Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rapper's Delight

Video Patrol
Here are two brand spankin' new music videos for your viewing pleasure or displeasure, I'll let you decide. The first video comes from Kanye West. The latest 808s and Heartbreaks video is for "Street Lights." The second video, "Mrs. International," comes via rap duo Red & Meth and special guest Eric Sermon in support of their recent release, Blackout! 2.

Soul Fixin'

Phonte Stands Up For His Hero
While many celebrities have released statements concerning the loss of music's greatest icon, Phonte went a step further and wrote an essay honoring and defending the legacy of his hero. A member of Little Brother and Foreign Exchange, Phonte posted his MJ essay, My Hero Ain't Molest Them Bitch Ass Kids: Phonte's teary-eyed tribute to The King on his MySpace page. Check out a few excerpts.

Michael Jackson's impact:

Honestly I'm still trying to process it, almost like the loss of a much-loved family member. I mean, hell, to many of us Michael WAS family. Much like Nike, or Coca-Cola, or McDonalds, Michael Jackson wasn't so much a person as he was a living, breathing, American institution; a ubiquitous force that has seemingly existed forever and one that we couldn't imagine a world without. Seeing Michael onstage was less like watching a musician perform and more akin to witnessing a magician at work.

Sexual Abuse Accusations:

It is my belief now, just as it was 16 years ago, that the charges brought against Michael during his 1993 sexual abuse case were false...Ask the average parent whether they'd want justice or money for their abused child and more than likely they'd say justice, if for no other reason than to protect their child (and other children) from a future attack. The fact that Evan Chandler was willing to essentially let Michael off the hook for a few million (reportedly 2-3), made their case seem like a well-orchestrated extortion attempt.

Generally when victims of abuse come out with allegations against someone, other victims come forward to corroborate their story (i.e. the Catholic Church scandal, where a few parties came forward and it later led to thousands).

Very rarely do child molesters stop at just one kid, or even two for that matter. An alleged pedophile with only two accusers is kinda like an alleged serial killer with only one body. Or an alleged sneaker addict with only two pairs of Jordans in his closet. It just doesn't make any logical sense, nor does it coincide with the recurring psychological characteristics of most people who fall into those categories.

When it came to children, the only thing Michael was guilty of in my opinion, was naivete. While cuddling in the bed with children isn't technically illegal, it does violate several social norms; norms that a man who dresses funny, lives at an amusement park and refers to himself as “Peter Pan” would certainly pay a higher price for breaking. When I hear the tales of Michael laying in bed with those children, watching movies, tickling, and engaging in general horseplay, it sounds less like the work of a pedophile and more like the actions of a man trying to experience a childhood he never had.

Michael Jackson & Allegations of Self Hatred:

Michael Jackson never tried to disown or separate himself from his Blackness at any point in his career. In fact, he was probably the most openly pro-Black pop entertainer of his time. Michael Jackson ashamed to be Black? I mean, this was the same guy who:

-portrayed Black people as kings and queens in ancient Egypt ("Remember the Time" video)
-called Tommy Mottola (his then label boss) a devil and a racist
-sang "white man's gotta make a change" live on the Grammies in '88
-sang about a beautiful African woman in "Liberian Girl"
-featured an African chant at the end of "Wanna Be Startin Somethin"
-donated over $25 million to the United Negro College Fund
-sang "I ain't scared of no sheets" in "Black or White" and upped the ante by morphing into a BLACK PANTHER at the video's end
-wrote a song called "They Don't Really Care About Us," with a Spike Lee-directed video that featured prisoners raising the Black power fist
-uhhh “We Are The World” and USA for Africa, anyone?

Micheal Jackson & The Media:

This essay is my plea to all people who consider themselves a fan of Michael Jackson, but especially to Black people: Don't let them talk about our Brother. Don’t let his naysayers convict him of crimes that were never proven. Don't let people reduce the memory of one of our greatest heroes to that of a weird guy who wore a shiny glove and molested little boys.

When Elvis Presley died, did the media remember him as an overweight, drug-abusing racist who dated a 14 year-old, or was he eulogized as The King of Rock and Roll?

When Woody Allen dies, do you think the media will focus on the controversy behind him marrying his own stepdaughter, or on the films "Annie Hall" and "Manhattan" and how great they were? (Ditto for Jerry Lee Lewis, the rock and roll pioneer who married his 13-year old cousin.)

Was MJ a weirdo?

Of course he was a weirdo...But maybe if you had been in the public eye since you were 7, had grown ass women throwing themselves at you since you were 13, suffered physical abuse at the hands of your father, watched your father and older brothers engage in sex with groupies on tour as a child, were called "Big Nose" and "ugly" by both family members AND fans, developed a skin disease that took away the one thing you repeatedly expressed your pride for, and spent the last half of your life as the most famous person on Earth, you'd probably be a bit of a weirdo too.

Soul Tracks

*I decided to unearth a previous post, written last year in celebration of MJ's 50th birthday.

Happy Birthday Michael Jackson!!! 50 years ago Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana. The past twenty years of Michael's life have been bizarre, to say the least. However, let's try not to focus on the scandals, trials, plastic surgeries, and wacky behavior. Let's go back to 1972. Long before Michael's 'Bad' tour grossed $125 million and Off The Wall and Thriller shattered every record imaginable. Long before 47 million people watched in awe as Michael did the moonwalk on Motown 25. Long before he co-wrote the international smash hit 'We Are The World.' And long before everybody wanted to be Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was a 13 year old basking in the success of his solo debut, Got To Be There. Four years prior, Michael along with brothers Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine, signed to Motown Records as the Jackson 5. In '71, Michael stepped out on his own and began recording his solo debut produced by Hal David and Willie Hutch. Three songs, 'Got To Be There,' 'Rockin' Robin,' and 'I Wanna Be Where You Are', put Michael on the charts. The young singer took a stab at Bill Wither's 'Ain't No Sunshine' and the Carole King classic 'You've Got A Friend.' The ten track set also featured 'Maria (You Were The Only One),' today's Soul Tracks selection. From the opening note, Michael sounds far more mature than his 13 years. He sounds like a man who has lived a lifetime of experiences. It's hard to believe the song is autobiographical. But then again, maybe it is. A then 13 year old Michael could have been experiencing the raw emotions of the break up of a teenage love affair. Either way, Michael channeled his inner David Ruffin and sang with all the emotion and conviction of a broken man pleading for the lady in his life to came back.

Video Soul