Update yer Bookmarks & RSS!!
You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds....
If you're not redirected, go to www.daily-math.com or click on the photo below.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I'm so effin lame right now. With this blog that is. Kids homes for vacation could be an excuse but excuses are tools for the incompetent (Blue Phi!). Honestly, I've been addicted, playing that new EA Sports Fight Night 4 though. Game is dope, especially how they've marketed it as the ultimate Ali vs. Tyson simulator. I know it's just a game, but for years, me and many boxing fans' ultimate fantasy fight has been Ali vs. Tyson and who would win. I used to be inclined to say Tyson, just cause dude is from my era, hip hop's first official athlete and all. But now I dunno. In Fight Night 4, Ali stay murking Tyson almost every time. Like I said, just a game, but I'm saying. In real life though, who do you think would win?
I used to be a real hater. Going back, the first person I remember professionally hating on was the late great Keith Haring. When I was in high school, I had to commute on the daily to Manhattan. I remember being on the subway, rush hour crowdedness making me swear that I'd have a career where I'd never have to ride the iron horse during rush hours in my adult life and peeping out the train car windows to see bizarre images posted up on black empty ad spaces, drawn out in white chalk.
I'd see one, then another, and as the days passed, these pieces would become a common sighting. Radiant babies, barking dogs, all types of art to make them hellish train rides that much more pleasant. Didn't know who was tagging them at the time, just knew they were busy putting in work. But then, back in the early 1980's, New York was graffiti city. Artists like Fab 5 Freddy, Phase 2, Lee and KOOL 131 and Adrock were putting up burners like it was a day job. And to them it was. New York was a filthy smelly dirty little city, mad dangerous too, and the tag artists that were getting it in were doing their part in beautifying, as well as making my city the historic landmark that it remains today. Graffiti then was most definitely a part of the new Hip Hop aesthetic that was nurturing my young psyche then. But I never looked at those weird white drawings as part of the urban graf movement, even though, technically, it was.
Still, being that I was on my way to being a fine artist major, all that free street artwork was being soaked in. Around 1982, 1983, Keith Haring started gaining national and international acclaim. I began seeing the familiar works from the subway posted up in the newspaper and magazine articles, along with photos of the little scrawny white boy who had been responsible for them. Seeing how it was a white, and how fast he had achieved fame, I instantly called race shenanigans. Youth is a precious time, where most of us live by and through our passions, and being passionate about my culture, I was quick to call out anything I saw as fake, as commercial. So I let the hate flow. Keith's work was way too amateurish in comparison to the other graf artists I had grown to appreciate. Plus, he was white, not Latino or Black, like most other artists I was aware of, so this definitely played out like the art world was propping up it's next poster boy. My hate didn't matter though, as the 1980's continued to progress, Haring's work became more ubiquitous. Dude was doing shit for companies like BMW and Swatch. Shit was disgusting B, especially how this fraud was getting money like that.
Towards the end of the 1980's, I was now in law school, at Georgetown. One of my best friends and housemate down in Washington, DC was my dude Sam Gonzales, who went to high school with me and hailed from Spanish Harlem. Sam had a twin brother James, who was on his way to medical school. Sam was one of those Puerto Rican cats who knew everybody in Manhattan. One of his childhood friends was this dude named Adolofo Arena. Adolfo just happened to have landed a position as Keith Haring's assistant. It helped that Adolofo was gay, as it had been common knowledge that Keith also repped the rainbow set. [||]. Intrigued by Sam's connection to Keith, I let dude know how I felt Haring was one of the sham artists that helped corporations in co-opting the whole graf/ Hip Hop movement. Sam didn't give a fuck what I thought though. We had a break from school coming up, and since we'd both be driving from DC to NYC, his first stop, before I landed in Brooklyn, was Keith Haring's art studio down on Broadway, in the village. Not really knowing any celebrities then, I decided I'd tag along, see what Mr. Haring was like in real life. Probably let him know my thoughts about him for good measure.
One of many buildings lining up Broadway, Keith's studio was almost impossible to spot. Back in New York, Greenwhich Village, the city was so effin alive, back in '87, '88. You had to take a real narrow and tight elevator which would bring you directly into the studio. Sam and I rode up and once at our destination, we entered a studio that was completely white, except for the paintings and artwork, drippings and shit that was evident that we had entered an artist's work shop. We were greeted by Adolfo, then Keith, who initially came off as a bit shy. Maybe dude was busy because he had just been commissioned by Germany to do some public artwork for kids. Or was it Japan? Still and all, dude was mad welcoming, any friend of Adolfo was a friend of his was his creed. Plus he loved Sam and James, being that they were twins. Haring made sure that we felt comfortable. Even pulled out his finest greenery to burn, and burn we did. Instantly I forgot all the hate, all the questions I had lined up about how dude was a fake, how he had used his whiteness to climb far and beyond his "fellow" artists in claiming fame, wealth too. Maybe I forgot because of his warmth, maybe it was the weed, but regardless, dude was incredibly cool, especially since he was as famous as he was. Maybe I was starstruck, but I doubt it since Keith didn't give off that self important vibe. Must have been one of the most down to earth cats I had ever met. But man, was his personal artwork insane. Not just the kiddie shit most people know him for. Haring was heavy into tribal art, or art that showed how tribal African patterns had been a source of his inspiration. Then he had his whole gay collection which I didn't really check, but it was there. The designs for companies like BMW who he had done some work for was unreal as well. Keith was complex with his. Deep too. Being that he had made it public that he had contracted aids, he also had a deep collection demonstrating how that disease was like a demon, ravaging through the lives of so many people locally, globally, how it had taken the lives of so many people around him, young talented artists, like Jean-Michel Basquiat. Keith knew he was living on borrowed time, and it showed in the volume of work he was putting out. Most importantly, Keith loved the kids. No R. Kelly pederast. Keith felt kids around the world were truly unrepresented, and gave hundreds of his pieces to organizations that repped children.
Didn't realize then how big it was that I could casually burn an L and flip through Haring's personal work like that. And the more Sam and I would drop by his studio on the humble, and burn more L's and flip through more of his work, Keith became more flesh and blood, more human. It didn't matter that I was getting free shit from The Pop Shop, the store he opened in Soho to sell tee shirts and what not, or that he loved Mr. Chow's and was free with his money and wanted to share it with us, or at least what it brought. Well maybe those perks in knowing dude did. A little bit. I was working at Def Jam the last time I saw him. It was at the 3rd Bass album release party, December 1989. He was chilling dolo. One of the things that I really appreciated about Keith was that he wasn't on the celebrity shit. A lot of the celebs I know, no matter how many times I see them, it's like a game of ego chicken in figuring out who's going to greet whom first, or even if I'll be greeted (I see you Puff). Keith always went out his way to greet me, like it was nothing, like he wasn't the then king of the pop art world, like he didn't have millions in the bank account, like he wasn't dying of aids. Seeing him alone at the party, we dapped. I asked him how he was doing, how he felt, asking him about the aids thing without being that direct. He looked at me and said he felt great, even though he didn't. Said he was happy, even though his life was filled with sadness. Said he had mad work to complete, especially since he knew he had so little time left. Then he did what he did, he pulled out an L and we burned. Then we laughed at how silly the whole self importance of the music industry seemed, watching MC Serch dancing in a circle of fans a coupla feet away from us. Heh. Then we dapped, again, and I bounced. Keith Haring died two months later, on February 16, 1990. I'm still kinda mad at Sam and his brother James too. Knowing his death was soon coming, Keith left the twins a parting gift. Since they wore Carhart Jackets (who didn't then) Keith "borrowed" the jackets to paint two interlocking figures on the back of each jacket to demonstrate the closeness of their brotherhood, them being twins. Kniccas sold them jackets within a year after Keith's death. But I remain so thankful that Sam introduced me to Keith.
When I drive my kids to school on the daily, now that they commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan to go to school, we are greeted by this ginormous mural of Keith's, on Houston, by Bowery. The kids love it, always asking me question about it, and about the artist. And whatever it is that I tell them, I'm thinking inside how ironic it is, how funny karma works, how Keith's work is one of the first things the kids see on their daily commute to school. One thing I tell them for sure is how Keith was one of the best that New York City had to offer. Peace to my dudes Adolfo, Sam and James.
Keith Haring (May 4, 1958 - February 16, 1990)
Friday, June 26, 2009
You know I had to do a "What Michael Jackson Meant To Me" piece too. Eff being redundant though, the GREATEST pop icon of our time just passed, and being that dude's existence probably had more influence on me, you and how the world looks and sounds to us than we could possibly comprehend, it's only right that I give dude his proper respect.
Early 1970's, Brooklyn. School yard of my elementary school. A coupla fellow first grade girls are mad fawning over Michael's pics in the latest Teen Beat magazine. Not that the Jackson 5 clan wasn't important, but Mike Jack had top billing from day one. Being that I always liked the girls, even at that age, I was intrigued by dude's swag, the whole afro thing was correct, plus other than Lincoln Hayes, the black character played by Clarence Williams III on my then favorite show "The Mod Squad", Michael was holding it down for us dark skinned dudes, so effin tired of how light skinted kneegrows were tightly holding the reins. Michael Jackson and Lincoln Hayes introduced to me at such a young age, how effin dope it was to be young gifted and Black. Prolly why I never envied my white counter-parts. Then there was the whole radio, television thing. "ABC" was like our little kid's national anthem then. WABC, (am radio ruled) kept that song pumping like the station's existence depended on the Jackson 5, on Michael Jackson. TV killed it too. From appearances to Flip Wilson, Sonny and Cher, Dick Clark's American Bandstand, The Mike Douglas Show, cot-damned every blasted talk show on air then, MJ dominated all that was young, hot and fly. Have to give props to white for showing how much doper Michael Jackson was too. They figured they would throw their bid in for flyest pop by adding The Osmonds led by Donny Osmond as the Jackson 5 and MJ's main competitor. They even had a hot single, "One Bad Apple" that sounded very similar to the Jackson sound, but the Osmonds and Donny could never ever come close. Like a flashlight to the sun.
Saturday morning television cashed in too. On Michael mania. The advertising men on Madison Avenue tried every angle. I remember how they rocked the commercial for that sugar box cereal Alpha-bits, where if you brought a box, they had a 45 floppy record single of "ABC" as a cut out on the very box. Moms had no choice but to cop it for her baby boy. Two boxes. And even though I didn't even like that brand (shout out to Captain Crunch), I cut them singles out the back of the box, and kept "ABC" in heavy rotation. Oh shit, just realizing as I write this that that was my very first record I ever owned. My first hit of the music drug that I continue to be addicted to to this very day. God damn do I owe Mike Jack for that. Then came the Jackson's short lived live variety show and cartoon. The cartoon was meh, even then in my young mind, but I stayed tuned. By the time they dropped "Dancing Machine", later during that wonderful decade, seeing them dudes, seeing Mike kill it every time with the robot dance, there was no question who ruled the game. Not ever getting played out, them Jackson kniccas, that MJ knicca let you know that whole decade was theirs, they shit was as necessary as the 1970's air we breathed. And all we wanted was more.
1979, at one of my girl's cousin's house. Right before I switched up my drug of choice to Hip Hop, my cousin's were still fawning over some Michael pics on the latest teen pop rag. My interest in them, the Jacksons, in Michael kinda died down. The ten year reign had come slowly to an end. Girl cousins talking about about how he still looked kinda cute, how he still had it. Older boy cousins dismissing him as being a "fruit cake", a gay dude. I didn't even know what gay was, but seeing how Michael started looking, talking, acting very different than the rest of us boys, I kinda got the gist. Still mad talented, but just a lil' bit out of touch for me to connect to. Still respected his gangster though. Especially how he started really going for dolo with the 1980 "I Wanna Rock With You" hit. Single and video. Probably the first music video I ever saw too. Damn man, you really stayed ahead of the game. Song was, still is tight. Video was mad on point, but yeah, so evident what my older boy cousins were referencing, dude had become slightly too pop to remain one of my idols. Shit was getting kinda hectic in the Brooklyn streets, and though I still rocked the music, I had to get my teen gully steez up. So I had to move on.
Jackson stayed persistent for my attention though. Was a freshman at Cornell, too young to get in clubs, but stayed sneaking in to the hottest Black club in New York City at the time, Bentley's, on East 43rd street and Madison Avenue. I didn't even like Bentley's, with every one trying their best to be on that r&b swag, or that new and upcoming drug dealer New Jack City hu$tle. Never had money for dranks at the bar, and my word play was still a bit feeble to scoop up the honeys in the place. But it was at Bentley's, on the smoke filled dance floor, when I first heard "Billy Jean". That joint banged hard in the club. Gave me the courage to ask for a dance even. DJ Sugabear kept shouting how Michael was back, and he was right. That video, simple as it looks now, kept us urban kids locked in, warned Hip Hop even, that it was too small to eff with Jackson's talent. Little did I, did we know that "Billy Jean" was the harbinger for the tsunami that would be the Michael Jackson mania 2.0. As tough as I wanted to be, when me and some fellow students watched that famed "Motown 25" special live in our dorm's tv room, when Michael performed "Billy Jean" live for the first time, when nigga flipped how street dudes in New York were doing the moon walk, cat had me screaming out the "OHHH SHIT!" with the rest of them. This was the Reagen era in full swing, and damn if that performance didn't feel like the Russians finally let fly a nuke. That performance was big like that. The young King who grew into an effeminate teen put down his boot and decided that the 1980's was his too. And we all knew it. Didn't matter how much wierder he became, or whether he was banging out Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, Emmanuel Lewis or Bubbles, Mike Jack was here to stay.
Funny story, back in 1987, when my shit was knee deep in Public Enemy and BDP and I stayed having the requisite ice grill on. And Fab 5 Freddy kept me tuned in to "Yo" on MTV, I was dating a diplomat's daughter in Washington DC. "BAD" was Michael's latest record, and I thought that I had outgrown dude. My girl came up on some tickets to see Michael perform live at Madison Square Garden in New York. When she asked me to drive her car from DC to NY to catch the show, I was like "FUCK that dude, corny ass weirdo". Still, I ended up driving her and her sister to NY, griping about it the entire drive. Griping even, as we stood on line at the Garden, EPMD blasting out the headphones on my Sony walkman. Fans dressed up looking like Mike, dudes too, shit was disgusting B. But my girl had the killer seats though. And even though I thought I was too hard to appreciate this silly little r&b/ pop event, each and every song dude performed rocked my world. By the time dude performed "Dirty Diana", with guitarist Steve Stevens of Billy Idol fame ripping the strings, and Mike, hoisted up on some crane, fog machine pumping out the fake billowing smoke, when dude ripped off his white button down, bird chested and screamed for what must have been a minute, so dope was his performance that I found myself standing in the audience, screaming at the top of my lungs with the rest of the 50,000 in attendance. Like a bitch too [||]. Lost my god damned voice at that. For that performance, that night, I became one of those weird ass fans. Show was the BEST I'd ever seen, and I seen a lot. On our way back to DC, my girl and her sister joked me out for my scream moment. But I wasn't ashamed then, still not ashamed now.
Early 1990's. Working in a law office in the music industry. My boss repped singer/ songwriter Bernard Belle, brother of famed songstress Regina Belle. Dude was a monster with hits "I Like The Way (Kissing Game)" and "Let's Chill" by Guy. Bernard teamed up with Teddy Riley and they wrote/produced Michael's next smash hit. "Remember The Time" the first single of Michael's 1992 album "Dangerous". No question that I really "knew" that I out grew him, but that song was big, equipped with the Eddie Murphy and Iman video. Looking back, how I was involved in that, I'm realizing how much Michael helped my career, made me that more valid. Bernard stayed getting bigger and better deals because of his work with MJ which meant more exposure and money for my boss, and as a result, me, and I learned a lot of my legal craft behind that, negotiating thoose deals. I could now say I negotiated a contract with Michael Jackson. We was beyond the fan and consumer relationship now, Jackson was now, indirectly, but in a big way, influencing the entire direction at this stage of my professional career, before Jay-Z, Damon Dash, Roc-a-fella, Diddy and Bad Boy. And I'm really just realizing this now. Wow.
Early 2001. Kanye West is sitting in my office, shopping for a new attorney. I knew Kanye from when my client Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie had signed him as a producer to his production company a few years earlier. Kanye was going on about how he was gonna start rapping and I was finding it very hard to believe dude. Plus, he's geeked about a new Jay-Z song with a wierd "H To The Izzo" name. Kanye's telling me how he flipped Michael Jackson, how he and Jay's gonna rule with "Izzo", and as much respect as I had for dude, all this talk about him rapping and "Izzo" was a bit much. WTF was an "Izzo"? A coupla months later, me and wifey driving to the Hamptons for a Puff "White" party, and I'm hearing Flex dropping bombs on Hov's new single, and me hearing "izzo", I'm like "that nigga Kanye". Later then, I snuck brought a copy of Jay's "Blueprint" album on September 10th, played it in the Expedition all night. Woke up the next day, learning about a new crew on the block by the name of Taliban (not that new). Driving in the afternoon, taking in how reality had become surreal, how the surreal had become reality, taking a break from the news, and bumping Izzo on the deserted ghost town like streets of Brooklyn, Michael Jackson's sample being the first soundtrack to our new world order. Mike and Jay. Then the whole Hot 97 thing, with Jay, and "Takeover", and Prodigy on screen, and Mike Jackson coming out on stage. King of Pop joining forces with the King of Hip Hop. Jackson fucking managing to stay relevant for four decades now. FOUR DECADES. Who the eff does that? And how, even though I never sat down and forced them to take heed, how my sons 12, 11 and 7 know damn near each and every Michael Jackson song. How they love the songs, even though Jackson has now devolved into their strange old white aunt with a catalog of hits.
It's still way too early to decipher what Jackson's surprising death on June 25th, 2009 means. I'm realizing that now, as I write this, CNN in my background, on steady Jackson overdrive. Laughing at how his death cements how he's about to rule for several more decades. Shit is sad, really sad. But it's also the beginning of a celebration. As me and my sons were driving through Brooklyn yesterday, me blasting MJ out the speakers on Fulton street, I have so much appreciation for dude, for how in almost every way imaginable, he has subtly enhanced this thing that we call life. As much as we will mourn his untimely passing (when is it ever a good time for our heroes to die?), and we will, I am so effin geeked about how the party is about to begin. Life is good my peoples. I'm so ready to start living more. And I really and deeply want to thank Michael Jackson for making me realize how special he was, and how special it is that we all are able to experience each and every waking moment of this thing we call life. R.I.P. Michael Jackson. Thank you. Thank you for it all.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I discovered rapper Wale (pronounced "Wah-lay") last year when he dropped the genius Senifeld themed "Mixtape About Nothing". Knowing absolutely nothing about dude, to say I was greatly impressed would be an understatement. Especially since dude is from Washington, DC, a place I lived for a couple of years and hated deeply. I am too ig'nant to really appreciate Go-go music, but dude managed to rhyme over a couple of go-go sounding tracks which resulted in me appreciating DC and the go-go scene much more than I thought I ever would. Dude can spit with the best, and beyond the go-go influence, beats was crazy. On top of all that, the mixtape came complete with an authentic drop from none other than Julia Louis-Dreyfus better known as Elaine Benes of the original Seinfeld sitcom. How official was that?
So impressed, I went back and copped his first official mixtape, "100 Miles And Running". This joint was a lot rawer and nothing less than straight fires. Made me take notice of a true up and coming rapper that deserves all the attention and accolades he gets.
Dropping last week, I knew I had to jump on the latest piece, "Back To The Feature". Produced primarily by 9th Wonder and showcasing mad features with artists like Talib Kweli, Beanie Sigel, and Bun B (Features, get it?), this joint is complete from start to finish. Don't be fooled by that Lady Gaga joint on the radio that I hear people on Twitter dissing, and just to take you a lil bit further away from all the Drake uber-hype that's sweeping the country (Drake is hot, the hype is not) please believe that there's nothing out there, retail or free that is as hot as this. Please cop this at the original site here.
Run quote me: This is the hottest shit out on the streets right about now!
I like smart people. Smart people make smart decisions. They have the ability to put aside follosih things like sentiment and emotion in order to sensibly rationalize their way through some "tight spots". I'm sure you've heard how the light skinted homie Chris Brown made a very wise and smart decision yesterday. Going into trial, Brown was facing at least four years behind bars for man-handling that lil' island treat that is Rihanna earlier this year. He opted to plead guilty and landed 5 years probation and 180 days community service in his home state of Virginia.
In addition, Brown is under a restraining order requiring him to stay at least 50 yards away from Rihanna, except at industry events, where he has to maintain his distance of 10 yards. Rihanna's lawyer requested a less-restrictive order.
Being a smart person myself, I'm seeing how Tina Davis, his manager, convinced him how there's like a legion of hardcore inmates having a rub fest waiting in anticipation for the 20 year old superstar singer to be incarcerated, how they were lining up to see who would become the lucky boyfriend to the troubled entertainer. Maybe she had him over for a lil' r&r, and as she was putting on him, "accidentally" popped in her dvd copy of Penitentiary, the 1970's classic and brutal tale of how another light skinted dude (Leon Kennedy) got hisself locked up. If you haven't seen this, please run and rent it.
Or maybe it's because he and "Ri-Ri" are still smashing. You know how ignorant and forgiving young love is. Why do you think her team wanted a less restrictive order? I'm now thinking Rihanna herself leaked them nude pics of herself earlier this year, just to make sure to remind Chris of what he'd be missing behind bars. The minute she walked into the courtroom, nigga was like "I'm pleading!!!".
Like I said, I like smart people. I might have to check for his next album release.