Kill Our Demons

It’s taken me a full week to digest this new KOD project from one Jermaine Cole and now it’s time to discuss. 

Firstly, this album isn’t getting the mainstream recognition that I thought it would. It’s been, what? A good year and a half since we’ve heard from Cole, I thought the anticipation alone would be enough to get the buzz up. 

But as I’m slowly realizing, a lot of folks are just allergic to depth and thoughtfulness.

Screenshot 2018-04-24 06.58.03

On first listen, the first thing I noticed was the trap influence. Cole’s got some slappers on this record and seems to adopt that Migos-style flow over some absolutely infectious beats. “KOD,” the first full track on the album sets the tone for the rest of the project.

If practice makes perfect, I’m practice’s baby

My life is too crazy, no actor could play me

The visual for ATM was giving me vintage that Busta Rhymes/ flipmode era style and I live. Not only does ATM slap, Cole’s also trying to put you on game to a few things he’s learned about this green stuff we call money.

The only feature credited on the whole project: kiLL edward, thought to be a monicker for Cole’s alter ego. In both, we get a sounds like a distorted version of Cole’s voice, but instead of raps, kiLL edward is giving us some soulfully distorted crooning. Considering  the rest of the project, they are a bit darker in tone, but still find their place in the overall soundscape and meaning of the project. 

Motiv8 is definitely my favorite on the project for the fact that it’s really been a mood for me since we came into 2018. It’s simple and catchy making it the perfect anthem for keeping those demons of doubt at bay. 

The shinning moments of the album come when J. Cole’s at his most introspective and thoughtful. Records like “BRACKETS” and “Once an Addict (Interlude)” are some of the most poignant comments, yet, on the pitfalls of having new money and the emotional turmoils of drug addiction. “Window Pain (Outro)” is another contemplative record where Cole reminisces on his life and grapples with some things that could’ve been done a little different. 

1985. 1985. 1985.

Sonically, I’m getting Midnight Marauders lost cut vibes. This beat is so groovy and inviting and Jermaine had a word for the girls with this one. 

Check my track record, I actually like some of these new kids on the block. The Migos, Yachty, Lil’ Uzi, Rich the Kid, Cardi… Now these XXXtension cords, Take-A-Seat69s, and lil problems – y’all can keep, but for the most part, I really don’t have a problem with these kids that are popping right now and they will tell you themselves that their really just out here for this money and having a wang dang doodle. 

All these niggas popping now is young
Everybody say the music that they make is dumb
I remember I was 18
Money, pussy, parties, I was on the same thing
You gotta give a boy a chance to grow some
Everybody talkin’ like they know somethin’ these days
Niggas actin’ woke, but they broke, umm
I respect the struggle but you all frontin’ these days
Man, they barely old enough to drive
To tell them what they should do, who the fuck am I?

They’re here for a good time, not a long time, which is understandable. But Cole’s got some jewels to drop in their ears that they can either decide to take or leave.

True, you got better shit to do
You coulda bought a crib with all that bread that you done blew
I know you think this type of revenue is never endin’
But I wanna take a minute just to tell you that ain’t true
One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up
And get too old for that shit that made you blow up
Now your show’s lookin’ light cause they don’t show up
Which unfortunately means the money slow up
Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again
But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends

Yet again Cole delivers a project that is interesting and thoughtful and at the same time, effortless and not overly preachy. Cole’s an OG with wisdom to share, but he’s not about to force you to listen to him or beat you over the head. I don’t know if I could even name a stand-alone single for this project. Cole makes a body of work that is cohesive and dense, each song building on one another. One of a kind.

I give it 9/10.

 

 

 

 

Expanding the Canon of Black Film

Sorry to Bother You is the first film of the Sundance Class of 2018 to pique my interest thus far. In short, it’s a comedy, but mix in elements of surrealism and sci-fi and you’ve either got something really amazing or something not so much.

This is director Boots Riley’s, a musician by trade, debut into the independent film world. At first glance, he has a disposition of quiet confidence and his personality seems as ambitious and interesting as the vision for this film. With Sorry to Bother You, Riley adds his name to a growing list of black writer/directors emerging in film.

The movie stars LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, and Omari Hardwick and it follows the story of telemarketer, Cassius Green who discovers the “secret to success,” catapulting Cassius into a world of fantastical fuckery. It’s set to come out in July.

LaKeith has been a favorite of mine for a while now. His role as Darius in Atlanta is what endeared me to him initially and though his role in Get Out was small, that meme will last for ages.

Tessa, Tessa, Tessa Thompson. *bites lip* From what I understand, she plays Cassius’ girl in the movie – an interesting pair. I’m excited to see what her performance brings to the table. She’s always been such a talent to me, attraction aside, and her presence on screen is always refreshing.

My expectations are always high when Terry Crews’ name is attached to a project. Not only is he hilarious, he’s intelligent and always delivers a performance that is as endearing as it is daring.

All in all, my expectations are quite high for Sorry to Bother You. I’m always excited to see how the independent film scene is moving and changing. As of the past five years, independent film has been especially popping, particularly as it pertains to black folks. Films like Dear White People, Tangerine, Night Catches Us, Mississippi Damned, Pariah, and Middle of Nowhere are all indies that came out within the last 5- 10 years. These films, among many others that I do not have the space to mention, ushered in a renaissance era in film for black filmmakers and auteurs that continues to push the boundaries to give us shows and movies like Insecure, Queen Sugar, The Chi, Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and now, Sorry to Bother You. 

 

 

 

Today in Black History

Today in Black History, I honor us.

Yes, yes, y’all. It’s Black History month.

If you’re like me, you got the same vanilla ass explanation of black history that most public schools have locked and loaded for the month of February.

Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, (maybe) Malcolm X, the usual suspects. All of these people were remarkable in their own way, of course. This is not to downplay the people who made their name fighting for Civil Rights.

But Google is well and alive and if you search anyone of those names you’ll probably get a million or so hits with their biographies and activism and speeches and such. So, we won’t rehash that here.

This month, it’s about the beautiful black people that are making history in the here and now. We’ll take a look at what’s happening in film, music, and popular culture. The looks, the lessons, the living examples of black excellence that are making the world a better place a little bit at a time.

Today in Black History we’re blind to the bullshit. This series is for us. Agent Orange and his goons have no place here for the next 28 days.

The goal is to post for all 28 days this month. Every day, we’ll look at the newest latest in black culture. Film, television, music, media, literature, activism – it’s all fair game. Black history is everyday so let’s celebrate.

Grab your tea and a spare moment and join me in a month-long homage to the culture.

 

On Lacking Discretion

A lot of the things that happened this past week is primarily a result of niggas lacking discretion.

I purposely did not watch the Amara LaNegra interview on the Breakfast Club. And y’know….

I tried. I tried to give them their roses and commend them on a job well done in pioneering this urban radio thing and putting in so much time in the game and what have you. But I looked at that thumbnail every single time I logged in to YouTube and could not bring myself to click it. Deep down, I knew some bullshit was afoot.

They broke it down real nice on The Read and confirmed my suspicions. Like I said, I try to give Charlemagne the benefit of the doubt, but anytime the Twitter-verse is buzzing with his name, I know from past experiences to stand clear.

I still have yet to go back and watch it for myself. I don’t make a habit of entertaining ignorance. I was disgusted by what I heard, to say the least. Somebody brought up Cardi B (Envy, I believe), Charlemagne brought up Issa fucking Rae (boy.), and Yee didn’t say a damn thing because she’s lacking in a spine too.

Offset with this damn he “don’t fuck with queers” bit.

We all know what queer means. I use the word to describe myself, but it can also be a slur. Regardless, the fact that Offset’s dusty ass don’t fuck with me and mine doesn’t bother me personally. Of course, this has implications, socially. This nigga is a prime example of other ignorant folks who aren’t aware of words and their definitions. As a writer, it hurts me to see words abused. And then to have such behavior justified on the most ridiculous of grounds is outright insulting.

The answer is no.

Moral of the story: All the migos have been on my list since the first time I heard of them saying some homophobic shit. I really have to take them all with a grain of salt because I do acknowledge that these are individuals of questionable constitution. But my god, bitch, simple media training will teach that it’s best to say nothing when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

And of course, who can forget our dear Agent Orange?

Then there was the whole “shit hole countries” comment and ensuing debacle. And I’m sure he’s said some more nonsensical things in the past 24 hours.

This is really sick. Like really.

So I pose a question: Has everyone just lost their damn minds? Like what’s really good? As far as progress is concerned, it appears that we tend to take a step forward and take any number of steps backward in half the amount of time.

It’s too many people who should know better who are just lacking in discretion. This is the skill that distinguishes humans from the other animals – the ability to use logic to deduce from any given circumstance what they can do to navigate that situation as seemlessly as possible. And yet…

Listens Lately

My podcast game is crazy. I listen to them all the time. They’ve really grown on me since I’ve been in college. Podcasts are dope because I can listen to them on the go, they’re entertaining, and most importantly, they keep me in the know.

As someone who doesn’t subscribe to traditional news media outlets, my “news” typically comes from Twitter and podcasts. And I really feel like the independence of the internet really lends an authenticity to Twitter and other online platforms that CNN,FOX, and allem could never.

That’s the real fake news.

I’m ranting…

I’ve been expanding my podcast horizons. In addition to favorites like The Read, I’m listening to Jade and X.D., Gettin Grown, and Desus and Mero. These haven’t been going as long as The Read but it’s clear they’re on the same trajectory. All of these personalities give very real perspectives on the world we live in today. They’re also all hella funny. But they also each maintain their own niches, which keeps me listening every week.

Everyone’s back for the new year and the brands are strong!

Podcasting is lit. Dare I say, the future.

 

Everybody Black #2

Awards season cometh.

And it kicked off last night with the Golden Globes.

When the nominations came out, I wasn’t inspired in anyway to plan to watch the ceremony. After such a dope turn out last year, they just had to get back to their white washed ways.

But it was a meaningful night despite the boring list of nominees.

A cascade of beautiful black gowns descended upon the globes in high fashion. Many stars turned out in all black in solidarity with the #timesup/#metoo campaigns and managed to prove that it is possible to both stand for something and serve a look.

Oprah Winfrey was honored with the Cecile B. deMille award and her speech was everything.

This speech was just what the doctor ordered this morning. I’ve been really pondering how I want to take this blogging thing full force – like I’m trying to devise a real strategy for this shit. I’ve had a few ideas but I’ve been afraid to execute.

But Oprah just gave me the go-ahead. So bitch, lets go.

Coming Up On a Year

I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump had a lil touch of dementia. He’s clearly stressed and I know he’s not doing his sudoku puzzles in his free time.

I don’t know how this guy got elected but it wasn’t off my ballot. Do you see how this isn’t my fault and yet I’m the one being inconvenienced? He’s hell bent on this pissing contest with North Korea, he’s aggressively patronizing, and now this nigga claims he’s a “stable genius,” when questions about his mental stability came up.

Fuck Donald Trump.

I really can’t see this administration lasting much longer. 2018 is the year that something has to give. Like…

giphy

I ask: America, what the fuck is your problem?

 

Bardi Season

So, the video for “Finesse” came out and quite honestly, I stopped watching it after Cardi’s verse. But from what I did see, my bitch Cardi looks like she’s just getting started.

Cardi B: I like her. I like her attitude. She’s fun. Personally, I was never one for the whole reality tv world in my youth, so I’ve really only been exposed to Ms. Cardi in the last few months. My first time actually hearing words come over her mouth in full sentences was her interview on The Breakfast Club last year. I’m swear I’m not making this up lol.

Her thing with Offset is cute. She did an interview on Fallon, which was absolutely horrid, but she handled it well. I don’t really know much else about her outside of what I’ve laid out for you here.

Now, the good folks at The Read addressed her latest personal scandal. Thanks to a very recent follow to the Shade Room, I already knew what that was about. And Cardi is… lacking in the ability to not give a fuck about the opinions of others. This fame thing ain’t no joke and it’ll just take some getting used to.

I’ve never been famous, but I can imagine that it can be a bitch sometimes.

But she’s on a role and if she can keep up the momentum, I think she’ll learn to relax into her glow up.

She’s on my list.

Watch out for Cardi in 2018.

Seventh day of Kwanzaa: Imani

Habari gani? Imani

Faith.

To believe, with all our heart, in our Creator, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

That’s the motto for this year.

Faith in self and faith in the process.

To reiterate, Kwanzaa is a non-religious holiday. This definition of faith exists outside of any religion. It’s something akin to the idea of trusting in the universe, of trusting in the way of things, of simply believing that anything is possible.

“It begins with a belief in the Creator and in the positiveness of the creation and logically leads to a belief in the essential goodness and possibility of the human personality. For in all African spiritual traditions from Egypt on, it is taught that we are in the image of the Creator and thus capable of ultimate righteousness and creativity through self-mastery and development in the context of positive support. therefore, a faith in ourselves is key here, faith in our capacity as humans to live righteously, self-correct, support, care for and be responsible for each other and eventually create the just and good society.”

We must invent, innovate, reach inside ourselves and dare set afoot a new man and woman. The world and our people are waiting for something new, more beautiful and beneficial from us than what a past of oppression has offered us. Let us not imitate or be taught by our oppressors. Let us dare struggle, free ourselves politically and culturally and raise images above the earth that reflect our capacity for human progress and greatness. This is the challenge and burden of our history which assumes and requires a solid faith.

— words from Maulanga Karenga

This commercial is why I will always have a profound respect for Steve Jobs. I know, I know, I’ve heard he was kind of a dick, he was selfish, blah, blah. These are character traits I don’t wish to imitate for obvious reasons.

But what I cannot take away from him was his vision.

I mean, it’s a reason I’m typing this up on a Macbook Pro right now.

What is it that makes people believe that they can move mountains? What is it that pushes people to create? What compels people to think differently?

Faith.

January 1st always feels like a reset button for me.

Habari gani? Imani.

#2018leggo

6th day of Kwanzaa: Kuumba

Habari gani?

Kuumba

Creativity.

To always do as much as we can, in the way that we can in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Where to begin?

This year I’ve definitely been exercising my creativity. Creativity is like a muscle. If you’re constantly using it, it grows stronger but once you lay off, it atrophies.

I don’t believe in art for art’s sake. I don’t believe in anything for it’s own sake, really. I don’t write because I like to read my thoughts back to myself. I mean, I do, but I have a journal for that.

I write in the hopes that someone will get something out of it. Every time I read a reassuring comment or positive feedback, I feel like I’m doing what I’ve set out to do.

Kuumba means creativity.

I actually did manage to accomplish one of my resolutions from last year, and that was to create something everyday and more specifically, to make it my mission to make this blog a priority. And now it feels like I’ve hit my stride.

So it’s onward and upward from here.

#2018leggo