Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lupus Sucks!!!

As stated in my earlier post, Jay Dee aka; J Dilla; aka Dilla Dawg; aka Pay Jay; aka Jay Dee-Zee, doin' it like he's doin' it for TV, is THE MAN.

Sure, there are other artists that I care a lot about from Beethoven to Phil Glass; Robert Nesta Marley to Sizzla; Thelonious Monk to John Coltrane; Celia Cruz to La Lupe and The Fania All Stars; Al Green and Stevie Wonder to Raphael Saadiq; Led Zepplin to The Police; A Tribe Called Quest to Little Brother, and countless other Hip-Hop, Dance, Rock, Pop and all around great artists that are the $hit!!! But, when it comes down to that: "...stranded on a deserted Island" artist that I'd have to take with me...It's gotta be Jay Dee!!! He's among the Greatest EVER.

Ms. Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, the mother of the late James Yancey, is currently battling the same form of Lupus/Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP or Moschcowitz disease), which took her son’s life.
Please help me in supporting this worthy cause by checking out my personal page, or the J Dilla & Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey team page, and showing your love for the:

2009 Lupus Foundation of America, Greater Washington Chapter's 3rd Annual Walk for Lupus Now!

The walk begins @ 9:30am, with registration starting at 8:30am.

1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, DC. (METRO STOPS: Federal Triangle for the BLUE or ORANGE lines and Metro Center for RED line.)
There will be clowns, face painters and other activities for the kids. With the walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from 12th to 3rd street and back to 12th street, (about 1.5 miles total and 5K if you do the route twice, down-and-back). There will also be a mini, two-block walk for those unable to complete the full 1.5 miles. Rain or shine!

Again, knowing that times are tough for all of us right now; it would still be great to reach the humble goal of the $100 minimum pledge in the names of James and Maureen Yancey. And, at the very least, please forward this to ANY of your people in the DC area who might want to at least come out and walk in support. Come down in your Dilla T's, and load-up an iPod playlist full of Dilla hits. The weather is supposed to hit 72° F on Saturday, and it should be beautiful!

Either way, it would mean a lot to me, the cause and the Yancey family, I'm sure.

Thanks again for all of your love and support!!!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

TopShop, StateSide...

I hit this spot TOPSHOP, the last time that I was in the UK.

Although I was already "fresh," you kinda find yourself slightly out-of-fashion when you go to Merry Olde England. Their cuts are just a little slimmer and tailored, ya know!? And, as me and my "Ex-pat mates" were going-out to hit the pubs, I had to look extra "smart" to have any shot at those "loverly London birds."

Of course, I spent my time and $$$ in the TOPMAN section, 'cause I wasn't plannin' on goin' out like Boy George...But regardless, I found a couple of nice sweaters and some pretty cool (Native American?) inspired belts. I didn't think it was that bad dropping around 175 for the lot...UNTIL I got home and checked the credit card bill, and realized that 175 British Pounds equaled about $260.00...duh. But, the belts are still fresh; and I honestly haven't found any sweaters since that fit as well, or still look cool these 5 years later.

Sir Philip Green opened-up TOPSHOP's first US flagship in NYC, today; and I'll definitely be checking it out the next time I'm up in the city. We'll see how well they do in this economy...but, just about any new international chain seems to do relatively well in the Big Apple for the first year or so, and success there will mean another possible 12 locations nationwide. For some healthy competition to Sweden's H&M, I'd wager we'd get one down here in the DMV as well!?!

Another One Bites the Dust...

It's a sad, sad day for us vinyl enthusiasts in the DC area (...the one's who liked to actually hit a brick-and-mortar from time-to-time; and get a close-up look, feel and audial sample of what we were about to drop our hard earned $$$ on). First the old Capitol City Records went away; and now, even after it's revival and remodeling after a vicious fire and major smoke/water damage back in August of 2007; the DJ Hut is now on the way out, too.

This came through on the B-Berry, this afternoon:

DJ Hut friends and customers,

We have some sad and disappointing news to share with you. DJ Hut can no longer battle the dual headwind of the demise of the music retail industry and the economic downturn. As a result, we are forced to shut down the store and go strictly online at the end of April. Effective immediately, all vinyl records, CDs, DVDs and books will be liquidated at the rate of 20% off the regular price.

We would like to thank you for your support over the last 7 years at the store and we look forward to your continued support in the future online.

Best, DJ Hut Crew

At least they'll still be peddling wares on the net; but, that does nothing for me when I need a trusty location to bring my Tech 12's when they need repairs or a tune-up. And, having just been in there a few weeks ago, it's a real shame that they have to close down the shop. It was looking REALLY sweet after the post-blayze remodeling, with the fresh hardwood floors and new display-hardware. Plus, there was nothing like shopping for and sampling their wax, while inhaling that enchanting scent of freshly baked Subway bread...

So, if you're in the market for any "records, CDs, DVDs and books" be sure to drop-by and show some love, while getting a 20% break at the same time.

Peace out, DJ Hut...thanks for everything!!!


Big-ups to NBC's ER and it's grand finale. I was a big fan of the series, having tuned-in since it's inception, waaay back in days of my studies to be a Phyisical Therapist and EMT.

EMT's been covered, didn't even need to graduate High School, for that!? But, as I find myself in a position looking for more stable work, or even a job at all, this series and it's ending actually inspired me to check back into the possibilities of going back to school and hittin' the books to follow-through on my original undergrad interests in being a PT; all of these years later...

Marymount University...I just may be in touch!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tha S-A-double-D-I-Q

I've been a long-time fan of Raphael Saadiq's. The man is straight-up an amazing artist, vocalist, bass player and all-around music producer. The list of artists that he's worked with and produced is legendary, including Q-Tip, D'Angelo, Joss Stone and Stevie Wonder. From the days of Tony! Toni! Toné!, the mega-trio of Lucy Pearl and through all of his solo albums he's only gotten better and better.

I was fortunate enough to have seen him live for the first time, back in 2003 during a small in-studio session for an MHz special on him to promote his first solo stint, Instant Vintage. I actually got to meet him, and he was a very chill and humble dude. I'd heard a lot of buzz surrounding his most recent album The Way I see It (have yet to peep the whole thing...), and when I learned that he was goingto be in DC at tha 9:30 club, I HAD to be there. The show was absolutely incredible!!! I'd gotten a preview from his performance of the first single
100 Yard Dash, on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He came to DC with the same 6-piece band, and all of the energy of that taping, and even MORE. The band was tight, well rehearsed, and Saadiq was in absolute control at all times. The energy that they gave, and the crowd received and returned 10 fold, made it an unforgettable concert.

For a taste of what the show was like, here are some clips from his VH1 Soul Stage performance:

And, this performance from the Musicians @ Google session is nice, as well; but in no way measures-up to the show at 9:30. If you take this and multiply it by 100, you might be close...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The best house band, EVER?!!!??!

So, considering that my mans 'n 'em VNL and I had more than a few minutes to kill at the recent Mos Def/9:30 show; we chatted it up on a range of topics. One of which, I was really surprised to learn of having been a big fan of Conan O'Brien's over the years, and his late night show.

I'm eager to see how Jimmy Fallon will do, taking over the reigns for the late night slot (...I think he's a great fit), yet had NO idea that the nightly house band will be none other than The Legendary Roots Crew?!!!??!

This AP piece seems to do the story justice, and goes into great detail, so I direct any interested readers that way (and...maybe I'm just typing to myself here anyway, haha!?!); but, I'm super excited about this.

While it, at times, likens the newly acquired role for "Philly's Finest" as a form of 'selling-out,' a la Paul Shaffer and Kevin Eubanks (or even equivocates it to Miles Davis resorting to playing on a "subway platform"), and speaks of warnings of negative experience from Branford Marsalis to ?uestlove; I think it will be a good thing and is a very smart move for The Roots to stay in the spotlight and greatly increase their, already universal, fanbase.

Before 1993, I had no idea who Max
Weinberg was, even as an aspiring percussionist. I knew vaguely of "The Boss" (...and no, not Officer Ricky), Bruce Springsteen. And, aside from the black dude who played the sax in the E Street Band (Clarence Clemons), I couldn't tell you any of his other band members (until The Sopranos, of course).

Late Night with
Conan O'Brien absolutely brought the likes of Max, The Weinberg 7, and trombonist Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg into our homes and hearts, so much so that the crew was instantly recognizable to myself and millions of others during their recent Super Bowl half-time performance.

So, this move for The Roots should introduce them to a whole new group of fans. After all, if you like ANY kind of music, and can appreciate/carry a tune, you're bound to LOVE them. And who knows...maybe in a few years, once all of the Janet Jackson titty-malfunction, and Prince's guitar-fallic-symbol shadow controversies have blown over; the billions of viewers for the 2014 Super Bowl can be treated to an amazing Roots Crew half time set!?

I, for one, definitely WANT MORE!!!!!!!!

MOS(t) DEF(initely), LAME...

So, things are straight strugglin' over in my corn3r, right now. Life stress has hit the max, my most important personal relationship has taken a hit, and to add to the pile o' $hit, I'm now a recent casualty of the great recession of '08/'09; and was laid-off last week. But like my boy Vic has reassured me: "Being unemployed is what's HOT in the streets, right now..." So, at least I'm still 'cool,' I guess : /

Anyway, as I'd already purchased tix first-thing, and had not left the house nor my room for that matter since I was given my walking papers last Wednesday, I figured it was time I ventured outside for some fresh air, and a nice hip-hop show courtesy of "First name: Dante, last name: Beze" or otherwise known as Mos Def.

I'd already braced myself for the worst, considering that tha 9:30 club had greedily (let's face it, it all comes down to the dough...) added a second "later" show.

In PJ Urquilla's review, he " credit" to tha 9:30 club, for this. But, as a die-hard fan, I find it a bit shiesty that they even attempted to fit-in a second show (plus, isn't there a midnight 'curfew' in DC for 'all ages' shows?? AND, where's my opportunity for a second Lily Allen show, ehh!!?!), which in the end, gives the 'bigger' fans who didn't sleep initially and acted on tix first, a sub par experience. By any 'second set,' the artists, DJs, hypemen, engineers...fuck it, even the bartenders and bouncers are all more relaxed and know what to expect. I think that this would always be the case, and unfortunately it all came true for the 1st, and it seems 2nd show, as well.

As I wasn't there for the 2nd show (again, for the low-down, see PJ's review), and can only attest to the 1st show's experience, I'll only speak on that...but, I was highly disappointed.

From the get-go, I could already tell that the tour's opening (and, for an hour-and-a-half unexpected intermission's...) DJ was timid, at best. Assuming that he 'understood the crowd' and fans that a Mos Def show would bring, I'd expected a lot more of the Rawkus and Soulquarian type sounds that we'd all have loved to hear, while waiting around aimlessly. Instead it was a handful of standard random '90s underground hits, and more than a few ALT-finger-snappin' tracks, and even a '98/'99 R&B group Next, remix (...I mean, really!!?). Apparently, the 2nd show was treated to Mos voicing-over a bit of Outkast's "SpottieOttieDopalicious" instrumental (although maybe in essence, just a hidden sound-check...), while we in the 1st show heard it more than once, and initially on repeat for what seemed like 15-20 minutes. And, while some find it a respectful "nod" to the DMV to drop the staple of Chuck Brown and other Go-Go music tracks, at any DC area hip-hop show...I
find it to be somewhat of a lowly insulting cop-out. It's like opening sets in NYC with the standard Rakim tracks, or Philly with the Roots...for those of us 'in the scene,' it gets super-stale and expected after a while. And, while I love dude, and hope for him to get us out of this many times do we need to be reminded by out-of-town-artists, who is in the White House now??? We live here, and we KNOW this...

The evening seemed saved with the opening act, Philly's Hezekiah, straight ripping it; with the help of his DJ (who really should've stayed-on for the unexpected intermission) and the funky blasts from the back-up pipes of Sax/(electric flute/clarinet?)Trumpeter duo, "Me So Horny." (<-- LOVE the name!!) Hezekiah and Co. did more than their share of getting the crowd warmed up, but then it would be a chilly hour-and-change before we'd even hear Mos' hype-man assurances that he was "on the way."

I know we can't hold Mos responsible for a late Continental flight from NYC, cause I know how that can be...but, it was very poor, as his fans who wanted to see him first (...and more, lets face it, we stepped-up and bought or tix, on time) to be treated to nothing more than a glorified sound-check session. Although we could hear him, and the music levels were 'fine'...we were subjected to constant lamenting from Mos on the state of sounds in the venue. He had his back to us for most of the show, chatting it-up (bitching) to his two DJ/Soundmen (...really, you can't just have dude #2 run the MPC from side-stage??).

And, even his attempt to blast the 9:30 engineers for unknowingly having the 1947-1951
Maya Deren, Haitian-Voodoo DVD, Divine Horsemen, accidentally stuck on repeat for the first scene, for a good 20-30 minutes. The fact that he even became aware of this, with the jumbo-tron screen up-above-and-behind him, is proof that he had his back to us, his fans, long and often enough to notice. Plus, by this point; I think we'd all had enough of the chicken neck wringing, and goat-blood letting for the evening, so keeping it on repeat may not have been such a bad thing, after all.

Ahhh, I have enough going-on to dwell on the negative, so I will just leave it at that. It was a very disappointing experience. I've loved Mos since the days of Soundbombing, and have defended him from naysayer’s, peeps around the way in Brooklyn, and even former classmates of his who've always clowned him and my respect for dude; but, my days of all of that may be numbered.

He straight rocked it at the old DC Nation venue with Black Jack Johnson (...please bring that sound BACK!!!), and killed it this past summer; on his own, as well as teamed-up with Q-Tip at the Rock The Bells show. Perhaps I was simply expecting too much from someone who I felt was one of "real/underground" hip-hop's brightest and 'Mos' talented stars?? But, who knows, the clouds must have just been extra thick the other night, on 9th & V...