Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!
The Ecstatic, the new Mos Def album, is amazing! I love it. It literally floored me the first time through, keeping me from doing writing that I was supposed to be doing at the time. I may write more on the CD soon now that school is winding down a bit, but we’ll see. At the very least I wanted to post the music video for the album’s first single, ‘Casa Bey.’ As the album’s final song, ‘Casa Bey’ works quite well as a grand finale, showcasing Mos Def’s characteristically smooth flow. As he says in the song, you can’t stop his go.
I mourn the fact that garbage like 50 Cent and such flood the airwaves, all the while Mos Def isn’t nearly as famous as he should be. He should be at the top of the Billboard charts and such for months on end… but he isn’t, Lil’ Wayne is instead. Ugh!
See the video here: Casa Bey
The first three additions to this week’s five things are related to new music. I had gone quite a while without any new music in my life; neither the “artists I’d never listened to” type of new music, nor the “new album from an artist who is already a favorite” type has recently graced my life. Gladly, that changed over the last two weeks with the introduction of three new albums to my playlist.
1. Merriweather Post Pavilion – The Animal Collective
From the first category, that of artists I haven’t really listened to before, I’ve really been enjoying the new CD by The Animal Collective. They’re one of those bands I kept meaning to check out, but the list is so long it is hard to really get to most of the bands on the list. Thus far, I really do enjoy the newest CD, which apparently (according to Brian) is already getting buzz as the best album of the year. That’s right, in January.
Thus far, it is one of those CDs that I enjoy a bit more on each hearing. I find myself at a loss to really describe the music. Perhaps this is because they are hard to describe, it could be the fact that I am starving right now and it is starting to cloud my brain. Alas, either way I’ll just have to leave you with the fact that I do enjoy the CD quite a bit.
2. Get Guilty – AC Newman
The second new CD I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately is by New Pornographers frontman AC Newman. His second solo effort, it is the first that I’ve been exposed to. Since the New Pornographers are on the same list I mentioned earlier, that of bands I need to check out some time, I can’t offer you a comparison between Newman’s solo stuff, and that of the band’s work.
What I can say is that the CD is a great listen, the kind I can put on repeat and listen to over and over again, which is rare for me. The CD is made up of strong, smart, tight songwriting, both from a musical and lyrical standpoint.
My enjoyment of it will certainly get me to emusic to download his earlier solo stuff, and it will move The New Pornographers to the top of said ‘bands I need to listen to’ list.
3. Noble Beast – Andrew Bird
Finally, as far as new music is concerned, I’ve been listening to Andrew Bird’s newest release. What can I say aside from the fact that I love Andrew Bird. To me, his music is at once silly and serious, joyful and melancholy, not to mention fun and beautiful… not that those are contradictory like the others seem to be. Also, let’s not forget that Andrew Bird is, like, the greatest whistler ever.
Noble Beast finds Andrew at the top of his game, and I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
4. Movies With Friends
I add this because it occurred to me yesterday how much more enjoyable it is to watch movies when you have friends over.
Our friends Austin and Danielle came over yesterday to watch Wanted with us. The movie ranged from completely lame to “this scene should be really cool but it is only kinda cool.” Yet, even though none of us enjoyed the movie, outside of the general sexiness of Angelina Jolie and Common (who was badass, but had far too little time on screen), the two hour experience was redeemed a bit due to the fact that we watched it together.
I guess you could transform that old phrase about shared joy and sorrow to fit movies as well: “Sharing a great movie doubles enjoyment, while sharing a crappy movie halves the misery.” Then again, a few of the comments made during particularly lame scenes actually redeemed them to the point of enjoyment, so it doesn’t even just cut the misery in half, but instead can potentially eradicate it altogether.
So, **raises what may well be the last frosty he will ever eat** here’s to friendship!
5. Spring Training is coming…
This is the last ‘five things’ in January. Just one more day to go and we will all be residing in the shortest month of the year. And you know what happens in February right? It is of course when we get to utter the four most beautiful words our language has yet formed into a single phrase: pitchers and catchers report.
Pretty soon the time will come when there will be baseball to watch, follow, and speculate on again. Glorious, wonderful, amazing baseball.
It won’t get here a moment too soon.
1. Q-Tip – The Renaissance –
There is no more appropriate emcee name in all of Hip Hop than Tribe alum Q-Tip. I have no idea where his name came from, or what his intentions were in either adopting or accepting this particular moniker before changing Hip Hop forever. Yet, whatever his intent, Q-Tip is a fantastically fitting name.
Q-Tip is the brand name that has replaced the more generic term, cotton swabs, much like Kleenex is what many people call tissues. Thus, most associate Q-Tip with the product designed to be soft to avoid friction upon entering one’s ear. So, what better name could an emcee like Q-Tip have, with his smooth, easy voice that belies the complex poetry of his lyrics. When Q-Tip speaks, his words enter our ears without the friction caused by much of the awkward lyrics, and inaudible grunting and yelling that characterizes so much of the garbage that passes itself off as rap on the radio. His voice is the perfect compliment to the jazz heavy Hip Hop that A Tribe Called Quest created throughout my childhood.
So, in a time where most rap makes my ears hurt, Q-Tip is the perfect remedy to join the ranks of Mos Def, Common, The Roots, Talib Kweli and the like, to sooth my ears and resume his role as champion for Hip Hop as art as opposed to Hip Hop as mindless club anthems. That is why it is in line with this theme of appropriate names that Q-Tip’s new CD is called The Renaissance, hopefully it will bring about the sort of renewed life and artistic inspiration the name promises.
I’ve listened to it about three times through since I got it on Tuesday, and it hasn’t disappointed.
Now, if only Tip would get back together with Phife and the boys and release another Tribe album, my life might just be complete.
2. Brian is coming Tuesday –
This one is pretty self-explanatory, Brian is coming on Tuesday in the hopes of testing out the job market here to see if he can make money out here in Seattle. Emily and I hope it goes well, so that Brian will soon be living in our happy home.
3. 4. AND 5. President-elect Barack Obama –
He got the electoral votes at more than 2-1, so it’s only fitting that he gets to take up slots in this week’s five things 3-2.
I’m ecstatic that Barack Obama was elected president, and I have been closely following the initial stages of his transition toward being the the 44th President of the United States. I know he has a huge mess to face when he enters office, but I am continually taken by the integrity of his character and the focus of his leadership and I think he is our best chance of turning things around.
There, I said it (or wrote it to be more precise). I’ve been quite careful about including my thoughts on Obama very often, and to be honest, I’m tired of it. My fear was that this blog would become the target of the ugly political rhetoric that has been so tiresome to so many and I didn’t want to deal with it.
Well, I’m done hiding behind carefully chosen fluff, and if you feel the need to attack me with the sort of unbecoming, hate-filled bitterness that flooded Facebook and Twitter from so many of my “Christian” friends, so be it.
I believe in the leadership of Barack Obama… sue me. Many have been telling me from the very beginning how foolish that is. I would need more than two hands to count my conservative friends who responded to the articulation of my feelings about Obama back in 2004 (after both his DNC speech and his interaction with Sojourners), by telling me how impossible that would be. The primary reasons they gave were that not enough white people would actually cast their vote for a black man, and that he could never survive a tussle with the Clinton machine. Well, I’m tired of feeling foolish about my beliefs when nothing anyone has told me to dissuade me has had anything to do with reality thus far. He is stronger and better equipped to lead than you give him credit for, so let’s focus on concrete debate about policies and let go of the silly character attacks that just make people sound like 2nd Graders fighting over a swing.
The thing that bothers me the most about the reaction to Obama’s victory is the insensitivity by so many toward what this means for our country. People who grew up in a country where they were forced to eat behind a divider at a restaurant because of the color of their skin, who couldn’t drink out of the same water fountain or use the same bathroom, who were treated like sub-human beings, were just able to vote for a black man to be the President of that same country. A people who are continually treated as second class citizens in far too many contexts experienced the validation of having a black man win more than 2-1 electorally, with a very impressive percentage of the popular vote, getting a mandate from the people that he can lead our country, as well as a mandate that we really are moving forward socially. Pardon the following language, but THAT’S FUCKING HUGE, and I’m quite honestly embarassed for you if you can’t see that.
I have many Republican, conservative, evangelical friends, like Catherine Golden and Bryanne Figlia, who voted for McCain, disagree with Obama’s politics and would vote for McCain again if given the chance, but who were still able to appreciate the beauty and history of what Obama’s victory means. As well as those like Waldo, whose views and ideals wouldn’t let them vote for Obama, but who, as Waldo’s post yesterday indicates, understand that this moment matters. I disagree with them on much politically, and I couldn’t be prouder to count them as friends.
All of us share the collective consciousness of 9/11 and that tragedy. It was our Dr. King or JFK assasination. But now, I’m so grateful to have been able to share with so many others a moment of a very different kind. This is our moon landing. Whatever happens next, this is a beautiful moment in our our history. I’m so happy that there are seven wonderful people aside from Emily and me who will always remember that they were in our living room when this history was made.
Anyway, that’s enough of that for now. Perhaps soon I will write about how, while Obama’s victory was a beautiful moment and indication of our progress, the bans on same-sex marriage is a sad indication of the opposite, and of the work yet to be done socially. For now, these pictures of Obama are well worth checking out, keep clicking the ‘show more images’ link.
I strongly welcome comments to this post, but please let them be actual dialogue and not bitter ranting. Thanks.