Friday, November 30, 2007

Is It Time To Consider The Other Side?

This post comes from my boy Jermel in Maryland. The hot political topic in the black community seems to be "Hilary or Obama?"; but should that conversation be "Giuliani or Romney?" Why are we loyal to the Dems? Have they taken the black vote for granted?


We’ve all heard it before. “I can’t stand them damn Republicans!” But have you ever wondered why, as black people we have such an undying devotion to the Democratic Party? Most people would point towards the civil rights movement as the beginning of this marriage. It was further solidified by the Regan administration which ushered in an era of unprecedented inequality. Next Bill Clinton was virtually adopted by black society as being a “Black President”.

I certainly understand why most of us are democrats, but I wonder…Is it time to consider the other side? Now I know what you’re thinking. “George W.” led us into an unnecessary war; his administration sued the University of Michigan for giving preference to black applicants as part of their Affirmative Action program; and the federal government’s response to Katrina was abysmal. Trust me, I understand all of that, but shouldn’t we base our political affiliation on something more concrete; say like our opinions on the issues. In particular, how we should be taxed, who should pay for individuals’ health care, how tough should judges be on violent offenders, should abortion rights be decided at the state or federal level, and what role should religion play in education, if any.

I have no problem with democrats. I’m a registered democrat myself. But I also believe in evaluating each candidate based on how I believe they will perform in office. This belief caused me to vote for a republican governor during last year’s race in Maryland, and it was the first time I’ve ever voted for a “Repo”. I’m not telling you to change your party; I just believe as black people we need to become more free-willing voters, that vote based on all the issues, not just one or two. Then and only then will our concerns be taken seriously.

What do you think?

BTW, the race or sex of a candidate should not be an issue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Attention Players: Play the Game Responsibly

This post comes from one of my beloved AKA/Theta Pi sorors. In it she dicusses the Game that men and women play and the consequences that come along with it. Stats suggest that the great majority of relationships and marriages endure at least one instance of infidelity (regardless of whether the other mate will ever find out or not). Is cheating in a relationship inevitable?

Marcie is challenging you to be honest in your relationship...but if you're going to play the game, play it responsibly. It's a dirty game...


Tupac: The Great Philosopher once said..."got my game...from our women"

Despite his tendency for a prophetic word, I think I must disagree.

To be fair, I did get my ESP, attention to detail & ability to avoid "sloppiness" from women (yes, this is going to be another relationship blog so stop reading now if you want), but I definitely learned the game from men.

Anyone who knows me, knows the majority of my friends (with the exception of my chapter sorors and a few other girls) are men. In fact, my best friend of 15+ years is a man and my closest males friends are Kappas (see my friends list). I only state these facts b/c most of my female friends would say that they (Kappas) are the absolute worse (for those with Greek affiliations) when it comes to guys telling you what they think you want to hear...code: NOT the truth.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I know (and there are) several dishonest Alphas, Ques, athletes, GDI's, etc...stay focused; Kappa bashing isn't the point of this blog.)

In fact, two major reasons I question whether I'll get married is exactly my understanding of men. In my experience (with even the most wonderful men), I believe (and have been told repeatedly by them) that all men (95% or higher) cheat. So, I technically understand that isn't ALL, but the odds of anyone (or me) ending up with one who doesn't (or wouldn't) is ummm, unlikely at best. What's even worse for me is my ability to catch a cheater. Do I instantly assume a man is cheating and start checking his pockets, messages and violate his privacy in other ways? Nope, not at all! I just ask questions and put the pieces of information together like a puzzle.

Anyone who knows me knows that I incessantly ask questions (of everyone) and have learned about the world in this way since I could talk so it's normal for me to seek lots of information. I also have a memory and a web of connections that makes me a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the flow of information I can/do receive. And most importantly, I learned my game from men. Does this mean I never get caught up? Of course not. I have emotions and get caught up with the best of them, but I keenly understand "the game" from a man's P.O.V.

This knowledge and my early experience mastering the game (I was the sickest player in my prime...who, despite my conquests and trail of broken hearts, remain friends with most of the guys I dated, teased or pleased) makes me even more opposed to playing the game (or getting played by the game) as an adult. The game is ugly, the streets are real and the consequences (pregnancy, STD's, hurt, etc.) are high.

Yes, the fear of loss for men is great. It causes many of them to enter in binding agreements (i.e. exclusive dating/sex or marriage) because they are too afraid of letting someone go. However, the selfish desire to have more than one and/or the desire to find the best one (even after an existing commitment) often trumps these binding agreements. Sadly. Thus, there are many who refuse to let the game go. If you are one of those who enjoys playing the game, AT LEAST get on the adult version of the game...Code: the TRUTH.

In 2008 (and beyond), I challenge all the "players" out there to be honest. Be honest with yourself and the people you date, or in some cases, are engaged/married to. Honesty, really is the best policy...and really, who can hate you for telling the truth? Not telling it doesn't change it! Besides, the truth ALWAYS comes to light...sometimes it just takes time...and people are always more upset about something when they've been lied to, duped or embarrased than they might have been otherwise.

I hear men groaning..."women don't want to hear the truth;" "women can't handle the truth;" "etc, etc." For those with these objections to embracing the ADULT game, I say the following:

1) Women, families and healthy relationships can't handle the consequences (refer above) of NOT knowing the truth. 2) Women can handle childbirth and broken hearts of ourselves and our friends...we can handle the truth. 3) No one, despite their best arguments, can justifiably be upset with you for giving them full disclosure and the ability to CHOOSE whether they get involved with you given your desire to date other people, etc. 4) Your word and reputation are all you have in this life. No one will ever like all your decisions, but at least they will respect you for them when you're honest...code: INTEGRITY.

And lastly...if you are a woman playing the dirty game...this blogs for you too. The more any of us continue this, the more families (esp the black family) will continue to be dismantled. In 2008, I want to see steps forward, not back.

If you make New Year's resolutions (or simply commit to constant growth and self-improvement), I hope this blog will encourage/convince/inspire you to leave that relationship BS in 2007.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Throwback: Are We Ready???

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple months, you've heard that Senator Barack Obama is gearing up to make a run for the White House in '08. Is America ready for a Black president?

Condoleezza Rice says yes:

"Yes, I think a black person can be elected president," She said the first successful black candidate will be "judged by all the things that Americans ultimately end up making their decision on: Do I agree with this person? Do I share this person's basic values? Am I comfortable that this person is going to make decisions when I'm not in the room that are very consequential?"

Some say "yes", some say "no". I, for one, am not sure. I've heard a few schools of thought on the issue:

Some say that we ARE ready and that people have gotten past race when it comes to making political decisions. Others say that race is a HUGE barrier that will outweigh the issues at hand when people are in the ballot booths, regardless of political party affiliation.

Many black folks that I've talked to think that we are not ready, and that if Obama, or Hilary, make it out of the primaries, it will be an automatic victory for the Republican Party in '08.

Personally, I think that this issue is bigger than party affiliation. As much as I disagree with the current Administration's policies, I would probably vote for Condoleezza Rice if she decided to run for president... Or a conservative white female candidate... Or an openly gay candidate... or an Asian American candidate... or a Jewish candidate... or anything other than the current status quo (given that their ideas aren't extremely radical, right or left)...

Why? Because putting one of the aforementioned people in office will make it more possible for America to accept change. Idealistic? Maybe... maybe not.

Ignorance: ...even though Obama's middle name is Hussein.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Conversation With A Divorced Man

I'll never forget what my uncle told me. As we were sitting at his dinner table (me, him and his wife of over 30 years) he looked at me... looked at her... then looked back at me. He then says "Boy...don't you ever get married! You'll end up like me."

All I could do was laugh. "haaaaaaaa! hahaha... man you are cra..."

He was stonefaced. She was stonefaced. "you're serious"

It was awkward after that. I slowly got up and left the table. The strange thing about that statement was that he was serious, but yet he loves his wife dearly. Otherwise he wouldn't be with her. The go back and forth all the time like that, but at the end of the day, they wouldn't give the other up for anything in the world.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and one of my divorced frat brothers schooled me on this whole marriage thing. His advice was this:

"Before your get married, make sure you discuss sex, children, and money. Anything else you can work around, but if you aren't both on the same page with those things, your marriage will fall apart."

He said that when it comes to money, talk about how much should be saved each month, if it should be kept together in one account, and so forth.

Also, most husbands assume sex will remain the same in marriage, both in frequency and in actions performed. A lot of wives intend to make changes in the bedroom after marriage. If couples don't discuss sex before marriage, they may be in for a real shock.

Children are the biggest point of contention, apparently. Surprisingly, it's not the number desired or whether each couple even want kids. Rather, it's how the kids should be raised. While married couples do discuss names and how many they want, many overlook how kids should be raised. Are you going to spank, "whoop" or do time outs for discipline? What time are they to sleep? A difference in values will be enough for the kids to pit one parent against the other if those values are polar extremes.

In his opinion, if you discuss these three points in depth before marriage, it'll let you know if this is the person that you should marry, or if you'll be another stat. Or worse yet, you'll end up on Judge Maybelline's Court Show on a random Wednesday trying to get your CD Player and her portion of the waterbill that she owes you back.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Illest Christmas Song Ever

A lot of people don't know this, but OutKast's first single "Player's Ball" was a Christmas song. It was featured on the LaFace Family Christmas album.

Since the Christmas album did so poorly in sales and "Player's Ball" was the only bright spot on the album, L.A. Reid decided that it would make a good single to introduce the group to the rap world. They went back and edited the song to make it sound less holiday-ish. They banked on the single being successful because they figured no one would link it to the Christmas album.

I used to wonder why there were so many censored words on the video back in '94, but it turns out that the bulk of the censored phrases were Christmas and New Year's references.

If they would have released this as a Christmas song as their very first single, they could have possibly been brushed off as a gimmick by the mass public, LaFace may have put their project on the shelf, and we may have never heard anymore from hip hop's greatest duo. That was a hell of a risk to take.

Peep the above clip and hear OutKast spit lines like:

*notice the sleigh bells as the song starts*

"It's beginning to look a lot like [Christmas]..."

"Some nonsense about some 'Silent Night', I gets it crunk if it ain't real ain't right..."

"You thought I'd break my help y'all deck... the halls..."

"Hall-e-lujah, Hall-e-lujah..."

"Ain't no chimney in the ghetto so I won't be hanging no sock..."

"So ho ho hos, check my king-ass fro..."

"When the Player's Ball is happenin' on Christmas day."

So there's my useless hip hop knowledge for the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Supermanning Hoes

Hip Hop culture is all about creating new slang. Over the years we've seen different words come and go. "Dynamite" evolved into "fresh" which evolved into "dope" which evolved into "tight" which evolved into "hot" and so on and so forth. We know what they mean now, but when they were first used a lot of people were in the dark in regards to their meaning.

Every year there's something new. Along with these words are also words and phrases that were sexual in nature that left folks scratching their heads.

Remember MC Brain's "Oochie Coochie La La La"? (yes, I'm old as shit) Would you believe that folks used to wonder what the hell he was talking about? Now we know that coochie is...well... coochie.

How about O.P.P.? When Naughty by Nature came on the scene with this little diddy, kids everywhere were singing along and asking everybody if they were down with O.P.P. It was on the radio and on video shows in HEAVY rotation. My mother almost had a heart attack when she found out that it meant "Other People's Pussy/Penis" and was an ode to infidelity.

Fast forward to 2003. Who could forget the old "awww skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet skeet...aww skeet skeet hot damn!" To quote Dave Chappelle months after that song became a smash hit: "You know what the dope shit is about 'skeet skeet'? White people still don't known what it means." We now know (and a lot of us knew before this song dropped thanks to Dr. Dre) that skeet means ejaculating.

And there were tons of words and phrases between the gaps of the above observations i.e. brain, badonkadonk, etc.

Well now there's a new breed of slang that folks haven't figured out yet. One of them is the title of a smash hit that kids and parents everywhere are singing along with and dancing to at ballet classes and cub scout meetings everywhere.

That's right folks... supermanning hoes.

At first I brushed this off as mere nonsense because the rest of the song is mere nonsense. But the 16-year-old Soulja Boy has managed to slide a phrase into the main stream that soccer moms everywhere are oblivious to meaning-wise. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the most disgusting slang words that I've heard of in a long while.

Apparently, supermanning a ho means ejactulating on a woman's back and putting and leaving a towel or bed sheet on her back while she's sleeping. After it dries, the towel/sheet will be stuck to her back, thus looking like a superman cape...

I wonder how big this song would have been if this was explained beforehand.

Golly gee... kids say the darndest things.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Why Are We Celebrating This Guy?

Here is Frank Lucas & Nicky Barnes on a teleconference boastfully discussing who had the best dope on the streets. Sad.

Also, Bumpy Johnson's wife has come out & said that Frank Lucas is a liar & that he & Bumpy were never that close:

93-year-old Mayme Johnson, widow of the infamous Harlem gangster Elsworth “Bumpy” Johnson and the man Lucas says was his mentor and who taught him everything he knows, is pissed about what she deems graphic inaccuracies about her husband and Lucas’ relationship. “Frank wasn’t nothing but a flunky, and one that Bumpy never did really trust. Bumpy would let Frank drive him around, but you’d better believe that he was never in any important meetings or anything. Bumpy figured Frank as a liar, and he would say you can trust a thief quicker than a liar, because a thief steals because he needs money, while a liar lies for the hell of it.” Miss Mayme is particularly upset about Lucas’ claim that Bumpy died in his arms. Lucas, she says, was nowhere around the night that Bumpy died from a heart attack while dining at the famous Wells Restaurant on Seventh Avenue in Harlem. She says Lucas probably thought he could get away with the lie because he figured everyone who was around Bumpy at the time is now dead. “Junie Byrd’s gone, Nat Pettigrew’s gone, Sonny Chance is gone, and Finley Hoskin’s gone. Frank would never have said any garbage like that if one of them were alive because he’d know they’d come after him…I bet he thought I was gone, too, but I’m not. I’m 93, and I don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and I’m not senile. Frank Lucas is a damn liar and I want the world to know it.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Gift and the Curse

Pretty corny title, I know...

But Jay-Z's subtitle for his Blueprint 2 album is the perfect phrase for describing what the internet and downloading has done to music artistry. On the one hand, we are given the gift of previewing music waaaay before an album comes out, which used to be a wet dream of mine (figuratively... what?? I love music); and on the other, we have robbed artist of making good music. After all, what's the point of making a hot, cohesive album if all people want to hear is a few hot singles that they're going to download? Artist now are choosing to spend their budget on the hottest producers and a hot hook for two or three songs to sell it and then put bullshit on the rest of an album to fill space. Fuck artistry. Why? Because rarely do people download entire albums--folks download the one or two hot tracks to determine if it's worth buying.

Not only that, but we have also deprived ourselves of fairly judging albums. I used to be a loyal CD purchaser. The fun of buying CD's, for me, was to critique the album all at one time--from the album cover, to the intro, to the sequencing, the collaborations, the beats (regardless of who produced it), the cohesion, the outro.

I remember going into the store for Jay's second album at the midnight sale back in '97. I hadn't heard any of the songs off of the album, save for a few singles. Got home, ripped the cellophane off of the CD, popped it in, read the inside credits and the art work, listened to every track song-by-song and made an opinion of the album after it was over. I didn't even like it very much on the first listen.

The proponent of downloading would say "you could've saved yourself $15 if you would've been able to hear it first," but I also would've never bought the album which is now one of my favorites of all his CDs. Those songs that I thought were skippable on the first listen became my favorites--namely, "You Must Love Me" and "Where I'm From" which is probably Jay's best ever lyrical song. A lot of why the album grew on me had to do with the sequential order of the album's tracks and the "speed" of the album, which are two things that you can't get when you download tracks here and there.

By buying the album and investing in it, it gave me the opportunity to give the album another chance. On the flipside, had I been able to download a few tracks here and there a month before the album came, I would have brushed it off as a wack album and spread the word to others that it was wack. If that would have happened a couple million times from others it may have been "grand opening, grand closing" for Jay.

Kingdom Come fell victim to this in my opinion. Two weeks before the album dropped, songs started leaking and folks started saying "Jay fell off." A few of the folks that told me that hadn't even heard the whole album. After borrowing mine and letting it grow on them it's now one of my friend's favorites (you know who you are).

I'm no different. I was with my boy this weekend and he asked me what I thought about Common's album, Finding Forever. I said "it's alright I guess." After getting grilled on why I thought that, I fessed up and admitted that I hadn't even heard the whole album because I downloaded half the songs. After downloading six songs, my assessment was it was "alright" so I didn't bother downloading the rest and Common is one of my favorites. But me falling to the victim of our "right now" society, I downloaded what I could find weeks before the album dropped.

If Common wasn't as established as he is, this sort of thing would have ruined his career before it even started. If I was in an artists position, why would I take the risk of making a good album when I could put my budget into making singles about crack, guns and 24's since that's what people are buying...excuse me...downloading. Downloading isn't conducive to judging artistic music that's meant to be heard in it's entirety, but rather the newest disposable club tracks.

That's why album sales are low and artists are not being artists anymore. Because of downloading. Because of me.

"The game's fucked up
Nigga's beats is bangin, nigga your hooks did it/
Your lyrics didn't your gangster look did it/
So I would write it if y'all could get it/
Bein intricate'll get you wood, critic/
On the internet, they like you should spit it/
I'm like you should buy it, nigga that's good business"

-Jay-Z's "The Prelude" off of Kingdom Come