Sly Sex, it turns out, is not a bunch of songs about that summer I spent on tour with the Family Stone being Sylvester Stewart’s coked-out plaything. Sly Sex is nothing more than Redd Foxx being filthy and hilarious, you enormous dummies!
Depending on when you catch me during the day, I’ll either insist that this should’ve been called Slyy Sexx for continuity purposes, or I’ll say nope, that’s stupid, such a title would be overkill and kinda corny. There’s just no pleasing me, you guys.
(I hate how I look in redd but this cover kept calling me. It was just so damn easy to recreate. And besides, how could I not pay tribute to Mr. Sanford?)
The story goes that swans are silent their entire lives, then cry out once, only when they are dying.
It’s not a true story, mind you—swans are loud and make grating honk noises—but it’s pretty and sad, and that’s why we hold onto it. In 1974, Led Zeppelin named their sparkling new post-Atlantic label Swan Song in tribute to the (untrue) swan-death myth. The label’s logo, a winged, brolic angel crying in pain, is taken from a painting done in tribute to the swan-death myth. The actual myth is Greek, and says that in ancient times, just before Apollo’s birth, a flock of swans circled overhead exactly seven times, singing. Apollo was the god of music; his birth was a glorious event and swans announcing it seems just right. But at some point the story got flipped. A “swan song” is now a death cry—a wrong, ironic meaning that’s now forever part of the Zeppelin story. D’Angelo emerged a couple weeks ago in Tennessee and covered Zeppelin, a glorious event. Somethingsomething Jesus, resurrection, the people rejoicing. The part in D’Angelo’s story where the irony comes in is when he put out an album in 2000 with songs about hair pulling and ass smacking (track 3), and something about wetness and thighs (you know the track). The label that released it: Virgin.
D’Angelo’s set at Bonnaroo contained nothing from Voodoo except for a snippet of “Chicken Grease.” But because it’s D’Angelo, earnest and sober (I think?) and in front of some keys, the audio from the show is still on daily rotation in my headphones thanks to the download link that’s not too hard to find (GO NOW, if you haven’t already GO GO GET IT GO). The setlist contains nothing surprising—Mayfield, The Time, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Parliament of course. The Beatles’ “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” fits in especially nicely, with its weird words and that great drum break after each bar. But it’s his version of Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” that lifts the set into next-levels territory. The track bangs, yes, satisfying my heart’s need for grown-man emo and my lower body’s need for bass. But it also satisfies my hungry nerd brain, because its back story makes it such a logical choice for him to cover.
A D’Angelo-Zeppelin meetup was probably bound to happen. Voodoo was recorded at Electric Lady studios; most of Zeppelin’s albums were mixed there. Jimmy Page and D’Angelo are both Rhodes guys, calm and bosslike on the instrument. Robert Plant and D’Angelo each had unpleasant periods involving car crashes and general coke mayhem. And “What Is…,” a dreamy little number at its beginning, settles into that mid-tempo BPM that D’Angelo always slays so easily. “Devil’s Pie” has a BPM of 90; “Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine” is 87. “Lady” is 85, and so is the Zeppelin song. “Do do, bop bop a do-oh,” wails Plant at the end of it. The part could be lifted from a Soulquarians vamp session and you wouldn’t know the difference. “My my my my, my-my yeahhh.” You wouldn’t know the difference. D’Angelo and Robert Plant are men who are both fluent in Rural Southern–even though the commonwealth of Virginia is a little too close to Yankee territory for it to be taken seriously as a bluesy place, and Plant is from a town in the English midlands famous for its carpets.
D’Angelo is uncomfortable with his burden of sexiness. I know this from reading Questlove interviews. His public persona is almost swaggerless when it comes to sex (almost). Plant is much more comfortable with his aura of steam and lust – he wrote “What Is…” during his Tolkien-obsession phase and somehow managed to inject unsexy hobbit mythology into Sonny Boy Williamson-esque heavy-riffed gut punchers that he’d sing to willing, sexy girls in the third row. Plant became obsessed with Welsh culture in the late ’60s, druids and the like, mysticism, paganism. (Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when pagans have historically witnessed the sunrise at places like Stonehendge, marking the event with ceremonies celebrating fertility. So, this post could’ve just as easily been about D’Angelo and Spinal Tap.) The thing in the song that “was” but that “should never be,” according to rumor and speculation and this is as good as the gospel to music dorks, is, hold up now: Plant’s relationship with his wife’s sister. Well goddamn. The theme of forbidden desires could therefore link Zeppelin’s “What Is…” with every D’Angelo-tagged post on MediaTakeout (D’Angelo’s own forbidden desires being, of course, narcotics, fatty food and mouthsex). But this is too easy, too shallow. It’s more interesting to consider that Tolkien, like D’Angelo, grew tired of the fans who loved his dumbed-down work. He saw himself primarily as a scholar, not a fairy-tale writer, and he hated that The Lord of the Rings was his biggest success. He would not have cared for Robert Plant’s great fondness for Mordor.
Written in a Tolkien haze, the thing that makes “What Is and What Should Never Be” so satisfying as a song covered by D’Angelo of all people is the very specific type of alienation shared by the two men. They are both people whose messages get distorted when they try to talk to us. “Everybody I know seems to know me well,” goes the closing verse, with the punchline being that nobody who bought their books/albums actually does. For D’Angelo it was his abs, for Tolkien it was his fantasy writings; they both felt a deep resentment for being praised for what they felt were their least important achievements. Tokien’s Hobbit and LOTR were his attempt to construct what he referred to as a “body of myth” – which happens to be exactly the same phrase used by ladies in describing D’Angelo’s form in the “Untitled” video, much to his dismay.
I am neither a pagan nor a Pentecostal at this point. Things are still cloudy for me, belief-wise. Though if God actually exists he will obviously one day fulfill my dream of hearing D’Angelo do the Ohhhh, oh-oh-ohh-ohh-OHHHH to open “D’yer Mak’er.” Its BPM is 90. He’d kill it.
The Big Picture’s latest collection of hi-res beauty focuses on the Gulf oil spill, one year later. No more problems, everyone’s back to work, says the Logan who lives in a fairy tale. Turns out the region’s delicate ecosystem thrives on oil. Birds and fish are making love, churning out new generations. A butterfly landed on a rock in an estuary, flapped its wings twice in the sunshine, then flew off to go make butterfly love.
2. The King of the Universe/Master of Puppets/Mr. Dynamite/HBIC in a NY Mag interview.
Other than turning up in those files on Biggie’s murder the FBI released, cutting off his own arm then chewing it up and swallowing it, or showing up on the doorstep of apt. 680 and announcing he’s moving in to base the hell outta me every night, nothing Brandon does should be able to surprise you. It’s April 2011, in this, the Year of Our Lord, and he’s been rearranging the pieces on the cosmic chess board for a couple years now. So I rolled my eyes when I heard about that upcoming album title because his “Look at me, listen to me” hustle is unrivaled. Seemed like a big ploy to make RSS feeds quiver, go dumb with excitement. It worked. (Please consult the Internet–maybe type in “Lil B” and “gay,” then stand back).
But then I remembered that, just like a dude isn’t necessarily gay because he’s grindin in his tiny pants, an artist isn’t necessarily thinking about selling product when he names his product a certain thing. I’m deferring to my hopes and dreams here, embracing my inner Pollyanna, and just going with the assumption that Lil B really means it when he says he’s a gay ally, a supporter of GLAAD. Lil B cleaned up all the oil in the Gulf, solved the Biggie murder, made love to a butterfly, showed up on American Idol and cut off his own arm and fed it to Mister Cee while Faces of Death 7 played behind them on a huge screen. Lil B has successfully introduced me to post-skepticism. I’m living in the Brandon Epoch and for that I am eternally glaad. Still waiting to hear what he thinks of the topless pics I sent him; I believe he and I would make a good duo, despite our one tiny difference – I do support putting other people down (as long as the people being put down are not me or anyone I care about, or a poor person or a disabled person, and as long as the putting-down is done with stylish flair, over a beat).
Harlem – “Gay Human Bones.”
1. When I’m in line at Coffee Bean and I see on the TV behind the cashier that Mexico’s ‘King of Heroin’ has been caught and the first thing that comes into my head is “King Heroin” by James Joseph Brown, my father would say his job raising me has been a success.
(Other than the part about me buying corporate coffee. Sorry, Pop.)
Photo above selected due to the fact that the I’m financed in China, ran in Japan/I’m respected in Turkey and I’m legal in Siam part in this song is oddly exactly like something Ali would’ve said into a microphone in 1966!
9th Wonder producing David Banner sounds like something that came to me in a dream last night, or maybe while daydreaming in line at Coffee Bean, but my computer tells me IT’S TRUUUUE. I predict with great confidence that this will be my favorite album of 2010, and then my favorite of 2013 (I’ll shelve it, then find it when I’m flipping through a record crate, and put it on the platter for another month straight). Like what happened with me and “Cadillac on 22s” in ’03 and ’07, remember?
“They can’t make a name for themselves so they need help from the O.G.’s. I refuse to throw ’em a life line. Fuck ’em. It ain’t my job to make nobody famous.“
“I was sick of babysitting grown ass men and walking them through the industry. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein building uncontrollable monsters. How? If you DON’T make ’em a star, they blame you. If you DO make ’em a star, they leave you. I got sick of that ungrateful shit.“
Ice Cube, for your information, is not a mentor or a helper or a babysitter or even a nice dude if you’re an LA rapper on the come up. Sowwy. He feels no responsibility to help boost local MCs. I love this story because obviously I prefer my rappers baggy-pants-clad, distant, and pissed-off, thankyouverymuch, but also because it’s Ice Cube. Ice Cube is untouchable. He likes the Raiders, he’s friends with Hank Shocklee, he’ll never ever pop up in a Justin Bieber video (LUDA!). I mean, outside of his film career, there are no credible jabs one can throw. I’m a nice girl and I want everyone to get along but everyone getting along reaches boring levels quite rapidly. There’s just something so delicious and fun about a talented grumpy old dude yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, especially since I’m on the old dude’s side in this case. Also, I just really, really like a classic, well-placed “Fuck ’em.” More, please.
4. Men take more risks when pretty girls are around, says science. This is true, like when rappers talk about being the coolest shit and putting their Gretzky on; it’s a risk-taking venture, because girls don’t like dudes who brag about themselves and even fewer girls like hockey. Think it through next time, Lloyd. And yes, I am choosing to interpret this line as actual hockey gear since “Gretzky” is simply too stupid of a word for “diamonds” for me to acknowledge.
If your weakness is lady bloggers with hips and a slight case of social anxiety disorder, I suggest going NBA or maybe Division I? I like an old Carmelo Syracuse jersey myself, but if you’re going more modern and you’re near the greater LA area, Artest is always nice. I mean, really, anything but LeBron.
5. Something called the Vendy Awards are coming to LA in May to judge and honor the best street food. You’ll be able to vote online, a final cook-off winner will be decided based on “flavor, portability and personality,” and a big bash where you can taste wares from all the entrants will be held at MacArthur Park–where you can also get a Social Security number and something powdery from Asia that might be cut with Fentanyl (careful). I’m just saying, it’s a good place to get one’s various needs met.
Cue my eye-roll when I hear that this event costs $50 (!), except for the fact that “the Vendys are linked to the Asociacion de Loncheros, the grassroots organization that stands up for the rights of neighborhood taco trucks, rather than the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association, which reps trendy new trucks.” Plus the Vendy Awards are the culminating event of the first national street vending conference, “Contesting the Streets: Vending, Open-Air Markets, and Public Space,” that runs through the weekend at UCLA. That $50 gets you all-you-can-eat street food, with proceeds going to the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and the UCLA Downtown Labor Center. I’ll wear my yellow dress, you throw on that pretty orange Carmelo jersey. It’s a date.
Men and women get jealous over their romantic partners for different reasons, says science, and it’s all because we’re unevolved beasts ruled by our lizard brains, seeking pleasure, food, water, and another beast to make babies with that won’t run off and make babies with every other beast in the village.
But men and women differ on what kind of cheating they think is the worst – women are bothered more by men’s emotional infidelity and a soulful kind of connection with other females, whereas men find women’s sexual infidelity more painful and difficult to forgive.
“The widespread evolutionary explanation posits that men rank sexual infidelity as the greater sin because over the eons they learned to be hyper-vigilant about sex, as they could never be absolutely certain that their children were actually theirs. Women, on the other hand, became more bothered by emotional infidelity, because they are concerned about having a partner to help raise their children.” [LiveScience]
All of us Wu babies are well-versed in this logic. The rule for girls in Loud/Rawkus/Def Jam-based relationships is that you can do whatever you want, just a) don’t bring shame upon this family and b) wear clothes that cover your ass. And when Meth told me in ’94 Never ever give my p—y away, I LISTENED. Ticaaaaaal.
(By the way, Meth is just fine with me giving my emotional intimacy, daily reports on the events of my life, requests for foot massages, and frequent music nerd discoveries away. Sigh. No more rappers for me in twentyten, you guys.)
I swear to god I hope we fuckin DIE together. This is, coincidentally, exactly what Marvin Gaye told Tammi Terrell back in ’67. “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
You You’re Awesome – “For the Queen.” An apt. 302 girly classic, discovered last year. Swoon.
“President-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.” (Official White House photo, Pete Souza)
Obamic Accomplishments lauded in apt. 302: Economic stimuli of varying sorts, health care (pre-Massachusetts straight fucking it all up), the Nobel, tax credits to offset the cost of tuition, more health insurance for more kids. And, of course: BO! Also, the Muslim world hates us a teeny bit less these days. Yes dear, of course he could be doing better. We all could. But basically, enjoy the man’s feats thus far and stop throwing salt in my game. I’m looking at you, people who frequently email me to call me out on my “crush on the President.” Barry O is the truth!, even if it takes you a little longer than me to see it.
I am the bard and I am the last one/I am the king and this is my castle.
I’d also like to add And you can bet your ass.
. . .
Venn diagram of everything I need in life:
! !!!! !!!!!! !
(There’s the corny requisite sea of pale arms waving to and fro at the beginning, and this is no doubt a commercial that is trying to sell me something, but honestly, if I bothered to get upset every time the Wu was commodified I’d be an unhappy young lady.)
a) I’ve watched the video, it stimulated me, and now I’m sufficiently amped enough to get through the next 3-4 days of work this week. The video cuts off just before the scene where Rizzy scoops up a crew of sensitive rappers Who Will Not Be Seeing Me Naked and drops them off at Ikea on a Saturday at 1:00 PM, AKA Hell, just ’cause I’d like to see something like that. (It’s in the director’s cut, that scene.)
b) On Christmas, I’m asking for this sound to follow me and start playing whenever I enter a room. THANKS, SANTA.
c) Weed might cause testicular cancer but it has no effect on fertility! SOON COME: me seducing Wu’s head nerd in order to disperse our combined DNA across this beautiful, terrible land. Go forth and multiply, say the music gods to Robert and me. (resulting tiny humans with natural musical ability, a sarcastic streak, Rae for a godfather, an awkward side, and a mean waist-to-hip ratio pending.)
. . .
MegaSean is a true comedian, right? Like Dangerfield or Carlin or Pryor or Doomsies or Redman or, I don’t know, ME. Nothing new there. However, I just learned that the brokest rapper I know (and I know a LOT of broke ones) doesn’t mind when the vocals get erased and handles it with good-natured humor, signs on to work with Guilty even though he hasn’t heard of him, and will work at Costco to feed his children.
um, attention please, Sean’s sort of like my perfect dude – ?
XXL: What’s the status of the Mic Tyson album and the Random Axe project with Guilty Simpson and Black Milk?
Sean Price: The Random Axe project got delayed because Black made his little boo-boo and erased all my vocals. I’m not trying to throw him under the bus ’cause I didn’t even discuss it until he said it in another interview first, but he erased my vocals. I’m actually rewriting all my verses…(and) I started working on Mic Tyson. It’s about 14 songs on that album, ’cause a fight is 12 rounds, plus the intro and outro so that’s what it’s gonna be. (despite hating pugilism, HeightFiveSeven approves of this from a conceptual standpoint)
XXL: How’d you even link up with Guilty and Black in the first place?
SP: I was on tour and some dude called my man Dan Green and asked me did I want to do a song with Guilty Simpson. Me being the rap whore that I am I was like, Sure. Then, I hung up and was like, “Who the fuck is Guilty Simpson?”
XXL: Since you’re growing tired of the politics of the rap game what’s on the horizon for you after these releases?
SP: Next year you might find me workin’ in Costco or some shit. I’m dead ass serious, ’cause I don’t got money like that to retire and fall back on a yacht. People might say, “Yo, man, you supposed to be here and blah blah.” Yeah, I’m supposed to be but guess where I’m at? Costco. Now don’t get it twisted, I’m not starvin’ and I’m good, but I don’t give a fuck about pride. My kids can’t eat pride, so as long as I take care of my family I don’t give a fuck.
Easygoing, trusting, self-deprecating, willing to put pride aside to take care of his brood:
Random Axe – “Monster Babies.” Because my head hurt when I started to try to pick 1 song to post, so I went with this one because the melancholy Detroit beat that’s about a half-second behind, plus that haaa! that fades away, is a little somber and reminds me of the way that fall makes me miss summer. It’s a frigid 63 degrees F this morning in Los Angeles.
(And because grown men in baggy denim trousers with sparkling wit who do simply do not give the slightest fuck about LE boutique tees will never ever die in apt. 302. MANHOOD, Y’ALL.)
PS – “Run.”
1. Old boring people will always hate the rap music and will always try to kill it. And not kill it in a good way, like “Meth kills it on ‘The What’.” I mean, kill it, like prevent it from existing. The latest round involves Plies and some Florida politicians but, really, the names and dates are interchangeable here. 1992, is that you?
The hip hop will be banned in, uh, Fort Myers, thanks to crybaby city officials who are dismayed that somebody got stabbed at a recent Plies concert and think Plies’ music has anything at all to do with the fact that somebody got stabbed. For the record, city leaders also do not care for the sexual themes in Chuck Berry’s music and they know for a fact that Judas Priest makes the kids go on murder sprees.
It’s sad, you know? I feel sorry for grouchy old people who need hobbies ’cause they are bored. But try to stop the rap music and you might as well try to stop the sun, gravity, or human fornication. In conclusion: fall back, grandpa. We’re not gonna take it/No. We ain’t gonna take it.
2. a) In an amusing anecdote about a drug deal, it’s the details that sell your story. b) The ladies are constantly wavering between Tim Roth and Michael Madsen in terms of “strangely foxy older dude who makes everything better in cinema” award.
(The ladies = mostly just me)
I’m trying to watchThe Lost Boys.”
3. In a related Lesson, be careful in life ’cause the long-haired hot girl in a flowy skirt might be a vampire.
4. Nobody likes a musical genre overlap masturbatory studio session just for the sake of. Specifically, 2003’s low-budget version of Donovan and the almighty Gary Grice working together is just wrong in multiple ways. I mean, really. Shit’s played.
Paste says Devendra Banhart and GZA are going to collaborate. And of course everybody’s using words like “enigmatic” to describe this pairing. “It’s bizarre and surprising, yet makes perfect sense!” they say. Devendra annoys me* and I am a hater, so I call this pairing “stupid” and “please stop it.” Also, IT’S GZA. The term surprising is never applicable. He has a spaceship, is the subject of Ken Burns’ next documentary, and raises champion Bassett Hounds. (I’m pretty sure.) He could burst through the door at the Roman Polanski trial, interrupt the proceedings and kick a hot new verse and it would not surprise me and should surprise none of you. Because he’s GZA.
*The alpha and omega of grizzled sensitive white man Topanga Canyon rock is a little thing I call After the Gold Rush. Everything else is just resin.
This all started when GZA heard “Baby,” Banhart’s first single off of his upcoming album, and freestyled over it. I’m guessing this wrecked shop (even though they leave that part out of the article) because, again, he’s GZA. Then he and Devendra had a bro rendezvous at Coachella. Devendra has to brag about it, but I probably would too: “I played Coachella, and, lo and behold, I looked on the sidelines and there was GZA. I was stunned,” Banhart says. “So we hung out and talked—we talked about atomic energy and how the sun is powered. We talked about dark matter.” Not surprising. He’s GZA.
Devendra talks about his admiration for Gizzy through this boring story about being a young punk and falling under the spell of Liquid Swords, skating and making Wu stickers to put on his board. (Unless your name’s Sean Sheffey, YAWN.) “He’s a legend. He’s untouchable. He’s an avatar, an iconoclast. It’s the GZA,” gushes Devendra, whose old art-school friends probably coached him to say that. “And you can’t fuck with the GZA.” Well, yes, but only when backed by the sound of some dragons breathing, ninjas jumping out of trees, pots and pans clanging. I don’t need to hear him over a floaty & gentle acoustic guitar. And I don’t care for music collabs just for the sake of. And get a haircut and a real job, Dev.
That said, I like “Baby”! People, I’m nothing without my contradictions.