Lynne d Johnson



« June 2003 | Diary | August 2003 »

07.26.03 05:15 AM

i was floored

Anthony Hamilton

I didn't expect anything to make the earth quiver beneath my feet today, certainly not music. A lot of music gets probed into these here ears, and often I'm just like, "oh, that's aight." Never floored. Never stunned. But there are rare exceptions. Sometimes it's the voice. Sometimes the lyrics. Sometimes the production. Vocal styling, or even instrumentality. But very rare do I feel I hear the entire package all from one artist or one offering. Very rarely do I hear something that knocks me off my feet, makes me raise my fist to the roof and want to testify. It's quite rare indeed. But I had received the email about him the other day, and coulda' cared less. Then the underground buzz started flying past my ears. And the sampler arrived today. I immediately put it into the disc opening on the PowerBook, and in no time I was importing it, and dragging the files over to the iPod. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not a big fan of R&B. That's at least contemporary R&B. I tend to veer toward the neo-soul side of the genre. And this is why. When I talk about R&B, I'm usually referring to back-in-the-day, way back-in-the-day. You know Black Ivory, The Friends of Distinction, The Dells. I'll even extend that love to the likes of Ann Peebles (though I'm mainly talking about men here), Issac Hayes, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack, Bill Withers. Let's follow that line of thinking with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Teddy Pendegrass, Jeffrey Osborne. And you can see why most of the R&B that's been coming out since the '80s through today really has to do backflips to impress me.

But I'm also more of the soul funkster - of The New Birth, Rare Essence, War, Roy Ayers variety. This bridging of styles led to an appreciation of new jack swingsters in the '80s like Guy, and then in these times the hip-hop soaked balladeers like Jaheim. But there are very few albums that I play again and again and again when I first get them, and go back a year later and do the same, or a year after that, unless they pass my test. Music has to be like sex for me to feel it's complete. There has to be foreplay and arousal, followed by build up that heightens toward you getting that arch in your back and that curling of your toes. Music, like bad sex, can't just leave me hanging's gotta' push me over the edge and bring me to climax. And then the music itself has to has to reach that crescendo, 'cuz I don't like coming all alone. After we get there together, there must be a cool down period.

My point here is that I heard something today. I should say someone. Someone who made me feel all of that, and someone who reminded me that music can be about more than the next hit record or danceable pop diddy. Today I heard Anthony Hamilton and let me tell you, my panties got soaked. Funny I never heard of him before, but he put an album out on MCA entitled XTC back in '96. But it was his singing on the Nappy Roots "Po' Folks," that's brought him to where he is today, about to release Comin From Where I'm From on the So So Def imprint on Arista.

It is likely that he won't make big waves commercially. He won't be bump, bump, bumpping, if you get my drift. I mean when Donnie came along, I was like, now that's something. Even when Dwele came out, I was feeling a hint of back-in-the-day. As a matter of fact, I had the iPod repeating "Truth," today untlil Anthony's sampler came in the email. This cat is a soul-stirring and intense, heartfelt crooner. I'm just hoping he doesn't go the way of a couple of female singers - Sunshine Anderson, Sylena Johnson - I was feeling these past few years. These type of folks get very little attention from their labels, and eventually get stuck in red tape trying to get out of their contract b/c the label won't push their product, or put anymore product on the shelf. They consider folks like these big risks in the days when Billboard is topped by the Bad Boys II Soundtrack, Chingy, Beyonce, and Ashanti, and when the Billboard 200 has the same cast of characters in its hot spots. But for those of us who crave more than what the urban radio and MTV/BET programming machines feed us, Anthony Hamilton is a sure bet. And If we don't support him he'll be thrown into the rap hook singing abyss for days to come.

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07.25.03 12:17 AM

idle time

When the clock struck 12, I finally felt it. I mean that empty feeling. Yeah, that's what I felt. Something about the clock striking 12 made me realize it'll be the first weekend in about a year and a week, that you won't be here for me to love in person. Yeah, I played it cool when you boarded the plane, as I watched the tears stream down your face as we partook in that final embrace. Just now I'm thinking, what am I going to do this weekend? Yeah, I'll probably go to the gym, something I've been putting off once I knew you'd definitely be up and out. Yeah, I'll probably catch up on all those writing assignments and grading of student's papers. And yet, that emptiness will filter through my body, shocking my system, and funnel out of my pores. It's 'cuz you're not here in the flesh. I'll probably speak to you. Do some serious IMing, and OT phone calling, but damn, the emptiness is settling in. And though I know we're still together, you're just so damn far away. My weekends have been filled with you, and lately everyday has been. Yeah, I know, I need the rest. I need that break from planning those wonderful weekends for us to spend lots of time together b/c our time in the same place was drawing to a close. And though the job has been demanding, and I have so many other things I need to complete, it still won't be the same without you wondering when I'll be finished working on the 'puter. I should be thinking wow, now I can sleep later and longer, or even go to bed earlier. And now, yeah, I can get all of that work that's been hanging over me like a dark cloud done. I could even catch up with friends I haven't spent a lot of time with in God knows how long. I could do that work in the house I had been putting off, or even take a bike ride or rollerblade. But for some reason, I think I'll be spending my weekend, thinking about you and deeply feeling that you're not here. I'm stuck, forced to figure out how to be one again, when I'm really still two-in-one.

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07.24.03 10:26 PM

who said size matters?

PowerBook G4
I'm doing just fine with tweleve inches.

It's the new gift from the grind, but the only thing is I'll probably be expected to do a lot more work now. I'm looking to name her, and I'd love your assistance, so please post some suggestions in the comments.

Speaking of size not mattering and well, suggestions, though only averages about 85 visits a day and 159 page views per day, and A day in a life. --- The diary/blog portion of the site only averages 34 visits per day, the folks blogging over at Ms. Magazine must think I'm pretty special. ms. musings: A daily journal on women, media and culture, solicited readers' suggestions for blogs written by women after reading a New York Times article about the lack of media attention female bloggers receive. On July 23, Ms. took reader's suggestions and added an extensive list of womnen's blogs that cover politics, current events, feminism, culture and technology. I'm listed under Arts & Culture.

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07.24.03 04:13 AM

exactly what is a hip-hop scholar/intellectual?

Is it this?

Rebuilding Harvard's African Studies Department, by Sara Rimer, The Afrocentric Experience

"Professor Gates described Mr. Summers as "nothing but supportive" of his efforts to rebuild the department, including his recruiting the hip-hop expert Marcyliena Morgan from the University of California at Los Angeles. Ms. Morgan has already installed her hip-hop archives at Harvard."

"With the new appointments, the African and African-American studies department has 25 faculty members. As an associate professor, Ms. Morgan will teach classes on hip-hop and linguistics and be the director of the hip-hop archives, which includes T-shirts, videotapes of the early hip-hop artists practicing their art in basements in the Bronx and an extensive collection of CD's by rappers like Tupac Shakur and Public Enemy."

Or is it this?

Get Real, by Todd Inoue, Metroactive

"TRICIA ROSE is about to kill it. The new prof at UC-Santa Cruz is closing her second quarter by cramming more than 150 years of blood, sweat, tears, slavery, church, blues, rock, jazz, R&B and hip-hop into a 90-minute espresso shot of academia that encompasses theories on cultural capital and binary oppositional thinking. Before the lecture is through, she will reference Ralph Ellison and Eminem. Heads will nod when she questions why black people form 12 percent of the population yet produce 70-80 percent of pop music. Backs stiffen when she theoretically questions why white suburban kids get their sag on and openly appropriate Black Cool but would be shit scared to actually be black."

Or this?

Hip-Hop Intellectuals A radical generation comes of age, by Adam Mansbach,

"Many of today's most vibrant young artists -- from rapper Jay-Z to solo performer Sarah Jones to novelist Zadie Smith -- can best be understood through the matrix of hip-hop. Just as the jazz aesthetic birthed nonmusicians such as novelist Ralph Ellison, poet Amiri Baraka, photographer Roy Decarava and painter Romare Bearden, hip-hop has produced its own school of thinkers and artists. Call them hip-hop intellectuals: folks who derive their basic artistic, intellectual and political strategies from the tenets of the musical form itself -- collage, reclamation of public space, the repurposing of technology -- even if they're not kicking rhymes or scratching records. "

Or even this?

CRITICAL NOIRE: Confessions of a ThugNiggaIntellectual , by Mark Anthony Neal,

"Todd Boyd, like many of his contemporaries including Robin D.G. Kelley, Michael Eric Dyson, S. Craig Watkins, Dwight McBride and Thomas Glave, are part of a generation of black male scholars who are redefining the style and influence of the traditional black male intellectual; a figure that has been influenced throughout the 20th century by figures like W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Horace Mann, Amiri Baraka, and most recently the duo of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Cornel West. Though Boyd, Kelley, Dyson, Watkins, McBride and Glave represent radically different personalities and modes of expression, they are all responsible for creating a new space within the academy and the public sphere for black masculinity to exist as a vibrant, vivacious, virile, and versatile entity. In other words, they have given rise for young black men to re-imagine themselves within the context of the academy, and it is in this spirit that I have begun to think of myself as a "ThugNiggaIntellectual". "

I don't know. You decide.

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07.16.03 02:12 AM

full throttle vs bad boys II

In the past couple of weeks I was invited to screenings of both Full Throttle and Bad Boys II, and let's just say I much more enjoyed the latter than the former. Why? In the first pic, you have two white girls and one Asian girl trying to be funny, while in the second, you have two black boys who are actually hilarious. In Full Throttle, you have these over-the-top Matrix meets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fighting scenes that are totally ubelievable and these women kick nearly anyone's ass without weapons. In Bad Boys II, you have fast cars and big guns, and some believable (though all not totally so) action scenes that display beautiful cinematography.

As far as chick flicks go, Full Throttle, finds these three girls always as a cohesive unit with little to no tension in their relationship. In Bad Boys, you have incredible tension between Will Smith's hot head and Martin's evolving calmness. The fact that they get along without really getting along, seems likely for a friendship that has existed since the buddies were in high school. Though a chick flick, should be sexy, Full Throttle is not, because just as in the first installment of this series we have Cameron Diaz shaking her booty and trying to get down like a black girl. Yeah ok, it's pretty cool that Bernie Mac adds humor to the flick, as does the former angel turned bad girl as portrayed by Demi Moore adds some girl-on-girl action. But I found myself sucking my teeth at how there seemed to be nothing the angels couldn't do. They can get shot and fall miles to the ground without dying. Besides, why must chicks in flicks always be in search of some man to cling to or even in fear that some romantic relationship will break the bond of the sister's circle? Bring out the violins.

Though there is a little love nestled within the story that comprises Bad Boys II, between Will Smith and Gabrielle Union, it does not serve as central focus of the movie. Though some would beg to differ, as his final combustible mission is to rescue her. Ok, I might be giving too much away here. But all good buddy flicks work because of the action, drama, humor, and odd couple pairing of the buddies. And Bad Boys II has that and then some. And then, the comedic timing of both Smith and Martin is so on point, even if you don't want to laugh at their overuse of the word nigger you find yourself in stitches. For the most part, I believe that folks have been waiting patiently these past eight years for the return of this duo and trust me it's well worth the wait. There was anticipation, laughter, lots of drama, and a good script, which I'm sure the pair took liberties to pour some ad libbing on top of. Without giving too much away, or providing any deep analysis of the movie, I'd just like to add that I believe it will be a summer blockbuster. I'm already planning on adding it to the DVD collection, simply on the strength of the scene where the guys skere the beejesus out of a 15-year-old who comes a courting Martin's daughter.

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07.13.03 05:40 PM

10+1 things that have made me smile a lot recently

1. Playing laser tag at Lazer Park in Times Square.

2. Bowling in a lane next to the Young Gunz at Chealsea Piers Lanes and having their manager pay for one of my games.

3. Listening to Chaka Khan's booming sound system of a voice at Shelter at Central Park Summerstage.

4. Watching drag queens on parade at Cherry Grove Beach at Fire Island on July 4th. And of course I saw some of the same at Pride this year. But what made the Fire Island jumpoff more interesting was that you had these totally mannish looking guys sporting beards and hairy chests in dresses and heels.

5. Hearing De La Soul pump up the crowd at Central Park Summerstage.

6. Having Media Assassin Harry Allen and journalist Nicholas Boston drop by my race and ethnicity course to speak to my students, and then watching my students bubble with wonder and excitement.

7. Going to the PS 1 Warm Up Urban Beach DJ/music series for the Body and Soul party to spend some time with my girl Melissa before she celebrates her 30th birthday with a house rental and party in the South of France (still mad I can't make it) and then goes off to grad school in London, only to bump into Texas-based blogger and extraordinary DJ Mel, Zen Buddhist priest Angel Kyodo Williams, and sexually-itinerant blogger Alexis-S.

8. J. and Mo phoning in just to say hi, and Kevin emailing me from time-to-time to see how I'm doing and Donald doing the same while playing around with iChatAV.

9. Jason and Bink putting their creative talents to work for me on the new VIBE Online. Jason was previously published on the old (still have to get that one into the archives), and his recent article is here. Bink's first joint is soon to come.

10. Copping and listening to Juelz Santana, Final Destination, hosted by DJ Kay Slay and DJ Whoo Kid and Lloyd Banks, Money In The Bank, Collector's Edition.

+1. My baby delaying the relocation to ATL a couple of weeks longer to spend more time with me.

Xtra Bonus: I have been holding down Lynne d :: A day in a life. for two years now. These were my first diary entries. I definitely think it's time for that relaunch now. It's being worked on-which is the neverending story-but if it isn't ready in a week, I'll link you to the preview.

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07.11.03 06:33 PM

i been gone for a minute, but now i'm back with the jumpoff

Aight, it's not exactly the jumpoff but it is what's really good, at least what's really good with me and for me right now. After a year of working for the same company, I now have two products that I am extremely proud of. I helped to build them from the ground up. The first one is the new VIBE Online, and the other is VIBE News, a weekly email newsletter. Sorry, no links to the newsletter online, you have to sign up for it at VIBE to get the latest CD releases, concert dates, highlights of online exclusives and stories from the magazine, as well as VIBE Alerts, weekly news and gossip tidbits about your favorite celebrities.

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