with my hips (even though it’s actually called the Retro Baddis riddim). These things are fun–just harmless, delicious fun, like being witness to the glorious 2010 implosion of the Dallas Cowboys, or hearing the greatest Morrissey song Morrissey never did during your drive on the crowded 101 last Sunday. FUN!

– Jakey n’ Freeway’s “Beautiful Music.” Still listening to it; still in love. This is also true of that “Up & Down” song, my new fave, which has a video filled with jiggling, well-placed female body fat and ShakeWeights and makes me wanna take the #2 stage at Magic City. Sorry, Gloria Steinem, Mom, Angela Davis, and all those ladies before me who worked tirelessly to get me the right to vote. Your influence on me is simply not as powerful as that of a terrible Chicago MC who warms up for his verse by actually using the phrase more cockier.

– The 12-year-old tomboy in me loves Epicly Later’d, but the grown woman in me recognizes the signs of a chemically-based life about to be wrecked and has concerns. “Henny and Heelflips: the Ballad of Antwuan Dixon” is the thing that we will all look back on and shake our sad heads at when Antwuan inevitably goes into alcohol-induced respiratory failure or gets 48 months at Corcoran. He’s a sad clown so of course I kinda feel like I could save him. It’s that soft spot of mine that always throbs for the self-destructive. But our story would end in heartache after I spend too many nights sick with worry, and I would once again bemoan my bad choices and then walk away from the whole affair.

– I hate sulk-rap so I’ve never been a Rhymesayers kind of lady. But the Eyedea tributes on the RS site, oh. They are touching. The one that really gets me is P.O.S’s–the heart-wringer “I will read every book you told me to.”

– Deerhoof’s “The Merry Barracks” is my new walking-down-the-street-in-a-sundress song. Hurry hurry, listen to it and like it before Lupe or Cudi raps over it and ruins it.

– Art-school clove-smoking Kanye bores me, but I must acknowledge the part of his latest thingie that speaks to me–the scene in which the scantily-clad chaise-lounging angelically-winged birdlike girl creature is enthralled and physically excited by a beatmaking male human. Let’s just say I can relate.

– CyHi da Prynce is from Decatur, murders my Spellcheck, and is intensely annoying but makes up for it with talent. It’s OK, Cy; people only like me ’cause of my sick flow too. The best parts in that “Sideways” video are his collection of various ice grills (from the left, from the right, looking down, then up, and, um, sideways, of course), and his collection of fitteds–the Reds, the Pirates, the Braves. Obviously there was a sale on National League hats at Champs. He makes a Stevie Williams reference in a verse (I just told you I have a 12-year-old tomboy lurking inside of me) but that cannot make me forgive his overly manicured facial hair. And since every day there’s a new reason to prove to me I’m outgrowing post-2007 rap and its industry that condones stupid behavior, of course he has a Twitter and makes all kinds of Twitter goofball moves replete with inappropriate use of exclamation points–“When I was in hawaii with @kanyewest I stayed at the kahala!!!” He enjoys laughing out loud frequently and gives himself heaps of shine (“A painting of me!!!” “I love Louie bags!!!”, !!!!!, LOL, etc). This young man is clearly pleased with leading a newly luxurious lifestyle courtesy of rap, inc. and that’s sort of cute. I can appreciate someone appreciating. But like the great Vincent T. Lombardi said, Act like you’ve been there before. He gets points for his historically accurate name-drops of Ralph Abernathy and Rosa Parks, and then promptly loses those points by using a distasteful word that starts with N in the very next line. Ugh. Show some respect, Decatur.

– Heard “You Gots to Chill” on the car radio the other day, it was rainy all afternoon and I like that, and when I got home, fucking Goonies was on TV. Perfection. Thank you, LA radio and Time Warner Cable, Inc., for your combined efforts to make me happy.

– Is it just me or is Intelligent Hoodlum a way better name than Tragedy Khadafi.

– How perfect of a couplet is In the beginnin’ I like to let my rhymes flow/And at twelve I press cruise control. I’m serious about this. Let’s discuss.

– Giving up on completing a phrase halfway through it is a nice thing to add to your lyrical repertoire. “Your arms too short to box,” Curren$y says during yet another musical meetup between a microphone and his brain’s hundred thousand cannibanoid receptors, the most consistently beautiful working relationship in rap music right now. Hey, remember GZA’s “Rhymes too short to box with God” remark? I enjoyed that. Anway, there are 8 measly comments about this lovely song on RapRadar, which is just additional fuel for my adorable bitterness regarding the current state of rap affairs.

– “France on strike” as told by The Big Picture. There aren’t any good French rappers but I’d still like to live in a country that produces such stylish and politically active teenagers. That girl atop shoulders (which might be those of Phil Lynott’s?), especially–the hair, the scarf, the fist. It’s like they always say when you’re protesting new retirement laws and a president who’s let you down–cherchez la femme.