Monday, December 7, 2009

An Otaku's Closet, Vol. 1

So in a random search for Christmas presents, I discovered that I was an otaku, i.e. a person obsessed with Japanese pop culture. I felt slightly less cool after that - I thought it was just a personal quirk: turns out it's a phenomenon. Oh well. I might as well embrace it, right? In this spirit, I present to you An Otaku's Closet.

Basically what happened was I was in Topshop in NYC for a hot second during a whirlwind day of shopping, and I spotted this GORGEOUS jacket : cropped, navy blue with a lovely sheen, overlapping front flaps secured with a gold zip, and sweeping pleats around the collar. *sigh. It was love at first sight, but our relationship quickly turned sour when I saw the price tag. I still have feelings for it, though - I am seriously considering going all the way back to NYC to get it. It reminded me of the clothes worn by the characters in Revolutionary Girl Utena, the anime that Eccentricyoruba blogged about a couple of weeks ago, and that I am now mildly obsessed with. Walking out of the store, I thought: hey, why don't I put together an outfit inspired by the show? So I did! I won't be buying the clothes anytime soon: Black Friday and Christmas have decimated my bank account, but I can dream at least. Here's the outfit I came up with:

The first picture is of Utena, the show's main protagonist. She's a girl who wants to be a prince, so she dresses in boy's clothes, and duels to protect her Rose Bride, Anthy. Her clothes are styled in the men's fashion, but still feminine, so I tried to express that here. Essentially you need a military-inspired jacket, some sort of rose accessory, slim pants and men's shoes (I figured red shorts would be a bit much. Red pants might work, though) . The jacket and the necklace are from Modcloth, but sadly are both out of stock! The high waisted pants are from, an Asian fashion store online(!) and would go very well with a cropped military jacket. The shoes are from American Apparel, and I am seriously considering getting a pair soon. They're great shoes.

What do you think? Good, or no good?

Edit: Sorry about the image size - Blogger's acting up. Click on the image to enlarge.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stuff I Like Right Now

1. Ellie Goulding - Under The Sheets

Isn't she awesome? So awesome, in fact, that I ordered her single on a 7" LP before I realized I don't have a turntable. Oh well. It's about time I got one anyway.

2. Bonjay - Gimmee Gimmee (Wire Hanger Remix)

Gimmee Gimmee (Wire Hanger remix) - Bonjay

Bonjay are a Canadian duo of singer/rapper and DJ. Their MySpace page says they do Reggae/Club/Soul, which I think is a pretty good description. I downloaded a lot of awesome free mp3s from The Fader last weekend, but this is the one that I keep going back to. Loving it. If you like it, you can buy their EP when it comes out next week.

3. Bacon. And Breakfast Sandwiches.

I all of a sudden have a thing for bacon. The greasiness, the saltiness... lovely. I guess this means I can't date anyone who keeps kosher. Oh well. I've been getting these delicious breakfast sandwiches from this deli down the street. Not like the one in the picture, but up there on the yummy-meter. Comforts me on many a late night.

4. East Asia and all non-medical related things. I've decided to postpone the real world until I figure out how I want to deal with it. So I'm escaping to China to be a photographer/videographer/anthropological researcher/intern/teacher. Don't tell my parents though - I have to break the news to them gently so that they don't spontaneously combust when they hear it. I also have no idea how I'm going to get to China, but I'll let you know once I do.

5. My hair. It's at this weird in between stage where it's not long or short, but I'm learning its nature day by day. So far I've learned that it likes heavy creams and oils, and takes any shape you give it. It also will NOT hang down no matter what I do to it. I think I'd need to grow like eight inches before that happens. So now I need to find alternative styling options from the ones that I had been dreaming of doing when I cut my hair. It's cool though - I'll just be the one with the crazy hairdo. Won't make any difference - people already give me weird looks as it is. I have no idea why, either - I figure I just look strange to them and I ignore them.

Well, five is a nice number for a list and I have somewhere to be. Later y'allz.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dirty Money - Angels

Now, I don't think it's particularly good. Diddy doesn't need to sing autotuned for half of it, the lyrics are dull, and I can't believe he used the same Biggie verse TWICE in the same song. Laziness is killing the industry, for real. What's weird is I can't stop listening to it. Why? Because the emotion that goes into the words, "If you don't want to stay you can go" hits me point blank in the chest every time I hear it. The other weird thing is that from what I'm hearing, those are the only lines that vocalist has in the entire song, because everything else sounds awful compared to that line. I don't like it enough to post it here though, so watch it here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

5 Top 40 Music Trends I Hate Right Now

1. Repetition: Why the hell do I have to listen to the same words being repeated over and over and over again? I got it the first time: You can see his halo. I'm not an idiot that you need to repeat that for me 50 times in a three minute period. Were you bored? Did the record skip? Or were you just too lazy to actually WRITE the song and filled it with repeats so you could spend more time at the spa? Why this really annoys me is that people only care about Cobra Starship now that they've released "Good Girls Go Bad". There's nothing about that song that's different from any other of their songs, apart from the repetition (and a newly famous TV actress). So why is it that this song is played all over, and their last album, which was amazing, flew under the radar?

2. Ryan Tedder: This dude gets on my nerves. Not only is he populating the airwaves with formulaic songs with a LOT of repetition and not particularly deep or insightful lyrics, he also screwed over Kelly Clarkson by taking the arrangement he wrote for her and selling it to Beyonce, who incidentally, released her track, Halo, a year before Kelly Clarkson released her track Already Gone. I prefer Already Gone (and not just because I have issues with Beyonce) personally. And I don't like giving douchebags my money. So if Ryan Tedder is involved, I'm not buying it. My apologies to all top 40 artists who once had my support.

3. Disney artists: Miley needs singing lessons. The Jo Bros were poised to be the next Busted/McFly, but lost that chance as soon as they signed with Disney. Most of their artists are MUCH better actors than singers, and I can't tell the difference between Selena whoever-her-name-is and Demi Lovato. Go to college, people. Better yet, acting or music school, so that the kids who listen to your music will go to college themselves, instead of running about in Miley Cyrus wigs in the most inappropriate situations.

And as a sidenote, all you High School Musical kids need to start finding decent movies to act in, and avoid the trap of playing someone ten years younger than you are for the rest of your life. Turst me: people will take you seriously.

4. Sell-outs, re: Black Eyed Peas: I loved this group back in the Elephunk days. Then they still had intelligent raps in their songs. Now it's just "How many top 10 hits can we put into this album? Well if it's going to be top 10 we can't have any actual rapping, just a couple of smart lines done in autotune". What the hell happened, guys??? Shoot, even Monkey Business was decent, and I only listen to the first few tracks on that album. Selling out ain't pretty, people.

5. Lil' Wayne: I was done with this dude's "sipping on sizzurp" gargle dressed up as singing back in the Lollipop days. He's featured in nearly every major single of the past two years. Does nobody know the meaning of "overkill"?? He needs to go into rehab and remind himself that he's a rapper and he needs to start bloody rapping.

The Return of the Female MC

So, if you haven't noticed before: I'm a feminist. I think women and men are equal (though not equivalent) and should be treated as equals. I think women bring a very different perspective to the rap game, and so I'm very happy to tell you that the female MC is back in full force. Queen Latifah is releasing her first non-jazz album in years, and she's going to rap on it (though not all of it) but there are some new players that I think are poised to remind the world that women can spit too.

Before I get into all that, let's salute the old guard: Lil Kim, Eve, Foxy, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, Left Eye (RIP), Queen Pen, and Da Brat to name a few. A few of these women have new singles that I'm not particularly enamored with, so let's remember the good ol' days.

And now onto the newbies:

Lil Mama: While I despise her dress sense and think she makes absolutely no sense when she judges ABDC, she can spit. Here's one of her better tracks.

One Hit Wonder - Lil Mama

Get Em Mamis: Fresh from Baltimore, these chicks are FIRE. Two of my favorite of their current tracks:

Cold Summer - The Get Em Mamis

Nikki Minaj: Newly signed to Lil' Wayne's Young Money imprint, which also is home to everyone's favorite new rapper Drake, (who impresses me less and less these days), she's making waves. I'm not a huge fan, but she's got skills. You should definitely listen to her remix of "Put A Ring On It" and I'll post her own track, featuring Weezy himself, which I am really digging right now.

Single Ladies Remix (feat. Nicki Minaj) - Beyoncé

I Get Crazy (Snippet) - Lil Wayne Ft. Nikki Minaj

The Fly Girls: Who would have thought that young girls from Brooklyn would be putting out records? I love that they're getting the opportunity to do this at such a young age, and that they can actually spit. Awesome.

TNT (Tifa, Natalie, Timberlee): Three female MCs from KingstonJamaica each doing their own thing, but performing together as TNT, and rocking the dancehall world. I could make a really bad pun to describe how awesome they are, but I'll post my favorite of their solo tracks, this one by Tifa, "Spell It Out", and link you to the site where you can preview and buy their mixtape.

Tifa - Spell It Out from Music Videos on Vimeo.

Nola Darling: Named after a character from one of my favorite Spike Lee films, these women from Brooklyn are tearing it up. Check out their remix to "Boom Boom Pow" entitled "That Nola D", which is, in my opinion, a great improvement on the original.

"That Nola D" by Nola Darling *Boom Boom Pow Remix" from Nola Darling on Vimeo.

Kid Sister: Remember Pro Nails? Kid Sister is finally releasing her debut album, Ultraviolet, in October, and I can't wait. I love Right Hand Hi, her first single, but my favorite track of hers so far is definitely Control:

Control - Kid Sister

So what do you guys think? Is the female MC back?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cheaper is Better

Yeah, I said it. All you people complaining about other people being cheap: screw you. Because some types of awesomeness can only be found in thrift stores and secondhand bookstores.

Today, after running some errands, I decided to check out this store, the Fashionista Vintage and Variety Store (33 Church Street, New Haven, CT). First impression when I walked in - blown away. They have EVERYTHING in this place - from John Lennon glasses to wedding dresses to Aztec-y clip-on earrings. I couldn't take any photos because I am currently camera-less, but I made use of my webcam so I could show you what I got. I apologize for the crappy photos - better ones will come in the future.

My favorite thing about the store was that the owner packed my stuff up in this ADORABLE cloth bundle on a stick:

I got a huge kick out of carrying this around the city and having people look at me twice. It was a good kind of double-take, unlike Tuesday, when it was like 90 degrees out and I had a wool hat on because my hair was a mess and that was the only hat I had. lol.

Anyway, on to the purchases. First up, some gorgeous leafy earrings:

I LOVE these. Will dress up any outfit. Came in this cute little egg too:

But, what really got me was this kufi embroidered with bronze thread:

As soon as I saw it I knew I HAD to have it. I'm thinking of doing an Afropolitan fashion shoot as part of a multimedia presentation my cousin is coming up with, and to showcase at my school. This would be a perfect accessory.

Now, onto the second-hand bookstore. I have only been in the Book Trader Cafe once before, but this time I went in and actually looked for stuff. I found four amazing CDs, each costing less than $4, and in pretty good condition.

#1 Dione Farris's Wild Seed - Wild Flower

I saw her perform at the African-American Arts Festival in Baltimore a couple of years ago, and let me tell you, even though the industry has forgotten about her, she is as amazing as ever. People like her deserve so much more recognition than they get currently. This blog post pretty much sums up how I feel about the music industry today, except I disagree with what he said about Jill Scott, because I really like her. Alicia Keys is slowly moving to make herself more marketable (the Beyonce syndrome, as I call it) and India.Arie's last album failed to wow me. I actually went out and bought it too. Sigh. But I digress. Amazing album, will go get her other CDs as well., You should too.

#2 The Raveonettes, Chain Gang of Love

I fell in love with their sound when I listened to "Aly, Walk With Me" on suggestion from the Lefsetz newsletter. Dude has great taste in music, but his rants about the industry were a little too much, so I stopped subscribing. I got their second album, "Lust Lust Lust" and was really excited to find their debut this week. They kept to their fuzzy, underground rock sound, but gave it a slightly more electronic feel on the second album. Still love it though. To some people, all their songs might sound the same, but I love that their songs can each be unique even though they have similar elements. Good album to listen to all the way through. Skips a little on the first track, but otherwise amazing.

#3 ASAP: The Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project

Released in 2004 to raise money to fund aid efforts in Sudan, this album is the stuff I wish Nigerian artists still made today - songs that go hard but still carry a message. Pure Afrobeat, pure amazingness. My current favorite track is "Di Bombs" by Ikwunga.

And last, but not at all least, #4 Les Nubians, Princesses Nubiennes

Their debut album - where it all began. I love these women and their music. They were at Central Park Summerstage along with Asa and Oumou Sangare, and definitely held their own. Best way to describe their sound would be African hip-soul-and-blues. Listening to it now, and I know this is going to be on rotation for a while.

Finally I got this coffee table book called "Extravagant Crowd: Carl Von Vechten's Portraits of Women" and I love it. Famous women from all kinds of different backgrounds. My webcam will not do justice to the photographs in this book. Definitely inspiration for my own photography. My favorite image in the book is his portrait of Frida Kahlo, but I couldn't find it online, so here's another beautiful one of famous blues singer, Bessie Smith.

And all this amazingness cost me only $35. I kid you not. Same price as a shirt from American Apparel. I don't think I'll be buying anything from a major retailer anytime soon. (Except my Diana F+ camera, but that's not for a while.) I will keep you guys posted on my thrifting adventures. And if anyone knows where I can find cute hair accessories on the cheap, let let me know.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rye Rye - Bang

This is my summer jam. And probably my fall jam too, lol.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The One Where I Have Nothing To Say

This is going to sound cold and unfeeling, but when I heard Michael Jackson died on Thursday, I didn't even flinch. As I left my apartment to head to the grocery store, I saw the posted articles about his heart attack on Facebook. I didn't blink twice. I just thought, "Hmmm, not good," and left. At the checkout counter, the person ringing me up said to his co-worker in the next aisle, "Did you hear? Michael Jackson's dead. It was on the news." I didn't look up in shock, horror, or even surprise. Possibly because he didn't relate this information with much concern on his own part. But I came back, and went about my day as if nothing happened. Watched an episode of Bones. So You Think You Can Dance did a short tribute at the beginning of the show. During the commercial breaks, I looked it up, to make sure it was true. All the blogs had pictures up with captions/headings like "In Remembrance"; notably, most of them were photos of him when he still had dark skin and an afro. Only then was it true - he had died. It was sad. But not sad in a 9/11 tragic sort of way. Just sad in the regular vein of someone dying. Not an event of significant gravity.

I almost feel like I should be more concerned though. It's weird when I think about it: for someone who loves music as much as I claim to, Michael Jackson didn't have that much of an influence on me. Indirectly, he's much a part of my interests as everyone and everything that I feel has had some significant influence on me was inspired by him. But directly? Not so much. I'm a late eighties baby. By the time I started getting interested in pop music, (which was pretty late since my parents refused to let us kids watch any sort of music television), he'd already put out the History album. "Black or White" was my introduction to Michael, his talent and his genius. The next significant memory of his music was the music video for "Childhood" which was a special feature on the Free Willy 2 VHS (I loved those movies when I was a kid.), and my attempts to fill in the backstory to the "Smooth Criminal" video. I listened to the History album and caught up on what was by now common knowledge. And then Michael took a backseat. I didn't grow up with his music in my ears because I grew up during his long hiatus from music. My older siblings jammed Biggie and Boyz II Men and a little Jay-Z, but no Michael. And Invincible, in my opinion, couldn't hold a candle to his old work. So I couldn't really relate when I saw pictures of people crying, and when my dancer friend called me and talked to me about how she couldn't believe it, and she wished it wasn't true, and tagged me in a Facebook note where she described how MJ impacted her life. It didn't really mean all that much to me.

His passing is sad, I won't deny. I've been listening to his music since yesterday and reminding myself of what the world lost by his passing. But he'd already given us a lot of himself: you could even say he gave too much. And he lived a long life - I unfortunately know a lot of people who didn't even make it to 20, or 15. People die every day. A 16 year old girl was gunned down in Iran while out watching the election protests. I search "13 year old black model" trying to find out what's up with Gerren Taylor these days, and Google comes up with like 5 news articles of young black kids either shooting someone or getting shot. Life is short, life is precious, but I get that already. Michael's death isn't so much a reminder of that as it is another event in the long chain of events that make up the human experience and the nightly news roundup.

But I'm left here wondering why I'm writing a music blog if the biggest influence in pop music today dies and I don't really have anything to say about it at the end of four paragraphs apart from "It's sad." Maybe there's something more to my love for music than just the links it can create to my memories and my childhood. Maybe the world's so f-ed up that feeling sad about the death of someone I didn't know seems pointless, and maybe even trite. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, my exam on Thursday is more important than Michael Jackson. (Right now, at least.) Or maybe it's just sad, and nothing more. I will say this, though - if his passing makes me write a long blog post when I have a test in 5 days, it has to be of some sort of significance.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I <3 Amazon

Just got Mos Def's "The Ecstatic" for $3.99!!! This has made my week :)

I also got Chrisette Michele's new album a couple of months ago for $2.99, but haven't listened to it yet (slaps herself on the hand).

I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to afford to actually buy my music, since I like so many different artists. But if Amazon keeps this up, that won't be a problem :) They are also selling 88-Keys and The Foreign Exchange's albums for $5, along with albums from Coheed and Cambria, Eartha Kitt, and Cream. Get them while they're hot.

That being said, all future gifts in the form of iTunes/Amazon/7digital gift cards, or actual CDs, will be gratefully accepted :)

P.S. Green Day released a new album and I've heard NOTHING about it. What gives? I thought they were like the pioneers of 90's punk rock, and a major influence on many of today's bands. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Remember the days...

...when all the dancing popstars needed to do was a little two-step coupled with enough hair flipping and six-pack flashing to keep the fans screaming? It's like that's changing. Below is a video for the song "Beat Again" by the British boyband JLS (they won some awards show...), and from the looks of it, they are doing some serious popping and locking.

Compare with 5ive's video for "If Ya Gettin' Down, circa 1999. Minimal dancing from the band themselves, but decent moves from the back-up dancers.

I still like this song, though I now find it considerably cheesy and not as banging as I originally thought. A little remastering and remixing though, and I would bump this song in my car. If I had a car, that is.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Drought

I love music. Yes, it's obvious, I know. I go through albums and mixtapes like it's my job (kinda wish it was...). They haven't yet invented a subscription music service that gives me ALL the music I want (And until then, I will continue to say that the digital music industry, globally, needs to step up its game). But it's like the good artists are taking a sabbatical. Right now, I miss Corinne Bailey Rae, Maroon 5, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu. I'm sad because I can't really expect them to suddenly appear with music anytime soon. Maroon 5 takes their time with each album, which I appreciate, because their last two albums have been amazing. Corinne Bailey Rae lost her husband last year, and has barely recorded anything since. Lauryn Hill has been on hiatus for years, and the only track we've heard from her since only makes me sadder that her career kinda just stopped and never really started back up again, despite claims and rumors that she has recorded many tracks. And yes, I know Erykah Badu released New Amerykah Part I last year, but I wish she'd hurry up and release part II.

Usually I find another artist to keep me occupied until my favorites release new music, but there's nobody right now. I mean, nobody. I'm going to see Drake in concert this week, and I'm not even excited. And I love Drake. I have Bat for Lashes's new album on my iPod but I feel like I've listened to it all already. New music does nothing for me, and old music is... well, old. What's going on?

Maybe this whole music thing was a phase, and I'm finally phasing out. Or maybe I have too much music, and the good stuff is hidden under all the extra fodder I've collected to fill my iTunes library. Or maybe I'm realizing that music can never be "new". Everything that you've done has probably been done before in some form or shape. Every new beat is modeled off an old one, every new lyric or tune is a tribute to its ancestors. The last time I felt excitement or enthusiasm about a new artist or song was in February.

What makes music special then?


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rocking Out With Jesus

So if you haven't already figured out, I love music. I also love Jesus. But those two loves don't always coincide. I'd love to find a blog like The Fader that features new and amazing Christian music of all genres. As much as I believe that you can praise God in any form, I wish there was more variety in the Christian music that came out these days. All I hear these days is Christian music either mimicking top 40 radio (which I no longer listen to) or paint-by-numbers Christian rock.

I loved P.O.D. back in their day because they made music that was different from everyone elses, and still praised God. Christians should be making music that stands out, not blends in. Every day, I happen upon a new artist who's doing something innovative, be it in rap, rock, pop, R&B, whatever. I wish that for every secular artist I found, I could find a Christian artist doing the same thing.

I'm assuming though, that I'm not looking in the right place. So please, if anyone knows Christian, or even just inspirational artists, that aren't your typical gospel/CCM/Christian rock artists, PLEASE send me in the right direction. Even better if it's a blog that features all this stuff.

No Recession for Rappers

From the Dutty Artz Podcast, "Recession Proof Wallets":

A few weeks ago, I saw a financial analyst on MSNBC who said that instead of worrying and despairing because the US economy is spiraling downward, Americans should be excited and imaginative, because it is easier to be the winner in an environment where so many people are loosing. In most of the rap world, it's forever boom-time and the global economic crisis is nonexistent. Openly masking human suffering and frailty with good old fashion American hypermasculinity and boasts about one's net worth has been the approach for radio-friendly rap artists for years, regardless of the current economic malaise. Even when the world around is crumbling, these artists look beyond, ignoring immediate circumstances and continue to paint pictures of excess. There is no such thing as absurd, excessive balling.

To paraphrase something Hugh Masekela said - if you don't talk about your people, their plight, injustice, struggle and you're using their music to get rich and famous, you need your head examine, you will end up in a bad, bad place... well, a lot of people are living in that place already. (emphasis mine)

After posting that Young Capone track, and listening to the Rick Ross album (which has some surprisingly good and memorable moments) I was compelled to look at the other side of the trap/the majority/what is considered the norm to most rap listeners, or what has larger representation, Hot97 radio-playability (not to say Young Jeezy's "Circulate" and Cam'rom's "I Hate My Job" didn't get played, because they did, but you are more likely to hear flamboyant and splurgy raps and attitude towards the recession.); But this batch of tracks also features some relatively unknown/regional/up and coming rappers.

So here it is -- Recession Proof Wallets for your listening pleasure. It is pretty nauseating. It slows down in the second half, but really there's no relief, except for the last track by UGK adding a degree of levelheadedness and unquestionable swag, everything else here is bloated and unreal, insane, American--; so there, considered yourself warned.

Doesn't this remind you of the Asher Roth comment that's been blowing up the hip-hop blogosphere right now:

...'You guys are always going off about how much money you have. Do you realize what's going on in this world right now?' All these black rappers ? African rappers ? talking about how much money they have. 'Do you realize what's going on in Africa right now?'...It's just like, 'You guys are disgusting. Talking about billions and billions of dollars you have. And spending it frivolously, when you know, the Motherland is suffering beyond belief right now.'"

Now, Asher Roth got a LOT of shit for this comment. But y'all KNOW he has a point. Whatever happened to hip-hop being the voice of the people? Anyway, I'm not going to talk too much. I want to hear what everyone else thinks. Especially about the writer's assertion that this kind of attitude towards hard times is "American".

Sunday, April 26, 2009

At the next party I go to...

which won't be for a while... they need to play this.

Get Em Mamis - Cold Summer

The return of the female MC? What do you guys think? I personally am digging these chicks way more than Nicki Minaj.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Janelle Monae, Ahmed Gallab + Thoughts on Race


I don't know if I'm more excited to see her amazing performance, or to ask her about her hair if I get a chance... LOL

She's opening for Of Montreal - I've never heard their music. Does anyone know if they're any good?

***Edit, 9.35pmI did a little digging - Of Montreal has been around since the 90s (funny how that sounds like so long ago) and make mostly indie pop-rock music, which changes in its sound from happy to weird invariably. Not particularly my cup of tea. I'm more interested in their sometimes collaborator, Ahmed Gallab:

Originally from Sudan, he came to the US as a refugee when he was 6 years old. He drums for Of Montreal, and for Caribou, who's this psychedelic rock dude with a Ph.D in Mathematics from Imperial College, London. Somehow it doesn't surprise me that a psychedelic rock dude would have a Ph.D in mathematics - maybe people who play psychedelic rock and enjoy math think the same way... but I digress. Ahmed's making waves in the indie rock scene because of his awesome drumming, and also has his own stuff out, under the name Sinkane. It's not bad from what I heard on his MySpace, but I will be checking out the rest of his music, so will let you know if it's raveworthy or not. On a thread I learned that he's into Ethiopian Jazz and West African 70's-style funk. That info, along with this very cool pic, definitely puts him on my list of very cool people. Too bad he won't be at the Of Montreal show - he's touring with Born Ruffians opening for Franz Ferdinand.

I just realized there aren't that many black people in the indie rock scene - at least in the mainstream bands. We have Black Kids (LOVE this band), TV On the Radio (the lead singer's Nigerian) and Of Montreal when Ahmed's around... but not much else. Good thing there's things like Afropunk to showcase the bands we don't usually get to see.

Also, since coming to the US, I've started to talk a lot more about race and diversity. This worries me, because I never did this before, and I don't want to become one of those people who's too hung up on race and diversity - pulling the race card, hating people of other races, etc. Someone in the Elephant 6 forum asked why it mattered that Ahmed Gallab might be the only black dude on the label (he isn't, by the way - there's one other dude). I think matters because it's noticeable. All things being equal, he shouldn't be the only black dude on the label. And you can't say that maybe black people just aren't into indie rock, because that's making gross generalizations about a group of people because of the color of their skin. And that's not cool. It's not necessarily racist, but it's not cool. Am I being too hung up on race for thinking this?

Also, in my experience, people who think like that particular commenter are usually white - the only people talking about race are people of color. It makes sense in some regards because Caucasians thought up the idea of race as we know and experience it today, and people of color bear the brunt of it. But white is a race too, and it comes with its own set of stereotypes. Only once have I heard a white person complaining about stereotypes being placed on them, and that was in a reactionary, and somewhat misplaced response to The Young and Disenchanted's post about her relationship with her white male friend. So can you really say "race doesn't matter" if the people who say this are the only ones who aren't affected by it?

Okay, so this went from a happy music post to a short speech from the soapbox. But I encounter race every day, and it affects me. Aren't my thoughts, feelings, questions, and opinions important, and worthy of voicing, even if you and I don't experience the same thing? Another dude on the forum posted this:

Originally Posted by pinocchio
Is this the first AFRICAN AMERICAN e6 affiliated person
ever? Comments? Yes... I said it. But I think it may just be true... a factual

Isn't Ahmed actually from Sudan? Which would make him African African? God,
you guys really crack me up with your Whatever-American... Why does everyone
have to announce their pedigree?

First of all, it's not a pedigree. We're not dogs, neither are we claiming royal ancestry. And people say that because people like you make it seem like things like race and identity don't matter. But other people think they do matter. A lot.

Does anyone else feel like this? Is talking about race just a part of the minority experience in the US, or is it just something that black people do to make an unnecessary fuss about things?

NB: I wrote "other people" but then thought " 'other' people"... oh dear. The US is screwing with my mind. I want to go back to the days when the only thing that concerned me was what color crayon I'd use to write my name that day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why I Love The Harajuku Girls

Minstrel show aside: They are SO fly.

I have issues with the interviews: they speak in Japanese and then do their own translation. I mean, it's cool to hear them speak English, but why couldn't they FILM them speaking English? Or just give us subtitles? It's a weird disconnect that makes me feel like they're saying, "Ooh, look at the pretty Japanese girls! Aren't they cute - they can't speak proper English!" And why are they all talking about being pulled into Gwen's fantasy world??? Ewww. *sigh. I would go on, but I'll let Margaret Cho and DISGRASIAN handle that. I will only speak of how fly they are.

Mayuko Kitayama: Baby
Not only is she an awesome dancer from Japan by way of NYC, she's also rocking the most awesome hairdo ever. I'm usually not a fan of the Afro perm, but she pulls it off. She also just seems like a very cool person:

Rino Nakasone: Music
Her name's Music - I already love her. She's also a SICK dancer. Now she's up to idol status. Check her out in the Harajuku Girls interview here:

Who knew anyone could dance to Gwen Stefani's Luxurious, and amazingly well at that? To top it off, below is a video of her freestyling in Teresa Espinosa's class (you already know it's gonna be hot):

Oh and here's a video of her interview from the Beat Freaks (America's Best Dance Crew, Season 3 - why did I not watch this???) - she actually speaks really good English! Gwen Stefani, what the **** are you doing? As in, really - what are you doing?

I've concluded that what I need to do is go down to LA for three months and take dance classes, if I want to be almost as good as these girls. Rock on.

*** Edit, April 6, 12.24pm
So watching the Rino interview again, I'm beginning to think that they had someone else do the translation, not the girls themselves. The question I have is... WHY??? Why make them "foreign"? I suppose so that the spotlight stays on Gwen, and not on these amazing women. Ew. Again.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Guess There Are No Feminists In the Music Industry

I have a dilemma. It's one that has bothered me for a while now, but it only just became apparent how problematic this problem really is. I copied "Right Round" from my brother's iTunes. I had been listening to it in his car, and I loved the beat. It's a perfect crossover song: it has the pop melody (and Katy Perry-like vocals on the chorus), and it’s done by Flo-Rida who's already established a reputation for making good party songs for rap and R&B fans. What I didn't notice before I downloaded it, was that the song was about a stripper. The lyrics go: "You spin my head right round right round when you go down when you go down down x2/ From the top of the pole, I watch her go down, she got me throwing my money around, ain't nothing more beautiful to be found, it's going down down x2"

Here's my dilemma: despite this very negative representation of women (as sexual objects paid for men's pleasure), I'm reluctant to delete it from my library, because the beat is so good! (this is the point where my mum says "that's how the devil does his work…") I'm most offended because here we have a negative message disguised in a great beat. I'm listening to this, and dancing and singing along, and yet I'm at the same time highly distraught by the image of women it's promoting. Flo-Rida decided to make a number one hit with a song that talks about women as objects. And if you doubt this, why does the song go "ain't nothing more beautiful to be found" as opposed to " ain't no one"? I mean, they could have written completely different lyrics, and the song still would have been good. So why is it that they chose the image of men ballin', flossin' and paying women to objectify themselves? Why must Flo-Rida's second big hit have to be this image? Is it that women who aren't strippers don't sell records?

So when they complain about rap artists singing songs derogatory to women, people usually say, "well you can't blame them, they're catering to a male audience." But this is different because the song is not only catering to a black male audience, it's also catering to a female audience. It's mostly [white] females who listen to Katy Perry, and if you make a song that sounds like her music, you're trying to reach her audience as well. So why sell women an image of themselves that isn't positive? Also, I think we make too many excuses for rap artists. Women listen to hip-hop too, and I'm sure not all black males think that stripping is a worthy profession for a woman. And I don’t think that promoting stripping to either males or females is good in any way. Men will treat all their women like hoes, and women will think being a hoe is okay.

A lot of people at my school have written letters to the student activities committee trying to get them not to bring in rap artists that have music or have done things that are not respectful of women: Ludacris, T.I. , and Akon, specifically. Ludacris and T.I. have performed in the past, Akon is in the running for this year's Spring Fling. I don't know how to feel about this. Akon had that thing with the 15 year-old in Trinidad, and "I Wanna F*** You". However, I can't come up with songs from Ludacris and T.I. that present women in a negative light. Or, at least, where that negative image is the basis of the song. And quite frankly, I like T.I. and Ludacris more than Akon. They make good music. Maybe I ignore the negative images when they come up, because they make good music. Or maybe I accept the fact that men in the music industry will be spending money on prostitutes and strippers because it's part of the lifestyle, and I excuse them because the beat's hot. I feel like if we decided to only listen to rappers that put out only positive images of women in their music, who never mentioned the words, "hoe", "freak", or "bitch" in their music, we'd have very few rap artists to choose from (we'd also eliminate a number of female rap artists), and we'd lose a lot of the great artistry that exists among these negative images and lyrics. However, I do think we should hold rap artists, and the music industry as a whole, to a higher standard, so I don't have to be distraught whenever a song comes on the radio. I just want to appreciate hip-hop - is that too much to ask?

[Note: Some people may argue that not all strippers are hoes, and some women actually enjoy it and find it empowering. I agree. However, a larger proportion of women are forced into stripping for lack of a better job, or in an attempt to make ends meet while trying to get a better job. And those women who are empowered by stripping, and make it classy, are few and far between (and the rap artists that feature these kind of strippers in their videos are even fewer). These women are the exception, not the rule.]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Late Night Discovery

An entire song in Pidgin, shot in a place that could very easily be Lagos, though it's likely another coastal town in a French-speaking country. Do I love this song and this musician? Yes.

Friday, February 27, 2009

People who Beef Beyonce More Than Me

From Concrete Loop, comments on this article of Beyonce on the cover of Ebony:

Beyaki has a nappy weave, look at her edges in that closeup pic with the blue fit on.

Beyaki teefis look like a halloween jacko-lantern why?

Beyaki face is looking chubby like she been eating fried chicken non stop

Beyaki looks preggos! Look at her stomach when she is sitting down, it looks like she is at least 4 months, its that or Popeye’s chicken and biscuits is shoved under her shirt.

She is too overrated. Yall acting like that 80’s hairdo is hot, it is not, can she get original and come with something that is flattering on her, NOT.

Beyaki needs weave, 10 pounds of makeup and some veneers on those criss crossed teefis!

Beyonce only wearing her hair like that because she is on the cover of a black magazine, EBONY LOL Don’t be fooled she is only doing this for black folks approval! No surprise because she is trying to do the story of Angela Davis now she wants to rock an ethnic hair do. go figure, lame beyonce LOL
Still trying to bore us with more secrets about her fake marriage, YAWN
Sit down YAWNCE you are so boring!

I am disappointed in Ebony magazine. How can we go from Michelle Obama, a respectable and upstanding shining example of a black woman to this coonish buffonish booty rump shaking talentless hack, ie. a pile of fat back we so affectionately call beyonce. lol This trick is just pimped out by her father to any magazine that will put her on the cover and then we call that star power? No, this girl is not talented, she even lip synched at the Oscars while they put her up there on display to entertain the white folkz, sheesh. Ebony should be ashamed putting this coochie poppin’ embarrassment to the black community on the cover.

She is not representing sistas. She is a convenient negro who pulls out her black nappy wig when she has to do a cover that is pandered to our community. I dare her to wear it to the Oscar’s next year. lol It won’t happen because she is spineless, only black when she has to do a black mag cover, so shallow and transparent beyonce. I have named you the “Convenient Negro” how about doing a movie about that instead of trying to be a real iconic black figure like Angela Davis. You have no depth to do that role, you’re only trying to be down with the black community NOW because you think you need us to go see you debacle that role, not going to happen though. We see through you BE-foonery Knowles!

I won't even hate, Beyonce looks really good in the shoot - whether her hair is her real hair or not. Though I kind of wish it was: that would be some justification for patronizing our dear friend the lacefront wig - she could say she was protecting her hair so that it could grow. But then again, you have to wonder... is she sporting the fro because she wants to get the Angela Davis role? Who's to say?

Interestingly enough, most of these comments were either praise or hate, or praisers hating on the haters. You have to wonder about people who get such polarized criticism.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Promise, I'm Not Drinking the Haterade On This One

Check this out.

I fail to understand why Beyonce keeps getting the roles of all these Black American icons in movies. I still feel that she doesn't represent black women, and that asking her to play people that so many black women identify with and look up to is just wrong. I'm guessing that people are hoping her celebrity status will make people watch the movie, or that by giving her all these roles she will suddenly morph into the Oscar-winning actress that she isn't right now. Whichever reason, I think we're giving her too much credit. The film maker says it would be a good dramatic role for her. But it's not like she's never had dramatic roles before. She's only ever acted in one comedy. It would be a good dramatic role for any other black actress: why Beyonce in particular?

The poll results say it all. I rest my case.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Domestic abuse is wrong. I don't know why Chris Brown would hit Rihanna, but he shouldn't have done it. Pure and simple. I can't believe people are saying she probably provoked him (reminds me of a post I wrote about guys ganging up against the girls...). People can be so ignorant.

I don't even know how to feel about it. I think what disturbs me the most is that it's not just celebrities - it's people MY age. Domestic violence is often depicted as the older man beating on the woman, but never as something that occurs between young people barely out of their teens. I guess this goes to show that domestic abuse comes in all shapes and forms. I'm sad for them: that their personal problems, whatever they were, developed into this mess; and also that they can't have much privacy in the matter. I guess the law makes these kinds of things public information, but their celebrity status means that everybody knows all their business, not just what they were in court for.

Also, Rihanna did a brave thing by calling the police about it. A lot of people can't talk about stuff like this, but she called. She probably knew it would be all over the news the next day, too. Afrobella has a list of domestic abuse resources for anyone who's experienced it, or anyone who knows someone who's going through it. I encourage anyone who's going through this right now to talk to someone about it. It'll help.

In other news, I'm mad that Coldplay got all those Grammys, despite the fact that Viva La Vida... is their worst album to date. I'm either biased towards their older music, or the only person not on their [bleep]. As you can see, I'm annoyed by it. A lot of great artists got Grammys though: Estelle, Duffy, Adele, Jennifer Hudson, Chrisette Michele, to name a few. They also screwed over a bunch of people, in my opinion, but they do it every year, so I won't waste time complaining. I figured out long ago that they don't pick winners by what's popular. In some ways, that's good, and in others, it's bad.

If you hate this layout, tell me. Seriously. I'm warming up to it, but the hearts have to go.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Magic Systeme!!!

So I had thought that these guys had only done that one song "Premier Gaou" and then disappeared from the scene. But this song came out LAST SUMMER (Channel O has disappointed me because they were NOT up on this) and it seems like these guys are still going strong. Enjoy the video!

So what I didn't like: a) the white chick in the store getting more airtime than the black one; b) the couple that wasn't even dancing, but were simply preparing to get it on. they were unnecessary

What I did like: a) using video blogging/the Youtube craze as a premise for the video; and b) the three afro-haired dudes. They should have got more airtime; c) the fact that I do EXACTLY the same thing: go to my room and rock out to my favorite music. LOLz.

And now I've discovered a new dance style/genre! (Zouglou, originated in Cote D'Ivoire in the 90s)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Short but sweet

... ever noticed how the best things in life are short-lived? A piece of chocolate, a good night's sleep, a good song? I've consistently noticed that some of my favorite songs are really, really short - or at least, below the 3:15 mark.

1. Charity Case - Gnarls Barkley (The Odd Couple)
Found this on my Janelle Monae station on Pandora. Going On is another great song that's unusually short, but I think this song leaves you wanting more. It always amazes me when a song does that.

2. Beautiful Surprise - India.Arie (Voyage to India)
Simple, short, yet such a beautiful song. Too many words would spoil it. Just listen.

3. Feeling Me, Feeling You - Alicia Keys (The Diary of Alicia Keys)
The electric guitar does it for this one. This song makes me think of New York City at night. Don't ask me why. It just does.

4. Without You (Interlude) - Usher (8701)
So Can You Help Me is an amazing song, but I prefer this one, which precedes it on the album (Usher's best in my opinion). Amazing vocals - the only Usher song I like better is his cover of Luther Vandross's "Don't You Remember" - still gives me the chills every time I hear it.

5. Dancing Shoes - Arctic Monkeys (Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not)
A gem from their first album. One of the reasons I love British music.

6. A LOT of Beatles songs
Blackbird, Can't Buy Me Love, A Hard Day's Night, Love Me Do, Happiness Is A Warm Gun, most of Abbey Road... 'nuff said.

7. Afrique - Tumi and The Volume
Quality South African hip-hop. One to watch.

8. Simi See Trouble - ASHTHOMAS (The Ascension)
Probably the best Nigerian track I've ever heard. People like these guys and M.I. are changing what Nigerian hip-hop sounds like. This song is too short.

9. She Moves In Her Own Way - The Kooks (Inside In Inside Out)
So I became disenchanted with the Kooks after their first album, but this song is part of the reason why I still think they're a great band. Come to think of it, they typically have really short tracks.

10. Get Fresh - Kid Sister (Dream Date)
So I was going to leave it at 9, but this artist is worth mentioning. In November, I was like "where are all the female MCs???" (yes, I'm a feminist). I got so excited when I discovered this chick. I can't wait till her's and Left Eye's albums come out later this year.

Okay. Now I need to actually get work done. Later y'all. Check out the playlist.

Short But Sweet