Thursday, March 31, 2016

Life is a weird confluence of events is it not?

As I sat down to start the this entry I realized my last blog post involved a video of Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, being named the first artistic director of Hip-Hop at the Kennedy Center. Five days later, Phife Dog, the Scottie Pippen of Tribe, died due to complications from diabetes. Two weeks before either one of those announcements, the wife and I caught the tail end of Beats, Rhymes and Life documentary about Tribe. After we watched about five minutes of it, the wife and I started discussing whether Phife or Q-tip were more responsible for the demise of the group. Then we talked about how sad it was that they both seemed incapable of making anymore of the memorable music that so many folks in our generation had grown dependent on from 1990-1998 (such a short span of greatness by the way).

One night before Phife died, I took the time to watch yet another documentary on Organized Noize (the folks who produced OutKast, Goodie Mob and others), and I was just caught up in all kinds of early-to-mid 90s nostalgia about OutKast, Goodie Mob and my college years as a whole. And I remember being struck by the stark differences in how some of these artists had changed in the 20 years since we first "met" them. As I am writing this I am wondering why the hell I would be so naive to think I would change and age in 20 years but my favorite artists would somehow stay stagnant for my convenience. It does not quite work that way I know, but I never said my line(s) of thoughts were always rational, now did I?

The thing that struck me about the Organized Noise documentary--which ironically was one of the same things that struck me about the Tribe doc--is that Big Boi and Andre did all of their interviews separately. Now I understand that folks are generally more comfortable discussing group dynamics without members of the group being in their presence, but I would have liked to see some interviews where OutKast and Tribe appeared in their respective entirety. It never happened though. And for Outkast, when I listened to their interviews during this documentary, and I combined that with what I heard in the countless interviews I heard from them the past 5 years or so, I was convinced that OutKast would never record again. Like Tribe, I expected OutKast to do tours, tv shows, the Budweiser Superfest (which needs to come back) and other appearance that basically amount to teases. But there would be no new album to look forward to buying, dubbing or previewing on Spotify or Tidal. I even texted my brother to tell him to watch the documentary, and that 'Kast was done. He texted me back and said he'd watch it soon.

The very next text I received from my brother came at about 3:45am, and I didn't see it until 4:45 when I woke up, and it simply said, "Man, I am hurt over Phife. Damn". I suspected that Phife died but as most folks do, I scoured the Internet and Twitter for confirmation, and I saw that he had indeed passed away. For the next several days, I found myself playing not only Tribe, but all the music from my high schoo and college days--of course I honed in on Tribe stuff. I played songs, I downloaded tributes and compliations, I rewatched the documentary, videos and I did every damn thing I could do to fulfill my need to be nostalgic.

I didn't cry over Phife's death, but there was a sadness hanging over me for a few days. It felt like a dark cloud following me wherever I went, and I couldn't shake it (a Nas line from the World Is Yours comes to mind..). Not only did it feel like my innocence had been stripped away but the way Phife died was a wakeup call as well. Yes his death was sad, but it was very preventable. He did adjust his life and diet to accomodate his Type 1 diabetes, and it eventually caught up to him. I have stopped and started many workout/diet plans and then I fall into the familiar, destructive habit of not giving a good goddamn. I'm not a funky diabetic, and I am not that overweight, but I know I could and should be doing a better job to monitor my health. I know that in theory but when musical hero of mine dies and he's just 5 years my senior, it tends to resonate a little more.

So I waited a little over a week before I wrote about this, because I wanted to get my emotions in check. I'm sure I could say more, but this feels good enough for now. I'm still playing Tribe to death, but I'm working out and eating right again, the black cloud isn't following me anymore and life goes on. It still sucks though..

Thursday, March 17, 2016

In this week's episode of hell yes I'm getting old....

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Bryant Gumbel on Young Black Men and the Police:


Posted by Agyei Tyehimba on Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday, March 05, 2016

As I am sitting here trying to blog for the first time in a couple of weeks, I am fighting nausea, congestion and a bit of dehydration. My four year old is sitting here watching the movie "Happy Feet" is in my face hovering over the laptop, even though he has a nasty cough and just threw his oatmeal up all over the floor. I just wanted to make sure I captured as disgusting as a visual as I could before I started typing this entry.

Speaking of my son, I have volunteered to read in front of his class this Tuesday,and I am legitimately excited and maybe a touch nervous. None of the male parents have volunteered to do this yet, so I figured I would be the first. It isn't often that a kid has the opportunity to show off his dad in front of his friends, so I need to make sure I do a bang up job.

First and foremost, I need to make sure that I (or my wife) pick out a great entertaining book. I want the book to have a subject matter worth listening to, some fancy pictures for them look at, and maybe a slight lesson to boot. That will win me points with the teacher. Second, I need to be funny and engaging with each of the 13 kids in the class--black, white, hispanic, male and female. Reading a book isn't like doing the opening monologue of the Oscars, but a good teacher/entertainer/point guard gets everyone involved and makes his/her audience feel like they are the only ones in the room. And lastly, after I leave the classroom and head back to work, I need Nyles to be able to brag to the teaches and his fellow colleagues, that I shut shit down. I want Nyles to be able to brag and I want his colleagues asking and damn near begging for my encore. I realize these are just Pre-Kindergarten students, but they still possess the ability to inflate my little ego. Basically I'm trying to win..

Speaking of fathers, my dad and his book club nerds are celebrating 25 years of being together, by putting together a list of their favorite songs during that span. My father took it a step further and broke down his favorite songs of each decade since the 60s, his favorite artists of all time, and his favorite 10 songs ever. He shared these lists with my brother and I, so I don't want to give them all away, but I AM going to show you his top 10 songs ever:

1. Old Man River – The Temptations

2. You’ll Lose a Precious Love – The Temptations (My dad loves Melvin Frankin's vocals in this song and he can imitate these vocals on commmand. No lie)

3. My Girl – The Temptations

4. God Bless the Child – Billie Holiday

5. A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

6. Ain’t Too Proud To Beg – The Temptations (this is my father's favorite song of all time. Hands down. He can sing all the parts in perfect pitch, and I suspect if he gets some of the devil's nectar up in him, he would do the choreography too)

7. Tell Me Something Good – Rufus, Featuring Chaka Khan (the perfect song to pluck an air guitar too while scrunching up your face)

8. Rainy Night in Georgia – Brook Benton (This song reminds my dad of his father, who passed away in 1978)

9. I’m So Proud – The Impressions and The Main Ingredient (I just used this song to end a blog entry of mine back in January, I had no clue this was on my dad's list.

10. The Ghetto – Donny Hathaway