Give Em Their Roses

We’ve all heard the saying “Give them their roses while they’re living.” And shit, since I have this blog, I’d like to pay it forward.

Y’all realize how many treasures we have in the world that we just take for granted?

In honor of 4/20 the first to be honored in this series is none other than Mr. O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson.

I’m actually sitting here listening to his interview on Snoop Dog’s GGN Network and listening to him talk, he still has a solid head on his shoulders. Even though I personally wasn’t alive when N.W.A. was in full swing, from what I gather, that’s always been the case. Cube is a smart man. From writing raps to writing movies, the man is gifted with the pen. (Something I’m personally enamored with.)

F.R.I.D.A.Y.

Nuff said, right?

Not only is this man responsible for a cult classic he acted in that bitch and showed the fuck out. Friday wasn’t just a “hood movie.” It was a movie about responsibility and friendship. It was an interesting story. Well written. Well executed. Just a classic.

The growth that I see in this dude is astounding. I always knew Cube was one cool mofo, but I don’t think I cultivated such a profound respect for this man until I saw Straight Outta Compton. On the surface, it looked like Eazy ran the show and, no doubt, Eazy was a business man. But I don’t care how you look at it, ain’t no N.W.A. without Cube.

There’s no Fuck the Police without Cube.

There’s no Friday franchise without Cube.

There’s no Boyz in the Hood without Cube. Like the character of Doughboy is still one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever seen in a movie. Never forgot.

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In fact, I would go so far as to attribute the current sound of the west coast to the precedents set by Cube, N.W.A., and the whole “gangsta rap” movement.

This man is a national treasure. Give him his roses.

 

Cynthia is my Soul Mate

If you haven’t been watching Chewing Gum, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.

It’s so fucking funny.

I take so much delight in knowing that I was on this shit before it got popping. I was watching season one on YouTube when it was still only on BBC programming. I feel like if someone made Do The Right Thing into a comedy series set in modern London, it would be Chewing Gum. Aesthetically, the show works. So many colors. So many interesting locations. Interesting character. It makes even Tracy’s estate (I assume what we’d call project housing, here) look appealing and vibrant. It makes you want to be in her world, if only for 22 minutes.

Plus, I’ve developed a new appreciation for British slang and comedy. It’s so unique, yet vaguely familiar.

It’s just something about that melanin. Lately I’ve really been exploring the whole idea of this “African diaspora,” the dispersion of melanated people across the globe as a result of centuries of colonization. And it is continuously becoming evident that no matter how far spread across the globe black folks are, it’s just something about that melanin that’s interesting, exciting, and worth exploring.

Chewing Gum gets two thumbs up.

DAMN.

In the final analysis, this album knocks.

It’s hard to believe this is the same dude who did Overly Dedicated and Section 80. I’ve been a fan of this man for a while now and I’m happy to see him out here still putting these notches in his belt.

Say what you would like about Kendrick, but he can craft an album. When I heard HUMBLE, I knew this album was going to sound different. And that’s no shade: I admire artists who grow with each album and who like to play with different sounds.

This is Kenny at his trappiest, bangin-est yet, but he still manages to retain a distinct flow and styling that are classically Kendrick. (jazzy interludes, those eery vocals, and potent lyrics)

Not to mention some production assists from Mike Will Made It, (regulars) James Blake and Terrace Martin, and a promising new name, Bekon (responsible for at least 8 tracks on the project) and some vocals from Rhianna and Zacari. Peep the full credits on XXL.

It’s a yes for me. I really like this album. My personal favorite track was God. Cardo, Ricci Riera, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith & Bekon (there’s that name, again) really put their foot in that one.

It’s not as ham-fisted in it’s intentions as To Pimp a Butterfly but still shows some tremendous growth in this man from the mixtape days.

I raise my glass to you Brother Duckworth. Keep on keeping on.

Guess Who’s Back?

In the treasured pantheon of black comedians, Dave Chappelle holds a special place in my heart.

I used to watch Chappelle Show clips on YouTube when I was younger and I definitely remember watching Killing Them Softly on Comedy Central way waaaay past my bedtime. It’s still one of the funniest specials I’ve ever seen. (Hint: It’s on YouTube, if you haven’t seen it.)

His jokes were smart, relevant, and most importantly, funny. The man is a legend with a brand of comedy all his own and he’s back and in my opinion better than ever.

He always manages to take a joke right to the edge without completely falling to his death. We all know how hard it is to make a tasteful Bill Cosby joke.

And he hasn’t been completely removed in has absence, either. Dave’s been staying woke with the rest of us and had a few things to say about the state of things, as well.

I’ll refrain from spoiling any further but just know Dave Chappelle was and still is that nigga. Kids today will never know.

It’s two thumbs up for me.

That Time of Year Again

I officially have one semester of college left. This is my last “summer break.” And in truth, I’m excited. Every student gets excited around this time of year. We can practically smell the summer breeze and the absence of copy paper and expo markers. But there lies one last hurdle before we can all yell, “School’s Out!”

Finals.

Test season, more broadly. Every student enrolled in any (public) institution of learning is subject to the test taking madness inflicted upon us by none other than George W. Bush. (See: NCLB)

It’d be one thing if those end of the year tests actually proved anything, but we’ve all heard the saying, “You cant judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” What I realize as I’ve matriculated through the public school system of these United States is that the “standards” that standardized tests are supposed to test for are arbitrary as fuck and just dumb.

Compare the American education system, K-12 & college, to like most other countries in the world and even with all these tests and standards and benchmarks, we still manage to come in next to last in regard to the actual effectiveness of our education system.

This shit was fucked long before axis-of-evil-appointee Betsy DeVos took her position as y’all’s Secretary of Education. Please know.

This whole administration is nothing but the icing on a shit cake that’s been in the oven for a while now.

As we witness the fall of the republic, ladies and gents, I have only two final words, good riddance. 

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At least, in one more semester, I’ll still have 99 problems, but a final exam won’t be one.

 

 

Life Is But A Look

I enjoyed HUMBLE. But I enjoyed it way more after seeing the video.

The song itself, I wasn’t too impressed with. It left something to be expected. But these visuals, though. My goodness.

One of the things that makes this video great is the fact that Dave Meyers (and the lil homies) directed it. If you don’t know him by name, think the Missy Elliot’s “Loose Control” video or OutKast’s “B.O.B.” This guy has quite the catalog. Lighting choices, set design, blocking, color schemes – it was all flawless and undoubtedly a landmark in the video making tradition.

All that aside, the video is dope as all hell and it has me thinking…

Black artists have been making dope ass music videos since music videos were a thing. They bend to different aesthetics, moments in history, and social trends, but one thing is undeniable. The black body can look amazing on film.

And this past year or so has been look after look after look.

Of course, who could forget

 

And Missy’s been doing this

 

The Soul Angel

Drake had everybody out here in Timbs and sweatpants

And now Kendrick

I’ll refrain from stanning right now but I’m fairly certain I’m responsible for 1,000 of the 14 million + views that it’s already gotten (in less than 24 hours).

I we start seeing more of this – artfully crafted images of coconut oil infused black bodies – and fewer and fewer depictions of our chapped and ashy slave past. One: the shit is just not a good look. Two: we’re tired. We know it happened. Most people with a grade school education get the gist of what happened. It’s cool. We get it. Black can indeed crack under the right conditions (i.e. conditions of slavery).

The point is we been here, moisturized, and giving y’all looks. You’re mad about it and you’ve been mad. But now we have the internet and quite frankly,

Who gone pop us?

Shoutout to the artists, filmmakers, and directors that accentuate our greatness. I support the promotion of thoughtful images of people of color.