Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sing the Blues, Old Man

The bluesman archetype knows trouble too many to count. Take this. And this. And finally this: "If you in the street you have to start batter it down from out deh, 'cause the street is just the wider prison. And if you are mixed up in that wider prison them put you in the smaller prison."

Watch the blues travel across the sea and take hold of the old man's soul.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to Work in the Archive

Let's cast a spell of much love when we say the name one of our role models, brovah O-Dub. We were gleaning fresh over @ Soulsides, when we came across his discog post on Joe Bataan/Pete Rodriguez, and were reminded that Professor Wang knows how to do scholarship. Ain't enough of it either way. From the top to the bottom.

:: makes small circle of dried red peppers ::
:: places votive candle in blue glass @ center of the circle ::
:: lights candle @ noon ::
:: keeps candle lit 'til midnight ::

Get Back

Queen of the blues? Must say we like the politics of Flesh Tone at least as repped by the Voice.

Speaking of Devils

We think this one runs dangerously close to nostalgia for Cabin in the Sky.

:: p o u r s a l i t t l e l i q u o r o n t h e g r o u n d ::

By the end he wasn't even a Teacake character, but we forget that there is, in the tradition, big love for comedians, child prodigies and freaks. We should take his run for governor not as the tragic semi-serious and desperate attempt to find the public eye again (even if that was 100% true), but rather, a devilish prank -- a dwarf clown going toe to toe w/ a muscle bound giant.

There are good obits here and here. The LA Times photo spread is also worth a stop, here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Found Object

  • Henry Ossawa Tanner, Interior of Mosque, Cairo, 1888. Another thing of beauty from the grandmaster, who cuts faster.

Found Object (Detail 3)

  • Kara Walker, The Rich Soil Down There (detail 3), 2002. Hers is a biography of a very smart person making good. We have not been to the Walker Museum, but their page on Kara is a good first place to begin your study, after the paintings themselves.

Found Object (Detail 2)

  • Kara Walker, The Rich Soil Down There (detail 2), 2002.

Found Object (Detail 1)

  • Kara Walker, The Rich Soil Down There (detail 1), 2002.

Worth Noting

Here. Best quote:

"With a slate of openers composed of his Low End/Brainfeeder brethren (Samiyam, Ras G, Dr. Strangeloop, Teebs), the Echoplex convulsed with bass on Friday, with Ellison hewing to the DJ set he’s been globe-trotting around for the last few months. Remixes of Lil Wayne, Radiohead and his own material smacked skulls and left the audience dizzy, delighted and trying to figure out how to dance. Creating dance music for the head-nod crowd, the crowd attempted to decipher the cryptic patterns filled with a restless energy that opts for power and velocity over in-the-pocket groove. Which is to say, you probably can’t dance to this music, but you can do everything else."

:: p o u r s a l i t t l e l i q u o r o n t h e g r o u n d ::

"Sometimes, you played accompaniments for singers," he said on an NPR broadcast in 2008. "Sometimes you played for groups. Sometimes you played for operatic sequences. Sometimes you played for elephant acts. Sometimes, you played for dog acts.... So you did a variety of things, all of which, when you added them up, contributed to your repertoire."


Here (the better of the two).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More Devils

We we're planning a weekend's audiostudy, trying to get both sweep and
details. It prompted some familiar historiographical reflections and
then some unfamiliar thoughts about the gaps in the anthologies that
compose our studies.

Our weekend plan is to mash up the two anthologies we think of as role
models in study: Allen Lowe's "That Devilin' Tune," and Ego Trip's
"Greatest Rap Single's." We were planning on alphabetizing the artists
and lissenning through, from a to z.


It seemed like a fine plan. It went past the narrow boundaries of the
classic tunes, but still contained the most
massive stones in the pile: "West End Blues," "East St. Louis Toodle-
oo," "A Night in Tunisia," "Rapper's Delight," "The World Is Yours,"
"Glaciers of Ice," and "Can't Knock the Hustle."

Word to your Moms. Gonna be a good weekend and we'll keep you posted
on the alphabetical progress.

But as we began imagining, we began to worry about who wasn't showing,
and we realized that we've not conjured the devils thoroughly. Let's
list the devils to be called:


• Popular music from the sheet music, ragtime era, big musicals and
movies, etc.
• The wide range of things we call "blues"; there is a rumor that
Allen Lowe's got next on this one and we hope he gets done w/ his work
• Pancaribbean and Transatlantic pop trends. Drop the ethnographic
posture. Look for the groove that people looked for when they were
through working and wanted to dance.
• Sacred music and words. There is obviously a rich tradition, but
it is not well documented from a hemispheric perspective and we
distrust the fetish for imaginary primitivism called "raw gospel."

Postwar (we know it's not e/one's marker)

• Jazz after 1955. There are shreads of this devilin' fabric in the
solid marble Smithsonian Collection, but it drops off 40 years ago.
There have been some noble efforts to get the devils out: Giddins song
a year exercise was brainy if sparse; there have been a coupla lost
decade execises that have covered the 80s and/or 90s. But what's
missing is the emergence of jazz as the music of Duke Ellington's
heirs: public educated, church educated, military educated musicians
-- the music of Horace Tapscott and Anthony Braxton. It's a big and
unfinished structure.
• the big move from blue to r&b to soul to urban (some post 90s
gumbo of postsoul musics). There is a devilish proliferation of
regions and genres still too carved up by propertyrights of rekkid
companies and publishers, so we lack even a map.
• And this is where the while thing explodes, 'cause the regional
pop musics are not just northern or southern soul, but island by
island and city by city in a big pancaribbean and transatlantic
pattern. So there is nothing like the Allen Lowe of Jamaican music, or
South African music. C'mon, get busy.

Now we're talking lotsa devils. We'll think of more.

Word to you Moms Moms.

While We're On The Subject

Here's a small playlist, and a short rendition of the facts.

What We're Hearing

Take a little walk w/ me honey and tell me...

Sunday, May 2, 2010


It's a good picture.

What We're Hearing

Deeply grooved work by Fred Hopkins and Phillip Wilson. Still lissening to the appearance by Olu Dara.

Also Worth Noting

“You gonna tell me the history of the blues? I am the goddam blues. Look at me. Shit. I’m from West Virginia, I’m the first man in my family not to work in the coal mines, my mother scrubbed floors on her knees for a living, and you’re going to tell me about the goddam blues because you read some book written by John Hammond? Kiss my ass.”

-- Bill Withers

Key Phrases: Knowledge God 5 -- Politickin'

Columbians be on some bullsh*t. That's why Poppy got hit.
Stay tuned. Word up. I hope to see you in June.
By the way, I seen your b*tch. She was up in a cat's room,
Skeyed up, weed teh fuck up, to top it off,
look beat up, with two crack fiends huggin' your seed up.
I took care of that, though. But don't worry 'bout it.
I got your back, though.

State of Wordplay in Rap Music, ca. 1992

A propos of OB4CL threads:

"that included words that end with 'iggedy.'"

How to Talk Hip Hop in The New Yorker

The real story here is that you cannot deny Snoop's presence as one of the great bluesmen of the last 50 years, even if it is hard for the liberal intelligensia to excuse his devilin' ways. As I recall, they had the same problem w/ Chuck Berry and James Brown, but eventually excused it in the name of the groove.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Key Phrases: Knowledge God 4 -- Politickin'

So, see cousin, yo, I was workin.

Key Phrases: Knowledge God 3 -- Politickin'

Fake nigg*z throw shit in they drinks.
Club nights we snatch linx, politic, Africans and chinks,
While wide world of sports nigg*z injectin'
Morphine. The God seen more CREAM, and upstate
Cousin Reek, almost got hit with fourteen.
Chill, Pa, the God'll be a star when you come home
Light bones and let you rock my 3G stone.

Key Phrases: Knowledge God 2

I miss all my n*ggaz, though, believe me,
And I'll never forget none of them.
Stovetop, Roofside, you know what I'm sayin.'
I had these motherf*ckin,' all these wild-*ss nigg*az, man.

Key Phrases: Knowledge God 1

You know, you know, we had the baddest motherf*ckin'
unit back in the days, kid.
No doubt. no doubt. I know that, son. I know that
you know that, you know what I'm sayin'?