When you have kids ages 2 and 4 regular adult human activities are no longer your prerogative. Want to eat breakfast….. no. Want to do the dishes……no Want to take a shower……NO!
A shower. Billions of humans world wide take part in this ritual daily. Bathing, it’s essential for human health, but the repercussions for parents could be disastrous.
Let’s just say the bathroom was flooded and all the Easter candy is gone. I needed an Emotional Rescue.
T-Bone Walker wrote a blues called Stormy Monday. It is a certified classic and a blues standard. He laments about the struggles of the days of the week, each day being worse than the next. “They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad”
As this morning unfolded into a cloudy, rainy, Stormy Monday I had to play T-Bone, and let THE BLUES heal my Blues. Hasn’t taken full effect yet, but I’ll just keep listening.
If this Monday had a few storms for you, here is a playlist to make you reflect and hopefully feel better.
Stormy Monday by T-Bone Walker
When you are furious drying up water in your underwear with a 2 year old on your back you need
Emotional Rescue – The Rolling Stones
Stormy by The Meters
This was the first record that started to soothe the chaos.
Ease Backby The Meters. You should really listen to the Meters.
Can’t Stand it! Even though it is also essential to our existence. It’s just today…..jeeeeez
Be Thankful For What You Got– William DeVaughn.
Always try to keep this in mind.
Thanks for listening. I think I feel a little better now. This was a Stormy Monday but I’m about to let it go and pray that Tuesday is not just as bad. Thanks T-bone.
Today I went into Aaliyah and Lola’s class to read and play some bass. I’ll say first that we love their school. All the teachers are wonderful people who truly love the kids. Aaliyah comes home so excited about what she has been learning daily.
Aaliyah has been asking me to read a book to her class during breakfast time. So today I went it and read The Wheels on the Bus. It is a familiar story, you sing about all the people and activities on the bus, and these things go on “all over town” As I read the kids ate waffles and sang with their mouths full. Ms. Shaquam and Ms. Tawanna (Aaliyah’s) teachers sang a long as well.
As I finished reading, I suggested they all get out shakers and tambourines. They all got instruments and we began a pretty official sing along.
Now this was my first time ever playing the bass and singing at the same time in front of people. It went pretty well. I played through a 12 bar boogie boogie style blues, then went into The Wheels on the Bus. The kids loved it, and it made Aaliyah so happy. I got the tightest longest hug ever after we finished.
I started playing the bass, so that I could teach the girls music. I want to have a family band, and have playing together be a huge part of our lives. Music brings people together. Today I got a little closer to my kids, their classmates and teachers.
That is the stuff that really matters
I went in to play and read today because I love my children. I did it all “From the Love side”
(Hank Ballard is one of the earliest influences on the music of James Brown. When you listen to this song, you can hear the similarities.)
We are saturated with advertisements, reviews, polls, pundits. Our peripheral is always being bombarded with information, telling us what to think, what to buy, what is good. Before we can decide if we actually like something, we read several reviews of what other people think first. What this means is that we almost never get to approach anything new in life with a clean slate of WHAT WE ACTUALLY THINK!
It ok to like what you like! Say it, I like it like that!
I like it like that- Pete Rodriguez
No matter what, we take into account what we have heard, or read, or the headline that we saw in passing. It is very difficult to separate your opinion these messages. Hype is a beast. When Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly was leaked, it came out to unbelievable praise. There were album of the year cries almost immediately.
I actually did not get to listen to it until about a week after its official release. That is seven days of Facebook, twitter, and Instagram posts, seven days of opening up streaming browsers with it prominently featured. Overhearing conversations, hearing it on the radio, essentially you are hearing that it is a great album all around. Which it is, but based upon everything I heard about it. I had preconceived notions about what to expect before I even got to hear it for myself.
I do genuinely love the album. Sonically it is everything I would like to hear. It’s Hip hop, jazz, funk, soul, spoken word all wrapped up in the anger of oppressed youth. It is also extremely honest and challenging mentally. I would say it is for deep close listening and absorption. Not for background enjoyment.
Kendrick Lamar- King Kunta
After Good Kid M.A.A.D City killed the game in 2012, To Pimp a Butterfly was a highly anticipated release. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pull the cellophane off of an album that you are looking forward to hearing, play it and decide for yourself if it’s fire. Without having someone else tell it sucks or that it is amazing.
Modern listening does not even allow the average listener to really choose what they want to hear. Streaming services tell you what they think you should hear as soon as you open the application. There is a top 10 waiting for you, a list of WHATS’ HOT! Even if its only luke warm. However if you hear it 20 times a day, and Funk flex tells you its hot, the message starts to seep into your psyche. They have decided for you.
As a working DJ I can tell that most people use these lists as a guide for what to listen to. All the requests are the same as what is on the hot 97 or you tube, or spotify top 40.
As an experiment for yourself. Buy a new album legally. Try not to read any reviews on it, or ask any one about. Just put it on, play it and judge for yourself. Ask your self.
Does it sound good?
Does it feel good?
If you listen and answer yes, then it’s good. No matter the genre, or release date.
Do the same experiment with a movie. Just pick a movie and watch it. Don’t read the blurb, don’t look at how many stars. Just watch it, and decide for yourself if you like it.
It is difficult to go against the grain. When something is very popular and “trending” to say you don’t like it can ostracize you. Do the best you can be true to what you really feel.
Wether it is music, or books or movies. You don’t have to follow the trend. You get decide what you like, and how it makes you feel.
Just because you do not like something does not mean you are a hater. It’s ok to make choices on a case by case basis.
“If I don’t like it I don’t like, that don’t mean that I’m hating”. – Common (The 6th Sense)
Listen and decide for yourself.
I was inspired to write this piece based up two articles that came out this week.
The above article discusses how it became faux pas to say that you don’t like everything about Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly. I don’t agree with the overall message, especially when he questions why Kendrick would make a spoken word, funk jazz album in 2015. (Because he doing something different, and that is what we need) However, it did make me think about how the bandwagon of an album or artist gets going, then all of a sudden he/she is gods gift.
I’m spinning a wedding in Brooklyn, New York . The couple talked to me about their playlist. A lot of 90’s hip hop, top 40, plus some indie rock. I was killing it, blended all those genres in an out, everyone was having a great time. Except for one old white guy. He asked me once to “Turn down the bass”.
My friend Ricardo and I always laugh at that, because it happened to us so often. Actually it went more like, “It’s not the music, I like the music, it’s just, can you turn down the bass” So I did, it was dinner, whatever. Nothing special about that story right?
Well, fast forward 30 min or so. Same older guy comes up to me. Puts his finger in my face and begins to berate me and the music I was playing. He asked me who told me this was music. I replied that the bride and groom did, the people you came here to celebrate.
He then says, I told you to you turn it down! (finger in face, extremely angry). As soon as this began I immediately explained to him that he cannot speak to me like that, he is not in control, I am. He kind of flew off the handle after that.
A few quotes
“It’s Jungle music, and you know it”
“I know you know about Jungle music”
“You are only talking to me like this because you are hiding behind a table, like you all always do”
“Turn down the Jungle Music”
I went through all of the feelings really quickly. Anger, hatred, sadness, confusion, bitterness.
The party was going well, and I did not want to be there anymore. They did not deserve what I was providing.
I was upset, I wanted to press stop and just leave. I didn’t, this is my profession and I want to keep it that way.
Some ignorant bigot cannot deter me. I love this job, and I am blessed to be able to live out my passion. So, after I calmed down. Thought about it. I realized something.
One thing about “Jungle Music” is that I usually freaking love it. Anything that gets the stigma of “Jungle Music” usually holds close to my heart.
Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington to Chuck Berry and James Brown, and of course Wu-Tang, Outkast and the Roots. All technically “Jungle Music”.
A jungle where the vines connect in the most beautiful patterns, that never repeat. A jungle where the thunder claps boom from sp and technic 1200’s. A jungle where the oppressed inhabitants sing together for healing and strength. A jungle where the rhythms are natural and cyclical, they get played with, shifted at times, but they always come back home.
Jeru said it best.
“It started on sands of the land of the mother, word to mother. King like my father. My sound survive slave ships, whips and chains, hardships, still through all this. The praise roll off my lips.”
That is the power of music of the African Diaspora. Circumstances no matter how dire cannot change it. It cannot be tied down, it cannot be suppressed, or ignored. It fought it’s way from the bottom of ships to being sung from the highest cliffs.
So the next time I get a “Jungle music” comment, I’ll just say
“You think this jungle music? Yesssss, I love jungle music, I’ll turn the bass up for you.
Musical Time Stamps- Great examples of “Jungle Music”
Jungle Music- by Jeru the Damaja
This is the theme song for this post. Jeru gives us a history of how black music began, and how it hold strong today. Even in the face of those who hate it, and in turn hate us.
Blacker the Berry- Kendrick Lamar
As this racist rant was happening to me this is how I felt, this is what I wanted to say.
You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture You’re fuckin’ evil I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey You vandalize my perception but can’t take style from me And this is more than confession I mean I might press the button so you know my discretion I’m guardin’ my feelin’s, I know that you feel it You sabotage my community, makin’ a killin’ You made me a killer, emancipation of a real nigga
Duke Ellington- Didjeridoo (Afro- Eurasin Eclipse album)
Ellington often got the stigma of Jungle Music, however he is now known as possibly the greatest American composer. This is some of his later work.
Black Brown and Beige is my favorite Ellington album.
Hammer Ring- Texas Prison Songs
This is an example of Work Song. These tunes have roots in the slave fields of the deep south. Slaves sang songs like this to pass the time, communicate with one another, and to uplift their spirits. Sometimes with praise, sometimes with sorrow. Music like this is the precursor to what we call THE BLUES
One thing I wonder about Outkast is. Would all the mainstream listeners who only know The Love Below and Speakerboxx really like Outkast if they heard SoutherPlayalisticadillacmusik, ATLiens and Aquemini? Please leave a comment below.
In early august Pilar asked me what I was doing on Sept 20th. I had no idea, most likely spinning a wedding was my first thought. Checked my schedule and realized I had an entire Saturday off. Read More
Aaliyah, Clementine, Nina and Mo-Mo. This past week we spent a lot of time with our friends (as always). I took Aaliyah and Lola to Cumbe dance center. We met Clementine, Nina, and Mo-Mo (Morris) there. I have taken Aaliyah to Cumbe before for Jaime Philbert’s class. She is amazing, but so was this crew.
This is Funmi and Olatunji. Olatunji on the Djembe and Funmi was the dance leader. They incorporate African dance, creative movement and Call and response to create a really fun class. The kids had a great time. Also the music was on point. Check the breakdown below.
Aaliyah Bang, Bang, Bang on the drum baby, BAAAANG BAAAAANG!
What I really love about these classes in general is that the kids are really letting go and expressing themselves with no inhibitions.
As children we were almost immune to any kind of criticism. As adults we worry a lot about what others think, and try to fit into what society thinks is acceptable.
This feat can keep us from really reaching our dreams. Stepping out on a limb that seems unsteady is scary. That limb could break and you may fall. Or you may reach your destination if you are careful.
The class after ours was an adult movement class. It began with this song. I heard it as I was putting Aaliyah’s shoes on and had to know what it was. I found it truly beautiful, and a really nice wind down tune for us on our way out.