GuGu me Baby!

Trick or Treat!

This post was actually supposed to be my Birthday present to myself. And what better way to end the month that marks 1 year for this very blog??? It’s one of the great pleasures in life that this is my favorite month and the month that brought me into being. It’s a double Birthday month! So almost 30,000 views later, here we are; well seasoned and giving the gifts that keep on giving.

Gift is such a fitting word. As in the case of our subject here, One Ms. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, when God blew breath into the masterpiece of a doll that is her, he knew she belonged within the knots of a red ribbon.  Take it how you want, but any man who gets to unwrap her or open her box will be hard-pressed not to make that face that a kid on Christmas day makes after getting under that tree. 

I spent alot of glimmering moments wondering if I’d find the look of my perfect woman. I thought…is it absurd to even have the idea? Then I thought; nah, you gotta at least know what you want so you know what NOT to end up settling for. So I wondered, what would she look like? What strikes me about the women I wind up with or end up having crushes on? Now I, like most of the general American viewing public was totally oblivious to the existence of Ms. Raw until I came across the ad for the series Undercovers in which she stars alongside Boris Kodjoe. From the very first moment I watched her lips move in the trailer for the show, I believed in Love at first sight. I never have before. She converted me.

I couldn’t really tell you why Gugu takes the cake out of all women for me…

It could be because she’s African, and I feel closer to home already (hey Mom, hey Grandma!). And as Luda so eloquently pointed out, Africa is “where the best at”.

It could be because she’s a Black Brit. And THAT, has become my new Fetish. Is there really a better accent?

It could be the captivating glare in her eyes. As you know if you’ve been following and paying attention, I’m really big on eyes – hers sparkle! They’re full of life but have a seductive quality to them.

This is only exasperated by the natural pursing of her lips when her mouth connects with her cheekbones in that way that gives her that Angelina Jolie thing that everybody seems to like and equate with sexual energy, but hers has the effect of making her resemble Kerry Washington.

Actually she’s like a more toned-down, upgraded version of Kerry. The Rich Man’s Kerry Washington if you will…without the facial extremities and a lot more shape. Mix that in with the look of one of those racially ambiguous daytime soap opera chics I like and what you have is a softer appeal to a familiar beauty.

But there’s something so new about Ms. Raw (Yeah I love calling her that!). Sure, if you Google Gugu, you’ll find a short history chronicling her steady climb into the limelight from the British small screen and box office, but all and all, she’s still a relative new comer. And I feel like the first kid to have his picture up on his dorm wall, watching the Johnny-come-lately’s ask ‘Who’s that?!’

The Fresh factor is more evident simply in her presence. She beams newness! She wears the hell out of her gowns and even simpler clothing and she just appears physically flawless yet with an accessible feel to her. 

And while I must admit that for all of my earlier poking and prodding, I have yet to watch a full episode of  the show that she appears upon every wednesday across my television screen.  I’ve heard bad things, but not enough to at least keep me from pretending to enjoy it while I just zone out to her scenes. I like everything so far, from how she talks to how she moves. When crushing, isn’t that all that really matters in the first place??

Taking that into account, and feeling quite like an explorer upon finally reaching their destination and realizing a goal that had placed them in years of toil, I say

You,

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

are officially the prototype for my Perfect woman,

and My New Crush!!

Rich-Education – Chapter 2


Simplicity

Have you ever heard this term before? “Keep It Simple Stupid!”

Its predominantly used in motivational business meetings. It encourages salespeople to learn the product and when selling, explain it in a bare bones sales pitch to empower the customer with the information they need, not the unnecessary gaffe.

You’re asking, What does this derogatory term about consumers have to do with how I run my life 5?

Well I’m glad you asked!

Keep it simple stupid, keep it simple Simon, keep information simply sweet, K.I.S.S., and which ever way it is used in meetings today is a social science on it’s own. If you keep it simple, then more will get accomplished. That is the sole purpose of that term. You accomplish more with less. Lo and behold this term does not only work in business but in relationships, conversations, speeches, directions, cookbooks, school, etc. When you keep it simple then everyone wins. Now, as much as I would love to say, “everyone should follow this motif!”, there is an unfortunate negative side to all this simplicity. The use of acronyms and emoticons are making their way into our school essays, books, commercials, television programs, down to even our english language. Nine out of ten text messages have some form of abbreviation. That being said the K.I.S.S. rule should be applied in moderation as to not indoctrinate our language with bad grammar. My rule of thumb goes back to the decision making post I wrote earlier. Proper timing when answering a question, responding to a text and even writing an essay will allow you to filter the bad behaviors and come up with complete sentences that offer little to no filler. I personally take an extra 60 seconds after I type a reply to read what I have wrote and I find ways to cut certain words off. Make a shorter more complete sentence. I don’t expect anyone to follow my direction, yet I should say that I am one of the most concise people I know when it comes to communication. My background in retail allowed me to hone my craft and create perfect pitches or explanations about any particular product and I have generated a lot of return business for the stores I have worked in. Also with my close friends I am typically the “go-to guy” when someone needs a second look on a particular subject. This concerned effort in simplifying the indescribable allows one to gain a broader perspective in analyzing a situation and with the tools aforementioned they can filter out the filler and make a proper decision.

(KEEP IT SIMPLE SON!)

Ok sorry! Simply put, if you keep it simple now then you reduce the bullshit later.

Happy Birthday To Me!!

Now Blow!!!


(8) Classic Sounds…

Like…

Sometimes a little organized ignorance is needed to balance things out. I like Dipset by default of my location, but their ignorance is far from organized. I like 50 Cent, but his ignorance is overwhelming.

When it’s carefully orchestrated, a sprinkle of niggerdom can be entertaining and thought-provoking. What the debut album from East Oakland’s premiere duo presents is just that. The Luniz came out busting with something to prove in 1995, putting their area on the national map in a way that hadn’t been done before…While the flamboyant characters of their Bay Area predecessors like Digital Underground, Dru Down and E-40 had amassed regional Icon status, The Luniz represented a more down-to-Earth look at the Yay and came with relatable personality types that the hip-hop audience outside of North Cali could identify with. This was highly important considering the Hip-Hop climate at the time, which was just beginning to rumble and bubble with the media-hyped East Coast/West Coast frenzy.

When “I Got 5 On It” dropped, most listeners weren’t fixated on where the Luniz resided as they were more interested in the subject matter of the track itself, being that it’s a universal topic in the rap world, and the song was so damn catchy!

The delivery they employed, tho definitely Yay area rooted, was in line with the multi -syllabled yet even-paced style that was prominent in the mid-90’s. Everyone from NorthEasterners like Redman to MidWesterners like Doe or Die and Southerners like OutKast were using this kind of flow, so it all fell into a hodgepodge of simply good music in those quiet radio moments between the polarized coastal giants like Snoop and Wu-Tang whose sounds were almost branded with where they were from undeniably.

Having that said, somewhere between the styles of Def Squad and Bone Thugs, came a flow from this up-til-then unknown group from a land that had been kind of closed off to the rest of the world outside of the West. The Luniz wrote the song that had the whole world singing…at least most of the country. Maybe an unwittingly genius move, seeing how their album is one big tribute to the hoods of Oakland and their entire mission is to introduce you to the mentality of themselves and the niggas you’re bound to meet on those very streets who are just like them. I think they may have succeeded, giving the rest of us a glimpse into a section where the other rappers couldn’t entice us enough to go to musically.

And this is where marketing and perception come into play. Somehow I think the Luniz got a bad deal. Often you hear them referenced as clowns or Comedic rappers. I take it that part of this comes from their logo being a cartoon condom or from their cadences, but Yukmouth and Knumskull are far from The Fat Boys or The Pharcyde. Maybe some of that stigma can be blamed on their choices in visuals when it came to videos. Or maybe it was the fact that this album is littered with silly skit-like preludes in the beginning and endings of tracks – but that was the popular norm on mid-90’s rap albums. Or maybe it’s because people weren’t so keen on what exactly punch lines were back then before the mixtape “freestyle” boom and took them as simply jokes. Or maybe it’s because, much like another duo that saw itself plagued by the comedic label, Field Mob, their use of animated adlibs brought down the seriousness of the skill and content they brought to the table.

Whatever the case, however, by the same token…like Field Mob, The Luniz’ chemistry on the mic together is super complimentary and unmatched by any other duo out of the West Coast yet. They represent that tried and true tested formula of light and dark (flow-wise and literally) that has worked for every other historic tag-team,with Yuk’s nasal rapid-fire delivery and knum’s cool, casual flow balancing each other out. The flows are distinct, but similar to Heltah Skeltah on their first album, are close enough that they almost blend into each other. It was clear that the 2 spent a good amount of time around each other. Their synergy is their strength here. Although Yukmouth has gone on to have a highly visible solo career independently, you almost don’t want to hear one without the other. Ironically,they stand out more when they stand together.

Much to the contrary of the aforementioned Comedic reputation, Operation Stackola is a an album based around the theme of getting rich through a series of scams, thefts and larceny. Mix that in with the occasional pit-stop to put a hating fool or a trifling hoe in check, or to dabble into creative territory or make an ode to getting high, and you have a Classic. Not since Spice-1 has Bay Area gangster rap been so mainstream. Then there comes the question, how gangster is this particular gangster rap? The Luniz aren’t your typical street spitters. What I appreciate about them is that they always implement a sense of where they’re coming from – and you can tell it’s just natural. They take the time (maybe without even thinking) to explain why they may be speaking how they speak or involved in what they’re involved in. You never leave the song wondering ‘well, damn, why did they say that??!’ So if it’s a song like “Yellow Brick Road” where they describe their exploits as your friendly neighborhood drug dealer, or even one like the title track, there’s an open door into their motivation and mind state that’s more understandable than the average rapper who glorifies. This is where the organization of the ignorance is exhibited. Make no mistake – it is still most certainly ignorance…But there’s a reason to the rhyme.

Besides the street aspect of the album, the other sides even things out by bringing in r&b elements that break things up with humor and Melodiousness. It’s actually pretty well sequenced, not giving you too much dark or too much smooth at one time, switching gears right when necessary. Capitalizing on the cryptic synthesized funk sound coming out the Bay at the time, the album is full of some of the best production of that era. It starts off gangster, from the intro going into one of the best songs on the album, “Put The Lead On Ya” featuring Dru Down, who introduced the Luniz. If ever you doubted these kids were niiiiiice with it, this track should clear things up for you. Violence aside, they go in! 

However, not too far after that, it gets real groovy with joints like “Pimps Playas & Hustlas” featuring Dru Down again, and Richmond representative Richie Rich, and “So Much Drama”. While both tracks contain street content as much as the harder songs do, the music behind them allow the boys to approach things less aggressively and have more fun with the tones and choruses. These moments separate the group from all of their peers and make them stand out as who they are. They have a knack for whiny sing-songy chants that are usually parodies of popular ditties or things that are easy to find yourself singing along to to – no matter how ignorant.

This leaves space for some redundancy tho. As quintessential Oakland dudes, you are going to hear tons upon tons of local slang from that time period. And with the theme soaking throughout the album, it’s not uncommon to hear words like “Lick” and “Greenery/Creamery” circulating countless times amongst the hundreds of “playas”, “Ballas” and “Scrillas” thrown around. Also, the focus on being on the lower side of the economic spectrum is prominent as evidenced by repetitive titles like “Broke Niggaz” and “Broke Hos”. While both songs are 2 of the doper songs on the album, they add to that feeling of the group being a little limited in subject matter. The former is like a gangster rap credo with one of the most profound choruses in history, “Broke Niggaz make the best crooks/ya best look…over ya shoulder, if you’s a high roller!/”. The latter, on another note, is a more focused taste of the misogyny that you’ll experience later on during the album on the song “She’s Just A Freak”. These are the kinds of songs that incorporate the language that made C. Delores Tucker raise hell, but even there, the group explains the type of female they are talking about. In this case, it’s not women per se, but Scheming chics out for monetary gain, and then all around whores. Too bad they didn’t have a regular female-friendly song to level the playing field. But this isn’t the album for that.

The gems here are the conceptual ones where the duo really flex their skills and show you how they can tell stories in creative situations that pertain to their lifestyles. On “5150” featuring Shock-G, they weave a tale where they die for being dirty on Earth, and wind up in the afterlife contemplating and then ultimately carrying out a mission from “Shock Jesus” to kill the Devil and earn their way back up. Nuff said.

On “900 Blame A Nigga”, they get about as political as they’re ever going to get as they sound off on haters, racists and the powers that be who aim to blame rappers, niggas from the hood, or just Black folk in general and use them as scapegoats and examples. It’s pretty damn creative stuff – especially with the redneck voice impersonations between verses.

And finally, toward the end of the album, “Plead Guilty” finds the group facing prison time and voicing their thoughts on that.

My absolute Favorite song on here is the single, “Playa Hata” which borrows the beat from the Bobby Caldwell classic “What You Won’t Do For Love”, and borrows it’s hook from the early 90’s Chucky Booker song “Games”. It just rapes both songs and makes it its own, doubling as a dis track to fellow East Oakland rep and pioneer, Too Short. It goes down in infamy, but for me, it’s one of my favorite rap songs with some of the best explanatory verses towards haters and gossipers ever. Also the delivery and intro are impeccable. 

Overall, the Luniz made 1 of the best albums in 90’s Hip-Hop history, and while they may have lost a lot of the chemistry that they had on this album in their subsequent efforts, they knocked it out the park here. It was a perfect look into their world; a great intro to the Bay area for New Yorkers like myself and other outside regions, and lyrically and flow-wise it’s what great rap is made of. Besides the repetitive words and dated sounds on some tracks (which should be expected by now from anything that I review before the new millennium), the only other fault that I can think of is an obvious lack of deep, meaningful content. As Ol’ Dirty proved, not all classic albums have to have some weighty social commentary included, but based on where the duo ventured on their conceptual songs and their potential, perhaps they could have afforded to squeeze something on there. If there was a rating between 12 and 16, I would be giving Operation Stackola a 14, whereas E.1999 Eternal would’ve gotten a 13. But for the sake of this site’s scale, I give this album 12 Candles out of a possible

4812 or 16.

4(Classic Just because where it stands in Hip-Hop, whether it be the time of it’s release, it’s influence, or the popularity of it’s singles overall)

8(Classic because it was solid for it’s time, but may be a little dated or less than amazing by today’s standards)

12(Classic as a complete release and probably celebrated widely on the surface, but possibly lacking one key element – be it one song that doesn’t fit, a wack guest appearance, lyrics, lack of depth or beats)

16(Classic all around)

More reason for me not to like GPS!

I’m not going to make this a long one.

All you need to know is that somewhere in America a Young Egyptian man discovered an FBI-designed GPS tracking device while he was getting an oil change.

Instead of an official apology from the government, what the young man received was a visit to his home by the FBI demanding their property back. Amazing!

Read the full story here…http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/10/fbi-tracking-device/

I don’t like satellite ANYTHING! There may be tracking in things that I’m not aware of yet, like this computer, or my phone, but the idea of a direct tracking system does not sit well with me – saving lives or not.

But what do YOU think?

Since I brought it up…

The new Avengers Cartoon is the SHIT!! By the way…

It officially premieres on the 20th, but these mini preview episodes I watched last night are better than all of the X-Men animated series I’ve ever seen. Marvel knows what it’s doing!

My Month is gettin Doper…

My First Comic-Con experience!

I’ve been slacking,

but I’ve been meaning to put up the footage and pics from my trip to The 2010 New York Comic-Con last Sunday.

I grew up as a huge Comic Book fan and as such I have passed this love down to my nephews with proud results. Something passed on to me by my very own uncle and my big cousin Omar, I have stacks and stacks of Comics just waiting to accrue worth as I get older. All this said, I have never been nerdy enough to venture so far into the world of Geekdom to go to an actual convention. However, as the popularity of the San Diego Comic-Con has grown to the point of being a hot ticket event (even getting coverage on E! now), I told myself that I would make this year thee year. Plus it’s my month – why not? 

It was only right that I shared such a momentous outing with one of my nephews, so I took my closest, Winnie, with me. He’s 6 and he lives for this stuff! Yet for some reason this day, what seemed to capture his interest most were the random video game displays…From an online game based on his favorite cartoon series, Superhero Squad, to an interactive Michael Jackson tribute video game coming soon that’s somewhere between Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Fitness. He even went so far as to cut a line when I wasn’t looking and asked a grown man to give up his turn so he can play….To which this grown man complied. My nephew has balls indeed. I warned him that he can’t thrive off cuteness for too long – that shit will bite him in the butt one day. 

Here’s a few shots from the day.  I went there with all intentions to meet my 2 favorite people in the history of Comic Books; Jim Lee (my favorite artist), and Stan “the man” Lee (the face of Marvel Comics and the creator of all of the most famous Superheroes with good movies) – No relation. That means I came there with my 2 each of my best Spider-Man and X-Men issues ready to be autographed and blessed – That’s as fanboy as I got! Unless you count me drooling over the upcoming action figures, sculptures and breaking down to buy me and my nephew toy replica Green Lantern Power rings that light up at $10 a pop! 

Anyway, peep the vids. This is the same day me and the homey Killa went to see Bone Thugs N Harmony perform at B.B. Kings. What a paradox, seeing so many Black folk at the Comic convention, and so many White folk at the Bone Thugs show. The world is really different now…

I even ran into the homey, Kai Holmes from 6 Chamber Productions, who did my first 2 music videos. He was filming for the Urban comic and web series Majestics and their booth. As you hear the “Dueces” remix playing in the background and the loud-ass dj/host, you could see why I used the word Urban. we always gotta turn everything into a damn party don’t we? 

Keep in mind, I’m writing this as the Preview for the new Avengers cartoon is on T.V. right now, so I can’t even be held accountable for any typos – I’m understandably and appropriately distracted.