Oh Alicia..

Alicia Keys

I was casually minding my own business when I came across this photo of Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber… but wait. That’s not him. At all. It’s Alicia Keys aka Miss Beatz.

Now who on earth persuaded this beautiful lady to go ahead with a bowl cut.  I knew people who had that at school. This was in the early 90’s. And they were mostly boys. Who couldn’t afford to go to a barbershop.

I’m all up for switching up a person’s look every so often,  and truth be told, Alicia’s first short cut was pretty cool. But this is an abomination. To paraphrase one of her songs, this is Unthinkable.  To (almost) paraphrase another of her songs, This Hair is (not) on Fire.

Somewhere, Mashonda is laughing to herself so hard. She might even be responsible for these memes. Swizz, come get your girl and have a long talk with her. Please.

MJ:The Greatest to Ever Do It

Michael Jackson

Today marks the 55th birthday of one of the most influential black entertainers of all time. He came from a poor background before rising and reaching commercial heights untold of in the mid 80’s. He became as well-known for his charity work as he did for his craft. Inevitably as time went on, his star began to fade a little and at times became the butt of many a joke in the industry. Now however, he appears to have moved into the category of critical acclaim once again. Of course I am talking about the one and only…. Lenny Henry!

I’m kidding. Well kind of. Happy Birthday to King Lenny definitely for his transition from comedian to polished West End actor but I’m gonna have to divert your attention to the King of Pop himself, Michael Joseph Jackson.

I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since he moonwalked out of this life and into the next one. In that time I’ve definitely seen an increase in his popularity among pop stars and the general public. I remember about 10 years ago, Usher was asked who his main influence was and he said…Bobby Brown *no shade*. I know how much he respects MJ but towards the latter years of his life, people weren’t so readily willing to admit their stanning for the King of Pop.

Not me though – there may have been questionable music phases for me but one thing that has always remained constant has been my love for Michael Jackson! He may have been as crazy as a mofo (or at least that’s what he wanted people to believe) but he was an undeniable genius who’s influence on the music industry will always be felt.

As a tribute to his greatness, it would be easy to list the standard hits (Billie Jean, Thriller, Beat It, Bad, blah blah and blah) so I’m going to go against the grain and post some personal favourites of mine that may not be so well known:

Liberian Girl 

Apparently this video was filmed while MJ was on tour and so he couldn’t really devote too much time to it. Still, he managed to get a who’s who of 80’s Hollywood stars. Your favourite star’s favourite star could never.

In the Closet

Yeah, critics scoffed at the title (probably not the best way to shut down any sexuality rumours, but I digress), this song was fire. The video features steamy scenes with Naomi Campbell and showcased a more mature side to MJ.

Your Ways

People sometimes dismiss the Jacksons as a kiddy pop group like the Osmonds. Don’t be drawn in to this misconception, especially in the early 80’s when I think Michael was at his creative peak. He penned some funky, soulful numbers that still stand the test of time today and this is one of them. Peep the falsetto though.

Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming

Pure 80’s funk, from Jermaine Jackson’s album. The song really takes on another level once Michael starts to sing. A testament to his sheer star power.

She Drives Me Wild

Purely based on the fact that we did a sick routine to this song. The car sound effects, the rap and the harmonies make this song hard not to dance to.



Heaven Can Wait

The Invincible album was panned as a flop because it “only” sold 7 million copies. Artists these days would kill for those numbers. It wasn’t a classic album by any means and contained too many New Jack Swing sounding songs, which by 2001 was very dated. Still, this mid-tempo ballad produced by Teddy Riley was one of the standout tracks.

Some Random Questions

Batman, Ben Affleck, Eastenders, Gareth Bale, George Clooney, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, MTV, One Direction, Robin Thicke, Youtube

1. Since when did Eastenders become so boring? Dry characters, drier storylines. It’s like watching paint….dry.

2. Will Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience Part 2 be even better than the first installment?

3. Was anyone else disappointed that Robin Thicke’s second single was nowhere near as catchy as Blurred Lines?

mtv.co.uk

4. It’s been a good 18 months, they’re the most popular boyband in the world – why do I only know one song by One Direction? (“Live while we’re young”, in case you were wondering)

5. Why is the new Youtube logo so plain?

6. 50 years after his ‘I have a dream’ speech, would Martin Luther King be happy with Miley Cyrus’ appropriation of ‘black’ culture?

ibtimes.com

7. Why is it that the only time they show music on MTV is during the opening credits of one of their reality shows?

8. Can Ben Affleck be any worse than George Clooney’s smirking, slapstick Batman?

9. Is anyone else bored by the whole Gareth Bale transfer saga?

10. Are meme’s the best thing ever?

I think that’s it. Answers on a postcard please…

BirdGang Dance – Doing Music

BirdGang, Chance the Rapper, dance

All too often, us Brits neglect the talent that we have on our shores for those further afield, especially when it comes to streetdance. However, I’m pretty sure that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Step forward: BirdGang Dance and their visual entitled ‘Doing Music’. I’ve been to a few of their classes back in the day and it’s pretty crazy to see how far they’ve come since those days. From a few classes in South London (with me in the back frantically trying to keep up) to their own music videos and concept pieces

The concept starts off quite slowly and I’m sure it will have many people wondering what’s going on, before building to a choreographed dance scene in the garden, with the party guests all off their face…on dance. Yep, that’s right. No typo’s here. Boosted by the fact that the whole scene is set to ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’ by Chance the Rapper and this short film cannot go wrong. UK talent (shout-out to Ukweli Roach for the choreo) is definitely pushing things forward. Watch out USA, we’re coming…. And I should probably show my face to another BirdGang class at some point too. Enjoy.

Twerk. Twerk. Twerk. Twerk Miley…

Miley Cyrus, MTV, TV, Twerk, VMA

If you haven’t seen it, then where have you been? Miley Cyrus catapulted herself to infamy with a crazy performance at the MTV Video Music Awards and has learnt the cruel side of fame overnight. A few months ago, she reinvented herself with a new image and seemingly a love of ‘black’ *ahem* culture. And by ‘black’, I guess we mean Twerking. A few well-shot youtube videos later and she becomes the unashamed mainstream princess of twerking. Except, when she did it on national TV, she was kind of…er…well…exposed.

The whole display was a bit odd, awkward and she committed one of the most cardinal sins – she doesn’t have any junk in her trunk. That pancake was shown all over the world thrust snugly in between Robin Thicke’s groin on multiple occasions and she became the butt source of many a joke on the internet. Twitter and Instagram have been going crazy all day with memes and it will be interesting to see what the official response will be from the Miley Cyrus camp or ‘Team Twerk’ as they should never, ever be called. One thing’s for sure – the VMA’s never cease to bring up a controversial moment.

#31WriteNow – Update

#31writenow

It was all good just a week ago. And yet in the past 7 days, I have blogged, ‘just’ four times. Now usually, this would be a massive achievement and don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to have blogged so much recently. But the challenge is called #31writenow and it looks like I will not reach my target of a post every day of August (or at least 31 posts during the month). That in itself is slightly disappointing.

To say that this challenge has been tough is an understatement. The first week was scary but there was just enough there to allow me to post content every day. The following week came and it was a struggle. By week 3, I skipped a couple of days…which brings me to week 4 which has probably been my worst week.

It’s not always through lack of content, but moreso…life! If I blog after work, it is more than likely that things will get in the way, such as gym, socialising and tv watching! I could probably make some drafts at lunchtime but then when would I eat my lunch? Or on the train…but I do like to have a little nap sometimes. Hmmm…

Well anyway, we are moving into the final week and I should really aim to go out with a bang by posting every (remaining) day this week. And then once 1 September hits, I can relax!! If there is one thing that I am learning so far from this challenge, it is that there is a whole wide world out there and so many different topics to blog about. Some of the topics that I have enjoyed writing most haven’t been to do with music at all and I think I will carry on writing about different topics after this challenge is over.

Team GB’s Relay Team Made Me Laugh and Cry

Athletics, Dwain Chambers, Team GB

We all know the story by now. For all the money and resources that we have, the British are just not that good at athletics. If we ignore the (rightful) enthusiasm and euphoria generated by the London 2012 Olympics and get back to everyday athletics, we’re just too unpredictable. The World Championships in Moscow was definitely a prime example of this. For every success story in Mo Farrah and Christine Ohurogu, we also have the not so successful stories… step forward the Team GB Relay Team.

Adam Gemili, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Dwain Chambers literally ran for their lives and put in a performance that earned them a bronze medal and one of the fastest times in British 4 x 100m history. We all rejoiced (obviously after celebrating Jamaica and Usain Bolt – the world loves Usain regardless of what nationality you are) at the team coming third as it wasn’t expected. At all.

Britain got the bronze but then after the initial shock and euphoria had died down, the commentary team started to rouse suspicions insinuating that the relay team had handed over the baton outside changeover zone. Elation turned to sighs of “uh-oh” as we saw the guys celebrating with wide smiles and a spring in their steps. Post-race interviews were excruciating to watch, with them all emphasing how perfect their race had been. Except it wasn’t perfect at all. You could just feel that something wasn’t right and I think deep down, the relay team knew that it wasn’t the race that they all proclaimed it was.

I was on edge throughout the interviews as Gabby Yorath and the other pundits reported on the fumble. The camera shot to a replay of James Ellington with a disappointed look just after the race as if he knew what had just taken place.

It was painful to watch the celebrations knowing that it was likely that they would be disqualified yet again for failing to get the baton round the track within the rules. 6 times out of 7 major championships, to be exact.

Sure enough at the end of the broadcast, we received the news that they had been disqualified. The mood of the studio took a downward turn and the end credits played. Failure once again.

The most memorable image of the World Championships for me is probably Dwain Chambers in his bowler hat epitomisng the English gent. Dejected, yet patriotic. Once covered in glory which quickly turned to embarrassment and despair. I guess things could be worse – at least we didn’t go out via a penalty shootout. Go team GB…

Source: dailymirror.co.uk


Rejoice! The Football Season’s Back!

Fantasy Football, Football

After what seems like a lifetime, the football season is finally upon us. For those of us lucky/unlucky enough to be addicted to football, this summer has been dry. And I’m not just talking about the weather.

It’s an odd numbered year, which means there’s (barely) any football on TV this summer. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Squat. No World Cup, no European Championships and not even the lame Olympics football event. These are the summers where we usually challenge our pent up footballing aggression into other sports such as Cricket, Rugby, Tennis or Cycling. Sure, we got behind Andy Murray and cheered him on during his momentous victory at Wimbledon, and we celebrated (albeit very briefly) Chris Froome winning the Tour de France, but let’s be real with ourselves – in hindsight, they didn’t quite hit the spot. They didn’t scratch that itch.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

This season feels like it could be an unpredictable one. The departure of Sir Alex Ferguson towards the end of last season and the appointment of David Moyles, means that Manchester United for the first time in 26 years are facing change. Then at the other extreme, Chelsea welcome the return of the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ and media darling, Jose Mourinho. Can lightning strike twice or will it be like going back to an old girlfriend – it sounds like a good idea at first but then you remember why you broke up in the first place…

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Away from the managers, the pre-season has been consumed by the fate of three guys: Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez. Never has so much been said and yet (at the time of writing) nothing has happened!

Source: aumtrails.com

So as we all, get ready for the first matches and prepare our fantasy football teams, based on nothing more than media hype, speculation and a ‘hunch’, let us all rejoice that normality has returned to our Saturday afternoons and we can breathe a sigh of relief. Bring on the Premier League! *whistles the Match of the Day theme tune*

Throwback Thursday*: The Deathrow Era

Uncategorized

*This is my first Throwback Thursday post. I may not decide to do it again….you know on the basis that I already do Funk Fridays and all…but whatever – it’s my blog so I’ll do as I wish.

One of my favourite eras in music was the early to mid-90’s and in particular, the G-Funk era. I was too young to remember it and definitely too young to listen to the songs but from doing my rap homework over the years, it just seemed like an exciting time in hip-hop.

The label leading the charge was Deathrow Records, founded by superproducer Dr Dre and the imposing Suge Knight. Now although Suge wore a lot of red and had a beard, let’s put matters to rest. This guy was the antithesis of Santa Claus. Suge was responsible for a lot of the money being plowed into the label and of course this money was acquired by legitimate means…*cough*. Anyhow, despite the somewhat questionable nature of the foundation of the business, it was responsible for some of the best hip hop music of all time and at one time – the best roster of artists: Snoop Doggy Dogg, 2Pac, Tha Dogg Pound, Dr Dre, Nate Dogg? Oh come on. Those guys weren’t playing fair.

Source: savagecinema.com

From the period 1992 to 1996, the focus of hip hop shifted from the East Coast with its baggy jeans, timberlands and jazz/soul samples to the West Coast with it’s khakis, braids, Funkadelic samples and that Cali sticky icky icky. Oohwee. Number one song after number one song.

Arguably, the drama outside the music brought an air of ‘realness’ to the label and only enforced the label’s popularity. From 2Pac’s numerous brushes with the law to Snoop Dogg’s murder charge, as well as rumours of Suge Knight dangling Vanilla Ice from a top floor window (sounds hilarious every time I think of it). However, it was this aspect that ultimately brought its down. Dr Dre reportedly grew tired of the hectic lifestyle leaving the label in early 1996 and then 2Pac’s death in September 1996 meant the label was doomed. When Snoop Doggy Dogg left in 1997 to embark on an ill-advised interesting career with No Limit records, the jig was up.

While many choose to look at the negatives surrounding the record label (and there were definitely a lot of those) it’s important to remember that it was a black owned label that was competing with the major players in the game back then. And of course who can forget the classic albums released during that period?? The Chronic, Doggystyle, Dogg Food, All Eyez On Me. It was definitely a whirlwind period in rap music and one that I wish I could have fully enjoyed at the time. To mark this Throwback Thursday, here are some of my favourite videos: